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[Swiftiana] Macrobius: Aur. Theodosii Macrobii V. Cl. & inlustris Opera. Ioh. Isacius Pontanus secundò recensuit: adiectis ad libros singulos notis. Quibus accedunt Ioh. Meursi breviores notae. Lugduni Batavorum [Leiden], ex officinâ Ioannis Maire. 1628.

A copy of the works of Macrobius in a seventeenth-century binding of the British isles, probably belonging to the Very Reverend Francis Corbet (c.1688-1775), an alumnus of Trinity College Dublin and successor to Jonathan Swift as dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, who had social, literary, and economic connections to the writer. We place the copy in Ireland because later it certainly belonged to another Trinity College alumnus, the Reverend John Bomford Molloy (1790-1818) of Clonbela (B.A., 1811, M.A., 1816). This learned book likely had been before in the library of an Irish university person, and the only “Francis Corbet” we find from about the time of the (early 18th-cent.) signature is this contemporary of Swift (B.A., Trinity College Dublin, 1705, M.A., 1708) (Alumni Dublinenses).

Corbet may have been a newish acquaintance when Swift mentioned him in the poem to his friend Charles Ford (1682-1741) “On his Birth-day Janry. 31st for the year 1722-23”: “Corbet, though yet I know his worth not,/No doubt will prove a good Arbuthnot” (lines 75-6) (Swift’s physician Dr. John Arbuthnot (1667-1735)) (Carpenter). He became however an executor of the will of Swift’s great friend “Stella” (Esther Johnson (1681-1728). In 1733, Swift wrote to Corbet enquiring whether he knew the whereabouts of an interleaved Gulliver’s Travels. “On my writing to him, he sent a loose Paper with very little except literall corrections in your hand” (Swift to Ford, 9 October 1733). Corbet is then mentioned in Swift’s will (1740) as a tenant (Swift noting “I have the lease of a field in trust for me, commonly called the Vineyard, let to the reverend doctor Francis Corbet”).

These individually small pieces of evidence suggest in accumulation a multi-faceted relationship. Before becoming dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Corbet was treasurer (while Swift was dean), and so was also connected to the writer through the cathedral chapter.


One volume, 17.8 cms. x 12 cms. in binding, octavo, pp. [32] 768 [48]. With blank leaf at end of prelims. and with errata leaf at end. Woodcut device to title-page, factotum initials. Greek, roman and italic letter. Light browning, some waterstaining, very small amount of worming in bottom margin (blank) and a spot of burn- or worm-damage in text at sig. Ff5 (pp. 457-8) affecting one word, Bound in polished brown sprinkled calf, covers triple-filletted in blind, line in gilt to sides, spine with four raised bands, all edges red. Author name in ink to spine, possibly traces of another inscription to front cover. Rubbing and wear, some staining, loss at foot of top joint and cracking to top joint, which is weak.


  1. Inscription to title-page, “Fra: Corbet”.
  2. [to same] “JB Molloy / Clonbela” [for these two owners see below].
  3. Annotator in Latin, writing a note in pencil at top of p. 1.


STCN 840216653.

Andrew Carpenter, ed., Verse in English from Eighteenth-Century Ireland (Cork, 1998), 155. See also Thomas Sheridan, ed., The Works [...] (London, 1801), I, 539; Harold Williams, ed., The Corespondence [...], IV (Oxford 1965),198. See also David Woolley, ed., Correspondence (Frankfurt, 5 vols., 1998-2014) V (index) s.v. ‘Corbet’. George Dames Burtchaell and Thomas Ulick Sadleir, eds., Alumni Dublinenses (Dublin 1935) digitised at