This happy breed of men, this little world,Such a period can hardly recur again, but something like it, something pointing back to similar producing causes, is observable in the revival of English imaginative literature at the close of the last and in the early years of the present century. Again, after long fermentation, there was a war of principles, again the national consciousness was heightened and stung by a danger to the national existence, and again there was a crop of great poets and heroic men. Spenser once more visited England, bringing with him three more books of the ‘Faery Queen,’ in 1595. He is supposed to have remained there during the two following years.1 In 1594 he had been married to the lady celebrated in his somewhat artificial amoretti. By her he had four children. He was now at the height of his felicity; by universal acclaim the first poet of his age, and the one obstacle to his material advancement (if obstacle it was) had been put out of the way
This precious stone set in a silver sea,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land,
England, bound in with the triumphant sea!
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1 I say supposed, for the names of his two sons, Sylvanus and Peregrine, indicate that they were born in Ireland, and that Spenser continued to regard it as a wilderness and his abode there as exile. The two other children are added on the authority of a pedigree drawn up by Sir W. Betham and cited in Mr. Hales's Life of Spenser prefixed to the Globe edition.
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