National Library of Wales MS 776B
Presentation volume of Katherine Philips’s verse
Aside from the pirate edition of her Poems advertised by Richard Marriott on 14 January 1663/4, and withdrawn four days later, Katherine Philips’s poetry was circulated predominantly through the medium of manuscript in her lifetime. The sole manuscript presentation copy of her works known to survive is National Library of Wales MS 776B. This manuscript was compiled after her death, between 1664 and 1667, by a scribe who signs himself ‘Polexander’ in his dedicatory epistle to her lifelong friend, Mary Aubrey Montagu, the ‘Rosania’ of Philips’s poems. The manuscript itself is a 404-page quarto with a black morocco binding. All its poems are transcribed in the same italic hand as the dedicatory epistle, with the exception of ‘Rosania’s private Marriage’ (included below). The manuscript opens with Philips’s translation of Corneille’s Pompée, acclaimed on its performance by John Ogilby’s company at the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin in February 1662/3. The texts of five verse translations follow, and these in turn are followed by her unfinished translation of Corneille’s Horace, completed after her death by Sir John Denham, and performed at Whitehall in February 1667/8. The remainder of the volume is comprised of ninety-one original poems.
This manuscript bears little relation to the other key identified copy-texts of Philips’s work. Philips’s own autograph manuscript, compiled in the 1650s and now known as the Tutin Manuscript, is closely related to the Dering Manuscript (compiled by Philips’s friend, Sir Edward Dering, ‘Silvander’), the Clarke Manuscript (compiled by Sir George Clarke, whose father, Sir William, gave evidence at Philips’s husband’s trial in 1661), and the unauthorised 1664 print edition. (These manuscripts are: National Library of Wales MS 775B; University of Texas at Austin, Humanities Research Center, Misc* HRC 151 Philips MS 14,937; Worcester College, Oxford MS 6. 13, respectively.) The Rosania Manuscript (as NLW MS 776B is known) is copied from a variety of different sources. As Greer notes, twenty of the ninety-one original poems have had couplets excised, an editorial process which she argues is deliberate on the scribe’s part (Greer 1996, 166-7). See also the comments of Philips’s most recent editor, Patrick Thomas, in Philips (1990-93, I:46), henceforth referred to in this section as Works. Furthermore, ten poems occurring in the Rosania Manuscript are known to occur only here prior to the publication of the posthumous Poems (1667).
This presentation volume, then, encompasses the majority of Philips’s works to stand as her posthumous memorial for one of her closest friends. The prevalence of occasions and persons in Philips’s poetry encourages the reading of biographical narratives in her work. However, this manuscript eschews such readings, presenting the events of her poetry achronologically, without fitting into any externally imposed cohesive life narrative. Indeed, the manuscript contexts for her verse belie such linear narratives (cf. Coolahan 2003). Moreover, new manuscript witnesses to her poetry are still being located. A new edition which will take such discoveries into account is currently being prepared by Elizabeth Hageman (cf. Hageman and Sununu 1994). The present standard edition (Works), edited by Patrick Thomas, Germaine Greer and Roger Little, varies in its use of copy-texts. Rather than recording minor variants, this text records only readings which differ in the sense of the text where Thomas et al. have used the Rosania Manuscript as their copy-text.
Katherine Philips was without doubt the most widely read and acclaimed female poet of the seventeenth century. She was born in London on New Year’s Day 1631/2, the daughter of John and Katherine Fowler (Souers 1931, Thomas 1990-93:I). Both sides of her family had strong puritan inclinations. After John Fowler’s death in 1642, his widow remarried, but her second husband died within a few years. When, in 1646, she married Sir Richard Phillips of Pembrokeshire, her daughter moved with her to Wales. In August 1648, the young Katherine Fowler married James Philips (1624-1675). Philips was a Cromwellian, and prospered during the Commonwealth, despite his wife’s active and vocal royalist sympathies. The public threat posed to their delicate matrimonial balance of political sympathies is apparent in two of Philips’s poems: one answering a poem by the Fifth Monarchist Vavasour Powell, the other, addressed to her husband, defending her royalist position and her right to express it (see ‘On the double murther of the King’ and ‘To Antenor On a Paper of mine’ below).
