1. Previous biographies of the poet Charles Fitzgeoffrey [1576 - 1637] have been written, by the seventeenth-century Oxford antiquarian Anthony à Wood in his Athenae Oxonienses, by the Rev. Alexander B. Grosart in the Introduction to his edition of Fitzgeoffrey’s English poetry, and by Arthur Henry Bullen in the Dictionary of National Biography. Whether or not the debt is acknowledged, other biographical notices are palpably derived from one or more of these three sources. All of them are incomplete, and in some respects inaccurate, for the same reason: their authors have failed to profit from the substantial biographical information, and information about the social melieu in which the poet moved both at Oxford and in his native Cornwall, provided in Affaniae, in which the poet writes a lot about himself and the people around him. The information he provides, in turn, sends the biographer to various sources which are highly useful for illuminating both his life and the poems he writes. These include Joseph Foster’s compilation of the records of the University of Oxford, which facilitates the identification of a large number of individuals addressed or mentioned in Affaniae; to a lesser extent, the similar records for the University of Cambridge compiled by J. and J. A. Venn; Anthony à Wood’s Athenae Oxonienses and Fasti (as annotated in the early nineteenth century by Philip Bliss); the edition of the results of the 1620 visitation of the county of Cornwall conducted by the College of Heralds, as edited by J. L. Vivian and Henry H. Drake; the 1602 Survey of Cornwall by Fitzgeoffrey’s friend and neighbor Sir. Richard Carew; and A. L. Rowse’s study of Tudor Cornwall (in the Preface to this work Rowse writes of his own Cornish origins, and one assumes he is descended from the Rouses of Halton). These last two works contain some useful facts, but are considerably more important for supplying a vivid depiction of the Cornwall society in which Fitzgeoffrey lived. And, since at Oxford he lived in a house, and moved in social circles, populated predominantly by men from Cornwall and Devonshire, in a sense even at Oxford he never left Cornwall. The great majority of these and the other individuals who appear in Affaniae belonged to one or more of three well-documented populations: university men, members of armigerous Cornwall families, and published writers. It therefore proved possible to identify almost all of these employing the facilities of a well-appointed American research library. But there are limits to the results that can be achieved with printed resources. It is likely that an archivist on the ground could discover a good deal more to clarify doubtful points and answer questions left unaddressed here. I can only hope that the all too manifest gaps and uncertainties in the following account will suggest to a future biographer what kinds of subjects might profitably be explored.
2. Alexander Fitzgeoffrey (a surname sometimes spelled Fitzgeffrey) matriculated as a pensioner from Queens’ College, Cambridge, in 1560, and enjoyed a more than satisfactory academic career. He was admitted to the B. A. in 1562, as the first in his ordo, and to the M. A. in 1566, and was elected a Fellow of his college in 1562. Ordained in 1565, he served as University Preacher (Venn II.145). Although in his biography of our poet in Ath. Oxon. (II.607 - 9) Wood claimed that came from “a genteel family of the county of Cornwall,” — he appears to have been dimly reporting a tradition that had to do with the Mohuns rather than the Fitzgeoffreys — according to Cen. 17.7 he actually haled from Bedfordshire, and Grosart (p. vi) discovered evidence for Bedfordshire Fitzgeoffreys in the 1619 College of Heralds visitation for Northamptonshire. Alexander Fitzgeoffrey’s social standing is best indicated by the fact that in the epitaph written for his father our poet makes the statement that he was sufficiently well off that he had no need to covet anything (Cen. 17.9). Rowse (p. 335) describes him preaching against what he regarded as the papist excess of fasting, but encountering local opposition.
3. After he came down from Cambridge, he was appointed Rector of the parish of St. Fimbarrus at Foway, a port town on the southern coast of the county of Cornwall. According to Grosart (p. vi), the Foway parish records have disappeared, but in connection with his matriculation from Broadgates Hall in 1593, Fitzgeoffrey described himself as seventeen years old. His birth can therefore be fixed to 1576, and the birth-date of 1575 given in some sources is incorrect. At some point during our poet’s boyhood his father died: according to Venn he preached at Lostwithiel, Cornwall, in 1584, and so Charles was at least eight years old at the time of his death. In the epitaph he wrote for his uncle Sir William Mohun, Bart., Cen. 8, Fitzgeoffrey writes of him as a paternal figure, and at III.141.27f. he speaks of the presence of Sir William relieving his longing for his father. Likewise, in III.39 he addresses Thomas and (the younger) William Mohun, to the effect that in his heart they are his full brothers, rather than the half brothers they actually are (for so he puts it, although in fact they were adoptive cousins). Thus we learn that, after Alexander Fitzgeoffrey’s death, his widow married a younger brother of Sir William, and that Fitzgeoffrey was accordingly received into the Mohun family. The identity of this brother is not known: according to the pedigree published by Vivian and Drake (p. 145) Sir William had three younger brothers, Hugh, Reginald, and John, all of whom died without issue, but their marriages are unrecorded. It is because of his mother’s marriage that, when he matriculated, the poet described himself as gent. fils. Under the circumstances, this was accurate and appropriate. Had his father been alive, or his mother unmarried, he would have had a powerful reason for identifying himself as sacerdot. fils.: the schedule of fees charged him would have been substantially less.
