Hieronymus Dieterich Berendis was born at Seehausen in the Altmark in the year 1720, studied law in the University of Halle, and was for some years after his student days auditor of the Royal Prussian Regiment of Hussars, usually called the Black Hussars from their uniform, but at the time named after their Commander von Ruesch. After leaving that rude life, he continued his studies in Berlin. During a sojourn at Seehausen he made the acquaintance of Winckelmann, whose intimate friend he became, and through whose recommendation he was afterward engaged as tutor of the youngest Count Buenau. He conducted his pupil to Brunswick where the latter studied at the Karolinum. When the Count afterward entered the French service, his father, who was at that time minister of state at Weimar, conducted Berendis into the service of the Duke, in which he first became military counsellor, entering afterward the service of the Dowager Duchess as Financial Councillor and Keeper of the Privy Purse. He died on the 26th of October, 1783, at Weimar.
The most deserving citizen, no matter how great his service may have been to his country and his city in a wider or narrower field, receives but one funeral. Others, however, have so distinguished themselves by worthy benefactions that they are honored by a public celebration of the anniversary of their death, on which occasion the lasting influence of their beneficence is praised. In the same sense we have every cause to offer from time to time a well meaning tribute to the memory of the men who have bestowed inexhaustible mental benefactions upon us.
From this point of view the slight tribute which friends of similar opinions now offer should be regarded as a testimonial of their appreciation, not as an account of his services. The feast at which it is offered will be participated in by all appreciative minds on the occasion of the recently discovered letters of Winckelmann, now for the first time published.
The following essays, written by three friends, whose opinions on art in general, as well as on the services of Winckelmann, coincide, were intended as a basis for a more extended essay on this remarkable man, and to furnish the materials for a work which should have at once the merit of diversity and of unity.
[Illustration: WEIMAR SEEN FROM THE NORTH]
But as in life many an undertaking encounters all kinds of obstacles, which hardly allow the requisite material to be collected, to say nothing of giving it the desired form, so here only half of the whole as planned appears.