Richard Corbett, Bishop of Oxford and Norwich


Bennett & Trevor-Roper

The Poems of Richard Corbett, ed. J. A. W. Bennett and H. R. Trevor-Roper (Oxford, 1955).


The Poems of Richard Corbet, Late Bishop of Oxford and of Norwich, The Fourth Edition, ed. Octavius Gilchrist (London, 1807).


Richard Corbett, ‘the best Poet of all the Bishops in England’ as George Garrard called him in 1635, has left behind no autographs of his poems, nor any authoritative collection of them. The nearest approximation to a poetical autograph by him is his copy of part of a Latin gratulatory poem on the election of William Laud as Chancellor of Oxford University in 1630 (StW 1432), a text contained in a letter Corbett wrote to Laud on that occasion (*CoR 780). Corbett notes that ‘theis verses wer brought mee in honor of the Chancellor; sure the man had a good meaning that made them…as yet they haue past no hands but mine owne, and ar not in the memory scarss in the Conscience of the Author’. The verses were, in fact, written by Corbett's chaplain, William Strode (1602-45), in whose autograph collection of verse (Corpus Christi College, Oxford, MS 325, f. 35r-v) Strode has copied them out in full (*StW 1431).


Examples of Corbett's hand are not common, but, besides the letter to Laud noted above, a small number of letters and documents by Corbett, chiefly autograph, are recorded in CELM entries (CoR 775-779, CoR 781-792).

Besides the letters to Corbett represented in Harley MS 464, a very few other letters addressed to Corbett are preserved. A letter by Sir Dudley Carleton, Viscount Dorchester, dated 9 August 1630, is in the National Archives, Kew (SP 16/172/40), recorded in Bennett & Trevor-Roper, p. xxx). File copies are preserved of a letter in Latin by Sir Richard Browne, Resident in Paris, in (?) 1623 (British Library, Add. MS 34702, f. 3r) and of one in Latin by Richard James in 1618-19 (Bodleian, MS James 13, pp. 151-2).


Corbett's earliest known signature (‘Richard Corrbett’) appears in the Oxford subscription book, which he signed (incidentally on the same page as Thomas Middleton) on 7 April 1598 (*CoR 793). His signature also appears in at least six disbursements books of his college, Christ Church, Oxford (CoR 794-800) A later document signed by him dates from 1633 (*CoR 802), while an unspecified document on vellum signed by him was sold at Sotheby's, 15 March 1916, lot 86, to Dobell.

Also preserved is Corbett's original will, made on 7 July 1635, three weeks before his death, and signed by him twice (*CoR 804).

Harley MS 464

Six of the letters by Corbett recorded in CELM are preserved in contemporary transcripts in a single manuscript: British Library, Harley MS 464. This manuscript is of some interest, since the relevant portion (ff. 1r-15r) was evidently derived or transcribed from Corbett's papers and is the only known ‘collection’ of any kind to have such authority. Fols 1r-2v comprise an original letter to Corbett by George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, dated 20 June 1632, and f. 3r is a copy of a Privy Council letter of 31 May 1632, concerning the appointment of ministers, to which Abbot's letter refers. But for later annotations by Dr Hopkins on ff. 10v and 13r, fols 4r-15r comprise a series of transcripts of Corbett's papers. On ff. 10r, 11r, 12r, 13r and 15r are the transcripts of five of the letters by Corbett recorded in CELM (CoR 785-787, CoR 789. CoR 791), one of them (CoR 787) headed ‘A Letter sent from my Lord...’. This suggests copying by Corbett's personal secretary at Norwich, whose hand also appears in three other letters by Corbett elsewhere (*CoR 784, *CoR 788, *CoR 790). On ff. 6r, 7r, 8r and 9r-v are copies of four letters and documents sent to Corbett: namely the opinion of Attorney General Noy, in Corbett's favour, concerning the latter's claim to the glebe sown before his vacating his vicarage in Oxfordshire; two Privy Council letters of 13 December 1632 and 6 February 1632/3; and a letter by Thomas Tompson and Hillary Call, bailiffs of Yarmouth, dated 19 March 1632/3. Fol. 14r is a copy of Corbett's elegy on the death of his mother in 1634 (CoR 56). Occurring as it does in this manuscript, this is one of the most authoritative texts of any of Corbett's poems.

