Claudius, Matthias

Claudius, Matthias better known under the nom de plume of Asmus, or Der Wandsbecker Bote (the Wandsbeck Messenger), a German writer, was born at Rheinfeld, in Holstein, Jan. 2, 1740. He studied law at Jena, and, after having held for a short time an office at Darmstadt, became, in 1778, "revisor" at the Schleswig-Holstein Bank in Altona. He resided at the village of Wandsbeck, near Altona (hence his nom de plume), where he spent the greater part of his life. He died on the 21st of January, 1815, at Hamburg, in the house of his son-in-law, the publisher, Frederick Perthes. Claudius is still regarded as one of the most gifted popular writers of Germany, and his books had a very large circulation during his lifetime. He was on terms of intimacy with Voss, Herder, Jacobi, Hamann, Lavater, Stollberg, and many other prominent literary men of his times. In the Church history of Germany he bears an honorable name as one of the most effective opponents of the vulgar rationalism which at that time threatened to obtain — absolute sway over the whole of Protestant Germany. In his earlier writings, he, on the whole, confined himself to ridiculing the arrogance and intolerance of the Rationalists; but he steadily grew warmer and more emphatic in his opposition to rationalism, and in his attachment to a strict Lutheranism, and on that account fell out with some of his former friends, as Voss and Jacobi. Claudius began in 1765 a complete edition of his works, under the title Asmus omnia sua secumportans, 8 vols., to which some addition was made in 1812 (latest edition, 1844). A biography of Claudius has been written by Herbst (Gotha, 1857). — Herzog, Real- Encyklop. 2, 712; Brockhans, Conversations Lexikon, 4, 547.

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