The Interpretation of Scripture and Other Essays (Classic Reprint)by Benjamin Jowett
This life of Jowett by two of his most enthusiastic and sympathetic disciples satisfies many demands of the art of biography. Jowett himself loved Boswell's model work as it deserves to be loved, and would have made it the standard of excellence. The unique combination of circumstances which enabled
Excerpt from The Interpretation of Scripture and Other Essays
This life of Jowett by two of his most enthusiastic and sympathetic disciples satisfies many demands of the art of biography. Jowett himself loved Boswell's model work as it deserves to be loved, and would have made it the standard of excellence. The unique combination of circumstances which enabled Boswell to turn out a masterpiece has not, and probably never will, be repeated. Jowett, in spite of some resemblances, noted by his biographers, was not a Johnson; and the biographers - the remark is, perhaps, equivocal - are clearly not Boswells. Boswell had the tact for selecting only such trifles as were characteristic; and I fear that they do not fully share that quality. Still, with the help of Jowetts letters and written meditations, they have brought us face to face with the man; and should enable us to form a distinct portrait of a very interesting figure. One result may be emphatically recognized at the outset. Nobody can lay down these volumes without feeling that Jowett deserved the affection of his friends. He had his weaknesses like Johnson; but we feel in his case, as in Johnson's, that the core of the mans nature was sweet, sound, and masculine. This is part of the explanation of a problem which, I must confess, has often appeared to me as to others, to be rather enigmatic. What was the secret and the real nature of Jowett's remarkable influence? I had not the advantage of coming within his personal sphere, nor even of belonging to his beloved University. I had, however, the good fortune of knowing at an early period some of the group, among whom, as we are told, 'there sprang up what outsiders termed a sort of Jowett worship.' That group, it is added, did not form a 'mutual admiration society.' One reason is obvious: the bond of union was personal. The worship of Newman or of Carlyle meant, as a rule, sympathy with certain dogmas or the acceptance of a particular set of shibboleths, which at once marked a man as representing a distinctive tendency in theology or politics. This could certainly not be said of Jowett's worshippers. Jowett did not himself accept any articulate philosophical doctrine.
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