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Richard Hudson
The Michigan Alumnus 353-356


MARCH 22,1915

Our university circle has been recently called to mourn the loss of one
 of its oldest and best-known members. A familiar figure upon the Campus 
for more than thirty years, he left us in early winter for the South, apparently in excellent health. We find it difficult to realize that he has passed, 
 so soon, forever from our mortal sight. The University Senate is now formally summoned to take note of this sad event and to spread upon its records a brief memorial of his life and services. 

Richard Hudson, son of Richard and Elizabeth (Lowthian) Hudson, 
 was born at Gateshead, England, a suburb of New Castle-on-Tyne, September 17, 1845. He was the oldest of seven children, all of whom reached
 maturity and four of whom survive him. When the young Richard was ten, business straits led the family to migrate to Canada, where they made 
their home for some years at Hamilton, Ontario. When he was about fourteen, and just entering the high school, it seemed best for him to leave 
school and take a hand in the maintenance of the family. He accordingly 
entered the local telegraph office to learn the business, meantime earning a 
pittance as messenger boy. He made rapid progress and was soon able to 
handle the keys so well that he was made night-operator. A year or two 
later he was promoted to a more responsible position in the service at Pon
tiac, Michigan, and hither also about the same time came the family to live. 
In lieu of school advantages, he now devoted all his spare time to reading 
and study. 

His parents had been Wesleyans in England, and were now connected
 with the Methodist Episcopal Church at Pontiac. The son entered ardently 
into the work of the church and was soon marked as a promising candidate 
for the ministry. At nineteen years of age he was persuaded to give up his 
position in the telegraph office and to enter the Michigan Conference. He
 was assigned to a small charge near his home; but his first year's experience convinced him that if he was to have a career in the church, he ought 
to seek a university education. He accordingly entered the Pontiac High 
School; at the end of two years he was able to pass the entrance examina
tions at this University, and in the fall of 1867 he entered as a freshman
 at the age of twenty-two. He easily took a leading place in his class, which
 he maintained throughout the course, though somewhat hampered by the 
necessity of earning his way. 

After his graduation in 1871, he again entered the Michigan Confer
ence and held various charges for the next three years. His eager and inquiring mind now sought a broader outlook upon the world, and he went
 abroad for travel and further study. He heard some of the most eminent 
theologians at the German universities, and visited Southern Europe and 
the Holy Land. In the summer of 1876 he returned to Michigan and resumed preaching. His last charge was the responsible one at Adrian, where 
he was warmly received and where he won influential friends. But he now 
began to be oppressed with sore doubts as to whether he had found his true
 life work. After full consultation with trusted friends and after much de-
liberation, he declined re-appointment and entered the University Law
 School. At the end of a year an assistant professorship of history was to 
be filled in the University, and he was chosen for the place. He entered 
upon the work with zest, and in this field found his true sphere. He was in 
charge of the department from 1885 to 1888, and in the latter year this posi
tion was made permanent. In 1897 he was made Dean of the Department 
of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and for the next ten years discharged 
with entire fidelity the duties of that office. In 1907 he asked to be relieved
 of these heavy administrative labors, and for the next four years devoted
 himself wholly to lecturing and teaching. In 1911 he was made Professor 
Emeritus. His remaining years were given to travel, chiefly in the Old
 World. One winter was spent on the Pacific Coast and the past winter in
 Florida. About the middle of February he developed some throat trouble, 
 and went to New York City to consult a specialist. He was almost immediately stricken with pneumonia and died on the 22nd of the month. His 
body rests by the side of his two brothers in Greenwood Cemetery, Detroit. 

As a teacher, Professor Hudson's strength showed especially in the 
formal lecture. It is probable that his pulpit experience contributed some-
thing to this result. He particularly excelled in supplying his hearers with
 a perfectly articulated organization of the matter involved. His manner of 
statement was finely poised, strong though temperate, and so clear as to
 insure comprehension however complex the subject matter. He was a thor
ough student; but his interest in details was largely confined to their bearing
 on the main processes of causation. His lectures might perhaps have been 
increased in attractiveness by a more liberal use of narrative; but, as illum
inating outlines of the history of the period under consideration, they could
 hardly have been improved. Many tributes in this vein have been given by 
those who sat under his instruction. And when we remember the thousands 
of young and receptive minds who enjoyed this privilege throughout his 
long service here, we are impressed with the immense importance of his 
exalted calling. The gospel ministry which had engrossed his earlier years
 with its raptures and moral crusades gradually gave way in his affections
 to the ministry of learning, where in the academic quiet of the study and
 the class-room his mind and spirit breathed a more congenial air. The
 change meant no lowering of standards. To the last he continued to show
 in a rare degree the virtues, which Christianity is wont to claim as peculiarly
 its own. 

One of the finest and rarest traits of his character—often remarked by
 those who knew him best—was his unwillingness to cherish resentments. He
 was sometimes misunderstood, sometimes upbraided; but he kept his temper, 
 and he refused to count any man his enemy. Open and fair-minded in con
troversy, he always declined to take an unfair advantage of his adversary. 
 He had absolute confidence in moral forces and bided his time. This trait 
won for him general respect and confidence.

He was temperamentally cautious, though not timid. One of his most 
intimate friends once said of him very justly, "Open-minded conservatism 
is probably his most strongly marked intellectual characteristic." This espe
cially fitted him to deal wisely with the many difficult historical problems 
that came in his way as a teacher, problems that have taxed the most pene
trating and subtle minds. This trait also especially fitted him for carrying
 large administrative responsibilities. 

On the occasion of his retirement in 1911, his colleagues of the Depart
ment of History entertained him, together with a few of his old friends, at
 dinner. In a very characteristic response to the tributes paid him by those 
present, taking for his theme "The Autumn of Life," he spoke feelingly and 
most touchingly of his ideals for the declining years that awaited him. There 
was a tone of serenity, and courage, and good cheer about it all which those
 who heard him can never forget. But alas for us! the autumn of his life
 has descended all too swiftly to its close. The full and silent tide moves sea-
ward and bears him afar.

"That which drew from out the boundless deep

Turns again home."