He was never afraid of the dark, could not be frightened by ghost-stories, never was abashed in speaking or reciting, was not to be overawed by supposed superiority of knowledge or rank, would talk up to the teacher and question his decision with perfect freedom, though never in a spirit of impertinence.
Yet he could not stand up to a boy and fight.
When attacked, he would neither fight nor run away, but ‘stand still and take it.’
His ear was so delicately constructed that any loud noise like the report of a gun would almost throw him into convulsions.
If a gun were about to be discharged, he would either run away as fast as his slender legs carry him, or else would throw himself upon the ground and stuff grass into his ears to deaden the dreadful noise.
On the fourth of July, when the people of Londonderry
inflamed their patriotism by a copious consumption of gunpowder, Horace would run into the woods to get beyond the sound of the cannons and pistols.
It was at Londonderry
, and about his fourth year, that Horace began the habit of reading or book-devouring, which he never lost during all the years of his boyhood, youth, and apprenticeship, and relinquished only when he entered that most exacting of all professions, the editorial.
The gentleman whose reminiscences I am now recording, tells me that Horace in his fifth and sixth years, would lie under a tree on his face, reading hour after hour, completely absorbed in his book; and ‘if no one stumbled over him or stirred him up,’ would read on, unmindful of dinner time and sun-set, as long as he could see. It was his delight in books that made him, when little more than an infant, determine to be a printer, as printers, he supposed, were they who made books.
‘One day,’ says this gentleman,
Horace and I went to a blacksmith's shop, and Horace watched the process of horse-shoeing with much interest.
The blacksmith observing how intently he looked on, said, “You'd better come with me and learn the trade” . “No,” said Horace in his prompt decided way, I'm going to be a printer.
He was then six years old, and very small for his age; and this positive choice of a career by so diminutive a piece of humanity mightily amused the by-standers.
The blacksmith used to tell the story with great glee when Horace was a printer, and one of some note.
Another gentleman, who went to school with Horace at Londonderry