4. The family was old and distinguished: it traces its descent from William de Mohun, who came ashore with the Conquerer, and supplied the original Norman Earls of Somerset (for a pedigree down to 1620, see Vivian and Drake pp. 143 - 46). Sir William was an important man in the county, having been appointed sheriff in 1572, and created one of the two Deputy Lieutenants for Cornwall when war with Spain broke out in 1584. In III.36 the poet effusively thanks a gentleman named Christopher Mainwar, by whose intervention the estate owned by his family for three centuries had been rescued from some upstart interlopers. Mainwar, one presumes, was their solicitor in connection with some kind of successful suit over property rights. Without specifying a date, Carew (p. 135) records that Sir William purchased from the Earl of Bedford the manor of Boconnoc in the West Hundred of Cornwall. Might he have done so against the possibility that he would lose the ancient family seat? At any rate, the way he writes about this episode shows how much Fitzgeoffrey came to regard the Mohun family as his own. He writes of his adoptive maternal relations with gratitude and affection (another poem, III.27, is addressed to Sir Thomas’ eldest son Reginald on the occasion of his knighting).
5. Fitzgeoffrey writes of his boyhood at III.141.25 - 35 (he is addressing George Sommastre, President of Broadgates Hall, and the vos of line 25 refers to the Broadgates community as a whole):
Vos me adhuc tenerum rudemque alumnum
Et charo patre destitutum, et illo
(Qui desyderium patris superstes
Allevaret) avunculo Mohuno,
(Eheu vulnera bina telo ab uno!)
Cum primum ferulae manum Harvianae
Iam subduximus haud ephaebi, at annos
Lustris addimus duos duobus;
Excepistis, et in sinu foventes
Gratum (Iupiter!) otiique plenum
Septenne hospitiumque praebuistis.
[“You took me in, bereaved of my dear father and (who by surviving assuaged my longing for my father) Mohun my uncle (alas, a double wounding from a single weapon!), when I had first withdrawn my hand from the Harveian rod, scarce an adolescent, and added two years to a pair of lustra, and, cherishing me in your bosom, gave me seven years’ hospitality.” ]
Evidently Sir William Mohun was not living at the time Fitzgeoffrey came up to Oxford; his epitaph (Cen. 8) appears to hint that he died at sea. Therefore, unless it was written considerably after the fact, this item was composed while Fitzgeoffrey was still a schoolboy, and so appears to be his earliest datable poem. The mention of two lustra plus two years in the above quote looks problematic (in Latin parlance, a lustrum is a period of five years), as it appears to indicate that Fitzgeoffrey was born in 1580 and came up to Oxford at age twelve. This is not in itself impossible — boys could come up to university at what strikes us as a remarkably young age, and in fact twelve was the age at which his friend Francis Rous entered Broadgates Hall — but it conflicts with his matriculation statement that he was seventeen. More likely, therefore, he is not reckoning from the time of his birth, but from the beginning of his schooling, the topic under discussion. The reference to the “Harveian rod” alludes to his schoolmaster, the Rev. Richard Harvey, whom he recalls as a second father at line 23 of the same poem, and to whom he expresses enormous gratitude in III.19. The words a ferulisque fides at III.39.3f. indicates that his adoptive cousins Thomas and William were also under Harvey’s care. At Oxford, Fitzgeoffrey’s best friend was Digory Whear (“Hillary Vere”), three years his elder. At I.23.2f. he recalls that their friendship extended from their earliest years. It seems not unlikely, therefore, that Whear too was a pupil of Harvey’s.
6. Assimilation into the Mohun family no doubt provided access to Cornwall’s educated gentry, and helped pave the way for lifelong connections and friendships with members thereof. Fitzgeoffrey’s poems are studded with such distinguished Cornish surnames as Carew, Moyle, Rous, Trefusis, and Trelawny, and it seems natural to assume that he was accustomed to moving in these circles even before encountering scions of such families at Oxford. One other fact about the young Fitzgeoffrey must be mentioned. At some time, we neither know when nor how, he lost the sight of one eye. In a number of poems he writes about his condition; usually it serves as an occasion for humor.
7. On July 6, 1593, the poet matriculated from Broadgates Hall of the University of Oxford. Like Exeter College, this house, refounded as Pembroke College in the next century, was largely populated by students from the West Country. The great majority of Oxford contemporaries to or about whom Fizgeoffrey wrote came from Cornwall and Devonshire, and belonged to these two establishments, and this suggests a pronounced tendency of West Country men to club together — or, some readers might be tempted to imagine, to huddle together for mutual protection from more urbane students and members of grander and more intimidating establishments.
8. On the same day as Fitzgeoffrey, three other Cornish boys matriculated from Broadgates Hall. One was Digory Whear of Jacobstow, who (perhaps with an eye to the Earl of Oxford’s surname, and because his Cornish Christian name sounded foreign to Home County ears) signed himself in Latin as “Hilarius Verus.” Then there were the two sons of Sir Anthony Rous of Halton: Richard, and the young Francis. Three of these four were marked for distinction — Fitzgeoffrey would soon achieve national visibility as a poet, and later for his published sermons; Digory Whear would become Master of Gloucester Hall and Oxford’s first Camden Professor of History; and Francis Rous would write a well known set of Psalm translations and serve as Provost of Eton College, commissioner for the ejection of recalcitrant ministers and schoolmasters in Cornwall, member of Cromwell’s Council, and Speaker of the House of Commons in Cromwell’s Barebones Parliament. The future parliamentarian John Pym, who came up to Broadgates Hall just before our poet left, was a half-brother of the Rouses. The dedicatory epistle prefacing Whear’s Degorei Wheari Praelectoris Historiae Camdenensis Charisteria printed at Oxford in 1628 is addressed to Ioanno Pymo germano virtutis et eruditionis alumno. Although Pym was obviously not Whear’s brother, this manner of address combined with the facts that Whear was Pym’s tutor at Oxford, and that subsequently he bequeathed his personal library to the younger Francis Rous, would appear to hint that Whear was some kind of Rous kinsman. If Fitzgeoffrey had not previously made the acquaintance of the Rous brothers, this was indeed a fateful day for him. His association with their family determined the course of his adult life.
