Castara, or Cruelty Without Hate

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Anon. (?after 1634)

Historical Records

Marriott's List (1653)

In late 1653, the printer Richard Marriott entered a group of twenty-one plays on the Stationers' Register. Among the titles is:

Castara or Cruelty without hate

Theatrical Provenance


Probable Genre(s)

Unknown. The general frame of reference is love-poetry, given the apparent connection to Habington's Castara and the Petrarchan flavour of the subtitle.

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

William Habington, Castara (1634).

References to the Play

None known

Critical Commentary

Bentley (5.1301) observes:

Castara is the title of William Habington's popular collection of poems first issued in 1634, and since Habington did write one play, The Queene of Aragon, it is conceivable that he wrote Castara, or Cruelty without Hate, but there is no evidence whatsoever, and Allott (ed., Poems of William Habington [1948], p.xlvii) ignores the possibility.
It might be argued that the title of the play derives from Habington and that it was therefore written after 1634. In the absence of other evidence, however, there is no sufficient reason for any date beyond the terminal one of Marriott's entry.

Castara, the poem collection, seems indeed to have been a success, reaching a third and expanded edition in 1640, as Wilcher notes.

A number of earlier play-catalogues, including those of James Barker, F. G. Fleay, and Gertrude Sibley, render the subtitle as "Cruelty without lust" rather than "Cruelty without hate". This appears to have arisen from a mistranscription of the Stationers' Register entry, which is then propagated through a chain of reference works dependent upon one another, rather than from a genuine alternative record of the play, since all of the sources mentioned above give only the 1653 Stationers' Register record as their authority.

For What It's Worth

For discussion of Marriott's list, follow this link: Marriott's List (1653).

EEBO-TCP gives us fragments of information to make the argument for a post-1634 date a little more solid. It demonstrates that, firstly, that Habington seems to have invented the name "Castara" as far as EEBO-TCP is concerned, since it currently does not detect the word earlier than the first edition of Castara. Equally, EEBO-TCP shows that Habington by no means possessed a copyright on it thereafter, and that it rapidly becomes a generic name for a woman one might be in love with. Thomas Jordan uses it as a mistress's name in a lyric printed in 1637:

Then I may
Enjoy my Rosa, spend the Am'rous day
Within her armes, and at the night retire
To Violetta, quench another fire
In her cold bosome, but ere day doth rise
Salute the Morne in my Aurora's eyes:
There like to an Idolater ile gaze
Till my Honoria rids me of the maze
And draws me to her Bower, where having spent
Some heavenly houres, ile find out Millescent
(That wonder of perfection) we two,
Can teach the Turtles what they ought to doe;
With kisses moyst her Ruby lips ile cover.
But then Castara sayes I doe not love her...

(Jordan, "A Gentleman in love with twenty Mistresses", in Poetical Varieties, 2).

Similarly, one F. Palmer, writing a dedicatory poem praising the quality of a book, uses the name in a similarly generic way:

Whilst I doe read and Meditate this book,
I dare the utmost Charmes of any Look.
Nay I could gaze eu'n on Castara's face
And nere be blind nay Kisse her if she was
Here, yet nere perish for't...

(F. Palmer, "To the Author on his Love-Melancholy", in Ferrand, Erotomania).

In the period after 1634, then, "Castara" was indeed a fashionable new name for a mistress.

Works Cited

Ferrand, James. Erotomania, or a Treatise Discoursing of the Essence, Causes, Symptomes, Prognosticks, and Cure of Love, or Erotiqve Melancholy. Oxford: L. Lichfield, 1640.
Jordan, Thomas. Poeticall varieties: or, Varietie of fancies. London: Humphry Blunden, 1637.
Wilcher, Robert. ‘Habington, William (1605–1654)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 13 Jan 2010.

Site created and maintained by Matthew Steggle, Sheffield Hallam University. Updated 13 January 2010.