The social teaching of Hugh Miller

Cooke, John MacKay (1955) The social teaching of Hugh Miller. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Following a biographical sketch of Hugh Miller, his conduct of the Witness newspaper is considered in relation to contemporary social questions, the place and influence of the Witness being noted. Miller's teaching is elucidated from his writings in the Witness during, the period of his editorship (1840-I85S) and defined critical criteria applied, to verify his authorship. Reviving the question the Highland Clearances Miller advances the view of Sismondi that they were made possible by the breakdown of' the old Celtic system under the aegis of English Law. He further asserts that the Sutherlands while not personally responsible, for the atrocities associated with the Clearances were culpable in devising and, carrying, out a policy of 'improvement ' without due regard for the human lives affected by it. Miller refutes the charges le velled, against the Highland 'by the supporters of the 'Clearances' and claims that so far from being a depraved people they are virtuous, intelligent and religious. Contemporary and near- contemporary evidence is used to assess the validity of Miller's contentions. The proposed currency legislation of Sir Robert Feel which threatened to deprive the Scottish Banks of their free-note issue, and which culminated in the Bank Charter Act of 1844 caused Miller to make an excursus the field of economics. His work in opposition to the legislation reveals an intimate knowledge of the growing industrialisation of Scotland, and appreciation of the character and strength of the Scottish Banking System, but not least the nationalism of the editor of the Witness, In viewing, .the, growing industrialisation whether; from the side of labour or of capital Miller sees, clearly, that economic systems must have ends outside themselves, and for all his emphasis upon industry and thrift,, people are always 'more important than money'. When the 'slavery' question' became a live issue following the acceptance of' money from American, Churches Miller 'supported the official Free Church attitude namely, that slavery was wrong but that Christian communion ought to be maintained with Churches approving or condoning the practice, of slavery. Miller' views of the ethics slaveholding, the duty of Christians in society and the relationship of one Church to another holding different ethical standard, are brought but clearly in his conflict with both slavist and abolitionist. Not least among, the problems of the Church was that of financing the schools it was forced to establish and it was only found possible by underpaying: the school master and later it was found to be impossible without the acceptance of government grants. In, the ensuing controversy. Miller, following Chalmers, advocated a national-system of education with religious instruction to be provided by the respective denominations, The crisis of the whole country was kept in; mind, since, the old, system-was already broken under the increase in population. Miller also argued for a division between primary and secondary departments, provision for further education and be treatment of schoolmasters - much of which has subsequent received implementation. His pamphlet on the subject is considered 'within the broad history of education in Scotland Tip to the present hut Miller's wider views on education are noticed. Education is of importance both, to the individual and to society, through the enrichment of the individual. Tt therefore, should be available to all of whatever age or condition. Above all, Miller deplores any narrow definition of education and .draws the distinction between moral and intellectual training. Each has a part to play in education where mentors range from the schoolmaster the minister. Public attention being directed to the problem of crime and criminals, Miller addressed leading articles to specific instances. They reveal his opposition to the abortion of capital .punishment for murder and his instances that .punishment should fit the; crime with the primary subject of protecting society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: British & Irish literature
Date of Award: 1955
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1955-73656
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2019 08:56
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2019 08:56

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