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929.2 ^••' 







3 1833 01393 8557 









VOL. I. 






^ 1135527 

The last completed effort of my Father's pen was a 
series of "Personal Recollections," which appeared 
from time to time in Good Words, during the year 
1864. One of these papers bears the title which has 
been chosen for the following pages, the Family Pen. 
It contains an account of the literary activity of three 
successive generations of the author's family. This 
Essay holds the first place in these volumes. 

A short time before the " Personal Recollections " 
were written, my Father had employed his leisure hours 
in revising, enlarging, and re-arranging one of his 
earliest works, the Life of his sister, Jane Taylor, which 
first appeared in the year 1825, soon after her death. 
This revised Memoir, which was left in readiness for 
publication, seemed to form an appropriate supplement 
to the Essay which is reprinted from Good Words. 

vi Preface. 

The juxtaposition of the two works, one almost the 
first, the other the last performance of the veteran 
author, shows in a striking manner the changes which 
the interval of forty years had wrought, not only in 
his literary style, but in his whole tone of thought. 

The volume is completed by a short sketch of my 
Father's life and writings, for which I am myself respon- 
sible. I trust this may not supersede a more extended 
Memoir which is in preparation. 

The Second Volume of the Family Pen contains 
a selection from the writings of Jane Taylor ; of her 
brother, Jefferys Taylor ; of her sister, Mrs. Gilbert ; 
and of other members of her family. Some of these 
pieces are little known, several have been long out of 
print, and one — a poem by Mrs. Gilbert — now appears 
for the first time. The earlier productions of Jefferys 
Taylor, which are almost unknown to the present 
generation of readers, require, I believe, only to be 
brought forward, in order to obtain a greater appre- 
ciation than they have as yet received. 

I. T. 

London, June 1867. 











A PEN which has been moist with ink — ink destined for 
the eye of the compositor — has been passing from hand 
to hand, within the circuit of a family — it is now more 
than eighty years ; and it is still in course of consign- 
ment to younger hands of the same stock. 

A task, not of the easiest sort, it must be, to bring 
into view some personal incidents of this transmission in 
a manner that shall be characteristic, and at every point 
true to facts, and yet shall not trespass upon good taste 
or wound the feelings of those concerned, or come 
under rebuke on the ground of egotism, or of an over- 
weening estimate of literary doings. I am far from 
being confident in my ability to keep to a mid-channel 
while steering in and out among so many perils. In 
accordance with a usage that was not quite discontinued 
in the eighteenth century, but was rife in the seventeenth, 
I might incline here to prefix a supplicator}- dedication 
— "To the courteous reader," or "To the kind reader;" 


2 The Family Fen. 

and to ask a favourable hearing for a few pages from 
any who are willing to put a candid construction upon 
whatever may seem to need indulgence. 

It must have been some time between 1768 and '70, 
that a youth, equally robust in body and in mind, and 
resolute in his thirst of knowledge, found himself in the 
midst of books — shelves upon shelves, in a shop in 
High Holborn. He plunged into the intellectual flood 
with the eagerness and the confidence of one who feels 
and knows that he shall swim — if only he may be free 
to strike the waves manfully. This youth, Charles 
Taylor, the son of an eminent engraver, had received, 
along with his brother Isaac, as much school learning as 
might then be had at a grammar school in the country. 
This school, at Brentwood, Essex, was one of those, the 
doings of which were so mercilessly turned inside out 
by Lord Brougham, in the course of the inquiries insti- 
tuted for that purpose in 1818, and afterwards in 1837. 
Whether the grievous delinquencies of the Brentwood 
Grammar School had reached the pitch which they 
afterwards attained, is not known ; probably not so, for 
the two boys, Charles and Isaac, left it not wholly 
ignorant of Latin, nor perhaps of Greek. At a school 
in the City these acquisitions had been carried a few 
steps further upon the Gradus ad Parnassum. But what- 
ever this schooling might have been worth, either in the 
country or in town, it sufficed in the instance of a youth 
so ardent, and so firm-nerved, as was Charles Taylor, to 

The Family Pen. 2 

give him easy access to ancient literature, and to the 
folios of modern commentators, which were then mostly 
in the Latin language. This introductory learning in- 
cluded Hebrew, and more or less of rabbinical and 
oriental scholarship, as well as two or three modern 
languages : moreover, as the son of an artist, and himself 
an artist by profession, at least, he had acquainted him- 
self with numismatic lore, and with antiquarian art 
generally. These acquirements — incidental to book 
learning, and very rarely combined with it, greatly pro- 
moted the labours of his after life on the field of biblical 
illustration, and were enough to entitle Charles Taylor to 
his well-earned repute, as — the Artist-Scholar. With the 
marbles in the collection of the Duke of Richmond, 
Charles Taylor made himself well acquainted ; and his 
twenty-first year, which he spent in Paris, was industri- 
ously employed among the treasures of the King's library. 
A new influx of miscellaneous learning came upon him at 
a later time, when the books of the " London Library," 
afterwards transferred to the building in Finsbury, were 
committed to his care as librarian, at his house in 
Hatton Garden, where they remained during several 

It must have been at sundry times, during these years, 
and while the house in Hatton Garden, No. io8, was 
crammed with books — up-stairs, down-stairs, and in the 
hall and passages — that in my visits to the family, I saw 
my learned uncle ; and not very seldom, when charged 

B 2 

4 The Family Pen. 

with some message from home, I was admitted into his 
study. Alas that photography was not practised fifty 
years ago ! The man — his deshabille, and his surround- 
ings, would indeed have furnished a carte de visite not 
of the most ordinary sort. The scene ! the tables — the 
library counters — the cheffoniers — the shelves and the 
floor (who shall say if the floor had a carpet?), all 
heaped with books : — books of all sizes and sorts : — 
books open, one upon another — books with a handful 
of leaves doubled in to keep the place — books in piles, 
that had slid down from chairs or stools, and had rested 
unmoved until a deep deposit of dust had got a lodgment 
upon them ! Quires of proof sheets and revises — here 
and there, folded and unfolded. On the table usually 
occupied by the writer there was just room for an ink- 
stand, and for a folded sheet of demy or foolscap. But 
the genius of this chaos ! — he was no pale, sallow, ner- 
vous, midnight-lamp-looking recluse, or ghost. Not at 
all so, but a man — then just past mid-life — powerful in 
bony and muscular framework — singularly hirsute — well 
limbed, well filled out, erect in walk, prominent and 
aquiline in feature — teeming, as one should say, with 
repressed energy : always equal to more work than he 
had actually in hand : never wearied or wasted in labour; 
but impatient to be " at it again." Work was his play : 
rest was his work : — moments of intermission cost him 
an eff'ort : hours of labour none ; — and he made the 
effort duly when he came forth to take his seat at the 

The Family Pen. 5 

family table. At the family table my learned uncle was 
urbane; perhaps he would be jocose ; but he never dis- 
coursed of the matters wherewith his brain was then 
teeming. His table talk was an instance in illustration 
of Talleyrand's reply to an impertinent physician who 
had tried to lead him into state affairs — "Sir, I never 
talk of things that I understand." It might seem 
perhaps as if the chief person at the tea-table was not 
used to give those around him credit for as much intelli- 
gence as they actually possessed : nevertheless they did 
not impute to him anything like arrogance ; certainly not 
pomposity or affectation. His deportment was quite of 
another sort — it was not supercilious ; but it appeared to 
have been framed upon the hypothesis of unmeasured 
spaces intervening between the study-table and the 

Although fixedly taciturn as to his proper literary 
engagements — unless it might be with the few who were 
learned in his own line — my uncle ever kept himself 
awake towards all subjects, literary, or scientific, or poli- 
tical, or statistical, that might come in his way. Nothing 
in philosophy, or in the arts, found him unprepared to 
bring it to its place in his storehouse of knowledge. As 
to books, he seemed to have them, chapter and page, at 
his command. Seldom did he fail to reach, in a mo- 
ment, the volume, or to find the page, where he should 
find what he had occasion to refer to. There is a sort 
of duplex memory which achieves wonders with those 

6 The Family Pen. 

who possess it in a high degree. The first half of this 
double faculty takes to itself the place and the position 
of passages, in books, which have once been read. The 
second half is less mechanical, and is more intellectual — 
it is the recollection by analogy., or by the relation of 
matters. By aid of this endowment the stores of a 
library become available on any given subject. Charles 
Taylor's memory, in details, even in branches of study 
far removed from his own walk, was of the sort that 
must seem marvellous to any who are not gifted in the 
same manner. 

But as to these endowments, and these various acquire- 
ments and this constitutional force, had they been de- 
voted to any worthy purpose 1 It must be granted that 
all gifts were well employed, and that the unabated labours 
of almost fifty years had been concentred upon a great 
task, ably achieved. And this work of a life was 
crowned with much success. Charles Taylor must have 
been in his seventeenth year when, as above said, he 
came into command of a bookseller's stock of second- 
hand books. Upon the shelves in this shop there was a 
copy of Calmet's " Dictionnaire Historique et Critique de 
la Bible." It was precisely the book to rivet the atten- 
tion of a youth of this order. At a very early time after 
becoming acquainted with it, and no doubt with the 
other voluminous writings of the learned Benedictine, he 
formed the resolve to bring out the Dictionary in 
English, appending to it the gleanings of his own 

The Family Pen. y 

studies. To the due performance of this task he 
thenceforward devoted all the hours he could command 
through a track of about fifteen years, until he believed 
himself to be prepared for submitting a sample of the 
work to the judgment of the learned public — or rather of 
the very few who then ruled the learned world in the 
department of biblical literature. 

At that time, and indeed until a much later time, 
works of this class had rarely appeared in England ; and 
in the field of oriental usages, and of pictorial antiqua- 
rianism, very little had been done. Harmer's " Obser- 
vations " was almost the only work of the same class. 
The fragmentary essays which accompanied the Parts of 
the Dictionary challenged attention as adventures upon 
new ground. Those were not the days of " Cyclopaedias 
of Biblical Literature," nor of " Dictionaries of the 
Bible," nor of "Bible Dictionaries Illustrated;" nor of 
other such-like worthy endeavours to popularise biblical 
learning. The English translation of Calmet's Diction- 
ary, with the Fragments and the Plates, has been the 
parent of a numerous family — in foolscap folio, and in 
Imperial, and in extra demy; nor has it been always 
that the offspring has yielded the dues of affection, or 
even of common justice, to their ancestor.* But the 

* I have occasion here to keep in mind the rule — de mortids nil, nisi 
bonum — and therefore must repress the impulse to assert my uncle's 
merits, so unfairly and ungenerously called in question by the late 
John Kitto. How would his own ill-digested work fare if dealt 
with in the same fashion ? 

8 The Family Pen. 

"learned world" of that time was not slow to per- 
ceive, or to acknowledge, the merits of these " Parts "— 
the Dictionary — the Fragments, and the Plates. The 
editor (translator, commentator, and illustrator) re- 
ceived praise, and abundant encouragement to go on. 
Five volumes in quarto appeared in due course, and 
they were speedily reprinted. In the year in which Mr. 
Taylor's death occurred, a fifth edition of these quartos 
was carried through the press. 

But who was the editor of Calmet — who was this sole 
and unassisted builder of what has been spoken of as 
"a stupendous monument of literary industry 1" In 
these times " spirited publishers," who speculate in 
Cyclopaedias, take care to enlist the elite of universities, 
at home and abroad, in their service ; and no doubt they 
do well — or intend well, in taking this course ; but here 
was a Samson, alone, who, with his brawny arms clutch- 
ing the pillars of the palace of learning, did what he 
had purposed to do. Who then was he % It was nobody 
that had ever been known at Oxford or at Camoridge, 
or even at Edinburgh or Dublin. Call then at the 
house where the parts are published — io8, Hatton 
Garden — and put the question. On the door-posts, either 
side, there is " C. Taylor, Engraver." Go in and ask 
for the editor of Calmet. You will never find him; 
or not there. Mr. C. Taylor, Engraver, may be spoken 
to, if you have any proper reason for asking him to 
come down into the lobby ; but you will learn nothing 

The Family Pen. 9 

from him about this invisible editor. His answer to this 
interruption would be a look of annoyance, impatience 
perhaps ; but no clearing up of the mystery. You are 
as likely to get an answer from the colossal Memnon in 
the British Museum. To the end of his days Charles 
Taylor refused to acknowledge himself as anything more 
than an artist — an engraver, or at least he would not be 
addressed as the editor of Calmet, or as the author of 
the Fragments. The few men of antiquarian erudition 
with whom, at times, he conversed, could not fail to 
divine the secret ; but at least he would give them no 
right to report it from his lips. 

I might err in attempting to penetrate the motives of 
this concealment. It might seem an incoherence thus 
to persist in the anonymous, year after year, for half a 
century ; but I am sure it was no real incoherence in the 
mind of this accomplished man ; yet unless one had seen 
him at home, and in his study, one should not get 
into the secret. There are reasons of an obvious and 
ordinary sort that might be named as probable, such as 
these— there would be reasons of pohcy, prudential 
reasons, and reasons of feeling. Mr. Taylor, although 
to the end of his days he was a Nonconformist, and a 
constant attendant at the old meeting-house in Fetter 
Lane, was, by temperament, and by the tendencies of his 
studies, decisively conservative ; or, in the style of that 
time, he was a thorough-going Tory. It is not unlikely 
that what he had seen and foreseen in France, of the 

lo The Family Pcu. 

coming thunder-stonn of the Revolution, strongly took 
effect upon his opinions, when the thunder and the 
lightning actually came on to frighten all Europe. The 
Revolution hardened, in their Toryism, all who, like 
Edmund Burke, had been prepared to look at it in that 
light. Nobody more bold or free than he in his range 
of thought, on critical ground ; nevertheless in personal 
demeanour, in conventional observances, and in the 
punctilious rendering of titles of honour where due, he 
never appeared at fault. It is easy to imagine then what 
were probably the feelmgs of a man of this disposition, 
in bringing before the pubhc a voluminous work, im- 
plying very extensive reading, and a measure of scholar- 
ship that was not the most common. An indictment 
against such a one as he was, would contain several 
counts -.—first count, a layman ; second count, a Noncon- 
formist ; third count, a member of no university. A man 
labouring under these several conditions of disadvantage 
would feel — in proportion to his individual conservatism 
he would feel it — that, in coming abroad he must crouch 
under the shield of the anonymous. So was it, in fact, 
that the engraver ventured into print, nobody knowing 
who he might be. 

After enjoying for several years the shade and shelter 
of this shield — great and manifold as are the benefits 
which this shield affords — Mr. Taylor would be reluctant 
to relinquish them. Literary ambition — or ambition, of 
any sort, certainly was not his ruling passion. Gladly he 

The Family Fen. u 

would allow the ambitious, the pretentious, the noisy, to 
go by him and pass on to the front. For himself, he 
asked only to be let alone; and to be allowed to go on 
with his work — unknown, if so it might be. But there 
was yet something more in this life-long adherence to 
concealment. A supreme devotion to the task he had 
undertaken, and to which he had given the best years of 
his life — from eighteen to seventy {near it), ruled him, in 
an absolute manner. He thought highly of the im- 
portance of these, his chosen expository labours. He 
had confidence in his ability to prosecute them to some 
advantage. His ardour and industry had been recruited 
from time to time by the plaudits of biblical scholars, 
English and foreign, and by the proffered patronage of 
Church dignitaries. Content, thus far, and assured that 
he was not spending his strength to no purpose, he went 
on : — his study, and his books, and his work, were 
enough for him ; and he cared very little for literary 

An instance very dissimilar in its circumstances, and 
in its visible proportions, but yet in harmony with it as 
to principle, was at hand, within the same family — or I 
should say, in the family of Charles Taylor's brother, 
Isaac. But now may I presume that many of my 
readers, who perhaps have known nothing of the five 
quartos of this Bible Dictionary, may care to hear some- 
thing of the young persons, who, sixty years ago, put 
forth Original Poems, Hymns for Infant Minds, and 

1 2 The Family Pen. 

some similar books : — not indeed in folio, or in quarto, 
or even in 8vo 1 I have ventured to say that a principle 
connects the above-mentioned five quartos, edited by 
the uncle, with the now-mentioned 24mos put forth by 
his two nieces. I think I shall make this relationship 
intelligible. The great pyramid of all that is printed 
might be sorted into several smaller pyramids, on several 
grounds of distinction ; but there is one that has a real 
difference as its reason — there is a literature which is 
literary properly ; it possesses no very serious intention : 
— it courts, and it wins, favour, in various degrees, 
according, or not according, to its intrinsic merits : — it 
reaps its reward — or perhaps no reward — in a commercial 
sense. — A small portion of this printed mass survives 
its hour, and takes a place among the classics of the 
language : it reprints through several decades of time. 
Thus far all is clear. But there is a literature which has 
had its origin in motives that are wholly of another 
order. By a solecism, or an allowable ambiguity, 
it receives its designation as literature : yet it is 
unliterary literature. It did not spring either from 
literary ambition, or from calculations of gain. The 
producers of books of this class — books^ whether they be 
great or small — had been incited by no eagerness to be 
known as authors : perhaps they shrank from notoriety, 
and would most gladly have remained under the screen 
of anonymous authorship to the end of their course. ■ 
If the due recompense of their labours did reach them 

The Family Fe?i. 13 

at last, this material remuneration never took the fore- 
most place in their regards. They wrote, what they 
wrote, with an ijitention, and for a purpose that was ever 
prominent in the estimate they formed of their own 
successes or failures. Fame or no fame — income or no 
income, these writers asked themselves, or others about 
them, if they had written to good purpose. If an 
affirmative answer to this question could be given in 
at the bar of conscience, substantial comfort would be 
thence derived — spite of discomforts, many. 

On this ground it is likely, and so it will appear in 
fact, that books, great and small— pubhcations the most 
dissimilar in bulk, in quality, in purpose, in pretension — 
will be brought together : disproportion and unlikeness 
will not be a reason sufficient for dissociating those pro- 
ducts of the Press which are found to be in harmony, as 
to the inner reason or the true impulse which has brought 
them into being. Thus it is therefore that I find a con- 
necting thread, running on with the family pen, as it was 
held by the uncle, and as it has been held and used by 
his two nieces. A purpose, better and higher in its aim 
than literary ambition, or than pecuniary advantage, did 
rule, so I believe, in the one instance ; and that it ruled 
in the other instance, I well and intimately know. Con- 
versations and consultations, turning upon this very 
point of the comparative value of the motives which are 
wont to take effect within the precincts of literature, I 
perfectly well remember. Should it be literary reputation 

14 The Family Pen. 

or fame ; or pecuniary advantage, and remuneration for 
work done ; or should it be the higher and the better 
motive, namely, usefulness in the best sense ? Of Mrs. 
Gilbert, my surviving sister, in the firm of "Ann and 
Jane," I am not free to speak ; but I need be under no 
restraint in giving evidence as to what were the motives 
of my sister Jane in presenting herself, even in the 
humblest guise, before the public as a literary person. 
Her constitutional diffidence, and her tendency to shrink 
from notice, were so decisive that, so long as it was 
possible to do so, she clung to her concealment. From 
the very first, the effective motive was the hope and 
prospect of doing good. On frequent occasions in those 
years during which I was my sister's companion, the 
fixed purpose of her mind made itself evident in our 
conversations : it was always uppermost with her, and it 
continued to prevail with her more and more to the end 
of life. There was a season in her literary course when 
fame — such as might seem to be her due, was within her 
reach ; and if it came, it came : but she was not a 
listener for it. As to the fruits of authorship in a com- 
mercial sense, her tnotto^ if so one might call it, was this: 
" My income, whether it be more or less, is the exact 
sum yearly with which it pleases God to entrust me." 

Here, then, is the sort of instance which I have had 
in prospect when intending to speak of a pen as passing 
from hand to hand in a family. 

There had been a preparation for the service which 

The Family Pen. i e 

was thus to be rendered. The preparation in the case 
of the bibHcal expositor, was a long term of years devoted 
to the most arduous labours among books. The pre- 
paration in the case of the two young authors of the 
poems and hymns that have lived so long and have gone 
so far, was an education in and for intellectual labour, 
along with an excellent moral discipline. 

It is customary to give license to egotism when it is 
only the praise of industry that is attempted. Not a 
step beyond this border will I now make a trespass. 
The home within which Ann and Jane Taylor received 
their education, and underwent their preparation of 
training, was indeed fairly entitled to commendation on 
account of the occupation of all hours of the day, from 
early to late, by everybody therein resident. Yet this 
system of unremitting employment was carried through 
without any rigorous exactions, without any inflictions, 
without any consciousness of constraint. Assiduity was 
the tone and style of the house. Nor were frequent 
recreations forgotten. Set days and times were duly 
observed, and were almost superstitiously honoured. 1 
have not seen in later years anything comparable to my 
father's industry. No man of whose habits I have 
known anything has seemed to achieve a daily task of 
the same amount, and of the same variety. What he 
did in giving effect to the operose system which he had 
devised for the education of his children, has been an 
amazement to me to think of. Some of the still extant 

1 6 The Family Pen. 

monuments of this comprehensive and laborious scheme 
of instruction might well pass for enough, if brought 
forward as the sole products of many years of labour : 
they were, in fact, the product of the earliest hour of 
each day : much of this sort was done by the candlelight 
of the winter's morning. The artisan who was on his 
way to the place of his daily toil would not fail to see 
the light in my father's study window : — he, already 
awake and at work : — his devotions first, and then some 
educational outfit — in science — history — geography. 
We all had a perfect confidence in the reasonableness, 
and the utility, of those methods of instruction, in .car- 
rying out which we were required to perform our parts. 
The apparatus of teaching was huge : nevertheless the 
daily portion assigned to each of us came quite within 
the limits of reasonable industry. We were not in- 
juriously crammed, or broken in spirit. 

It is probable that there were items in the school 
cyclopedia which might have been lopped off without 
serious damage ; at least this might be the fact in relation 
to the female side of the home college. For an instance 
we might take this : it was not, perhaps, indispensable 
to the completeness of a girl's education that she should 
have at her command the terms and the principles of 
Fortification. Nevertheless so it is that among the extant 
memorials of that early training time — in which the 
brothers and the sisters of this family took their part, I 
find outlines of fortified towns — engraved, coloured, and 

The Family Pen. 1 7 

shaded, the names having been written in upon these 
outUnes by the learner ; so we see glacis^ counterscarp , 
bastion, fosse, lines of circwnvallation; and it happens that 
rough drafts of poems and of hymns that have since 
come to be well known, far and wide, were scrawled upon 
the margins of some of these lessons in the art of war ! 
Certain branches of knowledge that are quite remote 
from the range of ordinary education were in fact made 
familiar to all of this family by these comprehensive 
methods of teaching; and if in some cases the intel- 
lectual gain could scarcely be appreciable, no doubt 
there was a useful discipline involved in the mere labour 
of the process. 

As to literary ambition, or any eagerness to venture 
into print, such impulses were far from the minds alike 
of parents and of children. Certainly a contrary feeling 
was strong with both parents. The early scribblings of 
Ann and Jane were known to them, and were not actually 
prohibited— yet were never encouraged. Jane, in her 
earliest years, had amused herself with the project of 
writing and publishing a book ; but this was only a pas- 
time of childhood, and it was forgotten at an after time, 
along with other games and romances. There is a portrait 
of the two sisters, hand in hand, pacing the broad green 
path of the garden at Lavenham. The girls — nine years 
old, and seven — are supposed to be reciting, as was their 
wont, some couplets of their joint composition, anticipa- 
tory of theif maited authorship in later years. On his 

VOL. I. (7 *7 c 

1 8 The Family Pen. 

side the intelligence of the father went in the direction 
of sober information : — it was knowledge and science, 
rather than literature or taste, that prevailed with him. 
On the mother's side, although from her teens she had been 
scribbling verses, and although she was herself so depen- 
dent for her daily comfort upon books, she had a decisive 
feeling of antagonism toward atitJiorship. The thought 
of it, if it could have occurred to her that her daughters 
were to appear in that position, would have troubled her. 
This repugnance toward literature, as a profession, had 
not sprung, I think, from a perusal of Disraeli's noted 
book, or from any experience of those " calamities " 
within the family circle. The feeling had its rise in a 
dislike of any pursuit that could not plead in_ its behalf 
a direct and intelligible utility. The question might, 
indeed, have been put — " Are not these books, a con- 
stant supply of which is so important to your own daily 
comfort — are not these books useful % And if so, then 
have not the authors of them, or many of them, been 
well employed in writing them % " This must be granted ; 
nevertheless, a prejudice against lady authors kept its 
ground. It is not improbable that a pungent dislike of 
certain of the English female sympathisers with the 
French Revolution, inclusive of Mary Wolstonecraft, 
had given force to this antipathy. 

Nevertheless, and in spite of contrary puiposes enter- 
tained by parents or children, and notwithstanding the 
ingrained constitutional modesty of one or two of these 

The Family Pen. 19 

" young persons," authorship did come upon them, as if 
it came with the force of a destiny, or as if what I have 
ventured to speak of as a Family Pen, had been thrust 
between finger and thumb, volens nolens ; and as if the 
word had been uttered when the pen was given — " use 
this — within the compass of your abihty — use it always 
for the best purposes." But at this point I may fancy 
myself to hear a sarcastic caution from critics of the 
present time, warning me not in any such way to ex- 
aggerate the humble performances of a forgotten literary 
epoch, or to speak of small things as if they were great 
things. Great or small in the eye of modern criticism, 
books of any dimension that last long, and that go 
far — even the wide world over— may fairly be named 
without needing an apology. It so happens this very 
day, while I write, that an advertisement in the day's 
paper makes mention of new editions of books that had 
found their way into tens of thousands of families more 
than sixty years ago. Whether criticism be right or 
wrong in its verdicts, there must have been a principle 
of vitality ; there must now be a substance — a moral 
force — in books that maintain their first repute over and 
beyond sixty years, and that, throughout this lapse 
of time, have been in favour wherever English is the 
language of families. There is no ground of boasting 
in this instance. The principle that has given this vitality 
to these little books is of a sort that removes them from 
the jurisdiction of mere criticism. It is a fact not ques- 

c 2 

20 The Family Fcft. 

tionable that these books have had a great share in 
carrying forward the moral and religious education of 
at least the religiously disposed mass of two or three 
generations. And what is true of the families which 
have accepted them on this side of the Atlantic, is 
true to the fullest extent as to those on the other side, 
and the same in every English colony. 

I may be admitted to give evidence touching what I 
have known of my late sister's turn of mind, and her 
principles, and her motives as a writer ; but in doing 
this I am carried back to Devonshire and to Cornwall. 
The years of our companionship in Devon and Cornwall 
were almost my sister's last years as a writer. She wrote 
little after the time of our last return from the western 
counties. The recollections I retain of those daily con- 
versations, in which, incidentally, she uttered her inmost 
mind on subjects of this sort, are recollections of places, 
and of scenes, quite as much as of firesides. I should 
not much care to ramble about in North Devon now 
that railways have gone thither, and that excursionists in 
crowds have broken in upon its sweet solitudes ! There 
was a time when the region of which Ilfracombe is the 
centre had an aspect of seclusion that was highly favour- 
able to tranquil musings, and especially to religious 
meditations, when such meditations have received 
a tone from constitutional pensiveness, and also from 
the discipline of events : it was pensiveness, not melan- 
choly. So long ago as the years I have now in view, 

The Family Pen. 2 1 

an hour's ramble upon the rocks at low water, or over 
the hills eastward or westward, might be freely taken 
with scarcely a chance of encountering a human crea- 
ture — certainly not a visitor from the outer world. 

Thus Jane describes one of these solitudes. A drear 
lone place : — 

" Bare hills and barren downs for miles you trace 
Ere is attain'd the unfrequented place ; 
And when arrived, the traveller starts to find 
So wild a spot the abode of humankind." 

In these rambles — 

"Mid scatter'd rocks on'Devon's northern sea " 

she found great pleasure in examining — 

" those gay watery grots— 

Small excavations on a rocky shore, , 

That seem like fairy baths, or mimic wells. 
Richly emboss'd with choicest weed and shells : 
As if her trinkets Nature chose to hide 
Where nought invaded but the flowing tide." 

In longer walks inland, over the moors, she would find 
the text of her meditations while tracing 

"The curious woi^k of Nature — 

A work commenced when Time began its race, 

And not yet finish'd — 

The rich grey mosses broider'd on a rock. " 

It would be a mistake to infer from this taste for 
seclusion, and this relish of Nature— when not gaily 
attired — that my sister's mood was gloomy, or unsocial, 
or ascetic. It was quite otherwise. Wit and pensive- 

22 77/1? Family Pen. 

ness have in several noted instances shown themselves 
to be two phases of the same intellectual conformation. 
There is not a paragraph in what she has written for 
young or for mature readers that is of a morbid or 
sullen quality. All has a healthy complexion. No sen- 
timent is in any such way individualized as that it would 
not easily combine with an energetic and cheerful perform- 
ance of ordinary duties. This is the rule — a cheerful 
mood, and a readiness for useful and charitable offices, 
must always be right and good for each and for all of 
us, young and old — whatever may be the tendency of 
the individual temperament. My sister might indeed 
indulge feeling and imagination in a morning's walk, 
but when she returned to her httle study and took pen 
in hand, she thought no longer of herself, but only 
of her reader — and especially of her youjig reader. 
There was no insincerity in this case. At the time 
of our sojourn — a sojourn of several years — in Devon 
and Cornwall, there had come upon her a breadth of 
feeling as to the discharge of what I venture to call 
her minish-y through the press. A ten years of this 
ministry, with an ever-increasing extension of its field, 
had at length availed to put her constitutional diffidence 
out of countenance, if so one might say; for there could 
no longer be room to doubt that an opportunity was 
presented to her — a door was opened, and it was a wide 
door, and a sense of responsibility thence ensued : — it 
was as if, when she had her pen in hand, a great congre- 

The Family Pen. ' 23 

gation of the young — from childhood up to riper years, 
had come within reach of her vision and her voice — 
even of so feeble a voice. Was it fame that she cared 
for 1 I find in her home letters of this date, frequent 
expressions of this kind : — a warm commendation of 
a new volume had appeared in some monthly publica- 
tion — she asks to see it, and says — " I am much more 
anxious to see blame than praise, and the thought that 
you may keep back anything of that kind would fidget 
and discourage me beyond measure." 

Gifted in an unusual degree with an insight of human 
nature, my sister's humbleness of mind saved her from 
the cynical mood. Writing to a friend — an authoress, 
she says, — " It is only studying nature, without which I 
could do nothing. If you are at a loss for a character, 
take mine, and you will find faults enough to last out 
a whole volume. I assure you that I take greater 
liberties with myself in that way than with any of my 
friends or neighbours ; and I have really found so far, 
that the beam in my own eye makes me see more clearly 
how to take the mote out of theirs." 

The change from Devon to Cornwall was not for the 
better as to scenery. Mount's Bay, in a bright morning, 
is a fair sample of what the English coast, south and 
west, has to show in that line ; but it should be seen 
in sunshine; whereas — and this is the commendation 
of the North Devon coast — wintry skies and rolling 
seas suit it well, and give it a charm in harmony with 

24 The Family Fen. 

itself. Nevertheless, if the mate7'ial of Cornwall was less 
to her taste, the immaterial yielded more than a com- 
pensation. Friendships were formed at Marazion which 
came home to her affectionate nature, and which, more- 
over, were of a sort differing much from those of earlier 
years. These new friendships brought into view an 
aspect of Christian earnestness with Avhich my sister had 
not hitherto been intimately conversant. Her early in- 
timacies had been of the sort to which might be applied 
the epithet — Christianized intelledualism. The friendships 
which had their beginning in Cornwall were, in a more 
decisive sense, Christian-like. Among these, I think I 
may be free to mention one, the effect of which upon 
my sister's feelings, and, I might say, upon her opinions 
and purposes, was veiy perceptible. If I use the words 
friendship or intimacy in this instance, such terms must 
submit to a qualification, or to an abatement of their 
usual sense. The Christian lady — Lydia Grenfell, who 
had been the betrothed of so eminent a person as the 
missionary, Henry Martyn — was herself indeed an emi- 
nent person. If you were in her company half an 
hour only, you felt her high quality as a Christian 
woman : you would say, this is one who, if called to 
accept the crown of martyrdom, might be looked to as 
fit and ready to wear it; and when her actual history 
came to be known, you would understand that indeed 
she had passed through a fiery trial not at all less severe 
than many a martyrdom. 

The Family Pen. 25 

This personal history does not come within my range 
in this instance. What I have to do with is — the silent 
influence of a year's contact with this heroic lady. Hers 
was a heroism graced with profound humility. This 
contact could not fail to find elements congenial in the 
temperament of one like Jane Taylor. Yet the con- 
stitutional framework of the two minds was widely dis- 
similar ; but there was a connecting link : — devoted?iess, in 
a Christian sense, and a preference always of the claims 
of duty, had been Jane's rule and principle ; but now 
there was in her view daily a devotedness that had car- 
ried the victim through the fire of intense suffering. My 
sister had proffered her services to Miss Grenfell as a 
teacher in the Sunday School at Marazion, and it was 
while labouring in the school that she obtained a more 
intimate knowledge of this lady's eminent qualities than 
the occasions of ordinary intercourse could have im- 
parted. The result was an enhanced sense of responsi- 
bility in the use of any gift or talent that may be 
employed in promoting the welfare of those around us, 
or of any whose welfare we may in any way consider as 
coming within the circle of our influence. Viewed in 
this light, authorship and literary repute, while they lost 
importance in one sense, rose in value in another sense. 
This deepened feeling of responsibility may be traced in 
my sister's letters to the members of her family and to 
her intimate friends. 

When I thus speak of authorship, and of the estimate 

26 The Family Pen. 

that is formed by a writer of the value of Hterary reputa- 
tion, there is a condition that should be kept in view. If 
a writer thrusts into a place of secondary regard his or her 
literary reputation, and aims at a higher mark with a steady 
purpose, the question presents itself — what in fact is the 
offeri7ig that is thus laid upon the altar % At the time 
when, as I am now affirming, my sister's acquaintance with 
this Christian lady was producing a deep and silent effect 
upon her own mind, and upon her course as a writer, she 
had achieved what maybe called a second success in her own 
literary sphere. There had been an interval of several 
years between the publication of " Original Poems " and 
" Hymns," and the appearance of several volumes ad- 
dressed to mature readers. These volumes, from the 
moment of publication, were successful in a very un- 
usual degree. Large editions came out, from year to 
year. Whatever Jane Taylor put forth, was warmly 
greeted by the public that had learned to look for her 
name. Literary ladies who may have been successful 
in an equal degree, would not, I think, be severely 
blamed by their friends if they did show some ela- 
tion, or seemed conscious of the favour they had won. 
As to this successful writer — so I can affirm — she suf- 
fered no damage to her humbleness of heart, or none 
that could be detected by those nearest to her, from all 
the fame she had acquired. This is my testimony con- 
cerning her. What she wrote after this time was often 
playful, and sparkled with wit ; but nothing indicated an 

The Family Pen. 27 

overthrow of that balance of the mind which had always 
been her distinction — it was her characteristic. Known 
or unknown to the world, she was always sober-jninded^ 
she was always willing to abide in the shade, she was 
always near at hand for any work of friendship or of 
charity : to the very end — I mean to the day of her last 
attendance at public worship — she was a diligent Sunday- 
school teacher. 

In her earlier productions Jane Taylor wrote in com- 
bination with her still surviving sister, concerning whom 
a testimony of similar import might be borne — but she 
survives. In her later writings, or some of them, she 
took a part with her mother, who had already pubHshed 
successfully. Of her, and of others of the family into 
whose hand a pen has come, there may be room to say 
what would occupy another page. 

Books many, and more than might easily be cata- 
logued, have been put forth with a preface or advertise- 
ment very much resembling what here follows : — '' To 
any who may glance at the following pages, it will be 
unnecessary to observe, that they were not designed by 
the writer for the public eye ; — that they were, what 
they profess to have been, the effusions of a mother's 
solicitude for the welfare of a beloved child ; for there 
is too little appearance of study throughout, to excite 
a suspicion that the character, or the circumstances, 
are assumed. A parent who, from increasing infirmities, 
found it difficult frequently to converse with her child, 

28 TJie Family Pen. 

adopted this method of conveying instruction and of 
presenting the fruits of experience to an inexperienced 

Whether or not similar apologies for publication may 
always have been absolutely warrantable, or quite true to 
the facts of the case, this apology was strictly so. Long 
(several years) had the manuscript been in hand : — no 
thought of publication had entered the mind of the 
writer, who was then midway in her fifty-sixth year, 
and who, as I have already said, although herself a 
great consumer of books, entertained a sort of prejudice 
— if not against authors at large, yet certainly against 
lady authors, who, as she often said, would have done 
better to employ themselves in mending the family 
stockings. But so it comes about that manuscripts — all 
ready for the printer, do, somehow, find their way into 
the printer's hand: this is the "wont way" of manu- 
scripts that have been long in store : " it was suggested " 
to this writer " that what was likely to benefit an indi- 
vidual, might, if communicated, become useful to others," 
and so the book at length came out — a publisher being 
an accessory before the fact. True also, and I think 
quite in haiTnony with the writer's inmost feeling, is what 
follows when she says, " To other families," in conse- 
quence of the opinion to which she had listened, " this 
endeavour to employ her pen beneficially is commended, 
without solicitude for its reputation :" that is to say, its 
reputation in a literary sense. It was so in truth ; and a 

The Family Pen. 29 

son may be allowed to affirm as much as this for his 
mother. A constitutional retiringness — a taste for home 
duties, a willingness to live and die unknown — these dis- 
positions had kept her, although always pen in hand, far 
out of the way of publication, even until so late in life. 
She then began a ten years' course of authorship; and 
on the supposition that success may be taken as evidence 
of qualification, this sort of warranting attended my 
mother's books — from the first of them to the last. 
What would now be reckoned a success was won by these 
volumes. The tranquil and pensive meditative strain, 
the practical tendency of every page, and the quiet 
religious tone, undoubtedly evangelic, but not metho- 
distical, found a religious public prepared to hsten to 
a matronly writer who was thus qualified to lead it 
through green pastures and by noiseless streams, on 
what one might call the sunny side of the Valley of 

Those were indeed good days — fifty years ago — for 
writers of the class with which my mother's name would 
stand connected. There was then a public, especially a 
female public, that had, for a long while, been well held in 
hand by writers of whom Hannah More was undoubtedly 
the chief Hannah yioxQ^p-otegee, call her, of Dr. 
Johnson — Miss Hamilton, and a half dozen writers, 
some Christian and some in various degrees Christianized, 
and therefore antagonistic to Maria Edgeworth and to 
those who were then tainted with the French Revolution 

30 The Family Pen. 

atheism. This indulgent public — under tilth as one- 
might say — had, at a later time, received a broadcast 
of vigorous thought from the hands of Robert Hall, 
John Foster, Olinthus Gregory, and others of the clique 
that were banded together as the staff of the Eclectic 
Review. (In this staff my elder sister, Ann, was then 
numbered, and she had won for herself, some years 
earlier, a good position among these able writers.) It 
was not that either the mother or the daughter Jane 
had made any pretensions of this kind ; but she entered 
upon a field in a comer of which there was room for 
her, and where she came to be cordially welcomed. 
The books of which I am speaking were published 
long before the coming on of the modern agonistic 
paroxysm in literature. The entire period of a genera- 
tion intervenes between that distant easy time and the 
modern era of sensation novels and of " series," and 
of mortal elbowings for life, for fame, and for cash. 
In those remote eras zephyrs whispered in trees, tor- 
nadoes did not tear them up by the roots ; straws might 
take their gambols in snug corners, but oaks were not 
shivered limb from limb. The time that is now next 
in turn to come will show whether there may not be 
needed a return to a slower rate of going. Perhaps 
literature, in its next stage, will have dropped out of the 
gallop and fallen into the trot or the amble — which last 
pace is, in truth, the pace that suits it best. In that 
time to come literature may have learned to keep itself 

The Fafnily Pen. 31 

within the limits of spontaneous thought ; and books 
may be written for a long- meditated purpose ; and not 
urged into brief existence by application of hot-irons 
and cataplasms. 

In a family of which the daughters and the mother 
had written successfully, it was likely that the father, 
who himself had written, and who through life had 
been teeming with educational thought, should essay 
to write and to publish. To him also — on his own 
field — a good measure of favour was shown ; and he 
also, from out of the stores of many years of laborious 
experience in the conveyance of knowledge, and in the 
expression of sober truths, brought forward his con- 
tribution toward furnishing the shelves in a family library 
with several highly serviceable volumes. The edu- 
cational outfit in these times, it is true, has needed 
books more elaborately worked up. Nevertheless, some 
of these of olden fashion have not, as yet, been 

Inasmuch as in this paper I abstain alike from 
encomium and from criticism, neither of which would 
at all become me, and as I am speaking of \he family 
pen, estimated according to one rule only — which is a 
rule of easy application — namely, success — I am free 
to introduce here the name of my brother Jefferys, some 
while ago deceased. He was gifted; he had his faculty, 
his talent, and he also drew to himself many readers ; 
and a time may come when the genuine humour and 

3 2 The Family Pen. 

the strong sense that were at his command may bring 
his books again into notice.* 

In the first page of this paper I have asked a hearing 
from the " Courteous Reader ; " and now I may well 
wish that any reader who is not good-natured and candid 
would get himself out of hearing. If he will please 
to do so, then I may go on a step or two further, in 
making up a report concerning the Family Pen. In doing 
this, my kind reader will indulge me, individually, with 
only as much personal visibility as may be needed in 
uttering a word or two in the autobiographical style. I 
must do what I am now intending to do, in that broken 
and eUiptical manner — or if not so, then not at all. 

About the date of my earliest adventure in literature 
(otherwise than as one of an editor's staff) — or let it 
be about five and forty years ago, it chanced that late 
one sultry afternoon, I was going from shop to shop 
in Holborn and Middle Row, among the dealers in 
old books. I was inquiring for some volume, I forget 
what, not very often asked for. The young man behind 
the counter to whom I put my question, was perhaps 
busy in attending to a more important customer ; and then 
it is likely that he had to make search for the book I had 
named upon some out-of-the-way shelf of the back shop. 
Meantime, there was on the counter a volume of which 

• The reader may judsje for himself of the soundness of this 
opinion by the extracts from the writings of Jeffreys Taylor, which 
are given in the second volume of this work. — [Editor.] 

The Family Pen. 33 

I then knew nothing : — I took my seat, and just to while 
away the time I opened and read— up and down in this 
volume. The neat perspicuous style of the writer was 
its first attraction, but then the substance and the animus 
of the book were a still greater attraction. Until that 
summer's evening I had believed that I knew as much 
perhaps of Church history as there could be any need to 
know. I had read or had listened to Mosheim and 
Milner ; and perhaps a book or two beside ; but if so — 
and if it be Church history in its reality that is contained 
and treated of in those heavy books — if so, then what 
may be the meaning of this book? To me this casual 
reading was the sudden lifting up of a veil, so that the 
veritable things of the third and fourth century might 
be gazed at, and rightfully understood ; and so an 
inference might be gathered. I do not now remember 
whether the young man at the shop in Middle Row 
found the volume I had at first asked for ; but it is 
certain that I eagerly paid him his price for a copy of 
the extant writings of Sulpicius Severus. This book 
is now on my table ; a little book it is, but it has been 
the harbinger of many folios. 

