Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tulloch, John

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794216Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 57 — Tulloch, John1899Thomas Wilson Bayne

TULLOCH, JOHN (1823–1886), principal of St. Andrews, was born, one of twin sons, on 1 June 1823 at his maternal grandfather's farm of Dron, Perthshire. His mother was Elizabeth, daughter of a Perthshire farmer named Maclaren. His father, William Weir Tulloch, was parish minister of Tibbermuir, near Perth. Till about his sixth year Tulloch was boarded at Aberargie, in the neighbourhood, with a family named Willison. After some time at Perth grammar school he spent two years at Madras College, St. Andrews, and in 1837 entered St. Andrews University, carrying a bursary in the gift of Perth presbytery. Adding private teaching to this means of support, he completed his curriculum without straining home resources. As a student he gained distinction by his translation from Greek authors and his knowledge of Greek literature, by his mathematical accomplishment, and his essays in mental philosophy. He won the Gray prize for history, ‘the highest honour a St. Andrews student could at that time obtain’ (Mrs. Oliphant, Memoir of Principal Tulloch, p. 7). Beginning his theological studies at St. Mary's College, St. Andrews, he completed them at Edinburgh, where he formed a lasting friendship with William Smith, afterwards minister of North Leith.

Licensed as a preacher by Perth presbytery in June 1844, Tulloch was almost immediately appointed assistant to the senior collegiate minister of Dundee parish church. On 5 Feb. 1845 he was ordained minister of St. Paul's, Dundee, an offshoot of the parish church. After an attack of influenza in the spring of 1847, he spent three months in Germany, studying at Hamburg and visiting Berlin, Wittenberg, and other centres of interest. In 1848 he began literary work, contributing memorial notices to Dundee newspapers, and writing for Kitto's ‘Sacred Journal’ and other periodicals. On 20 Sept. 1849 he was appointed parish minister of Kettins, Forfarshire, where he remained till 1854, making in the interval steady progress as a man of letters. A review in the ‘Dundee Advertiser’ of Sir James Stephen's ‘Essays in Ecclesiastical Biography’ brought him an appreciative letter from the author, while an article on the ‘Hippolytus’ in the ‘North British Review’ of 1853 won for him the acquaintance of Baron Bunsen. Throughout 1852–3 he was preparing an essay on ‘Theism’ in competition for the open Burnett prize at Aberdeen.

In May 1854 Tulloch was presented by the crown to the post of principal and primarius professor of theology in St. Mary's College, St. Andrews, his appointment owing something to the strong commendation of Bunsen. His inaugural address at the beginning of the winter session discussed the ‘Theological Tendencies of the Age’ with freshness, breadth, and freedom. In January 1855 the adjudicators on the Burnett essay—Baden-Powell, Henry Rogers, and Isaac Taylor—awarded the first prize, among 208 competitors, to the Rev. R. A. Thompson, Newcastle, who apparently was not further distinguished; while the second, which carried with it 600l., was assigned to Tulloch.

Although his college work was exacting at the outset, Tulloch's energetic habits speedily engaged him on various cognate issues, one of which was university reform, a subject with which he was concerned throughout his career. In July 1858 he went to Paris, by appointment of the general assembly, to establish a presbyterian church in the interests of Scottish residents. In the autumn, prompted by his interest in German literature and speculation, he visited Heidelberg and Cologne, returning in December by way of Paris. In 1859 the university commissioners increased his modest income of 300l. to 490l. In those days Scottish audiences appreciated lectures on great themes, and at the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution in 1859 Tulloch delivered a course on Luther and other leaders of the reformation. In the same year he was appointed one of her majesty's chaplains for Scotland. In 1861, along with Mr. Smith of North Leith, as representing the endowment committee of the church of Scotland, he visited remote highland churches, writing graphic letters on his experience (ib. p. 150). In 1862 he was appointed depute-clerk of the general assembly, and about the same time he became editor of the ‘Church of Scotland Missionary Record,’ which he conducted for several years. Persistent illness in 1863 led Tulloch to spend the greater part of that and the next year in foreign travel in Eastern Europe and in Germany.

