Wieland, Christopher Martin

, a voluminous German writer who has been complimented with the title of the Voltaire of Germany, was born in 1733, at Biberach. Of his life no authentic account has, as far as we know, reached this country, but the following few particulars, gleaned from various sources, may perhaps be genuine, His father was a clergyman, who gave him a good education, and his attachment to the Muses discovered itself very early. At the age of fourteen, he wrote a poem on the destruction of Jerusalem, Two years after he was sent to Erfurt to study the sciences, where he became enamoured of Sophia de Gusterman, afterwards known by the name of Madame de la Roche. The youthful lovers swore eternal fidelity to each other, but Wieland’s father thought proper to interrupt the connection, and sent his son to Tubingen to study law. For this he probably had little inclination, and employed most of his thoughts and time on poetry, producing at the age of eighteen an “Art of Love” in the manner of Ovid, and a poem “On the nature of things,” in which we are told he combined the philosophy of Plato and Leibnitz. After this he appears to have devoted himself entirely to study and writing, and acquired considerable reputation as a poet of taste and fancy. For some time he appears to have resided in Swisserland, and in 1760 he returned to his native place, where he was appointed to the office of director of the chancery, and during his leisure hours wrote some of those works which completely established him in the opinion of his countrymen, as one or the greatest geniuses of the age, and honours were liberally bestowed upon him. The elector of Mentz made him professor of philosophy and polite literature at Erfurt, and he was soon after appointed tutor to the two young princes of Saxe Weimar; he was also aulic counsellor to the duke, who gave him a pension; and counsellor of government to the elector of Mentz. In 1765 he married a lady at | Augsburgh, of whom he speaks so highly that we may conclude ke had overcome or moderated his attachment to the object of his first love. In 1808 Bonaparte sent him the cross of the legion of honour, and after the battle of Jena, partook of a repast with Wieland, and, we are gravely told, “conversed with him at great length on the folly and horrors of war and on various projects for the establishment of a perpetual peace!” Wieland’s latter days were employed in translating Cicero’s Letters. A paralysis of the abdominal viscera was the prelude to his death, which took place at Weimar, in January 1813, in the eighty-first year of his age.

Wieland was the author of a prodigious number of works (of which there is an edition extending to forty-two volumes, quarto), both in prose and verse, poems of all kinds, and philosophical essays, dialogues, tales, &c. Of these, the “Oberon,” (by Mr. Sotheby’s elegant translation) the “Agathon,” and some others, are not unknown, although they have never been very popular, in this country. In what estimation he is held in his own, may appear from one of the many panegyrics which German critics have pronounced on his merit: “No modern poet has written so much, or united so much deep sense with so much wit, such facility and sweetness. It may be truly said of him, that he has gone through the wide domain of human occupations, and knows all that happens in heaven and in earth. A blooming imagination and a creative wit; a deep, thinking, philosophical mind; fine and just sense, and a thorough acquaintance with both the moderns and ancients, are discernible in all his various writings. Re knows how to make the most abstract metaphysical ideas sensible, by the magic of his eloquence; he can make himself of all times and all countries; he observes the customs of every country, and knows how to join truth with miracles, sensible with spirited imagery, and romance with the most profound morality. In the `Agathon' he seems a Grecian; and in the `Fairy Tales’ a knight-errant; who wanders amidst fairies, vizards, and monsters. All his tales abound in portraits, comparisons, and parallels, taken from old and modern times, full of good sense and truth. The understanding, the heart, and the fancy, are equally satisfied. His verse is easy; there is not a word too much, or an idle false thought. He is as excellent in comical portraits as in the delineations of manners. The | knowledge of Epicurus, the muses of frolic and satire, of romance and fairy land; the solidity of Locke, and the deep sense of Plato; Grecian eloquence, and Oriental luxuriance, what excites admiration in the writings of the best masters, are united in his immortal works.” Such is the opinion of his countrymen; to which, however, it is our duty to add, that in many of his works the freethinkingsystem is predominant, and that the moral tendency of others is very doubtful. 1