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A little fuz-ball pudding stands
By, yet not blessed by his hands,
That was too coarse; but then forthwith
He ventures boldly on the pith
Of sugar'd rush, and eats the sagge
And well-bestrutted bees' sweet bag ;
Gladding his palate with some store
Of emmet's eggs; what would he more?
But beards of mice, a newt's stew'd thigh,
A bloated earwig, and a fly;
With the red-capt worm, that's shut
Within the concave of a nut,
Brown as his tooth. A little moth,
Late fatten'd in a piece of cloth ;
With wither'd cherries, mandrakes' ears,
Moles' eyes : to these the slain stag's tears ;
The unctuous dew-laps of a snail,
The broke heart of a nightingale
O’ercome in music; with a wine
Ne'er ravish'd from the flattering vine,
But gently prest from the soft side
Of the most sweet and dainty bride,
Brought in a dainty daisy, which
He fully quaffs up, to bewitch
His blood to height; this done, commended
Grace by his priest ; The feast is ended.
Live, live with me, and thou shalt see
The pleasures I'll prepare for thee:
What sweets the country can afford
Shall bless thy bed, and bless thy board.
The soft sweet moss shall be thy bed,
With crawling woodbine over-spread :
By which the silver-shedding streams
Shall gently melt thee into dreams.
Thy clothing next, shall be a gown
Made of the fleeces' purest down.
The tongues of kids shall be thy meat ;
Their milk thy drink; and thou shalt eat
The paste of filberts for thy bread
With cream of cows lips buttered :
Thy feasting-table shall be hills
With daisies spread, and daffadils ;
Where thou shalt sit, and Red-breast by,
For meat, shall give thee melody.
I'll give thee chains and carcanets
Of primroses and violets.
A bag and bottle thou shalt have,
That richly wrought, and this as brave;
So that as either shall express
The wearer's no mean shepherdess.
At shearing-times, and yearly wakes,
When Themilis his pastime makes,
There thou shalt be; and be the wit,
Nay more, the feast, and grace of it.
On holydays, when virgins meet
To dance the heys with nimble feet,
Thou shalt come forth, and then appear
The Queen of Roses for that year.
And having danced ('bove all the best)
Carry the garland from the rest,
In wicker-baskets maids shall bring
To thee, my dearest shepherdling,
The blushing apple, bashful pear,
And shame-faced plum, all simp’ring there.
Walk in the groves, and thou shalt find
The name of Phillis in the rind
Of every straight and smooth-skin tree;
Where kissing that, I'll twice kiss thee.
To thee a sheep-hook I will send,
Be-prank'd with ribbands, to this end,
This, this alluring hook might be
Less for to catch a sheep, than me.
Thou shalt have possets, wassails fine,
Not made of ale, but spiced wine ;
To make thy maids and self free mirth,
All sitting near the glittring hearth.
Thou shalt have ribbands, roses, rings,
Gloves, garters, stockings, shoes, and strings
Of winning colours, that shall move
Others to lust, but me to love.
— These, nay, and more, thine own shall be
If thou wilt love, and live with me.
(William HABINGTON was born at Hindlip Hall, near Worcester, in 1603, and died 1654. His Castara alone preserves his name from oblivion, but he also wrote a tragi-comedy entitled The Queene of Arragon, acted in 1640, and completed a History of Edward IV, which had been set in hand by his father. The first edition of Castara was published in 1634, the second in 1635, and the third, enlarged and in the form in which we now possess the poems, in 1640. The poems have been reprinted by Chalmers in 1810, Gutch in 1812, Mr. Arber in 1870.]
The centre alike of Habington's life and of his poetry is the lady whom he has sung under the fanciful name of Castara. She was Lucy, daughter of William, Lord Powis, rather above her lover in rank and wealth, as his own verses plainly show, but, as is not less obvious, at no time indifferent to his courtship. What obstacles were interposed by her parents and relatives yielded to their mutual constancy, and Habington was allowed to carry off his bride to his country-house at Hindlip, in Worcestershire, a house which, as he tells her,
doth not want extent
Of roome, (though not magnificent)
To give free welcome to content.'
There they seem to have lived a happy equable life together.
Habington devotes as many of his poems to his wife, as to his
mistress, and in them reaches a higher level of poetic accomplish-
ment than he elsewhere attains. It is pleasant to contemplate the
happy course of this pure and honourable affection, and it is
impossible not to feel a kind of liking for so ,constant a wooer, so
good a friend, and so upright a man. We must not complain if,
like Evelyn, Habington seems to have gone through the Civil
War without taking a decided part one way or the other. The
man was no hero, nor born to shine in public life. What political
sympathies his writings reveal were strongly Royalist ; he himself came of an old Catholic stock, and was educated at St. Omer ; and we may be sure that as far as he took any side at all, he took part against those whom he would regard as rebels and schismatics. Habington-as revealed to us by his own verses-was something of a dreamer, something of an ascetic, something even of a bigot. His was just the sort of life and character which could live through, as not of them, the din and turmoil and passion of those stirring years. He was not of those who are great among the sons of men; nevertheless the interest that his work arouses is likely rather to increase than diminish, for though narrow in scope it is intense in feeling, and though in parts feeble and one-sided, it is as a whole made vital by the impress of a distinct and original personality.
It is not altogether easy to gather from Habington's poems in what relation he stood to previous or contemporary singers. The one indubitable fact is his devotion to Sidney, a sentiment he shares in common with all the poets of that time, on whom the Astrophel and Stella sonnets made the most marked impression. Of his few references to other poets the first occurs in a poetical account of his own youthful years, which he gives in The Holy Man :
•Grown elder I admired
Our poets, as from Heaven inspired;
What obelisks decreed I fit
For Spenser's art and Sydney's wit !
But waxing sober, soon I found
Fame but an idle sound.'
Another mention of Sidney occurs in a sonnet commemorating
Ovid's Corinna and Petrarch's Laura-
'while our famous Thames Doth whisper Sidney's Stella to her streams.' There are also two passing mentions of Drayton and Spenser, and an interesting allusion to‘Chapman's reverend ashes 'lying “rudely mingled in the vulgar dust.' There are no allusions to such poets as Herbert, whose genius was in some respects akin to his own, but this is easily explained by the difference between the two men's religious opinions.
Castara is divided into three, by some editors into four parts. There are at any rate four distinct themes—the Mistress, the Wife,