Page:Anne Bradstreet and her time.djvu/28

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ANNE BRADSTREET.

away! Even to common minds this familiarity with grand poetic imagery in prophet and apocalypse, gave a loftiness and ardor of expression that with all its tendency to exaggeration and bombast we may prefer to the slip-shod vulgarisms of to-day."

Children caught the influence, and even baby talk was half scriptural, so that there need be no surprise in finding Anne Bradstreet's earliest recollections couched in the phrases of psalms learned by heart as soon as she could speak, and used, no doubt, half unconsciously. Translate her sentences into the thought of to-day, and it is evident, that aside from the morbid conscientiousness produced by her training, that she was the victim of moods arising from constant ill-health. Her constitution seems to have been fragile in the extreme, and there is no question but that in her case as in that of many another child born into the perplexed and troubled time, the constant anxiety of both parents, uncertain what a day might bring forth, impressed itself on the baby soul. There was English fortitude and courage, the endurance born of faith, and the higher evolution from English obstinacy, but there was for all of them, deep self-distrust and abasement; a sense of worthlessness that intensified with each generation; and a perpetual, unhealthy questioning of every thought and motive. The progress was slow but certain, rising first among the more sensitive natures of women, whose lives held too little action to drive away the mists, and whose motto was always, "look in and not out" — an utter reversal of the teaching of to-day. The children of that generation lost something that had been the portion of their fathers. The Eliza-