Richard Corbet

Last updated

Richard Corbet
Bishop of Norwich
Portrait of Richard Corbet Bishop of Norwich by Sylvester Harding.jpg
Portrait of Corbet by Sylvester Harding
Diocese Diocese of Norwich
In office7 May 1632 1635 (death)
Predecessor Francis White
Successor Matthew Wren
Other post(s) Dean of Christ Church (1620–1628)
Bishop of Oxford (1628–1632)
Orders
Ordination26 March 1613 (deacon & priest)
by  John Bridges
Consecration1628
Personal details
Born1582 (1582)
Died28 July 1635(1635-07-28) (aged 52–53)
Norwich, [1] Norfolk, England
NationalityBritish
Denomination Anglican

Bishop Richard Corbet (or Corbett) (1582 28 July 1635) was an English clergyman who rose to be a bishop in the Church of England. He is also remembered as a humorist and as a poet, although his work was not published until after his death.

Contents

Life

He was born in Ewell in Surrey [2] the son of a prominent nurseryman in Twickenham, [3] Richard Corbet was educated at Westminster School [4] and then studied at both Broadgates Hall and Christ Church College in Oxford, gaining his Master of Arts (MA) in 1605.

Having then taken holy orders (he was, irregularly, ordained both deacon and priest on the same day, 26 March 1613, by John Bridges, Bishop of Oxford), [1] he became a Doctor of Divinity (DD) in 1617. In consideration of his preaching, which included an oration on the death of the heir to the throne (Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales), James VI and I made him one of the royal chaplains. He also held a number of other positions, including Dean of Christ Church (1620–28), [4] later becoming Bishop of Oxford (1628) and then Bishop of Norwich (1632). [5] He was nominated to the See of Oxford on 30 July 1628 and translated to Norwich on 7 May 1632. [1] He was generally an easy-going man and, although he was anti-Puritan and wrote against them, did little to repress Puritan activities around Norwich when William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, began his campaign against them.

Corbet was also renowned for his humour [4] and many anecdotes were told of him throughout his career. One of those recorded by John Aubrey recalls how "On a market-day he and some of his comrades were at the taverne by the Crosse… The ballad-singer complayned he had no custome, he could not put off his ballads. The jolly Doctor puts off his gowne, and puts on the ballad-singer's leathern jacket, and being a handsome man, and a rare full voice, he presently vended a great many, and had a great audience. [6]

Later he appropriated the form of the sung ballad so as to break down the distinction between different kinds of audience and make its intermediary possibilities available for wider dispersal of his particular views. One included "The Distracted Puritan", [7] with its satirical characterisation of ostentatious religiosity. Though written in the form of a personal justification, its setting to the tune Tom O' Bedlam, a frequent accompaniment to ballads about madness, signals how the words are really to be taken. Another line of attack occurs in his "A proper new ballad entitled Fairies’ Farewell", [8] a lament for folk tradition undermined by Puritan prohibitions. Frequent later reprintings have treated it as a piece of charming lore, but the choice of a tune originally associated with lament makes its message clear. The true subject is social friction and the breakdown of trust that has brought. [9]

Poetry

Corbet spent much of his life in Oxford, where it is possible that he knew the younger men Henry King and Jasper Mayne, both educated like him at Westminster School and Christ Church, and fellow contributors of poetical tributes to Donne's collected poems. Certainly he knew Ben Jonson, [4] whom he was partly instrumental in inviting to Oxford in 1616. [10] Jonson also wrote a companion piece to Corbet's own poetical tribute to his father Vincent after his death in 1619. [11]

In his own day, Corbet's reputation was high and his poems were circulated widely in manuscript. Most, according to Anthony Wood, were "made in his younger years, and never intended to be published". [12] Their first book publication was in Certain Elegant Poems (London, 1647), edited by John Donne the Younger. This was little more than a patchwork of twenty-two poor and sometimes spurious texts. Poëtica Stromata, a second and entirely separate foreign edition appeared in the following year, consisting of twenty-five poems (only fourteen of which had appeared in the 1647 edition). After another London edition in 1672, there were no more until the augmented fourth edition of Octavius Gilchrist (London 1807). In the 20th century there was a scholarly edition by J A W Bennett and Hugh Trevor-Roper (Oxford 1955).

Humour often characterised his written work. In a prose appeal for the refurbishment of St Paul's Cathedral, he described how the building had suffered a double martyrdom by fire and continues: “Saint Paul complained of stoning twice; his church of firing: stoning she wants indeed, and a good stoning would repair her.” [13] His elegy for John Donne, the dean of St Paul's, makes the same point as many others accompanying the posthumous collection of Donne's poems. To write on this subject, one must first be like the author, he argues, but then concludes that since Donne is now dead he would rather not proceed so far. [14]

Some of Corbet's poems have the same uneven rhythms of Donne and other contemporary writers, and are touched by the same Baroque spirit of exaggeration. A fair example occurs in "An elegy upon the Lady Haddington, who died of the small-pox", where the disease is addressed thus:

Thou, that of faces honeycombs dost make,
And of two breasts two cullenders, forsake
Thy deadly trade: thou now art rich; give o’er,
And let our curses call thee forth no more;
Or if thou needs wilt magnify thy power,
Go where thou art invoked every hour –
Amongst the gamesters, where they name thee thick. [15]

