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Hodgson, Sir Arthur (1818–1902)

One of the sturdy pioneers of the early days of Queensland has passed away in the person of Sir Arthur Hodgson, K.C.M.G., at the ripe age of 84 years. He was something more than the representative of a passing phase in the history of this State; he was one of those who laid the many-sided foundations of its industries, on which two generations of men have since built. It is one of the advantages of a country, which has never known the smoke of battle, or tinsel military glory, that the heroism displayed in the conquest of the wilderness stands out in proper proportion and perspective. Short as is the history of Queensland, so much has been achieved in the settlement of the interior, the opening of rich mines, the building of populous towns, and the construction of harbours, that it is difficult to realise that Sir Arthur Hodgson could have been a settler on the Darling Downs before the time of the first sale of lands in the Moreton Bay district. He arrived in Sydney in 1840, and his eager adventurous spirit is shown by the fact that, without waiting to get colonial experience of any kind, the same year found him following in the wake of the Leslie brothers, with whom he shares the honour of having formed the first settlements in the Downs country. The anticipations then for men of its future have already been more than realised, and the progress yet to be made will probably be in the same wonderful ratio. The pioneers of Australia have generally been men of culture, versatile talent, as well as of great personal courage, and strong physical endurance, and in these characteristics Sir Arthur Hodgson takes an honoured place by the side of such men as the late Sir George Grey. He was educated at Eton, the name given to his Queensland estate, and afterwards at Cambridge. It is one of the most pleasing features of English life that so many University men should be found roughing it in the miner's camp, and the settler's hut, in the remote outposts of the Empire. Sir Arthur Hodgson in this respect reminds one of Cecil Rhodes, a typical Englishman, inheriting the adventurous wandering instinct of the race, which has found a home in every region from the remotest South to the Arctic circle. He was equally capable as a colonist in his small cloth tent on the Downs, as when representing his State as a politician, first in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, and afterwards in that of Queensland. He was twice a Minister of the Crown, as Secretary for Public Works in the Mackenzie Ministry, and as Colonial Secretary in the Lilley Government. His political views now appear antiquated, but here also he is in entire conformity with some of the ablest men of his time. He favoured the introduction of coloured labour and the establishment of a colonial peerage. No statesmen did more for his colony than did Sir William Charles Wentworth, yet we find that the latter also recommended that a clause should be inserted in the Draft Constitution Bill, providing for the establishment of a titled and hereditary nobility, giving to the first patentee a seat in the Council for life, and conferring on his descendants the power to elect a certain number of their own order as members. Were this not granted, he said, the colonies would virtually be disfranchised. "Who," he asked, "having left these shores, would ever return, or even identify himself with the soil, as long as selfishness, ignorance, and democracy held sway. Why, if titles were open to all at home, were they denied to the colonists?" Appeal was also made to the fact that George Washington also contemplated the introduction of a titled order to be provided for by the American Constitution. If, therefore, Sir Arthur Hodgson erred in his opinions, he erred in good company. Fortunately it is not by changing political opinions, but by character and work, that men must be judged, and in these essentials the deceased Queenslander and Englishman has earned a niche of fame in the respective histories of the two countries.

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Citation details

'Hodgson, Sir Arthur (1818–1902)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/hodgson-sir-arthur-1155/text1150, accessed 23 April 2018.

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