The letters on ff. 4r-5r and 15r of Harley 464 are subscribed respectively ‘Concordat cum instrum[en]-to/F[a]c[t]a collac[ati]o[n]e per Nos/Mart. Hirst/No[ta]rium Pub[li]cum/Et/Thomani Martin’ and ‘Concordat cum original[e]/copia; f[a]c[t]a Collac[ati]o[n]e/Ita testor/Thomas Martin/No[ta]rius Pub[li]cus’. A copy of a small collection of Corbett's papers was thus made by two public notaries, and Harley MS 464, ff. 4r-15r, is a transcript of that copy made by Corbett's secretary (it is not the notaries' original certified copy since the subscriptions and ‘signatures’ are in the same scribal hand as the text). Since the manuscript dates no earlier than 1634 (a year before Corbett's death, on 28 July 1635), it is conceivable that Corbett himself brought in public notaries to tidy up his affairs and make certified copies of some of his more recent papers in his declining months. The more likely option, however, is that the notaries' copies were made in or just after 1635, either at the instigation of Laud's vicar-general, who visited Norwich in that year and found the whole diocese ‘much out of order’ (see Bennett & Trevor-Roper, p. xxxvii), or at the instigation of Corbett's successor at Norwich, the singularly efficient Matthew Wren.

It may be added that one of Corbett's letters in the hand of his secretary (*CoR 790) is preserved in a collection of papers relating to Norwich (Bodleian, MS Tanner 135), which also includes (ff. 85r-96v) several documents dating from the latter part of 1635 and 1636 appertaining to the disordered state of Corbett's affairs as reviewed immediately after his death. They relate notably to the dilapidations of certain buildings in his care and the charges made on Bishop Wren's behalf against Corbett's executrix, his mother-in-law Anne Hutten, concerning Corbett's revenues appropriated by her, together with her answers to these charges.

Other extant documents relating to Corbett's state of affairs include one, now in Lambeth Palace Library, MS 943, pp. 125-7. It contains a report ‘Concerninge a Visitatio[n] [to] Norwich, 1627’ and ‘Complaint of Bp Corbets favour[in]g of Puritans’, inscribed by the recipient as ‘sent me. Octob. 12. 1627’, and another concerning Corbett's alleged episcopal rights concerning the felling of woods.

Corbett's Verse and its Circulation

Corbett's poems were, as Anthony Wood notes, ‘made in his younger years, and never intended to be published by their author’ (Athenae Oxonienses (London, 1691-2), I, 512). He never attempted, so far as is known, to collect his poems or even to take particular care to preserve them. The result is that no collection of his poems was published until twelve years after his death: i.e. in Certain Elegant Poems (London, 1647). As is clear from the original inscribed dedication exemplum to Mary, wife of Christopher Roper, fourth Baron Teynham, which was once owned by George Thorn-Drury and is now at Harvard, the editor of this publication was John Donne the Younger (1604-62) (see Bennett & Trevor-Roper, pp. xlii-xliii, and Thorn-Drury's transcript of the inscription in Bodleian, Thorn-Drury d. 21, p. lxii, and in N&Q, 10 Ser. 6 (18 August 1906), 126). Donne was at Oxford between 1623 and 1634 and in 1638, and he had, among other things, some acquaintance with Corbett's chaplain, William Strode (who, for instance, gave him a licence in 1638 to publish his father's sermons: see StW 486); thus he might once have had access to good texts of Corbett's poems. Donne was, however, a notoriously unscrupulous literary opportunist (see, for example Geoffrey Keynes's account of him in A Bibliography of Dr. John Donne, 4th edition (Oxford, 1973), pp. 245-51) and, in the event, his edition of Corbett (containing twenty-two poems, some spurious) is little more than a careless patchwork of often poor texts, quite without authority.

