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SAMUEL DANIEL, poet and historian, was the son of a music-master, and born near Taunton in Somersetshire, in 1560. At the age of seventeen, he was admitted cominoner of Magdalene College, Oxford, but left the university without a degree.
His own merit, joined to the recommendation of his brother-in-law,John Florio, author of an Italian Dictionary, procured him the patronage of queen Anne, consort of James I. who honoured him with the office of groom of the privy chamber. The queen was much pleased with his conversation, and her elevating countenance, aided by his own talents, introduced him to the acquaintance of some of the most celebrated men of the day, as sir John Harrington, Camden, sir Robert Cotton, sir Henry Spelman, Spenser, Ben Jonson, &c. &c. He subsequently became preceptor to the lady Anne Clifford, who, when afterwards countess of Pembroke, was an exemplary patroness of learning and learned men.
He succeeded Spenser as poetlaureat to queen Elizabeth; and died at Beckington, near Philips-Norton in Somersetshire, in 1619.
Daniel wrote, 1. in prose, “A Defence of Rhime, against a pamphlet entitled, Observations on the Art of English Poesy,—wherein is demonstrably proved, that rhime is the fittest harmony of words, that comports with our language,” 1611, Svo. This, with his plays, and other poetical compositions, were published together at London, in two volumes 12mo. 1718.
2. But my principal business with Daniel is as an historian. The first part of his History of England, in three books, was printed in 1613, 4to. and extending from William the Conqueror to the end of king Stephen's reign; with a very brief survey of the British history, prior to the conquest. 'To this he afterwards added “A Second Part,"which was printed in the year 1618, and reached to the end of Edward III.
In his advertisement to the reader, Daniel states the authorities whence he derived his materials, as follow:
Now for what I have done, which is the greatest part of our history, (and wherein, I dare avow, is more together of the main, than hath been yet contracted into one piece,) I am to render an account whence I had my furniture: which if I have omitted to charge my margin witbal, I would have the reader to know; that in the lives of William I, William II, Henry 1, and Stephen, I have especially followed William Malmsbury, Ingulphus, Roger Hoveden, Huntingdon, with all such collections, as have been made out of others for those times. In the lives of Henry II, Richard I, John, and Henry III, Giraldus Cambrensis, Rushanger, Mat. Paris, Mat. Westminst. Nich. Trivet, Caxton, and others. In the lives of Edward I, Edward II, and Edward III, Froissart and Walsingham, with such collections as by Polydore Virgil, Fabian, Grafton, Hall, Holinshed, Stow, and Speed, diligent and famous travellers in the search of our history, have been made and divulged to the world. For foreign businesses (especially with France, where we had most to do;) I have for authors, Paulus Emilius, Haillan, Fillet, and others, without whom we cannot truly understand our own affairs. And where otherwise I have had VOL. II.
any supplies extraordinary, either out of record, or such instruments of state as I could procure, I have given a true account of them in the margin, so that the reader shall be sure to be paid with no counterfeit coin, but such as shall have the stamp of antiquity, the approbation of testimony, and the allowance of authority, so far as I shall proceed herein.
And for that I would have this breviary to pass with an uninterrupted delivery of the especial affairs of the kingdom (without embroiling the memory of the reader) I have in a body apart, under the title of an appendix, collected all treaties, letters, articles, charters, ordinances, entertainments, provisions of armies, businesses of commerce, with other passages of state appertaining to our history; which, as soon as I have means to print, shall, for the better satisfying such worthy persons as may make use of such materials, accompany this collection; and to this appendix I have made references in the margin, as occasion requires.
He commences his history with giving his reasons why he did not begin farther back than William the Conqueror.
Undertaking, says he, to collect the principal affairs of this kingdom, I had a desire to have deduced the same from the beginning of the first British kings, as they are registered in their catalogue; but finding no authentical warrant how they came there, I did put off that desire with these considerations: That a lesser part of time, and better known, (which was from William I. surnamed the Bastard) was more than enough for my ability; and how it was but our curiosity to search further back into times past than we might discern, and whereof we could neither have proof nor profit; how the beginnings of all people and states were as uncertain as the heads of great rivers, and could not add to our virtue, and peradventure, little to our reputation to know them, considering how commonly they rise from the springs of poverty, piracy, robbery, and 'violence; howsoever fabulous writers (to glorify their nations) strive to abuse the credulity of afterages with heroical or miraculous beginnings. For states (as men) are ever best seen when they are' up, and as they are, not as they were. Besides, (it seems) God in his providence, to check our presumptuous inquisition, wraps up all things in uncertainty, bars us out from long antiquity, and bounds our searches within the compass of a few ages, as if the same were sufficient, both for example and instruction, to the government of men. For had we the