Thursday, May 7, 2015

17C Woman + 1675 Advice on the potential dangers of a Gentlewoman's "wanton" eye


We have few depictions of women in the 17C British American colonies, but contemporary European prints allow us to see the hairstyles & fashions being worn on the other side of the Atlantic during the early years of the English colonization of America. 

Jean Leblond 1605-1666 Marotte; François Ragot (Print made by);Young woman, half-length, turned to left; lace headdress with hairpin, large ruff, and striped dress



Hannah Woolley. The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex. London, A Maxwell for Edward Thomas, Bookseller. 1675.

Of the Government of the Eye.


As prudence is the eye of the Soul, so Discretion is the apple of that Eye but as for the natural Eyes, they are the Casements of the Soul, the Windows of Reason: As they are the inlets of Understanding, so they are the outlets or discoverers of many inward corruptions.

A wanton Eye is the truest evidence of a wandring and distracted mind. As by them you ought not to betray to others view, your imperfections within; so be not betray'd by their means, by vain objects without: This made the Princely Prophet pray so earnestly, Lord turn away my eyes from vanity. And hence appears our misery, that those eyes which should be the Cisterns of sorrow, Limbecks of contrition, should become the lodges of lust, and portals of our perdition...


An unclean Eye, is the messenger of an unclean Heart; wherefore confine the one, and it will be a means to rectifie the other. There are many Objects a wandring Eye finds out, whereon to vent the disposition of her corrupt heart.


The ambitious Eye makes Honour her object wherewith she torments her self, both in aspiring to what she cannot enjoy; as likewise, in seeing another enjoy that whereto her self did aspire.


The covetous Eye makes Wealth her object; which she obtains with toil, enjoys with fear, forgoes with grief; for being got, they load her; lov'd they soil her; lost, they gall her.


The envious Eye makes her Neighbours flourishing condition her object; she cannot but look on it; looking, pine and repine at it; and by repining, with envy, murders her quiet and contentment.


The loose or lascivious Eye makes Beauty her object; and with a leering look, or wanton glance, while she throweth out her lure to catch others, she becomes catcht her self.


Gentlewomen, I am not insensible, that you frequent places of eminency for resort, which cannot but offer to your view variety of pleasing Objects. Nay, there where nothing but chast thoughts, staid looks, and modest desires, should harbour, are too commonly loose thought, light looks, and licentious desires in especial honour...


Be assured, there is no one sense that more distempers the harmony of the mind, nor prospect of the Soul, than this window of the body...Do not then depress your Eyes as if Earth were the Center of their happiness, but on Heaven the Haven of their bliss after Earth. To conclude, so order and dispose your looks, that censure may not tax them with lightness, nor an amorous glance impeach you of wantonness...



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