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- Anne Bradstreet and Her Time - 5/59 -

strain as any to be found in the old home across the sea.



Though the long engagement which Mr. Ruskin demands as a necessity in lessening some of the present complications of the marriage question may not have been the fortune of Simon and Anne Bradstreet, it is certain that few couples have ever had better opportunity for real knowledge of one another's peculiarities and habits of thought. Circumstances placed them under the same roof for years before marriage, and it would have been impossible to preserve any illusions, while every weakness as well as every virtue had fullest opportunity for disclosure. There is no hint of other suitors, nor detail of the wooing, but the portrait of Governor Bradstreet, still to be seen in the Senate Chamber of the Massachusetts State House, shows a face that even in middle life, the time at which the portrait was painted, held an ardor, that at twenty-five must have made him irresistible. It is the head of Cavalier rather than Roundhead--the full though delicately curved lips and every line in the noble face showing an eager, passionate, pleasure-loving temperament. But the broad, benignant forehead, the clear, dark eyes, the firm, well-cut nose, hold strength as well as sweetness, and prepare one for the reputation which the old Colonial records give him. The high breeding, the atmosphere of the whole figure, comes from a marvellously well- balanced nature, as well as from birth and training. There is a sense of the keenest life and vigor, both mental and physical, and despite the Puritan garb, does not hide the man of whom his wife might have written with Mrs. Hutchinson: "To sum up, therefore, all that can be said of his outward frame and disposition, we must truly conclude that it was a very handsome and well-furnished lodging prepared for the reception of that prince who, in the administration of all excellent virtues, reigned there a while, till he was called back to the palace of the universal emperor."

Simon Bradstreet's father, "born of a wealthy family in Suffolk, was one of the first fellows of Emanuel College, and highly esteemed by persons distinguished for learning." In 1603 he was minister at Horbling in Lincolnshire, but was never anything but a nonconformist to the Church of England. Here in 1603 Simon Bradstreet was born, and until fourteen years old was educated in the grammar school of that place, till the death of his father made some change necessary. John Cotton was the mutual friend of both Dudley and the elder Bradstreet, and Dudley's interest in the son may have arisen from this fact. However this may be, he was taken at fifteen into the Earl of Lincoln's household, and trained to the duties of a steward by Dudley himself. Anne being then a child of nine years old, and probably looking up to him with the devotion that was shared by her older brother, then eleven and always the friend and ally of the future governor.

His capacity was so marked that Dr. Preston, another family friend and a noted Nonconformist, interested himself in his further education, and succeeded in entering him at Emanuel College, Cambridge, in the position of governor to the young Lord Rich, son of the Earl of Warwick. For some reason the young nobleman failed to come to college and Bradstreet's time was devoted to a brother of the Earl of Lincoln, who evidently shared the love of idleness and dissipation that had marked his grandfather's career. It was all pleasant and all eminently unprofitable, Bradstreet wrote in later years, but he accomplished sufficient study to secure his bachelor's degree in 1620. Four years later, while holding the position of steward to the Earl of Lincoln, given him by Dudley on the temporary removal to Boston, that of Master of Arts was bestowed upon him, making it plain that his love of study had continued. With the recall of Dudley, he became steward to the countess of Warwick, which position he held at the time of his marriage in 1628.

It was in this year that Anne, just before her marriage recorded, when the affliction had passed: "About 16, the Lord layde his hand sore upon me and smott me with the small-pox." It is curious that the woman whose life in many points most resembles her own--Mrs. Lucy Hutchinson--should have had precisely the same experience, writing of herself in the "Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson": "That day that the friends on both sides met to conclude the marriage, she fell sick of the small-pox, which was in many ways a great trial upon him. First, her life was in almost desperate hazard, and then the disease, for the present, made her the most deformed person that could be seen, for a great while after she recovered; yet he was nothing troubled at it, but married her as soon as she was able to quit the chamber, when the priest and all that saw her were affrighted to look on her; but God recompensed his justice and constancy by restoring her, though she was longer than ordinary before she recovered to be as well as before."

Whether disease or treatment held the greater terror, it would be hard to say. Modern medical science has devised many alleviations, and often restores a patient without spot or blemish. But to have lived at all in that day evidenced extraordinary vitality. Cleanliness was unknown, water being looked upon as deadly poison whether taken internally or applied externally. Covered with blankets, every window tightly sealed, and the moaning cry for water answered by a little hot ale or tincture of bitter herbs, nature often gave up the useless struggle and released the tortured and delirious wretch. The means of cure left the constitution irretrievably weakened if not hopelessly ruined, and the approach of the disease was looked upon with affright and regarded usually as a special visitation of the wrath of God.

