The Family Pen. Memorials biographical and literary of the Taylor family of Ongar

The Taylors of Ongar
and others of their family


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the Taylors

The Family Pen
Materials biographical and literary

of the Taylor family of Ongar

Edited by the Rev Isaac Taylor, MA, incumbent of St Mathias, Bethnal Green; author of Words and Places. In two volumes.
Jackson, Walford and Hodder, 27 Paternoster Row, London, 1867


Preface, by Rev Isaac Taylor (1829-1901)

The Family Pen, by Isaac Taylor (1787-1865)

The late Isaac Taylor, by Rev Isaac Taylor

Memoirs and Correspondence of Jane Taylor, by Rev Isaac Taylor

The Family Pen, published in 1867, is a re-edition of The Memoirs and Poetical Remains of the late Jane Taylor, with Extracts from Her Correspondence, first published in London in 1825. An 1832 edition of that title, published in Boston, has been reproduced digitally by A Celebration of Women Writers.


By Rev Isaac Taylor (1829-1901)

THE last completed effort of my Father's pen was a series of "Personal Recollections", which appeared from time to time in Good Words, during the year 1864. One of these papers bears the title which has been chosen for the following pages, The Family Pen. It contains an account of the literary activity of three successive generations of the author's family. This Essay holds the first place in these volumes.

A short time before the "Personal Recollections" were written, my Father had employed his leisure hours in revising, enlarging, and rearranging one of his earliest works, the Life of his sister, Jane Taylor, which first appeared in the year 1825, soon after her death. This revised Memoir, which was left in readiness for publication, seemed to form an appropriate supplement to the Essay which is reprinted from Good Words. The juxtaposition of the two works, one almost the first, the other the last performance of the veteran author, shows in a striking manner the changes which the interval of forty years has wrought, not only in his literary style but in his whole tone of thought.

The volume is completed by a short sketch of my Father's life and writings, for which I am myself responsible. I trust this may not supersede a more extended Memoir, which is in preparation.

The second volume of The Family Pen contains a selection from the writings of Jane Taylor; of her brother, Jefferys Taylor; of her sister, Mrs Gilbert; and of other members of her family. Some of these pieces are little known, several have been long out of print, and one — a poem by Mrs Gilbert — now appears for the first time. The earlier productions of Jefferys Taylor, which are almost unknown to the present generation of readers, require, I believe, only to be brought forward, in order to obtain a greater appreciation than they have as yet received.

London, June 1867

The Family Pen

By Isaac Taylor (1787-1865)

A PEN which has been moist with ink — ink destined for the eye of the compositor — has been passing from hand to hand, within the circuit of a family — it is now more than eighty years; and it is still in course of consignment to younger hands of the same stock.

A task, not of the easiest sort, it must be, to bring into view some personal incidents of this transmission in a manner that shall be characteristic, and at every point true to facts, and yet shall not trespass upon good taste or wound the feelings of those concerned, or come under rebuke on the ground of egotism, or of an overweening estimate of literary doings. I am far from being confident in my ability to keep to a mid-channel while steering in and out among so many perils. In accordance with a usage that was not quite discontinued in the eighteenth century, but was rife in the seventeenth, I might incline here to prefix a supplicatory dedication — “To the courteous reader", or " To the kind reader"; and to ask a favourable hearing for a few pages from any who are willing to put a candid construction upon whatever may seem to need indulgence.

It must have been some time between 1768 and '70, that a youth, equally robust in body and in mind, and resolute in his thirst of knowledge, found himself in the midst of books — shelves upon shelves, in a shop in High Holborn. He plunged into the intellectual flood with the eagerness and the confidence of one who feels and knows that he shall swim — if only he may be free to strike the waves manfully. This youth, Charles Taylor, the son of an eminent engraver, had received, along with his brother Isaac, as much school learning as might then be had at a grammar school in the country. This school, at Brentwood, Essex, was one of those, the doings of which were so mercilessly turned inside out by Lord Brougham, in the course of the inquiries instituted for that purpose in 1818, and afterwards in 1837. Whether the grievous delinquencies of the Brentwood Grammar School, had reached the pitch which they afterwards attained, is not known; probably not so, for the two boys, Charles and Isaac, left it not wholly ignorant of Latin, nor perhaps of Greek. At a school in the City these acquisitions had been carried a few steps further upon the Gradus ad Parnassum. But whatever this schooling might have been worth, either in the country or in town, it sufficed in the instance of a youth so ardent, and so firm-nerved, as was Charles Taylor, to give him easy access to ancient literature, and to the folios of modern commentators, which were then mostly in the Latin language. This introductory learning included Hebrew, and more or less of rabbinical and oriental scholarship, as well as two or three modern languages: moreover, as the son of an artist, and himself an artist by profession, at least, he had acquainted himself with numismatic lore, and with antiquarian art generally. These acquirements — incidental to book learning, and very rarely combined with it, greatly promoted the labours of his after life on the field of biblical illustration, and were enough to entitle Charles Taylor to his well-earned repute, as the Artist-Scholar. With the marbles in the collection of the Duke of Richmond, Charles Taylor made himself well acquainted; and his twenty-first year, which he spent in Paris, was industriously employed among the treasures of the King's library. A new influx of miscellaneous learning came upon him at a later time, when the books of the London Library, afterwards transferred to the building in Finsbury, were committed to his care as librarian, at his house in Hatton Garden, where they remained during several years.

It must have been at sundry times, during these years, and while the house in Hatton Garden, No. 108, was crammed with books — upstairs, downstairs, and in the hall and passages — that in my visits to the family, I saw my learned uncle; and not very seldom, when charged with some message from home, I was admitted into his study. Alas that photography was not practised fifty years ago! The man — his deshabille, and his surroundings, would indeed have furnished a carte de visite not of the most ordinary sort. The scene! the tables — the library counters — the cheffoniers — the shelves and the floor (who shall say if the floor had a carpet?), all heaped with books: books of all sizes and sorts: books open, one upon another — books with a handful of leaves doubled in to keep the place — books in piles that had slid down from chairs or stools, and had rested unmoved until a deep deposit of dust had got a lodgment upon them! Quires of proof sheets and revises — here and there, folded and unfolded. On the table usually occupied by the writer there was just room for an ink stand, and for a folded sheet of demy or foolscap. But the genius of this chaos! — he was no pale, sallow, nervous, midnight-lamp-looking recluse, or ghost. Not at all so, but a man — then just past mid-life — powerful in bony and muscular framework — singularly hirsute — well limbed, well filled out, erect in walk, prominent and aquiline in feature — teeming, as one should say, with repressed energy: always equal to more work than he had actually in hand: never wearied or wasted in labour but impatient to be “at it again”. Work was his play rest was his work: moments of intermission cost him an effort; hours of labour none — and he made the effort duly when he came forth to take his seat at the family table. At the family table my learned uncle was urbane; perhaps he would be jocose; but he never discoursed of the matters wherewith his brain was then teeming. His table talk was an instance in illustration of Talleyrand's reply to an impertinent physician who had tried to lead him into state affairs — "Sir, I never talk of things that I understand." It might seem perhaps as if the chief person at the tea-table was not used to give those around him credit for as much intelligence as they actually possessed: nevertheless they did not impute to him anything like arrogance; certainly not pomposity or affectation. His deportment was quite of another sort — it was not supercilious; but it appeared to have been framed upon the hypothesis of unmeasured spaces intervening between the study-table and the tea-table.

Although fixedly taciturn as to his proper literary engagements — unless it might be with the few who were learned in his own line — my uncle ever kept himself awake towards all subjects, literary, or scientific, or political, or statistical, that might come in his way. Nothing in philosophy or in the arts, found him unprepared to ring it to its place in his storehouse of knowledge. As to books, he seemed to have them, chapter and page, at his command. Seldom did he fail to reach, in a moment, the volume, or to find the page, where he should find what he had occasion to refer to. There is a sort duplex memory which achieves wonders with those who possess it in a high degree. The first half of this double faculty takes to itself the place and the position of passages, in books, which have once been read. The second half is less mechanical, and is more intellectual — it is the recollection by analogy, or by the relation of matters. By aid of this endowment the stores of a library become available on any given subject. Charles Taylor's memory, in details, even in branches of study far removed from his own walk, was of the sort that must seem marvellous to any who are not gifted in the same manner.

But as to these endowments, and these various acquirements and this constitutional force, had they been devoted to any worthy purpose? It must be granted that all gifts were well employed, and that the unabated labour of almost fifty years had been concentred upon a great task, ably achieved. And this work of a life was crowned with much success. Charles Taylor must have been in his seventeenth year when, as above said, he came into command of a bookseller's stock of second-hand books. Upon the shelves in this shop there was a copy of Calmet's Dictionnaire Historique et Critique de la Bible. It was precisely the book to rivet the attention of a youth of this order. At a very early time after becoming acquainted with it, and no doubt with the other voluminous writings of the learned Benedictine, he formed the resolve to bring out the Dictionary in English, appending to it the gleanings of his own studies. To the due performance of this task he thenceforward devoted all the hours he could command through a track of about fifteen years, until he believed himself to be prepared for submitting a sample of the work to the judgment of the learned public — or rather of the very few who then ruled the learned world in the department of biblical literature.

At that time, and indeed until a much later time, works of this class had rarely appeared in England; and in the field of oriental usages, and of pictorial antiquarianism, very little had been done. Harmer's Observations was almost the only work of the same class. The fragmentary essays which accompanied the Parts of the Dictionary challenged attention as adventures upon new ground.    Those were not the days of Cyclopaedias of Biblical Literature, nor of Dictionaries of the Bible, nor of Bible Dictionaries Illustrated; nor of other such-like worthy endeavours to popularise biblical learning. The English translation of Calmet's Dictionary, with the Fragments and the Plates, has been the parent of a numerous family — in foolscap folio, and in Imperial, and in extra demy; nor has it been always that the offspring has yielded the dues of affection, or even of common justice, to their ancestor.* But the "learned world" of that time was not slow to perceive, or to acknowledge, the merits of these  Parts, the Dictionary, the Fragments, and the Plates. The editor (translator, commentator and illustrator) received praise, and abundant encouragement to go on. Five volumes in quarto appeared in due course, and they were speedily reprinted. In the year in which Mr. Taylor's death occurred, a fifth edition of these quartos was carried through the press.