Philips’s interregnum poetry is largely concerned with the joys of country life (a common topic in royalist verse of the period) and with sustaining her ‘Society of Friendship’. Taking its inspiration from the précieuses in France and Platonic ideas about friendship, Philips’s Society comprises her London, Wales and Dublin circles. In her poetry, she recasts herself as ‘Orinda’, and alludes to her friends via sobriquets largely derived from plays of the period. Her doctrine of friendship celebrates the harmonious and Platonic union of souls and notably forges a space for female friendship.
At the Restoration, Philips’s political affiliations were to stand her and her family in good stead. Her husband’s sequestration of royalist estates during the Commonwealth was subject to repeal on the Restoration, and he underwent trial for his role as member of the High Court of Justice. Katherine Philips lauded the returning monarch and his family, cultivating a close friendship with the reinstated royal Master of Ceremonies, Sir Charles Cotterell (‘Poliarchus’), who was to prove a strong ally at court. Philips’s close friend Anne Owen (‘Lucasia’) married the Irishman Colonel Marcus Trevor in 1662, and Philips accompanied them to Ireland, where she made the acquaintance of the court in Dublin. There, the politician, poet and dramatist Roger Boyle, Lord Orrery, instigated Philips’s translation of Corneille’s Pompée, which proved a great success, and trumped a rival group in England – led by Edmund Waller – who were also engaged in translating Pompée.
In July 1663, Philips returned to Cardigan, where she capitalised on her growing reputation, beginning her second Corneille translation (Horace). Select poems by Philips appeared in print within specifically royalist contexts during her lifetime; however, by far the majority of her verse was not officially authorised for print publication. The continuing scholarly controversy over the extent to which her work was intended to enter the sphere of print – focused on the question of her involvement in Marriott’s publication of Poems in 1664 – points to Philips as the perfect case study for the blurring of ‘private’ and ‘public’ boundaries in seventeenth-century women’s manuscript writing (see Greer 1996, 156-64; Beal 1998, 161-5). Philips died from smallpox at the height of her fame and powers on 22 June 1664. Her fame grew after her death, most particularly after the publication of 121 poems and both plays in Herringman’s folio edition of 1667 (reprinted in 1669 and 1678; octavo 1710).
Philips (1664), Philips (1667), Philips (1990-93) Beal (1998), Coolahan (2003), Greer (1996), Hageman and Sununu (1994), Souers (1931)
To the Excellent
Orinda, though withdraw’n, is not from you; In lines so full of Spirit sure
she lives; And to be with you, is that only spell can share her with the
bright Abodes; your Eyes, her heaven on Earth; your Noble Heart her
Center. Admit, that Lethe washes cares away; yet there’s no Passage to
Elisium debarr’d her Joyes. And the sweet intercourse your souls 5
maintain’d, was of a Nature so refined; Of the fruits of Paradise; a Taste of
those above; and so entirely seized of Orinda’s soul, no more to be devested
with Mortality. Cease then, Adorable Rosania, to afflict your beauteous
Mind, for that privation, which being hers, is your advantage; And freely
sympathize in her beatitude. So her enlarged knowledg view’s your Graces; 10
& with un-dazzeld Opticks, in you beholds that Fullness, whose but
imperfect discovery, was so much her Wonder; and now displayed, both
justify’s, & entertain’s her admiration. Nor can she feele your absence,
whose pure thoughts, she see’s already, so familiar in those Glorious
Mansions, & your candid breast, so fit, and lov’d a receptacle for her own. 15
Here is a beatiffick converse! Angels, thus, are still ascending, &
descending. It was this, Orinda’s matchless Pen aspired; And having
bequeath’d you these clear streams, you see how soon she thither took her
flight, whence the rich veine derived. To appear in Print, how un:inclined she
was? (I confess, an Edition, now, would gratify her Admirers, and ’twere but 20
a just remeriting that value, which (in hers, & their own Right) was the
Universall consent.) You, whose passionate concern so frankely exposed
your admirable Beauty to that spitefull Disease, (whence all our grief,) led by
the generous dictates of as inimitable Friendship; You, whose solicitous
devoirs; whose bleeding anguish, shewed how readily you would have been 25
her Ransom! You, in whose pious memory she shines, next to her lustre
amongst the Stars! You alone; were her Ambition, as her Love. Enjoy these
dear Remains, no more as a sad Monument; nor to remind her past, but
present State. Thus, will her Raptures be to your harmonious Soul, a
Jacobs-Staff, to levell at her Gloryes. Nor can these Charming Poems, so 30
absolute over our affections, be themselves utterly insensible how Soveraign
a bliss its to be yours,
Most humble, & most 35 devoted Servant
Polexander [pp. 5-7]
On a Paper of mine, which an unworthy Adversary of his, threatned to publish, to pregiudice him, in Cromwels time.
