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x i#|WP|^|^x^<»);<^t(^»«i^i^ag XI Obituary George Yule: A Tribute by Some of His Friends Professor George Yule, who died recently, was a distinguished Early Modern religious historian, academic teacher, Presbyterian and Uniting Churchman, and advocate ofchurch union. He did much to promote Early M o d e m historical studies in Australasia. The following appreciations have been written for Parergon. GEORGE YULE AS TEACHER, PASTOR AND ECUMENIST Ian Breward Professor George Yule made a notable contribution to English puritan and to Reformation studies at a time when their politics and theology were too often separated. His study of The Independents in the English Civil War opened up fresh perspectives, as did his introduction to the texts printed in his later book Puritans and Politics. Those privileged to sit in his lectures on the Putney debates found that they could not reduce theology to politics, or vice versa. Students found that seeing theological discussions in their own terms meant learning a new language, but with the advantage that they discovered a fresh insight into seventeenth-century ideas. George's move to the chair of church history in the Theological Hall at Ormond College enabled him to explore the theology of Luther alongside the work of Karl Barth, as well as to challenge many students to see connections between the study of the past and the tasks of ministry in a rapidly changing society. Exploration of the developments in sixteenth-century Europe, of the Xll complexity of its religious change and the passions of its religious controversy helped studentsfirstin Melbourne and then in Aberdeen to avoid doctrinaire nostrums in reflecting on twentieth-century church and society, and to learn something of the language of grace. Involvement in Australian church union negotiations and then in dialogue with Australian Lutherans took an enormous amount of George's energy, but i t gave him an opportunity to share his deep knowledge of Reformation theologies and to bring people back again and again to the central issues of Christian faith. This was also seen in his important contributions to the two editions of the Australian H y m n Book. His last and almost completed study of the architecture of the Jacobean churches brought together his insights into worship, theology and the history of that turbulent period, and was a further reminder that George Yule could not be neatly categorised. He broke out of boundaries academically and personally, as many historians can testify, for they cherished his eccentricities and his generosity and were warmed by the friendship and hospitality that he and Val shared so widely. Ian Breward succeeded George Yule as Professor of Church History in the Theological Hall, Ormond College, University of Melbourne. GEORGE YULE AS ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORIAN Patrick Collinson It was Emerson who wrote that 'nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm'. George Yule was the most enthusiastic of ecclesiastical historians, just as, as churchman, he was the most enthusiastic of Australian ecumenists, endlessly pursuing the elusive quarry of church unity. A s both churchman and historian, George's heart often ruled his head. And if one may dare to differ from Emerson, the enthusiasm was a limitation on the greatness of George's history. A more detached approach to the subjects that enthused him might have achieved, if not greater, sounder results. But who would wish to have had it otherwise? Not, I think, one of hisfirmestfriends, our greatest living ecclesiastical historian O w e n Chadwick, whose work could hardly have been more different. As a historian of the early modern period, George Yule carried the torch first lit in Melbourne by the late M a x Crawford, who required all his students to cut theirfirst-yearteeth on A. S. P. Woodhouse's edition of the Putney Debates Puritanism and Liberty (1938). So it was natural that when, returning to Ormond Xlll College from missionary work in the Far East, George came back to history, his first book should be a study of The Independents in the English Civil War (Cambridge and Melbourne, 1958). The acknowledgements which prefaced the book were a roll-call of the greatest names in seventeenth-century studies at the time, R. H. Tawney, Christopher Hill, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Geoffrey Nuttall, all significant influences. George set out to establish the connections between Independency as a religious movement and as a party in the Long Parliament which went under the same name. A s someone w h o believed that in the seventeenth century religion rather than politics was 'the medium of thinking through which men viewed the world', a less fashionable view in 1958 than it is today, he set out to undo the damage caused by a revisionist article of 1938 by J. H. Hexter. Although his book included a valuable prosopography of political Independents, it failed