MULLER, MAX [FRIEDRICH MAXIMILIAN] (1823-190o), Anglo-German Orientalist and comparative philologist, was born at Dessau on the 6th of December 1823, being the son of Wilhelm Miiller (1794-1827), the German poet, celebrated for his phil-Hellenic lyrics, who was ducal librarian at Dessau. Mendelssohn, who was Max MUller's godfather, dissuaded him from indulging his natural bent to the study of music ; Professor Brockhaus of the University of Leipzig, where Max Milner matric ulated in 1841, induced him to take up Sanskrit ; Bopp, at Berlin (1844), made the Sanskrit student a scientific comparative phil ologist ; Schelling at the same university, inspired him with a love for metaphysical speculation, though failing to attract him to his own philosophy; Burnouf, at Paris in the following year, by teaching him Zend, started him on the track of inquiry into the science of comparative religion, and impelled him to edit the Rig Veda; and when, in 1846, Max Milner came to England upon this errand, Bunsen, in conjunction with Professor H. H. Wilson, prevailed upon the East India Company to undertake the expense of publication. Bunsen gave him introductions to Queen Victoria and the prince consort, and to Oxford university. In 1848 the printing of his Rig Veda at the University Press obliged him to settle in Oxford. Max Muller was appointed deputy Taylorian professor of modern languages in 185o, and became an honorary fellow of Christ Church and a fellow of All Souls. He published during this period the essays subsequently collected as Chips from a German Workshop, and his History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature (1859).
When at last the chair of Sanskrit fell vacant in 186o, Max Muller failed to secure election on account of his foreign birth and his liberal connections, and the choice fell on Monier Williams. It was the one great disappointment of Max Muller's life, and made a lasting impression upon him. Directly, Sanskrit philology received little more from him, except in connection with his later undertaking of The Sacred Books of the East; but indirectly, by emphasizing its importance, as he did in his Science of Language, two courses of lectures delivered at the Royal Institution in 1861 and 1863, he rendered great service. Prichard had proved the Aryan affinities of the Celtic languages by the methods of comparative philology so long before as 1831; Winning's Manual of Comparative Philology had been published in 1838; the discoveries of Bopp and Pott and Pictet had been recognized in brilliant articles in the Quarterly Review, and had guided the researches of Rawlinson. Max Muller popularized
the subject. He was on less sure ground in another department of the study of language—the problem of its origin. He wrote upon it as a disciple of Kant, whose Critique of Pure Reason he translated. His essays on mythology are among the most delightful of his writings, but their value is somewhat impaired by a too uncompromising adherence to the seductive generaliza tion of the solar myth.
Max Miller's studies in mythology led him to the comparative science of religions. His Introduction to the Science of Religion (1873: the same year in which he lectured on the subject, at Dean Stanley's invitation, in Westminster Abbey, this being the only occasion on which a layman had given an address there) marks an epoch. It was followed by the four volumes of Gifford lectures, delivered between 1888 and 1892 ; but the most tangible result of the impulse he had given was the publication under his editorship, from 1875 onwards, of The Sacred Books of the East, in fifty-one volumes, including indexes, all but three of which appeared under his superintendence during his lifetime. These comprise translations by the most competent scholars of all the really important non-Christian scriptures of Oriental nations. Max Muller also wrote on Indian philosophy in his later years, and he stimulated the search for Oriental manuscripts and inscrip tions which resulted in discoveries of early Buddhist scriptures, in their Indian form, made in Japan. He was on friendly terms with Japanese scholars, and after his death his library was pur chased by the University of Tokyo.
In 1868 Max Muller had been indemnified for his disappoint ment over the Sanskrit professorship by the establishment of a chair of comparative philology to be filled by him. He ceased to lecture in 1875, when entering upon the editorship of The Sacred Books of the East. He was a curator of the Bodleian Library, and a delegate of the University Press. His hospitality was ample, especially to visitors from India, where he was far better known than any other European Orientalist. His distinctions, conferred by foreign governments and learned societies, were innumerable. He became a naturalized Englishman, was in high favour at court, and was sworn of the privy council. He died at Oxford on Oct. 28, 190o.
(R. G.; X.)