A Celebration of Women Writers

"Anne Killigrew."

From: Ballard, George, 1706-1755. Memoirs of several ladies of Great Britain, who have been celebrated for their writings or skill in the learned languages, arts, and sciences. Oxford: Printed by W. Jackson, for the author, 1752. pp. 337-345.


ANNE KILLIGREW, daughter of Dr. Henry Killigrew, Master of the Savoy and one of the Prebendaries of Westminster, was born in St. Martin's Lane in London, in the times of Usurpation, a little before the Restoration of King Charles the second; and was christened in a private chamber, the offices of the common-prayer not being then publickly allowed.

Her superior genius being improved by the advantage of a polite education, she became eminent in the arts of poetry and painting: and had it pleased divine providence to have prolonged her life, she might probably have excelled most of the professors in both.

Mr Dryden seems quite lavish in her commendation: but as we are assured by a writer of great probity h, that he has not said any thing of her, which she was not equal to, if not superior; let him be my voucher for her skill in poetry. i

Art she had none, yet wanted none:
For nature did that want supply,
So rich in treasures of her own,
She might our boasted stores defy:
Such noble vigour did her verse adorn,
That it seem'd borrow'd where 'twas only born.

That great poet is pleased to attribute to her every excellence in that science: but if she has failed of some of its excellencies, still should we have great reason to commend her for having avoided those faults by which some have derived a reflection on the science it self, as well as on themselves. Speaking of the purity and chastity of her compositions, he bestows on them this commendation.

Her Arethusian stream remains unsoil'd,
Unmixt with foreign filth, and undefil'd,
Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child.

She was a great proficient in the art of painting: and drew King James the second and his Queen; which pieces, are highly applauded by Mr. Dryden. She drew several history pieces, some of which will be taken notice of in the catalogue of her poems; also some portraits for her diversion exceedingly well; and likewise some pieces of still-life. Mr. Becket did her picture in Mezzo-Tinto after her own painting, k which is prefix'd to her poems.

Those engaging and polite accomplishments were the least of her perfections; for she crowned all with an exemplary piety towards God and in due observance of the duties of religion, which she began to practice in the early part of her life. But as her uncommon virtues are enumerated in her monumental inscription, I shall only observe from Mr. Wood, that she was one of the maids of honour to the Duchess of York: And that she died of the small-pox, in the very flower of her age, to the unspeakable grief of her relations, and all others who were acquainted with her excellencies, in her father's lodgings within the Cloister of Westminster Abbey, on the 16th day of June, 1685, in her 25th year.

Mr. Dryden's muse put on the mourning habit on this sad occasion, and lamented the death of our ingenious poetess in very moving strains, in a long ODE, from whence I shall take the liberty of transcribing the eighth Stanza: and the rather, as it does honour to another female character.

    Now all those charms, that blooming grace,
The well-proportion'd shape, and beauteous face,
Shall never more be seen by mortal eyes;
In earth the much lamented virgin lies!
  Not wit, nor piety could fate prevent;
  Nor was the cruel Destiny content
  To finish all the murder at a blow,
  To sweep at once her life, and beauty too;
But, like a harden'd fellon, took a pride
     To work more mischievously slow,
     And plunder'd first, and then destroy'd.
O double sacriledge on things divine
To rob the relique, and deface the shrine!
     But thus Orinda dy'd:
  Heav'n, by the same disease, did both translate,
As equal were their Souls, so equal was their fate.

She was buried in the Chancel of St. John Baptist's Chapel in the Savoy Hospital. On the north side of which is a very neat monument of marble and free-stone, fix'd in the wall, on which is engraved a Latin inscription, which I transcribed from the monument; but as the printed one is more full and large, I chose rather to give it with the English translation, as they stand printed before her poems.

Annæ Killigrew,
Doctoris Killigrew Filiæ,
quæ in ipso Ætatis flore obijt.
Junij 16, 1685.

  Heu jacet, fato victa,
      Quæ stabat ubique Victrix
    Formâ, ingenio, religione;
  Plura Collegerat in se Unâ,
  Quàm vel Sparsa mireris in omnibus.
Talem quis pingat, nisi penicillo quod tractavit?
Aut quis canat, nisi Poeta sui similis?
  Cum tanta sciret, hoc unum ingoravit,
    Quanta, nempe, esset!

      Aut si norit.
    Mirare Modestiam,
  Tantis incorruptam dotibus.
  Laudes meruisse satis illi fuit,
Has ne vel audiret, laudatores omnes fugerat,
    Contenta paterno Lare,
  Dum & sibi Aula patebat adulatrix.

    Mundum sapere an potuit,
    Quæ ab infantia Christum sapuerat?
      Non modo semper Virgo,
    Sed & virginum Exemplar.
      Gentis suæ Decus,
        Ævi Splendor,
      Sexus Miraculum.
    Nullâ Vertute inferior cuiquam,
      Cuilibet superior multâ.
    Optimi Deliciæ patris,
Etiam numerosâ optimâque prole fortunatissimi:
    Priorem tamen invidit nemo,
      (Seu frater, seu soror)
Quin potius coluere omnes, omnibus suavem & officiosam,
    Amorisque commune Vinculum & Centrum.
    Vix ista credes, Hanc si nescieris;
    Credet majora, qui scierit.

