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Duke-Street, Lambeth.



1. Taylor 1

2. Lavoisier 9

3. Sydenham 18

4. Clarendon 25

5. Reynolds 35

6. Swift 45

7. Locke 53

8. Selden 61

9. Paré 69

10. Blake 77

11. L’Hôpital 85

12. Mrs. Siddons 94

13. Herschel 105

14. Romilly 111

15. Shakspeare 122

16. Euler 129

17. Sir W. Jones 134

18. Rousseau 143

19. Harrison 153

20. Montaigne 157

21. Pope 164

22. Bolivar 173

23. Arkwright 181

24. Cowper 189


_Engraved by W. Holl._


_From the original Picture in the Hall of All Souls College, Oxford._

Under the Superintendance of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful

_London, Published by Charles Knight, Ludgate Street._



If this great ornament of our church did not boast of an exalted
lineage, he numbered among his forefathers one at least, the worthy
ancestor of such a descendant, Dr. Rowland Taylor, chaplain to Cranmer,
and rector of Hadleigh, distinguished among the divines of the
Reformation for his abilities, learning, and piety, as well as for the
courageous cheerfulness with which he suffered death at the stake in the
reign of Queen Mary. Jeremy Taylor was the son of a barber, resident in
Trinity parish, Cambridge; and was baptized in Trinity church, August
15, 1613. He was “grounded in grammar and mathematics” by his father,
and entered as a sizar at Caius College, August 18, 1626. Of his
deportment, his studies, even of the honours and emoluments of his
academical life, we have no certain knowledge. It is stated by Dr. Rust,
in his Funeral Sermon, that Taylor was elected fellow: but this is at
least doubtful, for no record of the fact exists in the registers of the
college. He proceeded to the degree of M. A. in 1633; and in the same
year, though at the early age of twenty, we find him in orders, and
officiating as a divinity lecturer in St. Paul’s Cathedral. His talents
as a preacher attracted the notice of Archbishop Laud, who sent for him
to preach at Lambeth, and approved of his performance, but thought him
too young. Taylor begged his Grace’s pardon for that fault, and promised
that, if he lived, he would mend it. By that prelate’s interest he was
admitted to the degree of M. A. _ad eundem_, in University College,
Oxford, October 20, 1635, and shortly after nominated to a fellowship at
All Souls College. It was probably through the interest of the same
powerful patron that he obtained the rectory of Uppingham in
Rutlandshire, tenable with his fellowship, March 23, 1638. The
fellowship, however, he vacated by his marriage with Phœbe Langsdale,
May 27, 1639, who died in little more than three years, leaving two

Taylor attracted notice at Oxford by his talents as a preacher; but he
does not seem to have commenced, during this period of ease and
tranquillity, any of those great works which have rendered him
illustrious as one of the most laborious, eloquent, and persuasive of
British divines. The only sermon extant which we can distinctly refer to
this period, is one preached by command of the Vice-chancellor on the
anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, 1638. This piece requires notice,
because it is connected with a report, circulated both during Taylor’s
residence at Oxford and afterwards, that he was secretly inclined to
Popery. It is even said that he “wished to be confirmed a member of the
church of Rome,” (Wood, Athenæ Oxon.) but was rejected with scorn in
consequence of the things advanced against that church in this sermon.
Of this whole statement Bishop Heber, in his ‘Life of Taylor,’ has
expressed his disbelief; and the arguments on which his opinion is
founded appear to us satisfactory. Not even during his peaceable abode
at Uppingham do Taylor’s great works appear to have been projected, as
if his amiable, affectionate, and zealous temper had been fully occupied
by domestic cares and pleasures, and by the constant though quiet duties
of a parish priest. The year 1642, as it witnessed the overthrow of his
domestic happiness by his wife’s death, saw also the beginning of those
troubles which cast him out of his church preferment, a homeless man. We
do not know the date of the sequestration of his living; but as he
joined Charles I. at Oxford in the autumn of the year; published in the
same year, by the King’s command, his treatise ‘Of the sacred Order and
Offices of Episcopacy, &c.;’ was created D. D. by royal mandate;
appointed chaplain to the King, in which capacity he frequently preached
at Oxford, and attended the royal army in the wars; it is probable that
he was among the first of those who paid the penalty of adhering to the
losing cause. Little is known of this portion of Taylor’s history. It
appears that he quitted the army, and retired into Wales, where he
married, became again involved in the troubles of war, and was taken
prisoner at Cardigan, Feb. 4, 1644. We do not know the date of his
release, or of his marriage to his second wife, Joanna Bridges, a lady
possessed of some landed property at Mandinam, near Golden Grove, in the
Vale of Towy, in Carmarthenshire, who was commonly said to be a natural
daughter of Charles I., born before his marriage. But Heber conjectures
that Taylor’s marriage was anterior to his imprisonment, and that his
wife’s estate was amerced in a heavy fine, in consequence of his being
found engaged in the royal cause at Cardigan. It is at least certain
that until the Restoration he was very poor, and that he supported
himself during part of the time by keeping a school.

