early evinced a taste for poetry, and was fond of works of fiction and romance.
He delighted in the Waverley Novels
His favorite poets at that time were Byron
, and Scott
, and, over and above all these, Mrs. Hemans
, whose writings he knew by heart; and when he subsequently published a paper of his own, there was scarcely an issue which did not contain one of her poems.
It was natural that in such a stronghold of the Federalists as Newburyport
still was (though the party had ceased to have a national existence), and with party feeling throughout the State
running so high at each annual election, he should also take an interest in politics, and, imbibing the prevailing sentiment of his locality, become an ardent Federalist.
He studied the writings of Fisher Ames
, and was a fervent admirer of Timothy Pickering
and Harrison Gray Otis
While yet in his teens he wielded his pen in defence of the two latter when they were under fire and their political fortunes under a cloud; but his first attempt at writing for the press was not in a political direction.
In May, 1822, he wrote, in a disguised hand, and sent through the post-office his first communication to the Herald
, under the nom de guerre
It was entitled ‘Breach of the Marriage Promise
,’ and professed to be the reflections of a bachelor on reading the recent verdict in a breach of promise case in Boston
, by which a young man who had ‘kept company’ with a girl for two years and then refused to marry her, was fined seven hundred and fifty dollars. While freely conceding that any man who had actually broken an express promise should ‘feel the effects of the law in a heavy degree,’ he maintained that the mere fact of a man's having ‘kept company with,’ or paid attentions to, one of the opposite sex for a year or two, was not conclusive evidence of a promise or engagement, but rather indicated that he desired to be assured of the wisdom of his choice before taking such a momentous step as matrimony involved; and the