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Henry Ware, Jr., was born at Hingham, Mass., April 21, 1794. His father was the Rev. Dr. Henry Ware, then pastor of the First Church in Hingham, and afterwards Hollis Professor of Divinity in Harvard College. His mother was Mary, daughter of the Rev. Jonas Clark, of Lexington. Henry was the fifth child and the oldest son of his parents. As a boy, he was thoughtful and quiet, and somewhat lacking in bodily activity. He had the rudiments of his education partly at home and partly in the schools of his native town. In 1804 and 1805 he spent considerable time in the family, and under the tuition, of the Rev. Dr. Allyn, of Duxbury. In the autumn of 1805 he was placed under the tuition of his cousin, Mr. Ashur Ware, a graduate of the preceding year, who became at the same time a member of his father’s family. He remained under his care till the spring of 1807, when, on the election of Mr. Ware to a tutorship, Mr. Samuel Merrill, of the class of 1807, took his place. In September of the same year he was sent to Phillips Academy, Andover, of which Mr. Mark Newman was then principal, and here he continued till his admission as a member of the Freshman Class in Harvard College in September, 1808.
The four years of his college life were passed in his father’s family, and his intercourse with his fellow-students was very limited. He was scrupulously attentive to his various college duties, but was not a hard student and held only a respectable standing in his class. At the Commencement in 1812, when he graduated, he delivered a poem on the Pursuit of Fame.
Immediately after leaving college, he became assistant teacher in Phillips Academy, Exeter, of which Dr. Benjamin Abbot was then principal. Here he remained, discharging his duties as a teacher with fidelity for two years. Meanwhile he gave his leisure to the study of theology; and during the latter part of the time he conducted the worship of a new Unitarian society in Exeter by leading the devotional service and reading a printed sermon.
In August, 1814, he left Exeter, and returned to Cambridge to complete his theological studies as a resident graduate at the university. He accepted now the place of sub-librarian of the college, and held it for one year. In the winter of 1815 he delivered a poem at a public celebration of the treaty of peace with Great Britain, and in August, 1816, the annual poem before the Phi Beta Kappa Society. He received his certificate of approbation as a preacher on the 31st of July, 1815.
Mr. Ware’s first appearance in the pulpit was on the 8th of October, more than two months from the date of his examination; and then he preached at West Cambridge, in the pulpit of the Rev. Dr. Thaddeus Fiske, a classmate and brother-in-law of his father. He preached in the Second Church in Boston as early as February, 1816, but he was not invited the second time till the following October. An invitation was given him to become the pastor of the church in November, but it was not unanimous, though the opposition was not so serious as to prevent his accepting it. He was ordained and installed on the first day of the year 1817, the ordination sermon being preached by his father. The congregation of which he became pastor was at this time the smallest in point of numbers of the Unitarian congregations in Boston. He seems, however, to have been well satisfied with it, and to have found his situation in many respects a happy one.
In October, 1817, Mr. Ware was married to Elizabeth Watson, daughter of Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, of Cambridge. In December, 1818, he travelled South as far as Washington for the purpose of preaching for a new Unitarian society which had been recently established in Baltimore. On his way thither he preached one Sabbath in New York, where, however, there was then no regularly organized society, and once in Philadelphia.
In March, 1819, he became the editor of the second series of the Christian Disciple, a periodical which had been in existence several years, under the editorial supervision of Dr. Noah Worcester, but which now became more distinctively the organ of the Unitarian body.
In November, 1822, Mr. Ware arranged for a series of religious services on Sunday evenings for the special benefit of the poorer classes. The plan was carried into effect, with the cooperation of several other of the ministers of Boston. This arrangement, however, was ultimately superseded by the establishment of the Ministry-at-large, under the direction of Dr. Tuckerman. Mr. Ware’s personal connection with this ministry did not extend beyond the spring of 1828, though his interest in it continued, without any abatement, until the close of his life.
In March, 1823, Mr. Ware suffered a severe affliction in the death of his youngest child, and his wife died on the 8th of February, 1824, at the age of thirty, leaving him in charge of two children at an age peculiarly requiring a mother’s care. In 1825 Mr. Ware was very active in the organization of the American Unitarian Association, and he served for many years on the Executive Committee. In 1826 he declined a call to the new Unitarian society in New York, a pastorate later assumed by his brother William. In June, 1827, he was married to Mary Lovell, daughter of Mark Pickard, formerly a merchant in Boston; and he gathered his children, who had been living in the families of his sisters, once more around him.
