Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Schiller, Johann Christoph Friedrich von

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SCHILLER, JOHANN CHRISTOPH FRIEDRICH VON, a German poet; born in Marbach, Württemberg, Nov. 10, 1759. After having studied medicine and become surgeon in a regiment, he, in his 22d year, wrote the tragedy of “The Robbers,” which at once raised him to the foremost rank among the dramatists of his country. It was performed at Mannheim in 1782. But some passages of a revolutionary tendency having incurred the displeasure of the Duke of Württemberg, Schiller left Stuttgart by stealth and made his way to Mannheim, where, after various wanderings and many hardships, he got his tragedy of “Fiesco” brought out on the stage. The tragedies of “Cabal and Love,” and “Don Carlos,” were his next productions. In 1785 he went to Leipsic and Dresden, where he found many admirers. Here he wrote his singular romance called “The Ghostseer” and his “Philosophical Letters,” and collected materials for a “History of the Revolt of the Netherlands Under Philip II.” In 1787 he repaired to Weimar, where he was welcomed with great warmth by Weiland and Herder, undertook the management of a periodical called the “German Mercury,” and not long afterward made the acquaintance of Goethe, which soon ripened into a friendship only dissolved by death. In 1789 he was appointed to the chair of history in the University of Jena, and besides lecturing to crowded audiences he published his “History of the Thirty Years' War” and engaged in various literary enterprises which had great influence on the literature of Germany. A periodical called “The Hours” and the “Almanac of the Muses,” to which the most eminent men in Germany contributed, belong to this period. He also produced “The Song of the Bell,” “Cranes of Ibykus,” and wrote his “Ballads,” reckoned among the finest compositions of their kind in any language. About 1790 he exhibited a strong tendency to consumption, which, by precluding him from lecturing, greatly reduced his income. The Prince of Denmark settled on him a pension of $1,000 for three years, and thus enabled him to pursue his studies. He soon after settled at Weimar, in order to direct the theater in conjunction with Goethe; and here at intervals he published the following works: “Wallenstein,” “Mary Stuart,” “Joan of Arc,” and “William Tell.” He died in Weimar, Germany, May 9, 1805.


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JOHANN CHRISTOPH F. VON SCHILLER