1867 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Christopher Brooke

Thomas Corser, in Collectanea Anglo-Poetica III (1867) 123-24.



Christopher Brooke, the author of this MS. Poem [Funerall Poem], was descended from a respectable family at York, his father having been twice Lord Mayor of that city. He was educated at one of the Universities, most probably Cambridge, where his brother Samuel was, and afterwards went to Lincolns Inn to perfect himself in the law, where he had for his chamber fellow John Donne, afterwards Dean of St. Paul's, to whose clandestine marriage with the daughter of Sir George More he was a witness and gave the lady away, for which act, along with his brother, he was committed to prison by the lady's father. While at Lincolns Inn he became known to Selden, Ben Jonson, Drayton, William Browne, Wither, Davies of Hereford, and other writers of note, and was much esteemed by them. In 1613 he published An Elegy on the death of Henry Prince of Wales, 1613. 4to; and in the year following, being then a Bencher of Lincolns Inn and Reader of that society, he printed another work, entitled Eglogues: dedicated to his much loved Friend Mr. Will: Browne of the Inner Temple. Lond. 1614, 8vo. In the same year he also brought out another poem of considerable merit and interest, entitled The Ghost of Richard the Third, expressing himself in three parts: I. His Character. II. His Legend. III. His Tragedie, &c. Lond. 1614, sm. 4to. For, although the dedication is only signed C. B., several eminent critics are agreed in assigning these initials to Christopher Brooke, to whose poem were prefixed complimentary verses from some of his intimate friends, Browne, Chapman, Wither, Ben Jonson, &c. Only two copies of this poem are known, one, perfect, in the Bodleian Library, and the other, wanting two leaves, lately purchased for the British Museum. It was reprinted in 1844 for the Shakspeare Society, by Mr. Collier, with an Introduction and Notes. Brooke prefixed commendatory verses before the first part of Browne's Britannias Pastorals in 1613, before Drayton's Legend of Great Cromwell in 16—, and two sonnets before Lichfield's Madrigals in 1613. He also assisted in the production of the Odcombian Banquet, 1611, 4to. He appears to have died early in life.