Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/58

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46
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

author of The Man of Feeling, and the great link between the two generations of Hume and Adam Smith on one side, and Scott and Jeffrey on the other. In 1788 Mackenzie read a paper before the Royal Society of Edinburgh, giving an account of the German theatre. The German theatre was at the time known to him only through French translations; but his paper had at least one important effect: it had a serious influence upon the career of Scott. Scott was then only sixteen; but his curiosity was aroused, and about 1792, as he has told us, he, with some friends, formed a little society for the study of German. The lads engaged a Dr. Willich (of whom I should be glad to know more) as a tutor. Scott reports that poor Willich had a noisy and irreverent class; they laughed instead of weeping at Gessner's Death of Abel; and Scott at least showed a lordly indifference to grammar, and worried his way into some understanding of the language by main force. Willich, I suspect, considered that his most promising pupil was Mr. John MacFarlane, who took to the study of philosophy while the rest went off to literature. MacFarlane lived till 1848, but does not appear to have made much of the philosophy. His life,