Perthes, Friedrich Christoph
Perthes, Friedrich Christoph an eminent German publisher, distinguished not only in his professional capacity, but for his sincere piety and ardent patriotism, was born at Rudolstadt April 21, 1772. In his fifteenth year he was apprenticed to a Leipsic bookseller, with whom he remained six years, devoting much of his leisure time to the acquisition of knowledge. In 1793 he passed into the establishment of Hoffmann, the Hamburg bookseller; and in 1796 started business on his own account; and, by his keen and wide appreciation of the public wants, his untiring diligence, and his honorable reputation, he ultimately made it the most extensive of the kind in modern Germany. During the first few years or so of his Hamburg apprenticeship, his more intimate friends had been either Kantian or skeptical in their opinions, and Perthes, who was not distinguished for either learning or speculative talent, had learned to think with his friends; but a friendship which he subsequently formed with Jacobi (q.v.), and the Holstein poet and humorist, Matthias Claudius, led him to a more serious view of Christianity, and he became one of the noblest types of German orthodox piety, leading a life whose influence is impressed on many distinguished minds of his country to this day. The iron rule of the French in Northern Germany, and the prohibition of intercourse with England, nearly ruined trade, yet Perthes, even in this great crisis of affairs, found ways and means to extend his. He endeavored to enlist the intellect of Germany on the side of patriotism, and in 1810 started the National-Muselum, with contributions from Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, count Stolberg, Claudius, Fouque, Heeren, Sartorius, Schlegel, Gorres, Arndt, and other eminent men. Its success was far beyond Perthes's expectations, and encouraged him to continue his patriotic activity, until Hamburg's incorporation with the French empire put a temporary stricture upon his activity. He Subsequently took a prominent part in forcing the French garrison to evacuate Hamburg, March 12, 1813; and on its re-occupation by the French, he was one of the ten Hamburgers who were specially excepted from pardon. After peace had been restored to Europe, he steadily devoted himself to the extension of his business, and to the consolidation of the sentiment of German national unity, as far as that could be accomplished by literature and speech. In 1822 he removed to Gotha, transferring his Hamburg business to his partner, Besser. Here he laid himself out mainly for the publication of great historical and theological works. His subsequent correspondence with literary, political, and theological notabilities — such as Niebuhr (one of his dearest friends), Neander, Schleiermacher, Lucke, Nitszch, Tholuck, Schelling, and Umbreit — is extremely interesting, and throws a rich light upon the recent inner life of Germany. He died May 18, 1843. — Chambers. See Friedrich Perthes' Leben (12th edit. 1853, 3 vols. 8vo), written by his second son, Clemens Theodor Pertles, professor of law at Bonn, and translated into English anonymously in Edinburgh (1857, 2 vols. 8vo); Memoirs of Frederick Perthes, or Literary, Religious, and Political Life in Germany from 1789- 1843; Baur, Religious Life in Germany (transl. by Jane Sturge, Lond. 1870, 2 vols. 12mo), 2:132-178.