Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/62

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

doxes, describes him as 'cracky and vagarious' and an 'itinerant paradoxer.' 'I'll make it clear to you,' he said one day to De Morgan. 'Suppose a number of goldfishes in a glass bowl. Well, I come with my cigar and go puff, puff, puff over the bowl until there is a little cloud of smoke. Now tell me, what will the goldfishes say to that?' 'I should imagine,' replied De Morgan, 'that they would not know what to make of it.' 'By Jove!' said Wirgman, 'you are a Kantian!' I guess that Wirgman's report of the conversation would have been different. Wirgman seems to have been a man of real acuteness, and wrote certain expositions of Kant which, as good judges have said, show real comprehension. They are partly to be found in a work called the Encyclopaedia Londonensis, which I take to have died in competition with superior rivals. From a separately printed copy of Wirgman's contributions, I take an account of the poor man's attempts to make converts.

Wirgman had been taken in 1795 by his friend H. J. Richter[1] to hear some lectures upon Kant

  1. Richter was a water-colour painter of German origin, who in 1819 published a book called Daylight, expounding Kant, and giving a 'discovery in the art of painting.' I have not seen it.—See Dictionary of National Biography.