Somewhat more important is a second and entirely independent edition of Corbett's poems which appeared in the following year: namely Poëtica Stromata (1648). This edition, which was printed on the Continent, contains twenty-five poems (fourteen of which had appeared in 1647), offers generally superior texts and is, as Bennett & Trevor-Roper point out (p. xlii et seq), clearly ‘the most authoritative early edition’. Nevertheless, despite Gilchrist's totally unwarranted supposition ‘from its internal evidence’ that this edition ‘was published under the eye of the Bishop's family’, there is no reason to believe that the unknown editor's copy-texts were anything more than an assembly of nonce manuscript copies of individual poems or groups of poems which had been in circulation for the past twenty years or more. The preface ‘To the Reader’ virtually implies as much: ‘I heere offer to thy view, a Collection of certaine peices of poetry, which haue flowne from hand to hand, theses [sic] many yeares, in private papers, but were neuer Fixed for the publique eie of the world to looke upon, til now’ (reprinted in Gilchrist, p. lxiii). Thus, although a notable publication, the edition of 1648 has no more indisputable authority than the many scores of manuscript texts which were in circulation in Corbett's own lifetime. This fact is, to some extent, perceived by Bennett & Trevor-Roper, who view the textual situation as a ‘difficult problem’ — largely because of their fundamental distrust of manuscript sources per se and their reluctance to abandon printed publications as copy-texts. ‘It is reasonable to assume’, they note (pp. lii-liv), that ‘commonplace books’ in which Corbett's poems were found ‘were compiled from printed sources, and are therefore of purely secondary importance’. They add, somewhat contradictorily, that the printed editions must ‘themselves have been derived from just such manuscripts’. In fact, the majority of extant manuscript texts of Corbett's poems recorded in CELM certainly pre-date the editions of 1647 and 1648. The assumptions of Bennett & Trevor-Roper lead them to produce a wholly eclectic text of Corbett's poems based primarily on ‘the earliest printed texts’ and, failing those, ‘on what seems to be the most authoritative manuscript source’ for each poem, but, in any case, with ‘improvements supplied’ by manuscript sources ‘frequently…adopted in the text, when their authority seemed sufficient to warrant it’.

During his own lifetime and beyond, at least until the 1640s, Corbett's poems had, in fact, a considerable circulation in manuscript and are among the most frequently transcribed poems of the period. They are especially well represented in verse miscellanies associated with Oxford, a number of these being connected with Corbett's own college, Christ Church, which was a notable centre of poetical activity, the college of, for instance, Henry King, George Morley, Brian Duppa, Jasper Mayne, William Cartwright, Martin Lluellyn and Jeramiel Terrent. Among the extant manuscript collections of verse, one of special importance is that of Corbett's chaplain William Strode, noted above (Corpus Christi College, Oxford, MS 325), which includes eight poems by Corbett (CoR 58, CoR 197, CoR 226, CoR 512, CoR 558, CoR 576, CoR 577, CoR 759), most of them immediately followed by Strode's own Latin versions. It may reasonably be assumed that Strode's texts of these poems were acquired at first hand from Corbett and thus that his copies have considerable authority — although, it must be noted, Strode's memory was apt to fail him in supplying headings, since he mistakenly records Corbett's poem On the Birth of Prince Charles in 1630 (CoR 512) as being ‘On the birth of Prince Henry’ (i.e. either the son of James I, born in 1594, when Corbett was twelve years old, or else the son of Charles I, born in 1640, five years after Corbett's death).