Must then my folly’s, be thy scandall too?
Why sure the Devill hath not much to doe.
My Love, & life, I must confess, are thine,
But not my errours, they are only mine.
And if my faults should be for thine allow’d, 5
It will be hard to dissipate the cloud.
But, Eves rebellion, did not Adam blast,
Untill himself forbidden fruit did tast.
But if those lines, a punishment could call,
Lasting, & great, as this dark-Lantherns gall, 10
Alone, I’de court the torments, with content,
To testify, that thou art Innocent.
So if my Ink, through malice prov’d a stain,
My blood should justly wash it off again.
But, since the Mint of Slander, could invent 15
To make that triviall Rime his instrument,
Verse should reveng the quarrell, but hee’s worse
Then wishes, & below a Poets curse.
And more then this, wit know’s not how to give,
Let him be still himself, & let him live. 20
On the double murther of the King.
(In answer to a libellous paper written by V: Powell, at my house) These verses were those mention’d in the precedent coppy.
I think not on the State, nor am concern’d,
Which way soever that great Helm is turn’d.
But as that Son, whose Fathers danger nigh
Did force his native dumbness, & unty
The fetterd Organs, so this is a cause 5
That will excuse the breach of Nature’s laws,
Silence were criminall, nay, passion now
Wise men themselves, for merit will allow.
What humane Ey could see, & careless pass,
The dying Lyon kick’d by every Ass. 10
Hath Charles so broke Gods Laws he must not have
A quiet Scepter, nor a quiet Grave.
Tombs have been Sanctuary’s, Thieves ly there,
Secure from all their penalty, & feare.
Great Charles his double misery was this, 15
Unfaithfull friends, ignoble Enemy’s.
Had any Heathen been this Princes foe.
He would have wept to see him Injurd soe.
His tytle was his crime, they’d reason good,
To quarrell at a right they had withstood. 20
He broke Gods law’s, & therfore he must dy,
And what shall then become of you, & I?
Slander must follow Treason, but yet, stay,
Take not our Judgment with our King away,
Though you have seiz’d upon all our defence, 25
Yet doe not sequester our common-sence,
But I admire not at this new supply,
No bounds will hold those who at Scepters fly.
Christ will be King, but I ne’re understood
His subjects built his Kingdome up with blood. 30
Except their own, nor that he would dispence
With his commands, though for his defence.
O! to what height of horrour are they come,
Who dare pull down a Crown, tear up a Tomb.
Arion on a Dolphin,
beholding his Majesty, in his
Passage to England
Whom does this stately Navy bring?
O! ’tis Great Brittains Glorious King;
Convey him then, yee winds, & Seas,
Swift as desire, & calme as Peace.
In your respect, let him survey 5
What all his other Subjects pay,
And prophesy to them again
The splendid smoothness of his reign.
Charles & his mighty hopes you beare,
A greater now then Cesar’s here, 10
Whose veins, a richer purple boast,
Then ever Hero’s yet engross’d,
Sprang from a Father Great, & Just,
Who triumph’s in his very dust.
In him two miracles we view, 15
His vertue, & his safety too,
For when compell’d by Traytors crimes
To breath & bow in forreigne climes,
Expos’d to all the rigid Fate
Which does on wither’d Greatness wait, 20
Had plots for life, & conscience layd,
By Foes pursu’d, by Friends betray’d.
Then Heav’n his secret, Potent Friend,
Did him from drugs, & stabs defend,
And, whats more yet, kept him upright, 25
Midst flattring hope, & bloody fright,
Cromwell his whole right never gain’d,
Defender of the Faith remain’d,
For which his Predecessours fought,
And writt, but none, so dearly bought. 30
Never was Prince so much besieg’d,
At home provok’d, abroad obliegd.
Nor ever Man resisted thus,
No not Great Athanasius.
No help of friends could, or foes spight, 35
To fierce invasion him invite,
Reveng to him no pleasure is,
He spar’d their blood who gasp’d for his,
Blush’d any hands the English Crown
Should fasten on him but their own. 40
As Peace & freedome with him went,
With him they come from banishment.
That he might his dominions win,
He with himself did first begin,
And that best victory obtain’d, 45
His Kingdoms quickly he regain’d.
