Tucker, Josiah

, a learned English divine, but more celebrated as a political writer, was born at Laugharn, in Carmarthenshire, in 1712. His father was a farmer, and having a small estate left him near Aberystwith, in Cardiganshire, he removed thither; and perceiving that his son had a turn for learning, he sent him to Ruthin school in Denbighshire, where he made so great progress in the classics that he obtained an exhibition at St. John’s college, Oxford. The journey from his native place to the university was long, and at that time very tedious, on account of the badness of the roads. He travelled therefore for some time on foot, until old Mr. Tucker, feeling for his son’s reputation, as well as for his ease, gave him his own horse. But upon his return, young Josiah, with true filial affection, considered that it was better for him to walk to Oxford than for his father to repair on foot to the neighbouring markets and fairs, which had been the case, owing to this new regulation. The horse was accordingly returned; and our student, for the remainder of the time he continued at the university, travelled on foot backward and forward with his baggage at his back.

At the age of twenty-three he entered into holy orders, and served a curacy for some time in Gloucestershire. About 1737 he became curate of St. Stephen’s church, Bristol, and was appointed minor canon in the cathedral of that city. Here he attracted the notice of Dr. Joseph Butler, then bishop of Bristol, and afterwards of Durham, who appointed Mr. Tucker his domestic chaplain. By the interest of this prelate Mr. Tucker obtained a prebendal stall in the cathedral of Bristol; and on the death of Mr. Catcott, well known by his treatise on the deluge, he became rector of St. Stephen. The inhabitants of that parish consist chiefly of merchants and tradesmen, a circumstance which greatly aided his natural inclination for commercial and political studies. When the famous bill was brought into the House of Commons for the naturalization | of the Jews, Mr. Tucker took a decided part in favour of the measure, and was, indeed, its most able advocate; but for this he was severely attacked in pamphlets, newspapers, and magazines; and the people of Bristol burnt his effigy dressed in canonicals, together with his letters on. behalf of naturalization *. In 1753 he published an able pamphlet on the “Turkey Trade,” in which he demonstrates the evils that result to trade in general from chartered companies. At this period lord Clare (afterwards Ccirl Nugent) was returned to parliament for Bristol, which honour he obtained chiefly through the strerruous exertions of Mr. Tucker, whose influence in his large and wealthy parish was almost decisive on such an occasion. In return for this favour the earl procured for him the deanery of Gloucester, in 1758, at which time he took his degree of D. D. So great was his reputation for commercial knowledge, that Dr. Thomas Hayter, afterwards bishop of London, who was then tutor to his present majesty, applied to Dr. Tucker to draw up a dissertation on this subject for the perusal of his royal pupil. It was accordingly done, and gave great satisfaction. This work, under the title of “The Elements of Commerce,” was printed in quarto, but never published. Dr. Warburton, however, who, after having been member of the same chapter with the dean, at Bristol, became bishop of Gloucester, thought very differently from the rest of mankind, in respect to his talents and favourite pursuits; and said once, in his coarse manner, that “his Dean’s trade was religion, and religion his trade.” The dean on being once asked concerning the coolness which subsisted between him and ^Varburton, his answer was to the following purpose: “The bishop affects to consider me with contempt; to which I say nothing. He has sometimes spoken coarsely of me; to which I replied nothing. He has said that religion is my trade, and trade is my religion. Commerce, and its connections have, it is true, been favourite objects of my attention, and where is jthe crime? And as for religion, I have attended carefully to the duties of my parish: nor have I neglected my cathedral. The world knows something of me as a writer on religious subjects; and I will add, which the world does not know, that I have written near three hundred sermons,


Mr. Seward says, his being burnt in effigy was occasioned by an essay he wrote in support of the Hessians who came to settle in England

| preached them all, again and again. My heart is at ease on that score, and my conscience, thank God, does not accuse me.” The fact is, that although there is no possible connection between the business of commerce and the duties of a clergyman, he had studied theology in all its branches scientifically, and his various publications on moral and religious subjects show him to be deeply versed in theology.