Yet how could it be that this small volume — and even 
a small portion of it, should thus have the power to put 
me aghast, and should lead me to think that, hitherto, I 
had known nothing — or nothing in its genuine figure 
and colours — of the Christianity of the early Christian 
ages % That it should be so was no doubt a fault ; or it 

VOL. I. D 

34 Th^ Family Pen. 

had come from inadvertence, or from a careless credulity, 
not perhaps highly culpable at that time. It is certain 
that if I had duly considered the import of a few 
paragraphs or sentences in Mosheim, and in Jortin, 
and in Milner ; and, moreover, if I had trusted Gibbon 
where he may safely be trusted, I could not thus have 
failed to gather the meaning of those writers, or have 
remained substantially ignorant of what the aspect of 
the Christianized southern people of Europe really was 
in the fourth century. But who is this Sulpicius Severus? 
He was the contemporary, and the intimate friend, though 
a junior, of Paulinus, the Bishop of Nola. Inquire then 
for a volume of about the same bulk — containing the 
poetry and the epistles of this (Christian) bishop. There 
you will find enough of the obdurate, and, as it seems, 
the incorrigible paganism of those sunny lands : — even 
this paganism — gilt, varnished, and got up anew, after 
a dozen of names stolen from the New Testament have 
been neatly veneered into the places of the gods and 
goddesses of the ancient worship. Why then have 
modern writers left us in almost total ignorance of the 
simple truth in these matters ? There are several reasons 
that might be mentioned, but which I must not now 
stay to bring forward. 

The two or three books which in this incidental 
manner I had now got possession of, were far from 
contenting me : they did but quicken an appetite which 
must be satisfied. In a word, I could not rest where 

The Family Pen. 35 

I then stood. I could not bring my own perplexed 
thoughts concerning our Christianity into any sort of 
quiescence until I had surrounded myself, in part at 
least, with the means of knowing how it has fared with 
Christianity in working its way, on and on, through 
many centuries, over rough ground, with our crooked 
and wayward human nature as its travelling com- 
panion. J J '^SS2^ 

But here I have to enter a caution to the effect that I 
may be fairly quit of what is merely personal in this 
paper, and may stand clear of serious blame, at least in 
the view of my candid reader. .1 do not forget that 
I am entering upon a Preserve in thus talking about 
ecclesiastical literature ; and I should show my certifi- 
cate, officially endorsed, as a warrant for such an intru- 
sion. But if I hold in hand no such certificate — no 
warrant at all, then I am seeming to make a pretension 
which must need an apology. Church history, and 
heavy folios of Latin and Greek, are for the clergy, and 
for the learned. But I am not clerical ; and as to 
learning, I have ever abstained from what might sound 
like a challenge on the ground of scholarship. Where, 
then, is my justification % A word or two will convey 
the whole of my plea — if, indeed, I have any plea. I 
have cared little in the circuit of antiquity for what is 
purely matter of taste or erudition. I have cared little 
for antiquarianism of any sort ; but I have cared in- 
tensely for whatever may be found to bear upon the 

D 2 

36 The Family Pen. • 

history of our human nature, as it has played its part 
upon this arena of mysteries — the field of religious 
development, ancient and modern. Most of all, and 
with an eager curiosity, I have desired to know whatever 
may be known of the history of nations — GOD-WARD, 
through the lapse of ages. But if so, then the hundred, 
or the two hundred of volumes, usually designated as 
ecclesiastical, constitute, in mass, the principal part of the 
materials of any such apparatus. Consequently, who- 
ever has surrendered himself to meditation on this 
ground, and is sincerely anxious to know the truth, must 
acquaint himself, more or less perfectly, with these extant 
documents of Church history. Cost what it may to 
purchase these volumes — cost what it may to make some • 
acquaintcince with them, both of these costs must be 
submitted to ; — or if this may not be, then ji-ou should 
throw up the wish and intention to know anything, in a 
genuine manner, of what our Christianity has been, and 
of what phases it has worn, and of what disguises have 
come to wear its names, in these many centuries past. 

The reply which I may hear is this : — " Not so — you 
need neither buy the books, nor read them. Here at 
hand are the modern Church history writers. These 
writers were learned men ; and they have done what 
they have done authentically. Do you dare to mistrust 
them % Do you think that they would wilfully mislead 
you % and have they not crowded the foot of almost 
every page with quotations in Greek and Latin, or with 

The Family Pen. 3 7 

references to books?" To this pointed question — put 
perhaps in angry tone, " Do I mistrust the writers and 
compilers of Church history % " my reply is simply this. 
I do not know, nor can I ever know, whether I may 
safely trust, or should mistrust, these writers, until I have 
looked into the original materials for myself Besides, it 
is not a question of the mere trustworthiness of writers — 
using that word in its vulgar acceptation. The bare facts 
may have been stated in dry accordance with the evi- 
dence ; but yet I may fail to see and to apprehend the 
veritable things of a remote age. Very few writers — 
and it is very few on the field of religious history, have 
been gifted Avith the seeing eye, or the imaginative faculty, 
that are requisite for understanding, and for spreading 
out to view, the actions, and the actors, and the scenes 
of those times. Gibbon could do this — when he willed 
to do it ; but he had no consciousness of the religious 
life, and he could do nothing better than picture, in a 
false sense, what came before him, and what could be 
interpreted only on the hypothesis of the reality of the 
religious life. 

Nor is it merely the want of z. faculty or of a natural 
endowment that has been the disparagement of Church 
history writers. All of them, or all of them in these post- 
Reformation ages, have written with an intention, or for 
a purpose, avowed or concealed. If, indeed, they are 
impartial, they have been soulless ; or if full of feeling, 
the feeling has been animus; and it has betrayed itself in 

38 The Fafjtily Pen. 

every paragraph. Read Bossuet, or read Milner, and 
say if it be not so ! The sheer reality of things — our 
human nature, such as it is, no more shows itself in these 
works than it does in Chateaubriand's " Genie du Chris- 
tianisme," or other books of historic romance, written to 
further " a cause." Church history has been written by 
learned presbyters, by learned bishops, by learned pro- 
fessors in colleges ; nor is this to be wondered at or 
blamed ; but then Church history has all along been 
clerical or professional ; it has come from a well-defined 
point of view ; nor has it in any instance betrayed the 
body-ecclesiastical whence proximately it has sprung. I 
will be bold to say that there is good room on this ground 
for something better; better than the mystified Germans 
have given us, or even Neander. We do not want profound 
philosophisings about Church history ; we want the 
religious history of the nations among whom the Gospel 
has been preached, and has been instituted. If any 
such history as this has apj^eared, it has not chanced to 
come in my way. I have not heard of it ; but it will 
be granted to us in its time ; it is, as we say, a want of the 
time now passing, and it will be forthcoming, so I surmise, 
in the proximate decade of time. 

The writing a history — ecclesiastical or political — is no 
trifling affair ; it should be the business of a life, and it 
should be undertaken by those who lack no qualification 
for the task which they freely bring upon their shoulders. 
It may, however, be lawful for those who would shrink 

The Family Pen. 3q 

from any such enormous undertaking as this to indulge 
in trains of meditation which may have been suggested 
to them in the lapse of years by the mere presence of 
books, and by such acquaintance with them as may have 
accrued incidentally or purposely from year to year in 
forty years. 

To write a book, or even to put forth a pamphlet, is to 
challenge a world of contradiction, and to wake up 
criticism. Most of all is this the case if the subject 
touches tender places in theology, or treads anpvhere 
upon ecclesiastical sensitiveness. One cannot think half 
an hour upon any such subject, while the thought of a book 
or a pamphlet is entertained, just in the same simple- 
hearted manner in which one may indulge meditations 
on the very same field, when no hypothesis of publication 
is at all presumable. The two styles of thinking are 
essentially dissimilar. Whatever it be that is thought, 
written, and committed to the printer, is, in some sense, 
antagonistic ; it is avowedly so, or tacitly it is so. One 
puts on armour, and takes spear in hand ; one buckles up 
to confront the enemy in print. Wholly of another sort 
are those tranquil musings which, at the furthest, will not 
travel beyond the limit of the amiable home circle. And 
now, at this point, indulgent reader, let me indulge myself 
in affirming the blessedness of a secluded country life : it 
is here, and it is in the midst of meadows and ploughed 
fields that one may think, and not fear. It is here that 
meditations, innocent of treason, innocent of heresy, and 

40 The Family Pen. 

clear of wrongful imputations, may be indulged in 
through half a century ! 

Trains of thought, taking their rise from the books on 
the shelves around, will not fail to show a reflection, or a 
refraction from the objects and the movements of the 
outer world. So it has been, therefore, that while, in that 
outer world, and in the religious quarter of that world, 
deep-going revolutions have been running their round, 
meditations which have taken their text or their colour 
from books have come to be entangled with the agita- 
tions of the outer world. This word of explanation may 
be needed for what is to follow. 

Meditations that are silent, and are not destined to the 
printer, differ greatly from thoughts and conclusions that 
are likely to be put into type. These latter do not 
appear until after they have been packed in chapters, 
and strung into paragraphs, and have been made to pass 
repeated revisions, and strengthened with foot-notes, 
and riveted with references — they are, or are intended to 
pass for, workmanlike work. Not so meditations of the 
first-mentioned sort. These are the slowly accruing 
inductions of thousands of chance thoughts : they are 
like coral formations — they are the unnoticed incre- 
ments of day after day, while summer and winter, seed- 
time and harvest, have been running their noiseless 
round. If you ask me how it is that I have come to 
think so and so upon debated questions, or where are 
my authorities, or what is my warrant for conclusions of 

The Family Pen. 4 1 

this colour, perhaps I am not able at the moment to 
come down with book and chapter. The best I 
can do is to say, that, if you require me to write, and 
then to print on the subject, I will give the requisite 
attention to it, and shall be prepared to come out — it 
may be three months hence or twelve. But I am now 
ready to affirm that the slowly-formed involuntary induc- 
tions of thirty or forty years may be of more genuine 
quality than the laboured work of preparation for getting 
out a book, whether at longer or shorter notice. But 
what is to become of any such random meditations % Book 
them, and then they cease to be what I would acknow- 
ledge as indeed the whole of my mind on this or that 
subject. Pri?it them, and then they forfeit their quality. 
If it be so, your reply will be — " Leave your musings 
where they are — floating about in your home circle. 
The world will go on its way, content to know nothing 
of what you may have thought." I can easily bring 
myself to believe this ; nevertheless, I am impelled 
to throw out, at random, a page or so of medita- 
tions on at least one subject, that has never been for 
any length of time out of my mind. 

In these years, while I have lived among the books 
of which just now I have said something, a movement 
has been going on in the World of Thought — sometimes 
as an under-current — noiseless and unseen — sometimes, 
as lately it has done, frothing up and bubbling on the 
surface, like the scalding waters of Iceland — but the 

42 The Family Pen. 

drift is ever the same ; nor is the issue to be doubted — 
if it goes on — the drift or direction is toward the dark 
abyss wherein human thought is lost. Some way before 
that issue is arrived at, there are stations at which a halt 
will be made, and where a new turn may be taken. 
Many, we may well believe it — more than a few, shall 
stop short of the abyss, and they will hold fast to their 
hope. There are reasons enough why they should do 
so ; but with these I am not at this time concerned. 
What I intend is to ask the before-named indulgent 
reader of this paper to listen to a page of perhaps in- 
coherent meditations which haunt the place where I sit, 
surrounded with boojts. 

As I look round at my shelves, no very difficult effort 
of the imagination is needed for fancying that the writers 
of these folios — the great orators, the martyrs, the theo- 
logues, the apologists, the doctors — these worthies stand 
out, each in front of his own literary creation, and that 
where and while they so make their appearance, I am 
gifted with an ear to hear what they say, and am gifted also 
with a faculty of speech, so that I may freely put search- 
ing questions to them, and then may listen to catch their 
answers. In realizing a conception of this sort I find 
myself very greatly helped out — ideally — by pictorial 
means. Often and often, as I have opened these folios, 
I have looked anew at the effigies of the men — the 
Fathers of that time. As to several of these effigies, 
they are copies, carefully made, as it is evident, from the 

The Family Pen. 43 

illuminated manuscripts of the works of the Father, and 
many of them show so much of verisimilitude, as to 
costume, and as to the surrounding embellishments, and 
they agree so well, physiognomically, with the good 
man's reputed dispositions and conduct, that one is 
forced to accept them as genuine portraitures. So it is, 
or thus I believe — stood erect, and so looked while in 
presence of the illuminating limner — the noted leaders 
of that age. Thus 'O 'Ari02 Ephraim the Syrian — and 
thus the great Athanasius ; and if, in this instance, the 
portrait be a mere invention of the artist, then that 
artist must indeed have been gifted in a marvellous 
degree with the realizing conceptive faculty ; for indeed 
this august figure, and this attitude, and this unearthly 
countenance, are a fitting image of the man who sus- 
tained a martyrdom of many years, upheld by the faith 
of " things unseen and eternal." And thus looked the 
puritanic Theodoret ; and thus also the luxurious scholar, 
gentleman, and monk, the great Basil. And thus 
Chrysostom, the golden-mouthed orator, copious in ex- 
position of Holy Scripture ; and thus Epiphanius, and 
thus others who, with more or less of authenticity, as 
works of art, have left us in these illuminations the 
means of thinking of them, such as they were, in 
habit, in their attire, and in expression of counte- 

But while thus by these means I see, as if here present, 
the noted men of that age, it is many more than them- 

44 The Family Pen. 

selves individually that come into view ; for the men of 
their time to whom they spoke are present also — even 
the congregation that thronged the basilica — and that 
listened, and that broke forth in loud plaudits with 
clapping of hands. Or to cite another instance, that 
of the holy man named above, Ephraim, the monk and 
the preacher and poet of Edessa. It is thus that I read, 
opening the volume at a chance — " Beloved, if thou art 
minded to enter this place [monastery] and wouldest 
spend thy days among us, and wouldest here serve the 
Lord Jesus Christ, then listen to me." Thus reading, it 
is not the good man alone that comes into view ; but 
it is the cowled companions of his ascetic mode of life : 
it is the forty or the fifty brethren of this coenobium. 
These all enter by right into the vision of Christian 
antiquity ; they come following their abbot. Admit the 
principal, then, the brethren slip in at the same door. 
So it will be also with the abbot Nilus, who governed 
several neighbouring monasteries (convents of monks) 
around the Nitrian salt-lakes, deep hid in the burning 
wilderness, westward in the Libyan desert : the father 
abbot comes, and with him there is a deputation of the 
brethren, and along with these there are several hundred 
Christian people to whom his epistles were addressed, 
who needed comfort, rebuke, or instmction. Journeying 
some way farther along the African coast, I find the 
illustrious Augustine : he is writing, or preaching, or 
visiting his flock ; or he is in conference with his 

The Family Pen. 45 

presbyters and deacons. This great and good man, to 
say the truth, occupies as much space on my shelves as 
I can well spare him, for he comes with (or witJim) 
thirteen imperial folios, and each volume contains over 
a thousand pages. I find him, just now, addressing his 
stated congregation in the episcopal church, and the key- 
note of these discourses is to this effect— the words are 
the very first that have met the eye as I open a volume, 
by chance ; and I ask my reader to keep them in mind 
ready for what I may have to say about them presently. 
The bishop — his arm is outstretched, and his hand is 
upward pointed — thus speaks : " Our hope, my brethren, 
springs not from the things of this present time, nor is it 
a hope of this present world, nor does it bear upon those 
things which blind the minds of men who forget God. 
Not of this sort is our hope ; but it takes its hold upon 
— I know not what, vv^hich God has promised, and which 
man has not as yet received." With such a word as this 
on his lips (a word which Plato would have eagerly 
listened to, and Cicero also, although not Aristotle) 
there can be no doubt that the fervent Bishop of Hippo 
shall be invited to come in, and he may bring with him 
his hearers, how many soever they may be. Thus I find 
that I am gathering into my study indeed a goodly com- 
pany — it is a great congregation : or I may say it is " a 
great cloud of witnesses." I do not in this place employ 
that word "witness" in the apostolic sense, as if it meant 
the passive spectators of a transaction and of the actors 

46 The Family Pen. 

therein, on a stage, or on the arena of a Roman amphi- 
theatre. But those whom I thus challenge are to give 
their evidence in the forensic sense of the word — they 
are witnesses called into court where a great cause is in 
question, and where pleadings and counter-pleadings are 
even now to be listened to. The suit in progress relates 
to the hope of an inheritance incorruptible and eternal ; 
and the witnesses that are now standing at the door, 
ready to answer to their names, are required, each in his 
time, and each in his own manner, to vouch for the fact 
that a great revolution — wide in its range, permanent in 
its results, deep in its bearing upon human nature — had 
been effected and was still extant, and was then in pro- 
gress at the hour when the said witness lived and had 
knowledge of the facts. I am not intending, according 
to the customary dogmatic usage, to cite authorities, 
book, chapter, and page, of this or that edition, in sup- 
port of the articles of a creed. To do this may be quite 
proper in a proper place ; but this is not a place proper 
for any purpose of that sort. What I wish to do — so far 
as it may be done within the compass of ten or twelve 
pages — is, to put in view a rough outline of facts which, 
unless we can give some other and a reasonable explana- 
tion of them, must receive a Christian explanation, in- 
volving the weighty consequences which thence ensue. 

If in this manner I go from shelf to shelf, around my 
little library, inviting the authors of these books to 
answer to their names when summoned to do so, I ought 

The Family Pen. 47 

to consider from what distant regions they must come. 
The men themselves, and their Christian contemporaries, 
will have come from the glowing heights of Sinai, and 
from the deserts beyond : they will have come from the 
green slopes and valleys of Palestine, and from the sultry 
gorge of the Jordan, and from the wooded clefts of 
Lebanon : they must have come from the Syrian coast- 
ward, and from the then populous provinces of Asia 
Minor, and from the ^gean Islands, from Cyprus, and 
Rhodes ; as also from Cilicia, and Cappodocia, and 
Pontus, and Paphlagonia, and Galatia, and Phrygia, and 
Pisidia, and Lycia, and Caria, and Lydia, and Mysia, 
and Bithynia, and from thence over to Thrace, and Mace- 
donia. This is not a barren list of names, geographical 
only in its meaning, for each name of a province, and of 
each principal city in each province, wakes up a vivid 
recollection ; and with each name is associated the name 
of some martyr or preacher — not wanting the names of 
accomplished men, who were the lights of their era. 
The time would fail me to speak of Nazianzen, and of 
Nyssen, and of Basil, and of Cyril, and of Eusebius, and 
of Epiphanius. We pass on then to Greece proper, 
and so round about into Italy, and thence to Gaul, and 
to Spain, and to Lusitania, and to Britain, Caledonia 
and Hibernia. The circuit thence is to North Africa, 
and so on to Egypt, and to Abyssinia. Beyond these 
borders of the Imperium Romanum we should travel far, 
and yet everywhere should find our brethren in Christ. 

48 The Family Pen. 

Everywhere I should find those who, whatever may be 
their vernacular, yet if I uttered in their hearing the few 
words which just now I have cited from a sermon of the 
Bishop of Hippo, would start up at the sound, and 
would repeat this confession as their own confession, 
and would say : " This is our hope, as it is yours ; the 
Christ whom you preach is 'both yours and ours;' for 
to us of the furthest East, and to those of the remotest 
West, it is true that there is one hope of our calling — 
Christ in us the hope of the life eternal." So it is that 
from the rising of the sun to the going down of the 
same, the Saviour of the world has already been pro- 
claimed and trusted in. 

And as the area geographically is large, from every 
part of which these witnesses for Christ may be sum- 
moned, so are the years many during the lapse of 
which this witness-bearing has been heard. If I take 
the testimony in the manner already spoken of, — that is 
to say, from the books around me, — then, in chrono- 
logical order, the witness-roll of antiquity will extend 
itself through much more than a thousand years. I 
listen, and I hear this Testimony, ever the same in its 
subject, and its substance, and its awful unearthly import. 
I hear it in the mild paternal voices of the ai)ostolic 
Clement and his colleagues. I hear it in the dying 
confession of Ignatius, and of Polycarp, and of a great 
company — even the " noble army of martyrs." I catch 
the words of this confession — immortal sounds they are, 

The Family Pen. 49 

audible amidst the bowlings of tbe beasts of the amphi- 
theatre, and the yells of the ten thousand assessors of 
those imperial shows. I hear this testimony in the 
moans of those women of Bithynia, whom Pliny — gen- 
tleman and philosopher — tortured to no purpose ; and 
of the women who were torn to the death at Lyons and 
Vienne. The testimony comes also in the irrisive taunts 
of Athenagoras, and in the remonstrances of latian, of 
Irenaeus, of Pantoenus, and in the Martyr Justin's noble 
pleadings for mercy and justice \ and in the strenuous 
reasonings of TertuUian, and in the learned eloquence 
of Origen ; — in all these many voices there is one testi- 
mony, the testimony of men and of women, who would 
not win a release from fires and racks, or the teeth of 
beasts, by denying their hope of " a better resurrection." 
Thus we move onward along the track of time ; and if, 
in the earlier age, we have held converse with sufferers 
" of whom the world was not worthy," we find ourselves, 
in the centuries next ensuing, in the company of men — 
philosophers, orators, and accomplished writers — who 
take up the same testimony, and make the same pro- 
fession of their allegiance to Christ, and of their hope 
in Him who is " the way, the truth, and the life." 