He wrote several more elegies besides and joined with fellow wits in making fun of Thomas Coryat’s Crudities (Poems 1807, pp.11–12). Verse letters indicate the Court circle of royal favourites and their dependents among whom he moved, being addressed to John Mordaunt, 1st Earl of Peterborough, George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, and Thomas Aylesbury. His more original subjects are accounts of journeys: the burlesque "Journey to France" (Poems 1807, p.94 ff), and the satirical account of a tour from Oxford to Newark, "Iter Boreale" (p.171ff). Much else is occasional and his authorship is often more a matter of ascription than certainty. [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

John Donne 16th- and 17th-century English poet and cleric

John Donne was an English poet, scholar, soldier and secretary born into a recusant family, who later became a cleric in the Church of England. Under royal patronage, he was made Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London (1621–1631). He is considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His poetical works are noted for their metaphorical and sensual style and include sonnets, love poems, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs, and satires. He is also known for his sermons.

Joseph Hall (bishop)

Joseph Hall was an English bishop, satirist and moralist. His contemporaries knew him as a devotional writer, and a high-profile controversialist of the early 1640s. In church politics, he tended in fact to a middle way.

Richard Chenevix Trench

Richard Chenevix Trench was an Anglican archbishop and poet.

Metaphysical poets Term used to describe a loose group of British lyric poets of the 17th century

The term Metaphysical poets was coined by the critic Samuel Johnson to describe a loose group of 17th-century English poets whose work was characterised by the inventive use of conceits, and by a greater emphasis on the spoken rather than lyrical quality of their verse. These poets were not formally affiliated and few were highly regarded until 20th century attention established their importance.

Thomas Carew

Thomas Carew was an English poet, among the 'Cavalier' group of Caroline poets.

Richard Crashaw was an English poet, teacher, High Church Anglican cleric and Roman Catholic convert, who was one of the major metaphysical poets in 17th-century English literature.

Henry King (poet)

Henry King was an English poet who served as Bishop of Chichester.

William Basse

William Basse (c.1583–1653?) was an English poet. A follower of Edmund Spenser, he is now remembered principally for an elegy on Shakespeare. He is also noted for his "Angler's song", which was written for Izaak Walton, who included it in The Compleat Angler.

Ynysymaengwyn

Ynysymaengwyn was a gentry house in the parish of Tywyn, Gwynedd, situated near the south bank of the River Dysynni. The name means 'the white stone island'.

Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford Patron of the arts and literature in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods

Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford (1580–1627) was a major aristocratic patron of the arts and literature in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, the primary non-royal performer in contemporary court masques, a letter-writer, and a poet. She was an adventurer (shareholder) in the Somers Isles Company, investing in Bermuda, where Harrington Sound is named after her.

<i>Holy Sonnets</i>

The Holy Sonnets—also known as the Divine Meditations or Divine Sonnets—are a series of nineteen poems by the English poet John Donne (1572–1631). The sonnets were first published in 1633—two years after Donne's death. They are written predominantly in the style and form prescribed by Renaissance Italian poet Petrarch (1304–1374) in which the sonnet consisted of two quatrains and a sestet. However, several rhythmic and structural patterns as well as the inclusion of couplets are elements influenced by the sonnet form developed by English poet and playwright William Shakespeare (1564–1616).

William Strode (poet)

William Strode was an English poet, Doctor of Divinity and Public Orator of Oxford University, one of the Worthies of Devon of John Prince (d.1723).

Leonard Hutten (1557?–1632) was an English clergyman and antiquary.

Cecily Bulstrode was a courtier and subject of poetry. She was the daughter of Edward Bulstrode (1550–1595) and Cecily Croke; she was a cousin of Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford, in whose household she was a member in 1605. Two years later, she served as a Gentlewoman of the Bedchamber to Anne of Denmark.

Christopher Brooke was an English poet, lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1604 and 1626.

Octavius Graham Gilchrist was an English man of letters and antiquary.

Henry Stebbing (editor)

Henry Stebbing FRS (1799–1883) was an English cleric and man of letters, known as a poet, preacher, and historian. He worked as a literary editor, of books and periodicals.

Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe

Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe (1781?–1851) was a Scottish antiquary and artist.

-mastix is a suffix derived from Ancient Greek, and used quite frequently in English literature of the 17th century, to denote a strong opponent or hater of whatever the suffix was attached to. It became common after Thomas Dekker's play Satiromastix of 1602. The word μάστιξ (mastix) translates as whip or scourge.

Bridget Markham (1579–1609), was a courtier to Anne of Denmark and subject of poems.

References

  1. 1 2 3 "Corbett, Richard". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6292.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. "Richard Corbet | English bishop and poet".
  3. Twickenham, The Environs of London: volume 3: County of Middlesex (1795), pp.558–604
  4. 1 2 3 4 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Corbet, Richard"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 136.
  5. The Concise Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University 1992, p.646
  6. Poems 1807, pp.liii-liv
  7. Percy's Reliques Mad Song the Second
  8. University of Wisconsin
  9. Joshua B. Fisher, "He is turned a ballad-maker": Broadside Appropriations in Early Modern England, Early Modern Literary Studies 9.2, 2003
  10. Poems 1807, pp.xv-xvii
  11. Works of the British Poets IV, p.566
  12. Athenae Oxonienses (London, 1691-2), I, 512
  13. (Poems 1807, p.xliv)
  14. Poems by J.D. with elegies on the author's death, London 1633, p.378
  15. Poems 1807, p.128
  16. Peter Beal, Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts