George Higinbothamâ€™s extreme and uncompromising radical views and mesmerizing oratory have made him an iconic figure in Victoriaâ€™s colonial history â€” the darling of the liberals and the left. John Bennett has written a major re-assessment of this giant who was a dominating figure from the 1850s until his death in 1892.
Higinbotham was successively a gold digger who found no gold; a barrister who found few briefs; a crusading editor of Melbourneâ€™s Argus; an independent member of Parliament who opposed political parties and ferociously attacked the â€śsquatterâ€ť dominated Legislative Council and the Colonial Office; an overtly democratic Attorney-General who advocated government without supply; and Chief Justice of Victoria when his political dreams all foundered.
Yet he drew others to him as a Pied Piper. He was a mass of contradictions. Extraordinarily charitable to beggars, he treated his family miserably. A failure in achievement, he retained an enormous popularity which has endured for over a century.
In the eyes of his admirers, living or dead, Higinbotham was a giant. ... This impressive book is the first attempt to see behind the statue [of] this cult-figure. ... it [is] laced with insights into Australiaâ€™s political history and thought. On Higinbothamâ€™s hyperactive mind and unusual blend of views, the book is fascinating. ... John Bennettâ€™s book represents massive research: ... The book is the first to study Higinbotham from the vantage point of an observer rather than that of a disciple. It is also the first to meet him on his home ground, the law, and also among the first to glance inside his family life - Professor Geoffrey Blainey, AC
This volume ... continues the high standards of scholarly research and judgment to which [Bennettsâ€™] series has accustomed us. - Law Institute Journal of Victoria, July 2007
Table of Contents
Foreword by Professor Geoffrey Blainey AC
List of Illustrations
â€śSchool Life in Those Days was a Rough Oneâ€ť
â€śHiginbotham is a Most Estimable Man, But ...â€ť
â€śHis Short Experience in the Houseâ€ť
â€śAbsolute Political Equality to Allâ€ť
â€śThe Destiny of Our Colonies is Independenceâ€ť
Puisne Judge 1880-1886
Chief Justice 1886-1892
Toy v. Musgrove (1888)
â€śHer Majestyâ€™s Chief Magistrate in Victoriaâ€ť
â€śPerplexed by Paradox, Stunned by Contradictionsâ€ť