XI. “but strong of will.”
In one of Whittier
's finest ballads he gives a touch of feminine character worth considering in a world where so many of the young or foolish still hold it to be the perfection of womanhood to be characterless.
The phrase is to be found in “Amy Wentworth
,” one of the few of his ballads which have no direct historical foundation, but simply paint a period.
The scene is ]aid in the proud little colonial town of Portsmouth, New Hampshire
, with its high-bred ways and its stately ante-Revolutionary traditions — such traditions as became an Episcopalian and loyal colony, although nothing now remains to commemorate their sway except a few fine old houses, some family portraits, and this ballad of Whittier
's. His heroine, gently nurtured, has given her heart to the captain of a fishing-smack, and the poet thus describes the situation:
Her home is brave in Jaffrey Street,
With stately stairways, worn
By feet of old colonial knights
And ladies gentle born;