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Nikolaes Heinsius

Nikolaes Heinsius (July 20, 1620 - 1681), Dutch scholar, son of Daniel Heinsius[?], was born at Leiden.

His boyish Latin poem of Breda expugnata was printed in 1637, and attracted much attention. In 1642 he began his wanderings with a visit to England in search of manuscripts of the classics; but he met with little courtesy from the English scholars. In 1644 he was sent to Spa to drink the waters; his health restored, he set out once more in search of codices, passing through Louvain, Brussels, Mechelen, Antwerp and so back to Leiden, everywhere collating manuscripts and taking philological and textual notes.

Almost immediately he set out again, and arriving in Paris was welcomed with open arms by the French savants. After investigating all the classical texts he could lay hands on, he proceeded southwards, and visited on the same quest Lyons, Marseilles, Pisa, Florence (where he paused to issue a new edition of Ovid) and Rome. Next year, 1647, found him in Naples, from which he fled during the reign of Masaniello; he pursued his labours in Leghorn, Bologna, Venice and Padua, at which latter city he published in 1648 his volume of original Latin verse entitled Italica.

He proceeded to Milan, and worked for a considerable time in the Ambrosian library; he was preparing to explore Switzerland in the same patient manner, when the news of his father's illness recalled him hurriedly to Leiden. He was soon called away to Stockholm at the invitation of Queen Christina, at whose court he waged war with Salmasius, who accused him of having supplied Milton with facts from the life of that great but irritable scholar. Heinsius paid a flying visit to Leiden in 1650, but immediately returned to Stockholm. In 1651 he once more visited Italy; the remainder of his life was divided between Uppsala and Holland.

He collected his Latin poems into a volume in 1653. His latest labours were the editing of Velleius Paterculus in 1678, and of Valerius Flaccus in 1680. He died at the Hague on the 7th of October 1681.

Nikolaes Heinsius was one of the purest and most elegant of Latinists, and if his scholarship was not quite so perfect as that of his father, he displayed higher gifts as an original writer.

His illegitimate son, Nikolaes Heinsius (b. 1655), was the author of The Delightful Adventures and Wonderful Life of Mirandor (1675), the single Dutch romance of the 17th century. He had to flee the country in 1677 for committing a murder in the streets of the Hague, and died in obscurity.


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