1797 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Taylor the Water Poet

George Dyer, in The Poet's Fate, a Poetical Dialogue (1797) 36-37 &n.



Do water-poets, or some Stephen Duck,
The Muses' vine with hand too daring pluck?
If light their purses, and if small their fame,
Blame, if you please; themselves deserve the blame,
Who wantons with the Muse, and leaves a trade,
Before a wife prefers a common jade:
And bard and mistress, when the means shall fail,
(As fail they will) should warble in a jail.

———————
Taylor, their better Charon, lends an oar,
Once swan of Thebes, though now he sings no more.
DUNCIAD, book iii. 19.

In a note, it is added, "John Taylor, the water-poet, an honest man, who owns he learned not so much as his Accidence: a rare example of modesty in a poet—

I must confess I do not want eloquence,
And never scarce did learn my Accidence;
And having got from possum to posset,
I there was gravelled, could no farther get.

He wrote fourscore books in the reign of James I. and Charles I. and afterwards, like Edward Ward, kept an alehouse in Long-Acre."