These witnesses, whom I thus summon, coming as 
they do from lands far remote, and belonging as they do 
to many eras, and speaking each in his vernacular, are 
distinguished by every diversity of national character, 
and of individual disposition and training. These 

VOL. I. E 

5© The Family Pen. 

differences are extreme ; and the instruction which they 
had severally received varied in all degrees between 
that of the Coptic monk, who knew nothing beyond 
his local dialect, and the man of universal erudition— 
the master of many languages and of many philosophies. 
Such Avere Origen, Clement, Eusebius, Jerome. Differ 
as these writers might, as to the conditions of their birth 
and their education, and differ also as they might by 
the variety and the amount of their acquirements ; or 
seem to differ as they might, if required to put the 
specialities of a creed into the terms of a formal con- 
fession of faith, article by article, yet it will be true that, 
looked at, listened to, on grounds which I shall mention, 
this testimony is always One Testimony; it is so, not as 
if by force, binding together many separate elements, 
but as by the inner harmony of principles which can 
never be held apart. 

In this paper I excuse myself from the logical obliga- 
tion of throwing my meditations into a book-like order. 
I am not compelled (an indulgent reader will not compel 
me) to put the first things foremost, and the second-rate 
things in a second place ; but to take my instances and 
illustrations just as they come to hand. And inasmuch 
as these random thoughts are thoughts amoJig books, so it 
shall be that these instances shall be such as may show 
their bookish origin. 

I should judge it to be a misunderstanding of what I 
mainly intend, if now, with the two sets of books in my 

The Family Pen. c i 

view — the classical, or, as we call them, the profane 
authors, on the one side, and the Christian authors on 
the other side — I should set myself to work to make up 
an argument in the manner of an antithesis, so as by all 
means to give effect to a contrast. In truth, I could tiot 
undertake to show that the light of pagan antiquity was 
a darkness, not a light. Ungracious, as well as wrongful 
and superfluous, would be the endeavour to disparage the 
ancient splendour — its philosophy, its oratory, its poetry, 
its art. The Greek intelligence, and by consequence 
the Roman, was indeed an effulgence, and it is so to 
this present moment ; and as such it will continue to be 
looked to and admired, so long as mind is mind. But 
the light of classic antiquity was as the diffused illumina- 
tion of a cloudy day. There was then no direct radia- 
tion from above ; and when at noon of an over-clouded 
day the sun suddenly shines forth in his power, we all 
rejoice in those beams — aviaOev, nor do we think we do a 
wrong to the ancient classic splendour to exclaim, " The 
darkness is passed, and the True Light now shineth." 

This is the apostolic profession — " The Darkness is 
past, and the True Light now shineth ; " and in such 
terms as these the Teacher from Heaven announces His 
advent. He says — " I am the Light of the world." But 
has it been so % Do the facts of the history of the 
human mind bear out this assumption % In proof of the 
affirmative it would be trite, and here it would be need- 
less and wearisome, to adduce volumes of evidence, 

£ 2 

52 The Family Pen. 

under the several heads of philosophy, and of abstract 
theology, and of tlie humanisation of the social system, 
and of the elevation of morals. All these topics are 
now familiar to all readers ; nor are the facts open to 
contradiction : they are available in proof of this prin- 
cipal fact — that Christ has been, and is, the Light of 
the World. I look round upon these shelves, and see 
them laden with the products of that illumination which 
Christianity has diffused, from age to age — giving to 
the brightest minds of each age a true direction, and 
an impulse also in that direction : but not to these 
only. Come with me into the less frequented corners of 
my store : — look into the remote recesses of the Chris- 
tian literature of ages gone by. 

A true light, as compared with a meteorologic illumi- J 
nation, or an artificial radiance, or lamp light, shows its 
quality in this way, that it travels right on with a steady 
force — it moves as with a momentum that carries it even I 
into the obscurest corners, into the dimmest places ; into 
the very nooks of the world. Now for some facts in 
illustration of this. I take down from their places some 
five, six, or seven books — the works of writers, extant 
indeed, but now very seldom mentioned j they are little 
known or thought of, and seldom quoted. On my table 
here, for instance, is Isidore of Pelusium ; and here is 
Cassian, the monastic codist, and with him, bound in 
one, are Fulgentius and Maxentius ; here also are Metho- 
dius, and Cyril of Jerusalem, and Synesius, and then 

The Family Pen. 53 

John ot Damascus ; and I might easily name as many 
more ; but these are enough. I ask you now to open at 
hazard any one of these books, and in five minutes you 
will find some passage, longer or shorter, which might well 
be cited as evidence of what is here affirmed. The True 
Light was there shining, and it is shining even into the 
darkest places. This light, as here we find it in its dim- 
ness, is nothing less than the light of the Eternal Efful- 
gence : it is the light of the knowledge of God in Christ, 
who is Himself the brightness of the Father's glory : it 
is the authentic knowledge of Life Everlasting : it is the 
knowledge, moreover, of transgression^ — as sin against 
God : and it is the knowledge of repentance, and of the 
forgiveness of sins. This is a light — a beam of which 
we see in these veiy books : not in books that are 
illuminated by the sparkling genius, and the eloquence, 
and the various erudition of distinguished men ; but in 
books that are scarcely recommended by any measure of 
those qualities ; and into which no one now ever looks, 
unless it be for ascertaining some fact in history or 
criticism : this true light of divine knowledge has, as says 
the Psalmist, " made wise the simple " — even the simple 
ones — who were the authors of these sombre, faded, 
dust-covered folios. The question might be asked, how 
was it, as to these books, so little recommended as they 
are by intelligence, that they came to be copied from 
time to time, and thus made their appearance in print 
two or three hundred years ago % Many of the choicest 

54 The Family Pen. 

literal}'- treasures, alas ! have foundered in the passage 
of these dark ages. A reply in full to this question 
would include some details relating to the copying sys- 
tem in those times, for which I have no space in this 
paper. But a reply in part does touch my present sub- 
ject. To a great extent it was the fact that the class 
of books now referred to came in turn into the copyist's 
hands simply because something must be done in that 
line ; and as to books on the classical, or, as we say, 
the profane side, the supply was rapidly falling off. The 
copyist who had already effected a copy of a Homer, 
or a Demosthenes, or a Cicero, would seek for something 
new, if new might be found. But here would arise a 
difficulty, for on the side of pagan literature, books, ne7i< 
books, were becoming rare : it was more and more so : 
the springs of paganism were running low : the foun- 
tains of its thought were drying up ! I will not allege 
what might provoke an argument ; but will only say 
what is unquestionable, which is this, that when we 
pass forward beyond the times of Lucian, Athenasus, 
Diogenes Laertius, Dion Cassius, writers on the field of 
pagan classic literature are becoming very scarce : in 
fact, the literature of heathenism is undergoing sublima- 
tion : it is ceasing to be. Wliether in philosophy, or 
in poetry, or oratory, or moral disquisition, the wells of 
mind are running dry : it is as if the rubbish of the 
decaying temples had slid down into them, choking the 
sources of water. Take the facts — they are conspicuous 

The Family Pen. 55 

— and draw your inference. The Master of all thought 
had now himself come upon the ground. It is Christ 
that had claimed sovereignty in the world of mind and 
of feeling : paganism, as a fruit-bearing tree, was doomed 
to wither : Christ had passed by, and He had said — 
looking at the tree, then green in leaf — " Let no man eat 
fruit of thee, henceforth for ever." Such fruit of that 
tree as had actually been gathered and housed, should 
be preserved for use in all time future — it is precious ; 
but as to the tree itself, the sap has been bled out of the 
trunk, nor would it return to it any more. Christ says, 
" I am the true vine," and every branch that takes not 
thence its sap is doomed to wither. 

Thus it is written — " He that sat upon the throne 
said. Behold, I make all things new." A word from on 
high it was. But not now to look beyond the range to 
which these random meditations are confined, I take from 
its place one of that class ,of books just above mentioned 
— a third or fourth rate book — it is "The Homilies " of a 
Coptic Monk; and I bring this obscure yet edifying 
writer into comparison with the profound author of the 
" Phaedo," and the " Phaedrus," and the " Apology." 
As to intellectuality — immeasurable is the space inter- 
vening between the pious Macarius and the illustrious 
disciple of Socrates. Nevertheless this interval is not 
greater than that which measures the distance which the 
human mind and the modem civiHsation have passed 
on, under the teaching of Christ, beyond the position it 

56 The Family Pen. 

had reached under die teaching of Plato. It is not 
merely that the Egyptian monk had come fully into the 
knowledge of axioms and first principles in theology 
which the disciple of Socrates spent his life in groping 
after, and yet never attained. This would be only a 
formal statement of the fact before us. The Copt * had 
come to know that God, the Creator of the World, 
is One — and that He is One in His moral attributes, 
and that He is just, and good, and gracious, even as 
a Father toward His children. This conception was of 
a sort that is altogether strange to Greek Philosophy. 
In the entire range of classic antiquity, no thoughts, 
or any correspondent sentiments of this order come 
to the surface. " He that sat upon the throne " had 
in this sense made all things new, namely, that the 
human mind had received a new bent— a bent God- 
ward ; and thenceforward, and throughout all time, 
it is held to be true that there is a life of the soul to- 
ward God. God is not henceforward to be thought of 
only as an object in philosophy, or as an axiom in 
metaphysics, but is to be regarded as the Infinite Being 
with whom man is invited to hold communion — even 

* Whether the Homilies and Treatises which I now hold in 
Tny hand should be attributed to Macarius Setiio); or to Macarius 
yunior, or even to some other writer of about the same period, is 
a matter of no consequence whatever in relation to the bearing of 
such a question upon any inference I am intending to draw from my 

The Fatnily Pen. 57 

a daily correspondence. Christian antiquity on the one 
side, and the brightest products of pagan antiquity on 
the other side, then the difference is a disparity immea- 
surable : with whomsoever this knowledge of God gets 
an entrance, all things have indeed become new. 

Nor is it merely that the immortality which pagan 
philosophy surmised, had now become an undoubted 
truth — an axiom of the Christian life ; but this doctrine, 
which had floated as a mist in the view of the loftiest 
minds of antiquity, had at length so fixed itself in the 
vivid conceptions of the entire mass of Christian people, 
men, women, and children, that these, and any of them, 
were ready to stake life and all things upon it. 

" Behold, I make all things new,"— then, are we to 
ask what things they are, and on what scene of action 
this "new creation" is to be effected"? Was it from 
the wilds of savage life, and with the few and the rude 
elements of that low order of social organization % If it 
were so, a renovation of this kind, and a taming of the 
ferocious man, and a humanising of one so brutal, it 
would be indeed a marvel : wonderful indeed it is when, 
under the tutelage of the Christian teacher, this new 
creation does take place. Nevertheless, it must be 
accounted an event of a higher order — an event worthy 
of more profound regard, when races that have held 
on their way for centuries in a condition of the most 
elaborate civilization, including the highest culture, 
when such as these are brought over from one condition, 

58 The Family Pen. 

intellectual and moral, to another condition, intellectual 
and moral. A new creation of this kind is indeed 
amazing. Yet it was a revolution not less signal than 
this that took place when the ancient civilization yielded 
itself to a new and a hitherto unthought-of moral and 
religious system — a new belief — a new ethics — a new 
code of social and political organization. In the track 
of time, the revolutions of which I find to be reported and 
vouched for in the books that occupy the shelves around 
me, these changes — great as they were — were actually 
brought about. These revolutions affected the human 
system to its very depths, and upon its surface also, and 
they took their course in the East, and in the West, 
and in every land around the Mediterranean. Slowly 
in some quarters, very rapidly in other quarters, but at 
length in all provinces of the Roman world, and in 
every city, and wherever any social polity, and wherever 
schools and the usages of refined modes of life had 
already gone in advance of it, there did this Christianity 
come, and come with power : and in the lapse of time 
it ousted its rivals, and it cleared a ground for itself, 
and put to silence the gainsaying of heathenism, and 
brought under its sway, and into its service, the lan- 
guages, and the discipline, and the manners, and the 
morals, and the politics, and the imperial government 
itself. In all this manifold revolution there is a verifi- 
cation at large of that word of power — " He that sat 
upon the throne said. Behold, I make all things new." 

The Family Pen. 59 

So it is, then, that the books of which I have spoken 
in this paper give their various evidence concerning an 
EFFECT, vast in its measurement, and quite unexampled 
in its quality. And now, when we make inquiry con- 
cerning the spring or cause of so great a revolution, we 
find that the cause alleged is adequate to the effect ; 
and, moreover, that the cause and the effect are in con- 
gruity, the one with the other. It was Omnipotence — 
it was He that sat upon the throne that said : Behold, I 
make all things new. The effect vouches for the cause : 
the cause is justified in the effect. 

At this point, where I am coming to the close of this 
informal meditation, I come to what might be taken as 
the text of another meditation, or of a new argument. 
I have spoken above of the Drift of Thought at the 
present moment. The purport of this now-present 
tendency is toward the acceptance of a Christianity — 
abated — a Gospel, shorn of its forces ; and we are 
labouring to persuade ourselves that a Gospel so abated 
shall serve us instead of, and better than, the Gospel 
such as we have it in the Scriptures of the Old and 
New Testament. All we need, it is said, in this ad- 
vanced stage of European civilization is — an amiable 
Ethics, and an easy after-life in prospect, with no terrors 

The compromise which is now pleaded for must 
embrace such things as these : — The exclusion of 
" dogmas " of all sorts — a declared indifference toward 

6o The Family Pen. 

"speculative belief" — a rejection of superstitions, the 
devil included. Yet most of all is demanded the 
rejection of that one doctrine which, more than any 
other article of the obsolete theology, offends our 
modern philosophy, and outrages its sensibilities ; we 
therefore insist upon the utter removal of the ancient 
belief concerning the vicarious death of Christ. On 
these terms a continuance may be granted to Chris- 

To abate the forces of the Gospel might seem a prac- 
ticable enterprise, if this indeed were all ; but it is 
certain that when these forces, these powers of the 
system, are removed, what remains is reduced to a mass 
of incoherent and intolerable solecisms. Often has this 
experiment been repeated, and always with the same 
result. Other than such as it is — powerful to shake 
the Babel of human pride — powerful to vanquish the 
obduracy of our alienation from God, the Gospel quickly 
gives place to any illusion — philosophical, or literary, 
or sensual — which may suit the bent of each mind. If 
proof of these averments is asked for, then it is certain 
that everything which illustrates the history of the 
human mind, when brought into collision with the 
Gospel, is available to that end, and will consist with 
no other conclusion. 



The foregoing essay, which appeared in Good Words at 
the close of the year 1864, was almost the last literary 
effort of one who for fifty years had held, in his well- 
practised hand, that Family Pen of which he writes. 

In the spring of the year 1865, he was attacked by a 
violent access of the chronic bronchitis which had long 
troubled him, and this malady was soon complicated by 
dropsical symptoms. For three months he endured great 
sufferings with characteristic fortitude and Christian 
patience, till at last the strong frame was shattered, and, 
on the 28th of June, he passed away to his well-earned 
rest. Born at Lavenham, on the 17th of August, 1787, 
just before the breaking out of the great French Revo- 
lution, he would in a few weeks have completed his 
seventy-eighth year. 

This is not the place for any lengthened Memoir, or 
for any estimate of the services which his words of 
thoughtful wisdom have rendered to the cause of Chris- 
tian truth. Some such memorial of his literary labours, 

62 The Family Pen. 

based upon his own letters, and accompanied by selec- 
tions from MSS. which he has left behind, is now in 
preparation. It has been thought, however, that these 
volumes would be incomplete if they did not contain 
some briefest record of the literary life of one who grasped 
the Family Pen with such firm fingers, and wielded it to 
so good effect. 

The narrative of his early hfe, and the account of the 
surroundings of his youthful years, will be found, to a 
great extent, detailed by himself, incidentally, in the 
Memoir of his sister, Jane Taylor, which occupies the 
concluding portion of this volume. In those pages will 
be found a vivid description of the secluded life led by 
the family at Lavenham, with an account of their removal 
to Colchester, and finally to Ongar, together with a 
record of the long sojourn with his sister in Devonshire 
and Cornwall. 

In common with several other members of the family, 
Isaac Taylor was trained to the profession of an artist. 
Though gifted with a keen perception of artistic excel- 
lence, with a striking originality of thought, and no 
inconsiderable power of artistic expression, yet the more 
mechanical details of his profession were distasteful to 
his mind, and he soon abandoned these pursuits for the , 
more congenial labours of stated authorship. 

I believe that his earliest ventures with the pen were 
published, in conjunction with his sisters, in some of 
those books for children which have enjoyed such an 

The late Isaac Taylor. 63 

extensive popularity. A suitable place has been found 
for one or more of these juvenile productions in the 
second voluriie of this work. 

But his literary tastes and pursuits were soon to 
receive an entirely new direction. The accidental dis- 
covery of a copy of the works of Sulpicius Severus on a 
London bookstall, as narrated by himself, in the pre- 
ceding paper, turned his attention to the problems pre- 
sented by the History and Corruptions of the Christian 
Church, and led to the gradual accumulation of a library 
containing everything worthy of note in the whole range 
of patristic literature. A somewhat similar acquisition 
of a copy of Lord Bacon's treatises De Augmentis, which 
occurred about the same time, gave another direction to 
his studies. He became an enthusiastic admirer and 
student of the works of the great founder of our intel- 
lectual philosophy, and in the combination of these two 
lines of study, seemingly so incongruent — the Baconian 
and the patristic — may, I believe, be found the key to 
his whole literary life. 

About the year 18 18, his friend, Josiah Conder, who 
was at that time the Editor of the Eclectic Review, 
induced him to become a stated contributor to that 
periodical, which was then at the zenith of its fame, 
numbering as it did among its most zealous literary 
supporters the names of Robert Hall, John Foster, and 
OHnthus Gregory. 

In 1822, at the age of thirty-five, he made his first 

64 The Family Pen. 

independent literary venture. This was a small educa- 
tional volume, which had been suggested mainly by his 
Baconian studies, and was entitled " Elements of 
Thought." It was intended to teach the first rudiments 
of mental philosophy. The volume was not unsuccessful, 
having passed through several editions in its original 
form ; and a few years before the author's death it was 
entirely recast and published as an essentially new work, 
under the title of "The World of Mind." This first 
essay was succeeded by a much larger and more costly 
volume, a new translation of the " Characters of Theo- 
phrastus," accompanied by pictorial renderings of the 
characters, drawn and etched by the translator. But the 
great event of this period was the lamented death of his 
sister Jane, who had, for many years, been the chief 
sharer of his thoughts, and the chosen companion of his 
leisure hours. As her literary executor, all other pursuits 
were put aside, in order that he might devote him- 
self to the melancholy task of the preparation of a 
memoir, which, accompanied by selections from her 
correspondence and literary remains, was first published 
in the year 1825. It is this memoir which, recast and 
revised a year or two before his death, constitutes the 
greater portion of the jiresent volume. 

In the ensuing year he married Elizabeth, second 
daughter of James Medland, Esq. of Newington. This 
lady was the " young friend " of his sister Jane, to whom 
are addressed many of the letters in the latter part of 

The late Isaac Taylor. 65 

her published correspondence. During the thirty-five 
years of her married life she proved herself a true and 
noble woman, a devoted wife, a fond yet most judicious 
mother, and the beloved friend and counsellor of her 
cottage neighbours. 

In preparation for his marriage, Mr. Taylor had esta- 
blished hijnself at Stanford Rivers, a secluded country 
village, distant some two miles from his father's resi- 
dence at Ongar. This house at Stanford Rivers, which 
was to be the scene of his literary labours, and of his 
silent meditations for more than forty years, was not 
unfitted for the retreat of a literary recluse. It was a 
rambling old-fashioned farmhouse, standing in a large 
garden. It commanded a somewhat extensive view of 
the numerous shaws, the well-timbered hedge-rows, and 
the undulating pasturages, which are characteristic of that 
part of Essex ; while at a distance of some half-mile 
from the house the little river Roden meanders through 
the broad meadows. The house was speedily adapted 
to its new purposes ; barns, and other farm outbuildings, 
were pulled down, the garden was replanted and laid 
out afresh, with a characteristic provision of spacious 
gravel-walks for meditative purposes. 

Shortly after his marriage he published two companion 
volumes, which mark the direction which his studies had 
been taking. The first, "The History of the Trans- 
mission of Ancient Books to Modern Times," was 
followed by "The Process of Historical Proof." These 

VOL. I. F 

66 The Family Fen. 

books form an answer to what may be called the 
Literary Scepticism of writers like the Jesuit Hardouin 
and his school, and show the grounds on which a rigorous 
criticism may accept as genuine the various remains of 
Ancient Literature, and more especially those documents 
which are comprised in the Jewish and Christian 
Scriptures. After an interval of more than thirty years, 
these two volumes were recast by their author, and re- 
published as a single work. 

The researches connected with a new and annotated 
Translation of Herodotus, which Mr. Taylor published 
at this time, seem to have suggested an anonymous work 
of fiction, entitled " The Temple of Melekartha." This 
work, the authorship of which was never avowed, stands 
alone among the productions of its writer. With great 
imaginative and pictorial power, it attempts to reproduce 
the characteristic features of the pre-historic civilization 
of the Tyrian race at the period of the traditional mi- 
gration from the Persian Gulf to the Syrian coast. The 
work is pervaded by a deep ethical purpose, striving, as 
it does, to develop the untrammelled workings of enthu- 
siasm, fanaticism, and spiritual despotism, and their 
baneful results on the destinies of nations. 

