1805 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Alabaster

Henry John Todd, in Works of Spenser (1805) 1:c-cii.



He was educated in Trinity College, Cambridge. Of this distinguished person I will relate some circumstances, which were not known to Wood. Of his poem in manuscript, the Eliseis, which Spenser highly celebrates, I have given an account in the note on its introduction into this Pastoral [Colin Clouts Come Home]. He appears to have received an offer of the rectory of Brettenham from the Lord Keeper Egerton, which he declined, as being not agreeable to his expectation, in a Letter accompanied with a copy of elegant Latin hexameters to his Lordship. He relinquished, as Wood relates, the Church of England for that of Rome; but afterwards returned to his deserted mother, and obtained considerable preferments. He died in 1640. His conversion to Popery had probably taken place about 1598, in which year he published his motives for his conduct. In 1604 he was engaged in a controversy, on account of his new profession of faith, with an antagonist of the highest reputation as a scholar and Protestant Divine, Dr. Will. Bedell, afterwards Bishop of Kilmore; an admirer and imitator also of Spenser. Alabaster was undoubtedly a man of great learning. In his Roxana, however, which Dr. Johnson has greatly extolled, there is certainly much false taste, as Mr. Warton long since observed. Herrick, in his Hesperides, has addressed a poem to him on the subject of his great attainments and various labours.