Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/64

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52
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

therefore devoted to truth exclusively, would naturally be delighted at finding himself eclipsed, and would at once become an effective propagator of Kantism. If, however, he felt any doubts, he could note them on the blank pages of Wirgman's treatise, and have them satisfactorily solved. Alas! Stewart replied, 'with the greatest politeness,' that he had not time to read Wirgman. Wirgman, rebuffed for the moment, returned to the charge; when poor Stewart explained, still with the utmost politeness, that, 'at the age of three-score,' he could not be bothered with new systems of philosophy. Wirgman derived a slight consolation from interviewing Madame de Staël when she came to England in 1814. She had written upon Kant in her book on Germany (1813), but confessed that she must leave metaphysical minutiæ to 'plodding reasoners.' She agreed, however, to bestow 'a few instants'—probably they had to be more than a few—upon Wirgman, and was curious to know from him what progress Kant was making in this 'commercial country.' The answer must have been discouraging. In 1816, however, Stewart published another essay, and now said that he had tried Kant in the Latin version—he knew