Th’Illustrious sufferings of this Prince
Did all reduce, & all convince,
He only liv’d with such success,
That the whole world would fight with less. 50
Assistant Kings could but subdue,
Those Foes which he can pardon too,
He think’s no slaughter-Trophy’s good,
Nor Lawrell’s dipt in Subjects blood,
But with a sweet resistless Art, 55
Disarm’s the hand, & win’s the Heart,
And like a God, does rescue those
Who did themselves & him oppose.
Goe wondrous Prince, adorn the Throne,
Which birth & merit make your owne, 60
And in your mercy brighter shine
Then in the glorys of your line,
Find Love at home, & abroad feare,
And veneration every where.
Th’united World will you allow 65
Their Chief, to whom the English bow,
And Monarch’s shall to yours resort,
As Shebah’s Queen to Judahs Court,
Returning thence constrained more
To wonder, envy, & adore. 70
Discover’d Rome will hate your Crown,
But she shall tremble at your frown,
For England shall, rul’d & restor’d by you,
The suppliant World protect, or else subdue.
A Retird friendship
To Ardelia 1651.
Come my Ardelia to this Bowre,
Where kindly mingling thoughts awhile,
Lets innocently spend an houre,
And at serious folly’s smile.
Here is no quarrelling for Crowns, 5
Nor feare of changes in our fate,
No trembling at the Great ones frowne,
Nor any slavery of State.
Heere’s no disguise, nor treachery,
Nor any deep conceald design, 10
From bloody Plotts this place is free
And calm as are those looks of thine
Heere let us sit, & bless our Starrs
Who did such happy quiet give,
As that remov’d from noyse of wars, 15
In one anothers hearts we live.
Why should we entertain a feare,
Love cares not how the World is turn’d,
If crouds of dangers should appear.
Our harmless Souls are unconcernd. 20
We weare about us such a charm
No horrour can give us offence
Mischief it self can doe no harm
To friendship, & to Innocence.
Lets marke how soon Apollo’s beams 25
Command the flocks to quit their meat,
And not entreat the Neighbour streams
To quench their thirst, but cool their heat.
In such a scorching Age as this
Who ever would not seek a shade 30
Deserve their happiness to miss,
As having their own peace betray’d.
But we, (of one anothers mind
Assur’d,) the boystrous world disdain,
And here can quiet be, & kind, 35
Which Princes wish, but wish in vain.
21. weare] a inserted
To my Excellent Lucasia
on our mutuall friendship promis’d.
17. July 1651
I did not live, untill this time
Crown’d my felicity,
When I could say without a crime
I am not thine, but thee.
This Carcass breath’d, & walk’d, & slept, 5
So that the World beleiv’d
There was a Soul, the motions kept,
But they were all deceiv’d.
For as a watch, by art is wound
To motion, such was mine, 10
But never had Orinda found
A soul, till she found thine.
Which now inspire’s, cure’s, & supply’s,
And guides my darkned brest,
For thou art all that I can prize, 15
My Joy, my life, my rest.
No Bridegroom’s, nor crown’d Conquerours mirth,
To mine compar’d can be,
They have but peeces of this Earth,
I’ve all the World in thee. 20
Then let our flame still light, & shine,
And no damp fear controule
As innocent as our design,
Immortall as our Soul.
24. Immortall] superimposed on As
To the Excellent Rosania
‘Rosania’ is the sobriquet given to Mary Aubrey Montagu by Philips. Mary Aubrey and Philips became friends while attending Mrs Salmon’s school in Hackney as children. The friendship continued after Philips’s departure for Wales with her mother in 1646, though it cooled slightly after Aubrey’s marriage to Sir William Montagu (see ‘Rosania’s private Marriage’). The pair remained on good terms, however, and Montagu nursed Philips during her fatal illness in 1664. The scribe of the manuscript, Polexander (unidentified), here dedicates the volume to Montagu.
4. Lethe] Classical river of forgetfulness.
5. Elisium] Elysium is the mythical location for the enjoyment of a pleasant after-life.
30. Jacobs-Staff] Jacob’s ladder, Genesis 28:12. Jacob dreams of a ladder linking earth and heaven, ‘the angels of God ascending and descending on it’.
