Page images

like Marten, and contemplate the Christian life of the celebrated divine, Jeremy Taylor, also a prisoner in Chepstow Castle, not for disloyalty, but for fidelity to the fortunes of Charles the First.

Although this eminent student and man of letters was respectably descended-his father being a lineal descendant of Dr. Rowland Taylor, who was chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer,-his origin seems humble to us, as he was the son of a barber.

He was born in the year 1613, eleven years later than Marten, and did as much good in the world as the former did mischief. His ancestor, Rowland Taylor, suffered death at the stake, on Oldham Common, near Hadleigh, in Suffolk, in the third year of Queen Mary's reign, and died amid the lamentations of the people of that place, where he had been rector.

Dr. Rowland Taylor was well known for his abilities and talents, and sufficiently eminent as a reformer to be persecuted in those days.

Bishop Gardiner signed his death-warrant, and is said to have coveted Dr. Taylor's family pro

perty; at any rate, after his death, that wicked bishop began a house for himself on the estate, and thus the martyr's family sank to an obscure station, inheriting no wealth of patrimony or lands, save a love of learning and talent. Jeremy Taylor seems to have had a good education from his father, the barber, who was 'reasonably learned,' and 'grounded his children in grammar and the mathematics.' He is said to have been put to school at three years of age, and at thirteen he was sent to Caius College, Cambridge. This was in 1626. Very soon after he had been ordained, in 1633, and after he had taken his degree as Master of Arts, a friend of his, named Risden, who was lecturer at St. Paul's Cathedral, asked Taylor to preach for him.

He was then only twenty years of age, and graceful in voice, manner, and person. When he ascended into the pulpit his youthful appearance interested the congregation; but their interest grew into admiration, as they listened to the varied richness of his style, and the clearness of the arguments which he used to enforce the truths of revelation.

Archbishop Laud heard of Taylor, and made him preach before him; but after praising him highly, objected to his youth.

Jeremy Taylor respectfully begged his grace to pardon that fault, 'as, if he lived, he would amend it.'

The archbishop, however, thought that Taylor's time would be better employed at All Souls College, Oxford, where he sent him, giving him a fellowship, and saying, as his reason for this piece of patronage, 'that he might have time, books, and company, to complete himself in those several parts of learning into which he had made so fair an entrance.'

He was made chaplain to Charles the First ; and in March 1636, Juxon, Bishop of London, presented him to the living of Uppingham, in Rutlandshire.

He resided here till 1642, and married, during the time, Phoebe Langsdale, by whom he had seven children. In 1642, when Charles the First went to Oxford, Jeremy Taylor was commanded to attend him as his chaplain, at the same time receiving a doctor's degree. Probably in conse

quence of this mark of the king's favour, the Parliament sequestered his living; and in the year 1644 we hear of his retiring into Wales. His patron and friend, the Earl of Carbery, lived at a place called Golden Grove, his ancestral seat in Carmarthenshire, and Taylor naturally sought a quiet retreat with him at the decline of the king's cause.

In his capacity as chaplain to the king he had frequently followed the army, and it was about this time that he was taken prisoner in the victory gained by the Parliamentary army at the siege of Cardigan Castle, on the 4th of February 1644.

His first wife had died at Uppingham before he left it, and he had mårried again. When the war broke out in Wales, his troubles began again; and he thus describes them to his patron, Lord Hatton of Kirby, who had resided near him at Uppingham:

'In the great storm which dashed the vessel of the church into pieces, he had been thrown on the coast of Wales; and in a little boat thought to have enjoyed that rest and quietness, which in England, in a far greater, he could not hope for.

"I cast anchor," he wrote, "thinking to ride safely; the storm followed me with so impetuous violence that it broke a cable, and I lost my anchor."'

He appears, while a prisoner, to have been treated with great kindness, and to have occupied the period of his captivity by study and writing. In August 1647, when King Charles was allowed to see his chaplains, Jeremy Taylor, in a parting interview with him, received as a token of the king's regard, his watch, and a few pearls and rubies off the ebony case in which Charles kept his Bible.

When released from captivity, Taylor's pecuniary circumstances appear to have been very bad; and he kept a small school, in a Welsh village called Lanfihangel, in partnership with Nicholson, afterwards Bishop of Gloucester. Taylor, while turning his talents and activity to account, in providing by his hard work for the support of his family, also wrote several very valuable works on theology; and he lived there till the year 1654, when he appears to have visited London, and then to have been suspected by the Parliamentary army

« PreviousContinue »