I. August Friedrich Ferdinand Von, a German dramatist, born in Weimar, May 3, 1761, assassinated in Mannheim, March 23, 1819. He studied at the gymnasium of Wei-mar and the university of Jena, was admitted an advocate in 1780, made himself known by the publication of two books in 1781, and accompanied the Prussian ambassador to St. Petersburg. Here he was employed as secretary of the governor general, and after his marriage in 1785 with a daughter of Lieut. Gen. Von Essen, he was appointed to a high judicial office in the province of Esthonia, and was ennobled, which afterward led him to write a fulsome work on nobility. His literary reputation was established by several successful novels and dramas, but injured by the publication of Doctor Bahrdt mit der eisernen Stirn, in which he attacked the celebrated poets of Weimar (Goethe, Schiller, &c), who had declined to admit him into their society. After the death of his wife he visited Paris, on which occasion he wrote another ill-mannered book, Meine Flucht nach Paris (1790). After his return to Russia, he devoted several years to writing a series of plays till 1798, when ho succeeded Alxinger as poet to the court thea-tre at Vienna. In 1800 he returned to Russia, where he was arrested on suspicion of having written pamphlets against the emperor Paul, and banished to Siberia. He was indebted for his liberation to one of his plays, Per Leib-kutscher Peters des Grossen, which presented the emperor in a flattering light, and published Pas merkwurdigste Jahr meines Lebens (1801), a rather romantic description of his year of exile.
He received an estate in Livonia, and was made director of the German theatre in St. Petersburg and imperial councillor. In 1802 he took up his abode in Berlin, where he became a member of the academy of sciences, and one of the editors of Der Freimuthige, a literary journal. In 1805 he published an account of travels made in the preceding years in France and Italy; and in 1808-'9 appeared his Preussens altere Geschichte, esteemed only for its collection of authentic historical documents. After 1806 he lived again in Russia, but returned to Germany in 1817 to report to the Russian government on the state of public opinion. He resided alternately at Weimar and Mannheim, and at the same time conducted a weekly journal. When it became known that he was the author of letters to the czar, and of articles in which the secret political associations of the German students (Burschenschaften) were held up to scorn and ridicule, a student named Sand went to Mannheim and stabbed Kotze-bue in the breast with a dagger, exclaiming, "This is for you, traitor to your country." - Kotzebue was the most fertile writer of plays whom Germany ever produced. Many of them have been translated into English, French, and other languages.
Among those best known on the American and English stage are " The Stranger" and "Pizarro," both adapted by Sheridan, the former from Kotzebue's Men-sclumhass und Reue, and the latter from Die Picas in Peru. He wrote in all 211 tragedies, comedies, and farces, and some of them retain their popularity. Complete editions of his dramatic works appeared in Leipsic in 1797-1823, in 28 vols., and in 1827-'9, in 44 vols. His most successful novel, written in early life, is Leiden der Ortenbergischen Familie. His posthumous writings were published in Leipsic in 1821. An English translation of his autobiography appeared in London in 1800. His German biographers are Cramer (Leipsic, 1819) and Doring (Weimar, 1829).
II. Otto Von, a Russian traveller, son of the preceding, born in Revel in December, 1787, died th*ere in February, 1846. He was educated at the academy of St. Petersburg, and joined Krusenstern as midshipman in a voyage round the world, from which he returned in 1806. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and intrusted in 1815 with the command of the Rurik, a vessel equipped at the expense of Count Rumiantzeff. He was joined in this expedition by the poet Chamisso, and by the naturalists Eschscholtz and Choris. After the discovery of various islands, bays, and a sound N. E. of Behring strait since called after him, he returned to Russia, Aug. 3, 1818, and published an account of his journey, which has been translated into French and English ("A Voyage of Discovery into the South Sea and Behring's Strait in the Years 1815-'18," 3 vols., London, 1821). In 1823 he undertook a third voyage around the world as captain of an imperial man-of-war. Touching at Rio de Janeiro, he doubled Cape Horn, discovered several islands, collected much valuable information on ethnography, natural history, and geography, visited Lower California and the Sandwich islands, and on his way home touched at the Philippine islands, reaching Cronstadt July 10, 1826. In 1829 he retired from active service, and spent the rest of his life with his family in Esthonia. He published a narrative of his voyage, of which an English translation appeared in London in 1830 ("A New Voyage round the World in the Years 1823-'6 "). The romantic character of the narrative led several critics to impugn its veracity, although there is no evidence by which the charge can be supported.
Eschscholtz enriched the volume with full zoological information. HI. Moritz yon, a Russian soldier, brother of the preceding, born May 11, 1789, died in AVarsaw in February, 1861. He sailed with Krusenstern and his brother Otto round the world, entered the Russian army in 1806, was captured by the French in 1812, liberated in 1814, and published in 1815 Per russische Kriegsgefangene unter den Franzosen, an account of his adventures. Attached to the Russian embassy, he made a journey to Persia in 1817, of which his father published a description in Weimar in 1819 (English translation, " Narrative of a Journey into Persia in 1817," London, 1819). He served subsequently in the Caucasus, commanded the fortress Ivangorod in Poland, and was made a general in 1846. At the time of his death he was a member of the Polish division of the Russian senate.
IV. Paul, a Russian soldier, brother of the preceding, born about 1790. He fought with distinction in the Caucasus and in Poland, and was rapidly promoted. In 1862 he became governor general of Bessarabia and South Russia, and commander of Odessa, offices which he still held in 1874, when he was made a count.
V. Alexander Von, a painter, brother of the preceding, born in Konigsberg, June 9, 1815. After graduating as an officer in 1834, he studied painting at the academy of St. Petersburg. In Paris (1847-'8) he associated much with Horace Vernet. He afterward lived in Stuttgart, visited Rome, and settled in Munich. He has executed many brilliant pictures of Russian victories for the Winter palace and other galleries.