9. The facts of his academic career can be set forth briefly (they are summarized by Foster p. 502): he was admitted to the B. A. in 1596 - 7, and to the M. A. in 1600, and for some reason chose to be incorporated at Cambridge as late as 1617. The heading of an epigram quoted in the commentary note on II.59 describes him as a Bachelor of Divinity, scarcely implausible, although Foster does not record the conferral of that degree. There is an apparent self-contradiction in what Fitzgeoffrey writes about when he left Oxford. In the poem to George Sommastre already quoted, he speaks of being accorded the hospitality of Broadgates Hall for seven years, while in a poem written to Digory Whear soon after going down from Oxford he speaks of their having spent six years together at the university (I.23.9f.) But the seeming discrepancy is illusory. There was normally a year’s interval between the time that an individual incepted for the M. A. (i. e., the occasion when he successfully participated in a Comitia disputation) and his actual receipt of the degree, and after his inception a man’s continued presence at the university was no longer requisite, although he remained on his college’s books until the M. A. was conferred. It would therefore appear that Fitzgeoffrey was at Oxford from 1593 to 1599. Probably his last datable poem written there is III.43, addressed to John Pym, who matriculated from Broadgates Hall in May 1599.
10. In contrast to his father’s record at Cambridge, Fitzgeoffrey’s academic career shows no signs of distinction. The reason is not difficult to guess: his energies were divided between studies and literary pursuits (hence the mention of gratum otium, welcome leisure, in the passage of III.141 quoted above). In 1596 Joseph Barnes, printer to the university, issued his poem Sir Francis Drake, His Honourable life’s commendation, and his Tragicall Deathes lamentation. The poem caught the eye of the judicious critic Francis Meres, who in his survey of contemporary English literature, Palladis Tamia (1598) wrote of “yon Charles Fitz-Ieffrey, that high touring Falcon.” Fitzgeoffrey responded with a poem thanking Meres (II.24), for the mention enhanced his national visibility. So did twenty passages of the poem anthologized in England’s Parnassus.
11. At the same time, throughout the 1590’s Fitzgeoffrey was writing the Latin epigrams and other short poems destined to be collected in Affaniae. Two individuals appear to have been enormously important in shaping his talent for Latin versification. The first was Edward Michelborne [1565 - 1626]. Anthony à Wood’s biography (Fasti I.428) is worth quoting in full:
On the 27th of Dec. this year , Edward Michelbourne, a gentleman’s son of Hampshire, originally a commoner of St. Mary’s hall, and afterwards for many years that of Glocester, was buried in the parish church of St. Thomas the martyr in the West suburb of Oxford, aged 62 or thereabouts. The reasons why I set him down here are (1) Because he took no degree, being a Rom. Catholic, otherwise I would have put him in that year wherein he took a degree. (2) Because he was the most noted Latin poet of his time in the university, as divers copies of his compositions printed in several books, shew; which if put together, would make a manual. (3) That the poets of his time did mostly submit their labours to his judgment before they were made publiic, particularly Charles Fitz-Geffrey, who dedicates his Affaniae to him.
Michelborne appears to have been both a mentor and a friend, if we may judge by the number of poems addressed to him in Affaniae (I.50, II.1, II.2, II.16, II.102, II.127, III.99, and III.133). Friends, too, were his brothers Laurence and Thomas, both of whom are also addressed by multiple epigrams (Laurence: I.1, I.2, I.58, I.78; Thomas: II.85, III.1, III.2, III.143). Each of the three Books of Affaniae is dedicated to one of them, in the order of their seniority.
12. Edward Michelborne would have been influential in any event, but he was doubly so because it was he, in all probability, who drew Fitzgeoffrey’s attention to the London poet-musician Thomas Campion [1567 - 1620]. Campion’s friendship with Michelborne is shown by the fact that no less than five of the epigrams in his 1595 Thomae Campiani Poemata are addressed to him (epigrams I.180, I.192, II.63A, II.77, and II.121). We shall see below that Affaniae is in many important respects modeled on Campion’s volume.
