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scribed to the Right Honourable the Earl of PEMBROKE. By WILLIAM Nicols, Á. M. London 1711. in 8vo. pagg: 385.
HE Design of this work is to set forth the
Wonders of the Art of painting, the Vaice, and Speaking to the Eyes. Mr. Nicols has pitched upon a Noble Subject, to exercise his Skill in Poe. try ;
and tho' he is the First, ; who composed a Poem of this Nature, he has been very successful in his Attempt. He discovers a Copious Imagination; and his Work wants none of the Ornaments that the Matter is capable of. In order to give a juft Notion of his Performance, I should enlarge up on all the parts of it ; but to avoid too great à Prolixity, I shall confine myself to the most conlis derable.
1. Mr. Nicols begins his Poem with several Ob
Majori ingenio qui canet, alter erit.
Carmine victuro præbeat ille meus.
II. The Advantages arising from the Invention of Letters make a considerable Part of the Ild Book. Mr. Nicols is very particular upon that Head, and what he says on that Subject is illustrated with many Historical Passages.
III. In the Third Book he treats of far greater Advantages, that accrue to Men from Lerters. He thews how by that means Kingdoms and Common. weaths sublift ; how Laws, Covenants ,. Publick Treaties, and Estates are preserved ; how Arts and Sciences, flouris, and the History of past Ages is transmitted to Pofterity. He gives an Account of the most admirable Inventions both Ancient and Modern, and compares them together. He is ve. ry particular in describing the Usefulness of Hirtory, and his Description is written with great Eloquence and Judgment. He further shews, how by the Help of Letters the Memory of Great Men, Fa. mous for their Learning or their Military Exploits, is preferved to all Ages : *** Sola hæc figna vetant ne nos oblivio carpat:
Cætera cum pereunt, hæc monumenta manent. IV. Our Author Thews, in the Fourth Book, that the Invention of Letters is more valuable than any other Invention, becaufe 'tis by that means that God speaks to Men, and that his Laws are preserved entire and uncorrupt. Consuluit fignis Deus his mortalibus ægris,
Ad cuncta his placuit secla futura loqui, &e. Mr. Nicols takes occasion from thence to prove the Necessity of a written Rule, the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriprure, and the Uncertainty of Oral Traditions. This Book contains a great deal of Excellent Theology,
V. In the Fifth Book, the Author celebrates the Invention of Printing, and shews the many Advantages which the Commonwealth of Learning reaps from it. He wishes it had been invented much sooner, becaufe it would have prevented the Loss of many Excellent Authors, whom he enumerates. Mr. Nicols proceeds to give a short History of the State of Le.rning in all Ages : He mentions its Rise, Progress, Decay, and Restoration, which is owing in a great Measure to the Art of Printing. He mentions and commends those Worthies, who with indefatigable Industry became the Restorers of Learning in these Western Parts of the World. Lastly, He Thews how the Reformation was happily carried on by the Help of Printing, which could hardly have been effected with. out it. The remaining Part of this Book runs upon the Advantages of Learning, and shews how Human Nature is ennobled and improved by Letters.
His fine qui vivit, non multum diftat ab illis
Quæ ratione carent, totaq; morte cadunt, &c.
He answers the Objections against Learning, and very much complains of those, who murder the Anci. ent Authors by their ill Translations. He ends with an eloquent Address to the Nobility and Gentry, wherein he wishes they would more and more apply themselves to the Study of the Greek and Latin Tongues, that they may be able to read the Ancients in their own Languages.
VI. In the Sixth and Last Book, the Author hav. ing commended the Two Universities of England, (those Eminent Fountains of Learning) gives a juft Idea of a Learned Man. This Character is very fine, and shews Mr. Nicols to be no Stranger to any part of Learning. The Famous Bifhop Fel is the great Model, which he always had before his Eyes.
The Author concludes his Poem with the Just Praises of his illustrious Mecenas, the Earl of Pem. broke ; a Lord, no less eminent for his grear Probiry and Learning, than for his Noble and Ancient Extraction.
This Poem is attended with Learned Nores infer: ted at the Bottom of each Page, and at the End of the Book. They contain a great many Particulars rela. ting to the History of Learned Men, both Ancient and Modern ; and will be of great Use to thofe, who are not provided with large Libraries. Belides, the Author has taken care to clear several Paffages of his Poem in his Annotations, most of which are Philological, and adorned with many Curious Obfervations of Greek and Latin Writers.
What has been faid is fufficient to give a general Notion of this work. I proceed to take notice of some Pallages of the Author's Poem, that the Readers may have a further Speciinen of his Performance. Mr. Nicols having observed, That our Modern Lan. guages are liable to great Alterations, is afraid the Works of the best English Poers will not be very lafting, and that their Fate in Future Ages will be the faine with that of Chaucer in our Days,
Nulla diu vivent quæ vulgi condita lingua,
Quamvis nec careant arte nec ingenio : At quæ Romano fublimia carmina felix
Eloquio condas, secula, cuncta legent, ME Waller expresses himself to the fame Purpose in the following Verses.
Bur who can hope his Lines fhould long
When Architects have done their Part,
Poers that lasting Marble seek,
Our Author observes, That among the Greeks and the Romans, Learning was never more flourishing than when they were most famous for their military Ex. ploits. Literulis nihil effe bonis conjunctius armis
Agnoscer veterum qui leger acta ducum: Scilicet in populis quondam victoribus orbis
Florebant femper literæ & arma fimul.
Cum Perfis victis Græcia jura daret.
Roma triumphati cum caput orbis erat.
It will not be improper to observe, how Mr. Nicols expresses his Veneration for St. Ignatius in the following Lines :
A teneris placuit nobis Ignatius annis,
Cujus fcripta manent martyre digna Dei :
Ingens Præsulibus fcripra futura decus.
Supremum in facris quem dedit effe Deus.
(ctor Literulis quantùm profuit ille bonis.