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1841 he passed from the school to the University of Leipzig, where he began those studies to which, pursued as they have been so faithfully during his lifetime, he mostly owes his fame. At Leipzig he made considerable progress in classical and comparative philology under Professors Hermann, Haupt, and Brockhaus, and in the Hebrew, Arabic, and Sanskrit languages. In 1844 appeared his first work, a translation into German of the Hitopadesa, a collection in the Sanskrit language of ancient Indian fables.
In the same year he removed from Leipsig to Berlin to attend the lectures of Bopp and Schelling, and to examine a collection of Sanskrit manuscripts which the Prussian Government had recently purchased in England from the executors of Sir Robert Chambers. In Berlin Max Müller made the acquaintance of Alexander von Humboldt and Boeckh, and also studied Persian under Friedrich Rückert. He was invited by Gottfried Hermann, the famous Greek scholar, to return to Leipzig, in order to take his degree there, free of expense; and in 1845 proceeded to Paris under the attraction of the reputation of the great Sanskritist, Eugène Burnouf, père, at the College of France. At the suggestion of Burnouf, who recognised in him the spirit of a fellow-worker, he began to collect materials for an edition of the “ Rig Veda,” the earliest sacred hymns of the Brahmans, together with the Indian commentary upon them. Another young German scholar, Friedrich Rosen, had attempted the same task, but had died before he had done much more than begin it. In pursuance of this undertaking, after copying and collating the manuscripts in the Royal Library at Paris, Max Müller came to England, in June, 1846, to collate the manuscripts belonging to the East India Company and those of the Bodleian Library. This stay in England was fruitful of more consequences than were at first anticipated. As Max Müller was on the point of returning to Germany with the results of his labours, he made the acquaintance of the late Baron Bunsen, then Prussian Ambassador in London, who induced him to prolong his stay on the plea that his great work could be carried on undisturbed in this peaceful island, which would not be the case in the whirlpool of the Fatherland. On the recommendation of Bunsen and the late Professor Wilson, the East India Company arranged to bear the expense of printing the “Rig Veda.” In 1848, accordingly, Max Müller settled in Oxford to see the work through the press; and in 1849 the first volume appeared, a thousand pages quarto in extent.
In 1850 Max Müller was invited by the University of Oxford to give courses of lectures on Comparative Philology, as deputy to his friend Francis Trithen, the Taylorian Professor of Modern European Languages. Four years later, on Trithen’s death, he succeeded him in the chair. In 1850 also he was made Honorary M.A., and in 1854 a member of Christ Church. Oxford seems to have appreciated the
stranger's usefulness, for in 1856 he was appointed Curator, as far as regarded Oriental Literature, of the Bodleian Library. He is one of the Senior Fellows of All Souls' College, having been elected in 1858. He is also LL.D. of Cambridge and of Edinburgh.
After the death of Professor Wilson, Max Müller was supported by the Liberal party at Oxford as candidate for the chair of Sanskrit, but defeated by a large majority of conservative, ecclesiastic, and antiGerman voters. Some years later, however, in 1868, the University founded a new chair of Comparative Philology expressly for him, which he continues to hold, the Rev. A. H. Sayce being deputy.
After having lectured at Oxford 'for just twenty-five years, Max Müller, on the 1st Dec. 1875, resigned his professorship, intending to return to Germany, and to devote his remaining time exclusively to literary work. Invitations came to him from several German Universities, and even from Florence, to settle there ; but when the University of Oxford offered to appoint a deputy, and charged him at the same time with the editorship of a large literary undertaking, a translation of the “ Second Books of the East,” he returned to Oxford after an absence of a year and a half. He lectures from time to time at Oxford and in other places, but he is able to devote most of his time to his own work.
Max Müller is a member of nearly all the great academies and literary societies in Europe. Among these distinctions those which are limited to a small number are naturally the most prized. The Institut de France consists of five academies : (1) Académie Française ; (2) Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres ; (3) Académie des Sciences ; (4) Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques; (5) Académie des Beaux-Arts. In each of these, except the Académie Française, there are eight places for foreign members. Professor Max Müller was elected one of the eight foreign members of the Académie des Inscriptions et BellesLettres in 1869, succeeding Welcker.
In a similar manner the Royal Academy of Turin restricted formerly the number of its foreign members to eight for Physical Sciences, and eight for Historical Sciences. Max Müller was elected in 1865, the other members being Tbiers, Barante, Boeckh, Cousin, Grote, and Mommsen. In Germany the highest literary distinction is the Ordre pour le Mérite. It is not given by the Emperor, but by the Chapter of Knights. That Chapter consists of twenty knights for Literature and Science, and ten for Art. It is open to the whole of Germany, and in 1874 Max Müller was elected one of the twenty German knights at the same time with Moltke (military science), Von Sybel (historical science), and Kirchhoff (physical science).
