The spirit of reform which was developed during the early part of the sixteenth century brought about a desire on the part of young men of means to travel on the continent of Europe. This was for the purpose of making themselves acquainted with the politics, social life, literature, art, science, an
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The spirit of reform which was developed during the early part of the sixteenth century brought about a desire on the part of young men of means to travel on the continent of Europe. This was for the purpose of making themselves acquainted with the politics, social life, literature, art, science, and commerce of the various nations of the same, especially of France, Spain, and Italy. These young Englishmen on their return introduced into the society in which they mixed not only the politenesses of these countries, but the wit of Italy, and the character of the poetry which was then in vogue in Southern Europe. Among these travellers during the reign of Henry the Eighth were Sir Thomas Wyatt and the Earl of Surrey. These courtiers possessed the poetical faculty, and therefore paid special attention to literary form. As a result they introduced the Sonnet of the Petrarchan type into England. The amorous verse of the inhabitants of these sunny climes took hold of the young Englishmen. Many men of rank and education, who did not regard themselves as of the world of letters, penned pleasant verse, much of it being of an amatory character based upon that of the Italians. During the reign of "Good Queen Bess" England was full of song. Of the writers of love verses William Watson occupied a very high, probably the highest, position during the time of Elizabeth. A glance at the Table of Contents of this volume will show that some of the best poets who were born between the years 1503 and 1679 have handed down to us poetical contributions of this character. - Summary by J.P. Briscoe
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