But who was the editor of Calmet — who was this sole and unassisted builder of what has been spoken of as "a stupendous monument of literary industry"? In these times "spirited publishers", who speculate in Cyclopaedias, take care to enlist the elite of universities, at home and abroad, in their service; and no doubt they do well — or intend well, in taking this course; but here was a Samson, alone, who, with his brawny arms clutching the pillars of the palace of learning, did what he had purposed to do. Who then was he? It was nobody that had ever been known at Oxford or at Cambridge, or even at Edinburgh or Dublin. Call then at the house where the parts are published — No. 8, Hatton Garden — and put the question. On the door-posts, either side, there is "C. Taylor, Engraver". Go in and ask for the editor of Calmet. You will never find him; or not there. Mr. C. Taylor, Engraver, may be spoken to, if you have any proper reason for asking him to come down into the lobby; but you will learn nothing from him about this invisible editor. His answer to this interruption would be a look of annoyance, impatience perhaps; but no clearing up of the mystery. You are as likely to get an answer from the colossal Memnon in the British Museum. To the end of his days Charles Taylor refused to acknowledge himself as anything more than an artist — an engraver, or at least he would not be addressed as the editor of Calmet, or as the author of the Fragments. The few men of antiquarian erudition with whom, at times, he conversed, could not fail to divine the secret; but at least he would give them no right to report it from his lips.

I might err in attempting to penetrate the motives of this concealment. It might seem an incoherence thus to persist in the anonymous, year after year, for half a century; but I am sure it was no real incoherence in the mind of this accomplished man; yet unless one had seen him at home, and in his study, one should not get into the secret. There are reasons of an obvious and ordinary sort that might be named as probable, such as these — there would be reasons of policy, prudential reasons, and reasons of feeling. Mr. Taylor, although to the end of his days he was a Nonconformist, and a constant attendant at the old meeting-house in Fetter Lane, was, by temperament, and by the tendencies of his studies, decisively conservative; or, in the style of that time, he was a thorough-going Tory. It is not unlikely that what he had seen and foreseen in France, of the coming thunder-storm of the Revolution, strongly took effect upon his opinions, when the thunder and the lightning actually came on to frighten all Europe. The Revolution hardened, in their Toryism, all who, like Edmund Burke, had been prepared to look at it in that light. Nobody more bold or free than he in his range of thought, on critical ground; nevertheless in personal demeanour, in conventional observances, and in the punctilious rendering of titles of honour where due, he never appeared at fault. It is easy to imagine then what were probably the feelings of a man of this disposition, in bringing before the public a voluminous work, implying very extensive reading, and a measure of scholarship that was not the most common. An indictment against such a one as he was, would contain several counts: first count, a layman; second count, a Nonconformist; third count, a member of no university. A man labouring under these several conditions of disadvantage would feel — in proportion to his individual conservatism he would feel it — that, in coming abroad he must crouch under the shield of the anonymous. So was it, in fact, that the engraver ventured into print, nobody knowing who he might be.

After enjoying for several years the shade and shelter of this shield — great and manifold as are the benefits which this shield affords — Mr. Taylor would be reluctant to relinquish them. Literary ambition — or ambition, of any sort, certainly was not his ruling passion. Gladly he would allow the ambitious, the pretentious, the noisy, to go by him and pass on to the front. For himself, he asked only to be let alone; and to be allowed to go on with his work — unknown, if so it might be. But there was yet something more in this life-long adherence to concealment. A supreme devotion to the task he had undertaken, and to which he had given the best years of his life — from eighteen to seventy (near it), ruled him, in an absolute manner. He thought highly of the importance of these, his chosen expository labours. He had confidence in his ability to prosecute them to some advantage. His ardour and industry had been recruited from time to time by the plaudits of biblical scholars, English and foreign, and by the proffered patronage of Church dignitaries. Content, thus far, and assured that he was not spending his strength to no purpose, he went on: his study, and his books, and his work, were enough for him; and he cared very little for literary notoriety.

An instance very dissimilar in its circumstances, and in its visible proportions, but yet in harmony with it as to principle, was at hand, within the same family — or I should say, in the family of Charles Taylor's brother, Isaac. But now may I presume that many of my readers, who perhaps have known nothing of the five quartos of this Bible Dictionary, may care to hear something of the young persons, who, sixty years ago, put forth Original Poems, Hymns for Infant Minds, and some similar books: not indeed in folio, or in quarto; or even in 8vo? I have ventured to say that a principle connects the above-mentioned five quartos, edited by the uncle, with the now-mentioned 24mos put forth by his two nieces. I think I shall make this relationship intelligible. The great pyramid of all that is printed might be sorted into several smaller pyramids, on several grounds of distinction; but there is one that has a real difference as its reason — there is a literature which is literary properly; it possesses no very serious intention — it courts, and it wins, favour, in various degrees, according, or not according, to its intrinsic merits: it reaps its reward — or perhaps no reward — in a commercial sense. A small portion of this printed mass survives its hour, and takes a place among the classics of the language: it reprints through several decades of time. Thus far all is clear. But there is a literature which has had its origin in motives that are wholly of another order. By a solecism, or an allowable ambiguity, it receives its designation as literature: yet it is unliterary literature. It did not spring either from literary ambition, or from calculations of gain. The producers of books of this class — books, whether they be great or small — had been incited by no eagerness to be known as authors: perhaps they shrank from notoriety, and would most gladly have remained under the screen of anonymous authorship to the end of their course. If the due recompense of their labours did reach them at last, this material remuneration never took the foremost place in their regards. They wrote, what they wrote, with an intention, and for a purpose that was ever prominent in the estimate they formed of their own successes or failures. Fame or no fame — income or no income, these writers asked themselves, or others about them, if they had written to good purpose. If an affirmative answer to this question could be given in that the bar of conscience, substantial comfort would be thence derived — spite of discomforts, many.

On this ground it is likely, and so it will appear in fact, that books, great and small — publications the most dissimilar in bulk, in quality, in purpose, in pretension — will be brought together: disproportion and unlikeness will not be a reason sufficient for dissociating those projects of the Press which are found to be in harmony, as to the inner reason or the true impulse which has brought them into being. Thus it is therefore that I find a connecting thread, running on with the family pen, as it was held by the uncle, and as it has been held and used by his two nieces. A purpose, better and higher in its aim than literary ambition, or than pecuniary advantage, did rule, so I believe, in the one instance; and that it ruled the other instance, I well and intimately know. Conversations and consultations, turning upon this very point of the comparative value of the motives which are wont to take effect within the precincts of literature, I perfectly well remember. Should it be literary reputation or fame; or pecuniary advantage, and remuneration for work done; or should it be the higher and the better motive, namely, usefulness in the best sense? Of Mrs. Gilbert, my surviving sister, in the firm of "Ann and Jane", I am not free to speak; but I need be under no restraint in giving evidence as to what were the motives of my sister Jane in presenting herself, even in the humblest guise, before the public as a literary person. Her constitutional diffidence, and her tendency to shrink from notice, were so decisive that, so long as it was possible to do so, she clung to her concealment. From the very first, the effective motive was the hope and prospect of doing good. On frequent occasions in those years during which I was my sister's companion, the fixed purpose of her mind made itself evident in our Conversations: it was always uppermost with her, and it continued to prevail with her more and more to the end of life. There was a season in her literary course when fame — such as might seem to be her due, was within her reach; and if it came, it came: but she was not a listener for it. As to the fruits of authorship in a commercial sense, her motto, if so one might call it, was this: "My income, whether it be more or less, is the exact sum yearly with which it pleases God to entrust me."

Here, then, is the sort of instance which I have had in prospect when intending to speak of a pen as passing from hand to hand in a family.

There had been a preparation for the service which was thus to be rendered. The preparation in the case of the biblical expositor, was a long term of years devoted to most arduous labours among books. The preparation in the case of the two young authors of the poems and hymns that have lived so long and have gone far, was an education in and for intellectual labour, along with an excellent moral discipline.

It is customary to give license to egotism when it is for the praise of industry that is attempted. Not a step beyond this border will I now make a trespass. The home within which Ann and Jane Taylor received education, and underwent their preparation of training, was indeed fairly entitled to commendation on account of the occupation of all hours of the day, from early to late, by everybody therein resident. Yet this system of unremitting employment was carried through without any rigorous exactions, without any inflictions, without any consciousness of constraint. Assiduity was the tone and style of the house. Nor were frequent recreations forgotten. Set days and times were duly served, and were almost superstitiously honoured. I have not seen in later years anything comparable to my father's industry. No man of whose habits I have known anything has seemed to achieve a daily task of the same amount, and of the same variety. What he did in giving effect to the operose system which he had devised for the education of his children, has been an amazement to me to think of. Some of the still extant monuments of this comprehensive and laborious scheme of instruction might well pass for enough, if brought forward as the sole products of many years of labour: they were, in fact, the product of the earliest hour of each day: much of this sort was done by the candlelight of the winter's morning. The artisan who was on his way to the place of his daily toil would not fail to see the light in my father's study window: he, already awake and at work: his devotions first, and then some educational outfit — in science — history — geography. We all had a perfect confidence in the reasonableness, and the utility, of those methods of instruction, in carrying out which we were required to perform our parts. The apparatus of teaching was huge: nevertheless the daily portion assigned to each of us came quite within the limits of reasonable industry. We were not injuriously crammed, or broken in spirit.

It is probable that there were items in the school cyclopoaedia which might have been lopped off without serious damage; at least this might be the fact in relation to the female side of the home college. For an instance we might take this: it was not, perhaps, indispensable to the completeness of a girl's education that she should have at her command the terms and the principles of Fortifcation. Nevertheless so it is that among the extant memorials of that early training time — in which the brothers and the sisters of this family took their part, I find outlines of fortified towns — engraved, coloured, and shaded, the names having been written in upon these outines by the learner; so we see glacis, counterscarp, bastion, fosse, lines of circumvallation; and it happens that rough drafts of poems and of hymns that have since come to be well known, far and wide, were scrawled upon the margins of some of these lessons in the art of war! Certain branches of knowledge that are quite remote from the range of ordinary education were in fact made familiar to all of this family by these comprehensive methods of teaching; and if in some cases the intellectual gain could scarcely be appreciable, no doubt there was a useful discipline involved in the mere labour of the process.

As to literary ambition, or any eagerness to venture into print, such impulses were far from the minds alike of parents and of children. Certainly a contrary feeling was strong with both parents. The early scribblings of Ann and Jane were known to them, and were not actually prohibited — yet were never encouraged. Jane, in her earliest years, had amused herself with the project of writing and publishing a book; but this was only a pastime of childhood, and it was forgotten at an after time, along with other games and romances. There is a portrait of the two sisters, hand in hand, pacing the broad green path of the garden at Lavenham. The girls — nine years and seven — are supposed to be reciting, as was their wont, some couplets of their joint composition, anticipatory of their united authorship in later years. On his side the intelligence of the father went in the direction of sober information: it was knowledge and science, rather than literature or taste, that prevailed with him. On the mother's side, although from her teens she had been scribbling verses, and although she was herself so dependent for her daily comfort upon books, she had a decisive feeling of antagonism toward authorship. The thought of it, if it could have occurred to her that her daughters were to appear in that position, would have troubled her. This repugnance toward literature, as a profession, had not sprung, I think, from a perusal of Disraeli's noted book, or from any experience of those "calamities" within the family circle. The feeling had its rise in a dislike of any pursuit that could not plead in its behalf a direct and intelligible utility. The question might, indeed, have been put: "Are not these books, a constant supply of which is so important to your own daily comfort — are not these books useful? And if so, then have not the authors of them, or many of them, been well employed in writing them?" This must be granted; nevertheless, a prejudice against lady authors kept its ground. It is not improbable that a pungent dislike of certain of the English female sympathisers with the French Revolution, inclusive of Mary Wolstonecraft, had given force to this antipathy.

