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Archer, William (1820–1874)

Like leaves on trees the race of man is found—
Now green in youth, now withering on the ground
Another race the following spring supplies:
They fall successive, and successive rise.
So generations in their course decay;
So flourish these, when those are passed away.

Very applicable indeed is the above modern translation from the Grecian Bard to the present advanced epoch of this still new colony. The remnants of the generation who first colonised it are fast passing away, and "fall successive" as the young "successive rise." This is the universal law of nature, and it becomes us to bow reverentially and submissively to the inevitable conditions under which we are placed. Still we may, and not unrighteously, indulge for a short while in natural sorrow as the old colonists who have done their country good service are removed, and thin the ranks of those with whom they have so long fought life's early battle in the colony, and administered to its social and political advancement. Mr William Archer, late of Fairfield, whose death has already been recorded, deserves more than a hasty tribute from our pen; and we only regret we are unable to do sufficient justice to his useful and energetic career amongst us. A native of the island, he was born in the year 1820, and was the second son of the late Thomas Archer, Esq., of Woolmers. In or about the year 1824 he visited England and remained there to perfect his education until 1842, during which interval he studied for five years under a very celebrated architect, and was afterwards for about two years with Robert Stephenson, the great engineer, at Newcastle upon-Tyne. In 1842 he returned to Tasmania, and brought to bear with us the advantages he had derived. In 1856 he was appointed a magistrate of the territory, and in the same year he was elected the first member for the district of Westbury in the House of Assembly after the introduction of Responsible Government. He was a member of Mr Weston's Ministry, without office, in 1860. About 1862, when only in full manhood with the reasonable expectation of many years of usefulness before him, he was reluctantly compelled to resign public life owing to failing health; but previous to this sad and visible declension, he took upon one occasion a very leading and able part in opposing a certain motion in the House of Assembly which created considerable excitement at the time; and although he was defeated in endeavoring to carry it out, the energetic manner, the high spirit he displayed, and the forcible reasons he eloquently urged for resisting a measure which did not accord with his views of correct judgment, received, as they merited, general approbation. Let us ardently hope that the patriotic spirit that uniformly possessed him will be taken up and imitated by the sons of Tasmania who "successive rise," and succeed him. Mr Archer leaves a widow and thirteen children to deplore his removal.

Original publication

Citation details

'Archer, William (1820–1874)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/archer-william-1460/text1461, accessed 11 December 2018.

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