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Jeremy Taylor

1613-1667. Anglican bishop and writer. Born at Cambridge and educated there, he early attracted through his eloquence the attention of William Laud,* who nominated him as his chaplain and enabled him to be elected fellow of All Souls. He chose to be loyal to the king in the Civil War, but on the collapse of the royal cause he attached himself to Lord Carbery, remaining at his house in Carmarthenshire until the return of Charles II in 1660. His Liberty of Prophesying (1647) is a plea for toleration. It was followed by The Life of Christ (1649), Holy Living (1650) and Holy Dying (1651), and the manual of devotion, The Golden Grove (1655). After the Restoration his loyalty was recognized in his preferment to the see of Down and Connor, but his was a difficult task in an age when the toleration he so much valued was so little in fashion.

In addition to the works mentioned above, Taylor also published XXVIII Sermons Preached at Golden Grove (1651) and XXV Sermons (1653), as well as several scattered, individual sermons. He is the last practitioner of a “golden age” of preaching that began with Donne* and Andrewes.* Mason called him the “Shakespeare of divines.” More accurately, Coleridge described him as the “Spenser of prose”-more accurately, because Taylor's prose compares in its color and elaborateness with the highly artificial work of the Elizabethan poet. The texture of his work consists in a wealth of biblical, patristic and classical allusion, woven in a rich and complex pattern. Basically Taylor's prose is still Ciceronian, but compared, say, with Hooker's at the end of the previous century, it has developed a certain mannered quality that is best described as baroque. This is revealed especially in his imagery, where he draws on his rich sensory, and especially his visual, imagination.

See Works (ed. R. Heber; rev. C.P. Eden, 1847-54); and C.J. Stranks, The Life and Writings of Jeremy Taylor (1952).