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LIFE of DANIEL.
SAMUEL DANIEL, the son of a music master, was born near Taunton, Somersetshire, in 1562. At seventeen, he became a Commoner of Magdalen Hall, in Oxford; and, as the graver parts of scholastic discipline were ill-suited to his genius, he consumed three years chiefly in the perusal of history and poetry. He left the University without a degree; and, after pursuing his studies, for some time, at Wilton, under the patronage of Mary, "Countess of Pembroke, and sister to Sir Philip Sidney, he became the tutor of Lady Anne Clifford, daughter of George Clifford, Earl of Cum. berland. His subsequent patrons were Lord Montjoy, the Countess of Bedford, and the Earl of Southampton. He published a translation of Paulus Jovius, on Rare Inventions, in 1585; his tragedy of Cleopatra, and the Complaints of Rosamond, in 1584, the Sonnets to Delia, not long after; and the Letter from Octavio to JMarcus Antonius, in 1611. In 1599, he succeeded Spenser, as Poet Laureat to Queen Elizabeth : four years afterwards, he wrote a congratulatory poem on the accession of King James;
and some time, during that monarch's reign, was, in return, appointed gentleman extraordinary. Queen Anne, who is said to have been delighted with his conversation and writings, made him a groom of the privy chambers; and, as his office did not require his constant attendance at court, he rented a house and garden in Oldstreet, near London; where he sometimes buried himself for two months together; and would suddenly come out to sun himself at court, enjoy the conversation of his friends, and see one of his plays performed. In 1604, he wrote the Masque of the Twelve Goddesses; in 1605, the two pastoral tragi-comedies of the Queen’s ..]rcadia, and Hymen’s Triumph, and, six years afterwards, the tragedy of Philotas. But the work upon which his fame, as a poet, is principally, founded—the History of Wars between the Houses of York and Lancaster, was published in 1604. In the years 1613-18, he published the History of England; and died, in October, of the following year, at his farm, in Beckington, near Philips-Norton, in Somersetshire. He was interred in the church of Beckington ; and a long time after, Lady Anne Clifford, Countess Dowager of Dorset, Pembroke, and Montgomery, erected a monument to his memory. Daniel is distinguished for the justness and good sense of his thoughts, and the neatness and harmony of his verse. He appears to have had great dif. fidence in his own powers; and, neyer daring to aim at eminence, he very frequently fell short of mediocrity. His imagination seems, for a moment, to take wing ; but is soon brought down to earth again, by the sober weight of reality and common sense. He seems to have been a follower of truth, rather than a votary of fiction; and perhaps it would be difficult to determine whether he is most distinguished as a historian, or as a poet. Longbaine “takes his prose History of Eng
land to be the crown of all his works”; and, for his poetical account of the Civil Wars, he has acquired the title of the English Lucan. He was a great improver of our language ; and, while Milton, for example, has antidated his poems, by using antique modes of expression, Daniel seems to have anticipated one or two centuries, by em ploying language, which perhaps time can never render obsolete, or even unfamiliar.