        Abi Viator, & Plange:
    Si eam plangi oporteat,
  Cui, tam piè morienti,
      Vel Coelites plauserint.

The same in English:

  By death, alas, here conquer'd lies,
She who from all late bore the prize
In beauty, wit, vertue divine:
In whom those graces did combine,
Which we admir'd in others see,
When they but singly scatter'd be!
  Who her, so Great, can paint beside,
The pencil her own hand did guide?
What verse can celebrate her fame,
But such as she herself did frame?

  Though much excellence she did show,
And many qualities did know,
Yet this, alone, she could not tell,
To wit, How much she did excell.
Or if her worth she rightly knew,
More to her modesty was due,
That parts in her no pride could raise
Desirous still to merit praise,
But fled, as she deserv'd, the bays.
Contented always to retire,
Court glory she did not admire;
Although it lay so neer and fair,
It's grace to none more open were:
But with the world how should she close,
Who Christ in her first childhood chose?

  So with her parents she did live,
That they to her did honour give,
As she to them. In a num'rous race
And vertuous, the highest place
None envy'd her: sisters, brothers
Here admirers were and lovers:
She was to all s'obliging sweet,
All in one love to her did meet.
A virgin-life not only led,
But it's Example might be said.

The ages ornament, the name
That gave her sex and country fame.

  Those who her person never knew,
Will hardly think these things are true:
But those that did, will more believe,
And higher things of her conceive.

  Thy eyes in tears now, reader, steep:
For her if't lawful be to weep,
Whose blessed and seraphick end
Angels in triumph did attend.

Soon after her death, was printed and published a book entitled POEMS by Mrs. ANNE KILLIGREW, London 1686, in a large thin quarto: and contains (besides the publisher's preface, Mr. Dryden's long Ode in praise of the author, &c.) an 100 pages. As this book is very scarce, and difficult to be procured, I will here subjoin a catalogue of the poems it contains, in the enumerating of which, I should not otherwise have been so particular.

To the Queen.
A Pastoral Dialogue.
On Death.
First epigram, Upon being contended with a Little.
The second epigram, On Billinda. 
The third epigram, On an Atheist.
The fourth epigram, On Galla. 
A Farewel to Worldly Joys.
The Complaint of a Lover.
Love, the Soul of Poetry.
To my Lady Berkley, Afflicted upon her Son my Lord Berkley's early engaging in the Sea-Service.
St. John Baptist painted by her self in the Wilderness, with Angels appearing to him, and with a Lamb by him.
Herodias's Daughter presenting to her Mother St. Johns Head in a Silver Charger, also painted by her self.
On a Picture painted by her self, representing two Nymphs of Diana's, one in a Posture to Hunt, the other Batheing.
An Invective against Gold.
The Miseries of Man.
Upon the saying that my Verses were made by another.
In this poem are the following verses in praise of Mrs. Philips.
      Orinda (Albions and her sexes grace)
    Ow'd not her glory to a beauteous face,
    It was her radiant soul that shon within,
    Which struck a lustre through her outward skin;
    That did her lips and cheeks with roses dye,
    Advanc't her height, and sparkled in her eye.
    Nor did her sex at all obstruct her fame,
    But higher 'mong the stars it fixt her name;
    What she did write, not only all allow'd,
    But ev'ry laurel, to her laurel, bow'd !
On the Birth-Day of Queen Katherine.
To my Lord Colrane, in Answer to his Complemental Verses sent me under the Name of Cleanor.
The Discontent.
A Pastoral Dialogue.
A Pastoral Dialogue.
On my Aunt Mrs. A. K. drowned under London Bridge in the Queens Barge, 1641.
On a Young Lady, whose Lord was travelling.
On the Dutchess of Grafton, under the Name of Allinda, a Song.
Penelope to Ulysses.
An Epitaph on her self.
An Ode.
Extemporary Counsel given to a young Gallant in a Frolick.
Cloris Charms Dissolved by Eudora.
Upon a little Lady under the Discipline of an excellent Person.
On the soft and gentle Motions of Eudora.

[Page 337]

h Wood's Athenae Oxon. Vol. II, Col. 1036. Edit. 1721.

i Vid. his Ode prefix'd to her Poems, Stanz. 5.

[Page 338]

k Vid. The Art of Painting, and the Lives of the Painters, &c. 8vo. Lond. 1706, p. 406.

About This Edition

The text is reproduced as published in 1752, without any corrections. Older typestyles have been modernized (e.g. Latin small letter long s, ſ, is transcribed as s) but spellings have been left as they originally appeared. Extended sections in quotation marks have been set off within blockquotes. Footnotes have been collected together at the end of the selection.