Nevertheless, and in spite of contrary purposes entertained by parents or children, and notwithstanding the ingrained constitutional modesty of one or two of these “young persons”, authorship did come upon them, as if it came with the force of a destiny, or as if what I have ventured to speak of as a Family Pen, had been thrust between finger and thumb, volens nolens; and as if the word had been uttered when the pen was given: "use this — within the compass of your ability — use it always to the best purposes". But at this point I may fancy myself to hear a sarcastic caution from critics of the recent time, warning me not in any such way to exaggerate the humble performances of a forgotten literary epoch, or to speak of small things as if they were great things.

Great or small in the eye of modern criticism, books of any dimension that last long, and that go far — even the wide world over — may fairly be named without needing an apology. It so happens this very day, while I write, that an advertisement in the day's paper makes mention of new editions of books that had found their way into tens of thousands of families more than sixty years ago. Whether criticism be right or wrong in its verdicts, there must have been a principle of vitality; there must now be a substance — a moral force — in books that maintain their first repute over and beyond sixty years, and that, throughout this lapse of time, have been in favour wherever English is the language of families. There is no ground of boasting this instance. The principle that has given this vitality to these little books is of a sort that removes them from the jurisdiction of mere criticism. It is a fact not questionable that these books have had a great share in carrying forward the moral and religious education of at least the religiously disposed mass of two or three generations: and what is true of the families which have accepted them on this side of the Atlantic, is true to the fullest extent as to those on the other side, and the same in every English colony.

I may be admitted to give evidence touching what I have known of my late sister's turn of mind, and her principles, and her motives as a writer; but in doing this I am carried back to Devonshire and to Cornwall. The years of our companionship in Devon and Cornwall were almost my sister's last years as a writer. She wrote little after the time of our last return from the western counties. The recollections I retain of those daily conversations, in which, incidentally, she uttered her inmost mind on subjects of this sort, are recollections of places, and of scenes, quite as much as of firesides. I should not much care to ramble about in North Devon now that railways have gone thither, and that excursionists in crowds have broken in upon its sweet solitudes! There was a time when the region of which Ilfracombe is the centre had an aspect of seclusion that was highly favourable to tranquil musings, and especially to religious meditations, when such meditations have received a tone from constitutional pensiveness, and also from the discipline of events: it was pensiveness, not melancholy. So long ago as the years I have now in view, an hour's ramble upon the rocks at low water, or over hills eastward or westward, might be freely taken with scarcely a chance of encountering a human creature — certainly not a visitor from the outer world.

Thus Jane describes one of these solitudes. A drear lone place:

Bare hills and barren downs for miles you trace Ere is attain'd the unfrequented place;
And when arrived, the traveller starts to find
So wild a spot the abode of humankind.

In these rambles:

Mid scatter'd rocks on Devon's northern sea

she found great pleasure in examining:

those gay watery grots —
Small excavations on a rocky shore,
That seem like fairy baths, or mimic wells,
Richly emboss'd with choicest weed and shells
As if her trinkets
Nature chose to hide
Where nought invaded but the flowing tide.

In longer walks inland, over the moors, she would find the text of her meditations while tracing

The curious work of Nature
— A work commenced when
Time began its race,
And not yet finish'd
The rich grey mosses broider'd on a rock.

It would be a mistake to infer from this taste for reclusion, and this relish of Nature — when not gaily attired — that my sister's mood was gloomy, or unsocial, or ascetic. It was quite otherwise. Wit and pensiveness have in several noted instances shown themselves to be two phases of the same intellectual conformation. There is not a paragraph in what she has written for young or for mature readers that is of a morbid or sullen quality. All has a healthy complexion. No sentiment is in any such way individualized as that it would not easily combine with an energetic and cheerful performance of ordinary duties. This is the rule — a cheerful mood, and a readiness for useful and charitable offices, must always be right and good for each and for all of us, young and old — whatever may be the tendency of the individual temperament. My sister might indeed indulge feeling and imagination in a morning's walk, but when she returned to her little study and took pen in hand, she thought no longer of herself, but only of her reader — and especially of her young reader. There was no insincerity in this case. At the time of our sojourn — a sojourn of several years — in Devon and Cornwall, there had come upon her a breadth of feeling as to the discharge of what I venture to call her ministry through the press. A ten years of this ministry, with an ever-increasing extension of its field, had at length availed to put her constitutional diffidence out of countenance, if so one might say; for there could no longer be room to doubt that an opportunity was presented to her — a door was opened, and it was a wide door, and a sense of responsibility thence ensued: it was as if, when she had her pen in hand, a great congregation of the young — from childhood up to riper years, had come within reach of her vision and her voice — even of so feeble a voice. Was it fame that she cared for? I find in her home letters of this date, frequent expressions of this kind: a warm commendation of a new volume had appeared in some monthly publication — she asks to see it, and says: "I am much more anxious to see blame than praise, and the thought that you may keep back anything of that kind would fidget and discourage me beyond measure."

Gifted in an unusual degree with an insight of human  nature, my sister's humbleness of mind saved her from the cynical mood. Writing to a friend — an authoress, she says, "It is only studying nature, without which I could do nothing. If you are at a loss for a character, take mine, and you will find faults enough to last out a whole volume. I assure you that I take greater liberties with myself in that way than with any of my friends or neighbours; and I have really found so far, that the beam in my own eye makes me see more clearly how to take the mote out of theirs."

The change from Devon to Cornwall was not for the better as to scenery. Mount's Bay, in a bright morning, a fair sample of what the English coast, south and west, has to show in that line; but it should be seen in sunshine; whereas — and this is the commendation of the North Devon coast — wintry skies and rolling seas suit it well, and give it a charm in harmony with itself. Nevertheless, if the material of Cornwall was less to her taste, the immaterial yielded more than a compensation. Friendships were formed at Marazion which came home to her affectionate nature, and which, moreover, were of a sort differing much from those of earlier years. These new friendships brought into view an aspect of Christian earnestness with which my sister had not hitherto been intimately conversant. Her early intimacies had been of the sort to which might be applied the epithet — Christianized intellectualism. The friendships which had their beginning in Cornwall were, in a more decisive sense, Christian-like. Among these, I think I may be free to mention one, the effect of which upon my sister's feelings, and, I might say, upon her opinions and purposes, was very perceptible. If I use the words friendship or intimacy in this instance, such terms must submit to a qualification, or to an abatement of their usual sense. The Christian lady — Lydia Grenfell, who had been the betrothed of so eminent a person as the missionary, Henry Martyn — was herself indeed an eminent person. If you were in her company half an hour only, you felt her high quality as a Christian woman: you would say, this is one who, if called to accept the crown of martyrdom, might be looked to as fit and ready to wear it; and when her actual history came to be known, you would understand that indeed she had passed through a fiery trial not at all less severe than many a martyrdom.

This personal history does not come within my range in this instance. What I have to do with is — the silent influence of a year's contact with this heroic lady. Hers was a heroism graced with profound humility. This contact could not fail to find elements congenial in the temperament of one like Jane Taylor. Yet the constitutional framework of the two minds was widely dissimilar; but there was a connecting link: devotedness, in a Christian sense, and a preference always of the claims of duty, had been Jane's rule and principle; but now there was in her view daily a devotedness that had carried the victim through the fire of intense suffering. My sister had proffered her services to Miss Grenfell as a teacher in the Sunday School at Marazion, and it was while labouring in the school that she obtained a more intimate knowledge of this lady's eminent qualities than the occasions of ordinary intercourse could have imparted. The result was an enhanced sense of responsibility in the use of any gift or talent that may be employed in promoting the welfare of those around us, or of any whose welfare we may in any way consider as coming within the circle of our influence. Viewed in this light, authorship and literary repute, while they lost importance in one sense, rose in value in another sense. This deepened feeling of responsibility may be traced in my sister's letters to the members of her family and to her intimate friends.

When I thus speak of authorship, and, of the estimate that is formed by a writer of the value of literary reputation, there is a condition that should be kept in view. If a writer thrusts into a place of secondary regard his or her literary reputation, and aims at a higher mark with a steady purpose, the question presents itself — what in fact is the offering that is thus laid upon the altar? At the time when, as I am now affirming, my sister's acquaintance with this Christian lady was producing a deep and silent effect upon her own mind, and upon her course as a writer, she had achieved what maybe called a second success in her own literary sphere. There had been an interval of several years between the publication of Original Poems and Hymns, and the appearance of several volumes addressed to mature readers. These volumes, from the moment of publication, were successful in a very unusual degree. Large editions came out, from year to year. Whatever Jane Taylor put forth, was warmly greeted by the public that had learned to look for her name. Literary ladies who may have been successful in an equal degree, would not, I think, be severely blamed by their friends if they did show some elation, or seemed conscious of the favour they had won. As to this successful writer — so I can affirm — she suffered no damage to her humbleness of heart, or none that could be detected by those nearest to her, from all the fame she had acquired. This is my testimony concerning her. What she wrote after this time was often playful, and sparkled with wit; but nothing indicated an overthrow of that balance of the mind which had always been her distinction — it was her characteristic. Known or unknown to the world, she was always sober-minded, she was always willing to abide in the shade, she was  always near at hand for any work of friendship or of charity: to the very end — I mean to the day of her last attendance at public worship — she was a diligent Sunday school teacher.

In her earlier productions Jane Taylor wrote in combination with her still surviving sister, concerning whom a testimony of similar import might be borne — but she survives. In her later writings, or some of them, she took a part with her mother, who had already published successfully. Of her, and of others of the family into whose hand a pen has come, there may be room to say what would occupy another page.

Books many, and more than might easily be catalogued, have been put forth with a preface or advertisement very much resembling what here follows: "To any who may glance at the following pages, it will be unnecessary to observe, that they were not designed by the writer for the public eye — that they were, what they profess to have been, the effusions of a mother's solicitude for the welfare of a beloved child; for there is too little appearance of study throughout, to excite a suspicion that the character, or the circumstances, are assumed. A parent who, from increasing infirmities, found it difficult frequently to converse with her child, adopted this method of conveying instruction and of presenting the fruits of experience to an inexperienced mind."

