Rabener, Theophilus William

, a German satirist, was born in 1714, at Wachau, an estate and manor near Leipsic, of which his father was lord. As he was educated for the law, and was employed for the greatest part of his life in public 'business, his literary performances must have been the amusement of his leisure hours. He appeared first in print, in 1741, as an associate in a periodical work jentitled “Amusements of Wit and Reason,” to which some of the most eminent men of his age were contributors, and among these Gellert, with whom he had a lasting friendship. About this time, he was made comptroller of the taxes in the district of Leipsic, an office which required constant attention, and obliged him to be frequently riding from place to place; and on these journeys, as a relaxation from business of a very different kind, he says, in one of his letters, all his satires were written. He published four volumes of them, and in his preface to the last, which is dated 1755, he professes his resolution to publish no more during his life. This determination, he says, is extorted from him by the multiplicity of business in which he is involved, by the impression which the loss of his best friends had made on his mind, and by his disgust at the impertinence of some of his readers; who, though he had avoided every thing personal, were continually applying his general characters to individuals. He had then been made secretary to the board of taxes at Dresden, and was afterwards involved in the calamities which that city suffered when besieged by the king of Prussia. During this siege, his house, his manuscripts, and alf his property, were destroyed; which misfortune he bore | with a temper of mind truly philosophical and his letters on this occasion, which were afterwards published without his knowledge, show that it did not deprive him of his usual cheerfulness nor did this disposition deject him even in his last illness. He died of an apoplexy in March 1771. He is represented by his biographer Weiss, as an amiable and virtuous man, strict in his own conduct, but indulgent to that of others. He had a deep sense of religion, which he could not bear to hear ridiculed: and whenever any thing of this kind was attempted in his presence, he generally punished the scoffer with such sarcastic raillery as rendered him an object of contempt. He was remarkably temperate, though very fond of lively and cheerful conversation, in which he excelled; but he never would accept of any invitation which he thought was given with a view to exhibit him as a man of wit, and he was averse to all compliments paid to him as such; he knew how to preserve the respect due to him even while he promoted mirth and conviviality, for he never suffered these qualities to exceed the bounds of virtue and decency.

Rabener’s “Satirical Letters” were translated into English, and the French and other nations have translation* of some of his satires, which, it is thought, have not appeared to great advantage. He seems to have been intimately acquainted with the writings of Swift, Pope, and Arbuthnot, which he appears very frequently to have imitated and in some particular places has translated them. From them he borrowed the idea of adopting, in -some of his pieces, the character of Martinus Scriblerus and there is a great similarity of manner between his extract of the chronicle of the village of Querlequitscb, and the “Memoirs of P. P. clerk of this parish.” He also wrote an account of a. codicil to Swift’s will, relative to the foundation of an hospital for fools and madmen, in which he appropriates an additional wing for the reception of Germans. 1

1 Portraits of celebrated German literati, 1793, in Month. Rev. vol. XIV. N. S.