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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

XIV. Some Political and Social Aspects of the Later Elizabethan and Earlier Stewart Period

§ 12. Education of the Courtier

In this sketch of the complete training of an English gentleman, as in the early life of the actual Sidney and the Hamlet of the tragedy, the element of foreign travel must not be over-looked. There was not much travelling at home (partly in consequence of the state of the roads, which forced even the queen to make most of her progresses on horseback). Even more than in the earlier days of the English renascence, Italy, with all its great memories and treasures, and with all its charms and seductions, was the favourite resort of English travellers, and such it remained during the long reach of years which bridge the interval between the times of Ascham and those of Milton. The frequency with which the Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatists lay the scenes of their plays in Italy, no doubt, was originally due to the use made by them of Italian fiction; but we often find a play localised in Italy for no better reason than deference to custom, or the possibility of greater freedom of movement.