Winchester College Publication Winchester College Classic Talks - Page 9

Benjamin Jowett (1855–93: Figures 14–15). I have already mentioned Jowett’s unconventional theological work and the discord that resulted. He again attracted anecdotes. A ‘Balliol verse’ ran: ‘First come I, my name is Jowett. There’s no knowledge but I know it. I am master of this College. What I don’t know isn’t knowledge.’ There was a tendresse between him and Florence Nightingale: people speculated that she had turned him down, and his life was not the same again. Margot Asquith later asked him what Florence had been like. ‘Violent,’ he said, ‘very violent’. He raised Balliol to formidable intellectual standing, and was the centre of intense discussion at the time on what the university was for. The other leading player in this argument was Mark Pattison, Rector of Exeter College, who held that Oxford should follow the German model of a scholarly research institution; that was a pattern that several American universities were choosing to follow. Jowett was insistent that it should remain predominantly an institution for undergraduate teaching, with a responsibility to educate those who were going to fill public positions of importance. Jowett, I think it is fair to say, won, at least for the next fifty years or so. Ingram Bywater (1893–1908: Figure 16), the first holder of the post not to be an ordained cleric; he is much less talked about than his two predecessors or his next few successors. His text of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is still, however, the standard one, and that is no mean achievement: nearly all the other texts of important works produced at the time are now regarded as obsolete. He had little time for his successor, whom he described as an ‘insolent puppy’. Figure 14 Benjamin Jowett; after Désiré-François Laugée, after 1871 Figure 15 Benjamin Jowett relaxes from his labours 16 Figure 16 Ingram Bywater; by John Singer Sargent 17