1720 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Taylor the Water Poet

Giles Jacob, in Historical Account of the Lives and Writings of our most considerable English Poets (1720) 210-11.



This Poet was born in Gloucestershire, and he was a Person of very good natural Parts, but of a small share of Learning, having, in the Progress of Letters, gone very little beyond his Accidence, as we may collect from one of his Pieces, where he says,

I must confess I do want Eloquence,
And never scarce did learn my Accidence;
For having got from Possum to Posset,
I there was gravel'd, could no further get.

He wrote some Pieces, dedicated to King James and King Charles the First, and by them well accepted, considering his Education; but it is to be consider'd, that Poetry, in former times, when there was less of it, was more encourag'd and regarded than in this Age, when the World is so much loaded with it. He for some time kept a publick House near Long-acre, and, upon the Murder of King Charles the First, set up the Sign of the Mourning Crown; but this open Piece of Loyalty was counted malignant in those Days, and being oblig'd to pull down his Sign, he hung up his own Picture in the stead of it, with these Lines underneath,

Kings Heads are hung up for a Sign,
And many a Saints, then why not mine?

He died about the Year 1654. having spent the latter part of his Life in Mirth and Jollity.