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HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL
POLITICAL AND SOCIAL
LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC.
BY HUGH MILLER,
AUTHOR OF 'THE OLD RED SANDSTONE, BY SCHOOLS AND SCHOOLMASTERS,'
THE TESTIMONY OF THE ROCKS,' ETC.
UNUSUAL as it is to republish newspaper articles, no apology is deemed necessary in presenting this volume to the public. At the time of Mr Hugh Miller's death, it was felt that a large proportion of his contributions to the “Witness” deserved a permanent place in the literature of his country. They were recognised as distinguished—both by their literary merit and their sterling value—from the fugitive and ephemeral productions of every-day journalism. Assuming the conduct of a newspaper in the maturity of his powers, and in the plenitude of his literary and scientific information, Mr Miller's habit of composition was entirely different from that of ordinary ready writers of the press. correctly remarked at the time of his death, “ he did not work easy, but with laborious special preparation." He meditated his articles as an author meditates his books or a poet his verses, conceiving them as wholes, working fully out their trains of thought, enriching them with far-brouri
treasures of fact, and adorning them with finished and apposite illustration. In the quality of completeness, those articles stand, so far as I know, alone in the records of journalism. For rough and hurrying vigour they might be matched, or more, from the columns of the “Times ;” in lightness of wit and smart lucidity of statement they might be surpassed by the happiest performances of French journalists,-a Prevost Paradol or a St Marc Girardin ; and for occasional brilliancies of imagination, and sudden gleams of piercing thought, neither they nor any other newspaper articles have, I think, been comparable with those of S. T. Coleridge. But as complete journalistic essays, symmetrical in plan, finished in execution, and of sustained and splendid ability, the articles of Hugh Miller are unrivalled. For the most part, the topic suggesting them was but the occasion for a display of the writer's thought and imagination,—the fly round which the precious and imperishable amber of Mr Miller's genius was accumulated.
I am not prepared to say that these are the most striking or powerful articles published in the “Witness" by Mr Miller. He conducted that paper for sixteen years; and, on a moderate computation, he wrote for it a thousand articles. Having surveyed this vast field, I retain the impression of a magnificent expenditure of intellectual energy,—an expenditure of which the world will never estimate the sum. By far the larger portion of what Mr Miller wrote for the Witness" is gone for ever.
Admirable disquisitions on