13. Fitzgeoffrey also seems to have spent a good deal of his time at Oxford reading works that scarcely figured in the academic curriculum. In glancing through Affaniae one of the things that will strike the reader most forcefully is the wide variety of contemporary authors he mentions. These include English writers such as Barnabe Barnes, William Camden, Thomas Campion, Sir Richard Carew, George Chapman, Samuel Daniel, Sir John Davies, Michael Drayton, Sir John Harington, John Heywood, Ben Jonson, John Marston, Francis Meres, Sir Philip Sidney and his sister Mary, Countess of Pembroke, Edmund Spenser, Thomas Storer, and Joshua Sylvester. He also displays familiarity with an equally distinguished and varied roster of Continental writers, mostly Latin poets from Northern Europe: Beza, the Dousas, Scipio Gentili, Heinsius (? — see the commentary note on III.38.38), Junius, Lipsius, Rantzau, Saluste, the Scaligers, Ioannes Secundus, Petrus Secundus, Vluggius, and Vulcanius (according to J. W. Binns, Intellectual Culture in Elizabethan and Jacobean England, Leeds, 190, p. 114, a British Library copy of Elizabeth Jane Weston’s Poemata, published at Frankfurt an der Oder in 1602, survives with Fitzgeoffrey’s signature on the title page, which betokens an interest in acquiring books of this type). Familiarity with these English writers betokens a lively interest in contemporary letters, but was not particularly unusual for a university man with a proclivity for belles lettres. Interest in Continental Neo-Latin poets, on the other hand, is more surprising and indicates unusually wide intellectual horizons. Oxford in the 1590’s was a hotbed of literary activities, and boasted such outstanding Latin poets as Richard Eedes, William Gager, Matthew Gwinne, Richard Latewar, and John Sanford, but one searches most contemporary Oxonian literature in vain for traces of any similar enthusiasm. Although it was fashionable to lionize Sir Philip Sidney in life and idolize him after death, Oxford men on the whole did not appear to have imitated his gusto for European Humanist writers. Thus, Fitzgeoffrey’s tendency to club together with fellow West Country men should not be taken as an indication of provincialism or narrow horizons. In this context III.38 is particularly illuminating: Fitzgeoffrey asks the Rous brothers, newly returned from Belgium, about the latest developments in Humanistic literature. It is illuminating to observe his assumption that his friends share his interest, and will be able to satisfy his curiosity. Another evident sign of his openness to the world at large is his evident tendency to befriend foreigners temporarily visiting the university, for (although I have been unable to learn anything about them), such as I assume Jakob Krull (III.120 etc.), Philipe à Lecoet (II.81 etc.), and Johann Müller (III.123 etc.) to have been. No doubt he took the opportunity to pump them for the same kind of intelligence he solicits from the Rous brothers. This interest in Continental humanistic literature is not the least of Affaniae’s attractive features. In this context, incidentally, we must disabuse ourselves of the idea that Cornwall was an insolated and therefore provincial place, a misconception all too easily inferred from the long train ride down from London. An ocean-going vessel of Fitzgeoffrey’s day could put into Falmouth Harbor, so that direct intercourse with the Continent must have common to a degree unimaginable in the twentieth century.
14. Fitzgeoffrey left Oxford in 1599. How did he occupy himself during the following years, the period during which Affaniae was published? In a number of poems towards the end of Book III, some explicitly stating that they were written after his departure from Oxford (for example III.131), he writes of suffering from a disease so severe that he imagined he was on the point of death. He describes the malady as a lengthy (well over a month according to III.135.15f.) and painful one that baffled the doctors’ art. In one of these poems (III.134.1f.) he writes that it has been nine months since he has returned to Cornwall. This period of enforced leisure would have provided plenty of time for writing the post-Oxford items in the collection and for assembling the literary products of his Oxford period (some of which may of course have already been circulating in manuscript) into the form they took in Affaniae. It is possible that II.99 was written during this period; if so, it suggests he was staying with Sir Robert Carew. The rather proprietary mention of “my Lynher” in line 8, in a poem written two years before his receipt of the Rectorship of St. Dominick, is noteworthy, and suggests that he already regarded the vicinity as his home.
15. In III.44, another poem written to Whear after going down from the university, he complains of spending a second birthday separated from his friend, and from his native land. So at that point he was no longer in Cornwall. In II.5 he urges Whear to hasten to him in Wiltshire, perhaps to help him celebrate his birthday (I.80 and II.126 look as if they were written at the same time). One also notes a poem (III.16) written to accompany a presentation copy of Drake given to Dr. Thomas Hyde, a Canon of Salisbury Cathedral and Chancellor of the diocese (Cornwall belonged to the see of Exeter), as well as a poem to Henry Cotton, the current Bishop (III.11), although this latter is admittedly included in a series of poems addressed to various Anglican prelates. Additionally, two of Fitzgeoffrey’s poems (III.17 and Cen . 21) are written for the Rev. Reginald Bellot, son of Francis Bellot of Cosham, Wilts., whom he describes as a kinsman by blood. The former poem accompanies another presentation copy of Drake and is printed immediately after the one to Hyde. Bellot’s precise relationship to Fitzgeoffrey’s, acknowledged by the title of Cen. 21, is unknown, save that at line 6 of that poem he is described as “the consolation of my dwindling family,” and in view of the previous death of the poet’s father this comment suggests he was a relative on the paternal side. Or was his mother a Bellot? II.104 tells the story of an outspoken atheist struck dead by lightning on Salibsury Plain. Taken together, these sundry facts suggest some Church occupation in Wiltshire; possibly Fitzgerald eked out a living as a locum tenens, while waiting and hoping for better things.