During this period of public confusion and domestic trouble, Taylor
composed an ‘Apology for authorized and set Forms of Liturgy,’ published
in 1646, and his great work, a ‘Discourse on the Liberty of
Prophesying,’ published in 1647, “the first attempt on record to
conciliate the minds of Christians to the reception of a doctrine which,
though now the rule of action professed by all Christian sects, was
then, by all sects alike, regarded as a perilous and portentous
novelty.”[1] As such, it was received with distrust, if not
disapprobation, by all parties; and if it was intended to inculcate upon
the Episcopalians the propriety of conceding something to the prejudices
of their opponents, as well as to procure an alleviation of the
oppression exercised on the Episcopal church, we may see in the conduct
of the government after the Restoration, that Taylor preached a doctrine
for which neither the one nor the other were then ripe. It is the more
to his honour that in this important point of Christian charity he had
advanced beyond his own party, as well as those by whom his party was
then persecuted. But though his views were extended enough to meet with
disapprobation from his contemporaries, he gives a greater latitude to
the civil power in repressing error by penal means, than the general
practice, at least in Protestant countries, would now grant. “The
forbearance which he claims, he claims for those Christians only who
unite in the confession of the Apostles’ Creed,” and he advocates the
drawing together of all who will subscribe to that ancient and
comprehensive form of belief into one church, forgetting differences
which do not involve the fundamental points of Christianity. And he
inculcates the “danger and impropriety of driving men into schism by
multiplying symbols and subscriptions, and contracting the bounds of
communion, and the still greater wickedness of regarding all discrepant
opinions as damnable in the life to come, and in the present capital.”
For a fuller account of this remarkable work, we refer to the Life by
Heber, p. 201–218, or still better, to the original.

Footnote 1:

Heber’s Life of Taylor, p. xxvii.

It was followed at no long interval by the ‘Great Exemplar of Sanctity
and Holy Life, described in the Life and Death of Jesus Christ.’ This,
the first of Taylor’s great works which became extensively popular, is
almost entirely practical in its tendency, having been composed, as the
author tells us, with the intention of drawing men’s minds from
controverted doctrines, to the vital points on which all men are agreed,
but which all men forget so easily. It is not an attempt to connect the
relations of the four Evangelists into one complete and chronologically
consistent account; but a “series of devout meditations on the different
events recorded in the New Testament, as well as on the more remarkable
traditions which have usually been circulated respecting the Divine
Author of our religion, his earthly parent, and his followers,” set off
by that majestic style, that store of illustrations derived from the
most recondite and miscellaneous learning, and, above all, that fervent
and poetical imagination, by which Taylor is distinguished perhaps above
all the prose writers in our language. Such qualities, even without a
digested plan and connected strain of argument, which, requiring a more
continuous and attentive perusal, would not perhaps have made the book
more acceptable or useful to the bulk of readers, ensured for it a
favourable reception; and the author followed up the impression which he
had produced, at no distant period, by two other treatises of a similar
practical tendency, which, from their comparative shortness, are better
known than any other of Taylor’s works, and probably have been as
extensively read as any devotional books in the English language. We
speak of the treatises on Holy Living and on Holy Dying.

It has been mentioned that near Mandinam stood Golden Grove, the seat of
the Earl of Carbery, a nobleman distinguished by his abilities and zeal
in the Royal cause. He proved a constant and sincere friend to Taylor;
and the grateful scholar has conferred celebrity upon the name and
hospitality of Golden Grove by his ‘Guide to Infant Devotion,’ or manual
of daily prayers, which are called by the name of that place, in which
they, and many other of the author’s works, were meditated; especially
his Eniautos, or course of sermons for all the Sundays in the year.

Considerable obscurity hangs over this portion of Taylor’s life: but it
appears that in the years 1654–5 he was twice imprisoned, in consequence
of his advocacy of the fallen causes of Episcopacy and Royalty. At some
time in 1654 he formed an acquaintance with Evelyn, which proved
profitable and honourable to both parties; for the layman, as is evident
from his Memoirs and Diary, highly valued and laid to heart the counsels
of the man whom he selected as his “ghostly father,” and to whose
poverty he liberally ministered in return out of his own abundance.

