Mill, William Hodge (DNB00)

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MILL, WILLIAM HODGE (1792–1853), orientalist, son of John Mill, a native of Dundee, by his wife Martha, born Hodge, was born 18 July 1792 at Hackney, Middlesex. He was educated chiefly in private under Dr. Belsham, a unitarian preacher, and in 1809 proceeded to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. as sixth wrangler in 1813, was elected fellow in 1814, and proceeded M.A. in 1816. He took deacon's orders in 1817, and priest's in the following year. Continuing in residence at Cambridge, he appears to have devoted himself especially to oriental studies. In 1820 he was appointed the first principal of Bishop's College, Calcutta, then just founded, under the superintendence of Bishop Thomas Fanshawe Middleton [q. v.] Mill's work there gave satisfaction, and he strenuously pursued his linguistic studies. He not only assisted in the publication of works in Arabic, of which he had already gained some knowledge, but likewise addressed himself to the study of the vernaculars and of Sanskrit, and he co-operated in the work of the Sanskrit and other native colleges. He was also a leading member of the Bengal Asiatic Society (vice-president 1833–7), and appears to have been regularly consulted on all discoveries relating to Sanskrit or Arabic scholarship; he energetically supported the society's ‘Journal,’ then just founded, his contributions extending from vol. ii. to vol. vi. He also gave valuable assistance by his decipherments of several important inscriptions, then little understood, especially those on the pillars at Allahabad and Bhitari.

Mill's health obliged him to return to Europe in 1838. At his departure an address was voted to him by the Asiatic Society, and his bust placed in the society's rooms. Resuming his theological career, he was appointed in 1839 chaplain to William Howley, archbishop of Canterbury [q. v.], and in the same year Christian advocate on the Hulse foundation at Cambridge. In 1848 he became regius professor of Hebrew in the same university, with a canonry at Ely. His lectures were chiefly on the text of the Psalms. He died 25 Dec. 1853, at Brasted, Kent, a living to which he had been presented by the archbishop in 1843. He was buried in Ely Cathedral on New-year's eve. A portion of a window in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge, was subsequently (1862) filled with stained glass to his memory.

His chief work is ‘Christa-saṅgītā’ (Calcutta, 1831, 8vo; 2nd edition, 1837), a remarkable translation of the Gospel-story into the metre and style of the Sanskrit purānas; it was originally suggested to Mill by a Hindu pundit, who was the main author of the first canto.

Other works of the same period are a Sanskrit translation of the Sermon on the Mount, and contributions to the Arabic translation of the Anglican prayer-book. His Christian advocate's publication for 1840–4, ‘On the attempted Application of Pantheistic Principles to the Criticism of the Gospel,’ appeared in two editions, and is mainly directed against the criticism of Strauss. It abounds in illustration from various sources, characteristic of the author's wide reading. Mill also published many theological lectures and sermons.

[Gent. Mag. 1854, i. 205; Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, 1855, vol. xv. Rep. p. ii; Journal of Bengal Asiatic Society; communications from members of Mill's family.]

C. B.