Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Haweis, Hugh Reginald
HAWEIS, HUGH REGINALD (1838–1901), author and preacher, born on 3 April 1838, at Egham, Surrey, was grandson of Thomas Haweis [q. v.], the friend and trustee of Lady Huntingdon, and was son of John Oliver Willyams Haweis by his wife Mary. His father (1809–1891) matriculated at Queen's College, Oxford, graduating B.A. in 1828, and proceeding M.A. in 1830. From 1846 he was morning preacher at the Magdalen Hospital in London, and from 1874 to 1886 rector of Slaugham in Sussex. In 1883 he was made Heathfield prebendary of Chichester Cathedral. He was the author in 1844 of ‘Sketches of the Reformation,’ a work of considerable learning.
Hugh Reginald, the eldest son in a family of four children, showed great musical sensibility and aptitude for violin playing from early years, but delicate health prevented systematic education. He suffered from hip-disease, and at the age of twelve Sir Benjamin Brodie pronounced his case hopeless. He was taken to his grandmother's house in Brunswick Square, Brighton, and recovered, although he remained almost a dwarf and had a permanent limp. At Brighton he practised the violin assiduously, receiving instruction from several masters and finally from Oury, a pupil of Paganini. He obtained orchestral practice as a member of the Symphony Society that met in the Brighton Pavilion. He also wrote much verse and prose for the Brighton papers. By the age of sixteen he had so much improved in strength that he was put under the care at Freshwater, Isle of Wight, of the Rev. John Bicknell, who prepared him for matriculation at Cambridge. In 1856 he matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and quickly became a notoriety. He was the solo violinist of the Cambridge Musical Society, and formed a quartet society which met in his rooms. He read German poetry and philosophy with enthusiasm, and along with some friends of kindred tastes started a magazine called the ‘Lion,’ of which three numbers were issued. There was ability as well as originality in the magazine, but its extravagance laid it open to ridicule. (Sir) G. O. Trevelyan issued a rival sheet called the ‘Bear,’ which parodied all the eccentricities of the ‘Lion.’ Haweis says magnanimously that the greatest success of the ‘Lion’ ‘was in calling forth the “Bear” which slew it.’ He continued to contribute voluminously to any newspapers that would publish his writing, and he made the acquaintance of a French violinist, J. G. R. R. Venua, who interested him in the history and art of violin-making, a subject upon which he began researches. He graduated B.A. in 1859, and then travelled for his health. His father had wished him to avoid Italy, but falling in with Signor Li Calsi, a professional musician whom he knew at Brighton, he went with him to Genoa, whence Calsi was proceeding to join Garibaldi. Haweis followed him to the seat of war. He arrived when Garibaldi was besieging Capua. He incurred without injury many risks and privations from bad food, bad weather, and insanitary conditions. He made the acquaintance of King Victor Emmanuel, and was present at the peace celebrations in Milan. He described his experiences in the ‘Argosy’ in 1870.
Before leaving Italy Haweis read the newly issued ‘Essays and Reviews,’ and decided to seek orders in the English church. He had been for some years ‘an irregular student of theology.’ In 1861 he passed the Cambridge examination in theology and was ordained deacon, becoming priest in 1862 and curate of St. Peter, Bethnal Green. In East London he threw himself enthusiastically into parish work. He was much in the company of J. R. Green [q. v.], who was in sole charge of Holy Trinity, Hoxton, and Green greatly influenced his views on social questions. After two years in Bethnal Green he went as curate to St. James-the-Less, Westminster, and then to St. Peter, Stepney. In 1866 he was appointed incumbent of St. James, Westmoreland Street, Marylebone, being, according to his own account, the youngest incumbent in London. He found the church nearly empty and in need of immediate repair. By his energy, ability, and somewhat sensational methods he quickly filled his church, and kept it full and fashionable for the thirty-five years of his ministry. He remained at St. James's till death.
Haweis exercised great power in the pulpit. He always preached in a black gown. His theatrical manner and vanity frequently exposed him to charges of charlatanry and obscured his genuine spiritual gifts. But he was earnest and sagacious in his efforts. He organised in his church 'Sunday evenings for the people,' at which orchestral music, oratorio performances, and even exhibitions of sacred pictures were made 'to form portions of the ordinary church services.' His success encouraged him to use St. James's Hall, Regent Street, for Sunday morning services of a similarly unconventional character, and Dean Stanley invited him to preach at a course of 'services for the people ' in Westminster Abbey. He was one of the first promoters of the Sunday opening of museums and picture galleries. He interested himself in the provision of open air spaces in London and in the laying out as gardens of disused church-yards. Haweis's literary activity was at the same time large. He wrote much for the magazines, for 'The Times' and the 'Pall Mall Gazette,' and was on the early staff of the 'Echo.' His first book, 'Music and Morals,' published in 1871 (16th edit. 1891), was a revision of magazine articles; it mingled pleasantly theories about music with biographical notices of musicians and criticisms of their music. There followed in 1884 'My Musical Life' (4th edit. 1891) and 'Old Violins' (1898, with a bibliography). As musical critic to 'Truth' Haweis helped to introduce Wagner's works to English notice. His soundest and most original literary work was on music, although his theological writings were bulkier. In 'Thoughts for the Times' (1872; 14th edit. 1891) he attempted to 'strike the keynotes of modern theology, religion, and life '; in 'Speech in Season' (1874) he 'applied these principles to present social needs and ecclesiastical institutions.' He continued his propaganda in 'Arrows in the Air' (1878); 'Winged Words' (1885); and 'The Broad Church; or. What is coming' (with a preface on Mrs. Humphry Ward's novel, Robert Elsmere,' 1891). He attempted a study of the origins of Christianity, which he published in 1886–7 in five volumes as 'Christ and Christianity.' The separate volumes were 'The Light of the Ages,' 'The Story of the Four,' 'The Picture of Jesus,' 'The Picture of Paul,' and 'The Conquering Cross.' Throughout this work there was much that was acute and vivacious, but little that was original or new.
