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IMPRISONMENT. — PROMOTION.-DEATH,
tions on those who had despoiled the churches, and silenced the liturgy; and for these expressions the author was arrested and thrown into prison. But this imprisonment obtained for him the friendship of John Evelyn ; and when other sources of supply were cut off, the main reliance of the unbeneficed student was a pension allowed to him by this good old English gentleman.
For a short time it would appear that Taylor preached to a congregation in London ; but in the summer of 1658 he accepted an invitation from Lord Conway to accompany him to his mansion at Portmore, in Ireland, and conduct a lecture in the town of Lisburn. This migration introduced him to the sister isle, and the land of his ado; tion was soon to become the scene of his elevation. On the restoration of Charles II., he was nominated to the bishopric of Down and Connor, to which Dromore was added in April 1661. He was also chosen Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dublin.
Such honours were never better earned, but they were not long enjoyed. As a devoted son of the Church of England, the good bishop must have rejoiced in the opportunity of serving her in his high office; but there were many things to weigh down the head which wore this mitre. Several of his children had died young, but two sons grew up. Of these the one entered the army, and fell in a duel with a brother officer belonging to the same regiment. The other was intended for the Church, but the seductions of the Court of Charles II. proved too strong for his feeble principles. He became secretary to the Duke of Buckingham, and copied too faithfully the profligacy and follies of his patron. The result was a consumption, of which he lay dying, when his sorrow-stricken father was seized by a fever, and after an illness of ten days, “ the English Chrysostom," “ the Shakspere of Theology," as he has often been styled by his affectionate admirers, expired at Lisburn, on the 13th of August 1667.
The merits and defects of Taylor have been thus summed up by the historian of European literature: “An imagination essentially poetical, and sparing none of the decorations which, by critical rules, are deemed almost peculiar to verse; a warm tone of piety, sweetness, and charity; an accumulation of circumstantial accessories whenever he reasons, or persuades, or describes; an erudition pouring itself forth in quotation, till his sermons become in some places almost a garland of flowers from all other writers, and especially from those of classical antiquity, never before so redundantly scattered from the pulpit,—distinguish Taylor from his contemporaries by their degree, as they do from most of his successors by their kind. But they are not without considerable faults. . . . . The eloquence of Taylor is great, but it is not eloquence of the highest class; it is far too Asiatic—too much in the style of the declaimers of the fourth century, by the study of whom he had probably vitiated his taste; his learning is ill-placed, and his arguments often as much so; not to mention that he has the common defect of alleging nugatory proofs; his vehemence loses its effect by the circuity of his pleonastic language; his sentences are of endless length, and hence not only altogether unmusical, but not always reducible to grammar."
With the estimate of the venerable critic we substantially agree; although, were we re-writing it, we might perhaps give larger proportions to our praise, as well as a warmer tone, and from the assertion that his sentences are “altogether unmusical” we must entirely dissent.
Taylor's greatest faults were theological. His denial of the doctrine of original sin, his rare and remote allusions to the central truth of the Christian system, his overweening rever
* Hallam's “ Literature of Europe,” part iii., chap. 2.
VENERATION FOR ANTIQUITY.
ence for Romish saints and the later fathers,* and a certain legal strain which pervades his writings, give them a complexion very different from the New Testament Epistles, and the writings of our early Reformers.
