1790 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Alabaster

Edmond Malone, in Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare (1790; 1821) 2:260-63.



In the midst of these fanciful adumbrations [in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe], we are surprised with the undisguised name of [William] Alabaster, a very distinguished scholar, then about twenty-seven years of age; whose Roxana, a Latin tragedy, had been acted at Trinity College, in Cambridge, a few years before, with great applause, and was surreptitiously and imperfectly printed about forty years afterwards (1632); which drew from the author a genuine edition in the same year: but the unfinished performance here so highly eulogized, his Eliseis, a Latin poem of considerable length, in honour of Queen Elizabeth, with all its attributed merit; and notwithstanding the subject was once so popular, has never been submitted to the press. It is, however, yet extant in manuscript. Of his English poetry, I have been able to recover but two short specimens, preserved in the Bodleian Library, in a manuscript of Archbishop Sancroft's, which have never been printed, and which, therefore, I shall give below. In naming Alabaster thus directly, Spenser's object, doubtless, was to recommend his friend to the Queen's favour, and to procure him promotion in the church, which he afterwards obtained.