Hitherto, Mr. Taylor, as an author, had been only 
moderately successful. His works, though well received 
by the public, had excited no marked sensation. But 
at last, at the age of forty-two, he discovered the 
direction in which the true bent of his genius lay. The 

The late Isaac Taylor. 67 

" Natural History of Enthusiasm " was published anony- 
mously in the month of May 1829. This work, with 
which the author's name is perhaps now chiefly associated, 
was a sort of a historico-philosophical elucidation of 
those social and religious problems which had come into 
prominence in that age of political and ecclesiastical 
revolution. It was written with such freshness of 
thought and vigour of language, as at once to place 
the unknown writer in the front rank of contemporary 
literature. The book rapidly ran through eight or nine 
editions, and still continues to have its readers and 
admirers. It was rapidly followed by two companion 
volumes, — "Fanaticism," and "Spiritual Despotism," 
which were eagerly welcomed by an expectant and 
admiring public. 

Mr. Taylor's next work is, perhaps, that which has 
been most in favour with the class of readers to whose 
tastes his writings are adapted. In his character of a lay 
theologian, he brought forward a series of devout re- 
flections and original speculations on some of the more 
recondite subjects of religious thought. As a layman, he 
thought it right to leave the ordinary topics of the pulpit 
to their authorized expounders, and, under the title of 
" Saturday Evening," he claimed to deal only with such 
matters as might be regarded as a preparation for the 
more formal teaching of the Sunday. This work has 
been regarded by a numerous band of admirers as a 
storehouse of profound thought, expressed in that massive 
F 2 

68 The Family Pen. 

and harmonious language of which the writer was a 

One of the detached speculations in "Saturday 
Evening " was soon afterwards expanded into a volume, 
under the title of " The Physical Theory of another 
Life." This work has gone through several editions, and 
still finds numerous readers. 

The time now came at which Mr. Taylor was re- 
luctantly persuaded to relinquish that anonymous shield 
under cover of which this series of works had been 
produced, and which in his own opinion enabled him to 
write with a freedom and a power to which he had before 
been a stranger. In 1836, a vacancy occurred in the 
chair of Logic in the University of Edinburgh. The 
anonymous author received an urgent requisition from 
some of the electors to stand for the vacant chair. Tliis 
flattering proposal, involving as it did a surrender of his 
cherished habits of seclusion, was at first decisively 
declined, but the request was repeated with such urgency 
that he was at last induced to reconsider his determina- 
tion. As the day of election approached all the other 
competitors withdrew, with the exception of Sir WiUiam 
Hamilton, who was ultimately successful by a small 
majority. This contest, the issue of which the defeated 
candidate never regretted for a moment, laid the founda- 
tion of valued friendships with Dr. Chalmers, and other 
prominent men in Edinburgh, who had warmly interested 
themselves on his behalf Another result of this contest 

The late Isaac Taylor. 69 

was that, on several occasions in after years, Mr. Taylor 
received similar invitations to compete for chairs in 
Scotch universities and colleges, and on one occasion a 
prominent position of the kind was placed at his option. 
But he never again consented to stand, believing that a 
College teacher should have received a College training, 
and believing also that his own habits of thought, and of 
free utterance on philosophical and theological topics, 
would not have been in harmony with the intellectual 
atmosphere of a Scotch university. 

His own marked enjoyment of the country, and his 
decisive preference for a secluded life, joined to his 
conviction of the superior mental and physical health 
attainable by a family residing in the country, combined 
to retain him in the retired rural home in which he had 
deliberately chosen to cast his lot. At this time he had 
seven young children around his table. The methods 
which he pursued, and the thoughts which suggested 
themselves in superintending the education of his own 
family, are recorded in '' Home Education," a volume 
pubhshed in 1838. The beneficial influences of a 
country life, the educational value of children's plea- 
sures, and the importance of favouring the natural 
growth of a child's mind instead of stimulating the 
mental powers into a forced and unnatural activity, 
are among the topics insisted upon in this volume, 
which has had considerable weight with parents in 

yo The Family Pen. 

inducing them to promote the enjoyments of their chil- 
dren as one of the best of educational influences. 

His next effort was of a very different character, 
and involved him in literary controversy of a kind 
from which his retiring nature sensitively shrank. In 
the preceding pages he has himself narrated the effect 
produced upon his mind in early life by the chance 
discovery on a London bookstall of a copy of Sulpicius 
Severus. The interest thus awakened in patristic litera- 
ture was not allowed to die away. He gradually accu- 
mulated on his shelves a costly array of folios comprising 
nearly everything of note in the literature of Christian 
antiquity. From the independent perusal of these 
writers he had formed for himself a conception of the 
doctrine and practice of the Nicene Church differing 
widely from that which he found presented in any of the 
then accepted writers on Church history. Milner, and 
even Mosheim, he put from him with a kind of indigna- 
tion, as giving an entirely distorted version of the facts 
of the case. 

Holding as he did this belief as to the practices and 
doctrines of the early Church, he was deeply interested 
in that great movement in the English Church of which 
the " Tracts for the Times " were the exponents. The 
avowed object of the tracts was to bring back the 
Church of England to the theological beliefs and the ^ 
ritual usages of the Nicene Church. Mr. Taylor's re- H 

The late Isaac Taylor. 7 1 

searches had led him to the belief that almost the whole 
of the errors of mediaeval Rome existed in a more or 
less developed form in that church of the fourth century 
which the Oxford ^vriters were holding up to view as 
the standard and pattern for ourselves. In this belief 
he stepped forward with a reply to the Tracts, from 
the point of view of a layman, unembarrassed by the en- 
tanglement of ecclesiastical interests or subscriptions. 

The first part of " Ancient Christianity compared 
with the Doctrines of the ' Tracts for the Times ' " ap- 
peared in the beginning of the year 1839, and drew 
down upon its author an unwonted storm of virulent 
and unscrupulous opposition. The parts continued to 
appear at intervals for nearly three years, and had a 
very extensive circulation. The author had reason to 
believe that, while he had confirmed many waverers in 
their old allegiance to the Church of England, he had 
succeeded in proving to others that their only consistent 
course was to join the communion of Rome. 

About this time Mr. Taylor delivered four lectures 
on " Spiritual Christianity " to a distinguished audience 
assembled at the Hanover Square Rooms. He himself 
always regarded these lectures as one of his happiest 
efforts. A somewhat similar course of Four Lectures 
was addressed to the working classes, under the title, 
" Man Responsible." 

But occupations of a very different nature now began 
to engross his thoughts. From his boyhood his leisure 

7 2 The Family Fen. 

hours had been much occupied with the invention of 
mechanical devices. One room in his house was always 
appropriated as a laboratory and carpenter's shop. At 
a very early period of his life he had invented the 
beer-tap which is now most commonly employed 
throughout the country; and somewhat later he con- 
trived and introduced a very efifective grate for domestic 
use. But his most ingenious contrivance was a machine 
for engraving upon copper. This beautiful invention was 
applied to the production of the numerous plates which 
illustrate Dr. Traill's translation of Josephus, and shortly 
afterwards it was adapted to the purpose of engraving 
the copper cylinders which are employed in calico 
printing; and having been patented in England, Scot- 
land, and America, it was brought into operation on 
a large scale in Manchester and elsewhere. . This ma- 
chinery, ingenious and mechanically successful as it 
was, proved, financially, most disastrous to the inventor, 
and involved him in heavy Habilities, from which he 
only escaped in the latter years of his life. As has 
so often been the case, the invention, though ruinous 
to the inventor, realized large returns in the hands of 
others who possessed the requisite capital for making 
it commercially successful. 

* These mechanical pursuits were the main occupation 
of the seven years which followed the completion of 
" Ancient Christianity." The hours which were not 
devoted to bringing the engraving machinery to per- 

The late Isaac Taylor. 73 

fection were spent in literary labour, though not of that 
independent kind which had hitherto engaged him. He 
contributed at intervals many thoughtful articles to the 
North British Review, from the time of its first com- 
mencement in 1843, and expended much heavy and 
well-nigh fruitless toil in editing Dr. Traill's translation 
of Josephus, and writing the historical and topographical 
notes which accompany that work. 

In 1849 he again published a volume, "Loyola and 
Jesuitism," in which he endeavoured to apply to one 
special epoch of Church History those general principles 
which had been propounded just twenty years before, in 
the " Natural History of Enthusiasm," A companion 
monograph, "Wesley and Methodism," appeared some 
two years later. These two volumes, however, excited 
less attention than preceding works from their author's 
pen. Wanting, as he constitutionally was, in literary 
ambition, he now gladly availed himself of an oppor- 
tunity of returning to the privacy of anonymous author- 
ship, which, he felt, always enabled him to wield his pen 
with a freedom and power which he was sensible had been 
more or less wanting ever since that reluctant avowal 
of his name which had been extorted from him in 1836. 
The result fully justified this belief, and " The Restora- 
tion of Belief," a volume on the Christian argument which 
was pubhshed anonymously at Cambridge in 1855, has 
always been regarded by his admirers as one of the most 
profound and powerful of all the efforts of his pen. 

74 The Family Pen. 

The works of his remaining years may be briefly enu- 
merated. " Logic in Theology," and " Ultimate Civili- 
zation," are the titles of two volumes of characteristic 
essays. The concluding essay in the former of these 
volumes is a sort of Rdigio Laici, and contains a more 
detailed expression of the wTiter's mature belief than 
can be found elsewhere. In this essay he sums up the 
credenda which a thoughtful and devout man may, in 
these days of scepticism, accept as things which may be 
believed "without controversy." In truth, as he ad- 
vanced in life, his early aversion to the acrimony and 
necessary one-sidedness of religious controversy returned 
with augmented force, and he often regretted that the 
feebleness of increasing years did not allow him to 
recast the one controversial effort of his life—" Ancient 
Christianity" — into a form which should be free from 
that atmosphere of partisanship in which it was, from 
the necessity of the time, originally produced. 

Mr. Taylor's last work of any importance was a volume 
of lectures, originally delivered at Edinburgh, on " The 
Spirit of Hebrew Poetry." This volume was published 
in 1862, and it contains passages of great originality 
and beauty, showing that age had not abated the powers 
of the veteran writer, though it may have mellowed his 
tone of thought, and chastened his somewhat exuberant 
style. The last fruit of his pen was the series of " Per- 
sonal Recollections," which appeared in Good Words 
a few months before his death. It is one of the essays 

The late Isaac Taylor. 7 5 

in that series, bearing the title of " The Family Pen," 
which is reprinted in the present volume. At the time 
of his fatal seizure in the spring of 1865, he was engaged 
in writing an essay on the religious history of England 
during the fifty years of his own literary life. This frag- 
ment is now being prepared for publication, and it is 
hoped will very shortly be given to the world. 

Mr. Taylor was singularly destitute of literary ambition. 
It was always his greatest pleasure and reward to believe 
that in his employment of the gift entrusted to him he 
had been able in any degree to be useful in his generation. 
It is not often perhaps that so voluminous a writer has 
shrunk so persistently from personal prominence and 
literary notoriety of every kind. It was always most 
painful to him to be brought forward as "a literary man." 
He resolutely held aloof from mixing in literary circles ; 
general society was distasteful to him ; and though he 
hospitably welcomed, at Stanford Rivers, his few chosen 
friends, yet he was never truly happy and at ease save in 
the deep seclusion of his country retreat, pacing up and 
down the walks of the old-fashioned garden, or setting 
forth for prolonged rambles in those retired lanes and 
byways where he could feel most secure from encounter- 
ing strangers. His social enjoyments he ever sought in 
the bosom of his own family. He always believed that 
the domestic happiness with which he was so greatly 
favoured was not only a strong stimulus to literary 

76 The Family Pen. 

exertion, but exercised also the best influence on his 
own intellectual judgments \ and to the seclusion of his 
country life he attributed much of the breadth and 
catholicity of his religious feelings, and the calm judicial 
tone of his literary temper. 




Forty years have elapsed since the first publication 
of these Memoirs. This is an interval of time within 
which many names, which were deservedly conspicuous 
in their day, have subsided into almost absolute oblivion ; 
but no empty boast is implied when the simple fact is 
affirmed that Jane Taylor's name, and her literary 
repute, within her proper field, still survive ; and that 
her influence within that field has undergone little 

As to a large portion of the beneficial influence of her 
writings, it has outlasted even a sixty years, during which 
time very many works of the same class, and some ot 
them of great merit, have appeared, and which, it might 
have been thought, would have driven the authors of 
"Original Poems" and "Hymns for Infant Minds," 

7 8 The Family Pat. 

from their ground. But this substitution of the new for 
the old in this department has not taken place. As to 
Jane Taylor's later writings, they still maintain their 
position, and are sought after and read with zest by 
some who are the grand-daughters of those whom, 
sixty years ago, she addressed as " My young readers." 
There is ground therefore for the belief that the many 
who still cherish Jane Taylor's memory with aftection, 
and who commend her writings to their children, will 
receive with favour a republication in a collected form 
of the more permanent portion of her works, headed 
by a memoir, which, although it has already appeared 
in print, is now enlarged by the addition of much new 
material hitherto unedited. 

In bringing forward this Memoir in its present form, 
and with its new materials, I find myself much less 
restrained than when addressing myself to my task, as 
my sister's biographer, some forty years ago. This 
difference of feeling results in part, as a natural con- 
sequence, from the habitude of appearing before the 
public as an author, dispelling, as it does, the shyness ^ 
and diffidence that attend the early years of a literary 
course. But more than this, the lapse of so many 
years has i)ut out of sight many of those motives of 
reserve which must be in force so long as the con- 
temporaries and the nearest connexions of the deceased 
may actually be the readers of a biography. The time 
that has gone by since my sister's death has reduced 



Memoir of Jane Taylor. 79 

the list of her surviving contemporaries to a very few 
names ; and of these few, perhaps not one will actually 
be a reader of what now is written. 

Not only therefore may more liberty be used on my 
part in describing and narrating the scenes and inci- 
dents of my sister's personal history, but a liberty of 
selection also from her correspondence and manuscripts 
may be allowable, which, at the first, was forbidden 
me on many grounds. 

Of this liberty, however, I shall not avail myself to 
an undue extent. It is a mistake often made by 
biographers to imagine that the ordinary incidents of 
an ordinary course of life acquire importance from their 
connexion with a name that has long stood in a favour- 
able light before the pubHc. This misjudgment has 
had an effect fatal to literary reputations, which have 
been submerged hopelessly under the weight of two, 
three, four, or more volumes. With only one volume 
on his head, the victim of the fond prejudice of a 
biographer might long have held himself afloat. 

8o The Family Pen. 


JANE Taylor's parentage and early years at 


The ordinary incidents of an ordinary lot may be 
worth the relating when they are of a kind that are 
characteristic of a gone-by era, and when they serve to 
give vividness to our conceptions of the doings and the 
fashions of such an era — a time seventy, eighty years 
ago, and of which few vivid recollections are extant. 
As to some brief statements of parentage and pedigree, 
they may properly be admitted in a Memoir, if it were 
only as authentic contradictions of the frequent mis- 
statements which find their way into biographical com- 
pilations. Writers who furnish hastily-written articles 
relating to the living, or to the recently deceased, ought 
surely to take more pains in ascertaining facts than 
appears to have been used in some such compilations. 

Along with a taste and a feeling peculiarly her own, 
Jane Taylor had her share of a constitutional energy 
and a power of achievement which had distinguished 
several of the seniors of the family, as well on the 
paternal as on the maternal side.* 

* Some sort of genealogical table, indicating the relationship of 
those who have in succession held in their hands the Family 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 8 1 

Isaac Taylor, the grandfather of Jane Taylor, was 
the son of William Taylor of Worcester. Early 
in the last century, this Isaac Taylor, first of four 
who in lineal succession have borne that name, came 
up to London from Worcester, while still a youth, fired 
with the ambition of distinguishing himself as an artist. 
In London he obtained instruction in the newly im- 
ported " mystery " of copper-plate engraving, as practised 
by those Italian and French artists whose names are 
familiar to the collectors of prints. He soon won for 
himself a reputable place among the English artists who 
were then labouring to naturalize the fine arts in this 
country, and who at length fully succeeded in doing so ; 
for they, and their sons and pupils, brought line engrav- 
ing to a pitch of excellence that may allow them to 

Pen, may perhaps serve to make the succeeding narrative more 

William Taylor, of Worcester. 

Isaac Taylor, Engraver. 

1 \ I 

Charles Taylor, Rev. Isaac Taylor, marriedANN Martin, Josiah 
Editor of " Calmet." author of " Scenes in author of the Taylor. 

Europe, &c. " " Family 

I Mansion." 

__ j J ^ ^ , 

Ann, joint au- Jane Isaac Taylor, Martin JefferysTay- Jemima, 
thor of " Ori- Taylor, author of "Na- Taylor, lor, author of married 

ginal Poems," joint tural History of 

married author of Enthusiasm." 

Rev. Joseph "Original 

Gilbert. Poems," &c. 

" Ralph" T. Her- 

Richards," bert, 

" Young Esq. 
Islanders," &c. 

Josiah Gilbert, Rev. Isaac Taylor, Helen Taylor, 
author of author of author of 

" The Dolomite "Words and Places." " Sabbath Bells." 

VOL, I. G 

82 The Family Pen. 

challenge comparison with the artists of Germany, Italy, 
or France. Isaac Taylor, then rising in his profession, 
married early in life, Sarah, daughter of Josiah Jefiferys, 
of Shenfeld, Essex, and of Jane Hawkshaw, his wife ; 
and it was at Shenfeld that the infant family was reared, 
while the father pursued his career in London. 

The three sons of this family were Charles, who 
Avon a deservedly high reputation as the learned Editor 
of Calmet's "Dictionary of the Bible;" Isaac, the 
father of Anne and Jane ; and Josiah, who became 
eminent as a publisher of architectural works, and who 
gave substantial evidence of unusual ability and energy 
by amassing a large fortune. Isaac, the second son, 
received a regular education as an engraver, and in fact 
at a very early period of his course he far surpassed his 
father in every artistic quality, and at length took a pro- 
minent position in the execution of that series of great 
artistic works of which the Boydells were the originators. 
Isaac Taylor's engravings after Opie, Northcote, Stothard, 
Smirke, and others, compare well with any works of the 
same order and period. 

A circumstance which had great influence in after 
years upon Jane's education, as well as upon that of the 
other members of the family, may here properly be 
mentioned ; remote as may seem its bearing upon the 
intellectual training of a girl in her teens. Between the 
years 1778 and 1785, "Chambers' Cyclopaedia" was 
sent to press for the sixth (or seventh) edition, in folio, 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 83 

and was copiously illustrated with engravings. Isaac 
Taylor, the elder, had been engaged to execute these 
plates ; which included scientific subjects of all kinds ; 
and his name accordingly appears at the corner of every 
plate in the series— more than two hundred in number. 
Isaac Taylor, his second son, the father of Jane Taylor, 
who was then in his apprenticeship, had already acquired 
much various information, as well as skill, in his pro- 
fession. To him, in fact, was committed the actual 
execution of these plates. The work was edited by 
Dr. Abraham Rees, who some years afterwards put 
forth an Encyclopgedia, in quarto, which bears his name. 
My father, as being in fact the artist responsible for the 
due execution of the plates, consequently came into 
almost daily communication with this accomplished and 
amiable man, who welcomed the young engraver to his 
study — gave him access to scientific books, and by many 
a gratuitous instruction, promoted his personal improve- 
ment. In this manner, and while executing his task with 
scrupulous care, and much ability, the engraver became 
— as he continued to be through life — much more than an 
artist: — he was a man of varied acquirements, and of ex- 
tensive acquaintedness with matters of science. When at 
a later period, he found himself the father of a numerous 
family, he set himself to work, with prodigious and never- 
wearied industry, to systematize his various knowledge, 
and, in many ingenious modes, to adapt it to the business 
of education. It was a rudimentary instruction, thus wide 

G 2 

84 The Family Pen. 

in its circuit, and well ordered in its forms, that Jane, 
with her brothers and sisters, received in their home 
education. But we now go back to the years of her 
infancy at Lavenham. 

Jane, the second daughter, was born September 23rd, 
1783, while her parents resided in London. From her 
birth, and during the first two years of her life, her 
constitution seemed so delicate, and her health so pre- 
carious, that it was scarcely expected she would survive 
the critical period of infancy. But happily, before she 
had completed her third year, her father removed with 
his family into the country, and from that period she 
appeared to take a new possession of life ; and soon 
acquired the bloom and vivacity of perfect health. 

In several instances, in the course of the ensuing 
narrative, I shall avail myself of passages occurring in 
my mother's papers, in which she refers to circumstances 
and events attaching to her daughter's early life. It is 
thus that she speaks ot her early experiences as a 
mother : — 

" On account of business, it had seemed advisable on 
the whole, that we should remove to London (from 
Islington), and, after having inhabited our little mansion 
only fifteen months, thither we removed to apartments 
in Red Lion Street, Holbom, at Midsummer, 1783; 
and on the 23rd September following, a little before 
midnight, was born our dear Jane — now no more.* 
* Written in 1825. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 85 

From the negligence of the attendants she caught cold 
at the moment of her birth, and this entailed a weakness 
on her constitution, from which she never recovered, 
and which was probably the remote cause of a prema- 
ture death. 

" And now, as a wife and a mother, I felt the duties 
of those important relations excite all my energies, and 
engross all my thoughts. What was, on the whole, the 
best regimen for my children, with all the pros and cons 
which I could muster from books or other sources, 
underwent the most laborious investigation. Our medi- 
cal attendant, however, judiciously hinted to me, that 
children might even be injured by over-much care, and 
cautioned me against trying a variety of experiments 
with them, as nature dictated the most simple process." 

