Habington, William (DNB00)

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HABINGTON, WILLIAM (1605–1654), poet, son of Thomas Habington [q. v.], was born at Hindlip, Worcestershire, 4 or 5 Nov. 1605. He was educated at St. Omer's and at Paris. Being pressed by the Jesuits to join their order, he returned to England to escape their importunity. Wood (Athenæ, ed. Bliss, iii. 224) is usually quoted as the sole authority for this statement; but Wood's information was drawn from James Wadsworth's 'English Spanish Pilgrime,' 1629. Some time between 1630 and 1633 Habington married Lucy Herbert, youngest daughter of William Herbert, first baron Powis; and in 1634 he issued anonymously 'Castara,' 4to, 2 pts., a collection of poems in her praise. A second edition, to which were added three prose characters and twenty-six new poems, was published in 1635, 12mo; and in this edition the author's name occurs in the title of G. Talbot's commendatory verses. In 1640 appeared a third edition, 12mo (frontispiece by Marshall), with an additional third part containing the character of 'The Holy Man' and twenty-two devotional or meditative poems. Habington claims credit in his preface for the purity of his muse. 'In all those flames,' he writes, 'in which I burned I never felt a wanton heate, nor was my invention ever sinister from the straite way of chastity.' He also dwells upon Castara's chastity with wearisome iteration. Though they are wanting in ardour, the love-verses are elegantly written; and the elegies on his kinsman Talbot are tender and sincere. Several poems are addressed to friends of noble rank, and there is a poem to Endymion Porter. Habington is the author of one play, carefully written, but inanimate, the 'Queene of Arragon. A TragiComedie,' 1640, fol., which was revived at the Restoration, when Samuel Butler contributed a prologue and epilogue. From Butler's 'Remains,' i. 185, we learn that Habington communicated the play to Philip, earl of Pembroke, who caused it 'to be acted at court, and afterwards published against the author's consent.' Habington published two prose works: (1) 'The History of Edward the Fourth, King of England,' 1640, fol. (reprinted in Kennett's 'Complete History of England,' 1706), which was chiefly compiled from materials collected by his father, Thomas Habington, and is said to have been published at the desire of Charles I; (2) 'Observations upon Historie,' 1641, 8vo. He died 30 Nov. 1654, and was buried in the vault at Hindlip. Wood says that he took the republican side, and was not unknown to Cromwell. He left a son, Thomas Habington.

Commendatory verses by Habington are prefixed to Sir William D'Avenant's 'Albovine,' 1629; Shirley's 'Wedding,' 1629; and the 1647 folio of Beaumont and Fletcher. He was also one of the contributors to 'Jonsonus Virbius,' 1638. There are six lines to him in 'Wit's Recreations.' The best estimate of his poetical abilities is supplied by himself in the preface to 'Castara:' 'If not too indulgent to what is my owne, I think even these verses will have that proportion in the world's opinion that heaven hath allotted me in fortune ; not so high as to be wondred at, nor so low as to be contemned.' 'Castara' was edited by Charles Elton, Bristol, 1816, and is included in Mr. Arber's 'English Reprints,' 1870. The 'Queene of Arragon' has been reprinted in the various editions of Dodsley's 'Old Plays.'

[Wood's Athenæ, ed. Bliss, ii. 224-5 ; Add. MS. 24488, fol. 461-5 (Hunter's Chorus Vatum); Phillips's Theatrum Poetarum ; Dodsley's Old Plays, ed. Hazlitt, xiii. 323-5.]

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