MILL, James

MILL (born Milne), James. Northwater Bridge, Logie Pert, Angus 6.4.1773 — Kensington (London) 23.6.1836. British (Scottish) Politician, Philosopher, and Historian of Colonial India. Son of James Milne, a shoemaker, and Isabel Fenton. “Educated at Montrose Academy and Edinburgh University, studied philosophy. Was licensed as a preacher in 1798, and became a tutor. Went to London in 1802, for a literary career… He … held pronounced views on political economy, utilitarianism, etc, has been called the founder of Philosophic Radicalism. He was appointed to the India Office in 1819 as an Assistant Examiner of Correspondence, and by 1830 was at the head of the office, and had great influence with his official superiors. Before the renewal of the E.I.Co’s charter in 1833 he was examined for days before the House of Commons Committee, and did not advocate the application of his advanced views to India.” Married 1805 Harriet Burrow, their son was the philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806–1873). Three other sons served in India.

Mill’s history is, while well documented and informed about the development of the British power in India, characterised by his one-sided and prejudiced, extremely negative opinion of Indian people, religion and civilization. He never visited India. He had himself rejected religious career and propagated the modernization, not Christianization, of India, especially in the long essay “Of the Hindus” in vols. 1-2 (1: 107-376, 2: 1-164 in 1858 edition). The main purpose of it was to minimize the value of Hindu civilization in every possible way. The work was much appreciated by historians, but severely criticized by many Indologists(H. H. Wilson).

Publications: History of British India. 1-6. L. 1806-18, 5th ed. with [often very critical] notes by H. H. Wilson. 1-7. L. 1858; abridged ed. with introd. by W. Thomas. 47+599 p. Chicago 1975.

Elements of Political Economy. 8+240 p. L. 1821, rev. 3rd ed. L. 1826; Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind. 1-2. 4+320, 4+312 p. L. 1829; other works, often in many editions.

Articles in periodicals and in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, later also published in various collective volumes.

Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; *J. Majeed, Ungoverned Images: J.M.’s History of British India and Orientalism. Oxford 1992; *L.S[tephen], D.N.B. 37, 1894, 382-388; Trautmann 1997, 117-124; Wikipedia with portrait and further references (also a separate article on his History).

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