We learn from Evelyn’s Diary that Taylor was in London in the spring of
1637, and his visits, if not annual, were at least frequent. He made
many friends, and among them the Earl of Conway, a nobleman possessed of
large estates in the north-east of Ireland, who conceived the desire of
securing Taylor’s eminent abilities for the service of his own
neighbourhood, and obtained for him a lectureship in the small town of
Lisburne. Taylor removed his family to Ireland in the summer of 1658. He
dwelt near Portmore, his patron’s splendid seat on the banks of Lough
Neagh; and some of the islands in that noble lake, and in a smaller
neighbouring piece of water called Lough Beg, are still recorded, by the
traditions of the peasantry, to have been his favourite places of study
and retirement. To this abode his letters show him to have been much

In the spring of 1660 Taylor visited London, to superintend in its
passage through the press the ‘Rule of Conscience, or Ductor
Dubitantium.’ This, it appears from the author’s letters, was
considerably advanced so early as the year 1655. It was the fruit of
much time, much diligence, and much prayer; and that of all his writings
concerning the execution of which he seems to have felt most anxiety. In
this case, as it often happens, the author seems to have formed an
erroneous estimate of the comparative value of his works. Neither on its
first appearance, nor in later times, did the ‘Ductor Dubitantium’
become extensively popular. Its object, which even at the first was
accounted obsolete, was to supply what the Romish church obtained by the
practice of confession, a set of rules by which a scrupulous conscience
may be guided in the variety of doubtful points of duty which may occur.
The abuses are well known, to which the casuistic subtlety of the Romish
doctors gave birth; and it may be doubted whether it were wise to lay
one stone towards rebuilding an edifice, which the general diffusion of
the Scriptures, a sufficient rule, if rightly studied, to solve all
doubts, had rendered unnecessary. The work, in spite of its passages of
eloquence and profusion of learning, is too prolix to be a favourite in
these latter days, but it is still, says his biographer, (p. ccxciii.)
one “which few can read without profit, and none, I think, without
entertainment. It resembles in some degree those ancient inlaid
cabinets, (such as Evelyn, Boyle, or Wilkins might have bequeathed to
their descendants,) whose multifarious contents perplex our choice, and
offer to the admiration or curiosity of a more accurate age a vast
wilderness of trifles and varieties with no arrangement at all, or an
arrangement on obsolete principles, but whose ebony drawers and perfumed
recesses contain specimens of every thing that is precious or uncommon,
and many things for which a modern museum might be searched in vain.”

Taylor’s accidental presence in London at this period, when the hopes of
the Royalists were reviving, was probably serviceable to his future
fortunes. He obtained by it the opportunity of joining in the Royalist
declaration of April 24; and he was among the first to derive benefit
from the restoration of that King and that Church, of whose interests he
had ever been a most zealous, able, and consistent supporter. He was
nominated Bishop of Down and Connor, August 6, 1660, and consecrated in
St. Patrick’s Cathedral January 27, 1661. In the interval he was
appointed Vice-chancellor of the University of Dublin, which during past
troubles had been greatly dilapidated and disordered, in respect both of
its revenues and discipline. He was the principal instrument in
remodelling and completing the statutes, and settling the University in
its present form.

In the spring of 1661 Taylor was made a member of the Irish Privy
Council, and the small diocese of Dromore, adjacent to Down, was
assigned to his charge, “on account,” in the words of the writ under the
Privy Seal, “of his virtue, wisdom, and industry.” This praise was well
deserved by his conduct in that difficult time, when those who had
displaced the episcopal clergy were apprehensive of being in their turn
obliged to give way, and religious differences were embittered by
thoughts of temporal welfare. Taylor had to deal chiefly with the wilder
and most enthusiastic party, and his advances towards an intercourse of
Christian charity were met with scorn and insult. But his exemplary
conduct, and persevering gentleness of demeanour, did much to soften at
least the laity of his opponents; for we are told that the nobility and
gentry of the three dioceses over which he presided came over, with one
exception, to the Bishop’s side.

His varied duties can now have left little time for the labour of the
pen; still he published sermons from time to time, and in 1664 completed
and published his last great work, a ‘Dissuasive from Popery,’
undertaken by desire of the collective body of Irish bishops. He
continued after his elevation to reside principally at Portmore,
occasionally at Lisburne. Of his habits, and the incidents of this
latter part of his life, we know next to nothing; except that he
suffered the severest affliction which could befal a man of his
sensibility and piety, in the successive deaths of his three surviving
sons, and the misconduct of two of them. One died at Lisburne, in March,
1661; one fell in a duel, his adversary also dying of his wounds; the
third became the favourite companion of the profligate Duke of
Buckingham, and died of a decline, August 2, 1667. Of the latter event
the Bishop can scarcely have heard, for he died on the 13th of the same
month, after ten days’ sickness. He was buried at Dromore. Two of his
daughters married in Ireland, into the families of Marsh and Harrison;
and several Irish families of repute claim to be connected with the
blood of this exemplary prelate by the female line.

