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request, went into a Sunday-school, held in a small stone building near the church, Hartley with alacrity and spirit asked the children questions, to demonstrate to me their good Cumbrian instruction and Biblical knowledge. This interesting examination over, as we left the school, Hartley -looking (as he could) full of humour and exuberant kindness—whispered to me, "This is a capital cure for blue devils.'
“Hartley was of an absent turn of mind. That which in another person might have been affectation of eccentricity, was in him perfectly natural. He was far too wise in spirit to despise the conventionalities of life; but often he did not attend to them, through the real absorption of his mind upon higher matters. I remember, upon one occasion at Mr. Southey's, a proof of this. Hartley generally joined the family at tea, which was served in Mr. Southey's study or library, a large room whose walls were books, whose ornaments were works of art and objects of science—an apartment in which all requisites for bodily and mental comfort were more united than in any apartment I ever
As it was known that Hartley, at that period, was wholly occupied with his studies, and that these were pursued up to the last available moment of the day, he was by common consent absolved from what Galt would have called the prejudices of the toilet, and so it was his wont to stray into the room where the family were assembled attired in his reading costume, namely, a sort of loose toga, between a coat and a dressing-gown, and his feet in slippers. Some. times he did not appear in the library at all; but with that perfect liberty which made happy the inmates of Mr. Southey's house, he would stay away or come just as it suited his fancy or hịs studies. On one occasion it so happened that, after a day or two's seclusion, Hartley came into the library in the very identical reading costume I have described, on an evening when, added to the usual frequenters of our tea-table, were a party of strangers, (a circumstance of which Hartley was wholly unaware,) some of them ladies
from the South, such as were wont occasionally, during the summer, to seek Mr. Southey's residence with any pretext or introduction which might further their desire to see the great poet and partake his known hospitality. When I saw Hartley open the door, and walk in with his usual abstracted look, I felt awkward for him, but I might have spared myself that feeling ; Hartley did not seem to think that the addition to our party was a legitimate cause of embarrassment, or rather, he did not, I believe, employ any thought on the subject at all. For exactly as if not a single person had been present, besides those whom he was accustomed to behold, he quietly walked up to the first seat that presented itself, which happened to be an ottoman, where one or two ladies sat, and placed himself by their side with a preparatory bow, as if he was doing (which in fact he was) a perfectly natural thing. Whatever the ladies might at first have thought of this rather unusual apparition, I am quite sure that, in a very few minutes, every other feeling of theirs was completely merged in unfeigned delight at the conversation into which Hartley entered with them, with an easy good breeding which he possessed in a remarkable degree, and which, united as it was with uncommon powers of mind, his fair auditors might perhaps have looked for in vain from one who had approached them dressed point device, and encased in the whole buckram of ceremony. For intellectual powers of the highest kind had Hartley; never did I meet with any one who so completely, in his own person, demonstrated the specific difference between talent and genius ;-genius, intense, glowing, everkindling genius, breathed in every word he uttered ; originality, the unfailing companion—no, rather the essential form of genius, which in its very nature is creative—was the life and soul of his most common converse. The merest trifle, coming from his lips, acquired a spirit and an interest which the gravest matter might have missed in being moulded by another tongue.”
On his return to Oxford he passed his examination for his degree in the Michaelmas Term of this year, and was placed in the second class in literis humanioribus. It is said that considerable difference of opinion prevailed among the examiners, on this occasion, some being inclined to place him in the first class, from the talent and general knowledge which he displayed, and others in the fourth, on account of certain deficiencies in his scholarship --and that his actual position was the result of a compromise. The most favourable opinion was confirmed not long afterwards, when he stood for a fellowship at Oriel, which he obtained with high distinction, his superiority on this occasion not admitting of a doubt.
A proud and happy day it was for me, and for us all, when these tidings reached us. Obviously unfit for the ordinary walks of professional life, he had earned for himself an honourable independence, and had found, as it seemed, a position in which he could exert his peculiar talents to advantage. But a sad reverse was at hand; and as this, in its effects, and yet more perhaps in its causes, overclouded the remainder of his days, permanently affecting not merely his happiness but his usefulness, my purpose requires that I should not shrink from setting this sorrowful occurrence in its true light, — doing that justice which, “nothing ex
tenuating," is yet the truest charity. My brother was formed by nature and circumstance, but for “these unlucky deeds,” not merely to delight, but to improve his fellow-men, to make them wiser and better. I trust that, as it is, he will be found to have done something of this kind; that, as an awakener of pregnant thoughts and holy affections, if not as an authoritative guide of opinion, he may continue, in his degree, a living power for good. I seek so to explain and to account for the anomalies of his outward life, as to leave this power, so far as may be, unimpaired. I would show what I believe to be most true, that the deeper issues of his soul still sent forth sweet waters, which flowed on to the end strangely unmingled with the bitter. But to return.
At the close of his probationary year he was judged to have forfeited his Oriel fellowship, on the ground, mainly, of intemperance. Great efforts were made to reverse the decision. He wrote letters to many of the Fellows. His father went to Oxford to see and to expostulate with the Provost. It was in vain. The specific charges might have been exaggerated. Palliations and excuses might have been found for the particular instances in which they were established. A life singularly blameless in all other respects, dispositions the most amiable, principles and intentions the most upright and
honourable, might be pleaded as a counterpoise in the opposite scale. It was to no purpose.
The sentence might be considered severe, it could not be said to be unjust, and alas ! my poor brother did not take the only course which could have discredited the verdict of his judges. The infirmity which was thus heavily visited, was not subsequently
As too often happens, the ruin of his fortunes served but to increase the weakness which had caused their overthrow.
The stroke came upon his father, with all the aggravations of surprise, “as a peal of thunder out of a clear sky.”* I was with him at the time, and have never seen any human being, before or since, so deeply afflicted : not, as he said, by the temporal consequences of his son's misfortune, heavy as these were, but for the moral offence which it involved. To what did this amount?
In order to examine this question it will be necessary for me to go back a step or two in my narrative. I shall have to trace the cause of that
* From a letter written to a young friend on the occasion, 31st July, 1823. The anonymous publication (however kindly and respectfully intended) of these letters, in which disclosures are made without the antecedent circumstances and final issues, have rendered explanations connected with this painful subject necessary, (more with reference to my father's history than to my brother's,) which might else have been avoided.