From: Ted Davis (TDavis@messiah.edu)
Date: Wed Jan 29 2003 - 18:44:10 EST
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
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."
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