Friday, May 6, 2011

1696 How Young Gentlewomen Behave in All Societies upon Sundry Occasions

Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era painter, 1674-1729) Henriette Charlotte de Chastaigner (Mrs Nathaniel Broughton)

The Accomplished Ladies Rich Closet OF Rarities
John Shirley [J. S. (John Shirley), fl. 1680-1702.]
LONDON Printed by W Wilde for n. Bodington in Duck Lane; and J. Blare on London-Bridge. 1696.

Instructions for Young Gentlewomen how to behave themselves in all Societies, upon sundry Occasionns.

First, to qualifie your self to understand the modish and courtly Expressions, it is convenient that you learn the Latin, French, and Italian Tongues, not only by Rote, but by Rule and Grammar, the better to understand them, since the most refined English has borrowed from these Languages, and without this Knowledge you will be at a lots to understand those that utter high Phrases in the Court-air, as they term it; nor must you be ignorant in Singing, Dancing, and Playing upon Musick suitable to your Sex; though in Exercising your self herein, you must be very modest and moderate, your Words few, yet to the purpose; Discretion, Silence, and Modesty, being the Ornaments of the Sex. And as Society is that which all Creatures naturally covet; so, if it be well chosen and managed, it is recreatory to the Body and Mind but as bad Society is worse than none, so is it to be avoided.

Wherefore be not easily won to enter into Discourse with those you know not, unless urgent Business require it, lest you be suspected of Levity and Indiscretion. Always observe to consort your self with your Betters, or Equals, knowing them to be virtuous; and avoid too much familiarity with Inferiours, unless you find them very discreet, lest you fall into contempt, if Female: or if Male, lest you give them encouragement to make their Addresses of Courtship, and by subtil ways to insinuate themselves into your good liking; for Love, that takes the Diadem from Queens, is blind: and Passion distinguishes not Servility from Greatness; by which means, though you are high in Birth and Fortune, you may be brought to a yielding, which may turn to the grief of your Parents, or perhaps to their and your own Disgrace. And in this case presume not too much upon your own Strength, by interchanging Gloves, Rings, Ribbons, or such things, which you may term Trifles, left by this kind of familiarity, Love by infallible ways opens a Passage to your heart.

Be not over-desirous of being seen often, in places of resort, lest you expose your self to the Aysault of the Tempter, and purchase that Curiosity with the lots of your Honour, by giving Licentious Amorists Liberty to meet you in your Walks, and by powerful Persuasions to linen to their Syrens Charms, whilst you are no longer capable of mastering your Affections: Nor trust too much to Female Confident, lest for their own Advantage, they persuade you to a yielding.

As for your Dress, let it be neat, but not gaudy, for Vertue is comely in any Dress and be content to appear in your native Beauty: Let your Dressing time be short, and your Recreation moderate: In your Speech or Behaviour shun all Affetation; and be not over-fond of new Fashions.