to avoid some treacherous pitfalls of nomenclature and definition, later charted in David Underdown's Pride's Purge (1971). In 1981 George Yule published Puritans in Politics: The Religious Legislation ofthe Long Parliament 1640-1647, which he dedicated to his teachers M a x Crawford and Kathleen Fitzpatrick. The arguments of thefirstbook were now refined, but the strengths of Puritans in Politics were also its weaknesses. While still wrestling with the problem of how properly to relate puritan religion to its politics, George admitted his 'almost exclusive attention to religious issues'. Yet this book deserves to be better known than it is, not least for its inclusion of many invaluable primary texts, and much of the blame for its relative lack of success should be laid at the door of the publisher. After this, historical theology and ecclesiology, in the old-fashioned sense of the physical fabric and religious aesthetics of English and Scottish church buildings, took over George's attention. Both interests were stimulated and advanced by his years as Professor of Church History at Aberdeen University, and by close contact with Scotland's leading theologians, such as Professor Tom Torrance ofEdinburgh. As historical theologian, George shared with the late Basil Hall the conviction that John Calvin was badly served by his successors and systematisers, who sacrificed the great reformer's regulatory Christocentrism to a neo-scholasticism of slavish exegesis. This was what German historians call confessionalisation, although I do not think that George used the term. But the love of his life was Martin Luther, a religious genius larger than confessions, who brought together Professor Yule the historian and the Reverend George Yule, the ecumenist. To help mark the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Luther's birth, he edited a collection of essays entitled Luther: Theologian for Catholics xiv and Protestants (1985), written by scholars of the stature of Hall, Torrance and Gordon Rupp. In his own contribution, George quoted words which Luther put into the mouth of Christ, a prosopopeia addressed to warring theologians: 'Am I not more to you than all your matters of difference?' But perhaps the greatest enthusiasm of all was for those thousands of parish churches in both England and Scotland which George Yule visited with tireless energy (was it six or twelve a day?) whenever he found himself in Britain, amassing a huge collection of parish church guides, which he intended should find a permanent home in the State Library of Victoria. But this was more than an antiquarian pursuit. George believed that the true history of the British churches in the century after the Reformation was locked up in their interiors and furnishings, properly understood. Sometimes it was a matter as simple as lifting up the skirts of an Anglican altar to reveal the homely seventeenth century table underneath. George contributed to m y festschrift (Religion, Culture and Society in Early Modern Britain, ed. Fletcher and Roberts, 1994) an essay on 'James VI and I: Furnishing the Churches in his Two Kingdoms'. And he has left behind something more substantial: a large book on the subject, which it i s hoped his widow Valerie and son Peter will soon publish. I believe that the dustjacket, already chosen, will show George on a box, peering through the window of a church in Banff that he had been unable to enter. There is another reason why George Yule's memory ought to be revered by Australian (and N e w Zealand) early modern historians. When this writer arrived in Sydney in 1969, George set about organising a conference in Melbourne, which duly happened in M a y 1970. It was very typical that in making this conference the success that it was, George had thought of everything but his own paper, which was a hastily cobbled together piece. Out of those beginnings came the association known as the Australian and N e w Zealand Association for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, which still flourishes, and in July 2001 held its latest conference in Perth. A fitting monument to George Yule might be Ecclesiasticus 44.1: 'Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us.' Patrick Collinson is Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History in the University of Cambridge. XV GEORGE YULE AS SCHOLAR AND COLLEAGUE Wilfrid Prest In 1958 some 600 students taking British History I at the University of Me gathered twice weekly in the cavernous, steeply-raked Public Lecture Theatre of the Old Arts Building. The PLT's reigning star was the already-legendary Kathleen Fitzpatrick, who opened the year with a series of compelling, superblycrafted performances - for they were nothing less - on theriseofthe Tudor state, quelling the least hint of inattention or disturbance among her more-or-less awed audience with a well-practised imperious stare. So there was some sense of relief, as well as contrast, when Katie's quasi-regal demeanour and dress