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Miller

free, church, geological, held and time

MILLER, Hugh, Scottish geologist and au thor: b. Cromarty, 10 Oct. -1802; d. Portabello. near Edinburgh, 23 Dec. 1856, When five years old he lost his father, a seaman, and thus came under the care of his mother and her two brothers, who were unable to keep him in school, so fond was he of outdoor life, of unrestrained reading and of composition. That he might have the winter months free to write in he choose the trade of a stonemason, at which he worked from 1819 to 1834. He gained some literary repute in the meantime, especially by letters to the Inverness Courier on the herring in 1834 became accountant in the bank at Cromarty; wrote 'Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland' (1836) ; and gradually became known for his knowledge of geology, to the study of which he had first been drawn by noting the ripple marks on a block he was handling in the stonecutters' yard. 'Old Red Sandstone, or New Walks 'in Old Fields) (1842) made Miller famous, and the Old Red Sand stone became freshly important' to the geologist. Miller was a devout Christian, one of the founders of the "Free Church') of Scotland, and intensely orthodox in his opinions. Hence he opposed the doctrine of develc.pment ad vanced in the anonymous 'Vestiges of Crea tion,' and in 1847 published 'Footprints of the Creator,' to which

the Free Church movement prompted him in 1839 to write 'A Letter to Lord Brougham' and 'The Whiggism of the Old School,' in which he protested against the law of patronage and vindicated the right of popular election to pastorates in the Scottish Church. Both pamphlets were so forceful that their author in 1840 was made editor of the Vfitness, an Edinburgh bi-weeldy devoted to the cause of' ecclesiastical independence. This post he 'held (with a brief interval) for nearly 17 years.; while his health gradually broke under 'the stonemason's disease contracted years before•,. at the same time his mind maidenly failed, and in a moment of aberration he shot himself.

Miller's enduring fame may be set down' to his admirable, simple and fascinating. style. AS a scientist he did, rt is true, urge the doctrine of specific creation, and emphasize the complete definiteness of demarkation between' strata of various geological series and the catastrophic nature of the change from one era to another; but these views were not reactionary at the time, being held by other scientists with far wider and deeper training than Miller. His common sense and native sagacity led him to the correct solution of many minor concrete problems in geology; and his books popularized the study of that science. As a controversial ist he was the literary brain of the Free Church. Consult Miller's famous autobiography, 'My Schools and Schoolmasters> (1852); Bayne, 'Life and Letters of Hugh Miller' (1871) ; a memoir by Agassiz in the later American edi tions of 'Footprints of the Creator,' and Brown, 'Labour and Triumph' (1858).