16. In 1603 Sir Anthony Rous, the father of his friends, presented him with the living of the St. Dominick’s, the parish of his seat at Halton, on the Tamar river, a position he held until his death. His ship had come into port. Little is known of his life thereafter, save in the most anecdotal of ways. But a glance at a map tells an eloquent story: specifically, the one of the East Hundred of Cornwall printed before p. 163 in Carew’s Survey of Cornwall. There one sees that the parish of St. Dominick lies within a mile of the Rous home, and is situated about seven miles east of Richard Carew’s Anthony House. Robert Rous’s home at Wotton is about the same distance removed, to the north-west. The homesteads of various other families who figure in Affaniae are visible on the same map, such as those of Robert Moyle (III.34) and his remarkably erudite wife Ann (III.35), the Trelawnys, and the Lowres (see the commentary note on III.40). So this map probably delineates the essence of Fitzgeoffrey’s life; it suggests that he spent an agreeable existence serving as the rector of a comfortable parish populated by these educated and sophisticated families with whom he lived on intimate terms. Most prominent among these were the Rouses, including John Pym, and the Carews. Sir Richard Carew, author of The Survey of Cornwall and of a partial translation of Tasso’s Gerusalleme Liberata (part of which is employed in The Philological Museum to accompany Scipio Gentili’s partial Latin translation of Tasso) was an extremely learned polyglot. Anyone who reads his lively and entertaining description of Cornwall will perceive how delightful a friend he must have been. The Survey of Cornwall was published the year after Affaniae, and the fact that Fitzgeoffrey contains a couple of bits of antiquarian lore that appear in the Survey (see the commentary notes on III.19 and III.134.4) suggests that even before he assumed the råectorship of St. Dominick’s the two men were well acquainted. Likewise, The Survey of Cornwall is prefaced by an introductory poem that looks very much as if it is modeled on one towards the beginning of Affaniae (I.7). The dedication of a published sermon to Sir Reginald Mohun, now the Baronet, would seem to indicate that his relations with the Mohuns continued warm. Plenty of the Oxford men memorialized in Affaniae, who also returned to Cornwall, no doubt enlarged the circle of his friends.
17. The segment of Cornish of society in which Fitzgeoffrey grew up and was thus situated can be characterized more generally. In a passage quoted in the commentary note on III.115, Rowse writes of “those who had gone in with the new régime,” and this perfectly describes the Fitzgeoffreys, father and son, the Mohuns, the Rouses, the Carews, and no doubt most of the other West Country men of whom he writes, and who collectively delineate his social milieu. At least if you ignore its Catholic dissidents, the West Country intellectual community to which he belonged at Oxford was essentially a temporary dislocation of this same social class. The son of a pastor who had set himself against Papist practise, the adoptive nephew of a sheriff much involved in the progressive grinding down of regional Catholics (succeeded in 1588 by Sir Anthony Rous, who continued his policy), and who had been entrusted with organizing the defense of his county in time of war, and a close friend of the puritanical Rouses, Fitzgeoffrey belonged to a class which had wholly thrown in its lot with the Tudors and with Anglicanism, and had been abundantly rewarded for its choice. The fissures which would divide this class against itself during the Civil War and the Protectorate were as yet entirely invisible, and Fitzgeoffrey was a spokesman for its current self-confident patriotism and loyalism. He had passed the no doubt impressionable years of his adolescence during the war with Spain, when the Armada was first sighted and confronted virtually off the coast of his home town. His published poetry radiates a resulting pride, self-confidence, and aggressive patriotism, and demonstrates particular pride in the conspicuous contributions to England’s successes made by West Country men, of whom he frequently writes: war heroes like Drake and Grenville, great churchmen like Bishop John Jewel, and learned writers such as William Camden and Sir Richard Carew. Hence a strong note of regional consciousness is one of the dominant themes of Affaniae.
18. In later life literary activity did not entirely cease. In 1636 he published another volume of poetry, of a sort suitable for an elderly churchman, entitled The Blessed Birth-Day. This poetry was edited by Grosart, together with Drake. He also published several sermons and, although they have been itemized elsewhere, there is no harm in doing so here in an appendix, as are the gratulatory poems he wrote for the books of others. Another possible literary activity can probably be discounted. At Ath. Oxon. II.608 Anthony à Wood credits Fitzgeoffrey with compiling the 1600 poetry anthology Englands Parnassus. In a footnote, Philip Bliss wrote “This has always been ascribed to Robert Allot, yet it is by no means improbable, that Fitzgeffrey gave his judgement and assistance to the compilation.” It seems most likely that this bit of misinformation originates in a confusion of Englands Parnassus with the later anthology Certaine Elegies done by sundrie excellent Wits, with Satires and Epigrams compiled by Henry Fitzgeoffrey, which will be discussed here in a later context.
19. In 1619 Thomas Campion issued a revised and enlarged verion of the 1595 volume that had exerted such a considerable influence on Affaniae. Two of the new epigrams written for this volume are addressed to Fitzgeoffrey (I.178 and II.70), and it is pleasant to see that Campion both admired Fitzgeoffrey’s poetry and regarded him as a friend (in the former poem Campion writes of his amor for him). Likewise, after moving to Plymouth, the Scots poet John Dunbar addressed a Latin epigram to Fitzgeoffrey (epigram II.16 of his 1616 Epigrammaton Centuriae Sex, Decades Totidem, epigram I.8 may also be about Fitzgeoffrey).
