Page:Anne Bradstreet and her time.djvu/238

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a first edition.

THOUGH the manuscript of the first edition of Anne Bradstreet's poems was nearly if not entirely complete before the removal to Andover, some years were still to pass before it left her hands entirely, though her brother-in-law, knowing her self-distrustful nature, may have refused to give it up when possession had once been obtained. But no event in her life save her marriage, could have had quite the same significance to the shy and shrinking woman, who doubted herself and her work alike, considering any real satisfaction in it a temptation of the adversary. Authorship even to-day has its excitements and agitations, for the maker of the book if not for its readers. And it is hardly possible to measure the interest, the profound absorption in the book, which had been written chiefly in secret in hours stolen from sleep, to ensure no trenching on daylight duties. We are helpless to form just judgment of what the little volume meant to the generation in which it appeared, simply because the growth of the critical faculty has developed to an abnormal degree, and we demand in the lightest work, qualities that would have made an earlier poet immortal.

This is an age of versification. The old times—