Page:Anne Bradstreet and her time.djvu/25

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9
ANNE BRADSTREET.

To comprehend the worth of all those knacks;
The glittering plate and Jewels he admires,
The Hats and Fans, the Plumes and Ladies' tires,
And thousand times his mazed mind doth wish
Some part, at least, of that brave wealth was his;
But seeing empty wishes nought obtain,
At night turns to his Mother's cot again,
And tells her tales (his full heart over glad),
Of all the glorious sights his eyes have had;
But finds too soon his want of Eloquence,
The silly prattler speaks no word of sense;
But seeing utterance fail his great desires,
Sits down in silence, deeply he admires."

It is probably to one of the much exhorted maids that she owed this glimpse of what was then a rallying ground for the jesters and merry Andrews, and possibly even a troop of strolling players, frowned upon by the Puritan as children of Satan, but still secretly enjoyed by the lighter minded among them. But the burden of the time pressed more and more heavily. Freedom which had seemed for a time to have taken firm root, and to promise a better future for English thought and life, lessened day by day under the pressure of the Stuart dynasty, and every Nonconformist home was the center of anxieties that influenced every member of it from the baby to the grandsire, whose memory covered more astonishing changes than any later day has known.

The year preceding Anne Dudley's birth, had seen the beginning of the most powerful influence ever produced upon a people, made ready for it, by long distrust of such teaching as had been allowed. With the translation of the Bible into common speech, and the setting up of the first six copies in St. Pauls, its popularity had grown from day to day. The small