20. The date of Fitzgeoffrey’s marriage, and the identity of his wife, are unknown. Previous biographers exhibit considerable uncertainty about his children, but evidence for his descendants can be gathered from academic records printed by Foster (p. 502). His eldest son, John, was admitted to the B. A. from St. John’s College, Cantab., in 1624, incorporated at Oxford in 1638, and received the M. A. from Gloucester Hall, Oxon., in the same year. Charles [b. 1610], matriculated from Gloucester Hall in 1629 - 30, and was admitted to the B. A. in 1631. Alexander, named after his grandfather [b. 1618], matriculated from Gloucester Hall in 1639 - 40, and appears to have been appointed Vicar of Tamerton Foliatt, Devonshire, in 1663. Thus all three of his sons were entrusted to the care of the Master of Gloucester Hall, the poet’s ancient friend Digory Whear. In the next generation, Charles’ son [b. 1680] matriculated from Exeter College in 1698, and was admitted to the B. A. in 1701 - 2. Another descendant, a son or grandson named George, is attested by a 1645 petition filed by his wife Grace, claiming that he had deserted her three years previously (Boase and Courtney III.1180). The principal difficulty in previous biographies concerns the Henry Fitzgeoffrey who compiled Certaine Elegies done by sundrie excellent Wits, with Satires and Epigrams (originally published in 1617, reprinted annually through 1620). In a footnote to Wood’s biography, Philip Bliss stated that this individual was the son of our poet; so too Boase and Courtney I.150. With equal confidence, Grosart (p. xxxvi) asserted that he was a brother. More wisely, the author of the D. N. B. article on Henry Fitzgeoffrey states that his relationship to Charles, if any, is indeterminate.
21. Fitzgeoffrey died in February 1636, and is buried under the Communion Table of St. Dominick’s church. His son John succeeded him as Rector of the parish. In due time, he was buried next to his father.
22. Affaniae (a non-classical word which means “trivial, trashy talk” ) was published by Joseph Barnes, printer to the University of Oxford, in 1601; it does not bear the university seal, but the conditions under which Barnes did and did not employ the seal remain to be investigated. It is divided into three Books, each containing more than a hundred poems, and each dedicated to one of the Michelborne brothers, in the order of their seniority. Bound in the same volume is a second work, preceded by a separate title page, entitled Cenotaphia a Carolo Fitzgeofrido Posita et Sacrata Diis Manibus et Piae Memoriae Nonnullorum (“Cenotaphic Poems Erected and Consecrated to the Shades and Pious Memory of Several Men, by Charles Fitzgeoffrey “). These verse epitaphs for a number of recently deceased individuals are probably called “cenotaphic” to indicate that they were not actually written for employment as tomb inscriptions. Although Affaniae and Cenotaphia may appear to be different and unrelated, on closer inspection they will be seen to form a carefully integrated whole.
23. Affaniae is a miscellany of various kinds of short Latin poem. As in the Epigram section of Campion’s 1595 Thomae Campiani Poemata, the reader is bombarded in turns with poems covering a broad spectrum extending from the comic and the satirical to the movingly pathetic, often with alarmingly abrupt transitions from one mood and one auctorial persona to another. The same is true of the “epigram” section of Thomae Campiani Epigrammata. To appreciate the difference between Campion’s “epigrams,” or Fitzgeoffreys, with a collection wholly devoted to Martial-style epigrams, a comparison of these volumes with the ones by “Britian’s Martial” John Owen [ca. 1560 - 1622] is instructive. To be sure, the most abundant ingredient, which even finds its way into the latter portion of Cenotaphia, consists of humorous and often satiric epigrams of the type written by Martial. We may consider these first. In contemporary English literature, the pointed comic epigram had enjoyed increased popularity in the 1590’s. Walter R. Davis (Thomas Campion, Boston, 1987, pp. 40f.) has written:
A new set of genres sprang up which, eschewing myth and fiction, espoused realism and a plain unadorned style. The erotic elegy as practiced by Donne and Jonson ran counter to the sonnet sequences: the focus was not on the mistress in a mythic context but on the half-amused self-observation of the lover in a social context, and it was direct erotic experience rather than its transcendence that was celebrated. The self-proclaimed originality of verse satire by Hall (1597), Marston (1598), and others featured the addressing of actual abuses of the time instead of a mythic past, and in a rough, plain, and frequently scurrile style…the 1590’s were the heyday of the epigram, which treated actual city life, the London scene, with amusement, wit, satire, and a plain style. If we follow its history from Weever (1599) and Davies (1600) to Donne and Johnson, we will discover a growth in brevity and wit.
To be sure, epigrams had been written earlier, notably by the prolific but untalented John Heywood, which may be read in The Proverbs, Epigrams, and Miscellanies of John Heywood (ed. John S. Farmer, London, 1906). To the epigrammaticists cited by Davis in the above quote should be added Sir John Harington, whose efforts were unprinted but circulated widely in manuscript. They have been published in The Letters and Epigrams of Sir John Harington (ed. Sir Norman E. McClure, Philadelphia, 1930). Fitzgeoffrey was familiar with these: see III.30, addressed to Harington. Likewise, in 1599 John Weever published Epigrammes In The Oldest Cut, and Newest Fashion, which contains several examples of a kind of poem written by Campion and Fitzgeoffrey, short items addressed to leading literary figures of the day (most interestingly, Weever includes a sonnet addressed to Shakespeare). The reason for the enhanced popularity of the epigram in the late 1590’s probably had to do with that great literary paradigm shift known as the Anti-Ciceronianism movement, whereby Silver Age Latin authors came to replace Golden Age ones as models for imitation. Both because he was a poet of the Imperial period, and because the pithy epigrammatic remark was a feature of Silver Age prose, it is likely that this literary vogue engendered new interest in Martial and the literary possibilities of the kind of pointed, “sting-in-the-tail” kind of epigram one associates with his name. The epigrams of the Greek Anthology were also the object of intensified sudy: one may mention, for example, a volume devoted to their translation into to Latin, John Stockwood’s Progymnasma Scholasticum (1597), which could readily be employed as a manual on epigram-composition.
