Beck Center English Dept. University Libraries Emory University
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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Some general and choice Rules for writting of Letters.

First, what a Letter is? It is or ought to be the express image of the Mind, represented in writing to a friend at a distance; wherein is declared what He or She would do or have done. This excellent use we have of Letters, that when distance of place, will not admit of Union of persons, or converse Viva voce; that deplorable defect is supplied by a Letter or Missive; and indeed the necessity of conversing one with another as long as we live, layeth an unavoidable congency of communicating our affairs each to other, without which friends at a distance could have no correspondence one with the other.

Though it lieth not in the power of every one to make use of these excellent means for reciprocal Communication; yet we see daily the illiterate and ignorant will make hard shifts rather than go without the benefit thereof, applying themselves to friends that can write; or if they have none, to Scriveners or other strangers, venturing their secrets with them, rather than their friend shall go without the knowledg of them.

But as for you, Ladies, for whole use this Book was framed, I question not your writing well; but without inditing well it will signise but little; to the intent therefore you may polish your Epitolical compositions observe these two things therein, that is, the Matter and Form.

The Matter of Letters is any thing that may be discoursed of without any exception; or that | | 219 which you wuold freely discover to your Relations, or discourse to your friend when present the same you would do by Letter when he is absent, if it stands with conveniency. For sometime it is not convenient to trust that in a sheet of paper which is lost or miscarried may be the great demment, if not the utter ruin of the person. This matter you must know varieth much according to the subject you write upon. I shall endeavour to treat a little of all the common subjects which are the usual occasions of Letter-writing.

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