Brian Houghton Hodgson - Encyclopedia

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BRIAN HOUGHTON HODGSON (1800-1894), English administrator, ethnologist and naturalist, was born at Lower Beech, Prestbury, Cheshire, on the 1st of February 1800. His father, Brian Hodgson, came of a family of country gentlemen, and his mother was a daughter of William Houghton of Manchester. In 1816 he obtained an East Indian writership. After passing through the usual course at Haileybury, he went out to India in 1818, and after a brief service at Kumaon as assistantcommissioner was in 1820 appointed assistant to the Resident at Katmandu, the capital of Nepal. In 1823 he obtained an undersecretaryship in the foreign department at Calcutta, but his health failed, and in 1824 he returned to Nepal, to which the whole of his life, whether in or out of India, may be said to have been thenceforth given. He devoted himself particularly to the collection of Sanskrit MSS. relating to Buddhism, and hardly less so to the natural history and antiquities of the country, and by 1839 had contributed eighty-nine papers to the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. His investigations of the ethnology of the aboriginal tribes were especially important. In 1833 he became Resident in Nepal, and passed many stormy years in conflict with the cruel and faithless court to which he was accredited. He succeeded, nevertheless, in concluding a satisfactory treaty in 1839; but in 1842 his policy, which involved an imperious attitude towards the native government, was upset by the interference of Lord Ellenborough, but just arrived in India and not unnaturally anxious to avoid trouble in Nepal during the conflict in Afghanistan. Hodgson took upon himself to disobey his instructions, a breach of discipline justified to his own mind by his superior knowledge of the situation, but which the governorgeneral could hardly be expected to overlook. He was, nevertheless, continued in office for a time, but was recalled in 1843, and resigned the service. In 1845 he returned to India and settled at Darjeeling, where he devoted himself entirely to his favourite pursuits, becoming the greatest authority on the Buddhist religion and on the flora of the Himalayas. It was he who early suggested the recruiting of Gurkhas for the Indian army, and who influenced Sir Jung Bahadur to lend his assistance to the British during the mutiny in 1857. In 1858 he returned to England, and lived successively in Cheshire and Gloucestershire, occupied with his studies to the last. He died at his seat at Alderley Grange in the Cotswold Hills on the 23rd of May 1894. No man has done so much to throw light on Buddhism as it exists in Nepal, and his collections of Sanskrit manuscripts, presented to the East India Office, and of natural history, presented to the British Museum, are unique as gatherings from a single country. He wrote altogether 184 philological and ethnological and 127 scientific papers, as well as some valuable pamphlets on native education, in which he took great interest. His principal work, Illustrations of the Literature and Religion of Buddhists (1841), was republished with the most important of his other writings in 1872-1880.

His life was written by Sir W. W. Hunter in 1896. Hodmezo-Vasarhely, a town of Hungary, in the county of Csongrad, 135 m. S.E. of Budapest by rail. Pop. (1900) 60,824, of which about two-thirds are Protestants. The town, situated on Lake H6d, not far from the right bank of the Tisza, has a modern aspect. The soil of the surrounding country, of which 383 sq. m. belong to the municipality, is exceedingly fertile, the chief products being wheat, mangcorn, barley, oats, millet, maize and various descriptions of fruit, especially melons. Extensive vineyards, yielding large quantities of both white and red grapes, skirt the town, and the horned cattle and horses of Hodmezd-Vasarhely have a good reputation; sheep and pigs are also extensively reared. The commune is protected from inundations of the Tisza by an enormous dike, but the town, nevertheless, sometimes suffers considerable damage during the spring floods.

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