24. Among English poets who wrote in Latin, Campion was the first to explore the possibilities of the Martial-style epigram on a large and conspicuous scale. The portion of his 1595 volume indentified as “epigrams” does not actually contain epigrams of this type any more exclusively than does Affaniae, but it contains a large number of them, and Fitzgeoffrey’s so closely resemble them that often they are virtually indistinguishable. Both poets exhibit the same philosophy towards their craft. Like those of their Roman model, their epigrams almost exclusively consist of generalized humor, or sometimes of more pointed social satire (attacks on usury, for example, and the use of tobacco), written about fictitious characters with Latin names, who are no more than representative “types.” The humor is often stereotyped: doctor jokes, lawyer jokes, nose jokes, comedy about dysfunctional marriages, and so forth. The purpose of Fitzgeoffrey’s epigrams, like Campion’s, is to amuse, and at most to offer moral instruction, but rarely to wound. And so, until the appearance of the first of John Owen’s series of epigram volumes in 1606, and John Stradling’s Epigrammatum Libri Quatuor published in the following year, Campion and Fitzgeoffrey dominated the scene as England’s practitioners of the Latin comic epigram.
25. Campion’s volume provided the model for Affaniae, and Campion had added an element entirely absent from the Martial formula, short erotic poems that differ from his erotic elegies in length much more than in tone or substance. His epigrams, no less than the elegies that accompany them in the same volume, are studded with items written to his two mistresses, Mellea and Caspia. Fitzgeoffrey (who in I.39 acknowledges the similarity) goes even farther, as Book I of Affiniae is to a large extent dominated by poems written to his mistress Cordula (“Dear Heart” — Fitzgeoffery was rather over-fond of familiar diminutives). In many of these he indulges in what was by his time the stereotyped rhetoric of the Petrarchan sonnet, and indeed one could readily imagine several of his Cordula items (such as I.12, I.13, and I.30) being transformed into English sonnets. Such rhetoric was readily transferred into Latin, and provided a kind of shortened and modernized equivalent of the erotic verse of the Roman elegiac poets. The writing of love-poetry was unusual for a university man of the times, if only because in the intensely masculine academic environment it must have been very difficult to develop such a relationship. But it may be doubted whether any actual affair ever occurred: grave suspicion is raised by two considerations. I.93, in which the poet takes leave of his beloved, and I.101, in which he laments her death, are sandwiched between several comic epigrams, and this tends to subvert the seriousness of the occasion; and the outburst of lyric grief in I.101 concludes, very much contrary to expectations, with a bawdy joke. More likely, therefore, Cordula was a literary invention. One intention, no doubt, was imitation of Campion. Another, having to do with the overall structure of the volume, will be suggested below.
26. Another similarity is that both Campion’s volume and Fitzgeoffrey’s are studded with poems about leading personages of the realm (in Affaniae many of these are West Country men) and prominent literary figures of the times. This indicates a shared interest in producing volumes of national significance, such as would engage the attention and interest of a wide readership, and, no doubt, such as would sell well. In Fitzgeoffrey’s case, the inclusion of such items goes a long way towards relieving the volume of a criticism that might otherwise be leveled against it because of its large number of poems written to intimate friends and members of his Broadgates Hall - Exeter College circle, that it is merely academic coterie poetry. (Campion, a rarity among English Latin poets in that he had no strong university associations, was not obliged to worry about this issue.)
27. But Fitzgeoffrey was not content merely to imitate Campion, and one should not dwell exclusively on similarities. Differences also exist. Affaniae, in the first place, is much more personal. A great deal of biographical information, and a vivid sense of the writer located in his particular social setting, can be extracted from its contents. Then too, much of what Fitzgeoffrey writes is dictated by his clerical training and profession. To an extent, this is no doubt a matter of genuine personal interest. But academic literature written in Latin was notoriously an enterprise indulged in by young career-hunters, and it is impossible to dismiss the impression that one of Fitzgeoffrey’s purposes in publishing Affaniae was to draw attention to himself, his learning and his orthodoxy, and his reverence for the senior men in the Anglican hierarchy, in the hope of improving his professional chances. Campion’s book contains no odor of careerism.
28. Although Campion too wrote poems to friends, this element is considerably more prominent in Affaniae, and some of Fitzgeoffrey’s items nearly rise to the point of becoming short verse epistles. The universities were a place, not just for education, but also for socialization. This took place on two levels: the formation of friendships between individuals or within small groups, and the induction of newcomers into the educated elite of England, the social class which supplied its lawyers, physicians, churchmen, the functionaries of its nascent civil service, and the large majority of its literary men. In the context of Renaissance schools and universities, Latin was the language in which this socialization process occurred, and familiarity with Latin literature was an important shared bond for its members. At the same time, membership in this educated élite was prestigious, and so the ability to speak, read, and write Latin constituted an important status marker, since it was the distinctive badge of belonging to this class. No wonder then, that Neo-Latin literature emanating from the universities tends to celebrate male bonding with a vengeance. This phenomenon is highly visible in the output such poets as William Gager and Phineas Fletcher (in his Latin Sylva Poetica and his vernacular Piscatory Eclogues) and is one of Fitzgeoffrey’s central concerns. It may well have been the case, although he appears to have been made welcome in his adoptive Mohun family, at some psychological level the small community of Broadgates Hall. assumed something of the role of a surrogate family. Certainly, his poem to the Master of the Hall (III.141), so full of autobiographical confession, does nothing to dispel some such understanding. His frequent poems about members of his inner circle of friends leaves no doubt about their importance in his life, and, on the basis of the numerous poems addressed to him, it is difficult to decide whether his friendship with Digory Whear crossed the line between friendship and homosexual attachment. This is particularly so because the poems of William Gager leave no room for doubt that in the late Elizabethan period platonic homosexual attachments were fashionable, possibly because young men were attempting to replicate what they perceived as the relationship between their beau ideal, Sir Philip Sidney, and his friend Fulke Greville. At any rate, like Gager and Fletcher, Fitzgeoffrey is a poet par excellence of masculine socialization.
