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the Friend, and the Holy Man. It is by his love verses that Habington is best known, though some of his most powerful and deeply-felt work is to be found in the other sections. A feature which strikes the reader of these verses is their almost exaggerated purity of tone. Habington is never tired of assuring us of the chastity of his affection, and the reader wearies of the monotony of assertions which might very well be taken for granted. In one passage he says scornfully of other poets

'You who are earth and cannot rise
Above your sense,

Boasting the envied wealth which lies
Bright in your mistress' lips or eyes,
Betray a pitied eloquence.'

It is only fair however to say that, all deductions made, Habington's Love poems are often sweet and tunable enough, and show real warmth of feeling and delicacy of sentiment. The verses on his friend and kinsman Talbot, a nephew of the Earl of Shrewsbury, who died young, also contain some fine passages ; but more characteristic and less agreeable features of the writer's mind come out in The Holy Man. There are some exceedingly powerful and sombre verses in this collection, but the tone of them is more than Catholic ; in parts is revealed an almost Calvinistic relentlessness of bigotry. Habington speaks, as in duty bound, as a good Catholic, and assumes that the Holy Man is necessarily of his own creed. 'Catholique faith is the foundation on which he erects religion; knowing it a ruinous madnesse to build in the ayre of a private spirit or on the sands of any new schisme.' This is as it should be; one admires him for his sturdy maintenance of unpopular opinions; but it is not easy equally to sympathise with his description of his God, who 'without passion didst provide to punish treason racks and death in hell,' and who

'when he as your judge appears In vain you'll tremble and lament,

And hope to soften him with teares,
To no advantage penitent.'

But gloomy as his theology may be, it is yet the natural outcome of that intense and narrow spirit, and some of the lines in this section have a searching penetrating power such as is not often found in Herbert or other religious poets more widely famous. Habington is terribly in earnest; he has forgotten his love for his

mistress and his friend; as he draws on in life the ascetic element which betrayed itself in him from the first, gains in strength, he throws this life scornfully behind him, and his thoughts fasten themselves more and more exclusively upon death and immortality.

From a purely literary point of view, Habington only rarely reaches high water mark in poetry. There are no glaring faults in his verse, and few conceits. The mass of his work is fluent, ingenious, tolerable poetry. It does not often attain to the inner music which can only proceed from a born singer, or to the flawless expression of a noble thought. Perfect literary tact Habington does not possess; he will follow up a fine stanza with a lame and halting one, apparently without sense of the incongruity. takes a strong furor poeticus to uplift him wholly, and keep him at a high level throughout an entire poem, however short. He excels greatly sometimes in single lines or couplets. He now and then surprises us with expressions like 'the weeping magic of my verse'; or so sonorous a line as


' and keep Strayed honour in the true magnificke way';

or a delicious commencement of a poem which falls off as it proceeds, such as

'Where sleepes the north wind when the south inspires
Life in the spring, and gathers into quires
The scattered nightingales';

or this

or a strange and impressive thought like that comparison of virtue, which, lost to the world by his friend Talbot's death, only lives still in some solitary hermit's cell

So 'mid the ice of the far northern sea

A star about the arctic circle may

Than ours yield clearer light, yet that but shall
Serve at the frozen pilot's funeral.'

It is quite consistent with this that the couplets which terminate a poem are with him sometimes extraordinarily vigorous and happy. In more than one case this final line or couplet constitutes the entire value of the poem. Take this, for instance :


'And thus there will be left no bird to sing
Farewell to the waters, welcome to the spring';

'All her vows religious be

And her love she vows to me`;


or this

or this

'But virtuous love is one sweet endless fire;'

'The bad man's death is horror; but the just
Keeps something of his glory in his dust.'

But his inadequate sense of poetic form does not allow him often to attain to a perfect whole. He is too fond of awkward elisions, and endeavours to force more into a line than it will fairly hold. His sonnets, one or two of which rank among the best efforts, are formally speaking, not sonnets at all, but strings of seven rhyming couplets. He does not sufficiently know, he has not sufficiently laboured at, the technical business of his art. 'Quoi qu'on en puisse dire, la poésie est un art qui s'apprend, qui a ses méthodes, ses formules, ses arcanes, son contre-point et son travail harmonique. L'inspiration doit trouver sous ses mains un clavier parfaitement juste, auquel ne manque aucune corde.' Habington is one of the many English poets whose imperfect realisation of this aspect of the truth has left their achievement inferior to their talent.



Ye blushing virgins happy are
In the chaste nunnery of her breasts,
For he'd profane so chaste a fair,
Who e'er should call them Cupid's nests.

Transplanted thus how bright ye grow,
How rich a perfume do ye yield?
In some close garden cowslips so
Are sweeter than i' th' open field.

In those white cloisters live secure
From the rude blasts of wanton breath,
Each hour more innocent and pure,
Till you shall wither into death.

Then that which living gave you room
Your glorious sepulchre shall be:
There wants no marble for a tomb,
Whose breast has marble been to me.


Nimble boy, in thy warm flight

What cold tyrant dimmed thy sight?
Had'st thou eyes to see my fair,
Thou would'st sigh thyself to air,
Fearing, to create this one,
Nature had herself undone.
But if you, when this you hear,
Fall down murdered through your ear,
Beg of Jove that you may have
In her cheek a dimpled grave.
Lily, rose, and violet

Shall the perfumed hearse beset;
While a beauteous sheet of lawn
O'er the wanton corpse is drawn:
And all lovers use this breath;

'Here lies Cupid blest in death.'


Like the violet which alone
Prospers in some happy shade;
My Castara lives unknown,
To no looser eye betrayed,

For she's to her self untrue,
Who delights i' th' public view.

Such is her beauty as no arts
Have enriched with borrowed grace;
Her high birth no pride imparts,
For she blushes in her place.

Folly boasts a glorious blood,
She is noblest, being good.

Cautious, she knew never yet
What a wanton courtship meant ;
Nor speaks loud to boast her wit,
In her silence eloquent :

Of her self survey she takes

But 'tween men no difference makes.

She obeys with speedy will
Her grave parents' wise commands ;
And so innocent that ill

She nor acts nor understands;

Women's feet run still astray
If once to ill they know the way.

She sails by that rock, the court,
Where oft honour splits her mast:
And retiredness thinks the port,
Where her fame may anchor cast:

Virtue safely cannot sit,

Where vice is enthroned for wit.

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