HABINGTON, WILLIAM (1605-1654), one of the most pleasing of English minor poets, was born at Hendlip in Worcestershire, on the 4th of November 1605. His father, Thomas Habington, was a prominent Catholic ; to his mother, Lady Mary Habington, was attributed the revelation of the Gunpowder Plot. The poet was educated first at St Omer, and refusing to become a Jesuit was removed to Paris. On his return to England he met and fell in love with Lady Lucy Herbert, second daughter of Lord Powis, whom he celebrated under the poetical name of Castara. After some opposition he won her hand, and they were married about the year 1632. In 1634 he first published his famous volume of lyrical poems entitled Castara, which was reprinted in 1635 and 1640. In the latter year he also published a prose History of King Edward IV. and The Queen of Arragon, a tragicomedy. This play was published at the request of his kinsman, the earl of Pembroke ; it was afterwards revived by Samuel Butler. The last work printed by Habington was Observations upon History, 1641. In 1617 his father died ; and during the Commonwealth, as we learn from Anthony Wood, the poet "did run with the times, and was not unknown to Oliver the usurper." He died November 30, 1654, and was buried in the family vault at Hendlip. Habington possesses all the faults of his age except its impurity ; he is honourably known as the chastest of the Royalist lyrists. His genius was gently fantastic, mild in its play of fancy, delicately ingenious, and of an unruffled stately dignity. He never rises to sublimity or passion, but he is always gentlemanlike and often extremely graceful. His best verses have a very modern tone, and remind the reader of the 18th rather than of the 17th century.
The works of Habington have not been collected. An excellent edition of Castara was published by Mr Arber in 1870, and The Queen of Arragon has been included in the Dodsley collection.