Haweis's chief success was achieved as a popular lecturer in England and the colonies, and in America, principally on musical themes. In 1885 he gave the Lowell lectures in Boston, U.S.A. During the Chicago Exposition in 1893 he lectured before the Parliament of Religions, and in the following year he visited the Pacific coast, preaching to crowded congregations in Trinity Church, San Francisco. Thence he toured through Canada, the South Sea Islands, Australia, and New Zealand, lecturing and preaching. He preached in nine colonial cathedrals. In 1897 he visited Rome for the third time, to lecture on Mazzini and Garibaldi. He described his American and colonial experiences in 'Travel and Talk' (2 vols. 1896).
For some years after D. G. Rossetti's death in 1882 Haweis occupied the poet's house in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. He died suddenly of heart seizure at his residence in later years, 31 Devonshire Street, on 29 Jan. 1901, after preaching memorial sermons on Queen Victoria on the previous Sunday. His body was cremated at Woking, and the remains interred beside his wife. There is a tablet to his memory in Marylebone parish church. Two sons and a daughter survive him. His portrait in oils, painted by Felix Moscheles, belongs to his daughter. A cartoon portrait by 'Ape' appeared in 'Vanity Fair' in 1888.
Besides the works above mentioned and many sermons, Haweis, who was general editor (1886) of Routledge's 'World Library,' and for a year of 'Cassell's Magazine,' wrote:
- 'Pet; or Pastimes and Penalties,' 1874.
- 'Ashes to Ashes, a Cremation Prelude,' 1875.
- 'Poets in the Pulpit,' 1880.
- 'American Humorists,' 1883.
- 'The Dead Pulpit,' 1896.
- 'Ideals for Girls,' 1897.
- 'The Child's Life of Jesus,' 1902.
- 'Realities of Life: being thoughts gathered from the teachings of H. R. Haweis,' 1902.
The family of Sir Morell Mackenzie [q. v.] entrusted Haweis with the delicate task of writing his life, which he published in 1893. Haweis married in 1807 Mary, daughter of Thomas Musgrave Joy [q. v.] the artist. At the ago of sixteen she exhibited in the Royal Academy, and contributed also to the Dudley Gallery. She illustrated her husband's books as well as her own. She was an enthusiastic student of Chaucer, and compiled in 1877 'Chaucer for Children, a golden key'; with coloured and plain illustrations (2nd edit. 1882). The book was educationally valuable. It led to 'Chaucer for Schools' (1880; 2nd edit. 1899), which was equally original in plan and execution, and to 'Chaucer's Beads, a Birthday Book' (1884), and 'Tales from Chaucer, adapted by Mrs. Haweis,' published in Routledge's 'World Library.' Mrs. Haweis was a copious writer of articles upon domestic art and dress for the magazines. Endeavouring to establish some sound canons of taste in the minor arts, she embodied her views with vivacity and piquancy in 'The Art of Beauty' (1878, with illustrations by the author). This was followed by 'The Art of Dress' (1879); 'The Art of Decoration' (1881); and finally by 'The Art of Housekeeping: a Bridal Garland' (1889). All were illustrated by the author. She published also 'Beautiful Houses: being a Description of certain well-known Artistic Houses' (2nd edit. 1882), and 'Rus in Urbe: or Flowers that thrive in London Gardens and Smoky Towns' (1886). She accompanied her husband in his tours on the Continent and to America, and interested herself in many philanthropic causes. She was a director of Lady Henry Somerset's Mercy League for Animals and a strong supporter of the women's franchise movement. Shortly before her death she published a novel, 'A Flame of Fire ' (1897), 'to vindicate the helplessness of womankind.' She died on 24 Nov. 1898, and after cremation was buried at Boughton Monchelsea, Kent.
[There is much autobiography in My Musical Life and in Travel and Talk. See also The Times, 30 Jan. 1901; Men of the Time, 1899; Crockford; H. C. Marillier's University Magazines and their Makers (Opusculum xlvii. of Sette of Odd Volumes, 1899). For Mrs. Haweis, see The Times, 29 Nov. 1898; Men of the Time, 1899.]