A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Mill, James

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Mill, James (1773-1836). -- Philosopher and historian, s. of a shoemaker, was b. at Montrose, and showing signs of superior ability, was sent to the Univ. of Edin. with a view to the ministry. He was licensed as a preacher in 1798, but gave up the idea of the Church, and going to London in 1802 engaged in literary work, ed. the St. James's Chronicle, and wrote for the Edinburgh Review. In 1806 he began his History of British India (1817-18), and in 1819 received the appointment of Assistant Examiner to the India Office, and in 1834 became head of the department. M. had meanwhile become the intimate friend of Jeremy Bentham, was perhaps the chief exponent of the utilitarian philosophy, and was also one of the founders of the London Univ. His philosophical writings include Elements of Political Economy (1821), and Analysis of the Human Mind (1824). M.'s intellect was powerful, though rigid and somewhat narrow; his style was clear and precise, and his conversational powers very remarkable, and influential in moulding the opinions of those who came into contact with him, especially his distinguished son, John Stuart (q.v.).