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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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Form of thanks for Courtesies received.

| | 226 Thanks we must apply as well to the nature of the Courtesie, as to the quality of him that hath done it. You must begin with a commemoration of the Courtesie received, acknowledging the receiver not worthy thereof, having never done any obliging service; or if you have, yet this hath made double satisfaction; then promise that the remembrance of her love shall be deeply engraven in your heart; and that you will always retain a resentment of her kindness: This you may write, if the kindness be so highly qualified that the person looks for no other satisfaction than acknowledgment only.

I have given you several forms of Letters, let me now shew you the parts of a Letter; the common ones are Superscription and Subscription.

The Superscription of Leters is twofold; the one external, the other internal; the outward Superscription is that when the Letter is folded up, and containeth the name, title, and abode of the person we write unto; but above all you must have a care that you give proper titles, such as befit the uality of the person.

The Title of a King is, To His most Excellent Majesty. To the Queen the same, altering the article. To all Sons or Brethren of the King of England, To His Royal Highness. To a Duke, To His Grace. To a Dutchess the same. To all Earls, Marquesses, Viscounts and Barons, To the right Honourable. To Marchionesses and Countesses by Patent, To the right Honourable. To all Lords, To the right | | 227 honourable. To Knights, To the right Worshipful. To all Justices of Peace, High-Sheriffs, Counsellors at Law, Esquires, either by birth or place, etc. To the Worshipful.

The Subscription is placed at the lower end of the Letter; and in writing to great Persons you must Subscribe thus,

My Lord, or Madam,
Your most humble, and most obedient Servant.
Or Your most faithful, and most obliged Servant.

To persons of meaner degree, subscribe your self thus,
Your Servant.
or Your Friend and Servant.

If kindred write one to another, the greater may express the relation in the beginning of the Letter; but she that is of the meaner quality must be content to specifie it in the Subscription.

Besides Superscription and Subscription, you must set down what year and day you writ this Letter in, and the place from whence it came, yet it is not always convenient to mention the place, nor the relation the person hath to you to whom you write.

The beginning of all your Letters ought to contain some small Complements by way of insinnuation, with a short proposal of what you intend to say; this is only observed in long Letters, otherwise you may fall upon the Matter immediately.

As for the Matter that is according to your Concern, | | 228 and I need not use much order in the discoursing it, but write what falls under your pen, not standing much upon connexion, unless it be in Letters of Answer, and then you must follow the order of those letters, using some small transition. In the Conclusion it is requisite that you testifie your affection with hearty wishes and prayers for the person you write unto.

For the stile of your Letters, let is not be affected but careless, not much differing from our usual way of speaking. In Letters of Complement supply the barrenness of your matter with the smoothness of your rhetorical exornations; but have a care that in striving to avoid affectation you do not run into improprieties of speech, or barbarisns.

Consider seriously what best besits the things you are to write of, regarding person, time and place. It would be absurd for any one to write to a superiour as to a familiar, and that which would suit very well with an ancient man, or a person in Authority, would be ridiculous for to use to a man of mean degree, or of the younger sort; surely we are not to use the like expressions to a Soldier, as we do to a Scholar or Lady.

Be not too prolix in your writing, nor too short; but observe a mediocrity or mean betwixt them: In the avoiding of tautologies, do not omit any thing that may conduce to the illustration of your matter.

Do not study for hard words, but such as are either plain, or very significant; this perspicuity of writing is to be measur'd according to the capacity of the person to whom the Letter is directed; | | 229 for some will easily conceive what is difficult and hard for others to comprehend.

Have especial care of blotting your paper, giving it a large Margent; and be curious in the cutting your Letters, that they may delight the sight, and not the the Reader.

Lastly, be curious in the neat folding up your Letter, pressing it so that it may take up but little room, and let your Seal and Superscription be very fair.

Having given you general instructions how to compose and indite Letters, it follows that I here insert some of the best patterns for your imitation.

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