Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol III (1901).djvu/166

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Max Müller
Max Müller
152


of these studies was his translation of the now well-known collection of Sanskrit fables, the ‘Hitopadeśa,’ which he published when only twenty years of age (Leipzig, 1844). He graduated Ph.D. on 1 Sept. 1843, when not yet twenty, but continued his studies at Leipzig for another term. Then, in the spring of 1844, he went to Berlin. Here he attended, among others, the lectures of Franz Bopp, the celebrated founder of the science of comparative philology, and those of Schelling, the eminent philosopher. To the early influence of the former may be traced his studies in the subject which he represented in the university of Oxford for thirty-two years; to the teachings of the latter was doubtless largely due that interest in philosophy which he maintained to the end of his life.

In March 1845 he migrated to Paris, where he came under the influence of Eugène Burnouf, eminent not only as a Sanskritist, but also as the first Zend scholar of his day. One of his fellow-students at Paris was the great German orientalist, Rudolf Roth, the founder of Vedic philology; another was the distinguished classical Sanskrit scholar, Dr. Theodore Goldstücker. At Burnouf's suggestion young Max Müller set about collecting materials for an editio princeps of the ‘Rigveda,’ the most important of the sacred books of the Brahmans, and the oldest literary monument of the Aryan race. He accordingly began copying and collating manuscripts of the text of that work, as well as the commentary of Sāyana, the great fourteenth-century Vedic scholar. All this time he was entirely dependent on his own exertions for a living, having a hard struggle to maintain himself by copying manuscripts and assisting scholars in other ways.

In pursuance of his enterprise he came over to England in June 1846, provided with an introduction to the Prussian minister in London, Baron Bunsen, who subsequently became his intimate friend. Receiving a recommendation to the East India Company from him and from Horace Hayman Wilson [q. v.], he was commissioned by the board of directors to bring out at their expense a complete edition of the ‘Rigveda’ with Sāyana's commentary. Having, in company with Bunsen, visited Oxford in June 1847 for the meeting of the British Association, at which he delivered an address on Bengali and its relation to the Aryan languages, he returned to London. Early in 1848 he went back to Paris for the purpose of collating manuscripts. Suddenly the revolution broke out, when the young orientalist, fearing for the safety of the precious manuscripts in his keeping, hurriedly returned to London, where he, accompanied by Bunsen, was the first to report to Lord Palmerston the news that Louis Philippe had fled from the French capital.

As the first volume (published in 1849) of his edition of the ‘Rigveda’ was being printed at the university press, he found it necessary to migrate to Oxford. There he settled in May 1848 and spent the rest of his life. In 1850 he was appointed deputy Taylorian professor of modern European languages, and in the following year was, at the suggestion of Dean Gaisford, made an honorary M.A. and a member of Christ Church. On succeeding to the full professorship in 1854 he received the full degree of M.A. by decree of convocation. As Taylorian professor he lectured chiefly on German and French, including courses on middle high German and on the structure of the Romance languages. He was made a curator of the Bodleian library in 1856, holding that office till 1863; re-elected in 1881, he retired in 1894. In 1858 he was elected to a life fellowship at All Souls' College.

In 1859 he married Georgiana Adelaide, daughter of Mr. Riversdale Grenfell, who already included among his brothers-in-law J. A. Froude, Charles Kingsley, and Lord Wolverton. In the same year he published his important ‘History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature,’ which, dealing with the Vedic period only, contained much valuable research in literary chronology, based on an extensive knowledge of works at that time accessible in manuscript only.

In May 1860 Horace Hayman Wilson, professor of Sanskrit at Oxford, died. Max Muller, whose claims were very strong on the score of both ability and achievement, became a candidate for the vacant chair. He was opposed by (Sir) Monier Monier-Williams [q. v. Suppl.], an old member of Balliol and University colleges, who had been professor of Sanskrit at the East India College at Haileybury till it was closed in 1858. The election being in the hands of convocation — a body consisting of all masters of arts who keep their names on the books of the university — came to turn on the political and religious opinions of the candidates rather than on their merits as Sanskrit scholars. Party feeling ran high. His broad theological views, as well as the fact of his being a foreigner, told against Max Müller, especially in the eyes of the country clergy, who came up to Oxford in large numbers to record their votes. The election took place on 7 Dec. 1860, when Monier-Williams won