The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Zschokke, Johann Heinrich Daniel

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ZSCHOKKE, chȯk'kė, Johann Heinrich Daniel, Swiss author: b. Magdeburg, Germany, 22 March 1771; d. Blumenhalde, near Aarau, 27 June 1848. He left his native place in 1788, and for some time wandered about the country as play-writer to a strolling company of actors, but afterward studied at the University of Frankfort-on-the-Oder. In 1792 he began life there as a private teacher, and produced several pieces for the stage. He subsequently settled down in the canton of the Grisons and became director of an academy at Reichenau, where he wrote a history of the Grisons (1798). He then became head of the department of public instruction at Aarau, and was soon afterward sent by the Helvetic executive directory to Unterwalden as government commissioner, for the purpose of restoring tranquility. He acquitted himself so satisfactorily that his powers as commissioner were extended to the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Zug. In 1800 he was appointed commissioner for the organization of the Italian territories of Switzerland. In 1804 he became a member of the board of mines and forests, and in the same year began the issue of his highly popular Schweizerbote (Swiss Messenger). Through the greater part of his life Zschokke appeared as one of the most distinguished and energetic public men in Switzerland, but he found time to cultivate his favorite literary pursuits, and it is chiefly by his numerous writings, historical and fictitious, that he is known to the world at large. Among his works may be mentioned ‘Ueberlieferungen zur Geschichte unserer Zeit’ (1811-27) (Contributions to the History of Our Time); ‘Des Schweizerlandes Geschichte für das Schweizervolk’ (1822) (History of Switzerland for the Swiss People), one of the best of his works, and ‘Bilder aus der Schweiz’ (1824-26) (Pictures from Switzerland). As a writer of tales he possesses a European reputation, and among them we may refer more especially to ‘The Creole,’ ‘Alamontade,’ ‘Jonathan Frock,’ ‘Clementine,’ ‘Oswald or the Goldmakers' Village’ and ‘Master Jordan.’ The work, however, which has had the most extended circulation was his ‘Stunden der Andacht’ (Hours of Devotion) (1809-16; 27 editions in his lifetime), which, though rationalistic, has yet, from the pious feeling pervading it, found admirers among all classes of readers. Editions of his works were published (40 vols., 1824-28; 35 vols., 1851-54), and an edition of his ‘Novellen’ (12 vols., 1904). Consult the studies by Münch (1831); Keller, ‘Beiträge zur Politische, Thätigkeit Zschokkes’ (1887), and Wernly (1894).