He had left his tea. Was he to have nothing in return?

From Thomas de Quincey’s On Murder, Considered as One of the Fine Arts:

Everything in this world has two handles. Murder, for instance, may be laid hold of by its moral handle, (as it generally is in the pulpit, and at the Old Bailey;) and that, I confess, is its weak side; or it may also be treated  aesthetically, as the Germans
call it, that is, in relation to good taste.

To illustrate this, I will urge the authority of three eminent persons,
viz., S.T. Coleridge, Aristotle, and Mr. Howship the surgeon. To begin with
S.T.C. One night, many years ago, I was drinking tea with him in Berners’
Street, (which, by the way, for a short street, has been uncommonly
fruitful in men of genius.) Others were there besides myself; and amidst
some carnal considerations of tea and toast, we were all imbibing a
dissertation on Plotinus from the attic lips of S.T.C. Suddenly a cry arose
of “Firefire!” upon which all of us, master and disciples, Plato and
[Greek: hoi peri ton Platona], rushed out, eager for the spectacle. The
fire was in Oxford Street, at a piano-forte maker’s; and, as it promised to
be a conflagration of merit, I was sorry that my engagements forced me away
from Mr. Coleridge’s party before matters were come to a crisis. Some days
after, meeting with my Platonic host, I reminded him of the case, and
begged to know how that very promising exhibition had terminated. “Oh,
sir,” said he, “it turned out so ill, that we damned it unanimously.” Now,
does any man suppose that Mr. Coleridge,–who, for all he is too fat to be
a person of active virtue, is undoubtedly a worthy Christian,–that this
good S. T. C., I say, was an incendiary, or capable of wishing any ill
to the poor man and his piano-fortes (many of them, doubtless, with the
additional keys)? On the contrary, I know him to be that sort of man, that
I durst stake my life upon it he would have worked an engine in a case of
necessity, although rather of the fattest for such fiery trials of his
virtue. But how stood the case? Virtue was in no request. On the arrival
of the fire-engines, morality had devolved wholly on the insurance office.
This being the case, he had a right to gratify his taste. He had left his
tea. Was he to have nothing in return?

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