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WILLIAM HABINGTON (1605-1654)

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Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 787 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WILLIAM HABINGTON (1605-1654), English poet, was born at Hendlip Hall, Worcestershire, on the 4th of November 16o5. He belonged to a well-known Catholic family. His father, Thomas Habington (156o-1647), an antiquary and historical scholar, had been implicated in the plots on behalf of Mary queen of Scots; his uncle, Edward Habington, was hanged in 1586 on the charge of conspiring against Elizabeth in connexion with Anthony Babington; while to his mother, Mary Habington, was attributed the revelation of the Gunpowder Plot. The poet was sent to the college at St Omer, but, pressure being brought to bear on him to induce him to become a Jesuit, he removed to Paris. He married about 1632 Lucy, second daughter of Sir William Herbert, first Baron Powys. This lady he had addressed in the volume of lyrical poems arranged in two parts and entitled Castara, published anonymously in 1634. In 1635 appeared a second edition enlarged by three prose characters, fourteen new lyrics and eight touching elegies on his friend and kinsman, George Talbot. The third edition (164o) contains a third part consisting of a prose character of " A Holy Man " and twenty-two devotional poems. Habington's lyrics are full of the far-fetched " conceits " which were fashionable at court, but his verse is quite free from the prevailing looseness of morals. Indeed his reiterated praises of Castara's virtue grow wearisome. He is at his best in his reflective poems on the uncertainty of human life and kindred topics. He also wrote a Historie of Edward the Fourth (164o), based on notes provided by his father; a tragi-comedy, The Queene of Arragon (164o), published without his consent by his kinsman, the earl of Pembroke, and revived at the Restoration; and six essays on events in modern history, Observations upon History (1641). Anthony a Wood insinuated that during the Commonwealth the poet" did run with the times, and was not unknown to Oliver the usurper." He died on the 30th of November 16 J4. The works of Habington have not been collected. The Queene of Arragon was reprinted in Dodsley's"Old Plays," vol.ix.(1825) ; Castara was edited by Charles Elton (1812), and by E. Arber with a compact and comprehensive introduction (187o) for his " English Reprints."
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