The materials for Bishop Taylor’s life are very scanty. The earliest
sketch of it is to be found in the funeral sermon preached by his friend
and successor in the see of Dromore, Dr. Rust, who sums up the virtues
of the deceased in a peroration of highly-wrought panegyric, of which
the following just eulogy is a part—“He was a person of great humility;
and notwithstanding his stupendous parts, and learning, and eminency of
place, he had nothing in him of pride and humour, but was courteous and
affable, and of easy access, and would lend a ready ear to the
complaints, yea, to the impertinence of the meanest persons. His
humility was coupled with an extraordinary piety; and I believe he spent
the greatest part of his time in heaven.... To all his other virtues he
added a large and diffusive charity; and whoever compares his plentiful
income with the inconsiderable estate he left at his death, will be
easily convinced that charity was steward for a great proportion of his
revenue. But the hungry that he fed, and the naked that he clothed, and
the distressed that he supplied, and the fatherless that he provided
for, the poor children that he put to apprentice, and brought up at
school, and maintained at the university, will now sound a trumpet to
that charity which he dispensed with his right hand, but would not
suffer his left hand to have any knowledge of it.

“To sum up all in a few words, this great prelate had the good humour of
a gentleman, the eloquence of an orator, the fancy of a poet, the
acuteness of a schoolman, the profoundness of a philosopher, the wisdom
of a counsellor, the sagacity of a prophet, the reason of an angel, and
the piety of a saint; he had devotion enough for a cloister, learning
enough for an university, and wit enough for a college of virtuosi; and
had his parts and endowments been parcelled out among his poor clergy
that he left behind him, it would perhaps have made one of the best
dioceses in the world. But, alas! ‘Our Father! our Father! the horses of
our Israel, and the chariot thereof!’ he is gone, and has carried his
mantle and his spirit along with him up to heaven; and the sons of the
prophets have lost all their beauty and lustre which they enjoyed only
from the reflection of his excellencies, which were bright and radiant
enough to cast a glory upon a whole order of men.”

There is a life of Taylor by Archdeacon Bonney; and a copious memoir,
enriched by a minute analysis of all the more remarkable compositions of
our author, is prefixed to Bishop Heber’s edition of Taylor’s works.
From this the materials of the present sketch are taken. Nor can we
better conclude than with the eloquent estimate of Taylor’s merits, with
which the accomplished biographer concludes his work. “It is on
devotional and moral subjects that the peculiar character of Taylor’s
mind is most, and most successfully, developed. To this service he
devotes his most glowing language; to this his aptest illustrations, his
thoughts, and his words, at once burst into a flame, when touched by the
coals of this altar; and whether he describes the duties, or dangers, or
hopes of man, or the mercy, power, and justice of the Most High; whether
he exhorts or instructs his brethren, or offers up his supplications in
their behalf to the common Father of all, his conceptions and his
expressions belong to the loftiest and most sacred description of
poetry, of which they only want, what they cannot be said to need, the
name and the metrical arrangement.

“It is this distinctive excellence, still more than the other
qualifications of learning and logical acuteness, which has placed him,
even in that age of gigantic talent, on an eminence superior to any of
his immediate contemporaries; and has seated him, by the almost
unanimous estimate of posterity, on the same lofty elevation with Hooker
and with Barrow.

“Of such a triumvirate, who shall settle the precedence? Yet it may,
perhaps, be not far from the truth, to observe that Hooker claims the
foremost rank in sustained and classic dignity of style, in political
and pragmatical wisdom; that to Barrow the praise must be assigned of
the closest and clearest views, and of a taste the most controlled and
chastened; but that in imagination, in interest, in that which more
properly and exclusively deserves the name of genius, Taylor is to be
placed before either. The first awes most, the second convinces most,
the third persuades and delights most: and, according to the decision of
one whose own rank among the ornaments of English literature yet remains
to be determined by posterity (Dr. Parr), Hooker is the object of our
reverence, Barrow of our admiration, and Jeremy Taylor of our love.”


_Engraved by C. E. Wagstaff._


_From the original Picture by David in a Private Collection at Paris._

Under the Superintendance of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful

_London, Published by Charles Knight, Ludgate Street._



Antoine Laurent Lavoisier was born in Paris, August 26, 1743. He was
educated under the eye of his father, a man of opulence, with
discernment to appreciate his son’s abilities, and liberality to
cultivate them without regard to cost. Lavoisier early showed a decided
inclination for the physical sciences; and before he was twenty years
old, had made himself master of the principal branches of natural

In 1764 the government proposed an extraordinary premium for the best
and cheapest project of lighting the streets of Paris, and other large
cities. To this subject, involving a knowledge of several branches of
science, Lavoisier immediately devoted his attention. He produced so
able a memoir, full of the most masterly, accurate, and practical views,
that the gold medal was awarded to him. This production was the means of
introducing him into the Academy of Sciences, of which, after a severe
contest, he was admitted a member, May 13, 1768; and he proved himself

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