Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/57

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45
THE IMPORTATION OF GERMAN

was first translated in 1763, and one of Wieland's dialogues in 1771. Other translations from Wieland came out before 1796, when Sotheby's well-known translation of Oberon was published. Haller's philosophical romance, Usong, was translated in 1772. Lessing was first made known by his Fables in 1773. Nathan followed in 1781, and Minna von Barnhelm was adapted for the stage in 1786. The Sorrows of Werther reached English readers in 1779, and its popularity was shown by numerous translations and adaptations. During the last decade of the century there was a flush of enthusiasm for German literature, of which I shall presently speak. Englishmen seem to have suddenly become aware of the great literary movement in Germany; and possibly the war with France had some tendency to turn the British mind towards our Continental allies.

In the year 1792 Schiller's Robbers was translated by Fraser Tytler (Lord Woodhouselee), and the fact marks an important movement at Edinburgh, then almost the chief literary centre in Britain. Tytler encouraged Scott's early studies of German, and had apparently been himself started in that direction by Henry Mackenzie, the 'Scottish Sterne' (a sadly significant title!),