In the following years Tulloch was actively interested in controversies concerning Sabbath observance and ‘innovations’ in the church service, and in educational questions affecting Scotland. When the Scottish education bill passed at the close of the session of 1872 he was made a Scottish commissioner. In 1874 he visited London to urge the appointment of a professor of education at St. Andrews, and in the long vacation he went for change to the United States and Canada. His letters thence are marked by keen observation and good-natured criticism (ib. pp. 208–303). At New York he delivered to a representative audience a comprehensive address on ‘Scotland as it is’ (ib. p. 301).

On his return from America Principal Tulloch's attention was straightway given to the bill for the abolition of patronage in the church of Scotland, which was passed in 1874. In 1875 he was appointed chief clerk of the general assembly, and from that time onward—Dr. Norman Macleod [q. v.] having died in 1872—he was the most prominent churchman in Scotland. His stately presence, natural eloquence, genial demeanour, and resonant voice secured attention for his strong common-sense and his enlightened opinions. Two questions that now absorbed much of his time and strength were the futile proposal to disestablish the church of Scotland, which he stoutly opposed, and the affiliation of a college in Dundee to St. Andrews University. In 1878 he was appointed moderator of the general assembly of the church of Scotland, a post held for a year, and the highest to which a Scottish churchman can attain. He conducted the business with dignity and skill, and his closing address—a plea for lofty Christian aims and ideals—was published, and ran through four editions in the year. Combating disestablishment, he prepared a statement of a proposed ‘Scottish Association for the Maintenance of National Religion.’ On 30 Nov. 1878, under the auspices of Dean Stanley, he conducted services in Westminster Abbey. In 1879 Glasgow University conferred on Tulloch the honorary degree of LL.D., and in the summer of the same year he undertook the editorship of ‘Fraser's Magazine,’ holding the post for a year and a half. From December 1880 to April 1881 he was seriously ill (ib. pp. 369–373), but a visit to Torquay restored his health.

In May 1882 Tulloch delivered to the general assembly a great speech on church defence, which was widely circulated as a pamphlet. On 4 June he succeeded Dr. Macleod of Morven as dean of the chapel royal and dean of the Thistle, the queen, who had previously shown him many marks of confidence, intimating in her own hand the appointment ‘as a mark of her high esteem and regard for him.’ In the general assembly of 1883 he delivered an admirable speech on the report of the church interests committee. In the same year he gave a course of lectures in Inverness on the ‘Literary and Intellectual Revival of Scotland in the Eighteenth Century,’ the subject being one which engaged his leisure for years in preparation for a history of modern Scotland, which was never completed. On 28 March 1884 he opened in Pont Street, London, a new church connected with the church of Scotland. Immediately afterwards he attended the tercentenary celebration at Edinburgh University, when he received the honorary degree of LL.D. In 1884–5, besides his professorial work, he delivered a course of lectures in the church of St. Giles, Edinburgh, on ‘Movements of Religious Thought in the Nineteenth Century.’ In the general assembly of 1885 he spoke once more with impressive power on church defence. But his health was failing, and he died at Torquay on 13 Feb. 1886. He was interred in the cathedral burying-ground, St. Andrews, where there is a monument to his memory.

In July 1845 Tulloch married, at St. Laurens, near St. Heliers, Jersey, Miss Jane Anne Hindmarsh, daughter of a professor of elocution who had taught at Perth and St. Andrews. Mrs. Tulloch and a large family survived him, the eldest son being the Rev. Dr. W. W. Tulloch of Maxwell Church, Glasgow. Of Tulloch there are two portraits, in oil, in his official robes as moderator of the general assembly. One, by Sir George Reid, P.R.S.A., was executed by order of the queen, and the other, by R. Herdman, R.S.A., an artistic if not very close likeness, now the property of St. Andrews University, was presented to Tulloch by friends at the general assembly of 1880.

