Friday, May 6, 2011

1696 On a Gentlewoman's Gait & Gesture, Eyes & Tongue upon Sundry Occasions

Henrietta Johnston (American colonial era painter, 1674-1729) Young Irish Girl

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 a Young Gentlewoman to Manage her Gate and Gesture; to Govern her Eyes and Tongue, &c. upon sundry necessary Occasions.

IN this case observe that you walk not carelessly or lightly, shouldering, as it were, your Companions, nor strutting or jutting in a proud manner;

Keep in your walk your Head steady, your Countenance not too much elevated, nor dejected;

keep your Arms likewise steady, and throw them not about as if you were flying:

Let your Feet rather incline a little more inward than outward, lest you be censured Splay-footed; for by the motion of the Body, the thoughts of the Mind may be discovered: as whether the Party be of loose or proud Behavour, or humble and complacent.

Do not run or go extream fast in places of Concourse, unless great occasion require it; for in such Violent motions it is not always in your power to keep your Body steady; nay, by too much hast you may chance to fall and expose to view what you would conceal.

And as the gesture of the Body is seemly and commendable, so is the Management or Government of the Eye; in which many things are to be observed, and chiefly these.

Keep your Eyes within compass; that is let them not be too much fixed upon idle and vain objects, nor drawn away by unseemly sights; roll them not about in a careless and lascivious manner; nor stare Men in the Face as if you were looking Babies; Send not private Glances; or look, as they call it, with half a Face, turning your Head, as it were, aside: Look not at any time over your Shoulder, if you have opportunity to turn your self: Open not your Eyes too wide, thereby to distort your Countenance; nor keep them in a manner half shut. Wink not too often, nor call your Eyes ascant; as if you squinted; neither keep them too reserv'd; nor scornfully turn them away when any Object offers. Look not too much downward; nor with a more than ordinary Elevation. Gaze not often against the Sun, nor on the Fire, both of them impair the Lustre of the Eyes.

When you discourse with a woman, look her in the Face with as much composedness as you can: but if with a Man, to look a little downward; for modesty is commendable:

But, above all things, as often as opportunity will permit, lift up your Eyes to your Redeemer, and, with holy David, implore him to turn them away from Vanity: For the Eyes being the Windows of the Soul; lets in Good or Evil; according as it fixes, or is intent upon good or bad Objects, therefore chuse the former, and refuse the latter.

Let all your Discourses be to the purpose, and suffer not your Complements to be high flown, extravagant, blunt, or nonsensical; but, in all, suit them with modesty to the capacity and quality of the Person to whom you utter them; and see they be done on fit occasion and in season be fare not to Congratulate Persons, when you should Condole them; use in your utterance no Hems nor Stammerings; Sputter not as you speak, nor speak many Sentences between breathings; use not Tautologies or affected words or lispings; neither speak with a Tone.

Decline to speak much before Gravity, and multitude of years, unless urgent occasion require it: and beware that you speak not, when you are bidden to hold your Tongue; for indeed Womens discourse should not be much, because Modesty and Moderation is her Ornament, and are in them fires a moving Rhetorick.

And when you have opportunity of discourse, let it not taste of Confidence, Affectation or Conceitedness, nor border upon Obscenity.