Thursday, September 24, 2015

1675 The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex - Beware of Licentious Amorists or a Gentlewomans Civil Behaviour to All Sorts of People in All Places


Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Young woman with a cap and feather. 1647
Hannah Woolley. The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex. London, A Maxwell for Edward Thomas, Bookseller. 1675.

Of a Gentlewomans civil Behaviour to all sorts of people in all places.

Be not easily induc'd to enter into discourse with strangers, for nothing argueth levity and indicretion more than that. Confort your self with your betters as near as you can, yet do not despise your equals, but in a most especial manner avoid all familiarity with your inferiors; if Female, in a little time they will thereby be drawn to slight you; if Male, they will be incouraged to attack your honour unlwfully, or subtilly insinuate themselves into affection, whereby though you are as high in fortune, as honourable in birth, you may stoop to so low a contract, that forgetting your self by the incessant importunities of their over-blown desires, you are overcome, & so become a grief to your friends, a shame to your selves, and a lamentable spectacle of reproach and sorrow to that worthy Family, from whence you had your Original.

Affect not the vanity of some, in being seen in publick too frequently. Thus many excellent Ladies have exposed themselves to the mercy of the Tempter, who otherwise had stood impregnable in the defence of their Chastities. You think, it may be, and intend no harm in your Promenades or walks; but by so doing, you give too often occasion for licentious Amorists to meet with you, and may thereby be perswaded to throw off the vail of circumspection, to give attention to some wanton smutty story...


Be not guilty of the unpardonable faulty of some, who never thing they do better than when they speak most; uttering an Ocean of words, without one drop of reason; talking much, expressing little...


As I would not advise you to be over-reserv'd, so give not too loose reins to liberty, making pleasure your vocation...


Shun all affectation in your behaviour; for Vertue admits of no such thing in her gesture or habit, but that which is proper, and not enforced; native or decent, and not what is apishly introduced. Therefore since nothing better befits you than what is your own, make known by your dress, how much you hate formality. To this end play not the Hypocrite with your Creator, in pretending to go to Church to serve him, whereas it is to serve your selves in the imitation of some new fashion. That which becometh another well, may ill become you...


Affectation cannot be conceal'd, and the indecency of your deportment will quickly bne discovered in publick Societies; wherefore behave your self so discreetly abroad, that you may confer no less a benefit on such as see your behaviour, than you profit such as shall observe your carriage at home: Express in publick such a well-becoming Garb, that every action may deserve the applause & imitation of all that are in your company. Let your conceits be nimble and ready, and not temper'd or mixt with lightness; let your jests be innocent and seasonable, without the least capriciousness; let your discourse be free without niceness; your whole carriage delightful, and agreeable, and flowing with a seeming carelessness.



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