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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Henry Hart Milman

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HENRY HART MILMAN (1791-1868), English historian and ecclesiastic, third son of Sir Francis Milman, Bart., physician to George III., was born in London on the 10th of November 1791. Educated at Eton and at Brasenose College, Oxford, his university career was brilliant. He gained the Newdigate prize with a poem on the Apollo Belvidere in 1812, was elected a fellow of Brasenose in 1814, and in 1816 won the English essay prize with his Comparative Estimate of Sculpture and Painting. In 1816 he was ordained, and two years later was presented to the living of St Mary's, Reading. Milman had already made his appearance as a dramatic writer with his tragedy Fazio (produced on the stage under the title of The Italian Wife). He also wrote Samor, the Lord of The Bright City, the subject of which was taken from British legend, the "bright city" being Gloucester; but he failed to invest it with serious interest. In subsequent poetical works he was more successful, notably the Fall of Jerusalem (1820) and the Martyr of Antioch (1822). The influence of Byron is seen in his Belshazzar (1822). A tragedy, Anne Boleyn, followed in 1826; and Milman also wrote "When our heads are bowed with woe," and other hymns; an admirable version of the Sanskrit episode of Nala and Damayanti; and translations of the Agamemnon of Aeschylus and the Bacchae of Euripides. In 1821 he was elected professor of poetry at Oxford, and in 1827 he delivered the Bampton lectures on the character and conduct of the apostles as an evidence of Christianity. His poetical works were published in three volumes in 1839.

Turning to another field, Milman published in 1829 his History of the Jews, which is memorable as the first by an English clergyman which treated the Jews as an Oriental tribe, recognized sheikhs and arnirs in the Old Testament, sifted and classified documentary evidence, and evaded or minimized the miraculous. In consequence, the author was violently attacked and his inevitable, preferment was delayed. In 1835, however, Sir Robert Peel made him rector of St Margaret's, Westminster, and canon of Westminster, and in 1849 he became dean of St Paul's. By this time his unpopularity had nearly died away, and generally revered and beloved, he occupied a dignified and enviable position, which he constantly employed for the promotion of culture and in particular for the relaxation of subscription to ecclesiastical formularies. His History of Christianity to the Abolition of Paganism in the Roman Empire (1840) had been completely ignored; but widely different was the reception accorded to the continuation of his work, his great History of Latin Christianity (1855), which has passed through many editions. In 1838 he had edited Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and in the following year published his Life of Gibbon. Milman was also responsible for an edition of Horace, and when he died he had almost finished a history of St Paul's Cathedral, which was completed and published by his son, A. Milman (London, 1868), who also collected and published in 1879 a volume of his essays and articles. Milman died on the 24th of September 1868, and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral. By his wife, Mary Ann, a daughter of Lieut.-General William Cockell, he had four sons and two daughters. His nephew, Robert Milman (1816-1876), was bishop of Calcutta from 1867 until his death, and was the author of a Life of Torquato Tasso (1850).

See A. C. Tait, Sermon in Memory of H. H. Milman (London, 1868), and Arthur Milman, H. H. Milman (London, 1900). See also the Memoirs of R. Milman, bishop of Calcutta, by his sister, Frances Maria Milman (1879).

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Henry Hart Milman'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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