A miscellany which is closely related to Strode's manuscript, and probably in part transcribed from it, was compiled by his cousin, Daniel Leare, also evidently at Christ Church (see British Library, Add. MS 30982: Δ 4). Other miscellanies are clearly related to these two manuscripts — including such compilations as the ‘Elizabeth Lane MS’ (Aberdeen University Library, MS 29: Δ 1) — although, indeed, most of the main extant miscellanies are likely to be interrelated to some extent. Another miscellany which might be thought to have some possible indirect connection with Corbett is that compiled by Elizabeth Lyttelton, the daughter of Sir Thomas Browne (Cambridge University Library, MS Add. 8460), which contains two of Corbett's poems (CoR 88 and CoR 579) — (albeit accompanied on pp. 47-46 rev. by George Morley's ‘King James his Epitaph’ spuriously ascribed to ‘Bishop Corbett’ (MoG 44). Browne's tutor — who was responsible for Browne's moving to Norwich — was, in fact, Corbett's Norfolk chaplain and drinking-companion Thomas Lushington (1590-1661). Yet another text of special interest is the calligraphic manuscript of Corbett's elegy on his father, with related verses, which came up for sale at Christie's in1986 (CoR 93). As was recognized afterwards by Quaritch, this vellum manuscript is evidently the original funerary placard for Vincent Corbett, who died in 1619.

Independent copies of individual poems by Corbett abound. Many, if not most, of his poems are likely to have been circulated in single copies originally. Among those represented by such texts in the entries are, in particular, his widely dispersed Certaine Poeme relating to James I's visit to Cambridge in March 1614/15 (some fourteen texts among CoR 16-55); his well-known Iter Boreale (some six texts among CoR 279-315); and his Against the Opposing the Duke in Parliament (some seven texts among CoR 1-15). Between one and three single texts are also recorded for such poems as An Elegie Upon…Lady Haddington (among CoR 127-62), An Elegie on …Lord William Haward (among CoR 71-78), A Letter to the Duke of Buckingham (among CoR 342-71), A Letter …to Master Ailesbury (among CoR 316-341), To the Lord Mordant (among CoR 630-647), and, perhaps Corbett's best-known poem in modern times, The Faeryes Farewell (among CoR 552-555). One of the single copies of Iter Boreale (CoR 294) is of some interest since it bears Anthony Wood's autograph note: ‘I remember I had this out of Dr Barten Holydayes studie after his death’. Barten Holyday (1593-1661), who lived at the end of his life at Iffley in Oxford, was one of Corbett's close friends during his Christ Church days, although the text of the poem is not actually in his hand (compare the distinctive script of Holyday's autograph letter of 12 March ‘1660’ in Bodleian, MS Montagu d. 1, f. 34r).

The Principal Manuscript Collections

For convenient reference, those manuscripts containing ten or more poems by Corbett are briefly listed below, arranged for the most part alphabetically according to repository, with the delta numbers originally supplied in IELM.

Aberdeen University Library, MS 29. (‘Elizabeth Lane MS’: CoR Δ 1). Includes 18 poems by Corbett.

Bodleian, MS Eng. poet. e. 14. (‘Lawson MS’: CoR Δ 2). Includes 14 poems by Corbett.

Bodleian, MS Eng. poet. e. 97. (‘English Poetry MS’: CoR Δ 3). Includes 12 poems by Corbett and one of uncertain authorship.

British Library, Add. MS 30982. (‘Leare MS’: CoR Δ 4). Includes 20 poems by Corbett and two of uncertain authorship.

British Library, Harley MS 6931. (‘Harley MS’: CoR Δ 5). Includes 19 poems by Corbett.

British Library, Sloane MS 1792. (‘Killigrew MS’: CoR Δ 6). Includes 22 poems by Corbett.

Folger, MS V.a.97. (‘Thorpe-Halliwell MS’; Δ 7). Includes 12 poems by Corbett and one of uncertain authorship.

Folger, MS V.a.170. (‘Dobell MS’: CoR Δ 8). Includes 15 poems by Corbett and one of uncertain authorship.

Folger, MS V.a.345. (‘Curteis MS’: CoR Δ 9). Includes 15 poems by Corbett and one of uncertain authorship.

Huntington, HM 198, Part I. (‘Haslewood-Kingsborough MS (I)’: CoR Δ 10). Includes 10 poems by Corbett.

University of Nottingham, Pw V 37. (‘Welbeck MS’: CoR Δ 11). Includes 14 poems by Corbett and one of uncertain authorship.

