CARLYLE had gone to hear Coleridge when he first came to London with a certain sort of interest, and he talked an entire evening, or rather lectured, for it was not talk, on whatever came uppermost in his mind. There were a number of ingenious flashes and pleasant illustrations in his discourse, but it led nowhere, and was essentially barren. When all was said, Coleridge was a poor, greedy, sensual creature, who could not keep from his laudanum bottle though he knew it would destroy him.
One of the products of his system, he added, after a pause, was Hartley Coleridge, whom he (Carlyle) had one day seen down in the country, and found the strangest ghost of a human creature, with eyes that gleamed like two rainbows over a ruined world. The poor fellow had fallen into worse habits than his father's, and was maintained by a few benevolent friends in a way that was altogether melancholy and humiliating. Some bookseller had got a book called Biographia Borealis out of him by locking him up, and only letting him out when his day's work was done. He died prematurely, as was to be expected of one who had forgotten his relation to everlasting laws, which cannot by any contrivance be ignored without worse befalling. His brother, he believed, had long ceased to do anything for him. The brother was a Protestant priest: a smooth, sleek, sonorous fellow, who contrived to get on better in the world than his father or brother, for reasons that need not be inquired into. He had the management of some model High Church schools at Chelsea, and quacked away there, pouring out huge floods of rhetoric that class of persons deal in, which he tried to persuade himself he believed. These were about the entire outcome of the Coleridgian theory of human duties and responsibilities.
From Duffy, Conversations, pp. 59-61.
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