The anxious mother sought advice from friends, of 
whom some were as forward to afford it, as she was 
ready to listen to it. These friendly admonitions ex- 
tended sometimes beyond what had been asked con- 
cerning the treatment of her infants — as thus : — 

" Here, again, I must acknowledge my obligation to 
the same friend who had interfered respecting the 
children's food. She was one of those who assume 
the privilege of administering reproof, and of speaking 
their sentiments upon all occasions, without respect of 
persons ; nor could she have selected an individual 
better adapted than myself, to bear with patience, and 
to profit, by the home-strokes which she was thus in the 

86 The Family Pen. 

habit of dealing about in all directions. ' Your hus- 
band,' said she, ' may have got a housekeeper, and a 
nurse for his children, but I am sure he has no com- 
panion ; it will be well, if in due time he does not grow 
tired of you. The affections of a man of taste cannot 
fix permanently on a mere plod, and you are certainly 
nothing better ! ' The homely truth darted into my 
mind, and carried conviction with the rapidity of a 
flash of lightning. Already my husband had begun to 
read to himself at breakfast and tea-time, and thus 
far social converse was at a stand. But what was to be 
done % I had not a moment's time to spare from those 
plodding duties with which I had been charged by my 
friend, for I could not afford, like her, to keep two 
servants. I viewed the matter in all its bearings, and 
saw the impending danger without any apparent means 
of averting it. At length — This will I do, thought I. 
I will propose to read to him at breakfast and tea-time, by 
which means I may at once revive my own dormant taste, 
cultivate a mind now rapidly degenerating to its former 
state of ignorance, divert myself from those harassing 
cares which beset me on every side ; and thus subjects 
may be brought before us, on which we can converse 
with mutual advantage. My proposal was cordially 
received, and the plan instantly adopted. But the 
children — what was to be done with the children ? For, 
alas ! there was no nursery ! Nothing at all was done 
with them. They quickly acquired the habit of sitting 

Me7noir of Jane Taylor. 87 

quietly during the time, without any apparent uneasiness 
from the restraint. Thus commenced a custom of more 
than forty years' duration, with very partial interrup- 
tions, and which may fairly be recorded as one of the 
important events of my life. It has rescued a mind 
from inanity, which was rapidly degenerating, and losing 
the few attainments it had acquired ; it has beguiled 
many a care, and diverted many a pain, even affording 
energy to weakness and languor, which, in most cases, 
would have been deemed insurmountable obstacles to 
such a custom. Besides this, must be taken into ac- 
count the incalculable benefit arising to the children of 
the family, from the volumes they have thus heard read, 
in addition to their own individual reading. It is 
scarcely conceivable at what an early age they thus 
obtained gleanings of knowledge, from subjects be- 
coming familiar to them, of which they must otherwise 
have remained ignorant till the regular process of edu- 
cation had directed attention to them. In a word, this 
custom has proved one of the prominent blessings of 
our lives." 

His engagements as an artist being such as allowed 
him to reside at a distance from London, Mr. Taylor 
gladly availed himself of this liberty to establish his 
family in a place where the same expenditure would 
procure a much larger amount of comfort than in 
London ; and where health, and all the best enjoyments 
of life, were much more likely to be secured. It was in 

88 The Family Pen. 

the summer of the year 1786 that the family removed 
to the village of Lavenham, in Sufifolk. Ann, the eldest 
child, was then in the fifth, and Jane in the third year 
of her age; and they were, therefore, able to enjoy, with 
their parents, the simple pleasures and extended com- 
forts of their new habitation. Accustomed as she had 
been to the narrow bounds and the many restraints . 
of a London house, Jane's spirits broke forth with 
unusual emotions of pleasure amid the ample space, 
and the agreeable objects that now surrounded her. 

My mother thus speaks of the removal to Laven- 
ham : — 

"And so after a toilsome and anxious journey, wan- 
dering about among strangers, hospitable and inhospit- 
able, from place to place ; my husband hired at length 
a house at Lavenham, in Suffolk, sixty miles from 
London: its owner, a clergyman, having just quitted it. 
It was a handsome dwelling, with a spacious garden, 
well stocked with fruit, and, owing to its retired situa- 
tion, and its distance from the high road, the rent was 
no more than ;^6 per annum; an advantageous dimi- 
nution from ;^2o, which we had paid in London. And 
while provisions were cheap in equal proportion, our 
superior wisdom above that of our friends was too 
demonstrable, not to strike us at the first glance." 

Jane's mother had felt in the keenest manner the 
separation from her family and her London friends : 
and she had resigned herself to this removal into the 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 89 

country as to a calamity inevitable. After speaking of 
the painful parting at the last, she says : — 

"On the same evening, Friday, June 30th, 1786, we 
arrived at our new habitation ; had I been told when 
living at home, that I should ever have taken up my 
abode in such a mansiou, and view it, not only with 
indifference, but with disgust, I should have discredited 
the prediction. But what can external objects effect in 
banishing the sorrows of the mind % It seemed an un- 
gracious return for my dear husband's exertion, in doing 
all that affection could suggest to welcome me to my 
new abode, and render it agreeable \ but against this 
sort of trial no consideration could ever render me 

Very soon after her removal to the country, Jane 
displayerd, not merely a healthy vivacity and child-like 
eagerness in the amusements provided for her by her 
parents, but an uncommon fertility of imagination in 
creating pleasures for herself. It was evident to those 
who observed her, that, even from her third or fourth 
year, the child inhabited a fairy land, and was per- 
petually occupied with the imaginary interests of her 
teeming fancy. " I can remember," says her sister, 
" that Jane was always the saucy, lively, entertaining 
little thing — the amusement and the favourite of all 
that knew her. At the baker's shop she used to be 
placed on the kneading-board, in order to recite, 
preach, narrate — to the great entertainment of his 

Qo The Family Pen. 

many visitors ; and at Mr. Blackadder's she was the 
life and fun of the farmer's hearth. Her plays, from 
the earhest that I can recollect, were deeply imaginative, 
and I think that in ' Moll and Bet,' ' The Miss Parks,' 
' The Miss Sisters,' ' The Miss Bandboxes,' and ' Aunt 
and Niece,' which I believe is the entire catalogue of 
them, she lived in a world wholly of her own creation, 
with as deep a feeling of reality as life itself could 
afford. These amusements lasted from the age of 
three or four, till ten or twelve. About the latter 
time her favourite employment in playtime was whip- 
ping a top, during the successful spinning of whicli 
she composed tales and dramas, some of which she 
aftenvards committed to paper. She would spend 
hours in this kind of reverie, in the large unfurnished 
parlour at our house at Lavenham. But I ' think I 
may say that the retiring character of her mind, a 
morbid sensibility towards things and persons without, 
as well as much refined feeling, operated to prevent a 
due estimate of her talents being formed, till much later 
in life. I need not tell you, that they were never 
made a show of to anybody. But timid as she ^^•as 
in and about herself, she had the courage of enterprise 
in the service of those she loved ; — she was, you know, 
the presenter of every petition for holidays and special 
favours, and the spirited foremost in every youthful 

This early activity of the imagination Jane afterwards 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 91 

lamented. " I do believe," she says, " that this habit 
of castle-binldmg is very injurious to the mind. I know 
I have sometimes lived so much in a castle, as almost 
to forget that I lived in a housed Had she continued 
in London, it is probable that, with the dim impressions 
of a sickly frame, and the sombre dulness of sur- 
rounding objects, the imagination would have con- 
tinued in its germ till it had been quickened by the 
feverish excitements of riper years. But there is a 
better hope for the character when this faculty expands 
during the innocence of infancy, and amid the fair 
scenes of nature ; for these first impressions pre- 
occupy the fancy, and give a lasting direction to the 

The house occupied by jNIr. Taylor at Lavenham, 
was situated in a street of detached dwellings, of a 
humbler class than itself, at the outskirts of the town. 
These cottages were inhabited chiefly by the poor who 
were employed in the woollen manufacture, which at 
that time still lingered in this neighbourhood, where it 
had formerly greatly flourished. The scene which this 
street exhibited on a summer's day, seventy years ago, 
is now hardly anyAvhere to be observed. The spinning- 
wheel was planted on the foot-way before every cottage 
door, and the females of each family wrought in groups, 
young and old together. Perhaps it ought not to be much 
regretted that industry has ceased to be picturesque ; 
and the pohtical economist will aver that not only 

92 The Family Pen. 

the organization of labour has vastly increased pro- 
duction, but that the necessaries, and even the luxuries 
of life, are far more abundantly accessible to those 
who spend their days in close ranks around the steam- 

The house at Lavenham was sufficiently spacious to 
aftbrd apartments in which the children might be left 
to their amusements without restraint. A pleasant, 
and rather extensive garden adjoined the house ; it 
was open towards the country, and a long and wide 
grass walk, traversing its whole length, was terminated 
at the upper end by an arbour, in the old fashioned 
style, and at the other by a ha-ha ; beyond which were 
pastures, a rugged common, and more distant corn- 
fields. In this garden the sisters were, at a very early 
age, companions in song; and they were wont, before 
the eldest was six years old, to pace up and down the 
green walks, hand in hand, lisping a simple couplet of 
their joint composition. 

My mother thus speaks of her methods of training in 
the earliest stages of education : — 

" By this time our two little girls, Ann and Jane, had 
attained that age when the work of education must 
commence ; a task, it must be confessed, in which we 
had more zeal than knowledge. What I had witnessed^ 
at home from the injudicious indulgence of my brothers! 
and sisters, determined me, if ever I became a mother,| 
to adopt a different plan, and made me resolve, on the 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 93 

other hand, that my children should never suffer under 
the oppression which had so afdicted my own childhood 
and youth. My husband, too, had been trained under 
the boasted system of ' a word and a blow, and the 
blow first ; ' so that we had not the advantages of 
example to assist us in our new and important under- 

"And here, if we might Idc allowed to claim any 
merit, the ardour, the zeal, and the affection with 
which we commenced our new duties to our infant 
charges may be mentioned. Their dear father found 
his utmost energies necessary for the support of his 
family ; nevertheless he as zealously entered into his 
department of their education as though it had been 
his sole employment. My own health was at this time 
considerably undermined ; and many unavoidable chasms 
ensued in my operations, in consequence of nearly 
annual confinements ; our first six children having been 
born in little more than seven years ; but neither these 
hindrances, nor indispensable household affairs, pre- 
vented me from devoting a large portion of my time 
to my darling object. I kept, when not confined to 
my chamber, regular school hours ; and when occupied 
in domestic affairs, my girls, whenever it was possible, 
have been at my side, and by the questions I encouraged 
them to ask, their minds were stored with such know- 
ledge as my yet scanty stock enabled me to dispense ; 
and that every fragment of time might be gathered up 


The Family Pen. 

Avith frugality, a hymn at least could be repeated during 
the time of dressing ; our evenings, while I plied my 
needle, were at once cheerfully and profitably spent. 
I say cheerfully^ for nature dictates that peace and 
tranquillity are alike indispensable to the well-being of 
body anol mind. I fear my conduct might be censured 
by some religious professors of the present day, from 
the fact that I rarely attended week-day services ; for 
how would the evenings have been spent during my 
absence % Alas ! as too many of them were spent, when 
I was unavoidably confined to my chamber. Should, 
however, this excuse not suflice, let the censorious 
reader know, that I was rarely to be seen at evening 
parties, and accepted, very reluctantly, those invitations 
which I could not with propriety refuse. And my 
children have since furnished me with anecdotes, more 
than sufficient to confirm my opinion, and justify my 
sentiments on those subjects, some of which shall be 
communicated in their proper place. 

"To the innocent amusements of the children we 
were particularly attentive ; not grudging the moderate 
cost of toys, and even manufacturing some for them 
ourselves : while an occasional afternoon was devoted 'j 
to a country excursion; and so far from these indul- 
gences proving injurious to the children, they certainly, 
from the first of our appearance at Lavenham, excited] 
quite as much interest in our new friends as could bel 
expected. They had the reputation of being the most! 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 95 

lively and intelligent little creatures that could possibly 
be, and our neighbours loved to amuse themselves with 
their engaging ways." 

From the time of their removal to Lavenham, Jane 
and her sister were indulged witli a small room, not 
used as a nursery, but given up to them as their ex- 
clusive domain, and furnished with all their little 
apparatus of amusement. And either abroad, or in 
this apartment, they learned to depend upon their 
own invention for their diversions ; for it was always 
a part of their parents' plan of education to afford to 
their children both space and materials for furnishing 
entertainment to themselves. And so much were they 
all accustomed to exercise invention, for filling up 
agreeably the hours of liberty, that I doubt if either 
their father or mother Avas ever applied to with the 
listless inquiry — What shall I play at? 

After a while, Mrs. Taylor became fully conscious of 
the inestimable advantage of a country home for her 
family ; and she thus gives expression to her feelings : — 

"When the first gloomy and anxious winter spent at 
Lavenham gave place to the return of spring — a season 
which was ever hailed by me with a joy not to be sup- 
pressed by London scenes or London bustle — I found 
myself still susceptible of the same delights. The cro- 
cuses and the snowdrops, and the tender bud, had a 
soothing influence — they tranquillized my feelings, and 
gradually abated my regret for the scenes I had left. 

g6 The Family Pen. 

Soon the garden displayed its varied charms, and 
appeared in all its splendour. I now began to wonder 
at my insensibility to all this rich profusion of delights, 
on our first arrival ; and while I did not cease to love 
my distant friends with unabated affection, I certainly 
did cease to wish myself among them so ardently as I 
had hitherto done. We saw with delight our children 
inhaling health with every breath. They had a spacious 
garden in which to gambol, without the necessity of 
sending them abroad with a servant, which, from my ex- 
treme dislike to the thing, invariably rendered me uncom- 
fortable during such excursions, while residing in London." 

Another extract from the same Memoirs gives evidence 
of maternal care which left nothing unthought of 

" We hear of those ' who have died of the doctor,' 
and we might hear, too, of others, whose mental energies 
have been paralysed, or at least endangered, by over- ■ 
much care : by being kept under such perpetual disci- ^ 
pline, that they have imperceptibly lost their native 
characters, and become anything but natural, and, by con- 
sequence, anything but pleasing. Now, as we advanced 
in our operations, we were, in some respects, perhaps, 
in danger of this error ; for where there is neither tyranny 
nor severity, it is nevertheless possible to be too inces- 
santly watchful over mere trifles, and matters of no 
consequence. In one instance I am sure we were 
decidedly mistaken. We permitted, in the article of 
food, neither likings nor dislikings, from the fear of 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 97 

indulging habits of daintiness. Now, during childhood 
— especially with children at all delicate, the stomach is 
most susceptible of these emotions; and not to regard 
them in moderation, is to inflict a degree of real suffering, 
of which we are most of us competent to form some 
idea from our present feelings. Children, during their 
meals, should be under as few restraints as is consistent 
with the decorum of a decent table. Nor should their 
motions, except during the hours of regular exercise, be 
under any particular restraint ; their own feelings will best 
direct them when to sit, or when to stand, to lie, or to run." 
Jane became, at this time, so much known among 
neighbours and friends as a most diverting little thing, 
that her company was courted, and herself flattered in 
a degree that would have injured the disposition of 
most children. I do not affirm that she was wholly 
unhurt by these attentions, but with all her spirit and 
vivacity, such was her timidity, that no feeling of vanity 
or obtrusiveness was apparently produced. She received 
the plaudits of her audiences at the baker's shop, Or in 
the farmer's parlour, much in the same way that she 
afterwards heard the expression of public favour : — both, 
might give a momentary stimulus to the exertion of her 
talent ; but neither the one nor the other impaired her 
native and habitual diffidence. Yet this early celebrity 
did not fail to excite the watchful fears of her parents ; 
and so far as it was possible to prevent it, Jane was 
restrained from thus furnishing amusement to the neigh- 

VOL. I. H 

g8 The Family Petu 

bourhood, at so great a hazard to her simpUcitj\ But, 
as one of a fast-increasing family, she was unavoidably 
left at times under the care of servants, who were 
gratified at having so much talent to exhibit. 

At what age precisely Jane began to write verses and 
tales, I have not been able to ascertain. But some 
pieces have been preserved which, there is reason to 
believe, were written in her eighth year. Even a year or 
two earlier it is remembered, that she had furnished her 
memory with histories, which she used to recite with 
such variations as the inspiration of the moment might 
suggest. And though, of course, no idea of the kind 
had ever been given her by her parents (and no other 
persons had access to her who would have thought of 
such a thing), yet it seems that, as soon as she began to 
write at all, she cherished the ambition of writing a 
book. Most of her childish scribblings have the fonn of 
something prepared for the public : I have before me, of 
this early date, prefaces, title pages, introductions, and 
dedications : among these the following is so character- ij 
istic that I shall venture to produce it. It appears to 
have been written when she was nine years of age. 


" To be a poetess I don't aspire ; 
From such a title humbly I retire ; 
But now and then a line I try to write ; 
Though bad they are — not worthy human sight. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 99 

" Sometimes into my hand I take a pen, 
Without the hope of aught but mere chagrin 
I scribble, then leave off in sad despair, 
And make a blot in spite of all my care. 

'■' I laugh and talk, and preach a sermon well ; 

Go about begging, and your fortune tell : 
~ As to my poetry, indeed 'tis all 

As good, and worse by far, than none at all. 

" Have patience yet I pray, peruse my book ; 
Although you smile when on it you do look : 
I know that in't there's many a shocking failure 
But that forgive — the author is Jane Taylor." 

It was perhaps a year later that she addressed to her 
father the following 


Ah dear papa ! did you but know 

The trouble of your Jane, 
I'm sure you would relieve me now, 

And ease me of my pain. 

Although your garden is but small, 
And more indeed you crave, — 

There's one small bit, not used at all. 
And this I wish to have. 

A pretty garden I would make, 

That you would like I know ; 
Then pray, papa, for pity's sake, 

This bit of ground bestow. 

H 2 

The Family Pen. 

For whether now I plant or sow, 

The chickens eat it all ; 
I'd fain my sorrows let you know, 

But for the tears that fall. 

My garden then should be your lot 
I've often heard you say, 

There useful trees you wish to put, 
But mine were in the way. 

But, for the most part, Jane confided her productions 
to no one except her sister ; and the extent to which she 
indulged the propensity to write, at this early age, was 
unknown to her parents. Indeed, the habit of scribbling 
was purely spontaneous ; nor was it cherished by any 
encouragement from her father or mother. The whole 
intention of their plan of education, was to fit their 
children for the discharge of the ordinary duties of life ; 
and to elicit or to display talent was far from being 
their ambition. A home education was early determined 
upon, and systematically pursued through a course of 
years. Jane and her sister spent a part of every day 
with their father, receiving from him the rudiments of 
that education, of the nature of which I shall have 
occasion hereafter to speak ; and they daily spent many 
hours with their mother, who, from the first, made her 
daughters her companions, treating them, and conversing 
with them, as reasonable beings. They were accustomed 
to attend and to assist her in every domestic duty, learn- 

Memoir of Jane Taylor . loi 

ing at once the reason and the practice of all that was to 
be done. In the afternoon and evening, while employed 
by their mother's side, subjects of all kinds, within the 
range of their comprehension, were discussed. These 
conversations were at intervals relieved by singing hymns 
— a practice which tends, insensibly, to blend all the 
best and happiest emotions of the infant heart with 
the language of piety. 

It was especially the practice of their mother, in her 
treatment of her children, to avoid everything like 
manceuvrmg, or mystery, as well as all unnecessary con- 
cealment of the reasons of her conduct towards them. 
She confided in them as friends ; and at the earliest 
time at which such ideas could enter their minds, they 
were acquainted with their father's affairs ; so far at 
least, as was necessary to qualify them to sympathize in 
every care, and to induce them to adapt their own 
feelings and expectations to their parent's means. This 
plan, moreover, preserved them, as far as children can 
be preserved, from the temptation to practise those petty 
artifices which debase the mind, and benumb the con- 

As it formed a material part of Jane's intellectual 
education, I may here mention again the custom adopted 
by her mother, a year or two before the time of which 
I am speaking — that of reading aloud at every meal. 
Her hearing being so far defective as to prevent her 
from freely taking part in conversation, she had recourse 

102 The Family Pen. 

to a book, in order that the social hours might not be 
seasons of silence. By constant use she acquired the 
habit of taking her food with little interruption to the 
reading ; and only on occasions of extreme ill-health 
was the custom wholly suspended. This practice was 
a solace and a delight to herself, and in some degree 
enabled her to forget her misfortune in being shut out 
from free intercourse with her family ; while to them 
it proved, directly and indirectly, highly beneficial, 
especially in preventing unprofitable conversation, in 
cherishing intellectual tastes, and in imparting, without 
labour, or cost of time, a great mass of information, — 
the choice of books always being made with a view to 
the pleasure and advantage of the younger members of 
the family. 

Since the time of which I am speaking — about seventy 
years ago — a great change has come in upon those 
tastes and modes of feeling which regulate the literary 
habits of well-ordered families. It is, no doubt, a 
change on the whole for the better ; but not so in every 
sense : a far higher tone, and a more fastidious style 
prevails now than then ; and it is certain that the range 
of books at that time accounted readable aloud in a 
family, included many, the very titles of which have 
barely been heard in my own family. We could not 
noiv listen, around the breakfast table, to certain works 
of fiction, the hearing of which then inflicted upon us, 
as I think, very little moral injury. Passages passed 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 103 

over the ear, little heeded, and therefore with little ill 
consequence, the offensiveness of which would now 
startle and disgust the family party. Certain it is that 
this liberty, or licence, had the effect of giving to the 
young persons of my father's family, a breadth of ac- 
quaintance with standard English literature, which the 
young persons of my own family have not had the 
opportunity to acquire. 