To Antenor On a Paper of mine
Antenor is Philips’s sobriquet for her husband James Philips, a prominent Cromwellian. This poem defends the author’s royalist stance in the poem ‘On the double murther of the King’ (see below). The ‘Adversary’ of James Philips mentioned in the title – identified in the Dering Manuscript as a certain ‘J. Jones’ – had threatened to publish Katherine Philips’s ‘On the double murther of the King’ in order to damage her husband’s reputation. Thomas (Works, I:346) proposes that ‘J. Jones’ may have been Jenkin Jones of Llandetty (b. 1623), a parliamentarian who was appointed an approver of ministers under the Act for the Better Propagation and Preaching of the Gospel in Wales in 1650. James Philips was appointed a Commissioner by the same Act.
7-8. Eves rebellion ... tast] Genesis 3:6, 17.
15. Mint] i.e. the place where slanders are devised.
On the double murther of the King.
A rare instance of chronological presentation in the Rosania Manuscript, this poem, which immediately follows ‘To Antenor On a Paper of mine’, supplies the text of the ‘Paper’ which J. Jones had threatened to publish. ‘On the double murther of the King’ is an answer to a poem by the leading Fifth Monarchist, Vavasour Powell. Powell, like Jenkin Jones, was appointed an approver of ministers by the 1650 Propagation Act, and was preaching in Cardiganshire in February of 1654. Intriguingly, the manuscript’s title suggests that Powell wrote his verse at Philips’s house (although Thomas (Works, I: 261) interprets this as indicating that the compiler of the manuscript copied his version of the poem from one made by Philips herself). Powell’s poem ‘On the late K. Charles of Blessed Memory’ has recently been discovered by Hageman and Sununu (1994, 128-31).
3. that Son] In Herodotus, King Croesus has a mute son, and the Delphic oracle has prophesied that if he should ever speak, it would be the sign of doom for his father. When Croesus is in danger from Persian forces, the son cries out a warning, and the Persians capture Croesus. See Herodotus (1920-5, I:109).
10. The dying Lyon kick’d by every Ass] In the fable by Phaedrus, the dying lion can endure attacks by a boar and a bull, but ‘seem[s] to die a second death’ when attacked by an ass (Babrius and Phaedrus 1965, 217).
26. sequester] to set aside, to confiscate, to remove from the possession of the owner temporarily (OED, 1, 2, 3a). There is a topical resonance: during and after the English Civil Wars, many lands were sequestered from parties on both sides.
Arion on a Dolphin
Written on the anticipated return of King Charles II to England in 1660.
Title. Arion] Greek lyric poet, seventh century BC. During a sea-journey from Italy he was thrown overboard by sailors, but a dolphin, hearing his song, bore him safely to land.
28. Defender of the Faith] title held by the monarch as head of the Church of England (also cited by Jane Seager and Mary Roper in poems on Elizabeth I and Charles I respectively).
30. writt] Henry VIII was granted the title of Defender of the Faith by the Pope, in recognition of his anti-Lutheran writings.
34. Athanasius] St. Athanasius (c. 296-373), bishop of Alexandria, opponent of Arianism (which denied the true divinity of Jesus Christ). He was exiled from his see five times, between 336 and 366.
68. As Shebah’s Queen to Judahs Court] Cf. 1 Kings 10:1-13. The Queen of Sheba visits King Solomon to witness for herself the glories of the kingdom of Israel.
A Retird friendship
This poem is dated 23 August 1651 in the Tutin Manuscript. Ardelia is unidentified.
5. Here is … Crowns] The Battle of Worcester, at which Charles II tried and failed to win his father’s kingdoms, was fought on 3 September 1651.
Inconstancy in Friendship
9-10. Nero ... fire] According to Suetonius, the Emperor Nero set Rome on fire for the pleasure of watching it burn (Suetonius 1997, II:149-51).
21. frantick] mad.
To my Excellent Lucasia
‘Lucasia’ is Anne Owen, a member of the Welsh gentry. She was adopted into Philips’s self-proclaimed Society of Friendship in 1651. The warmth of Orinda’s declarations to Lucasia is sometimes linked by critics to Philips’s supposed estrangement from Mary Aubrey following the latter’s marriage (see ‘Rosania’s private Marriage’, and notes). Philips later tried to arrange a marriage between Owen and her own friend Sir Charles Cotterell (‘Poliarchus’). However, Owen married Colonel Marcus Trevor, later Viscount Dungannon, in 1662. The sources differ as to the dating of this poem: the Dering Manuscript gives 17 July 1652, while the Tutin Manuscript is unclear, reading either 1651 or 1653. Moreover, the bestowing of the sobriquet ‘Lucasia’ and her adoption into the Society of Friendship is commemorated in another poem, dated December 1651 in all three manuscripts.