Cornaro Piscopia, Helena Lucretia

, a learned Venetian lady, born in 1646, was the daughter of Gio Baptista Cornaro, and educated in a very different manner from the generality of her sex, being taught languages and sciences, and all the philosophy of the schools. After having studied many years, she took her degrees at Padua, and was perhaps the first lady that ever was made a doctor. She was also admitted of the university of Rome, wherei she had the title of Humble given her, as she had at Padua that of Unalterable, titles which she is said to have deserved, because her learning had not inspired her with vanity, nor was any thing capable of disturbing her train of thought. With all this, however, she was not free from the weaknesses of her religion, and the age in which she lived. She early made a vow of perpetual virginity; and though all means were used to persuade her to marry, and even a dispensation with her vow obtained from the pope, yet she remained immoveable. It is affirmed, that not believing the perpetual study to which she devoted herself, and which shortened her days, sufficient to mortify the flesh, she addicted herself to other superstitious restraints, fasted often, and spent her whole time either in study or devotion, except those few hours when she was obliged to receive visits. All people of quality and fashion, who passed through Venice, were more solicitous to see her, than any of the curiosities of that superb city. The cardinals de Bouillon and D’Etrees, in passing through Italy, were commanded by the king of France, to examine whether what some said of her was true and their report was | that her parts and learning were equal to her high reputation. At length her incessant study of books, particularly such as were in Greek and Hebrew, impaired her constU tution so much, that she fell into an illness, of which she died in 1685. We are told that she had notice of her death a year before it happened, and that, talking one day to her father of an old cypress-tree in his garden, she advised him to cut it down, since it would do well to make her a coffin.

As soon as the news of her death reached Rome, the academicians called Infecondi, who had formerly admitted her of their society, composed odes and epitaphs to her memory without number, and celebrated a funeral solemnity in honour of her, in the college of the Barnabite ftithers, where the academy of the Infecondi usually assembled. This solemnity was conducted with such magnificence, that a description of it was published at Padua in 1686, and dedicated to the republic of Venice. Part of the ceremony was a funeral oration, in which one of the academicians with all the pomp of Italian eloquence, expatiated upon the great and valuable qualities of the deceased; saying, that Helena Lucretia Cornaro had triumphed over three monsters, who were at perpetual war with her sex, viz. luxury, pride, and ignorance; and that in this she was superior to all the conquerors of antiquity, even to Pompey himself, though he triumphed at the same time over the three kings, Mithridates, Tigranes, and Aristobulus, because it was easier to conquer three kingdoms, than three such imperfections and vices, &e. In 1688 her works were published at Parma, 8vo, edited by Benedict Bacchini, with an ample life, but the praises he bestows on her are but feebly supported by these writings. 1

1 Life as above. —Moreri.—Dict. Hist.