Speaking of the family usage of reading aloud at 
meals, my mother, after giving an account of the long 
and dangerous illness of her husband, says — 

" And now the old custom of reading was resumed, 
which, while it enlivened the monotony of a still pro- 
tracted confinement, and cheered his languid spirits, 
produced a similar effect on my own, harassed and 
worn out as they had been by excessive fatigue, anxiety, 
and sorrow. Indeed, it would hardly be credited how 
very partially this salutary custom has been interrupted 
during all our multifarious trials and exercises ; and how 
the constant pressure of them on the mind has been 
mitigated by the return, every few hours, of this innocent 
and instructive relaxation." 

No part of Jane's character was more prominent and 
distinguishing than her susceptibility to feelings of 
tender, generous, and constant friendship ; this disposi- 
tion displayed itself as early as her propensity to write ; 
and seemed, indeed, to awaken her talent. 

Her affection for her sister was of the liveliest kind ; 

I04 The Family Pen. 

but besides this intimacy, she early found a companion, 
who became the object of a more than child-Hke regard. 
Ann and Jane "Watkinson were respectively about the 
same ages as Ann and Jane Taylor : their parents were 
distinguished in their circle, by good sense, superior 
education, and excellence of character. Their large 
family, of which Ann and Jane were the youngest 
members, was remarkably well ordered and intelligent. 
The four girls, with the full acquiescence of their parents, 
became very constant companions ; and continued to 
be so, till the removal of this family from Lavenham to 

My sister always thought herself peculiarly happy in 
her friendships, and this early intimacy, though it was 
so soon to be dissolved, prepared her for the enjoyment 
of some that were more lasting, as well as more im- 
portant, in after-life. 

It was with a much more lively sorrow than most 
children of ten years old would have felt on such an 
occasion, that Jane parted for ever with her friend 
Jane. Mr. Watkinson, though a man of grave man- 
ners, settled habits, and remarkable sobriety of judg- 
ment, and though bound to his country, if not by 
other feelings, at least by extensive connexions, and 
large mercantile concerns, broke away from all to 
establish himself with his family in New England. 
And in this instance, the voluntary banishment proved 
more fortunate than many that took place at the same 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 105 

time. An occasional correspondence was continued 
between my sisters and their young friends for upwards 
of twenty years. I will here introduce a monument 
of Jane's warm attachment to her first friends, written 
in her eleventh year : — it breathes the spirit that 
always distinguished her. 



Alas ! it must be, 

My ever dear Jane, 
You must part with me : 

We must not meet again. 

Accept then, my dear, 

These verses from me ; 
Although I do fear 

Far too mean they be. 

I love you, believe. 

My Jane and my friend ! 

How much should I grieve 
If our friendship should end. 

But this cannot be. 

Believe me sincere, 
Though th' Atlantic sea 

Should part us, my dear. 

Remember your Jane, 

When alone in the grove ; 

Forget not her name, — 
She will ever you love. 

io6 The Fatnily Pe?i. 

You soon sure will find 

A friend that is new : 
Don't push Jane behind, 

But remember her too. 

Adieu then, my friend ; 

The thought gives me pain ; 
My love shall not end ; 

So remember your Jane. 

In the winter of the year 1792, the comfort of the 
family and the education of the children were, for a 
long time, interrupted by the dangerous illness of their 
father, which has already been alluded to. Throughout 
this season of affliction, their mother's thoughts and 
cares were almost entirely confined to the chamber of 
sickness. During many weeks, her husband's recovery 
seemed to herself, and to his medical attendants, very 
improbable ; and long after the immediate danger had 
passed away, he still required the incessant attention 
of his anxious wife, who never willingly left him for an 
instant to the care of hirelings. In these months of 
sorrow and fear, the children, now five in number, 
were therefore unavoidably abandoned to the neglects 
and the improper treatment of servants. And not 
only was the course of their education interrupted, 
but their mother was tortured by knowing that their 
minds and manners were exposed to those evil in- 
fluences from which, hitherto, her vigilance had, in so 
great a degree, preserved them. Nevertheless, she had 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 107 

then, as she ever had, this comforting reflection, that 
it was not by their mother's fondness for dissipating 
pleasures that her children were ever exposed for a day, 
nor for an hour, to society that might be prejudicial 
to them. 

Soon after Mr. Taylor's recovery from this illness, 
being obliged to leave the abode he had hitherto 
rented, he purchased, and nearly rebuilt, an adjoining 
house. In this new dwelhng, family order and com- 
fort were soon restored. The house was commodious, 
and the garden promised to become all that could 
be wished ; and being in part newly retrieved from 
the waste, it afforded the pleasures of formation and 
improvement. The storm of affliction having passed 
away, a fair sky seemed to smile upon the distant 
future. But this agreeable prospect was soon wholly 
changed, and a sphere of new duties was opened, by 
the indications of Divine Providence, to my father's 
Christian zeal. The particular circumstances which 
led to this change belong not to my subject ; — they 
were, however, such as made him think it his duty to 
abandon the comforts with which he had just sur- 
rounded himself, and to comply with the wishes of a 
dissenting congregation at Colchester, to become their 
; minister. Early in the year 1796, he removed to that 
' town with his family, and assumed the pastoral care of 
the society assembling at the chapel in Bucklersbury 

ro8 The Family Pen. 

The ten years of the abode of the family at 
Lavenham — from 1786 to 1796 — the years of Jane's 
infancy and childhood, included the outburst of that 
volcano — the thunder and the heavings of which have 
not even yet ceased to trouble the nations. It may 
be thought that events of such magnitude as those of 
the French Revolution could scarcely have any bearing 
whatever upon the training of a family, remote from 
all concernment with public affairs. But it was other- 
wise in fact : — in more modes than one the " mighty 
thunderings, and the voices as of many waters " of 
that time, deeply affected the domestic life, and gave 
a character, never to be effaced, to those among us 
whose feelings and imagination were the most alive. 
My mother's readings included the weekly newspaper, 
and so it was that each narrative of horrors — piece by 
piece — fell upon the excited minds of the children, 
some of whom were gifted with the unenviable faculty 
of giving reality to dark and sanguinary recitals. The 
reign of terror painted itself — bit by bit — upon the 
fancy of some of us. I shall not forget the terrible 
impression made upon my own mind by hearing the 
news of the death of the French king. It was a 
dismal winter's afternoon, as I perfectly remember, 
when a neighbour suddenly broke in upon our games 
with the exclamation — " They have cut off the king's 
head ! " Then followed narratives in long continuity, 
which, listened to weekly, from year to year, did not 

Memoir of Jane Taylor, 109 

fail to shed a gloom even upon the thoughtlessness of 

But this was not all ; — the French Revolution was 
near to repeating itself in England: — the spirit it 
roused troubled the social system even in the most 
obscure towns and villages. Men, quiet neighbours 
heretofore, then met in the streets as deadly enemies. 
Treason — almost tampered with on the one side, and 
hotly imputed on the other side — gave an intensity to 
party feelings which had never before, and has never 
since, affected the community, even in the gloomiest 
days of national discontent. 

Mr. Taylor was no political agitator ; he had his 
opinions, but he kept them much to himself: — he was 
a man of r-eace ; — my mother had always been, and 
was, decidedly conservative ; nor could any imputation 
be more unjust than that of classing her with "demo- 
crats," and the disloyal ; but my father had become a 
leading man among the frequenters of the Meeting 
House at Lavenham, and he was an object, therefore, 
of party virulence, with his " Church and King " neigh- 
bours. There had been riots in many places ; and 
the Lavenham mob, well understanding the temper 
and inclinations of their superiors — the clergy and 
gentry — coveted a share in these forays upon the 
" Meetingers." I remember an afternoon when a 
neighbour, wishing us well, came in breathless, to give 
us the warning that a furious mob, with flags flying and 

no TJie Family Pen. 

drums beating, was then filling the market-place, and 
liad \o\ved that they would burn Mr. Taylor's house 
over his head : he had lately removed to the house 
lie had purchased and fitted ujj, as mentioned above 
— the house he had at first occupied, at the distance 
of an intervening garden, being then the residence of 
Mr. Cook, the rector of the parish — a staunch parson, 
after the fashion of those good old times. 

The affrighted children of the family had taken 
position at a side window ; — and I recollect — never 
to forget it — seeing the van of the mob, brandishing 
pitchforks and mattocks, making its appearance at 
the head of the street. At that time Dissenters had 
nothing to hope from justices of the peace, or their 
underlings. Yet at this moment deliverance came : 
as the mob advanced along the street, Mr. Cook, a 
l^ortly wig-bearing clergyman, came forth upon the 
door-steps, lifted his hand, summoned to him the 
leaders of these his loyal friends, and addressed to 
them a few words which we did not hear ; but the 
meaning of which we divined from the effect which 
ensued — for the mob retired, and Mr. Taylor and his 
family breathed again, and that night they rested quietly 
upon their beds once more. 

The next morning my father, in his simplicity, thought 
it incumbent upon him to present himself at the door 
of his benefactor — there to offer an expression of his 
heartfelt gratitude for the intervention on his behalf. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor: iii 

He did so ; but in uttering what he had intended to say, 
was cut short by the stately rector in this fashion. — 

" Well, Mr. Taylor, you may spare your thanks ; 
for, to tell you the truth, Mrs. Cook's sister is at this 
time very ill : — we fear dangerously ill ; and we thought 
that so much noise and confusion as would have ensued, 
if the people had effected their purpose, so near to us, 
might have been very prejudicial to her in her weak 

This was doing the part of a neighbour and of a 
Christian minister — gracefully! but such were those 
times ! 

The Family Fen. 



Jane was in her thirteenth year at the time of the 
removal of the family to Colcliester. Changes in 
scene and circumstance are, to minds so much alive, 
as was hers, to the full force of every impression, the 
occasions of important and permanent changes in the 
character ; and therefore they are worthy of a passing 
notice in its history. Colchester was then the station 
of a large body of troops, and the utmost activity 
prevailed throughout the town ; and its broad High 
Street was a perpetual scene of gay and busy move- 
ment. The many interesting antiquities, also, and the 
agreeable country by which the town is surrounded 
— agreeable, as compared with the country around 
Lavenham — were sources of new pleasures. The 
house occupied by my father during his stay at Col- 
chester, though situated near the centre of the town, 
had a garden attached to it, which, under his care, 
soon became, in some degree, agreeable ; and was so 
much so to Jane, that it is frequently alluded to in 
her letters, as the scene of her happiest hours. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 113 

The course of his children's instruction was resumed 
by my father soon after his settlement at Colchester. 
Our parents were agreed in their preference of a home 
education, at least for their daughters, who, with the 
exception of a few lessons in the lighter accomplish- 
ments, received from their father their entire instruction ; 
his engagements being such as allowed him to super- 
intend their learning without inconvenience ; and they 
have ever thought themselves indebted to him for solid 
advantages, which greatly overbalanced the value of 
any light accomplishments which they might more 
readily have gained at school. It may be permitted 
to me here to say that my father's methods of teaching 
were peculiarly happy in being at once lucid, com- 
prehensive, and facile to the learner. He aimed less 
to impart those shreds of information, which serve for 
little except to deck out ignorance with the show of 
knowledge, than to expand the mind by a general 
acquaintance with all the more important objects of 
science : so that, in whatever direction in after life 
his children might pursue their studies, they might 
find the difficulties attending the first steps on unknown 
ground already overcome. It was also in his view a 
principal object of education, to prevent the formation 
of a narrow and exclusive taste for particular pursuits, 
by exciting very early a lively interest in subjects 
of every kind. The influence of this comprehensive 
system on Jane's tastes was very apparent in after 

VOL. I. I 

114 "^^^ Family Fe?i. 

life.* For though, by the conformation of her mind, 
she mostly frequented the regions of imagination and 
of moral -sentiment, she always retained so genuine a 
taste for pursuits of an opposite nature, as at once to 
impart the spirit of liberality to her mind, and to 
become the source of richness and variety in her 
writings. The result to herself of the kind of edu- 
cation she received, she has well expressed when, in 
describing a true taste, she says that — "while it will 
stoop to inspect and admire the most minute and 
laborious operations of industry, and while it feels an 
interest and sympathy in every branch of knowledge, 
it returns with a natural bias towards that which is 
most comprehensive in science, most intellectual in art, 
and most sublime in nature." 

In the new circle of friends to which the family 
was introduced at Colchester, there were some persons 
of superior education and intelligence ; and among the 
many young people with whom my sisters presently 
became acquainted, Jane soon found a friend, with 
whom, until death intervened, she maintained an affec- 
tionate intimacy. Peculiarly formed for friendship, she 
was happy in her friends — except that several, most dear 
to her, were torn from her by their early death : such was 
the case in the present instance. Jane's new friend was 

* Her opinions on this subject she has given in several of the 
papers in the Cotttribntions of QQ, especially in that "on a Liberal 

Memoir of Jajie Taylor. 115 

the youngest of the daughters of a physician esteemed 
for the excellence of his private character, as well as for 
his professional ability. He died about the time of 
which I am speaking, leaving a widow, four daughters, 
and a son. The intercourse of this family with ours, 
during several years, was so intimate and frequent, as to 
claim to be mentioned in this memoir, especially as they 
are frequently referred to in the correspondence. 

The eldest of these young ladies was distinguished, in 
an eminent degree, by intelligence and sweetness of 
disposition, as well as loveliness of manners and of 
person. Her chief charm was a blended dignity and 
gentleness. Not long after the commencement of my 
sister's intimacy with this family, she exhibited symp- 
toms of the malady of which, in the course of a few 
years, herself and her three sisters were the victims ; and 
she died, after spending two or three years in frequent, 
but hopeless, changes of scene among her friends. The 
second daughter, though less lovely in person, and less 
gentle in disposition than her elder sister, endeared her 
self to her friends by the affectionate warmth and can- 
dour of her disposition. The progress of her fatal 
illness was more rapid than in the case of her sister : 
she had died at a distance from home in the preceding 
year, and her youngest sister was soon laid in the same 
grave. Jane's friend was little inferior either in intelli- 
gence or in loveliness to the eldest of the four sisters. 
Many of the letters that passed between her and Jane 
I 2 

1 16 The Family Pen. 

are before me, and although there is not a little of girlish 
romance in them, they aflford abundant proofs of great 
energy of character on the one part, and of much warmth 
and tenderness of feeling, and originality of thought on 
the other. 

This young lady quickly followed her three sisters to the 
grave. She had been sent, more than once, to the West 
of England, and died, on her way thither, at Basingstoke, 
December 12, 1806. Her death, under the peculiar 
circumstances which attended it, made a deep impression 
upon the mind of her friend ; and is, indeed, so fraught 
with instruction, that it may claim a page in this 

The mild and gentle spirit of their mother did not 
supply to these young women the loss they had sus- 
tained in the death of their father. They soon learned 
to pay less deference than might have been desired to 
her wishes and opinions ; and finding herself unable, by 
gentle measures, to control the high spirits of her 
daughters, she left them, with a faint show of opposition, 
to follow their own tastes. Her inefficient influence 
seemed rather to accelerate, than retard, their abandon- 
ment of all the principles — or "prejudices," as they were 
fondly called — of their education. And so eager were 
they to think for themselves, that a very short time 
sufficed to confirm them in the contempt of every prin- 
ciple which they had received from their parents. This 
tendency of their minds to discard whatever they had 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 117 

been taught in matters of belief, was unhappily aggra- 
vated by their witnessing a general laxity of manners, 
and some flagrant scandals among the religionists, whose 
creed had already become the object of their scorn. 
Such offences are sure to produce the utmost mischief in 
the minds of young persons whose education, while it 
has elevated their notions of the requirements of the 
Christian life, has failed to bring their hearts under the 
influence of the true motives of Christian action. 

In addition to such unfavourable circumstances on the 
one side, these young ladies were exposed, on the other, 
to the most seductive influences, from connexions which 
they had lately formed at a distance from home. Many 
of their new friends were persons at once intelligent, 
refined in manners, amiable in temper, and perfectly 
versed in all the specious glozings of Unitarianism. And 
Unitarianism was then much more specious than it has 
since become. For, within the intervening period, the 
course of controversy has deprived its professors of an 
advantage — so important to the success of infidel in- 
sinuations — that of having themselves no system of prin- 
ciples to defend. 

In the society of persons of this class these intelligent 
young women quickly imbibed the spirit, and learned 
the language of almost universal disbelief; and whatever 
might have been their early devotional feelings, they 
became confessedly irreligious in their tastes and habits. 
This change was but little obvious in the placid temper 

ii8 The Family Fen. 

of the eldest daughter. She was, indeed, fascinated 
with the showy simpUcity of this masked Deism, and 
perplexed by its sophistries ; hut she thought and felt 
too much to be ever perfectly satisfied with the opinions 
she had adopted ; her mind had rather been entangled 
than convinced. During her fatal illness she seemed 
anxious to retrace her steps ; and in the last days of her 
hfe she earnestly recommended her sisters to addict 
themselves with greater seriousness and humility to the 
reading of the Scriptures ; and she died, imploring, with 
mournful indecision, to be " saved in God's own way." 

Jane's friend was not at all less forward than her 
sisters in renouncing what she termed " the errors of her 
education ; " she was even more determined and dog- 
matical than some of them in her new profession of 
belief. This difference of opinion, along with other cir- 
cumstances, had lessened the intimacy between the two 
girls ; they maintained, however, to the last, a friendly 
correspondence ; though the subject of religion was, by 
Jane's desire, banished from their letters. 

After many changes of residence, this young lady once 
more left Colchester, accompanied by her mother, on her 
way to Devonshire ; but she was compelled to take up 
her last abode at an inn on the road ; where she lingered 
more than three months. The disappointment of her 
earnest wish to reach Exeter, awakened her to the know- 
ledge of her immediate danger; and this apprehension 
was soon succeeded by the terrors of an affrighted 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. up 

conscience. The conviction of "being an offender against 
the Divine law, and exposed, without shelter, to its 
penalties, took such possession of her spirit that, for a 
length of time, she rejected all consolation, and endured 
an agony of fear, in expectation of dying without hope 
or part in Christ. At length, however, her mind ad- 
mitted joyfully the " only hope set before us ; " and she 
exphcitly renounced the illusions by which she had been 
betrayed — declaring them to be utterly insufficient to 
satisfy the soul, in the speedy prospect of standing 
before the bar of the Supreme Judge. She lived long 
enough to display many of the effects of this happy 
change : the whole temper of her mind seemed altered : 
she became patient, thankful, affectionate, and humble ; 
and triumphed in the profession of her faith. " My 
hope," she said, " is in Christ — in Christ crucified — and 
I would not give up that hope, for all the world." 

I now revert to the time of my sister's first acquaint- 
ance with these young ladies. The close intimacy and 
very frequent intercourse between the two families very 
greatly promoted the mental improvement of all parties ; 
for there were advantages of different kinds possessed by 
each, which very fairly balanced the mutual benefit. 
About this time — that is, when Jane was in her fifteenth 
year, the six friends, in conjunction with two or three 
other young persons, formed themselves into a society 
for reading original essays, and for the promotion of 
intellectual improvement. Jane's diffidence as to her 

I20 The Family Fen. 

own powers, her peculiar dread of competition^ as well as 
the fact of being herself almost the youngest member 
of the society, prevented her from assuming any very 
prominent place in these exercises ; but she filled her 
part well ; and some of her compositions, which were 
read at the meetings of the society, give indication of 
that originality of thought, that sprightliness and sim- 
plicity of style, and that soundness of sentiment which 
have since distinguished her writings. But Jane was at 
that time, and indeed long afterwards, afraid to believe 
that she had any talent ; and it is certain that a belief of 
the possession is necessary to the full exercise of intel- 
lectual endowments. Nevertheless, the part she took in 
this society very evidently ripened her powers of think- 
ing, and accustomed her to control the excursions of her 
fancy. From this time onward, what she wrote was more 
often in the form of didactic essays, than in that of tales 
and romances. To what extent she continued to write 
verses does not appear, a few pieces only of this date 
have been preserved ; but as they possess neither the 
interest that belongs to the very early exhibitions of talent, 
nor the intrinsic excellence of niaturer productions, I do 
not obtrude them on the reader. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 



Every means of habitual instruction, and ot occasional 
admonition, were employed by our parents to influence 
the hearts of their children with the motives of Christian 
principle ; and there is reason to believe that Jane 
very early received strong impressions of this kind. But 
being reserved and timid by disposition, and peculiarly 
distrustful of herself, little was known of the state of her 
religious feelings. Her imagination, susceptible as it was 
in the highest degree to impressions of fear, rendered 
her liable at times to those deep and painful emotions 
which belong to a conscience that has been aroused, 
but not fully pacified ; and these feelings, when blended 
with the pensiveness of her tender heart, gave, for many 
years, a tone of mournfulness and distress to her inward 
spiritual life. Religious principles, if thus clouded by 
gloom, must always be less influential than when the 
mind is in a happier state ; for the heart cannot be 
favourably ruled by fear : yet they were not destitute 

122 The Family Pen. 

of influence upon her conduct ; and I find, dated in 
her fourteenth year, records of pious resolutions, and 
emphatic expressions of the sense she had of the 
supreme importance of the objects of Christian faith. 
Some unfinished verses, written about this time, were 
evidently composed under the influence of feelings too 
strong to allow of the free play of her poetic talent, — 
they are interesting as records of deep and earnest reli- 
gious experiences, but are too rude for publication. 

