Project Canterbury

The Life and Labors of Bishop Hare
Apostle to the Sioux

By M.A. DeWolfe Howe

New York: Sturgis and Walton, 1911.

Chapter I. The Boy and the Man, 1838-1859

SANCTITY and chivalry were so inherent in the nature of William Hobart Hare that "saint" and "knight" stand in the first rank of the generic terms by which he may be characterized. More specifically he was also an "apostle" and a "pioneer." If John Eliot had lived in the nineteenth century it is easy to imagine that his apostleship to the Indians would have expressed itself in many of the words and deeds of Bishop Hare. As a pioneer, moreover, he exerted an influence not exclusively limited to the work of a Christian missionary. He bore an important part in preparing a wild region for civilization; and when civilization began to come, it came the more quickly and surely for what he had done and continued to do towards making the Indians better neighbors to the whites and to each other, and towards working a corresponding benefit to the whites themselves. This vital and many-sided service he rendered through overcoming difficulties which a man of his sensitive fibre, both physical and spiritual, might have dodged without cowardice. He faced them all, with a high fortitude, a helpful humor, a deep devotion to the Christian religion as a system, and to its founder as a living, personal director of daily life.

When such things can truly be said of a man, it is impossible to say also that he is of those regarding whom

". . . no one asks Who or what they have been."

The world has a right to ask and to learn the essential facts about them. A life that signifies much in the living must also signify something in the telling--unless the biographer obscure it utterly. It is here his specific task to show with what reason the titles of saint and knight and apostle and pioneer may be linked with one modern name.

William Hobart Hare was born in Princeton, New Jersey, May 17, 1838. The science of heredity may some day demand a new structure for biography, with the date of a man's birth standing midway between ages of preparation to live and years of living. The genealogical pages of some biographies lead one to suspect that this fashion has already won its votaries. Indeed there are lives in which inheritance and performance are so closely related that the temptation to enlarge upon the bare facts of ancestry is somewhat difficult to resist. Such a life was Bishop Hare's; but the new plan of biography is not yet the accepted plan, and in the present instance a brief suggestion of the qualities and tendencies derived from earlier generations will suffice.

In physical aspect Bishop Hare represented clearly, as any picture of him will show, what may be called the best Anglican type. The English churchman of gentle breeding, of native and acquired distinction, has rendered it familiar. Such men are born both to their appearance and to their profession. In the lineage of William Hobart Hare there was quite enough to account both for the outward and for the inward man. On each side of his parentage he was a son, immediately of the Protestant Episcopal Church; and, more remotely he sprang both from the New England Puritans and the Pennsylvania Friends whose beliefs and standards have played so important a part in the religious and political life of America.

His father, the Rev. Dr. George Emlen Hare, an eminent Biblical scholar, one of the American Old Testament Committee appointed under the direction of the Convocation of Canterbury in 1870 for the revision of the authorized version of the English Bible, was for many years a teacher in Philadelphia--first in a temporary professorship at the University of Pennsylvania; then at the head of the old Protestant Episcopal Academy for Boys, revived in 1846 by Bishop Alonzo Potter; and finally as professor of Biblical Learning and Exegesis in the Divinity School in West Philadelphia, of which he was the first dean. "From the period of his ordination," it is written in a brief sketch of his life, "the Scriptures in their original texts had never been half a day out of his hands." One sees him in memory, a typical figure of the scholar, formal, remote, known of those who knew him as demanding of himself the same exacting standard of industry and integrity that he demanded of his pupils. In his veins ran the blood most characteristic of Philadelphia. His mother's greatgrandfather, George Emlen, had come from England with William Penn. His own grandfather, Robert Hare, coming from England in 1773, and marrying Margaret Willing, a daughter of Charles Willing and Ann Ship-pen, allied himself at once with representative Philadelphia families. One of the sons of the emigrant Robert Hare was the distinguished chemist of the same name, who discovered the oxyhydrogen blowpipe and other important aids to the study of his science. Another son, Charles Willing Hare, the father of George Emlen Hare, won himself an eminent place as a legal practitioner, in the teaching of law at the University of Pennsylvania, and in public affairs. Beyond what the great-uncle and grandfather of Bishop Hare gave thus to the community, the family in every generation has contributed abundantly to the intellectual and social life of Philadelphia.