Whether or not similar apologies for publication may always have been absolutely warrantable, or quite true to the facts of the case, this apology was strictly so. Long (several years) had the manuscript been in hand: no thought of publication had entered the mind of the writer, who was then midway in her fifty-sixth year, and who, as I have already said, although herself a great consumer of books, entertained a sort of prejudice — if not against authors at large, yet certainly against lady authors, who, as she often said, would have done better to employ themselves in mending the family stockings. But so it comes about that manuscripts — all ready for the printer, do, somehow, find their way into the printer's hand: this is the "wont way" of manuscripts that have been long in store: "it was suggested" to this writer "that what was likely to benefit an individual, might, if communicated, become useful to others", and so the book at length came out — a publisher being an accessory before the fact. True also, and I think quite in harmony with the writer's inmost feeling, is what follows when she says, "To other families," in consequence of the opinion to which she had listened, "this endeavour to employ her pen beneficially is commended, without solicitude for its reputation:" that is to say, its reputation in a literary sense. It was so in truth; and a son may be allowed to affirm as much as this for his mother. A constitutional retiringness — a taste for home duties, a willingness to live and die unknown — these dispositions had kept her, although always pen in hand, far out of the way of publication, even until so late in life. She then began a ten years' course of authorship; and on the supposition that success may be taken as evidence of qualification, this sort of warranting attended my mother's books — from the first of them to the last. What would now be reckoned a success was won by these volumes. The tranquil and pensive meditative strain, the practical tendency of every page, and the quiet religious tone, undoubtedly evangelic, but not methodistical, found a religious public prepared to listen to a matronly writer who was thus qualified to lead it through green pastures and by noiseless streams, on what one might call the sunny side of the Valley of Humiliation.

Those were indeed good days — fifty years ago — for writers of the class with which my mother's name would  stand connected. There was then a public, especially a female public, that had, for a long while, been well held in hand by writers of whom Hannah More was undoubtedly the chief. Hannah More protégée, call her, of Dr. Johnson, Miss Hamilton, and a half dozen writers, some Christian and some in various degrees Christianized, and therefore antagonistic to Maria Edgeworth and to those who were then tainted with the French Revolution atheism. This indulgent public — under tilth as one might say — had, at a later time, received a broadcast of vigorous thought from the hands of Robert Hall, John Foster, Olinthus Gregory, and others of the clique that were banded together as the staff of the Eclectic Review. (In this staff my elder sister, Ann, was then numbered, and she had won for herself, some years earlier, a good position among these able writers.) It was not that either the mother or the daughter Jane had made any pretensions of this kind; but she entered upon a field in a corner of which there was room for her, and where she came to be cordially welcomed. The books of which I am speaking were published long before the coming on of the modern agonistic paroxysm in literature. The entire period of a generation intervenes between that distant easy time and the modern era of sensation novels and of “series", and of mortal elbowings for life, for fame, and for cash. In those remote eras zephyrs whispered in trees, tornadoes did not tear them up by the roots; straws might take their gambols in snug corners, but oaks were not shivered limb from limb. The time that is now next in turn to come will show whether there may not be needed a return to a slower rate of going. Perhaps literature, in its next stage, will have dropped out of the gallop and fallen into the trot or the amble — which last pace is, in truth, the pace that suits it best. In that time to come literature may have learned to keep itself within the limits of spontaneous thought; and books may be written for a long-meditated purpose; and not urged into brief existence by application of hot-irons and cataplasms.

In a family of which the daughters and the mother had written successfully, it was likely that the father, who himself had written, and who through life had been teeming with educational thought, should essay to write and to publish. To him also — on his own field — a good measure of favour was shown; and he also, from out of the stores of many years of laborious experience in the conveyance of knowledge, and in the expression of sober truths, brought forward his contribution toward furnishing the shelves in a family library with several highly serviceable volumes. The educational outfit in these times, it is true, has needed books more elaborately worked up. Nevertheless, some of these of olden fashion have not, as yet, been superseded.

Inasmuch as in this paper I abstain alike from encomium and from criticism, neither of which would at all become me, and as I am speaking of the family pen, estimated according to one rule only — which is a rule of easy application — namely, success — I am free to introduce here the name of my brother Jefferys, some while ago deceased. He was gifted; he had his faculty, his talent, and he also drew to himself many readers; and a time may come when the genuine humour and the strong sense that were at his command may bring his books again into notice.**

In the first page of this paper I have asked a hearing from the "Courteous Reader"; and now I may well wish that any reader who is not good-natured and candid would get himself out of hearing. If he will please to do so; then I may go on a step or two further, in making up a report concerning the Family Pen. In doing this, my kind reader will indulge me, individually, with only as much personal visibility as may be needed in uttering a word or two in the autobiographical style. I must do what I am now intending to do, in that broken and elliptical manner — or if not so, then not at all.

About the date of my earliest adventure in literature (otherwise than as one of an editor's staff) — or let it be about five and forty years ago, it chanced that late one sultry afternoon, I was going from shop to shop in Holborn and Middle Row, among the dealers in old books. I was inquiring for some volume, I forget what, not very often asked for. The young man behind the counter to whom I put my question, was perhaps busy in attending to a more important customer; and then it is likely that he, had to make search for the book I had named upon some out-of-the-way shelf of the back shop. Meantime, there was on the counter a volume of which I then knew nothing: I took my seat, and just to while away the time I opened and read — up and down in this volume. The neat perspicuous style of the writer was its first attraction, but then the substance and the animus of the book were a still greater attraction. Until that summer's evening I had believed that I knew as much perhaps of Church history as there could be any need to know. I had read or had listened to Mosheim and Milner; and perhaps a book or two beside; but if so — and if it be Church history in its reality that is contained and treated of in those heavy books — if so, then what may be the meaning of this book! To me this casual eading was the sudden lifting up of a veil, so that the veritable things of the third and fourth century might be gazed at, and rightfully understood; and so an inference might be gathered. I do not now remember whether the young man at the shop in Middle Row found the volume I had at first asked for; but it is certain that I eagerly paid him his price for a copy of the extant writings of SULPICIUS SEVERUS. This book is now on my table; a little book it is, but it has been the harbinger of many folios.

Yet how could it be that this small volume — and even small portion of it, should thus have the power to put me aghast, and should lead me to think that, hitherto, I had known nothing — or nothing in its genuine figure and colours — of the Christianity of the early Christian ages? That it should be so was no doubt a fault; or it had come from inadvertence, or from a careless credulity, not perhaps highly culpable at that time. It is certain that if I had duly considered the import of a few paragraphs or sentences in Mosheim, and in Jortin, and in Milner; and, moreover, if I had trusted Gibbon where he may safely be trusted, I could not thus have failed to gather the meaning of those writers, or have remained substantially ignorant of what the aspect of the Christianized southern people of Europe really was in the fourth century. But who is this Sulpicius Severus? He was the contemporary, and the intimate friend, though a junior, of Paulinus, the Bishop of Nola. Inquire then for a volume of about the same bulk-containing the poetry and the epistles of this (Christian) bishop. Then you will find enough of the obdurate, and, as it seems, the incorrigible paganism of those sunny lands: even this paganism — gilt, varnished, and got up anew, after a dozen of names stolen from the New Testament have been neatly veneered into the places of the gods and goddesses of the ancient worship. Why then have modern writers left us in almost total ignorance of the simple truth in these matters? There are several reasons that might be mentioned, but which I must not now stay to bring forward.

The two or three books which in this incidental manner I had now got possession of, were far from contenting me: they did but quicken an appetite which must be satisfied. In a word, I could not rest where I then stood. I could not bring my own perplexed thoughts concerning our Christianity into any sort of quiescence until I had surrounded myself, in part at least, with the means of knowing how it has fared with Christianity in working its way, on and on, through many centuries, over rough ground, with our crooked and wayward human nature as its travelling companion.

But here I have to enter a caution to the effect that I may be fairly quit of what is merely personal in this paper, and may stand clear of serious blame, at least in the view of my candid reader. I do not forget that am entering upon a Preserve in thus talking about ecclesiastical literature; and I should show my certificate, officially endorsed, as a warrant for such an intrusion. But if I hold in hand no such certificate — no warrant at all, then I am seeming to make a pretension which must need an apology. Church history, and heavy folios of Latin and Greek, are for the clergy, and for the learned. But I am not clerical; and as to learning, I have ever abstained from what might sound like a challenge on the ground of scholarship. Where, then, is my justification? A word or two will convey the whole of my plea — if, indeed, I have any plea. I have cared little in the circuit of antiquity for what is purely matter of taste or erudition. I have cared little for antiquarianism of any sort; but I have cared intensely for whatever may be found to bear upon the history of our human nature, as it has played its part upon this arena of mysteries — the field of religious development, ancient and modern. Most of all, and with an eager curiosity, I have desired to know whatever may be known of the history of nations GOD-WARD, through the lapse of ages. But if so, then the hundred, or the two hundred of volumes, usually designated as ecclesiastical, constitute, in mass, the principal part of the materials of any such apparatus. Consequently, whoever has surrendered himself to meditation on this ground, and is sincerely anxious to know the truth, must acquaint himself, more or less perfectly, with these extant documents of Church history. Cost what it may to purchase these volumes — cost what it may to make some acquaintance with them, both of these costs must be submitted to; or if this may not be, then you should throw up the wish and intention to know anything, in a genuine manner, of what our Christianity has been, and of what phases it has worn, and of what disguises have come to wear its names, in these many centuries past.

The reply which I may hear is this: "Not so — you need neither buy the books, nor read them. Here at hand are the modern Church history writers. These writers were learned men; and they have done what they have done authentically. Do you dare to mistrust them? Do you think that they would wilfully mislead you? and have they not crowded the foot of almost every page with quotations in Greek and Latin, or with references to books?" To this pointed question — put perhaps in angry tone, "Do I mistrust the writers and compilers of Church history?" my reply is simply this. I do not know, nor can I ever know, whether I may safely trust, or should mistrust, these writers, until I have looked into the original materials for myself. Besides, it is not a question of the mere trustworthiness of writers — using that word in its vulgar acceptation. The bare facts may have been stated in dry accordance with the evidence; but yet I may fail to see and to apprehend the veritable things of a remote age. Very few writers — and it is very few on the field of religious history, have been gifted with the seeing eye, or the imaginative faculty, that are requisite for understanding, and for spreading out to view, the actions, and the actors, and the scenes of those times. Gibbon could do this — when he willed to do it; but he had no consciousness of the religious life, and he could do nothing better than picture, in a false sense, what came before him, and what could be interpreted only on the hypothesis of the reality of the religious life.