29. Nor did Fitzgeoffrey lack enemies to hate. Or at least so he pretended, so he could display his considerable talent for satiric invective. This was always deployed against targets rendered unidentifiable by pseudonyms. Thus we fine vigorous assaults on such as individuals as “Leporinus,” who had the temerity to tease the poet for his missing eye (II.57, II.58), the haughty, callous, and Catholic estate-holder “Albo-Vicus” (II.115, II.116), the half-educated “Caculus” (II.120), the donkey-like “Stephanus” who made the mistake of questioning Fitzgeoffrey’s learning (in a series beginning at II.121), and “Stephanius,” a corrupt clergyman and a bad preacher to boot (III.21, III.22). I have tried, sometimes but not always with success, to divine the individuals attacked under these names. But it does not really matter whether these characters are invented, as may sometimes be the case, or whether their pseudonyms conceal real men, identifiable to Fitzgeoffrey’s contemporaries in the know, though not to us. Poetry of this sort lends a touch of spice to the collection unmatched by the more generalized humor of Martial-imitating epigrams. On the other hand, and in sharp contrast to those of both Martial, Campion (who considerably toned down this element in the revised and enlarged 1619 reprinting of his volume), and John Owen, few of Fitzgeoffrey’s epigrams are bawdy, and none are nasty. Words like cunnus and mentula were enitrely alien his vocabulary.
30. Fitzgeoffrey thought that a poetic miscellaney ought to be accompanied by a similar variety of meters. Thus the reader’s ear are given welcome relief from two standard meters of Martial’s epigrams, elegiac couplets and hendacasyllabi, by items written in Sapphic and Alcaic stanzas, iambic trimeters, and less frequently in other iambic meters and dactylic hexameters. One notices a greater metrical variety in Campion’s 1619 expanded reprint volume than in his original 1595 one — was this done under Fitzgeoffrey’s influence?
31. Another way in which Affaniae differs from its model, Thomae Campiani Poemata, is that it is far more artfully organized. It is divided into three Books and followed by the Cenotaphia, and in reading the whole one gains an overall sense of progression. Book I is dominated by the persona of a young man ardently in love. And, with poems placed near the end about Cordula’s ill health, followed by one about her death, Book I has a kind of rudimentary story line of its own. At the end of the Book, after Cordula is conveniently killed off now that she has served her purpose, the poet bids farewell to Venus and pronounces that in future he will he concern himself with other matters (for, when he promises that henceforth he will serve no Venus other than Queen Elizabeth, this is what is essentially at stake). Book II and most of of Book III keep this promise. He exhibits an enhanced interest in the world around him, the immediate world of Oxford, and the wider one of national politics, English and international literature, and the Church. Towards the end of Book III he falls ill, and assumes a valedictorian tone as he bids farewell to the world and his friends. Then the Affaniae is followed by a collection of poems about death. The reader therefore gains the sense of being led through the life-cycle of an adult man, and this representation of change, growth, decline, and ultimate death, imparts a feeling of shape and progression to the whole. Furthermore, as pointed out in individual commentary notes, the individual Books of Affaniae contain a number of carefully planned sequences and artfully adroit juxtapositions.
32. The volume issued by Barnes was printed on pages so thin that many extant copies cannot be successfully photographed, as the visible contents of the reverse side interfere with legibility. This is unfortunately true of the British Library copy selected for reproduction in the Early English Books microfilm series (reel 798); because it suffers from the same defect, the authorities of the Huntington Library declined to supply a microfilm of their copy. Fortunately, the Bodleian Library was able to provide a more legible microfilm of one of its three copies, and the Cambridge University Library a xerostatic reproduction. On the basis of these two copies, it was possible to piece together a reasonably accurate transcription, with remaining doubtful points settled by autopsy of the Huntington one. I am of course grateful to all three libraries for their help and support. Modern punctuation and conventions of printing Latin have silently been imposed on the text, although Fitzgeoffrey’s original orthography is retained
33. In identifying individuals of national stature in commentary notes, I limited myself to advertising the existence of a biographical article in the Dictionary of National Biography. I am aware that in many instances the D. N. B. article has been supplanted by more modern biographical research, but my only intention is to give readers unfamiliar with the individual in question a reference to a ubiquitously available source which sets forth the essential facts of his or her life. To do more would be to make an already lengthy commentary unnaturally longer. As an exception to this rule, I enthusiastically recommend to the reader F. E. Halliday’s biographical study of Sir Richard Carew, from which he can make the acquaintance of a Cornishman no less attractive and engaging than Fitzgeoffrey himself.
34. I also take this opportunity to thank Prof. Gilbert Tournoy of the Katholieke Universiteit, Leiden, and Herr Fritz Felgentreu of the Seminar für Klassische Philologie, Freie Universität, Berlin, for providing some information on Continental humanists, and also to the musicologist Rainer aus dem Spring for suggesting some improvements in my translation of II.75.