, was a sound country physician, with liberal preferences in theology, Federalist views in politics, and a library of seven hundred volumes, rich in poetry.
The poet's mother records his birth in her diary in terse words which have the true Spartan tang: “Nov. 3, 1794.
Stormy, wind N. E. Churned
. Seven in the evening a son born.”
Two days later the November wind shifted.
“Nov. 5, 1794.
Clear, wind N. W. Made
Austin a coat.
Sat up all day. Went into the kitchen.”
The baby, it appears, had an abnormally large head and was dipped, day after day, in rude hydropathy, into an icy spring.
A precocious childhood was followed by a stern, somewhat unhappy, but aspiring boyhood.
The little fellow, lying prone with his brothers before the firelight of the idtchen, reading English poetry from his father's library, used to pray that he too might become a poet.
At thirteen he produced a satire on Jefferson
, The Embargo
, which his proud Federalist father printed at Boston
The youth had nearly one year at Williams College, over the mountain ranges to the west.
He wished to continue his education at Yale, but his father had no money for this greater venture, and the son remained at home.
There, in the autumn