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Bretschneider Henry Godfreyvon

Bretschneider, Henry Godfrey von (1739-1810), German man of letters. He was son of the burgomaster of Gera, and entered the Count de Bruhl's regiment as cornet, took part in the battle of Kolin, became a captain, and was taken prisoner by the French. He utilised his imprisonment in learning the language and studying the character of his captors. After his return to Germany he was appointed Governor of Usingen, in Nassau, but this post being suppressed he went to London and then to Paris, where he found some diplomatic employment. In 1772 he went again to Germany, and after working at Coblenz for a time, he passed into the service of Austria, and finally settled down at Breda. Here his religious views and his satirical writings embroiled him with the ecclesiastical authorities. He left Breda, and became librarian at Lemberg. In 1809 he retired with the title of Aulic Councillor, and went to Vienna, where he soon after died. Of a biting and satirical wit, his great object was to expose anything false, whether in art or in morals. Among his many writings may be cited the terrible story of the sad death of Werther, a satire upon the sentimental dreams, and the ideas of suicide, popularised in Germany by Goethe's novel.