In 1771, when a strong attempt was made to procure an abolition of subscription to the thirty-nine articles, Dr. Tucker came forward as an able advocate of the church of England, yet admitted that some reformation of the liturgy was wanted, and instanced particularly the Athanasian creed, which he considered as too scholastic and refined for a popular confession of faith. About this time he published “Directions for Travellers,” in which he lays down excellent rules, by which gentlemen who visit foreign countries may not only improve their own minds, but turn their observations to the benefit of their native country. This has become extremely scarce, but there is a part of it reprinted in Berohtold’s “Essay to direct the inquiries of Travellers,” an excellent work, published in 178i>, 2 vols.

In 1772, the dean printed a small volume of sermons, in which he explains the doctrines of election and justification, in reference to a very violent dispute then carried on between the Calvinistic and the Arminian methodists, the former headed by Messrs. Toplady and Hill, and the latter by the Messrs. Wesleys and Fletcher. The year following he published “Letters to the rev. Dr. Kippis, wherein the claim of the Church of England to an authority in matters of faith, and to a power of decreeing rites and ceremonies, is discussed and ascertained,” &c.

When the dispute arose between Great Britain and the American colonies, the dean was an attentive observer of the contest, examining the affair with a very different eye from that of a party-man, or an interested merchant, and discovered, as he conceived, that both sides would be benefited by an absolute separation. The more he thought on this subject, the more he was persuaded that extensive colonies were an evil rather than an advantage to any commercial nation. On this principle, therefore, he published his “Thoughts upon the Dispute between the Mother Country and America.” He demonstrated, that the latter 1 could, not be conquered, and that, if it could, the | purchase would be dearly bought. He warned this country against commencing a war with the colonies, and advised that they should be left to themselves. This advice startled all parties, and by all the dean was considered as a sort of madman, who had rambled out of the proper line of his profession to commence political quack. Our author, however, went on vindicating and enforcing his favourite system, in spite of all the obloquy with which it was treated both in the senate and from the press. As the war proceeded, some intelligent persons began to see more truth and reason in his sentiments, and time, perhaps, may be thought to have demonstrated that he was right. He printed several essays in the newspapers under the title of Cassandra.

When the terrors of an invasion were very prevalent in 1779, the dean circulated, in a variety of periodical publications, some of the most sensible observations that were ever made- on the subject, in order to quiet the fears of the people. He states at length, and with great accuracy, the numerous difficulties that must attend the attempt to invade this country, and the still greater ones that must be encountered by the invaders after their landing. Those observations were reprinted, with good effect, in the course of the late war.

In 1781, he published what he had printed long before, “A treatise on Civil Government,” in which his principal design is to counteract the doctrines of the celebrated Locke and his followers. This book made a considerable noise, and was attacked by several of the best writers on the democratic side of the question. The year following he closed his political career with a pamphlet entitled “Cui Bono?” in which he balances the profits and loss of each of the belligerent powers, and recapitulates all his former positions on the subject of war and colonial possessions. His publications after that period consisted of some tracts on the commercial regulations of Ireland, on the exportation of woollens, and on the iron trade.

In 1777 he published seventeen practical sermons, in one vol. 8vo. After he resigned his rectory in Bristol he resided mostly in Gloucester, where, in 1781, he married Mrs. Crowe, his housekeeper. He died of the gradual decays of age, November 4, 1799, and was interred in the South transept of Gloucester cathedral, where a monument has since been erected to his memory. It should be | recorded to his praise, that though enjoying but very moderate preferment (for to a man of no paternal estate, or other ecclesiastical dignity, the deanery of Gloucester is no very advantageous situation), he was notwithstanding a liberal benefactor to several public institutions, and a distinguished patron of merit. About 1790 he thought of resigning his rectory in Bristol, and, without communicating his design to any other person, he applied to the chancellor, in whose gift it is, for leave to quit it in favour of his curate, a most deserving maq, with a large family. His lordship was willing enough that he should give up the living, but he refused him the liberty of nominating his successor. On this the dean resolved to hold the living himself till he could find a fit opportunity to succeed in his object. After weighing the matter more deliberately, he communicated his wish to his parishioners, and advised them to draw up a petition to the chancellor in favour of the curate. This was accordingly done, and signed by all of them, without any exception, either on the part of the dissenters or others. The chancellor, being touched with this testimony of love between a clergyman and his people, yielded at last to the application; in consequence of which the dean cheerfully resigned the living to a successor well qualified to tread in his steps. 1

1 Gent. Mag. vol. LXIX. Warburton’s Letters, 4to edit. p. 331, 357. Scward’s Anecdotes.