Philips, Catherine

, an English lady once highly praised for her wit and accomplishments, was the daughter of Mr. Fowler, a merchant of London, and born there Jan. 1, 1631. She was educated at a boarding-school at Hackney; where she distinguished herself early for her skill in poetry. When very young, she became the wife of James Philips, of the priory of Cardigan, esq. and afterwards went with the viscountess of Dungannon into Ireland. At the request of the earl of Orrery, she translated from the French, and dedicated to the countess of Cork, “Corneille’s tragedy of Pompey” which was several times acted at the new theatre there in 1663 and 1664, in which last year it was published. She translated also the four first acts of “Horace,” another tragedy of Corneille; the fifth being done by sir John Denham. She died of the | small pox in London, the 22d of June, 1664, to the regret of all the beau-monde, in the thirty-third year of her age “having not left,” says Langbaine, “any of her sex her equal in poetry.” “She not only equalled,” adds he, “alt that is reported of the poetesses of antiquity, the Lesbian Sappho and the Roman Sulpitia, but justly found her admirers among the greatest poets of our age:” and then he mentions the earls of Orrery and Roscommon, Cowley, and others. Cowley wrote an ode upon her death. Dr. Jeremy Taylor had addressed to her his “Measures and Offices of Friendship:” the second edition of which was printed in 1,657, 12mo. She assumed the name of Orinda, and gave that of Anten’or to her husband; she had likewise a female friend Anne Owen, who was Lucasia. In 1667, were printed, in folio, “Poems by the most deservedly admired Mrs. Catherine Philips, the matchless Orinda. To which is added, Monsieur Corneille’s Pompey and Horace, tragedies. With several other translations from the French;” and her portrait before them, engraven by Fait born. There was likewise another edition in 1678, folio; in the preface of which we are told, that “she wrote her familiar letters with great facility, in a very fair hand, and perfect orthography; and if they were collected with those excellent discourses she wrote on several subjects, they would make a volume much larger than that of her poems.” In 1705, a small volume of her letters to sir Charles Cotterell was printed under the title of “Letters from Orinda to Poliarchus:” the editor of which tells us, that “they were the effect of an happy intimacy between herself and the late-famous Poliarchus, and are an admirable pattern for the pleasing correspondence of a virtuous friendship. They will sufficiently instruct us, how an intercourse of writing between persons of different sexes ought to be managed with delight and innocence; and teach the world not to load such a commerce with censure and detraction, when it is removed at such a distance from even the appearance of guilt.” All the praise of her contemporaries, however, has not been sufficient to preserve her works from oblivion. 1


Cibber's Lives.- Biog; Dram. Centura Lit. vol.Ji. Ballard’s English Ladies. Nichols’s Poems, vol. II.