Thomas Hellen took his leave this morning for Exeter, evidently much against his will. He is quite agreable and when he shall have lost a little of his confidence, obtained I know not how, he will do very well. Great assurance in a young man is very disagreable and I would rather see him err on the side of modesty or timidity. The latter is by far the most easily corrected.
After breakfast I took a walk to see the canal which is digging, by whom no person knows.1
I also read all the poems of Gray, which are in this collection.2
This is an author who has always been a great favourite of mine although so severely lashed by Dr. Johnson. His elegy and Bard are very beautiful specimens of the pathetic and sublime. His other odes are sweet but require keener observation than I can at present afford. His poems, I have reserved for frequent examination. I employed the rest of the day in reading Mrs. Opie’s second volume of the New Tales. They are extremely interesting but still more subject to the observation made yesterday. In the “Confes•
sions of an Odd tempered Man” I find a character very much resembling my own although rather strained, for dramatic effect.3
Caprice is a prevailing passion with me in the light world, and I am very unconscionable in my dislikes of women and take prejudices immediately. My own character has been matter of some contemplation to myself and although I will not pretend to come to any decision concerning it, I think that I have some hints. At any rate, I know that by some singular idea, I am ever desirous to conceal the best traits of my character.
In the evening a young lady by the name of Cooper came out to pay a visit to the girls. Who she is, I know not. She is not pretty nor interesting. My Uncle also returned from Boston where he went in the morning. I spent an hour in the evening with my Grandfather in conversation concerning books and some time in the parlour although I see no family group half so pleasing now and I have again retired within my shell, after an uncommon exertion and satisfactory proof to the women that “I can be agreable when I am inclined to be so.” Now this is not much matter of importance to me. I had this evening the pleasure of sitting with my Uncle alone, in one of his usual fits, and I thought it somewhat singular that young girls should be invited by our ladies to this house only to see the disgrace of their father and to feel—if they at all in the proportion as I do, I pity them.4
I pleaded being very sleepy owing to my last night’s vigil and got away early. XI:25.