Rosenbach Museum & Library, MS 239/27. (‘Rosenbach MS’: CoR Δ 12). Includes 11 poems by Corbett and one of doubtful authorship.

Westminster Abbey, MS 41. (‘Morley MS’: CoR Δ 13). Includes 20 poems by Corbett.

Yale, Osborn MS b 200. (‘Osborn MS’: CoR Δ 14). Includes 13 poems by Corbett.

A manuscript containing unspecified poems by Corbett — one therefore not represented in the entries — is a duodecimo miscellany of poems by Corbett, Strode, Jonson and others compiled by Jeremie Baines (fl.1639-51) of Hampshire, which was formerly owned by the Rev. T.M. Webb of Hardwick Vicarage, Herefordshire. This was last recorded in HMC, 7th Report, Part I (1879), Appendix, p. 691. For another unlocated miscellany, once owned by Constantijn Huygens, containing one and possibly more poems by Corbett, see CoR 315.

The Verse Canon

The figures cited above for the numbers of English poems by Corbett in the main manuscript collections presuppose a consensus on the canon. Although it is recognized that the authorship of some poems is by no means certain, the canon accepted here for present purposes is based on that established in Bennet & Trevor-Roper: viz. in their main text, pp. 1-93, excluding three poems by other authors (such as Daniel Price and John Grange) that are printed in that edition because of their relevance to certain of Corbett's poems. The poems printed in Bennett & Trevor-Roper as Dubia (pp. 94-100) have been given entries in a separate category of ‘Poems of uncertain authorship’. To this group has been added one poem which is classified elsewhere in Bennett & Trevor-Roper (pp. 154-5) as ‘possibly written by Corbett’: i.e. the poem on Corbett's blind father-in-law, Leonard Hutten, beginning ‘Great Child, who gazest on the world new-showne’. Although nowhere specifically ascribed to Corbett, the poem could well be by him since — quite apart from the relevance to him of the subject matter — it appears in William Strode's autograph manuscript noted above (see CoR 759) in the midst of a group of poems by Corbett (on ff. 23v-6v) which Strode copied out evidently as a series in order to add on facing pages his own parallel Latin versions. One poem, on the other hand, which Bennett & Trevor-Roper include in their dubia (on pp. 97-8) but which has been omitted from the entries is An Epitaph On his most honoured Friend Richard Earl of Dorset (‘Let no profane, ignoble foot tread neer’). This elegy undoubtedly belongs in the poetical canon of Henry King, who was one of Dorset's chaplains and among whose authoritative poetical manuscripts it appears (see KiH 273-301).

There remain a considerable number of other poems that are attributed to Corbett in various sources on little or no reliable evidence. Those spurious poems mentioned or discussed in Bennett & Trevor-Roper (on pp. 105-6, 141, 168-84) may be listed here, for convenient reference, according to first line:

‘A friend must like a chymney be’.

‘All daintie meats I do defie’ (On Tobacco) [part of a longer poem by Samuel Rowland].

‘All who have eyes, awake and weepe’ (On the death of James I) [by George Morley].

‘Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defie’ (Elegie XIX) [by John Donne]

‘Come, with our voices let us warre’ [by Ben Jonson].

‘Fair Chloris sitting by the fire’ [by Thomas Philipott].

‘For ever dear, for ever dreaded Prince’ (To the Prince) [by Sir John Harington].

‘Here lies the first that gave England to see’ (Epitaph on Dr. Fletcher, Bishop of London).

‘I could forgive thy Macharonick rimes’.

‘I did unto Appollo goe’.

‘I have my Pietie too, and could’ [by Ben Jonson].

‘I hope at this time 'tis no newes’ (On ffairford windowes) [by? Jeramiel Terrent].

‘I know no painte of poetry’ (On Fairford Windows) [by William Strode].

‘I saw fair Chloris walk alone’ [by William Strode].

‘I went from England into France’ (Dr Corbet's Journey into France) [by Thomas Goodwyn].

‘If shadows bee a pictures excellence’ [by Walton Poole].

‘Kisse, lovely Celia, and be kind’ (Love's Courtship) [by Thomas Carew].