About the close of May, 1828, Mr. Ware left home in order to fulfill an engagement to preach at Northampton. He was quite ill on his arrival there, but still conducted the usual services on the Sabbath. The next day he set out to return to Boston, but, when he reached the village of Ware, he had a hemorrhage and was obliged to give up the idea of proceeding on his journey. After about a fortnight he was able to be taken to Worcester, where he remained for six weeks. About this time a plan for establishing a Professorship of Pulpit Eloquence and the Pastoral Care, in the Divinity School at Cambridge, was carried into effect. The friends of the enterprise had thought of Mr. Ware as a suitable person to fill this place; and the state of his health made it desirable that he should be relieved from the labors of his charge. Indeed, he himself became satisfied that he had too little vigor of constitution left to meet the active duties of the ministry; and accordingly, about the close of December, 1828, he tendered his resignation. The people refused, however, to accept it, and proposed that he should still retain the pastoral relation, and that they would provide him a colleague, on whom should devolve the burden of active duty. He responded affirmatively and most affectionately to their generous proposal; and accordingly, on the 11th of January, 1829, Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson, who had for some time supplied their pulpit with much acceptance, was elected colleague pastor, and, on the 11th of March following, was ordained.
By this time the appointment of Mr. Ware to the professorship at Cambridge had been formally made and accepted; but so much was he reduced in health that, before attempting to enter upon its duties, he resolved to try the effect of a transatlantic tour. Accordingly, he sailed with his wife, in the ship “Dover,” on the 1st of April, and remained abroad nearly seventeen months, returning in the latter part of August, 1830. During his absence he visited England, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, and France, spending the winter in Rome.
Shortly after his return Mr. Ware renewed his request for a dismission from his parish, and his reasons for it were so strong that they could not be resisted. In October, a few weeks after his return to this country, he removed to Cambridge, and entered upon the duties of his professorship.
Mr. Ware was honored with the degree of Doctor of Divinity from his Alma Mater in 1834.
In the autumn of 1841 Dr. Ware’s health became so impaired that it was with no small difficulty that he could proceed with his duties. Notwithstanding this, however, he projected a journey to New York, with an intention also of going to Baltimore and Washington. He arrived in New York on the 13th of January, and preached in Dr. Dewey’s church twice on the following Sabbath. On the next Sabbath (January 23) he entered the pulpit for the last time. After the second singing he was obliged to tell the audience that he was too much indisposed to proceed with the service, and immediately dismissed the congregation. He was able to return to Cambridge in the course of the next week; but, as he found himself inadequate to the duties of his office, he lost no time in sending in his resignation to the president. In accepting it, the government of the college, as an expression of their good will and high appreciation of his services, voted the continuance of his salary for half a year from the time that he vacated his office.
He died at Framingham on September 22, 1843. His body was removed to Cambridge, and the funeral took place on the 25th at the college chapel, the services being conducted by the Rev. Dr. Parkman, his former associate in the ministry, and the Rev. Drs. Francis and Noyes, the professors in the Divinity School.
Dr. Ware had six children by his second marriage, making nine in all. Three of his sons graduated at Harvard College, and one of them (John Fothergill Waterhouse) became a Unitarian clergyman. The second Mrs. Ware died in April, 1849.
An Account of Henry Ware, Jr.
The following sketch of Dr. Ware’s character was written by the Rev. Edward B. Hall:
Among the characteristics of Henry Ware there were three, which none familiar with him could fail to observe, though they could not be equally known to all. These were his love of work, his love of his calling, and his love of promoting and witnessing the happiness of others.
His love of work was a passion. It could hardly be called his nature, certainly not in any sense that would make it merely constitutional or so easy as to possess no merit. He always said that he was by nature indolent and tempted to indulge his love of ease. This appeared, perhaps, in his slowness to begin an arduous work, and his habit of deferring much of his work to a late hour. And yet he never seemed idle, and never failed to perform that which he had promised or which could be regarded as a duty. However reluctantly or late he entered upon any task, the moment he engaged in it his mind kindled, labor became a pleasure, and he worked on to the end with a devotion and love equal to those with which an exciting and absorbing novel is read through at a sitting. For this love of work gave him a facility, and the facility again increased his love, so that he accomplished more in a given time and more easily than any one I have known, of such feeble health and interrupted efforts. Seldom was he wholly well, and never wholly unemployed. In his sick-room he was constantly planning, if he could not execute—putting his plans on paper or disclosing them to willing ears, interesting and instigating others to work with him or for him. Riding on horseback for health, he was still at work. Resting at noon or night at an inn, he sought a place where he could work, not only as a reader or thinker, but a writer, and sometimes in works of grave character, requiring method and great carefulness. Thus his well-known work on the Formation of Christian Character was planned and executed, as he tells us in the preface, in “some of the languid hours of a weary convalescence,’ upon journeys and in public houses.”