Nor is it merely the want of a faculty or of a natural endowment that has been the disparagement of Church history writers. All of them, or all of them in these post-Reformation ages, have written with an intention, or for a purpose, avowed or concealed. If, indeed, they are impartial, they have been soulless; or if full of feeling, the feeling has been animus; and it has betrayed itself in every paragraph. Read Bossuet, or read Milner, and say if it be not so! The sheer reality of things — our human nature, such as it is, no more shows itself in these works than it does in Chateaubriand's Genie du Christianisme, or other books of historic romance, written to further "a cause". Church history has been written by learned presbyters, by learned bishops, by learned professors in colleges; nor is this to be wondered at or blamed; but then Church history has all along been clerical or professional; it has come from a well-defined point of view; nor has it in any instance betrayed the body-ecclesiastical whence proximately it has sprung. I will be bold to say that there is good room on this ground for something better; better than the mystified Germans have given us, or even Neander. We do not want profound philosophisings about Church history; we want the religious history of the nations among whom the Gospel has been preached, and has been instituted. If any such history as this has appeared, it has not chanced to come in my way. I have not heard of it; but it will be granted to us in its time; it is, as we say, a want of the time now passing, and it will be forthcoming, so I surmise, in the proximate decade of time.

The writing a history — ecclesiastical or political — is no trifling affair; it should be the business of a life, and it should be undertaken by those who lack no qualification for the task which they freely bring upon their shoulders. It may, however, be lawful for those who would shrink from any such enormous undertaking as this to indulge in trains of meditation which may have been suggested to them in the lapse of years by the mere presence of books, and by such acquaintance with them as may have accrued incidentally or purposely from year to year in forty years.

To write a book, or even to put forth a pamphlet, is to challenge a world of contradiction, and to wake up criticism. Most of all is this the case if the subject touches tender places in theology, or treads anywhere upon ecclesiastical sensitiveness. One cannot think half an hour upon any such subject, while the thought of a book or a pamphlet is entertained, just in the same simple-hearted manner in which one may indulge meditations on the very same field, when no hypothesis of publication is at all presumable. The two styles of thinking are essentially dissimilar. Whatever it be that is thought, written, and committed to the printer, is, in some sense, antagonistic; it is avowedly so, or tacitly it is so. One puts on armour, and takes spear in hand; one buckles up to confront the enemy in print. Wholly of another sort are those tranquil musings which, at the furthest, will not travel beyond the limit of the amiable home circle. And now, at this point, indulgent reader, let me indulge myself in affirming the blessedness of a secluded country life: it is here, and it is in the midst of meadows and ploughed fields that one may think, and not fear. It is here that editations, innocent of treason, innocent of heresy, and clear of wrongful imputations, may be indulged in through half a century!

Trains of thought, taking their rise from the books on the shelves around, will not fail to show a reflection, or a refraction from the objects and the movements of the outer world. So it has been, therefore, that while, in that outer world, and in the religious quarter of that world, deep-going revolutions have been running their round; meditations which have taken their text or their colour from books have come to be entangled with the agitations of the outer world. This word of explanation may be needed for what is to follow.

Meditations that are silent, and are not destined to the printer, differ greatly from thoughts and conclusions that are likely to be put into type. These latter do not appear until after they have been packed in chapters; and strung into paragraphs, and have been made to pass repeated revisions, and strengthened with foot-notes; and riveted with references — they are, or are intended to pass for, workmanlike work. Not so meditations of the first-mentioned sort. These are the slowly accruing inductions of thousands of chance thoughts: they are like coral formations — they are the unnoticed increments of day after day, while summer and winter, seedtime and harvest, have been running their noiseless round. If you ask me how it is that I have come to think so and so upon debated questions, or where are my authorities; or what is my warrant for conclusions of this colour, perhaps I am not able at the moment to come down with book and chapter. The best I can do is to say, that, if you require me to write, and then to print on the subject, I will give the requisite attention to it, and shall be prepared to come out — it may be three months hence or twelve. But I am now ready to affirm that the slowly formed involuntary inductions of thirty or forty years may be of more genuine quality than the laboured work of preparation for getting out a book, whether at longer or shorter notice. But what is to become of any such random meditations? Book them, and then they cease to be what I would acknowledge as indeed the whole of my mind on this or that subject. Print them, and then they forfeit their quality. If it be so, your reply will be: "Leave your musings where they are — floating about in your home circle. The world will go on its way, content to know nothing of what you may have thought." I can easily bring myself to believe this; nevertheless, I am impelled to throw out, at random, a page or so of meditations on at least one subject, that has never been for any length of time out of my mind.

In these years, while I have lived among the books of which just now I have said something, a movement has been going on in the World of Thought — sometimes as an under-current — noiseless and unseen — sometimes, as lately it has done, frothing up and bubbling on the surface, like the scalding waters of Iceland — but the drift is ever the same; nor is the issue to be doubted — if it goes on — the drift or direction is toward the dark abyss wherein human thought is lost. Some way before that issue is arrived at, there are stations at which a halt will be made, and where a new turn may be taken. Many, we may "well believe it — more than a few, shall stop short of the abyss, and they will hold fast to their hope. There are reasons enough why they should do so; but with these I am not at this time concerned. What I intend is to ask the before-named indulgent reader of this paper to listen to a page of perhaps incoherent meditations which haunt the place where I sit, surrounded with books.

As I look round at my shelves, no very difficult effort of the imagination is needed for fancying that the writers of these folios — the great orators, the martyrs, the theologues, the apologists, the doctors — these worthies stand out, each in front of his own literary creation, and that where and while they so make their appearance, I am gifted with an ear to hear what they say, and am gifted also with a faculty of speech, so that I may freely put searching questions to them, and then may listen to catch their answers. In realizing a conception of this sort I find myself very greatly helped out — ideally — by pictorial means. Often and often, as I have opened these folios, I have looked anew at the effigies of the men — the Fathers of that time. As to several of these effigies, they are copies, carefully made, as it is evident, from the iIluminated manuscripts of the works of the Father, and many of them show so much of verisimilitude, as to costume, and as to the surrounding embellishments, and they agree so well, physiognomically, with the good man's reputed dispositions and conduct, that one is forced to accept them as genuine portraitures. So it is, or thus I believe — stood erect, and so looked while in presence of the illuminating limner — the noted leaders of that age. Thus 'O' ΑΓΙΟΣ Ephraim the Syrian — and thus the great Athanasius; and if, in this instance, the portrait be a mere invention of the artist, then that artist must indeed have been gifted in a marvellous  degree with the realizing conceptive faculty; for indeed this august figure, and this attitude, and this unearthly countenance, are a fitting image of the man who sustained a martyrdom of many years, upheld by the faith of "things unseen and eternal". And thus looked the puritanic Theodoret; and thus also the luxurious scholar, gentleman, and monk, the great Basil. And thus Chrysostom, the golden-mouthed orator, copious in exposition of Holy Scripture; and thus Epiphanius, and thus others who, with more or less of authenticity, as works of art, have left us in these illuminations the means of thinking of them, such as they were, in habit, in their attire, and in expression of countenance.

But while thus by these means I see, as if here present, the noted men of that age, it is many more than them selves individually that come into view; for the men of their time to whom they spoke are present also — even the congregation that thronged the basilica — and that listened, and that broke forth in loud plaudits with clapping of hands. Or to cite another instance, that of the holy man named above, Ephraim, the monk and the preacher and poet of Edessa. It is thus that I read, opening the volume at a chance — "Beloved, if thou art minded to enter this place [monastery] and wouldest spend thy days among us, and wouldest here, serve the Lord Jesus Christ, then listen to me." Thus reading, it is not the good man alone that comes into view; but it is the cowled companions of his ascetic mode of life it is the forty  or the fifty  brethren of this coenobium. These all enter by right into the vision of Christian antiquity; they come following their abbot. Admit the principal, then, the brethren slip in at the same door. So it will be also with the abbot Nilus, who governed several neighbouring monasteries (convents of monks) around the Nitrian salt-lakes, deep hid in the burning wilderness, westward in the Libyan desert: the father abbot comes, and with him there is a deputation of the brethren, and along with these there are several hundred Christian people to whom his epistles were addressed, who needed comfort, rebuke, or instruction.    Journeying some way farther along the African coast, I find the illustrious Augustine: he is writing, or preaching, or visiting his flock; or he is in conference with his presbyters and deacons. This great and good man, to say the truth, occupies as much space on my shelves as I can well spare him, for he comes with (or within) thirteen imperial folios, and each volume contains over a thousand pages. I find him, just now, addressing his stated congregation in the episcopal church, and the keynote of these discourses is to this effect — the words are the very first that have met the eye as I open a volume, by chance; and I ask my reader to keep them in mind ready for what I may have to say about them presently. The bishop — his arm is outstretched, and his hand is upward pointed — thus speaks: "Our hope, my brethren, springs not from the things of this present time, nor is it a hope of this present world, nor does it bear upon those things which blind the minds of men who forget God. Not of this sort is our hope; but it takes its hold upon — I know not what, which God has promised, and which man has not as yet received." With such a word as this on his lips (a word which Plato would have eagerly listened to, and Cicero also, although not Aristotle) there can be no doubt that the fervent Bishop of Hippo shall be invited to come in, and he may bring with him his hearers, how many soever they may be. Thus I find that I am gathering into my study indeed a goodly company — it is a great congregation: or I may say it is “a  great cloud of witnesses". I do not in this place employ that word "witness" in the apostolic sense, as if it meant the passive spectators of a transaction and of the actors therein, on a stage, or on the arena of a Roman amphitheatre. But those whom I thus challenge are to give their evidence in the forensic sense of the word — they are witnesses called into court where a great cause is in question, and where pleadings and counter-pleadings are even now to be listened to. The suit in progress relates to the hope of an inheritance incorruptible and eternal; and the witnesses that are now standing at the door, ready to answer to their names, are required, each in his time, and each in his own manner, to vouch for the fact that a great revolution — wide in its range, permanent in its results, deep in its bearing upon human nature — had been effected and was still extant, and was then in progress at the hour when the said witness lived and had knowledge of the facts. I am not intending, according to the customary dogmatic usage, to cite authorities, book, chapter, and page, of this or that edition, in support of the articles of a creed. To do this may be quite proper in a proper place; but this is not a place proper for any purpose of that sort. What I wish to do — so far as it may be done within the compass of ten or twelve pages — is, to put in view a rough outline of facts which, unless we can give some other and a reasonable explanation of them, must receive a Christian explanation, involving the weighty consequences which thence ensue.

