1837 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Alabaster

Henry Hallam, in Introduction to the Literature of Europe of the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries (1837-39; 1882) 3:269.



Alabaster, a man of recondite Hebrew learning, published in 1632 his tragedy of Roxana, which, as he tells us, was written about forty years before for one night's representation, probably at college, but had been lately printed by some plagiary as his own. He forgets, however, to inform the reader, and thus lays himself open to some recrimination, that his tragedy is very largely borrowed from the Dalida of Groto, an Italian dramatist of the sixteenth century. The story, the characters, the incidents, almost every successive scene, many thoughts, descriptions, and images, are taken from this original; but it is a very free translation, or rather differs from what can be called a translation. The tragedy of Groto is shortened; and Alabaster has thrown much into another form, besides introducing much of his own. The plot is full of all the accumulated horror and slaughter in which the Italians delighted on their stage. I rather prefer the original tragedy. Alabaster has spirit and fire, with some degree of skill; but his notion of tragic style is of the "King Cambyses' vein:" he is inflated and hyperbolical to excess, which is not the case with Groto.