As an aid to this love and habit of labor, he possessed a singular power of abstraction and concentration of mind, independent of circumstances. No particular time or place, no solitude or quiet without, was essential to the working of his mind or pen. He loved to write in his parlor or nursery, surrounded with prattlers and meddlers. He seemed often to be helped rather than hindered by the climbing of a child on his chair or into his lap, nor did it trouble him if some other mark than his own appeared on the paper. He could write also away from home, in another man’s study or without a study, as some men think they cannot. Well do I remember, one Saturday night in my early acquaintance with my brother Ware, how he amazed me by the ease and rapidity and zest with which he worked. He had come to preach for me with a supply of sermons. But, as we conversed late in the evening, I expressed a wish to hear him, at some time, on a particular theme. Instantly he seized a pen and began to write. We talked, and he wrote on, until he had finished an entire sermon, which he preached the next morning.
With his love of work may be named his love of the special work which he made the calling and business of his life. Few men have been so devoted ministers, without being exclusive ministers, as Henry Ware. I say without being exclusive; and I mean, of course, exclusively and only a minister. Every high and worthy cause engaged his interest and received a share of his time, but never to the forgetfulness of his calling or to the neglect of one of its duties. For peace, temperance, freedom, charity, education, theology, the diffusion of the Scriptures, the influence and elevation of the lecture-room, he wrote, spoke and labored. But he gave himself first and most to the direct work of the ministry itself; and, whether as a preacher or the teacher and helper of preachers, he allowed no other object to come in competition with this. In talking, reading, journeying, or resting, in health and sickness, even in the failure of nature and the last efforts of an exhausted frame, his heart turned to this; and his thoughts and prayers were given to it when he had nothing else to give.
Both these traits which I have named were connected with another—at least, they came in aid of another—his love of witnessing and promoting the happiness of those about him. With all his infirmity and occasional depression from disease, with all his moderation, and, as some thought, coldness, of manner, there was a warmth within, a heartiness of interest often expressed, and a variety of effort perfectly genial and delightful. He seemed never too busy or abstracted to think of others or to plan and provide for their enjoyment. With a load of work and care always upon him, he would throw off all for domestic recreation or a frolic with children. The quick rhyme, the droll story, the laughable fancy, the ingenious riddle, the childish song or sport invented at the moment, and shared by himself and all the grown people as well as children he could enlist, were among the lighter but not useless ways in which he sought to promote the happiness of family and friends. It was beautiful to see how completely the respect and reverence of the young were retained and even promoted with all this freedom. All appeared to feel that his own happiness and power of promoting theirs, that this very freedom and hilarity, came from the strength of a religious principle and feeling which was part of himself. Some of the Thanksgiving hymns and little poems that he wrote were full of the spirit of devotion, yet suggestive and promotive of the freest enjoyment. With young or old he could not give to religion a forbidding aspect or harsh voice. Mingle religion with everything, let everything be moderated and hallowed, but nothing clouded or chilled by its presence. Let not even the presence or thought of death make you gloomy or wretched. This was the language of his own demeanor and character, at all times and in every scene. Very near to him did death come repeatedly in the removal of others, and gradually, but visibly and surely, in its approach to himself. But no gloom, no fear, no change of deportment or hushing of life’s music, did he exhibit or desire.
His own death occurred in the end of the week, so that the body remained in the house at Framingham over the Sabbath. The wife and mother, instead of making the day a constrained and gloomy one to the children and helpers in a darkened home, still less willing to profane the day and the occasion, as is often done, by the busy hum of preparation for outside mourning, took her family with her to the quiet village church, and with no unusual demonstrations joined in the customary worship. Again, it had been his custom always, at the close of the Sabbath, to gather his children around him, hear each one of them repeat some hymn or sacred verse that they had learned during the day, tell them in his own words some interesting Scripture story or question them about that which they had heard, then lead them in singing, hands all joined and voices all blending, their sweet Sabbath hymn. This beautiful custom was never suffered to cease in that home. When the father had gone, the mother took it up, and continued it in all places and circumstances, alone or in the presence of friends, in health or sickness, even through her own painful and fatal sickness, not omitting it, I believe, a single Sabbath, to the last of her own on earth. Never have I been more deeply impressed or bound more in love to religion than by some of those simple and beautiful services. They will always help to keep distinct and glowing in the heart’s memory the image of Henry and Mary Ware.
Related Resources in the Harvard Square Library Collection
“Lecture I: 1825,” by Virgil E. Murdock
The Biography of Henry Ware, Sr.