With Daniel begins and ends in English literature the dominant influence of the Italian pastoral drama. No doubt the imitation of Tasso and Guarini is an important element in the subsequent history of pastoralism in this country, and to trace and define that influence will be not the least important task of the ensuing chapters. No doubt it supplied the incentive that induced a man like Fletcher to bid for a hopeless success in such a play as the Faithful Shepherdess, and placed a heavy debt to the account of Thomas Randolph when he composed his Amyntas. But in these cases, as in others, wherever the author availed himself of the tradition imported from the Ferrarese court, he approached it as it were from without, seeking to rival, to acclimatize, rather than to reproduce. Nowhere else do we find the tone and atmosphere, the structure, situations, and characters imitated with that fidelity, or attempt at fidelity, which makes Daniel’s plays almost indistinguishable, except for language, from much of the work of the later Italians. To minimize with many critics Daniel’s dependence on his models, or to emphasize with some that of Fletcher, is, it seems to me, wholly to misapprehend the positions they occupy in the history of literature, and to obscure the actual development of the pastoral ideal in this country.
The Three Masterpieces