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JEREMY TAYLOR, D. D.
JEREMY TAYLOR, the third son of Nathaniel Taylor, a barber-surgeon at Cambridge, was born on the 15th of August, 1613. His family, had formerly held a respectable rank in Gloucestershire; and he was lineally descended from Dr. Rowland Taylor, chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer, who suffered death at the stake, in the reign of Queen Mary. Jeremy Taylor was taught the rudiments of grammar and mathematics by his father, and in the Free-school at Cambridge he received further instruction. At the age of thirteen he was entered as a sizar of Caius College; and took his degree of master of arts, and was admitted into holy orders, in 1633. About this period he removed to London, having been engaged by a former chamber-fellow, of the name of Risden, to supply his place as lecturer of St. Paul's Cathedral for a short time. Here he preached, says Dr. Rust, “ to the admiration and astonishment of bis auditory, and by his florid and youthful beauty, and sweet and pleasant air, and sublime and raised discourses, he made his hearers take him for some young angel newly descended from the visions of glory.” Laud, archbishop of Canterbury, having heard the fame of Taylor's eloquence, was anxious to hear him, and sent for the young divine to preach before him at Lambeth. The archbishop was highly pleased with his discourse, but observed that he was too young for the office he was then filling in St. Paul's. Taylor “ humbly begged his grace to pardon that fault, and promised if he lived he would mend it.” Being chancellor of the University of Oxford, Laud was desirous that Taylor should remove thither, either because he would be better enabled to advance him there, or, as Dr. Rust says, “ to afford him better opportunities of study and improvement than a course of constant preaching would allow of.” He complied with the chancellor's desire, and in 1635 was admitted master of arts in Uni. versity College. The following letter was written by Laud to the warden and fellows of All-Souls College, three days after his admission. “To the Warden and Fellows of All-Souls College, Oxford.
Salutem in Christo. - These are on the behalf of an honest man and a scho. lar; Mr. Osborn being to give over his fellowship, was with me at Lambeth, and, I thank him, freely offered me the nomination of a scholar to succeed in his place. Now having seriously deliberated with myself touching this bu. siness, and being willing to recommend such an one to you as you might thank me for, I am resolved to pitch upon Mr. Jeremiah Taylor, of whose abilities and sufficiencies every ways I have received very good assurance. And I do hereby heartily pray you to give him all furtherance, by yourself and the fellows, at the next election, not doubting but that he will approve himself a worthy and learned member of your society. And though he has had his breeding, for the most part, in the other university, yet I hope that shall be no prejudice to him, in regard that he is incorporated into Oxford, (ut sit eodem ordine, gradu,fc.) and admitted into University College. Neither can I learn that there is any thing in your local statutes against it. I doubt not but you will use him with so fair respects as befits a man of his rank and learning; for which I shall not fail to give you thanks. So I leave him to your kindness, and rest
- Your loving friend,
66 WILLIAM CANT.”
The following account of the proceedings on this election, is extracted from Heber's Life of Taylor, prefixed to the complete edition of his works.
• What authority,” says he, “ Mr. Osborn can have had to dispose in this manner of the nomination to a fellowship which he was himself about to resign, or how he could un. dertake to influence an election in which he was to have no voice, is not very easy to conjecture; unless we suppose him to have spoken the sentiments of some other of his brethren, who may have desired to pay their visitor the unusual compliment of asking his opinion in the choice of a new member of the society. The recommendation, how. ever, forcible as it must have been, was not received with
implicit deference, inasmuch as a reasonable doubt existed whether Taylor was strictly eligible. Wood, indeed, is wrong in saying, he was above the age at which he might be chosen ; but the statutes are express in requiring candidates to be of three years' standing in the university, whereas ten days had, at the time of the election, barely elapsed, since Taylor had been incorporated into Oxford. It is true, that Laud seems to have supposed that his ad. mission ad eundem, as it entitled him to all the privileges of a master of arts, entitled him to whatever advantages were conferred by that standing in the university, which he must have had in order to take his degree there regularly; and a very great majority of the fellows, either convinced by this argument, or desirous of straining a point in favour of a candidate so deserving and so powerfully recommended, appear to have espoused his cause, and to have voted in the first instance for his admission. Sheldon, however, the warden, (afterward himself archbishop of Canterbury, and a munificent benefactor to the university,) less pliant or more scrupulous, refused to concur in the election. Under these circumstances, the fellows persisting in their choice, no election at all took place ; but the nomination devolved in due course to the archbishop, as visitor of the college, who thus acquired the right of appointing Taylor, by his sole authority, to the vacant situation, on the 14th of January, 1636.”
According to Wood, his preaching at Oxford was greatly admired. He was, but at what particular time is not certain, made chaplain to the archbishop ; and in March, 1637-8, was presented to the rectory of Uppingham, in Rutlandshire, by Juxton, bishop of London. Taylor was now, to all appearance, settled in a situation of comfortable independence; and soon afterward, in the 26th year of his age, he entered into a matrimonial alliance with Phæbe Langsdale.
At the commencement of the struggle between Charles and his parliament, Taylor joined the king* at Oxford; where he published, in 1642, by his majesty's command, a treatise, entitled “ Episcopacy asserted against the Acephali and Aerians, new and old;" which was dedicated to Christopher Hatton, his neighbour and patron; he was admitted the same year, with many other loyalists, to the degree of Doctor of Divinity, by virtue of the royal mandate. It was probably about this time, that his rectory of Uppingham was sequestered; but the confusions which prevailed make it impossible to trace his history with certainty.
* Previously to the termination of Charles's misfortunes, Taylor received from him, in token of his regard, his watch, and a few pearls and rubies, which had ornamented the ebony case in which he kept his Bible.
From the Dedication to his “ Liberty of Prophesying," it appears that he had sought a refuge from civil commotions in Wales. 6 In the great storm,” says he, 6 which dashed the vessel of the church all in pieces, I had been cast 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, I could not hope for. Here I cast anchor, and thinking to ride safely, the storm followed me with so impetuous violence, that it broke a cable, and I lost my anchor. And here again I was exposed to the mercy of the sea, and the gentleness of an element that could nei. ther distinguish things nor persons: and but that He that stilleth the raging of the sea, and the noise of his waves, and the madness of his people, had provided a plank for me, I had been lost to all the opportunities of content or study ; but I know not whether I have been more preserved by the courtesies of my friends, or the gentleness and mercies of a noble enemy.” According to Wood, he followed the royal army as chaplain ; and, in 1644, was taken prisoner by the parliamentary forces which defeated Colonel Gerard before the Castle of Cardigan. How long he remained a prisoner does not appear, nor by what means he was released.
This year, his edition of the Psalter, with collects to each psalm, appeared at Oxford, under the name of the right honourable Christopher Hatton ; but the eighth and an enlarged edition having been published in Taylor's own name, in 1672, its authenticity is now generally acknowledged. About the same time he published anonymously, “ A De. fence of the Liturgy,” which he afterward expanded into a larger work. Taylor had now recourse to keeping a school, which he carried on in partnership with William Nicholson, afterward bishop of Gloucester, and William Wyat, subsequently a prebendary of Lincoln, at Newton-hall, in the parish of Lanfihangel. The conductors of this establish. ment produced, in 1647, " A new and easy Institution of Grammar;" and, in the same year, Taylor published his