If in this manner I go from shelf to shelf, around my little library, inviting the authors of these books to answer to their names when summoned to do so, I ought to consider from what distant regions they must come. The men themselves, and their Christian contemporaries, will have come from the glowing heights of Sinai, and from the deserts beyond: they will have come from the green slopes and valleys of Palestine, and from the sultry gorge of the Jordan, and from the wooded clefts of Lebanon: they must have come from the Syrian coastward, and from the then populous provinces of Asia Minor, and from the Aegean Islands, from Cyprus, and Rhodes; as also from Cilicia, and Cappodocia, and Pontus, and Paphlagonia, and Galatia, and Phrygia, and Pisidia, and Lycia, and Caria, and Lydia, and Mysia, and Bithynia, and from thence over to Thrace, and Macedonia. This is not a barren list of names, geographical only in its meaning, for each name of a province, and of each principal city in each province, wakes up a vivid recollection; and with each name is associated the name of some martyr or preacher — not wanting the names of accomplished men, who were the lights of their era. The time would fail me to speak of Nazianzen, and of Nyssen, and of Basil, and of Cyril, and of Eusebius, and of Epiphanius. We pass on then to Greece proper, and so round about into Italy, and thence to Gaul, and to Spain, and to Lusitania, and to Britain, Caledonia and Hibernia. The circuit thence is to North Africa, and so on to Egypt, and to Abyssinia. Beyond these borders of the Imperium Romanum we should travel far, and yet everywhere should find our brethren in Christ. Everywhere I should find those who, whatever may be their vernacular, yet if I uttered in their hearing the few words which just now I have cited from a sermon of the Bishop of Hippo, would start up at the sound, and would repeat this confession as their own confession, and would say: "This is our hope, as it is yours; the Christ whom you preach is `both yours and ours'; for to us of the furthest East, and to those of the remotest West, it is true that there is one hope of our calling — Christ in us the hope of the life eternal." So it is, that from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, the Saviour of the world has already been proclaimed and trusted in.

And as the area geographically is large, from every part of which these witnesses for Christ may be summoned, so are the years many during the lapse of which this witness-bearing has been heard. If I take the testimony in the manner already spoken of, that is to say, from the books around me, then, in chronological order, the witness-roll of antiquity will extend itself through much more than a thousand years. I listen, and I hear this TESTIMONY, ever the same in its subject, and its substance, and its awful unearthly import. I hear it in the mild paternal voices of the apostolic Clement and his colleagues. I hear it in the dying confession of Ignatius, and of Polycarp, and of a great company — even the "noble army of martyrs”. I catch the words of this confession — immortal sounds they are, audible amidst the howlings of the beasts of the amphitheatre, and the yells of the ten thousand assessors of those imperial shows. I hear this testimony in the moans of those women of Bithynia, whom Pliny — gentleman and philosopher — tortured to no purpose; and of the women who were torn to the death at Lyons and Vienne. The testimony comes also in the irrisive taunts of Athenagoras, and in the remonstrances of Tatian, of Irenaeus, of Pantaenus, and in the Martyr Justin's noble pleadings for mercy and justice; and in the strenuous reasonings of Tertullian, and in the learned eloquence of Origen; in all these many voices there is one testimony, the testimony of men and of women, who would not win a release from fires and racks, or the teeth of beasts, by denying their hope of "a better resurrection". Thus we move onward along the track of time; and if, in the earlier age, we have held converse with sufferers "of whom the world was not worthy", we find ourselves, in the centuries next ensuing, in the company of men —  philosophers, orators, and accomplished writers — who take up the same testimony, and make the same profession of their allegiance to Christ, and of their hope in Him who is "the way, the truth, and the life".

These witnesses, whom I thus summon, coming as they do from lands far remote, and belonging as they do to many eras, and speaking each in his vernacular, are distinguished by every diversity of national character, and of individual disposition and training. These differences are extreme; and the instruction which they had severally received varied in all degrees between that of the Coptic monk, who knew nothing beyond his local dialect, and the man of universal erudition — the master of many languages and of many philosophies. Such were Origen, Clement, Eusebius, Jerome. Differ as these writers might, as to the conditions of their birth and their education, and differ also as they might by the variety and the amount of their acquirements; or seem to differ as they might, if required to put the specialities of a creed into the terms of a formal confession of faith, article by article, yet it will be true that, looked at, listened to, on grounds which I shall mention, this testimony is always One Testimony; it is so, not as if by force, binding together many separate elements, but as by the inner harmony of principles which can never be held apart.

In this paper I excuse myself from the logical obligation of throwing my meditations into a book-like order. I am not compelled (an indulgent reader will not compel me) to put the first things foremost, and the second-rate things in a second place; but to take my instances and illustrations just as they come to hand. And inasmuch as these random thoughts are thoughts among books, so it shall be that these instances shall be such as may show their bookish origin.

I should judge it to be a misunderstanding of what I mainly intend, if now, with the two sets of books in my view — the classical, or, as we call them, the profane authors, on the one side, and the Christian authors on the other side — I should set myself to work to make up an argument in the manner of an antithesis, so as by all means to give effect to a contrast. In truth, I could not undertake to show that the light of pagan antiquity was a darkness, not a light. Ungracious, as well as wrongful and superfluous, would be the endeavour to disparage the ancient splendour — its philosophy, its oratory, its poetry, its art. The Greek intelligence, and by consequence the Roman, was indeed an effulgence, and it is so to this present moment; and as such it will continue to be looked to and admired, so long as mind is mind. But the light of classic antiquity was as the diffused illumination of a cloudy day. There was then no direct radiation from above; and when at noon of an over-clouded day the sun suddenly shines forth in his power, we all rejoice in those beams — ανϖθεν, nor do we think we do a wrong to the ancient classic splendour to exclaim, “The darkness is passed, and the True Light now shineth".

This is the apostolic profession: "The Darkness is past, and the TRUE LIGHT now shineth”; and in such terms as these the Teacher from Heaven announces His advent. He says: “I am the Light of the world." But has it been so? Do the facts of the history of the human mind bear out this assumption? In proof of the affirmative it would be trite, and here it would be needless and wearisome, to adduce volumes of evidence, under the several heads of philosophy, and of abstract theology, and of the humanisation of the social system, and of the elevation of morals. All these topics are now familiar to all readers; nor are the facts open to contradiction: they are available in proof of this principal fact — that CHRIST has been, and is, the Light of the World. I look round upon these shelves, and see them laden with the products of that illumination which Christianity has diffused, from age to age — giving to the brightest minds of each age a true direction, and an impulse also in that direction: but not to these only. Come with me into the less frequented corners of my store: look into the remote recesses of the Christian literature of ages gone by.

A true light, as compared with a meteorologic illumination, or an artificial radiance, or lamp light, shows its quality in this way, that it travels right on with a steady force — it moves as with a momenturn that carries it even into the obscurest corners; into the dimmest places; into the very nooks of the world. Now for some facts in illustration of this. I take down from their places some five, six, or seven books — the works of writers, extant indeed, but now very seldom mentioned; they are little known or thought of, and seldom quoted. On my table here, for instance, is Isidore of Pelusium; and here is Cassian, the monastic codist, and with him, bound in one, are Fulgentius and Maxentius; here also are Methodius, and Cyril of Jerusalem, and Synesius, and then John of Damascus; and I might easily name as many more; but these are enough. I ask you now to open at hazard any one of these books, and in five minutes you will find some passage, longer or shorter, which might well be cited as evidence of what is here affirmed. The True Light was there shining, and it is shining even into the darkest places. This light, as here we find it in its dimness, is nothing less than the light of the Eternal Effulgence: it is the light of the knowledge of God in Christ, who is Himself the brightness of the Father's glory: it is the authentic knowledge of Life Everlasting: it is the knowledge, moreover, of transgression as sin against God: and it is the knowledge of repentance, and of the forgiveness of sins. This is a light — a beam of which we see in these very books: not in books that are illuminated by the sparkling genius, and the eloquence, and the various erudition of distinguished men; but in books that are scarcely recommended by any measure of those qualities ; and into which no one now ever looks, unless it be for ascertaining some fact in history or criticism: this true light of divine knowledge has, assays the Psalmist, “made wise the simple" — even the simple ones — who were the authors of these sombre, faded, dust-covered folios. The question might be asked, how was it, as to these books, so little recommended as they are by intelligence, that they came to be copied from time to time, and thus made their appearance in print two or three hundred years ago? Many of the choicest literary treasures, alas have foundered in the passage of these dark ages. A reply in full to this question would include some details relating to the copying system in those times, for which I have no space in this paper. But a reply in part does touch my present subject. To a great extent it was the fact that the class of books now referred to came in turn into the copyist's hands simply because something must be done in that line; and as to books on the classical, or, as we say, the profane side, the supply was rapidly falling off. The copyist who had already effected a copy of a Homer, or a Demosthenes, or a Cicero, would seek for something new, if new might be found. But here would arise a difficulty, for on the side of pagan literature, books, new books, were becoming rare: it was more and more so the springs of paganism were running low: the fountains of its thought were drying up! I will not allege what might provoke an argument; but will only say what is unquestionable, which is this, that when we pass forward beyond the times of Lucian, Athenaeus, Diogenes Laertius, Dion Cassius, writers on the field of pagan classic literature are becoming very scarce: in fact, the literature of heathenism is undergoing sublimation: it is ceasing to be. Whether in philosophy, or in poetry, or oratory, or moral disquisition, the wells of mind are running dry: it is as if the rubbish of the decaying temples had slid down into them, choking the sources of water. Take the facts — they are conspicuous — and draw your inference. THE MASTER of all thought had now himself come upon the ground. It is CHRIST that had claimed sovereignty in the world of mind and of feeling: paganism, as a fruit-bearing tree, was doomed to wither: CHRIST had passed by, and He had said ooking at the tree, then green in leaf: "Let no man eat fruit of thee, henceforth for ever." Such fruit of that tree as had actually been gathered and housed, should be preserved for use in all time future — it is precious; but as to the tree itself, the sap has been bled out of the trunk, nor would it return to it any more. Christ says, "I am the true vine," and every branch that takes not thence its sap is doomed to wither.

Thus it is written: "He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new." A word from on high it was. But not now to look beyond the range to which these random meditations are confined, I take from its place one of that class of books just above mentioned — a third or fourth rate book — it is The Homilies of a Coptic Monk; and I bring this obscure yet edifying writer into comparison with the profound author of the Phaedo, and the Phaedrus, and the Apology. As to intellectuality — immeasurable is the space intervening between the pious Macarius and the illustrious disciple of Socrates. Nevertheless this interval is not greater than that which measures the distance which the human mind and the modern civilisation have passed on, under the teaching of Christ, beyond the position it had reached under the teaching of Plato. It is not merely that the Egyptian monk had come fully into the knowledge of axioms and first principles in theology which the disciple of Socrates spent his life in groping after, and yet never attained. This would be only a formal statement of the fact before us. The Copt*** had come to know that GOD, the Creator of the World, is One — and that He is One in His moral attributes, and that He is just, and good, and gracious, even as a Father toward His children. This conception was of a sort that is altogether strange to Greek Philosophy. In the entire range of classic antiquity, no thoughts, or any correspondent sentiments of this order come to the surface. "He that sat upon the throne" had in this sense made all things new, namely, that the human mind had received a new bent — a bent GOD-WARD; and thenceforward, and throughout all time, it is held to be true that there is a life of the soul toward God. God is not henceforward to be thought of only as an object in philosophy, or as an axiom in metaphysics, but is to be regarded as the Infinite Being with whom man is invited to hold communion — even a daily correspondence. Christian antiquity on the one side, and the brightest products of pagan antiquity on the other side, then the difference is a disparity immeasurable with whomsoever this knowledge of God gets an entrance, all things have indeed become new.

