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JOHANN HEINRICH MERCK (1741–1791)

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Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 154 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOHANN HEINRICH MERCK (1741–1791), German author and critic, was born at Darmstadt on the 11th of April 1741, a few days after the death of his father, a chemist. He studied law at Giessen, and in 1767 was given an appointment in the paymaster's department at Darmstadt, and a year later himself became paymaster. For a number of years he exercised con- "' siderable influence upon the literary movement in Germany; he helped to found the Frankfurter gelehrte Anzeigen in 1772, and was one of the chief contributors to Nicolai's Allgemeine Bibliothek. In 1782 he accompanied the Landgravine Karoline of Hesse-Darmstadt to St Petersburg, and on his return was a guest of the duke Charles Augustus of Weimar in the Wartburg, Unfortunate speculations brought him into pecuniary embarrassment in 1788, and although friends, notably Goethe; were ready to come to his assistance, his losses—combined with the death of five of his children—so preyed upon his mind that he committed suicide on the 27th of June 1791. Merck distinguished himself mainly as a critic; his keen perception, critical perspicacity and refined taste made him a valuable guide to the young writers of the Sturm and Drang. He also wrote a number of small treatises, dealing mostly with literature and art, especially painting, and a few poems, stories, narratives and the like; but they have not much intrinsic importance. Merck's letters are particularly interesting and instructive, and throw much light upon the literary conditions of his time. Merck's Ausgewahlte Schriften zur schonen Literatur and Kunst were published by A. Stahr in 184o, with a biography. See Briefe an J. H. Merck von Goethe, Herder, Wieland and andern bedeutenden Zeitgenossen (1835), Briefe an and von J. H. Merck (1838) and Briefe aus dem Freundeskreise von Goethe, Herder, Hopfner and Merck (1847), all edited by K. Wagner. Cf. G. Zimmermann, J. H. Merck, seine Umgebung and seine Zeit (1871). MERCO;UR, SEIGNEURS AND DUKES OF. The estate of Mercceur in Auvergne, France, gave its name to a line of powerful lords, which became extinct in the 14th century, and passed by inheritance to the dauphins of Auvergne, counts of Clermont. In 1426 it passed to the Bourbons by the marriage. of Jeanne de Clermont, dauphine of Auvergne, with Louis de Bourbon, count of Montpensier. It formed part of the confiscated estates of the Constable de Bourbon, and was given by Francis I. and Louise of Savoy to Antoine, duke of Lorraine, and his wife, Renee de Bourbon. Nicolas of Lorraine, son of Duke Antoine, was created duke of Mercceur and a peer of France in 1569. His son Philippe Emmanuel (see below) left a daughter, who married the duc de Vendome in 16(29.
End of Article: JOHANN HEINRICH MERCK (1741–1791)
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