Soon after the accession of James I., Daniel, at the recommendation of his brother-in-law, John Florio, possibly furthered by the interest of the Earl of Pembroke, was given a post as gentleman extraordinary and groom of the privy chamber to Anne of Denmark; and a few months after was appointed to take the oversight of the plays and shows that were performed by the children of the Queen’s revels, or children of the Chapel, as they were called under Elizabeth. He had thus a snug position at Court, and might have been happy, had it been another Court. But in nothing was the accession of James more apparent than in the almost instantaneous blasting of the taste, manners, and serious grace that had marked the Court of Elizabeth. The Court of James was a Court of bad taste, bad manners, and no grace whatever: and Daniel—“the remnant of another time,” as he calls himself—looked wistfully back upon the days of Elizabeth.
“But whereas he came
planted in the spring,
And had the sun before him of respect;
We, set in th’ autumn, in the withering
And sullen season of a cold defect,
Must taste those sour distastes the times do bring
Upon the fulness of a cloy’d neglect.
Although the stronger constitutions shall
Wear out th’ infection of distemper’d days ...”
And so he stood dejected, while the young men of “stronger constitutions” passed him by.
In this way it happened that Daniel, whom at the outset his contemporaries had praised with wide consent, and who never wrote a loose or unscholarly line, came to pen, in the dedicatory epistle prefixed to his tragedy of “Philotas,” these words—perhaps the most pathetic ever uttered by an artist upon his work:
“And therefore since
I have outlived the date
Of former grace, acceptance and delight.
I would my lines, late born beyond the fate
Of her[A] spent line, had never come to light;
So had I not been tax’d for wishing well,
Nor now mistaken by the censuring Stage,
Nor in my fame and reputation fell,
Which I esteem more than what all the age
Or the earth can give. But years hath done this wrong,
To make me write too much, and live too long.”