‘Madam, be cover'd; why stand you bare?’ (A Song upon Naked Breasts).

‘Malevola, since thou'lt needs be my bride’ (On Mrs Mallet).

‘Mark how the lanthorns cloud mine eyes’ (A Non Sequitur). Ascribed to ‘Dr. Corbet’ in Bodleian, MS Rawl poet 142, f. 39r.

‘Our Arts are skoff'd; tis by an Organist’.

‘Say, puritane, is't come to pass’ (The Catechising of a Puritan).

‘Since she must go, and I must mourn, come Night’ (Elegie XII) [by John Donne].

‘Sir, this my little mistris here’ (Of the Lady Pope's daughter).

‘Skelton, some rymes and Elderton a Ballet’ (On Mrs Mallet) [variously ascribed also to J. Smith, Brian Duppa, J. Terrent and J. Stone].

‘Temtation bred those love-attracting flowers’ (Dr C. to's Mris) [version of lines by Thomas Carew].

‘The Bee is little’

‘Thrice and above blest (my souls halfe!) art thou’ (The Country Life) [by Robert Herrick].

'‘Tis true, 'tis day; what though it be?’ (Breake of Day) [by John Donne].

‘When this fly liv'd, she us'd to play’ (On a fly drown'd in a lady's eye) [by Thomas Carew].

‘Whoever lov'd man vertuous’.

‘Why Death so soon should honest Owen catch’ [by ? Benjamin Stone].

‘Yet were bidentalls sacred’ [by John Eliot].

To this list may be added The times whistle or a newe daunce of seven Satires, a manuscript collection of poems by one ‘R.C. gent.’ now preserved in Canterbury Cathedral (LitMs D10 (3)): see Bennett & Trevor-Roper, p. 174.

Other poems, not mentioned in Bennett & Trevor-Roper, include the following:

‘Here lies John Cobler whom malignant fate’ (headed ‘Doctor Corbet upon John Cobler’ in University of Newcastle upon Tyne, MS Bell/White 24, f. 30v). Anonymous in numerous other sources).

‘I hope by this tis no newes’ (headed ‘On the same by D Corbett’ in British Library, Sloane MS 542, f. 59r-v).

‘Man doth a double birth inherit’ (Upon a Fonte). Ascribed to ‘Corbett, Rich: Bish: of Norwich’ in Bodleian, MS Eng. poet. e. 97 (CoR Δ 3), p. 12.

‘Man must again be born of quick'ning fire’. Headed ‘Idem’ in Bodleian, MS Eng. poet. e. 97 (CoR Δ 3), p. 12.

‘Methought one night, I went unto my deare’. Headed ‘A Dreame: Dr Corbet to his Mistress’ in Yale, Osborn MS b 62, p. 103.

‘Reader stand still, Loe here I am’. Headed ‘An Epitaph on the Duke of Buckingham made by Dr Corbet. B. of Oxford’ in National Library of Wales, NLW MS 5390D, p. 500 rev. Ascribed in British Library, Egerton MS 2725, f. 60, to ‘the Countesse of Faukland’ (see CaE 17). Anonymous in other sources.

‘The King loves you, you him’. Headed ‘Doctor Corbet to the Duke of Buckingham’ in University of Newcastle upon Tyne, MS Bell/White 25, f. 30v, and also ascribed to Corbett in Bodleian, MS Eng. poet. e. 97 (CoR Δ 3), p. 92. Anonymous in other sources (see online Early Stuart Libels).

‘'Tis so hee's dead, and if to speak't again’. Headed ‘Epitaphiu. Mr. Bowlinge Dr. Corbett’ in Rosenbach, MS 1083/17, p. 7. Usually ascribed to Brian Duppa in other sources.

‘When that rich soil of thine (now Sainted) kept’. Headed ‘Antidotum Caecilianum. Dr Corbet’ in Folger, MS V.a.345 (CoR Δ 9), p. 107.

