DUFF, ALEXANDER: First missionary of the Church of Scotland to India; b. at the farmhouse of Auchnahyle, Moulin (25 in. n.n.w. of Perth), Perthshire, Apr. 25, 1806; d. in Edinburgh Feb. 12, 1878. He studied at the grammar-school of Perth and the University of St. Andrews under Dr. Chalmers and others, and was licensed and sailed for Calcutta in 1829, losing all his books by shipwreck on the way. He resolved to make an educational institution a leading feature of his work in India, and had the valuable support of an enlightened Hindu for his school in Calcutta, which was conducted on two principles first that the Christian Scriptures should be read in every class able to read them, and second that through the English language Western science should be taught, notwithstanding the revolution it must cause in many Hindu notions. Duff prepared various textbooks, including one on Christian ethics and the elements of political economy. His school rapidly became popular and influential. The teaching of English, however, roused opposition among the European residents, including some of the earlier missionaries. and his whole method brought him into conflict with the Hindu College, already established, which aimed to avoid offense to Indian sentiment by maintaining a secularist atmosphere. Duff won the confidence of the governor, Lord William Bentinck, and T. B. Macaulay (afterward Lord Macaulay) added his powerful advocacy to the cause of English education; eventually the neutrality of government guaranteed security for Christian work as well as for Indian customs. With growing knowledge of India Duff made his influence felt in every social movement, and ultimately as editor of the Calcutta Review he was one of the chief unofficial factors in politics and administration, his advice being listened to with respect both by the authorities in India and commissions at home.
Returning to Scotland in ill health in 1834, Duff made a tour of the country and much increased the interest in his mission, though met by apathy at first. His addresses in the General Assembly were truly eloquent, and he was felt to be the equal of Chalmers. Attempts were made to keep him in Scotland, but he returned to India and prosecuted his work there. At the disruption of the Scottish Church in 1843, like all other missionaries, he threw in his lot with the Free Church. As the property of the mission belonged legally to the Establishment, Duff was stripped of everything, but friends rallied to his support with the result that the efficiency of the work was immediately doubled. The storms that were stirred up by the conversions which took place from time to time were safely weathered, and the college still remains one of the leading educational institutions of India. At the General Assemblies of the Established and the United Free Churches of Scotland held in May, 1907, steps were taken to unite the two missionary colleges founded in Calcutta by Dr. Duff. The happy consummation of this union in the foreign field is being hailed as the first step toward the final reunion of Scottish Presbyterianism. In 1850 Duff again returned home, and sought to rouse the Free Church to new and more energetic efforts in the cause of missions. He was called in 1851 to the chair of the General Assembly. He also visited America in 1854, under the auspices of Mr. George H. Stuart, of Philadelphia, and made a deep impression both in Canada and the United States.
He went back to India, and continued his labors for some years; but, his health failing, he returned permanently to Scotland in 1864. Appointed convener of the Foreign Missions Committee, he had the chief management of the foreign work of the Free Church and has left his mark on its business details. He showed his catholicity by the deep interest he took in South African missions, and especially by the share he had in organizing the Livingstonia mission on Lake Nyassa. In .1867 he was appointed first professor of Evangelistic theology in the Free Church.
Dr. Duff took an active interest in many important movements of the home Church. He was an active promoter of the proposed union of the Free, United Presbyterian, Reformed Presbyterian, and English Presbyterian churches, which, however, fell through. He was moderator a second time in 1873. To the end his advice and countenance were sought alike by Indian statesmen and by all manner of religious societies in England as well as Scotland. His principal publications related to the India mission.
(R. W. STEWART) THOMAS M. LINDSAY.
Bibliography: Consult the biographies of George Smith, London, 1899; J. Marrat, in Two Standard Bearers in the East, ib. 1882; Thomas Smith, in Men Worth Remembering, ib. 1883. Further: Lal Behari Day, Recollections of A. Duff, ib. 1879; W. P. Duff, Memorials of Alexander Duff, ib. 1890 (by his son).