Nor is it merely that the immortality which pagan philosophy surmised, had now become an undoubted truth — an axiom of the Christian life; but this doctrine, which had floated as a mist in the view of the loftiest minds of antiquity, had at length so fixed itself in the vivid conceptions of the entire mass of Christian people, men; women, and children, that these, and any of them, were ready to stake life and all things upon it.

“Behold, I make all things new," then, are we to ask what things they are, and on what scene of action this "new creation" is to be effected? Was it from the wilds of savage life, and with the few and the rude elements of that low order of social organization? If it were so, a renovation of this kind, and a taming of the ferocious man, and a humanising of one so brutal, it would be indeed a marvel: wonderful indeed it is when, under the tutelage of the Christian teacher, this new creation does take place. Nevertheless, it must be accounted an event of a higher order — an event worthy of more profound regard, when races that have held on their way for centuries in a condition of the most elaborate civilization, including the highest culture, when such as these are brought over from one condition, intellectual and moral, to another condition, intellectual and moral. A new creation of this kind is indeed amazing. Yet it was a revolution not less signal than this that took place when the ancient civilization yielded itself to new and a hitherto unthought-of moral and religious system — a new belief — a new ethics — a new code of social and political organization. In the track of time, the revolutions of which I find to be reported and vouched for in the books that occupy the shelves around me, these changes — great as they were — were actually brought about. These revolutions affected the human system to its very depths, and upon its surface also, and they took their course in the East, and in the West, and in every land around the Mediterranean. Slowly in some quarters, very rapidly in other quarters, but at length in all provinces of the Roman world, and in every city, and wherever any social polity, and wherever schools and the usages of refined modes of life had already gone in advance of it, there did this Christianity come, and come with power: and in the lapse of time it ousted its rivals, and it cleared a ground for itself, and put to silence the gainsaying of heathenism, and brought under its sway, and into its service, the languages, and the discipline, and the manners, and the morals, and the politics, and the imperial government itself. In all this manifold revolution there is a verification at large of that word of power: "He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new."

So it is, then, that the books of which I have spoken in this paper give their various evidence concerning an EFFECT, vast in its measurement, and quite unexampled in its quality. And now, when we make inquiry concerning the spring or CAUSE of so great a revolution, we find that the cause alleged is adequate to the effect; and, moreover, that the cause and the effect are in congruity, the one with the other. It was Omnipotence — it was He that sat upon the throne that said: Behold, I make all things new. The effect vouches for the cause: the cause is justified in the effect.

At this point, where I am coming to the close of this informal meditation, I come to what might be taken as the text of another meditation, or of a new argument. I have spoken above of the drift of Thought at the present moment. The purport of this now-present tendency is toward the acceptance of a Christianity abated — a Gospel, shorn of its forces; and we are labouring to persuade ourselves that a Gospel so abated shall serve us instead of, and better than, the Gospel such as we have it in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. All we need, it is said, in this advanced stage of European civilization is an amiable Ethics, and an easy after-life in prospect, with no terrors appended.

The compromise which is now pleaded for must embrace such things as these: The exclusion of "dogmas" of all sorts — a declared indifference toward "speculative belief" — a rejection of superstitions, the devil included. Yet most of all is demanded the rejection of that one doctrine which, more than any other article of the obsolete theology, offends our modern philosophy, and outrages its sensibilities; we therefore insist upon the utter removal of the ancient belief concerning the vicarious death of Christ. On these terms a continuance may be granted to Christianity.

To abate the forces of the Gospel might seem a practicable enterprise, if this indeed were all; but it is certain that when these forces, these powers of the system, are removed, what remains is reduced to a mass of incoherent and intolerable solecisms. Often has this experiment been repeated, and always with the same result. Other than such as it is — powerful to shake the Babel of human pride — powerful to vanquish the obduracy of our alienation from God, the Gospel quickly gives place to any illusion — philosophical, or literary, or sensual — which may suit the bent of each mind. If proof of these averments is asked for, then it is certain that everything which illustrates the history of the human mind, when brought into collision with the Gospel, is available to that end, and will consist with no other conclusion.

The late Isaac Taylor

By Isaac Taylor

THE foregoing essay, which appeared in Good Words at the close of the year 1864, was almost the last literary effort of one who for fifty years had held, in his well-practised hand, that Family Pen of which he writes.

In the spring of the year 1865, he was attacked by a violent access of the chronic bronchitis which had long troubled him, and this malady was soon complicated by dropsical symptoms. For three months he endured great sufferings with characteristic fortitude and Christian patience, till at last the strong frame was shattered, and, on the 28th of June, he passed away to his well-earned rest. Born at Lavenham, on the 17th of August, 1787, just before the breaking out of the great French Revolution, he would in a few weeks have completed his seventy-eighth year.

This is not the place for any lengthened Memoir, or for any estimate of the services which his words of thoughtful wisdom have rendered to the cause of Christian truth. Some such memorial of his literary labours, based upon his own letters, and accompanied by selections from MSS which he has left behind, is now in preparation. It has been thought, however, that these volumes would be incomplete if they did not contain some briefest record of the literary life of one who grasped the Family Pen with such firm fingers; and wielded it to so good effect.

The narrative of his early life, and the account of the surroundings of his youthful years, will be found, to a great extent, detailed by himself, incidentally, in the Memoir of his sister, Jane Taylor, which occupies the concluding portion of this volume. In those pages will be found a vivid description of the secluded life led by the family at Lavenham, with an account of their removal to Colchester, and finally to Ongar, together with a record of the long sojourn with his sister in Devonshire and Cornwall.

In common with several other members of the family, Isaac Taylor was trained to the profession of an artist. Though gifted with a keen perception of artistic excellence, with a striking originality of thought, and no inconsiderable power of artistic expression, yet the more mechanical details of his profession were distasteful to his mind, and he soon abandoned these pursuits for the more congenial labours of stated authorship.

I believe that his earliest ventures with the pen were published, in conjunction with his sisters, in some of those books for children which have enjoyed such an extensive popularity. A suitable place has been found for one or more of these juvenile productions in the second volume of this work.

But his literary tastes and pursuits were soon to receive an entirely new direction. The accidental discovery of a copy of the works of Sulpicius Severus on a London bookstall, as narrated by himself, in the preceding paper, turned his attention to the problems presented by the History and Corruptions of the Christian Church, and led to the gradual accumulation of a library containing everything worthy of note in the whole range of patristic literature. A somewhat similar acquisition of a copy of Lord Bacon's treatises De Augmentis, which occurred about the same time, gave another direction to his studies. He became an enthusiastic admirer and student of the works "of the great founder of our intellectual philosophy, and in the combination of these two lines of study, seemingly so incongruent — the Baconian and the patristic — may, I believe, be found the key to his whole literary life.

About the year 1818, his friend, Josiah Conder, who was at that time the Editor of the Eclectic Review, induced him to become a stated contributor to that periodical, which was then at the zenith of its fame, numbering as it did among its most zealous literary supporters the names of Robert Hall, John Foster, and Olinthus Gregory.

In 1822, at the age of thirty-five, he made his first independent literary venture. This was a small educational volume, which had been suggested mainly by his Baconian studies, and was entitled Elements of Thought. It was intended to teach the first rudiments of mental philosophy. The volume was not unsuccessful, having passed through several editions in its original form; and a few years before the author's death it was entirely recast and published as an essentially new work, under the title of  The World of Mind. This first essay was succeeded by a much larger and more costly volume, a new translation of the Characters of Theophrastus, accompanied by pictorial renderings of the characters, drawn and etched by the translator. But the great event of this period was the lamented death of his sister Jane, who had, for many years, been the chief sharer of his thoughts, and the chosen companion of his leisure hours. As her literary executor, all other pursuits were put aside, in order that he might devote himself to the melancholy task of the preparation of a memoir, which, accompanied by selections from her correspondence and literary remains, was first published in the year 1825. It is this memoir which, recast and revised a year or two before his death, constitutes the greater portion of the present volume.

In the ensuing year he married Elizabeth, second daughter of James Medland, Esq of Newington. This lady was the “young friend” of his sister Jane, to whom are addressed many of the letters in the latter part of her published correspondence. During the thirty-five years of her married life she proved herself a true and noble woman, a devoted wife, a fond yet most judicious mother, and the beloved friend and counsellor of her  cottage neighbours. In preparation for his marriage, Mr. Taylor had established himself at Stanford Rivers, a secluded country village, distant some two miles from his father's residence at Ongar. This house at Stanford Rivers, which was to be the scene of his literary labours, and of his silent meditations — for more than forty years, was not unfitted for the retreat of a literary recluse. It was a  rambling old-fashioned farmhouse, standing in a large garden. It commanded a somewhat extensive view of the numerous shaws, the well-timbered hedge-rows, and the undulating pasturages, which are characteristic of that part of Essex; while at a distance of some half-mile from the house the little river Roden meanders through the broad meadows. The house was speedily adapted to its new purposes; barns, and other farm outbuildings, were pulled down, the garden was replanted and laid out afresh, with a characteristic provision of spacious gravel-walks for meditative purposes.

Shortly after his marriage he published two companion  volumes, which mark the direction which his studies had been taking. The first, The History of the Transmission of Ancient Books to Modern Times, was followed by The Process of Historical Proof. These books form an answer to what may be called the Literary Scepticism of writers like the Jesuit Hardouin and his school, and show the grounds on which a rigorous criticism may accept as genuine the various remains of Ancient Literature, and more especially those documents which are comprised in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. After an interval of more than thirty years, these two volumes were recast by their author, and republished as a single work. The researches connected with a new and annotated Translation of Herodotus, which Mr Taylor published at this time, seem to have suggested an anonymous work of fiction, entitled The Temple of Melekartha. This work, the authorship of which was never avowed, stands alone among the productions of its writer. With great imaginative and pictorial power, it attempts to reproduce the characteristic features of the pre-historic civilization of the Tyrian race at the period of the traditional migration from the Persian Gulf to the Syrian coast. The work is pervaded by a deep ethical purpose, striving, as it does, to develop the untrammelled workings of enthusiasm, fanaticism, and spiritual despotism, and their baneful results on the destinies of nations. Hitherto, Mr Taylor, as an author, had been only moderately successful. His works, though well received by the public, had excited no marked sensation. But at last, at the age of forty-two, he discovered the direction in which the true bent of his genius lay. The Natural History of Enthusiasm was published anonymously in the month of May 1829. This work, with which the author's name is perhaps now chiefly associated, was a sort of a historico-philosophical elucidation of those social and religious problems which had come into prominence in that age of political and ecclesiastical revolution. It was written with such freshness of thought and vigour of language, as at once to place the unknown writer in the front rank of contemporary literature. The book rapidly ran through eight or nine editions, and still continues to have its readers and admirers. It was rapidly followed by two companion volumes, Fanaticism, and Spiritual Despotism, which were eagerly welcomed by an expectant and admiring public. Mr Taylor's next work is, perhaps, that which has been most in favour with the class of readers to whose tastes his writings are adapted. In his character of a lay theologian, he brought forward a series of devout reflections and original speculations on some of the more recondite subjects of religious thought. As a layman, he thought it right to leave the ordinary topics of the pulpit to their authorized expounders, and, under the title of Saturday Evening, he claimed to deal only with such matters as might be regarded as a preparation for the more formal teaching of the Sunday. This work has been regarded by a numerous band of admirers as a storehouse of profound thought, expressed in that massive and harmonious language of which the writer was a master.

