1866 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Geoffrey Whitney the Younger

Henry Greene, in Whitney, A Choice of Emblems (1866) lii-liv.



The manor house of Coole Pilate is pleasantly situated on the bank of the river Weever at a short distance from the stream, and is now occupied by a farmer. Of the old structure little remains, except on the side looking towards the river. This side remains, except on the side looking towards the river. This side or wing is in the usual style of ancient Cheshire houses, — a frame-work of timber painted externally black, and filled in with whitened plaster or brick. Between the house and the river is an old brine spring of at least one hundred and fifty feet deep, the brine rising to the surface. In former times salt was made here, and traces of the fuel employed are often found in the soil, but the spring has not been worked in living memory. The opposite bank of the river is elevated and covered with wood, and the whole valley is undulating, and at some distance, at Cumbermere, very picturesque. Here and there, by the rough road-side to the manor-house and close to it, are a few oaks, each of which numbers of centuries of life; and they are the only unquestionable relics of the age when Whitney the poet, in the boyhood of which he writes so tenderly, played and rambled with his brother Brooke, and his sisters Isabella a poetess, and Mary and Ann, in the fields and pretty country around.

This homestead, or some other in the neighbourhood, it is most probable was the birthplace of our Geffrey Whitney; though some lines in the Poems of his sister Isabella, published in 1573, intimate that his father at one time of his married life lived in London, for she writes in her fantastical will:

To Smithfeilde I must something leave,
my Parents there did dwell.

There are, however, undeniable proofs that the poet's younger years were passed at Coole Pilate or the immediate neighbourhood. The ancient grammar school at Audlem, a small country town about three miles from Coole Pilate, was of a certainty the place of his early education. He addresses the youth of that school — "Watche, write, and reade, and spend, no idle hower;" And expressly affirms it to be the place

"wheare I my prime did spende." The motto, "Patria cuique chara," His native land to every one is dear, he illustrates from

CUMBERMAIRE that fame so far commendes;
A stately seate, whose like is harde to finde;

This mansion of the Cottons, now viscounts Combermere, has been superseded by a nobler edifice; it is in the immediate neighbourhood of Coole Pilate, and is spoken of by Whitney with fond affection....