Max Müller has naturalised himself in the best way possible by finding an English wife. And he joined himself by marriage with a remarkable group of persons, wbo must both have enlarged his social influence, and have provided him with most congenial relationships. Charles Kingsley, “S. G. 0.,” and J. A. Froude married three sisters, daugbters of Mr. Pascoe Grenfell. The late Mrs. Theodore Walrond and Mrs. Max Müller, who were sisters, were nieces on the father's side to the three other sisters, who have become wives of such distinguished men.
By an out-of-the-way chance, we are able to give a very pleasant instance of Max Müller's aimiability and superiority to that form of arrogance which is known as “ Dennishness.” Something over a dozen years ago two young ladies—two rather wild young ladies, we may perhaps be allowed to say-knowing our scholar by his reputation only, wrote to ask him to counsel them upon the choice of a language which no one else in England knew, and which they might learn with pleasure and profit. The following, which we quote from the reply that was forwarded from Oxford to the young querists, has a value in itself, and may be useful to other would-be students :
“It is by no means easy to reply to your inquiry. To take up any work in good earnest is a most excellent thing, and I should be the last person to find fault with anybody for fixing on learning a language, even for the mere sake of learning something. Yet it is right that our work should have some useful object beyond the mere pleasure of working. Thus in selecting a language we might look at three ulterior objects literature, travel, or science of language. Now, as I have no reason to suppose that you want to learn a language that might be useful to you in travelling, or that might furnish promising material for scientific analysis, I will take it for granted that literature would form an object of interest to you in the choice of a language. As it is to be a language which few people in England are likely to know, I should say take Portuguese, if you like Romance, or take Swedish, if you like Teutonic languages. The books for learning these languages are easily procured, and there is a literature both in Swedish and Portuguese very little known in this country, and well deserving the interest of two young ladies. But I am afraid you will consider both Portuguese and Swedish as far too commonplace. Well, in that case, take Siamese. You will have some difficulty in getting grammars and dictionaries, yet, if you are in earnest and apply to Messrs. Williams and Norgate, 14, Henriettastreet, Covent Garden, you will with some little trouble and expense get what you want. There is not a single man in Europe, I believe, who knows Siamese. The French, however, are opening the country, and some of their agents and missionaries have begun to study the language. The alphabet is troublesome, the grammar itself seems easy. There is a vast literature, as yet almost unknown. The King of Siam is a man of literary tastes, a man who reads and writes English, and who would no doubt be delighted to receive, say two or three years hence--for it will take at least that time—a letter written in his own language by two English ladies. With this little glimpse of romance looming in the distance I must close my letter and beg to remain with best wishes for perseverance and success, &c., &c.”
The “ Chips from a German Workshop” is perhaps the work of Max Müller's that has been most widely known. It consists of essays on the science of religion, and on mythology, traditions, and customs, and is in four volumes, the first being especially devoted to the science of religion, the second to mythology and legends, the third to literature, and the fourth to the science of language. The last volume contains, moreover, Max Müller's remarkable lay-sermon, entitled, “ A Lecture on Missions," delivered in the nave of Westminster Abbey, on December 3, 1873, and also the sermon on “ The End and the Means of Christian Missions,” preached earlier on the same day by Max Müller's friend, and in this matter decus et tutamen, Dean Stanley.
The work that may fairly be styled Professor Max Müller's magnum opus is his edition of the “Rig Veda-Sanhitâ,” “The Sacred Hymns of the Brabmans," with the compiled native “ Commentary of Sayanacharya.” It was to this publication that Bunsen referred when he said to Max Müller, “Now you have got a work for life—a large block that will take years to plane and polish.” And it is manifest whence came the suggestion of the very happily chosen title of the work previously mentioned, when we quote the further words of Bunsen, “But mind, let us have from time to time some chips from your workshop.” These chips, before they were collected into their four bulky baskets, had mostly been published in the form of lectures and articles in the reviews and magazines.
Thirty years were spent in collecting and publishing the great text of the Veda, which was printed in six quarto volumes. The question may very naturally present itself, what have the Hindus themselves to say to the publication of their most ancient sacred literature ? Very noteworthy testimony is given upon this point by the late Dr. Martin Haug, himself an accomplished Sanskrit and Zend scholar, who records how at an assembly of seven hundred learned Brahmans, at Poonah, in 1862, the year in which the fourth volume was published, it was declared that the text was better and more complete than their own manuscripts, which they proceeded to correct by it. A singular instance of contrast between the perseverance and laboriousness of the western, and the laisser-aller of the eastern world.
The translation of the Veda, we regret to say, is proceeding at a slower rate, only one volume having yet appeared, the “Hymns to the Maruts or Storm Gods,” which was published in England in 1869. A treatise from the Veda, on phonetics, one volume quarto, has also been published with Sanskrit text and German translation. If the pressure of Professor