1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Niccols

Thomas Park, "Niccols's Winter's Night's Dream" Censura Literaria 3 (1807) 157-60.



A Winter Night's Vision. Being an addition of such Princes especially famous, who were exempted in the former Historie. By Richard Niccols, Oxon. Mag. Hall. At London, Imprinted by Felix Kyngston. 1610.

From the following elegant sonnet-dedication to this part of his book, Mr. Warton inferred that the author was on board the Lord Admiral's ship (the Ark) when Cadiz was taken in 1596.

"To the Right Hon. the Lord Charles Howard, Earle of Nottingham, Baron of Effingham, Knight of the most noble Order of the Garter, Lord High Admirall of England, Ireland, and Wales, &c. one of his Majestie's most Honourable Privie Counsell."

As once that dove (true honor's aged lord!)
Hovering with wearied wings about your Arke,
When Cadiz' towers did fall beneath your sword,
To rest her selfe did single out that barke:
So my meeke Muse, from all that conquering rout
Conducted through the sea's wild wilderness
By your great selfe, to grave their names about
Th' Iberian pillars of Jove's Hercules;
Most humbly craves your lordly, lion's aid
'Gainst monster Envie, while she tells her storie
Of Britaine princes and that royall maid
In whose chaste hymne her Clio sings your glorie:
Which if (great lord) you grant, my Muse shall frame
Mirrours more worthie your renowned name.
Your Honor's ever most humblie devoted
RICHARD NICCOLS.

An Address to the Reader on two pages, and a metrical induction extending to three leaves, follow: the ten histories, before enumerated, occupy from p. 561 to 769 of the volume. Then succeeds a new title page, with a wood-cut of Q. Elizabeth, inscribed

England's Eliza: or the victorious and triumphant reigne of that Virgin Empresse of sacred memorie, Elizabeth; Queene of England, France and Ireland, &c. At London, Imprinted by Felix Kingston. 1610.

Another sonnet-dedication follows this title, which (as well as the above) having been displaced from many of the copies, is here supplied.

"To the vertuous Ladle, the Ladie Elizabeth Clere, wife to the Right Worshipfull Sir Francis Clere, Knt."

My Muse, that whilome wail'd those Briton kings
Who unto her in vision did appeare,
Craves leave to strengthen her night-weather'd wings
In the warme sunshine of your golden Clere;
Where she (faire Ladie) tuning her chast layes
Of England's Empresse to her hymnicke string
For your affect, to heare that Virgin's praise,
Makes choice of your chast selfe to heare her sing:
Whose royall worth (true virtues paragon)
Heere made me dare t' ingrave your worthie name;
In hope that unto you the same alone
Will so excuse me of presumptuous blame,
That gracefull entertaine my Muse may find,
And ever beare such grace in thankfull mind.
Your Ladiships ever humblie at command,
RICHARD NICCOLS.

A prose address on one page, and a poetical induction on 8, precede the historical narrative, which occupies more than 90 pages. His induction exhibits the following honourable tribute to the memory of Spenser:

O did that Fairie Queene's sweet singer live,
That to the dead eternitie could give!
Or, if that Heaven by influence would infuse
His heavenlie spirit on mine earth-born Muse:
Her name ere this a mirror should have been,
Lim'd out in golden verse to th' eyes of men.
But my sad Muse, though willing, yet too weak
In her rude rymes Elizaes worth to speak;
Must yeeld to those, whose Muse can mount on high,
And with brave plumes can climb the loftie skie.

Nicchols will be found a melodious versifier, if not a first-rate poet; and was the author of many other productions, which remain to be mentioned.

T. P.