As a professor of theology Tulloch never forgot that his students were to be advisers and guides as well as exponents of dogma and experts in ritual. He steadily urged the vital importance of an historical theology, resting on the past but grappling with problems of the present. His kindred outlook on church questions enabled him to substitute a degree of freedom and elasticity of discussion and criticism for the previous rigid and essentially narrow methods. What he said of Chillingworth (Rational Theology, i. 168) applied with singular exactness to himself: ‘It seemed to him, as it has seemed to many since, possible to make room within the national church for wide differences of dogmatic opinion, or, in other words, for the free rights of the Christian reason incessantly pursuing its inquest after truth.’ At first regarded in some quarters as an advocate of too broad and lax theological tenets, he was ultimately recognised as an enlightened interpreter of dogma and a champion of orthodoxy. He was consistent in the manifold application of his energies—in his college lectures, in his position as churchman, preacher, educational reformer, and author—and his strong personality, independence of attitude, and keen and energetic liberal instincts prompted his welcome of the historical and comparative method into scriptural and theological domains. From his influence, more than that of any other man or any party, sprang the intelligent liberalism characteristic of the church of Scotland in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

Tulloch published: 1. ‘Theism: the Witness of Reason and Nature to an All-wise and Beneficent Creator,’ the Burnett prize essay, 1855. 2. ‘Leaders of the Reformation,’ 1859 (3rd edit. enlarged, with prefatory note, 1883), a series of biographical and expository sketches—constituting a substantial contribution to the history of the Reformation period—on Luther, Calvin, Latimer, and Knox. 3. ‘English Puritanism and its Leaders,’ 1861, sketches of Cromwell, Baxter, and Bunyan. 4. ‘Beginning Life: chapters for Young Men on Religion, Study, and Business,’ 1862, which reached its eighth thousand within the year. 5. ‘The Christ of the Gospels, and the Christ of Modern Criticism: Lectures on M. Renan's “Vie de Jésus,”’ 1864, which criticises as irrelevant the method of the French biographer. 6. ‘Rational Theology and Christian Philosophy in England in the Seventeenth Century,’ 2 vols. 1872; 2nd edit. 1874; Tulloch's most important work, in which Falkland and his circle and the Cambridge Platonists are sympathetically treated, and little known regions of speculation illustrated. 7. ‘The Christian Doctrine of Sin,’ 1876, the Croall lecture. 8. ‘Some Facts of Religion and of Life: Sermons preached before Her Majesty the Queen in Scotland, 1866–76,’ 1877, with dedication to the queen. 9. ‘Pascal,’ in Blackwood's ‘Foreign Classics for English Readers,’ edited by Mrs. Oliphant, 1878. 10. ‘Modern Theories in Philosophy and Religion,’ 1884, a vigorous discussion of recent and contemporary speculations. 11. ‘Movements of Religious Thought in Britain during the Nineteenth Century,’ the fifth series of St. Giles's lectures, Edinburgh, 1885.

Tulloch was a steady contributor to current literature. He began with the Dundee papers, and in his riper years he found in the ‘Scotsman’ a convenient medium for the expression of an urgent opinion. He wrote for the ‘North British Review,’ the ‘British Quarterly Review,’ ‘Blackwood's Magazine,’ the ‘Contemporary Review,’ the ‘Nineteenth Century,’ ‘Good Words,’ ‘Fraser's Magazine,’ and the ‘Edinburgh Review.’ Some of his magazine articles—such as his discussion of Mr. Lecky's ‘History of Rationalism’ in the fourth number of the ‘Contemporary,’ and his elaborate examination of Newman's ‘Grammar of Assent’ in the ‘Edinburgh Review’ of 1870—might well bear republication. To the ninth edition of the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ besides various anonymous papers, such as that on the Devil (Mrs. Oliphant's Memoir, p. 315), he contributed the articles on Arius, Athanasius, Augustine, Eusebius, Fénelon, the various Saints Francis, Gnosticism, Henry More, and Neander.

[Mrs. Oliphant's Memoir of Principal Tulloch, 1888; Scotsman, and other newspapers of 15 Feb. 1886; Dr. A. K. H. Boyd's Twenty-five Years of St. Andrews; Skelton's Table-Talk of Shirley; Scottish Church Magazine, vols. ii. and iii.; Blackwood's Magazine, 1886, vol. i.; Knight's Principal Shairp and his Friends; Alma Mater's Mirror, estimate by Dr. Menzies, and memorial Latin elegies by Bishop Wordsworth; personal knowledge.]

T. B.