Student or Learner
I don't understand the form of the sentence in the parentheses,especially the last part 'it was in him to do'.Maybe it's an ellipsis.
"Young men who have reason to fear that they will be killed in battle may justifiably feel bitter in the thought that they have been cheated of the best things that life has to offer.but in an old man who has known human joys and sorrows,(and has achieved whatever work it was in him to do),the fear of death is somewhat abject and ignoble."
Last edited by Hiya Raymond; 30-Jul-2013 at 05:11. Reason: Abject and Ignoble
'whatever work it was in him to do' = whatever work he had the potential to do. The phrase 'it's in him'/'he's got it in him' is often used like this: Do you think he'll manage to do it? / No, I just don't think he's got it in him.
Incidentally, the sentence doesn't make sense. Have you transcribed it accurately? 'Somewhat abject ignoble' is the crucial area of meaninglessness!