I did not attend Prayers this Morning as they were voluntary and it would have been too sudden a change from my late habits. It is my intention however to arise early as it is both pleasant and profitable in the Summer. I have returned in very excellent spirits as this is a short and pleasant term. Our exercises are not very difficult although more so than at any time formerly. We also have an interesting course of lectures from Professor Channing. I spent this Morning in writing a letter to John in answer to an admirable one which I received yesterday from him.1 He writes with uncommon ease and with more real interest and feeling than usual. On the subject of the difference between him and George, I spoke or wrote with a really good intention because I think it may result seriously to both parties. George certainly has treated us with a great deal of caprice. Did I not know 171him so well, I would scarcely compel myself to forgive him so easily. I was charmed with his letter, so much feeling and so much sportiveness that I felt as if another joy had arrived to make me perfectly happy here. Indeed I can scarcely think that at any time I have come nearer to the great object of human life. The beautiful season of the year and the tone of my feelings conduce to it. Perhaps I might feel more so were I in love, but I know the consequences of that by experience.
Dwight made his appearance at breakfast but any ill feelings which I had apprehended did not make their appearance and I welcomed him as he did me, as if nothing in this world had happened. I nevertheless shall not feel certain until we come to an explanation. I was not able to do any thing of importance in the afternoon. I read two Chapters of Genesis in the Morning and all the poems of Johnson2 in Aikin’s Collection. Three of Goldsmith’s yesterday I did not notice for want of room. They are very pretty and have sweetness, richness without that weakness which so often marks Poems of this sort. In this term I propose to read over often many of these poems and on this account make but short Criticisms now. Of Johnson I can only say that his lines are strong and rough but full of sense and must be allowed to laugh when I think of his change in his opinions, political and domestic. For here his praises of the opposition to royalty and of the country are as strong and vehement as the reverse is in many other of his writings in prose. In truth the Dr. did not mind consistency much.
But how rare an article this is in common life and so far from blaming any one for wanting the possession of it, we should praise when it is obtained. Every man is inconsistent for he thinks differently at different times and gives good reasons for each conviction. The difference is that they operate upon him with more force as his situation is. I lounged to the Bookstore and then back again. Brenan was with me and we sat down before the door and smoked all the afternoon. Richardson returned this afternoon and was with us. He does not look so well as he did before he went away. His recovery however has been very remarkable. Our conversation was not of an important kind, Brenan is a pleasant fellow. His character has undergone some changes for the better within nine months. He has become less cynical and suspicious, a temper which only grew upon him by his unfortunate luck of being unpopular upon entering College. It has in one respect been of great advantage to him as he has turned his attention to study and made himself a scholar which he never would 172have been otherwise. By this I do not mean a College scholar but a student and a gainer of knowledge. I have some respect for his character and like the man. Richardson is pleasant now but how long he will continue so to me I know not. I like his temper for it’s easy bent, but his dogged sullenness is very disagreable. In the Evening the rest of our friends and companions came pouring in. Sheafe arrived in a Carriage from Boston just at tea time. Otis a little later in the evening.
In this term, it is hardly possible to do any thing but walk and look at the Moon and Stars in the Cool of the day or Night. I took a walk with Wheatland and did not return until nearly nine. A few minutes were spent at his room talking with Otis who is more agreable than usual. A mere every day acquaintance with him would be more to his advantage than any intimacy. The rest of the time until eleven o’clock was employed in reading over my Journal for the Month of May and writing my Review. It was not so long as I had intended to write but My ideas are always rendered as concisely by me as possible and on that account deceive me very much in their number and magnitude on paper. I thus closed the Evening by reading two Chapters in Genesis a habit which I have laid on myself for the purpose of examining that Bible from which I have long been absent. XI.
Both letters are missing.
Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709–1784).