Hugh Miller's suicide: an alternative view

From: Ted Davis (
Date: Wed Jan 29 2003 - 18:44:10 EST

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    Glenn Morton is correct that Hugh Miller shot himself, and that this fact
    was advertised in the first American edition of Testimony of the Rocks,
    which I also own.

    It has also been suggested--quite often, actually--that he took his own
    life from a fit of depression, brought on by a crisis of faith in response
    to some scientific discovery or another--which one is never really spelled

    Miller is presently the subject of a large scholarly industry, there is
    even a play about him that played in Oxford (I think) several years ago, and
    there have been a couple of academic conferences focusing on him recently.
    I'm not part of that industry, but I know some of those who are, including a
    distinguished scholar from Edinburgh who has written a biographical entry on
    Miller for a forthcoming publication. (I have myself done exactly the same
    thing, despite the fact that I'm not really a Miller scholar.)

    I think my friend would let me quote briefly from that entry, I'll keep the
    quotation as brief as possible to maintain their right to publish this
    first, and I'll keep the author's name to myself for the time being.

    After reviewing some of the claims about motivation for suicide, this
    scholar mentions the crisis of faith hypothesis as the only one "which can
    be safely dismissed," adding that "There is absolutely no evidence" to
    support it. Under the somewhat surreptitious circumstances I lean against
    quoting more. Suffice it to say that the source is as authoritative as one
    can get.

    I know you want a lot more than that, Glenn, and privately I'll tell you
    whom to speak with in Edinburgh. As Forest Gump says, "That's all I have to
    say about that."

    Ted Davis

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