1854 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Taylor of Norwich

Robert Shelton Mackenzie, Note in Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 4:248n.



William Taylor of Norwich, was earlier on the wide field of German literature, than any other Englishman. A vigorous translation of Burger's "Leonore" first made him known. In 1795, before it was published, Mrs. Barbauld, who was on a visit to Edinburgh, read it to a party at Dugald Stewart's. A friend, who was present, repeated his recollections of it to Scott, and these, although necessarily imperfect, led Scott to seek out the original German poem, and impelled him to make a rhymed translation of it, which he executed in one sitting, and showed to Miss Cranstoun, an intelligent friend, who admired it so much, that she had a few copies of it printed. This was the commencement of Scott's literary career, and I do not think the anecdote out of place in a notice of William Taylor. After the appearance of "Leonore," Taylor made other German translations, which appeared in Magazines and Periodicals, introduced him to the friendship of Southey, and obtained him an engagement on the Monthly Review, as critic upon Foreign literature. The articles he wrote were collected in 1830, with notes, and published as a "Survey of German Poetry." He wrote a work also on English Synonymes. He died, 1836, and a memoir of his Life and Writings was published by Mr. Robberts, in 1843, — the year which his friend Southey died.