Wansleb, John Michael

, a learned German, was born in 1635, at Erfort, in Thuringia, where his father was minister of a Lutheran church. After having studied philosophy and theology at Konigsberg, he put himself under Job Ludolf, in order to learn “the Oriental tongues of that celebrated professor. Ludolf taught him the Ethiopic amorvg others; and then sent him at his own expence into England to print his” Ethiopic Dictionary,“which came out at London in 1661. Ludolf complained of Wansleb for inserting many false and ridiculous things, and afterwards gave a new. edition of it himself. Dr. Edmhnd Castell was at that time employed upon his” Lexicon Heptaglotton," and was much gratified to find in Wansleb a man who could assist him in his laborious undertaking; he received him therefore into his house, and kept him three months. Wansleb was no sooner returned to Germany, tban Ernest the pious, duke of Saxe-Gotha, being informed of his qualifications, sent him to Ethiopia: the prince’s design was, to establish a correspondence between the Protestant Europeans and Abyssines, with a view to promote true religion among the latter. Wansleb set out in June 1663, and arrived at Cairo in Jan. following. He employed the remainder of the year in visiting part of Egypt; but the patriarch of Alexandria, who has jurisdiction over the churches of Ethiopia, dissuaded him from proceeding to that kingdom, and sent his reasons to Ernest in an Arabic | letter, which is still extant in the library of the duke of Saxe-Gotha.

Wansleb left Alexandria in the beginning of 1-665, and arrived at Leghorn; but durst not return to his own country, because duke Ernest was greatly displeased with his conduct, in neglecting the chief object of his embassy, and employing in an improper manner the sums he had received. He went therefore to Rome, where he abjured Lutheranism, and entered into the order of St. Dominic in 1666. In 1670, he was sent to Paris, where being introduced to Colbert, he was commissioned by that minister to return to the East, and to purchase manuscripts and medals for the king’s library. He arrived at Cairo in 1672, continued in Egypt near two years, and in that time sent to France 334 manuscripts, Arabic, Turkish, and Persic. The Mahometans growing jealous of this commerce which Wansleb carried on, he removed from Egypt to Constantinople, and had promised to go from that place in search of manuscripts to mount Athos; but excused himself on pretence that Leo Allatius had taken away the best for the use of the Vatican. He was preparing to set out for Ethiopia, when he was recalled to France by Colbert; who, it seems, had just reason to be displeased with his conduct, as Ernest had been before him. He arrived at Paris in April 1676, and might have been advanced not only to the royal professorship of Oriental languages, but even to a bishopric, if his irregular life and manners had not stood in his way. He lived neglected for two or three years, and then died in June 1679.

His publications are, 1. “Relazione dello stato presente dell' Egitto, 1671,” 12mo. This is said to be an abridged account of Egypt, which had been sent by him in several letters to duke Ernest; and Ludolf has related, that the Jacobines, whom he employed to translate it into Italian, have deviated from the original in several places. 2. “Nouvelle Relation en forme de Journal d’un Voyage fait en Egypte en 1672 et 1673,1676, 12mo, 3. “Histoire de PEglise d‘Alexandrie fondee par S. Marc, que nous appellons celles des Jacobites -Coptes d’Ei^ypte, ecrite au Caire même en 1672 et 1673. 1677,” 12mo. 1


Niceron, vol. XXVI. Lobe’s Voyage D’Abyss. vol. I, —Mosheim. —Moreri.