eventually gave way to George Yule's cheerful informality. Far from standing upright at the lectern robed in academic gown and well-tailored suit, George actually sat, in his rather dashing brown suede jacket - can m y memory serve m e right? - on the edge of the low partition which ran around the podium, dangling his feet over the edge as he told us about the three-field system and sheep eating up men, his mandatory black gown casually slung over the rail beside him. The same lack of concern for conventional sartorial proprieties stayed with George all his life. I fondly recall our last meeting at A N Z A M E M S in 1998, when Sabina and I enjoyed an extended talkative walk through the Wellington Botanic Gardens with George, who was sporting a wide-brimmed floppy blue sun-hat secured by a cord under his chin, teamed with a patently undersized raincoat which he'd borrowed from the visiting American historian Jo-Anne McNamara. During m y second year at Melbourne I was fortunate enough to go to Ormond for college tutorials in General History I, essentially the European Renaissance and Reformation. For some reason w e bucked the constraints of chronology and began with Martin Luther - in retrospect scarcely a surprising trajectory for that particular tutor to encourage. I had to write an essay, doubtless the classic comparison of Luther and Erasmus. George loaded m e up with references and books (including Troeltsch's Social Teaching of the Christian Churches) and the best piece of academic, indeed perhaps any advice that I have ever received. I can't recall his precise words, but they stressed the importance of always trying to get started with something, ofgetting your teeth into a specific task, rather than consuming excessive time and energy worrying about how best to tackle or where to begin the whole project, whatever it might be. I also remember talking with much profit to George about m y Honours essay, a prosopographical study of seventeenth-century Cambridge alumni, having at this XVI stage if not earlier been enormously impressed and somewhat intimidated by his formidable Melbourne M A thesis. W h e n the history of Australian historical scholarship comes to be written, that work will be recognised as a landmark achievement, no less so than George's subsequent published study of The Independents in the English Civil War (possibly thefirstscholarly monograph in thefieldof early modern English history published by an Australian-based scholar). It is a source of personal regret and should be a cause of professional shame that George's pioneering achievements have yet to receive the formal recognition of a festschrift from former colleagues and students. I missed the inaugural early modern conference which George convened in 1970, but not most subsequent meetings, including a memorable Ormond A H M E M E gathering in 1974 (the second at this venue), which seemed to come together on both academic and social levels with admirably minimal administrative fuss and bother on George's part. That was entirely typical: having recognised the feasibility and potential benefits of regular meetings of Australasian medievalists and early modernists, he simply set about making them happen, in the most direct and straightforward fashion possible. There was apparently no concern on George's part for personal kudos or recognition in any of his academic roles, yet he was never in danger of being mistaken for an arid or acerbic intellectual, and many people will recall with pleasure his cheerful conversation and ready grin. At the same time I a m grateful to be reminded by a colleague and Melbourne contemporary that 'George also had a profoundly serious asceticism, which he never imposed on others; but you will recall he never went to conference dinners because he thought the price immoral.' Doubtless drawing upon both pulpit and pastoral experience, George had a memorable expository style, which combined engaging enthusiasm for his subject with a clear and usually straightforward message. While displaying a notable lack of unctuous holiness, George also showed no sign that he found any difficulty in combining his religious calling with a successful Australian and international academic career. Just as he remained an active historian and conference participant long after his formal retirement, he also continued to work as a parish minister within the Uniting Church until very recently. This good man and fine scholar will be very much missed. Wilfrid Prest is Professor of History at the University of Adelaide. XV11 GEORGE YULE AS MENTOR AND FRIEND John Reeve A red-brick, neo-gothic, Edwardian house is set in the grounds of Ormond Co almost 30 years ago. A wonderful house, with turrets and leadlight windows, it is the residence of the professor ofchurch history. A man is working relentlessly in the garden, propelling a barrow-load of rubbish. H e is dressed like an English farm-hand, in old corduroy trousers and baggy shirt, with a shock of hair trailing