« PreviousContinue »
it being finished, as the silkworm endeth her life in her long wrought clew, so I in this Theatre have built my own grave; whose architecture, howsoever defective it may be said to be, yet the project is good; and the cost great, though myself have freely bestowed this pains to the press, without pressing a penny from any man's purse. For me to shew the utility of history, were to light a dim candle before the bright sun; or to prescribe a method for their uses, were with Phormio to read a lecture of chivalry unto great Hannibal, war's experienced conductor: but as our own concerneth us nearest (wherein my pen hath taken the freest access) so let me abridge the whole in a small circle, and incompass that briefly, which hath been related in a far wider circumference, &c.
Bishop Nicholson gives the following character of Speed : “ John Speed must be acknowledged to have had a head the best disposed towards history of any of our writers; and would certainly have outdone himself, as far as he has gone beyond the rest of his profession, if the advantages of his education had been answerable to those of his natural genius. But what could be expected from a taylor? However, we may boldly say, that his chronicle is the largest and best we have hitherto extant. It begins with the first inhabitants of the island, and ends with the union of the kingdoms under king James, to whom it is dedicated. Though some say he spent twice seven years in compiling the whole, he himself owns he made more haste than he ought to have done; and that he was forced to trust a deal of his work in the hands of his friends and journeymen. And the truth of this honest acknowledgment and confession
is obvious enough to a discerning reader; · who will easily find a mighty difference in the style, as well as matter of several of the reigns.”
It is remarkable, that both Speed and Stow, persons to whom English history is so much indebted, were both taylors.
SAMUEL DANIEL, poet and historian, was the son of a music-master, and born near Taunton in Somersetshire, in 1562. At the age of seventeen, he was admitted commoner 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, Spensery Ben Jonson, &c. &c. He subsequently be. came 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, Observa. tions on the Art of English Poesy wherein is demonstrably proved, that rhime is the fittest harmony of words, that comports with our language," 1611, 8vo. 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 Hovedeli, Huntingdon, with all such collections, as have been made out of others for those times. In the lives of Henry II, Richard T, 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