1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Taylor the Water Poet

Bryan Waller Procter, in Effigies Poeticae, or, the Portraits of the British Poets (1824) 38-39.



From an original Picture in the Bodleian Gallery.

In regard to the physiognomy of JOHN TAYLOR, called the Water poet, we may venture to pronounce that it did not disgrace his calling. He has a shrewd and fierce eye, and a head like a bull, and looks stout enough to have pulled a boat from Greenwich to the Nore. Taylor's inspiration sprang front all the rivers of which he knew anything, but there is no taste either of Castaly or Helicon. There is nothing, in short, poetical either in his head or his verses: nevertheless, it is a striking head, and fit for his profession. He looks like Torn Bowling, or Ben Backstay; but without their sentiment. He would not have loved "the gentle Anna," however he might have taken a spell at "Chelsea ferry," and have become the badge and the crimson coat.