The truth would seem to be, that fancy and the love of the beautiful were the ruling faculties in Taylor's mind, and that they exerted an influence greater than he himself was aware on his somewhat eclectic theology. To such a mind all antiquity possessed a peculiar fascination. With their noble imagery and exquisite diction, the Greek and Roman classics were irresistible; and the piety of cloistered monks and mediæval fathers had a charm which he failed to recognise in his Puritan contemporaries. To his gentle spirit, all violence was offensive; and in his living time the controversies to which the Reformation gave rise were still waged with noisy vehemence. True, some of the schoolmen and fathers had been as boisterous in their day as any of the Reformers and their followers; but the lapse of centuries had thrown over their asperities a softening veil; and, like many amongst ourselves who read with zest old tales of Rhine or Border warfare, but who would turn away from a street brawl disgusted, Taylor could appeal with fond and submissive reverence to the words of Gregory the Great and ecclesiastical ruffians of a similar type, whilst in all his works there occurs no
* " Taylor's was a great and lovely mind; yet how much and injuriously was it perverted by his being a follower of Laud, and by his intensely Popish feelings of Church authority! He never speaks with the slightest symptom of affection or respect of Luther, Calvin, or any other of the great Reformers, at least, not in any of his learned works; but he saints every trumpery monk or friar, down to the very latest canonizations by the modern popes. I fear you will think me harsh when I say that I believe Taylor was, per haps unconsciously, half a Socinian in heart. Such a strange inconsistency would not be impossible; the Romish Church has produced many such devout Sociniang. The cross of Christ is dimly seen in Taylor's works."“ Table-Talk of S. T. Coleridge," vol. i. p. 165.
2 B 2
reson in Preat Gra was
but a futana
reference to Latimer or Luther, and other sturdy champions who had contended for the faith in their own vulgar modern fashion.
Still, we cannot afford to quarrel with Jeremy Taylor. His works are the greatest luxury in the theologian's librarywith their Italian and Spanish proverbs, their classical quotations, their tid-bits from the fathers, their Jewish legends and oriental fables, and their profusion of the richest original poetry, forming a common-place book as amusing as it is instructive, and to which the weary student will often betake himself when his powers of attention have been exhausted by duller though sounder authorship. If the writer cannot claim to be a master-builder in the temple of English theology, he has done for the temple precincts what his friend Evelyn did for the mansions of England, and has left himself without a rival as a landscape gardener. Many a stately tree, as well as many a beautiful exotic, has he been the first to bring in from the
pagan wilderness; and even fantastic stumps and broken arches have acquired a picturesque air as they have been grouped or disguised by his cunning hand.
The erudition of Taylor was almost excessive. He read everything, and seems hardly to have possessed sufficient selfdenial to withhold on any occasion his vast information, any more than his exuberant diction ; but just as his prayers and devotional compositions are frequently injured by florid language and rhetorical figures, so the impressiveness of his arguments and appeals is often impaired by excursive allusions and enfeebling details. For example, in a solemn passage of his
“The Invalidity of a Deathbed Repentance,” the following sentence occurs : “He that hopes upon this only, I must say of him as Galen said of consumptive persons, "Ηι πλεον ελπιζουσιν, ταύτη μαλλον κακώς έχoυσι, “The more they hope, the worse they are;' and the relying upon such hopes is an approach to the grave and a sad eternity.
LOVE OF THE BEAUTIFUL
6 Peleos et Priami transit, vel Nestoris ætas,
Et fuerat serum jam tibi desinere.
Dum, quid sis dubitas, jam potes esse nihil."'.
The effect of the context would have been much greater without the Greek and the Latin; but to Taylor a quotation from Galen or Martial was a golden apple which was sure to divert his steps even within sight of the winning-post.
The compilers of the new English Dictionary will find rich materials in Taylor. Words like “immorigerous," "compaginations,” “ castifications,” “conspersions," " fontinels,” were not pedantic as he employed them; but they are not of the class which become readily naturalised in our division of the old Teutonic tongue.
As an apology for the style of his sermons, so far exalted above ordinary apprehension, and so crowded with classical quotation, it has been urged by one biographer that his audience at Golden Grove must have contained the elite of the cavaliers; and by another it has been ingeniously suggested, that, although preached to Welsh peasants and the household of a nobleman, these discourses must have been prepared with an eye to an academic congregation. Judging from his preface to these very sermons, and from his publications issued for general use, we hardly think that the accomplished author could have accepted either explanation. We really believe that in the composition of these sermons there was a certain measure of self-indulgence. He chose a theme, not without an eye to his congregation, and he began to write. Thoughts, epithets, incidents, images, came trooping round with irrepressible profusion, and they were all so apt and beautiful, that it was hard to send any of them away. And so he tried to find a place and use for all,—for "flowers and wings of butterflies," as well as “wheat;”—and if he could not fabricate links of his logical chain out of “the little rings of the vine,” and “the locks of