Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Weiss, John

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WEISS, John, author, b. in Boston, Mass., 28 June, 1818; d. there, 9 March, 1879. His father, a German Jew, was a barber in Worcester, Mass. John was graduated at Harvard in 1837, and at the divinity-school in 1843, meanwhile studying abroad. He then was settled over the Unitarian church in Watertown, Mass., but withdrew on account of his anti-slavery opinions, and was pastor at New Bedford a short time, resigning on account of the failure of his health. After several years of study and travel he resumed his pastorate in Watertown, and preached there in 1859-'70. Mr. Weiss was an ardent Abolitionist, an advocate of women's rights, a rationalist in religion, and a disciple of the transcendental philosophy. He delivered courses of lectures on “Greek Religious Ideas,” “Humor in Shakespeare,” and “Shakespeare's Women.” Of his lectures on Greek religious ideas, Octavius B. Frothingham says: “They were the keenest interpretation of the ancient myths, the most profound, luminous, and sympathetic, I have met with.” He is the author of many reviews, sermons, and magazine articles on literary, biographical, social, and political questions, “Life and Correspondence of Theodore Parker” (2 vols., New York, 1864), and “American Religion” (1871). He also edited and translated “Henry of Afterdingen,” a romance by Friedrich Van Hardenberg (Boston, 1842); “Philosophical and Æsthetic Letters and Essays of Schiller,” with an introduction (1845); and “Memoir of Johann G. Fichte,” by William Smith (1846).