1876 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Taylor of Norwich

Robert Carruthers, in Chambers's Cyclopaedia of English Literature, 3rd ed. (1876; 1879) 5:388.



One of our earliest translators from the German was WILLIAM TAYLOR of Norwich (1765-1836). In 1796 appeared his version of Burger's Lenore. Before the publication of this piece, Mrs. Barbauld — who had been the preceptress of Taylor — read it to a party in Edinburgh at which Walter Scott was present. The impression made upon Scott was such that he was induced to attempt a version himself, and though inferior in some respects to that of Taylor, Scott's translation gave promise of poetical power and imagination. Mr. Taylor afterwards made various translations from the German, which he collected and published in 1830 under the title of A Survey of German Poetry. "Mr. Taylor," says a critic in the Quarterly Review (1843), "must be acknowledged to have been the first who effectually introduced the modern poetry and drama of Germany to the English reader, and his version of the Nathan of Lessing, the Iphigenia of Goethe, and Schiller's Bride of Messina, are not likely to be supplanted, though none of them are productions of the same order with Coleridge's Wallenstein. In 1843 an interesting Memoir of Taylor, containing his correspondence with Southey, was published in two volumes, edited by J. W. Robberds, Norwich.