That Anne Dudley so viewed it is evident from the passage in her diary, already quoted; that the Lord "smott" her, was unquestioned, and she cast about in her girlish mind for the shadow of the sin that had brought such judgment, making solemn resolutions, not only against any further indulgence in "Pride and Vanity," but all other offences, deciding that self-abnegation was the only course, and possibly even beginning her convalescence with a feeling that love itself should be put aside, and all her heart be "sett upon God." But Simon Bradstreet waited, like Colonel Hutchinson, only till "she was fit to leave her chamber," and whether "affrighted" or not, the marriage was consummated early in 1628.

Of heavier, stouter frame than Colonel Hutchinson, and of a far more vigorous constitution, the two men had much in common. The forces that moulded and influenced the one, were equally potent with the other. The best that the time had to give entered into both, and though Hutchinson's name and life are better known, it is rather because of the beauty and power with which his story was told, by a wife who worshipped him, than because of actually greater desert. But the first rush of free thought ennobled many men who in the old chains would have lived lives with nothing in them worth noting, and names full of meaning are on every page of the story of the time.

We have seen how the whole ideal of daily life had altered, as the Puritan element gained ground, and the influence affected the thought and life--even the speech of their opponents. A writer on English literature remarks: "In one sense, the reign of James is the most religious part of our history; for religion was then fashionable. The forms of state, the king's speeches, the debates in parliament and the current literature, were filled with quotations from Scripture and quaint allusions to sacred things."

Even the soldier studied divinity, and Colonel Hutchinson, after his "fourteen months various exercise of his mind, in the pursuit of his love, being now at rest in the enjoyment of his wife," thought it the most natural thing in the world to make "an entrance upon the study of school divinity, wherein his father was the most eminent scholar of any gentleman in England and had a most choice library.... Having therefore gotten into the house with him an excellent scholar in that kind of learning, he for two years made it the whole employment of his time."

Much of such learning Simon Bradstreet had taken in unconsciously in the constant discussions about his father's table, as well as in the university alive to every slightest change in doctrine, where freer but fully as interested talk went on. Puritanism had as yet acquired little of the bitterness and rigor born of persecution, but meant simply emancipated thought, seeking something better than it had known, but still claiming all the good the world held for it. Milton is the ideal Puritan of the time, and something of the influences that surrounded his youth were in the home of every well-born Puritan. Even much farther down in the social scale, a portrait remains of a London house mother, which may stand as that of many, whose sons and daughters passed over at last to the new world, hopeless of any quiet or peace in the old. It is a turner in Eastcheap, Nehemiah Wallington, who writes of his mother: "She was very loving and obedient to her parents, loving and kind to her husband, very tender-hearted to her children, loving all that were godly, much misliking the wicked and profane. She was a pattern of sobriety unto many, very seldom was seen abroad except at church; when others recreated themselves at holidays and other times, she would take her needle-work and say--'here is my recreation'.... God had given her a very pregnant wit and an excellent memory. She was very ripe and perfect in all stories of the Bible, likewise in all the stories of the Martyrs, and could readily turn to them; she was also perfect and well seen in the English Chronicles, and in the descents of the Kings of England. She lived in holy wedlock with her husband twenty years, wanting but four days."

If the influence of the new thought was so potent with a class who in the Tudor days had made up the London mob, and whose signature, on the rare occasions when anybody wanted it, had been a mark, the middle class, including professional men, felt it infinitely more. In the early training with many, as with Milton's father, music was a passion; there was nothing illiberal or narrow. In Milton's case he writes: "My father destined me while yet a little boy to the study of humane letters; which I seized with such eagerness that from the twelth year of my age I scarcely ever went from my lessons to my bed before midnight." "To the Greek, Latin and Hebrew learned at school the scrivener advised him to add Italian and French. Nor were English letters neglected. Spencer gave the earliest turn to the boy's poetic genius. In spite of the war between playwright and precisian, a Puritan youth could still in Milton's days avow his love of the stage, 'if Jonson's learned sock be on, or sweetest Shakspeare Fancy's child, warble his native wood-notes wild' and gather from the 'masques and antique pageantry,' of the court revels, hints for his own 'Comus' and 'Arcades'."

Simon Bradstreet's year at Cambridge probably held much the same experience, and if a narrowing faith in time taught him to write

Anne Bradstreet and Her Time - 5/59

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