Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/144

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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

than we shall ever actually do if we could only continue to aim at a mark beyond our range; and it must be placed to Jowett's credit that the impulse to work remained so vigorous when all capacity for achievement was so soon to leave him. But, also, one cannot help asking whether Jowett at his best, and freed from the calls upon his energy, which took up so large a part of his time, could really have done anything great in these directions? What could a Life of Christ have been in his hands? 'Can I write like Renan?' he asks himself; and the answer is too clear. Could he have emulated the industry, close scholarship, and minute criticism of a German professor? That is, perhaps, still more out of the question, and one cannot feel that his failure has lost us anything more than an elegant essay balancing inconsistent theories. Jowett's biographers think that he could have written something of great value upon Moral Philosophy. Happily a man may be an admirable moralist in practice, though very vague in his theory of morals. Jowett might have been an excellent 'moralist' in the old Johnsonian sense—a forcible propounder of practical maxims for life and conduct—but however good the spirit of