Saturday, August 18, 2007

Interview at the Department of Natural Philosophy

His credentials presented, Dr. von Traun was welcomed into the building, and greeted in the narrow antechamber before the lecture hall and laboratories. The smell of brimstone and sweet vitriol permeated the air, and Dr. von Traun helped himself to a small pinch of snuff, followed with an explosive sneeze. Wiping his reddening eyes with his handkerchief, Dr. von Traun had just finished composing himself when the doorman returned with a tall, florid man with a penetrating gaze entered from a laboratory.

"Dr. von Traun, plasurre. Pleasealloometae in'rroduce mesel'; Dr. William Cullen, Professoro'Na'ural Philosophy, herra' Aydinburr. Menzies tellsusya'renquirraun af'er Professor Black, faerhaunerswiabit, bu'?"

Dr. von Traun could only stare open-mouthed in reply.

"Sehr sorrich. I am understand that the English would be gesprechen by the Schottisch at der Universität. Possiamus linguam Latinam aut Gallicam loqui?"

"I have always found the French more fluid for these sorts conversations," replied the Scotsman in a court-accented French. "Unhappily, I'm afraid that Professor Black has relocated to Glasgow since last term, after Prof. Plummer's death last year. However, we at Edinburgh are honoured of course to host academic guests from the Continent. The Select Society, an association of philosophical gentlemen meets weekly here to discuss matters of natural and moral philosophy, and I would be honoured to present you as my guest at our meeting tonight."

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