Perhaps even the greater number of determining qualities in the compound of inheritances came to Bishop Hare through his maternal ancestry. His mother was Elizabeth Catharine Hobart, a daughter of the Right Rev. John Henry Hobart, Bishop of New York. Bishop Hobart, descended from the Rev. Peter Hobart, first minister of the Puritan settlers of Hingham, Massachusetts, specifically foreshadowed his grandson in his important work for the Oneida Indians still within his jurisdiction, in a keen interest in education perpetuated in the name of Hobart College, and in the "banner" of "Evangelical Faith--Apostolic Order" which the Rev. Dr. Henry Anthon, in a funeral sermon on his bishop, ascribed to him.

The wife of Bishop Hobart--to "explain" the grandson still more fully--was a daughter of that vigorous defender of Anglicanism in America, the Rev. Thomas Bradbury Chandler, of Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Though descended from Governor John Winthrop and from a brother of that militant Cromwellian divine, Hugh Peters, Chandler was the representative of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts who came nearest to being the bishop of the Colonies before the Revolution. When it broke out he was obliged, as a Tory, to take refuge in England, leaving his family for ten years, unmolested by those from whom he differed, in New Jersey. At the restoration of peace the government offered him the first Colonial bishopric of the English Church, that of Nova Scotia, and filled the place, which he declined by reason of age and desire to return to his own flock, with an appointee of his naming. The granddaughter of that ardent churchman, the mother of the ten children of whom Bishop Hare was fifth, was a woman of the warmest affections and truest piety, and exercised enduring influence upon the lives for which she was responsible. At a Christmas celebration near the end of her long life she broke her leg by a fall while playing blind-man's-buff with her grandchildren. The bare fact carries with it some suggestion of her spirit and of its value in the family of which her scholar-husband was the head. Three of Bishop Hare's sisters have survived him, and two brothers, Mr. James Montgomery Hare of New York, and Mr. Robert Emott Hare of Philadelphia.

When William Hobart Hare was born in Princeton, his father was rector of Trinity Church in that town. It was in 1843 that the family established itself permanently in Philadelphia, where the institutions with which the father became connected provided the son in turn with the instruments of his formal education. His thorough use of these means is revealed in the quaint memorials of his good standing in school and college. Between 1848 and 1855 there were many announcements on the blue paper of the Episcopal Academy that "The name of William Hobart Hare has been sent to the Bishop of the Diocese, and to the Board of Trustees, as deserving commendation for industry, punctuality and propriety of deportment." On three of the last four of these notices the word "especial" precedes "commendation." In September of 1855 he entered the Sophomore Class of the University of Pennsylvania. Here he maintained his high rank as a student. At the end of his first term his name stood highest in his class in the "Roll of Honorary Distinction," and in succeeding terms he ranked repeatedly from first to fourth in the "First Class of Distinguished Students." But his health--especially that of his eyes--and the feeling that the family resources were far too slender to warrant his completing the college course, removed him from the University at the end of his Junior year.

If he ever thought of preparing himself for any work in the world but that of the Christian ministry, the evidences of such uncertainty have disappeared. His nature and the influences with which he was surrounded pointed clearly in one direction, and--apparently without qualm or question--he prepared himself to walk in it. One of his masters at the Episcopal Academy had established a classical school of his own, St. Mark's Academy, in Philadelphia. Knowing and admiring young Hare he asked him to become an assistant in this school. The offer was accepted, and the duties of teaching did not prevent the continuance of study--now at the Divinity School in direct preparation for the ministry. The first crowning of all these labors came with his admission to the diaconate by Bishop Bowman, June 19, 1859, when he was only a month beyond twenty-one.

He was hardly more than a boy, therefore, when he began the work of his life. The schoolteacher under whom he first studied and then taught is perhaps better qualified than any one else to recall the beginnings of Bishop Hare's career, and from the Rev. Dr. J. Andrews Harris, of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, comes the following statement:

"In him the boy was in very truth 'the father of the man.' The traits of quiet dignity of manner, of unselfishness, transparent candor, inflexible faithfulness to what he believed to be duty and to his friends, and, above all, a lofty personal purity of thought and deed, were not something new, superimposed upon his younger by his advancing years. They were not the graft of maturity. They were simply an expression of what always seemed to belong to him, to belong to his very nature. From a boy, he was always what I believe to be the highest type of manhood--a clean and perfect Christian Gentleman."

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