Schurman, Anna Maria A

, a most learned German lady, was the daughter of parents who were both descended from noble Protestant families, and was born at Cologne, in 1607. She discovered from her infancy an uncommon facility in acquiring various accomplishments, as cutting with her scissors upon paper all sorts of figures, without any model, designing flowers, embroidery, music vocal and instrumental, painting-, sculpture, and engraving; and is said to have succeeded equally in all these arts. Mr. Evelyn, | in his “History of Chalcography,” has observed, that “the very knowing Anna Maria a Schurman is skilled in this art with innumerable others, even to a prodigy of her sex.” Her hand-xvriting in all languages was inimitable; and some curious persons have preserved specimens of it in their cabinets. M. Joby, in his journey to Minister, relates, that he was an eye-witness to the beauty of her writing, in French, Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic; and of her skill in drawing in miniature, and making portraits upon glass with the point of a diamond. She painted her own picture by means of a looking-glass; and made artificial pearls so like natural ones, that they could not be distinguished but by pricking them with a needle.

The powers of. her understanding were not inferior to her skill in those arts: for at eleven, when her brothers were examined in Latin, she often whispered to them what they were to answer, though she was only a casual hearer of their lessons. Her father therefore began to instruct her more perfectly in that knowledge which made her so justly celebrated; and very soon the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages became so familiar to her, that she not only wrote, but spoke them, in a manner which surprised the most learned men. She made a great progress also in the Syriac, Chaldee, Arabic, and Ethiopic; and of the living languages, she understood and spoke readily, the French, English, and Italian. She was competently versed in geography, astronomy, philosophy, and the sciences, so as to be able to judge of them with exactness: but all these accomplishments yielded at last to divinity, and the study of the scriptures.

Her father, who had settled at Utrecht while she was an infant, and afterwards removed to Franeker for the more convenient education of his children, died there in 1623. His widow then returned to Utrecht, where Anna Maria continued her studies very intensely; which probably prevented her from marrying, as she might have done advantageously v.ith Mr. Cats, pensionary of Holland, and a celebrated poet, who wrote verses in her praise when she was only fourteen. Her modesty, which was as great as her knowledge, would have kept her in obscurity, if Rivetus, Spanheim, and Vossius, had not made her merit known. Salmasius also, Beverovicius, and Huygens, maintained a literary correspondence with her; and, by shewing her letters, spread her fame into foreign countries. This | procured her a correspondence with Balzac, Gassendi, Mersennus, Bo chart, Conrart, and other eminent men; persons of the first rank paid her visits, and cardinal Richelieu likewise shewed her marks of his esteem. About 1650, a great alteration took place in her religious system. She performed her devotions in private, without frequenting any church, upon which it was reported that she was inclined to popery; but she attached herself to the famous mystic Labadie, and embracing his principles and practice, lived some time with him at Altena, in Holstein, and attended him at his death there in 1674. She afterwards retired to Wiewart, in Friseland, where the famous Penn, the Quaker, visited her in 1677; she died at this place in 1678. She took for her device these words of St. Ignatius: “Amor meus crucifixus est.

She wrote “De vitae humanae termino,” Ultraj. 1639; “Dissertatio de ingenii muliebris ad doctrinam et meliores literas aptitudine,L. Bat. 1641, 12 mo. These two pieces, with letters in French, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, to her learned correspondents, were printed in 1648, under the title of “A. M. a Schurman Opuscula Hebrsea, Grseca, Latina, Gallica; prosaica & metrica” enlarged in a 2d edition at Leyden, 1650, 12 mo. She wrote afterwards, “Eukleria, seu rnelioris partis electio.” This is a defence of her attachment to Labadie, and was printed at Altena in 1673, when she was with him. 1


Gen. Dict.—Niceron, vol. XXXIII. Bullari’s Academie des Sciences. Barman Traject. Erudit.