One of the detached speculations in Saturday Evening was soon afterwards expanded into a volume, under the title of The Physical Theory of another Life. This work has gone through several editions, and still finds numerous readers.

The time now came at which Mr Taylor was reluctantly persuaded to relinquish that anonymous shield under cover of which this series of works had been produced, and which in his own opinion enabled him to write with a freedom and a power to which he bad before been a stranger. In 1836, a vacancy occurred in the chair of Logic in the University of Edinburgh. The anonymous author received an urgent requisition from some of the electors to stand for the vacant chair. This flattering proposal, involving as it did a surrender of his cherished habits of seclusion, was at first decisively declined, but the request was repeated with such urgency that he was at last induced to reconsider his determination. As the day of election approached all the other competitors withdrew, with the exception of Sir William Hamilton, who was ultimately successful by a small majority. This contest, the issue of which the defeated candidate never regretted for a moment, laid the foundation of valued friendships with Dr Chalmers, and other prominent men in Edinburgh, who had warmly interested themselves on his behalf. Another result of this contest was that, on several occasions in after years, Mr Taylor received similar invitations to compete for chairs in Scotch universities and colleges, and on one occasion a prominent position of the kind was placed at his option. But he never again consented to stand, believing that a College teacher should have received a College training, and believing also that his own habits of thought, and of free utterance on philosophical and theological topics, would not have been in harmony with the intellectual atmosphere of a Scotch university.

His own marked enjoyment of the country, and his decisive preference for a secluded life, joined to his conviction of the superior mental and physical health attainable by a family residing in the country, combined to retain him in the retired rural home in which he had deliberately chosen to cast his lot. At this time he had seven young children around his table. The methods which he pursued, and the thoughts which suggested themselves in superintending the education of his own family, are recorded in Home Education, a volume published in 1838. The beneficial influences of a country life, the educational value of children's pleasures, and the importance of favouring the natural growth of a child's mind instead of stimulating the mental powers into a forced and unnatural activity, are among the topics insisted upon in this volume, which has had considerable weight with parents in inducing them to promote the enjoyments of their children as one of the best of educational influences.

His next effort was of a very different character, and involved him in literary controversy of a kind from which his retiring nature sensitively shrank. In the preceding pages he has himself narrated the effect produced upon his mind in early life by the chance discovery on a London bookstall of a copy of Sulpicius Severus. The interest thus awakened in patristic literature was not allowed to die away. He gradually accumulated on his shelves a costly array of folios comprising nearly everything of note in the literature of Christian antiquity. From the independent perusal of these writers he had formed for himself a conception of the doctrine and practice of the Nicene Church differing widely from that which he found presented in any of the then accepted writers on Church history. Milner, and even Mosheim, he put from him with a kind of indignation, as giving an entirely distorted version of the facts of the case.

Holding as he did this belief as to the practices and doctrines of the early Church, he was deeply interested in that great movement in the English Church of which the Tracts for the Times were the exponents. The avowed object of the tracts was to bring back the Church of England to the theological beliefs and the ritual usages of the Nicene Church. Mr. Taylor's researches had led him to the belief that almost the whole of the errors of mediaeval Rome existed in a more or less developed form in that church of the fourth century which the Oxford writers were holding up to view as the standard and pattern for ourselves. In this belief he stepped forward with a reply to the Tracts, from the point of view of a layman, unembarrassed by the entanglement of ecclesiastical interests or subscriptions. The first part of Ancient Christianity compared with the Doctrines of the Tracts for the Times appeared in the beginning of the year 1839, and drew down upon its author an unwonted storm of virulent and unscrupulous opposition. The parts continued to appear at intervals for nearly three years, and had a very extensive circulation. The author had reason to believe that, while he had confirmed many waverers in their old allegiance to the Church of England, he had succeeded in proving to others that their only consistent course was to join the communion of Rome. About this time Mr Taylor delivered four lectures on "Spiritual Christianity" to a distinguished audience assembled at the Hanover Square Rooms. He himself always regarded these lectures as one of his happiest efforts. A somewhat similar course of Four Lectures was addressed to the working classes, under the title, “Man Responsible". But occupations of a very different nature now began to engross his thoughts.

From his boyhood his leisure hours had been much occupied with the invention of mechanical devices. One room in his house was always appropriated as a laboratory and carpenter's shop. At a very early period of his life he had invented the beer-tap which is now most commonly employed throughout the country; and somewhat later he contrived and introduced a very effective grate for domestic use. But his most ingenious contrivance was a machine for engraving upon copper. This beautiful invention was applied to the production of the numerous plates which illustrate Dr Traill's translation of Josephus, and shortly afterwards it was adapted to the purpose of engraving the copper cylinders which are employed in calico, printing; and having been patented in England, Scotland, and America, it was brought into operation on a large scale in Manchester and elsewhere. This machinery, ingenious and mechanically successful as it was, proved, financially, most disastrous to the inventor, and involved him in heavy liabilities, from which he only escaped  in the latter, years of his life. As has so often been the case, the invention, though ruinous to the inventor, realized large returns in the hands of others who possessed the requisite capital for making it commercially successful.

These mechanical pursuits were the main occupation of the seven years which followed the completion of Ancient Christianity. The hours which were not devoted to bringing the engraving machinery to perfection were spent in literary labour, though not of that independent kind which had hitherto engaged him. He contributed at intervals many thoughtful articles to the North British Review, from the time of its first commencement in 1843, and expended much heavy and well-nigh fruitless toil in editing Dr Traill's translation of Josephus, and writing the historical and topographical notes which accompany that work.

In 1849 he again published a volume, Loyola and Jesuitism, in which he endeavoured to apply to one special epoch of Church History those general principles which had been propounded just twenty years before, in the Natural History of Enthusiasm. A companion monograph, Wesley and Methodism, appeared some two years later. These two volumes, however, excited less attention than preceding works from their author's pen. Wanting, as he constitutionally was, in literary ambition, he now gladly availed himself of an opportunity of returning to the privacy of anonymous authorship, which, he felt, always enabled him to wield his pen with a freedom and power which he was sensible had been more or less wanting ever since that reluctant avowal of his name which had been extorted from him in 1836. The result fully justified this belief, and The Restoration of Belief, a volume on the Christian argument which was published anonymously at Cambridge in 1855, has always been regarded by his admirers as one of the most profound and powerful of all the efforts of his pen.

The works of his remaining years may be briefly enumerated. Logic in Theology, and Ultimate Civilization, are the titles of two volumes of characteristic essays. The concluding essay in the former of these volumes is a sort of Religio Laici, and contains a more detailed expression of the writer's mature belief than can be found elsewhere. In this essay he sums up the credenda which a thoughtful and devout man may, in these days of scepticism, accept as things which may be believed "without controversy". In truth, as he advanced in life, his early aversion to the acrimony and necessary one-sidedness of religious controversy returned with augmented force, and he often regretted that the feebleness of increasing years did not allow him to recast the one controversial effort of his life — Ancient Christianity — into a form which should be free from that atmosphere of partisanship in which it was, from the necessity of the time, originally produced.

Mr Taylor's last work of any importance was a volume of lectures, originally delivered at Edinburgh, on The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry. This volume was published in 1862, and it contains passages of great originality and beauty, showing that age had not abated the powers of the veteran writer, though it may have mellowed his tone of thought, and chastened his somewhat exuberant style. The last fruit of his pen was the series of  “Personal Recollections", which appeared in Good Words a few months before his death. It is one of the essays in that series, bearing the title of "The Family Pen", which is reprinted in the present volume. At the time of his fatal seizure in the spring of 1865, he was engaged in writing an essay on the religious history of England during the fifty years of his own literary life. This fragment is now being prepared for publication, and it is hoped will very shortly be given to the world.

Mr Taylor was singularly destitute of literary ambition. It was always his greatest pleasure and reward to believe that in his employment of the gift entrusted to him he had been able in any degree to be useful in his generation. It is not often perhaps that so voluminous a writer has shrunk so persistently from personal prominence and literary notoriety of every kind. It was always most painful to him to be brought forward as "a literary man". He resolutely held aloof from mixing in literary circles; general society was distasteful to him; and though he hospitably welcomed, at Stanford Rivers, his few chosen friends, yet he was never truly happy and at ease save in the deep seclusion of his country retreat, pacing up and down the walks of the old-fashioned garden, or setting forth for prolonged rambles in those retired lanes and byways where he could feel most secure from encountering strangers. His social enjoyments he ever sought in the bosom of his own family.  He always believed that the domestic happiness with which he was so greatly favoured was not only a strong stimulus to literary exertion, but exercised also the best influence on his own intellectual judgments; and to the seclusion of his country life he attributed much of the breadth and catholicity of his religious feelings, and the calm judicial tone of his literary temper.

* I have occasion here to keep in mind the rule — de mortuis nil, nisi bonum — and therefore must repress the impulse to assert my uncle's merits, so unfairly and ungenerously called in question by the late John Kitto. How would his own ill-digested work fare if dealt in the same fashion? — IT

** The reader may judge for himself of the soundness of this opinion by the extracts from the writings of Jeffreys Taylor, which are given in the second volume of this work. [EDITOR.]

*** Whether the Homilies and Treatises which I now hold in my hand should be attributed to Macarius Senior, or to Macarius junior, or even to some other writer of about the same period, is a matter of no consequence whatever in relation to the bearing of such a question upon any inference I am intending to draw from my facts. — IT

Thomas Harmer (1714-1788), Observations on Various Passages in Scripture. — SP
Johann Laurenz von Mosheim (about 1694–1755). "Often called the father of modern church history, a Lutheran preacher and university professor at Goetingen, Germany, and noted scholar, was the first to attempt to write Church history objectively. Instead of publishing history to produce propaganda, von Mosheim tried to examine the development of the Church without bias or party line." Wrote Ecclesiastical History Ancient and Modern. — SP

Rev Joseph Milner, Anglican minister and church historian. — SP
Dr John Jortin (1698-1770), church historian. — SP

Nitria. A valley of salt lakes in the desert north-west of Cairo. — SP

Cappodocia. Central Turkey. — SP

Lusitania. Roman Portugal. — SP

James Medland (Abt 1769-June 1823). — SP