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Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Emory Women Writers Resource Project

The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex, an electronic edition

by Hannah Woolley [Woolley, Hannah, fl. 1670]

date: 1675
source publisher: Printed by A. Maxwell for Edward Thomas
collection: Early Modern through the 18th Century

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Of a young Gentlewoman's fit hours and times for their Recreation and Pleasure, and how to govern themselves, therein.

The chiel thing that you ought to consider is how to govern and behave your selves in your Pastimes: Wisdom therein must be your guide; and the chief rule it can teach you, is To shun all pleasures which are lawful, exceed not the Rule, nor Moderations which consists, first, in not giving offence, scandal, damage, or prejudice, to your associates or others: Next, that it be without injury to your health, reputation, or business. Lastly, Let, your Recretion be with moderation.

| | 82 You must by no means make pleasure your business, but by the enjoyment thereof return with more alacrity and cheerfulness to your business. Young Ladies may use it; but not abuse it, which they never do more than in the excess thereof; for it softneth and weakeneth the vigour both of Soul and Body, it besotteth and best complexions, nd banisheth the principal Vertues.

If pleasure be taken as it was at first provided, it will be taken without a sting; but if you exceed either in measure or manner, you pollute the purer stream, and drink your own destruction. The Hearthen of old did put a cheek on Men and Women, forbidding them to let loose the reins to all the corrupt and mistaken pleasure of this life, much more should Christians forbear the inordinate enjoyment of them.

Above all, these pleasures are most to be commended, which in every respect are so lawful, that they leave in the Conference no private check behind them to upbraid the sense for the unlawful using of them. He that plungeth himself into a puddle, doth but engage himself thereby to an after-washing, to purge that filth away he contracted by that imprudent action. Or would you be so made to feed on that you are certain will make you sick in the eating? Almighty God would never have allowed you the desire of pleasure, nor the faculties to enjoy it, if he had not design'd that with decency you should use them. An action of this kind is but natural, and will not be unlawful unless it be found to run into excess attended with unlawful circumstances.

| | 83 There is so much corruption adhering to the use of pleasure, by exceeding the measure, mistaking the manner, misplacing the time, that although Recreations be lawful in themselves, yet if they be circumstanced amiss, they are not expedient.

Recreations and pleasures are indisputably lawful, if you are not irregular in measure, manner, or time; had they been otherwise our most wise and merciful Creator would never have made them so distinct in their kinds, nor so many in their number. All the several tastes in food and fruit were intended to lease the pallate; as well as satisfie the appetite. Of all the beautiful and pleasant fruits in Paradise there was but one only Tree excepted. From hence it may be concluded, Mankind may enjoy those delights which they have a well- grounded inclination unto, with this proviso, they abuse them not.

Before you do or act any thing, examine well the sequel; if that be clear the present enjoyment will be accompanied with content, otherwise it will end in repentance.

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