1899 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Taylor Esq.

Rowland E. Prothero, in Byron, Letters and Journals, ed. Rowland E. Prothero (1898-1901) 3:213-14n.



John Taylor (circ. 1757-1832) was the grandson of the oculist who called himself "Opthalmiator Pontifical, Imperial, Royal," etc., passed as Chevalier Taylor, supplied an illustration to Foote in his Mayor of Garratt (act i. sc. 1), where "the Chevalier Taylor" cured Margery Squab of squinting, and was the subject of Horace Walpole's lines (Letters, vol. iii. p. 181)—

Why Taylor the quack calls himself chevalier,
'Tis not easy a reason to render;
Unless blinding eyes, that he thinks to make clear,
Demonstrates he's but a Pretender.

The Chevalier's grandson succeeded the Rev. W. Jackman, or Jackson, as editor of the Morning Post, and owner of nine-tenths of the Sun. He was also the author of numerous poems and theatrical addresses, epilogues and prologues. The Stage, a Poem (containing criticisms on all the actors and actresses of the day), was published in 1795; Poems on Several Occasions, in 1811; and Poems on Various Subjects, in which were included all his previously published verses, in 1827. His humorous tale, Monsieur Tonson, appeared in 1830. His Records of my Life were published after his death in 1832. Taylor states that he first made acquaintance with Byron at Drury Lane Theatre (Records of my Life, vol. ii. p. 349, et seqq.), and mistook him for a lawyer; "but soon after, knowing who he was, and gratified by the politeness of his manner, I began to see 'Othello's visage in his mind;' and if I did not perceive the reported beauty, I thought I saw striking marks of intelligence, and of those high powers which constituted his character." Taylor sent Byron a copy of his poems, and, in return, received the above letter, with "four volumes of his poems, handsomely bound, all of his works that had been published at that time." On Taylor, George Colman the Younger wrote the following lines (ibid., p. 382):—

Nine Taylors (as the proverb goes)
Make but one man, though many clothes;
But thou art not, we know, like those,
My Taylor!

No — thou can'st make, on Candour's plan,
Two of thyself — (how few that can!)
The Critic and the Gentleman,
My Taylor!

Taylor, in the collected edition of his Poems, 1827, has four poems on Byron. Two sonnets appear in volume I (pp. 153, 154). The third poem is an "Inscription for the print representing the House in which Lord Byron died at Missolonghi" (vol. ii. p. 83); the fourth is "The last words of Lord Byron versified" (vol. ii. pp. 120, 525). The motto of the edition is—

"DEAR SIR, — I have to thank you for a Volume written in the good old style of our Elders and our Betters, which I am very glad to see is not yet extinct." — Extract from a letter from the late Lord Byron to the Author."