wildly from one side of his broad bald head. It is George Yule, taking time off from vigorous but sensitive pondering of Luther, Calvin, and the fast sermons of the Long Parliament, to deal with important domestic matters. H e is characteristically unassuming, entirely unaffected, and deeply purposeful. Like others I used to watch him from the windows of the adjacent college library, in the autumn and winter afternoons while wrestling with undergraduate essays and in the spring while swotting for exams. Eventually tutorials took one into the house, into the donnish disorder of the study with its shelves of books and tracts and small coalfire.George would talk with passion about the worlds of the Reformation and the English civil war, about the search for historical truth and religious enlightenment. People in the past were thoroughly alive to him, and their ideas part ofa continuing debate in which he felt a duty to take part. Before one left in the evening George always offered tea and biscuits. Genteel hospitality was important even when he was wilting from 15 hours of correcting proofs. Amongst his cherished family, and amidst the house and garden, the library and the theological lecture rooms George was in his element, but he brought a special quality to the place. These few personal memories of George are not unique. They could stand for those of many other people. Over a period of 50 years - at Ormond, in theAustralian churches and universities, at the University ofAberdeen and in the British Isles - he had many friends, colleagues, students, mentors and disciples. George would have denied it vehemently with his almost monastic modesty, but people with w h o m he came into contact knew he was a rare individual. Images of George stick in the memory and illuminate the man. He would race off to give a lecture, or pause to discuss Collingwood's ideas on the reenactment ofpast experience. Melbourne University undergraduates, hearing his lectures on seventeenth-century English puritanism, soon became aware that there was a highly learned intelligence lurking close behind his down-to-earth manner. At conferences, always unobtrusive but highly effective, he would want particular people to meet each other. Departure for a chair of church history in Scotland XV111 prompted his sense of the historical continuum: 'It's only 150 years since the Yules left Aberdeen.' In Scotland he surfed in the North Sea in all weathers, and sustained academic and church business at an admirable pace. A devotee ofBntrail passes, he scanned the train timetables for the most efficient route, and at other times roamed the English countryside seeing colleagues and investigating medieval churches. I remember him visiting Cambridge during m y days as a research student, materialising at the door, then drinking tea and offering much appreciated advice. He coaxed m e into a trip to Iona, and there could have been no better companion and guide. At Oban, en route, he strode down the glens explaining the history of the Celtic church (many conversations with George seem to have taken place at a brisk walk). O n Iona he talked of St Columba, did chores in the monastery, and climbed the great hill Dun-I. U p there at sunset we looked out over the Atlantic, where there is nothing between Scotland and America. He told m e to photograph the view rather than him: 'I assure you it's more attractive.' In the mid-1980s, running into him in the Cambridge University Library ('This is very fortuitous'), I found him somewhat distracted, havingjust visited Gordon Rupp on his deathbed; he had an early edition ofClarendon that Rupp had given him. For 20 years George's missives arrived at Christmas, Easter and often in between: loyal, supportive, and with academic and family news. Always busy, he was never too busy to help. George Yule was often called eccentric and it was meant with true affection , but this does him something less than justice. George worked in the world but he was free of it. The freedom came from his disinterest in careerism and disavowal of all materialism, and from the assurance of his personal faith. Gracious and chivalrous, energetic and efficient, cerebral and spiritual, human and sympathetic, he was a picture of old world manners and scholarly religious values. His passing gives one pause since modern life is lacking in most of these things. Deeply self-effacing, he would have been embarrassed by obituaries. It was values that mattered to him. He stands as a shining example of life as a search for learning, love and light. He would have considered this the most efficient and only sensible route. John Reeve is Senior Lecturer and Osborne Fellow in Naval History at the University ofNew South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy. ...

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ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. x-xviii
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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