Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Price, William (1780-1830)

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1196993Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 46 — Price, William (1780-1830)1896Charlotte Fell Smith

PRICE, WILLIAM (1780–1830), orientalist, born at Worcester in 1780, is said to have been a captain in the East India Company; but this is apparently a confusion with a contemporary William Price, who entered the service of the East India Company, became lieutenant in the 5th native regiment in Bengal on 1 Feb. 1807, captain 11 July 1823, and major 22 April 1831. Before 1815 he was appointed assistant-professor of Sanscrit, Bengalee, and Mahratta in the military college at Fort William, and in 1824 was professor of Hindustanee. He retired on 20 May 1834 (East India Lists, 1800–34; Dodwell and Miles, Indian Army Lists). Another William Price (d. 1835), commander R.N., fought at the battle of 1 June 1794, and subsequently saw much active service (United Service Journal, November 1835; Gent. Mag. 1835 ii. 556, 670–671, 1837 i. 445).

The orientalist was in 1810 appointed assistant secretary and interpreter to the embassy of Sir Gore Ouseley [q. v.] to Persia in 1811–12. Price kept a diary, and made hundreds of drawings, both of landscapes and buildings, and deciphered many cuneiform inscriptions. On his return to England he devoted himself to literary pursuits, and taught oriental tongues at the seminary of his friend, Alexander Humphreys, at Netherstone House, near Worcester. He set up a private printing-press in his house, and became a member of the Royal Society of London and the Asiatic Society of Calcutta. He died in June 1830.

Price published:

  1. ‘Dialogues Persans, composés pour l'auteur par Mirza Saulih de Chiraz,’ no date or place, republished, with an English translation, Worcester, 1822, 4to; and again as part iii. of
  2. ‘A Grammar of the Three Principal Oriental Languages, Hindoostanee, Persian, and Arabic, on a Plan entirely new,’ &c., London, 1823, 4to.
  3. ‘A Journal of the British Embassy to Persia, embellished with numerous Views taken in India and Persia; also a Dissertation upon the Antiquities of Persepolis,’ London, 1825, fol. Only one volume was published of this edition, but a second edition contained
  4. ‘Elements of Sanskrit, or an Easy Guide to the Indian Tongues,’ Worcester, 1827, 4to; London, 1832; illustrated by Price's own drawings.
  5. ‘A new Grammar of the Hindoostanee Language, issued under the auspices of the East India Company,’ London, 1828.
  6. ‘Husn oo Dil, or Beauty and Heart: an Allegory,’ Persian and English, translated by Price, London, 1828, 4to; dedicated to the Royal Asiatic Society.
  7. ‘Hindu and Hindoostanee Selections,’ from which copious material was drawn for the ‘Chants populaires de l'Inde’ of M. Garcin de Tassy [Paris, 1860], 8vo.

[Works above mentioned; Biographie Universelle (Suppl.); Annual Register, 1830, p. 266.]

C. F. S.