‘Who shall p[re]sume to move thee’ (On Dr Dunn). Ascribed to ‘Dr Corbet’ in Folger MS V.a.97 (CoR Δ 7), pp. 71-3. By Jasper Mayne (see MyJ 5).

‘Within a fleece of silent waters drown'd’ (On One Drowned in the Snow. Ascribed to ‘Dr Corbett’ in Bodleian, MS Eng. poet. e. 97 (CoR Δ 3), p. 25. By William Browne (see BrW 152).

‘Within this grave there is a grave entomb'd’. Headed ‘Doctor Corbett one a mother wth hir Infant dying in travell’ in Bodleian, MS Rawl. poet. 117, f. 174 rev. By William Browne (see BrW 80).

Further ascriptions of this kind are no doubt to be found in other seventeenth-century miscellanies.

Latin Poems

Corbett's Latin poems, which are dismissed in Bennett & Trevor-Roper (p. xv) as ‘uniformly mediocre and sometimes…frankly execrable’, have never been collected. They occur in occasional publications relating to Oxford University and are not found in manuscript sources. For reference, they may be listed (chronologically according to publication) as follows:


Academiae Oxoniensis pietas erga serenissimum et potentissimum Iacobum (Oxford, 1603) [Bodleian, 4° 0. 13 Art.], sig. J4v: ‘Anglia dùm queritur de Matris morte, sororem’ (8 lines).


Musa hospitalis Ecclesiae Christi Oxon. in adventum foelicissimum sereniss. Iacobi Regis, Annae Reginae, & Henrici Principis ad eandem Ecclesiam (Oxford, 1605) [Bodleian, 4° H. 17 Art.], sig. D1v: ‘Est domus ista (domus si fundamenta vocentur)’ (8 lines).


Ivsta Oxonjensivm (London, 1612) [Bodleian, 4° 0. 12 Art.], sig. B3v-B4r:


‘Nil opus est Anglis Musâ, tumidouè Poetâ’ (4 lines)


Henrici Epitaphivm (‘Hic jacet Henricvs Princeps, cui Scotia vitam’) (4 lines)


Carmen Lvgvbre (‘Ergonè terrenam fugis insatiabilis oram’) (31 lines)


Epigramma (‘Eccum Roma tibi diem petitum’) (6 lines)


Ivsta fvnebria Ptolemaei Oxoniensis Thomae Bodleii Eqvitis (Oxford, 1613) [Bodleian, 4° 0. 14 Art.], sig. C1v: In Bodleivm iam humandum (‘Obrue Bodleivm saxis, prosterne Colossis’) (8 lines) [reprinted in Gilchrist, p. 260].


Iacobi ara (Oxford, 1617) [Bodleian, Mar. 528], sig. B2r-v:


Ad Regem de Reditu eius in Angliam (‘A nobis ad nos properas, Rex magne, quid hoc est’) (6 lines)


Ad Eundem (‘Quòd modò ver duplex sentis, primumq[ue], secundo’) (4 lines)


Ad Eundem (‘Dùm gentes, populumq[ue]; Tuo cum numine lustras’) (4 lines)


Ad Eundem (‘Post Patriam in terris visam, Patria vltima coelum est’) (12 lines)


Academiae Oxoniensis funebria sacra aeternae memoriae serenissimae Reginae Annae (Oxford, 1619) [Bodleian, 4° J. 21 Art.], sig. B1v-B2r: In obtium Annae Reginae (‘Pharmaca nil poterant ad vitam, carmina possunt’) (12 lines).


Oxoniensis Academiae parentalia (Oxford, 1625) [Bodleian, 4° J. 21 Art.], sig. K4v: (‘Qvid increpamus Numina? At scelus nostrum’) (14 lines).

One further Latin poem, ‘Qvod Sunamitae redditus puer Matri’ (26 lines), is ascribed to ‘Rich. Oxon’ in Britanniae Natalis (Oxford, 1630) [Bodleian, 4° J. 12 Art.], sig. K4r-v. It is in fact William Strode's Latin version of Corbett's poem On the Birth of Prince Charles (CoR 511-512) which appears in his own manuscript (see *StW 1460) duly inscribed ‘Latin'd by W S’.


