The theme had crossed his mind in 1856, and he had begun to treat it in dramatic form and verse, under the name it now bears; but after a year's delay he tried it again under the name of Priscilla
, taking the name, possibly, from an attractive English Quakeress
, Priscilla Green
, whose sweet voice had charmed him in a public meeting, ‘breaking now and then,’ as he says, ‘into a kind of rhythmic charm in which the voice seemed floating up and down on wings.’
It has been thought that he transferred in some degree the personality of this worthy woman to the heroine of his story, their Christian names being the same; but he afterwards resumed the original title, ‘The Courtship of Miles Standish.’
He wrote it with great ease between December, 1857, and March, 1858, and perhaps never composed anything with a lighter touch or more unmingled pleasure.
Twenty-five thousand copies were sold or ordered of the publishers during the first week, and ten thousand in London
on the first day. In both theme and treatment the story was thoroughly to his liking, and vindicated yet further that early instinct which guided him to American subjects.
was himself descended, it will be remembered, from the very marriage he described, thus guaranteeing a sympathetic treatment, while the measure is a shade crisper and more elastic than that of ‘Evangeline,’