-FREE WEB SITE HOSTING - 0catch.com-
1000 MB Web Hosting, 1000 Email only $7.50/mo
::$6.95 HOSTING - 1 GIG, 1000 EMAILS, 50 GIG TRANSFER, CGI::
CLICK HERE

Hannay, David. The Later Renaissance.
New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1898.  213-215.


[Hannay on Daniel]
. . . .


Samuel Daniel, the son of a music-master, was born near Taunton in 1562, and was educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford. He began by translating the Imprese of Paulus Jovius, and his first independent works were his sonnets to Delia, already mentioned. It is possible that he went abroad as servant to Elizabeth's ambassador in France, Lord Stafford, and that he visited Italy before 1590. Although Daniel wrote two tragedies--Cleopatra and Philotas--they were on the classical model, which our stage has never tolerated, and he therefore could not live by literature, since it was then only the theatre which paid. It was necessary for him to seek support in the service of rich people. He found it in the patronage of the Pembroke family, and was afterwards tutor to the daughter of the famous sea-      


-213-



faring Earl of Cumberland. In his later years he was in the service of Queen Anne, the wife of James I., as "inspector of the children of the Queen's revels," and as groom or "gentleman extraordinary of her majesty's private chamber." At the end he appears to have achieved independence, for he died on a farm of his own near Beckington in 1619.

In spite of the interruptions caused by his tutoring, at which he repined not a little, Daniel was a voluminous writer. He was the author in prose of a history of England down to the reign of Edward III., popular in its day, and of the excellent Defence of Rime in answer to Campion's belated plea for "pure versifying." But it is as a poet that Daniel ranks in English literature, though with a limitation, somewhat roughly worded by his stronger contemporary Drayton, who said that "his manner better fitted prose." This would be a very unfair judgment if it were applied to all his work without qualification. The Complaint of Rosamonde, his first considerable poem, published in 1592, is neither in manner nor matter better fitted for prose. It is a very poetic retelling of the legend of Henry II.'s mistress in the favourite seven-line stanza. His moral epistles in verse escape the vice of mere moralising by virtue of a loftiness of sentiment which is fitly enough wedded to poetic form. Yet there is none of the "lofty, insolent, and passionate" note of the Elizabethans in Daniel, and Drayton's harsh sentence may be applied with little or no restriction to the Civil Wars. Daniel's claim to honour was as well stated by himself in some pre-

-214-



fatory verses to an edition of his poems in 1607 as by any of the many good judges of literature who have praised him:--

"I know I shall be read among the rest
So long as men speak English, and so long
As verse and virtue shall be in request,
Or grace to honest industry belong."

Grace to honest industry seems but a humble plea for the poet. We may paraphrase it with more dignity and not less truth by saying that Daniel was a most accomplished and conscientious artist in verse, who had a genuine, but mild, poetic nature. The care he took to revise his work is evidence of his conscience as a workman, and the fact that his changes were commonly for the better is proof of his judgment. It is mainly the beauty of his English which will cause him to be read for ever among the rest. If it never has the splendour of the greatest Elizabethan poetry, neither does it fall into "KingCambyses' vein," into the roaring fury which gave an outlet to the exuberant energy of that time. Southey gave Daniel as the nearest English equivalent to Camoens, on the ground that the main charm of both is the even purity of their language. This of itself is hardly compensation enough for the undoubted tediousness of his Civil Wars, which tell the essentially dreary history of the Wars of the Roses down to the marriage of Edward IV. 1

____________________
1 Chalmers British Poets, vol. iii. Complete works, edited by Dr Grosart . 5 vols., 1885-1896.

-215-