The European Sun: Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Scottish Language and Literature, University of Strathclyde, 1993

By Graham Caie; Roderick J. Lyall et al. | Go to book overview

T. HOWARD-HILL


41 Sir William Alexander: The Failure of
Tragedy and the Tragedy of Failure

William Alexander of Menstry is known to literary history mainly for his sonnet sequence, Aurora (1604), his four Monarchic Tragedies (1616), and his Supplement to a Defect in the Third Book of Arcadia (1621) The course of his life tellingly illustrates the the prevailing theme of his four tragedies, the insecurity of worldly success. Having, during his service to two kings of Scotland and England, held such offices as Master of Requests for Scotland, member of the Scottish Privy Council, hereditary lieutenant of Nova Scotia, Keeper of the Signet and Principal Secretary of State for Scotland, he died in 1640 as Sir William Alexander, Earl of Stirling, Viscount Canada and Lord Alexander of Tullibody, hated and reviled in the country of his birth. Amongst the poetic squibs that expressed the popular reaction to his death, this conveys the moral of his life:

Hier layes a fermer and a miliar,
A poet and a psalme book spillar,
A purchassour by hook and crooke,
A forger of the service book,
A coppersmith quho did much evill,
A friend to bischopes and ye devill,
A waine ambitious flattering thing,
Late secretary for a kinge;
Soum tragedies in verse he pen’d,
At last he made a tragicke end.1

To anyone interested in Jacobean history, Alexander’s life invites explication of this verse, an invitation which must be refused here. The anonymous versifier dealt justly with Alexander. His hopes for wealth from royal patents, his colonial speculations, and, indeed, his dynastic ambitions, came to nothing: both his heir and his second son pre-deceased him. His memory is invoked now almost exclusively by the four tragic poems he wrote as a young man before he joined James’s court in Whitehall.2

The earliest of the Monarchic Tragedies to be printed, in 1603, Darius is the first

1 Denmiln MSS. Quoted from McGrail; see next note.

2 Alexander has attracted little modern interest. The standard (because only) modern life is Thomas H. McGrail’s Sir William Alexander, First Earl of Stirling; a Biographical Study (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1940) on which, for Alexander’s biography, this essay is completely dependent.

-475-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The European Sun: Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Scottish Language and Literature, University of Strathclyde, 1993
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 544

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.