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perusal of it. It is entitled Elisæis, Apotheosis poetica, sive, De florentissimo imperio et rebus gestis augustissimæ et invictissimæ principis Elizabethæ D. G. Angliæ, Francia, et Hiberniæ, Regina. POEMATIS in duodecem libros tribuendi, LIBER PRIMUS, Authore GULIELMO ALABASTRO, Cantabrigiensi Colleg. Trin. — It is dedicated to Queen Elizabeth.

The poem opens

thus :

Virgineum mundi decus, angustamque Britannæ
Regnatricem aulæ, et lætis digesta tot annos
Imperiis, pacisque artes, bellique triumphos,
Ordier æternæ rerum transcribere famæ.
Argumentum ingens, &c.

This manuscript, according to Antony Wood, had been formerly in the possession of Theodore Flake."

Unfinished as the poem was, it appears to have been widely circulated amongst the author's friends, and to have received from them the most unqualified approbation. It must have been commenced very shortly after the comple

Todd's Spenser, vol. viii. p. 24.

tion of the Roxana; for in 1595, when Spenser published his “ Colin Clout's Come Home Again,” he thus speaks of the production of his friend who was then in the twenty-seventh year of his

age :

And there is Alabaster thoroughly taught
In all this skill, though knowen yet to few;
Yet, where he knowne to Cynthia as he ought,
His Elisëis would be redde anew.
Who lives that can match that heroick song,
Which he hath of that mightie Princesse made ?
O dreaded Dread, do not thy selfe that wrong,
To let thy fame lie so in hidden shade :
But call it forth, O call him forth to thee,
To end thy glorie which he hath begun :
That, when he finish't hath as it should be,
No braver Poeme can be under sun.
Nor Po nor Tybur's swans so much renown'd,
Nor all the brood of Greece so highly praised,
Can match that Muse when it with bayes is crown'd,
And to the pitch of her perfection raised.

Praise like this, and from such a quarter, must necessarily have impressed the public mind with a high idea of the merits of the Elisëis, and it is, therefore, somewhat extraordinary, that,

although in an unfinished state, the eulogy of Spenser, and the curiosity which such a statement was so well calculated to excite, have not hitherto induced some lover of neglected genius to commit this fragment to the press. It has been mentioned, indeed, by Mr. Malone that, without doubt, Spenser's object in this highlycoloured encomium, was to recommend his friend to the queen's favour, and to procure him that promotion in the church, which he afterwards obtained. * Yet it cannot be conceived that without more than common merit in the poem itself, the author of the Fairy Queen would have risqued his reputation with his sovereign as a judge in calling her attention to it in so decided

a manner.

Alabaster seems to have confined himself (as a disciple of the Muses) almost exclusively to the composition of Latin verses; for of his English poetry only two specimens have been found. These were discovered by Mr. Malone in the Bodleian library, in a manuscript of Archbishop Sancroft's, and present us with two son

Malone's Shakspeare, apud Boswell, vol. ii. p. 263.

nets, of which “ the piety,” as he has justly observed, “is more obvious than the poetry ; yet Donne,” he adds, “ and those in that

age who admired Donne, doubtless thought them excellent.” Of the first of these sonnets, entitled “ A New Year's Gift to my Saviour," I shall quote the major division or octant, as a curious instance of that fondness for a play of words or “ dalliance with names,” so prevalent in the reigns of Elizabeth and James the First.

Ho! God be here. Is Christ, my Lord, at leisure ?
Blessed St. Peter, to my King present
This Alabaster box which I have sent ;
And if he ask how it may do him pleasure,
Tell him I hear that he hath endless treasure.
But hath not vessels half sufficient,
And in this box are many moe content,
Wherein of grace he may bestow large measure.

The account which has now been given of this once celebrated scholar, and which is, I believe, notwithstanding its brevity, much more full and particular than any preceding attempt, will show that he filled, during his lifetime, a

• Vide Malone's Shakspeare, ap. Boswell, vol. ii. p. 262.



large space

in the public eye, and that he was deservedly esteemed, as well for the depth and variety of his erudition, as for the elegance of his classical acquirements. It is the record, however, of an individual who unhappily trusted not his fame to his native language, and who has, therefore, only been preserved from oblivion by the casual notice of his contemporaries, and the occasional retrospect of the learned critic. He is, in fact, alone remembered as

The Bard of other days, whom Herrick loved, Whom Spenser honour'd, and whom Johnson


From these scanty notices of one who has appeared and departed like a shadow of times long gone by, let us now turn our attention to a bard whose works will afford us a more interesting field for criticism and illustration.

There is an excellent engraving of our poet by Payne, from a portrait by Cornelius Jansen, with the following inscription : “ GULIELMUS ALABASTER, anno ætatis suæ 66, studii arcanæ theologiæ, 33."

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