Only a few prose works by Corbett are known to survive. Some unpublished autograph theological notes and arguments which he sent to the Marquess of Buckingham in 1621/2 or 1622/3 endorsed ‘An answere to Certaine propositions, controuerted Atwixt us and the Popistes: by Dr Corbett etc’ — are still preserved (*CoR 764.5). So are copies, or notes, of four of his orations, sermons and speeches (CoR 764.8-774). Of these, for whatever reason, the only one quite widely disseminated in manuscript copies is his speech on 29 April 1634 exhorting his clergy to raise contributions for the repair of St Paul's Cathedral in London (CoR 767-774).

Corbett's s oration delivered as deputy Public Orator on 13 March 1612/13 on the death of Sir Thomas Bodley (beginning ‘Vtinam, Auditores, vtinam pari virtute, & progenie, quâ homines nati sumus, nasceremur Oratores!…’) was published as Oratio Fvnebris Habita in Schola Theologica ab Oratore Publico, in Ovitv Clarissimi Eqvitis Thomae Bodleii (Oxford, 1613) and does not appear in manuscript texts.

A copy of ‘A Funeral Sermon by Dr. Corbet’ was sold in the Peter Le Neve sale by John Wilcox in London on 19 March 1730/1, lot 70, as were a manuscript of ‘Dr. Corbet's Sermon, Notes’ (lot 69) and ‘Mr. Corbet, D.D. his Book of Accounts’ (Folio MSS, lot 12), but no further details of these items are known. Although, according to Anthony Wood, Corbett was ‘a most quaint Preacher and therefore much followed by ingenious men’ (Athenae Oxonienses, 2 vols (London, 1691-2), I, 512), no text of any other of his sermons is known to survive. This is despite a number of contemporary references to notable sermons he preached: for instance, at Christ Church on Passion Sunday in 1613; before James I at Woodstock on 26 August 1621 (when he lost the thread of his argument, much to everyone's amusement); and before Charles I at Newmarket on 9 March 1633/4 (see Bennett & Trevor-Roper, esp. pp. xvi, xxii and xxxi).

A prose ‘character’ of Mrs Mallet (a figure cruelly satirized in one of his well-known poems: CoR 652-86) is ascribed to Corbett in New York Public Library, Arents Collection, Cat. No. S191 (Acc. 7167), f. [15a rev.], as well as in its copy, Victoria and Albert Museum, Dyce MS 18 (Pressmark Dyce 25.F.17), f. 71v; but the attribution probably results from confusion with the poem (see Bennett & Trevor-Roper, p. 105). A set of ten prose homilies headed ‘Honos alit artes’ (and beginning ‘My sonne, the virtuous inclination of thy matchlesse Mother…’) are ascribed to ‘R:C:’ in the Holgate MS in the Pierpont Morgan Library (MA 1057, pp. 293-6), but there seems to be no justification for the annotation ‘Corbet’ made by a later hand.

Miscellaneous and Editorial Papers

Many other allusions to Corbett, including poems and satires on him, are found in seventeenth-century sources: a number of these are cited in Bennett & Trevor-Roper. John Aubrey's autograph ‘brief life’ of Corbett is in the Bodleian (MS Aubrey 6, f. 106r-v, and also f. 69r and MS Aubrey 8, f. 15v): see Brief Lives, ed. Andrew Clark (Oxford, 1898), I, 183-8. Aubrey's inscribed exemplum of Certain Elegant Poems (London, 1647) is likewise in the Bodleian (Ashm. 3. 5 (3)). The heavily annotated and grangerised exemplum of Gilchrist (1807) prepared by George Thorn-Drury (1860-1931) — to which Bennett & Trevor-Roper make reference (p.v.) — is in the Bodleian (Thorn-Drury d. 21). So too is J.A.W. Bennett's own interleaved and annotated exemplum of his and Trevor-Roper's edition of 1955, together with a small folder of related notes and cuttings (Arch. H. d. 8, 8*).

Peter Beal