This Gentleman was born near Taunton in Somersetshire; and in the Year 1581. he being then Nineteen Years of Age, he was enter'd Commoner of St. Mary Magdalen-Hall, Oxford; he continu'd there three Years, applying himself, with great Assiduity, to the Study of History and Poetry. When that time was expir'd, he left the University, and coming to London, his own Merit, and the Recommendation to Mr. John Florio, his Brother-in-Law, prefer'd him to be one of the Grooms of the privy Chamber to Queen Anne, Royal Consort of King James I. He wrote most of his Plays retir'd a little distance from London, amongst the Solitary Amusements of delightful Gardens. At last he wholly quitted the Town, and remov'd into Wiltshire, where he commenc'd Farmer; and by a healthful Exercise in that Employment, he liv'd 'till he was near Eighty Years of Age. He had been Tutor to the Lady Anne Clifford, Heiress of George, Earl of Cumberland, and afterwards Countess of Pembroke, &c. which Lady, after his Death, erected a Monument over him. He writ five Dramatick Pieces.
I. The Queen's Arcadia; a Pastoral Tragi-Comedy, presented to the Queen and her Ladies, by the University of Oxon, in Christ-Church-College, 1605. It is Dedicated to the Queen. The Scene of Carinus and Amyntus resemble Quinault's Philene and Daphnis, in his Comedy "sans Comedie," &c.
II. CLEOPATRA; a Tragedy, first printed 1611. Dedicated to the Countess of Pembroke. This Play was very much esteem'd in its Time, and there is another Edition of it 1622. which very much excels the first. For the Story consult Plutarch's lives of Pompey and Anthony, Florus lib. 4. c. 11. Appian de Bel. Civil. lib. 5. and a Translation of a French Book, call'd The History of the Three Triumvirates, done by Mr. Otway.
III. PHILOTAS; a Tragedy, Dedicated to King Charles I. when he was only Prince. This Play had a good Reputation, but met with some Opposition, on Suspicion that Philotas represented the Earl of Essex, the unfortunate Favourite of Queen Elizabeth. This Play is said to be the first the Author writ. The Plot is taken from Plutarch's Life of Alexander, Quint. Curt. lib. 6. c. 7. Justin, &c.
IV. Hymen's Triumph; a Pastoral Tragi-Comedy, presented before the King, at the Queen's Court, on the Celebration of the Nuptials of the Lord Roxborough. It is Dedicated to the High-born Princess Anne of Denmark, Queen of England, &c.
V. The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses; a Masque, presented at Hampton-Court before the Queen and her Ladies; Dedicated to the Lady Lucy, Countess of Bedford. The Author's Design in the Twelve Goddesses, was, under their Shapes, to represent the Blessings this Nation enjoy'd, in the Reign of King James I.
All these Pieces, with his Miscellaneous Poems, are lately reprinted in two Volumes 12mo, under the Title of The whole Poetical Works of Samuel Daniel, Esq. He wrote, besides, an excellent History of England in Folio, since continu'd by Mr. Trussel.