A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Miller, Hugh

Miller, Hugh (1802-1856). -- Geologist, and man of letters, b. at Cromarty, had the ordinary parish school education, and early showed a remarkable love of reading and power of story-telling. At 17 he was apprenticed to a stonemason, and his work in quarries, together with rambles among the rocks of his native shore, led him to the study of geology. In 1829 he pub. a vol. of poems, and soon afterwards threw himself as an ardent and effective combatant into the controversies, first of the Reform Bill, and thereafter of the Scottish Church question. In 1834 he became accountant in one of the local banks, and in the next year brought out his Scenes and Legends in the North of Scotland. In 1840 the popular party in the Church, with which he had been associated, started a newspaper, The Witness, and M. was called to be ed., a position which he retained till the end of his life, and in which he showed conspicuous ability. Among his geological works are The Old Red Sandstone (1841), Footprints of the Creator (1850), The Testimony of the Rocks (1856), and Sketch-book of Popular Geology. Other books are: My Schools and Schoolmasters, an autobiography of remarkable interest, First Impressions of England and its People (1847), and The Cruise of the Betsy. Of the geological books, perhaps that on the old red sandstone, a department in which M. was a discoverer, is the best: but all his writings are distinguished by great literary excellence, and especially by a marvellous power of vivid description. The end of his life was most tragic. He had for long been overworking his brain, which at last gave way, and in a temporary loss of reason, he shot himself during the night.

Life and Letters, P. Bayne (1871), etcpage 271.