Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol III (1901).djvu/66

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Jowett
Jowett
52

appointed to the regius professorship of Greek, vacant by the death of Dean Gaisford [q. v.] Those who condemned his views were roused to action by this preferment. Under an almost forgotten statute Jowett was denounced by Dr. John David Macbride [q. v.] and the Rev. Charles Pourtales Golightly [q. v.] to the vice-chancellor (Dr. Cotton of Worcester) as having denied the catholic faith. Dr. Cotton summoned him to subscribe the articles anew in his presence, and to this Jowett submitted. It was a mean attack, which might create a prejudice, but could lead to no definite result. Almost meaner still was the agitation, prolonged over ten years, by which the Greek chair was deprived of any addition to the statutory emoluments which had been hitherto paid. Of the four chairs founded by Henry VIII at Oxford, and endowed by him with 40l. each, the chair of Greek was the only one which had never received increased emolument, and this continued to be the case in spite of repeated appeals to convocation till 1865, when Christ Church consented to raise the income to 500l. a year. It was, in fact, made clear that estates had been granted to that college for the purpose, and that the chair must be endowed from some source was rendered inevitable by the action of Jowett's friends, who subscribed 2,000l. towards the deficiency—which Jowett refused to accept—and by his own action as professor.

For from his election Jowett had departed altogether from the traditional lines. To edit dictionaries and scholia was not to his taste at all; he began a series of lectures on the 'Republic of Plato' and the 'Fragments of the Early Greek Philosophers,' and at the same time allowed any undergraduate who wished, whether belonging to his own college or not, to bring him, for correction, translations into Greek prose or verse two or even three times a week. This was a very severe addition to his tutorial work. But his lectures were a success. Greek scholarship received a stimulus throughout the university, and outside Oxford his devoted labour on his pupils could not but tell in his favour, whatever his theological opinions might be.

In the ten years following the election to the professorship Jowett fell deeper still under suspicion of heresy. In the second edition of his 'Epistles of St. Paul' (1859) he had repeated his views, and in this he had intended to include an essay on the 'Interpretation of Scripture.' This essay he finally kept back till the next year, when it appeared in 'Essays and Reviews,' a work which created a panic in the church. The volume was promoted by the Rev. Harry Bristow Wilson [q.v.], of St. John's College, Oxford, and among the contributors, besides Jowett and Wilson, were Archdeacon Rowland Williams [q.v.], the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Mark Pattison [q. v.], and others. The book went through many editions, 'for though we have now got to the stage of affecting astonishment at the sensation produced by the avowal of admitted truths in that work, nobody who remembers the time can doubt that it marked the appearance of a very important development of religious and philosophical thought' (Leslie Stephen, Studies of a Biographer, ii. 129). Wilson and Williams were brought before the court of arches and suspended for a year, but this judgment was subsequently reversed by Lord Westbury. After the verdict of the dean of arches an attack was made upon Jowett. The case was opened in the vice-chancellor's court at Oxford (20 Feb. 1863), when Mountague Bernard [q. v.] appeared as the vice-chancellor's assessor. On Jowett's part it was protested that the court had no jurisdiction in the matter. Bernard, while rejecting the protest, refused to order Jowett to appear and to admit articles on the part of the promoters of the case. Counsel advised against an application to the court of queen's bench for a mandamus, and the prosecution was dropped.

For a time Jowett 'held his tongue about theology, and was glad to have done so, because he began to see things more clearly' (1866). But in 1870 he was planning in connection with Wilson a new volume of 'Essays,' in which he intended to write on the great religions of the world. In September of that year he was elected master of Balliol College, and the projected volume never appeared. Theology occupied a great deal of his thought and time; he preached not only in the college chapel but in the university pulpit, in Westminster Abbey, and elsewhere. But nothing was published. He would not allow any of his sermons to be printed, or his 'St. Paul' to appear in a new edition. He wished to attain to greater clearness and certainty, and hoped that these would come with time; but he took on himself other labours which left no leisure for elaborating his views. Yet his theological work had not been in vain; he had pointed out where changes must be made if theology is to retain a hold on thoughtful minds, and if some of his positive conceptions were regarded as 'misty' and 'vague,' he was clear enough in maintaining what he called 'the central light of all religion,' the divine jus-