A religious training, meeting with feelmgs so highly 
excitable, and where, at the same time, a young person 
is exposed to many seductive influences, is likely to 
produce frequent and painful conflicts between opposing 
principles, before that settled calm is obtained which 
makes religion the source of all that is joyous as well as 
of all that is excellent in the character. Such was, for 
a length of time, the state of my sister's mind ; but I 
believe that though often perplexed and distressed by 
seeming difficulties, her conviction of the truth of 
revealed religion was never materially shaken ; and her 
habitual belief was full and firm : and in the latter years 
of her life, I think it was never disturbed. Every word 
on the subject of religion, which is contained either in 
her letters to her friends, or in her published writings, 
is manifestly the expression of an unfeigned faith. 

In a letter to a friend, she says, " Our early friendships, 
though they must ever be remembered with interest and 
fond affection, were little adapted to promote our truest 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 123 

welfare ; though to them, indeed, we are indebted for 
many benefits of a less valuable nature." 

With her parents, the only choice at this time was, 
either to seclude their children from all society, or to 
allow them such as was within their reach, though not 
altogether, of the "kind they could have wished." The 
first alternative was hardly practicable ; and in admitting 
the latter, many advantages of a secondary kind were 
attained. But the effect upon the minds of young 
persons, of frequenting the society of those in whose 
conversation and manners religious principle or feeling 
does not appear, will almost inevitably be to render 
what they know of religion the source of uneasiness, 
and of fruitless conflicts between conscience and inclina- 
tion : and if, at the same time, much of hollow religionism 
is witnessed by them, the probable result will be either 
immoveable indifference, or confirmed infidelity. Happily 
neither of these effects was produced upon the mind of 
my sister ; but, on the other hand, her religious peace and 
comfort was for a long period more or less destroyed by 
habits of feeling then formed. 

That religion was from the first the subject of her 
habitual regard, will appear by the following passages 
from letters of early date : — 

" Oh, it is hard fighting in our own strength against 
the evil bias of the heart, and internal enemies. Their 
united forces are, I am daily more convinced, far too 
much for anything but Grace to overcome. No good 

1 24 The Fa7nUy Pen. 

resolutions, no efforts of reason, no desire to please, can 
alone succeed : — they may varnish the character ; but 

! how insufficient are such motives for the trying occa- 
sions of common life. I would shine most at home ; yet 

1 would not be good for the sake of shining, but for its 
own sake : and when thus I trace the subject to first 
principles, I find a change of heart can alone effect what 
I desire ; that ' new heart and right spirit ' which is the 
gift of God." 

To the same friend, soon after, she writes : — 
" I am grieved, my dear E., to hear from you so melan- 
choly an account of the state of your mind. I wish I 
were a more able counsellor; or rather, I wish you 
would overcome your feelings, and apply to those whose 
consolations and advice might be useful to you. I can 
sincerely sympathise with you in all your griefs. T rejoice 
in having obtained your confidence ; and I cannot make 
a better use of it than to urge you to seek some abler 
adviser. I speak from experience when I say how much 
benefit you might derive from an open communication 
of your feelings to your dear mother. Well do I know 
how difliicult it is ; yet the good to be gained is worthy 
the effort. You say she is so total a stranger to your 
feelings, that she even supposes you to be an enemy to 
religious principles. If then you consider the pleasure 
it would afford her to find you seriously inquiring on 
such subjects, I think you will feel this to be an addi- 
tional argument for the disclosure. Two or three years 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 125 

ago, my mind was in a state of extreme depression : for 
months I had been conflicting with the most distressing 
fears, and longing to disburden myself to my father : at 
last I could no longer support myself, and breaking 
through what I had thought insurmountable difficulties, 
I opened my mind to him completely. It was a struggle ; 
but the immediate relief I experienced fully repaid me \ 
and the unspeakable benefit I have derived from the 
conversations I have since from time to time held with 
him encourages me to persevere. Mr. Cecil was very 
urgent with me not to give way to that unhappy reluct- 
ance to converse on religious subjects, so common to 
young persons : he says we do not know how much we 
are our own enemies by this reserve. If I understand 
you aright, you are giving way to discontent as to your 
outward circumstances. 'The heart knoweth its own 
bitterness,' and it is not for me to say you are happy ; 
yet from all I know of you — your friends^ circumstances^ 
and prospects, you are one of the last persons whose 
situation would excite my commiseration. When I feel 
disposed to indulge discontent or fretfulness, which, alas ! 
is sometimes the case, I always find it a good way to 
compare myself with the thousands of my fellow-creatures 
who are exposed to the miseries of poverty and want, — 
miseries which I never knew, and in the absence of 
which, I invent calamities, which the smallest exposure 
to those real ones would presently put to flight. But 
these reflections, consolatory as they may be, will not 

126 The Family Pen. 

always avail to restore our comfort. Discontent, no 
doubt, much often er springs from internal causes, than 
immediately from those that are external : with affection- 
ate friends, affluent circumstances, and while in the pos- 
session of all the world calls good, one may be very 
miserable. Happiness is very much in our own power ; 
for it depends much more upon what we are, than upon 
what we have. But now I cannot help laughing at my- 
self; for at this instant, while recommending contented- 
ness to you, I am indulging an internal murmur, and 
vexing at what I ought to account a trifle, — so much 
easier is it to talk, or to write, than to act ! " 

The tendency of the education bestowed upon his 
children by their father was, as I have already said, to 
give them a taste for every branch of knowledge that can 
well be made the subject of early instruction. This 
general taste was greatly promoted among them about 
this time — that is, when Jane was in her sixteenth year, 
by his delivering to a number of young persons, who 
were in part his pupils, a course of scientific lectures, 
which were attended by many of their friends. These 
lectures were rendered interesting by numerous graphic 
illustrations of every subject ; and in the preparation of 
these diagrams, my father was assisted by his children, 
who were thus familiarized in the readiest way with the 
topics of each lecture. Though Jane's peculiar taste was 
of a different order, she entered with the fullest zest into 
these pursuits ; and ever retained a relish for matters of 

Memoir of [ane Taylor. 127 

science. Especially into the less technical and more 
popular departments of astronomical science, she entered 
with a genuine zest. Her eye was never indifferent to 
the revelations of night ; she describes her own feelings 
in the lines — 

" I used to roam and revel 'mid the stars : * * * 
When in my attic, with untold delight, 
I watched the changing splendours of the night." 

Their father determined to qualify his daughters to 
provide for themselves the means of independence, in 
some way that might be suited at once to their tastes 
and capacities, and to his own circumstances. With this 
view, no plan seemed more eligible than to instruct them 
in that branch of the fine arts in which he himself was 
proficient ; this being a line in which several women have 
succeeded in gaining, not merely independence, but dis- 
tinction as artists. This plan offered, at the same time, 
the advantage — so highly prized by our parents — of re- 
taining their entire family under the paternal roof ; and 
of carrying on a home education, while provision was 
made for their future welfare. 

The actual consequence ot this scheme was not, 
indeed, such as their father had intended — that of making 
his daughters artists by profession ; for after practising 
engraving during a few years, engagements and duties of 
a different kind were opened to them. But the indirect 
effects of this artistic training very greatly conduced to 

1 28 The Family Pen. 

fit them for those very engagements; while it secured 
some important advantages to the family. At the time 
when four of his children were thus placed under their 
father's eye, to acquire the knowledge and practice of 
the arts, they were already imbued with a keen relish for 
literary and scientific pursuits ; and conversation, which 
was freely allowed, was often of a kind to promote these 
tastes, and to keep intellect in activity. During a part 
of the day some one of the pupils who were under my 
father's care read aloud ; so that the double object was 
almost constantly pursued— of acquiring the means of 
ultimate independence, and of carrying on intellectual 
cultivation : nor at any time were the pressing engage- 
ments connected with the first object allowed wholly to 
interrupt the pursuit of the second. 

In this scene of united employment and of mutual 
education, was formed that endeared family friendship, 
which was the source of their best enjoyments during 
the years that the sisters and brothers remained undi- 
vided at home; and which continued to be their 
solace after they were separated. Many passages oc- 
curring in the subjoined selection from her correspon- 
dence, evince how fully and how warmly Jane par- 
ticipated in the pleasures of this home friendship. 
In truth, her feehngs of family affection were so 
strong as to form a leading feature in her character, 
and to require, therefore, distinct mention. 

Lest their occupation in their father's studio should 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 129 

produce any distaste or inaptness for ordinary womanly 
cares, the two girls alternately took a share in domestic 
duties, and their mother's solicitude that they should 
be thoroughly conversant with such employments was 
not disappointed ; for not even the excitement of sub- 
sequent literary pursuits, ever impaired the domestic 
tastes and habits which were thus acquired. Jane — 
far from being the mere literary lady, averse to house- 
hold concerns — was not only happy to be occupied 
with them, but became really a proficient in employ- 
ments of this sort. 

My sister's taste for the arts was such as to make 
her excel in their lighter branches ; and many of her 
drawings, still in possession of her family, display a 
true feeling for the beautiful in nature, and a peculiar 
minute truthfulness and delicacy of execution ; but 
the art of engraving was not altogether suited to her 
talent or taste, and it was relinquished without regret, 
when other paths of exertion opened out before her. 
In a letter of an early date, she says : " The more 
I see of myself, and of the performances of others, 
the more I am convinced that nature never intended 
me for an artist. * * * No one can tell how my 
feelings are excruciated, when I am referred to, or my 
opinion asked, as an artist. I look at the girls in the 
milliners' shops with envy, because their business and 
their genius are on a level. I think it is what I shall 
come to at last." 

VOL. I. K 

130 The Family Pen. 

All the intervals of time between the stated hours 
of employment in engraving, v^^ere very carefully hus- 
banded. Early rising was the custom of the family ; 
and the morning and evening hours, during the winter, 
were employed, either in literary pursuits, or in the 
maintenance of friendly correspondence ; — so that as 
few moments as can be imagined were lost from the day. 

In mentioning family arrangements, and in detailing 
the lesser circumstances which gave their colouring to 
my sister's mind, or which may be necessary to be 
understood, to explain the allusions occurring in her 
correspondence, it is almost impossible to avoid what 
I would fain avoid — ^giving the history of a family along 
with that of one of its members. 

Our pleasures were always of a social kind : — at 
intervals, during the winter months, we were accustomed 
to spend the whole evening together, while my mother 
read aloud ; and each was occupied with some lighter 
work of the pencil. Simple and easily procured as 
were these pleasures, they have been remembered 
with more delight than, perhaps, often follows the most 
exciting amusements. 

In a letter to her earliest friend, Jane Watkinson, my 
sister says — "We continue to pursue our employments 
with regularity, — seldom or ever encroaching on the 
usual hours. And though we sometimes vidsh our 
confinement was less, I believe we enjoy a greater 
proportion of happiness than many who live a life of 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 131 

apparent ease and pleasure. We find it is employment 
that gives recreation its greatest charm ; and we enjoy 
with a double relish little pleasures which, to those who 
are already fatigued with doing nothing, appear tiresome 
or uninteresting. When I see people perpetually tor- 
mented with ennui — satiated with amusement — indif- 
ferent to every object of interest, I indeed congratulate 
myself that I have not one spare moment, in which 
these demons can assail me. You, my dear Jane, 
know the pleasures of industry; and you know that 
it is essential to our real happiness." 

To another friend she writes — " I feel with you the 
approach of winter; and though I have not to appre- 
hend from it the distressing effects which you experience, 
yet the loss of our delightful evening walks — the desolate 
garden — the decayed vegetation — the shortening days — 
all tend rather to depress than to enliven. Yet I have 
much to love in winter ; and I can truly say I enjoy 
the hours of quiet industry it always introduces. Ann 
and I often remark to each other that, whatever 
agreeable recreations we may occasionally indulge in, 
and much as we really enjoy them, we are never so 
happy as when steadily engaged in the room where 
we engrave ; that is our paradise : — you may smile at 
the comparison, and we know the inconveniences 
connected with our engagements there ; but use re- 
conciles us to them ; and experience teaches us that 
comfort and happiness are compatible with these * 

K 2 

, , 2 The Family Pen. 

apparent inconveniences :— we have every inducement 
to industry, and we are thankful that that which is 
necessary, is also agreeable to us. We want nothing 
but a little more society : — one congenial family within 
our reach would be a treasure : for though we do love 
each other, and enjoy each other's society greatly; 
vet there are times when we long to recreate our 
wearied spirits with an intelligent friend." 

During the summer our family parties were carried to 
some little distance in the country ; and indeed, when- 
ever weather permitted, the sisters and their brothers 
walked together. Jane records in many of her letters 
the happiness she tasted in these summer evening 
rambles. They served not merely the purpose of re- 
cruiting health and spirits ; but tended greatly to cement 
the friendship to which the brothers, especially, have 
thought themselves indebted for the most important 
advantages. At the same time, a taste for the beauties 
of nature was roused and cherished, by the interchanged 
expression of delight in these ever-new sources of en- 
joyment. The superstitions of the heart also were 
respected among us ; and birth-days were generally given 
up to social pleasures. Our family, at this time, was 
much secluded from extraneous society. The circle of 
my sister's early friends had been broken up, by the 
death of several of those who formed it, and the re- 
moval of others ; and an interval of three or four years 
elapsed before those friendships were formed of which 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 133 

the letters soon to be introduced, were the fruits. 
During this interval, the family learned to look within 
itself, almost entirely, for social pleasures. This, while 
it tended, as has been mentioned, to cherish family 
affection, must be confessed to have produced a rather 
exclusive feeling, which was afterwards not easily broken 
up ; and when, subsequently, distant friendships were 
formed, that were in the highest degree gratifying and 
exciting, an unfavourable feeling towards less congenial 
society nearer home, was perhaps increased. In Jane's 
mind this exclusive feeling was augmented by an ex- 
treme diffidence, and by a thousand nice sensibilities, 
which neither a wider intercourse with the world, nor 
the measure of public favour she attained, ever entirely 
overcame. To the last, she would always gladly retreat 
from general society to the bosom of her family ; or to 
the circle of those few friends whom she intimately kncAV 
and loved. Yet whatever feelings of reserve might 
belong to my sister's character, I think it will not be 
said by any who knew her, that her behaviour ever 
indicated intellectual arrogance, or supercilious indiffer- 
ence towards persons whose worth might want the 
embellishments of education. Her distaste for vulgarity 
of sentiment and manners was strong ; but intrinsic 
goodness never suffered in her esteem from the mere 
deficiency of mental adornments. In explaining her 
conduct on some particular occasion, in a letter to her 
mother, she says — " At any rate, my dear mother, 

1^4 The Family Pen. 

do not accuse me of vanity and arrogance, which I 
from my very heart disclaim. If, in comparison with 
some of my friends, others of them may appear less 
pleasing or less intelligent, believe me, whenever I 
compare any with myself, the result is humiliating. 
And perhaps nothing is less likely to raise any one 
liighly in my esteem than their ' writing at the rate I 
Jo : ' — my dear mother, do me the justice to believe 
that, at whatever crevice my vanity may endeavour 
to peep out, it will ever fly from the literary corner of 
my character. I am not indifl'erent to the opinion of 
any one ; though I never expect to acquire that sort 
of philosophic serenity which shall enable me to regard 
the whole circle of my acquaintance with the same glow 
of affection, or smile of complacency." 

Whenever the health or the interests of those dear 
to her were at stake, the vigour of Jane's mind was 
roused ; — her diffidence, her reserve, disappeared ; and 
she exhibited not only disinterestedness, but a high 
degree of spirit and courage. In times of family afflic- 
tion, the keenness of her sympathy made her actually 
a fellow-sufferer with those who suffered ; especially if 
life seemed threatened, she endured the torture of 
tender apprehension, to a degree that always impaired her 
own health. These dispositions were exercised during 
the autumn of the year 1801. At that time the scarlet 
fever prevailed very generally in the town ; and in many 
instances with fatal result. It entered our own family ; 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 135 

the eldest girl and three of her brothers being all attacked 
by it. Decimus, the youngest, a boy about six years of 
age, took the infection at school, and after less than 
a week's illness became its victim. 

In the letter to her mother, a portion of which has 
just been quoted, Jane, for the first time, makes an allu- 
sion to her literary engagements in the words — " writing 
at the rate I do." It was about this time, that the 
earliest of the " Original Poems " were composed, and 
those with whom those Poems have been in favour 
may feel pleasure in learning under what circumstances 
most of the pieces were actually written. This curiosity 
may now be gratified, for the lapse of more than sixty 
years allows me now to speak of the family habits and 
usages with less reserve than I felt when at the first 
these Memoirs were given to the public. 

I have never been a visitor in any family in which the 
occupation of every moment of the day, by every member 
of it, was carried to so high a pitch as it was under my 
father's roof. I have nowhere else seen the merest 
fragments of time so sedulously employed ; and yet this 
incessantness of labour did not bring upon the family 
any feeling of bondage or restraint ; — sedulous, energetic 
industry was the pervading spirit of the family : — none 
were urged or driven onward ; each one seemed to move 
forward, as from an individual impulse — an internal 

In recalling now what were my father's daily, weekly, 

, ,6 The Family Pen. 

and yearly achievements in his many lines of labour, I 
can think of them only with amazement. That which, 
as a boy, I witnessed, and which then seemed to me 
only natural and easy — which seemed only a part of the 
ordinary course of things — I should now contemplate 
with wonder. His occupations as an artist were never 
intermitted or abated. The laborious preparations which 
he made for the pulpit — the piles of books which he filled 
n carrying forward these systematic preparations, would 
have seemed business enough for any man. As a pastor 
he visited his people regularly, and affectionately ; he was 
also a constant village preacher : he was the most con- 
stant attendant at ministers' meetings ; and never was he 
wanting in his elaborate essay, when his turn came to 
produce his contribution in this way. He had pupils, at 
home and abroad ; he delivered frequent lectures ; and, 
in addition to all this constant toil, he set himself a task, 
which by itself might seem almost the work of a lifetime, 
in systematizing and in carrying out the education of his 
own family. I should fear not to be believed if I were 
to describe in detail the voluminousness of his Educa- 
tional Course, as to its apparatus ; — it was indeed pro- 
digious. No doubt some branches of this scheme might 
have been lopped off without much damage to the culture 
of his daughters' minds. For example— it can scarcely 
be thought indispensable to the intellectual training of 
girls in their teens, that they should be familiar with the 
terms and the principles of Fortification ! But I have 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 137 

now before me some of the first rough copies of the 
" Original Poems " and the " Hymns for Infant Minds." 
These world-wide compositions were first written on the 
margins of engraved plans of fortified towns ; and Jane's 
own hand had duly filled in the words — ^^ glacis," '■^counter- 
scarp," ^^ bastions," ^^ fosse," ^^ lines of circunivallation," and 
the rest* 

The mode of treating any such subject — Geography, 
Anatomy, Fortification, or what not, was this : — a plate, 
qna)'to size, was engraved from a drawing that had been 
carefully made by my father. Reams, and reams again, 
of paper were printed from these plates : — the prints were 
done up in books of a dozen each, and a book was given 
to each pupil — girls and boys alike : these engravings 
were blank outlines ; each of the dozen was coloured, 
and then the names were written in. By the tim.e a 
pupil had filled in two or three of these books, it might 
be presumed that he or she had acquired a tolerable 
familiarity with the nomenclature of the particular subject 
in hand. Just now some of these copper-plates are before 
me ; the human skeleton : is it likely that after such a 
drilling, continued year after year, I should have forgotten 
the relative position of Tibia, or Fibula, or Patella, or 
should possibly confound the Ulna with the Radius, the 
Sternum with the Clavicle ? 

* The Editor has not thought it needful to erase this passage, 
though it is little more than a repetition of what has been said 
before. See p. 17. 

138 The Family Pen. 

In entering tlie breakfast-room, my father brought under 
his arm a drawing-case, which he lodged on a side table. 
Tlie moment tliat he had finished his own breakfast, and 
while my mother continued her reading aloud, he com- 
menced drawing— probably a flower from Nature, just 
brought in from the garden : his performances in this 
line were of great excellence : this drawing lesson, when 
completed, went to its place in a folio with many like it, 
in its turn to be duly copied by ourselves in some future 
drawing hour. So it was in everything, great and small : 
so it is that I find among the family stores of years 
passed — roses — cowslips — pinks — beautifully depicted ; 
and also, which were the labours of years, copybooks 
filled with careful construings of the Hebrew of almost 
every text from the Old Testament which my father com- 
mented upon in the pulpit. Thus it was that in our 
home-life, and in all that concerned it, instants were 
made the most of ! All these things we witnessed, and 
we took our part in them ; and in our simplicity we 
believed that the world around us was travelling along 
parallel roads, at the same speed ! 

Nearly the whole of my sisters' part in the " Original 
Poems," the " Nursery Rhymes," and the rest of their 
early works, were written in minutes, or in half-hours, 
redeemed from other occupations to which much more 
importance was attached in their own view, as well as in 
that of their parents. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 139 



In the spring of the following year, Jane visited 
London, for the first time since her childhood. It was 
during this visit that were commenced those lasting 
and inestimable friendships from which she derived, 
through the remainder of her life, so much of the highest 
enjoyment ; and to which she was wont to attribute the 
happiest influence upon her character. This visit was, 
in a manner, the commencement of a new era both to 
her heart and understanding : she was then in her nine- 
teenth year, and was prepared, by sensibilities of the 
liveliest kind, as well as by the long privation of social 
pleasures, except those found at home, to enjoy to the 
full an introduction to a new circle. In this circle, I 
may venture to say, was found a not very common 
assemblage of excellence — in goodness, refinenlent, and 
intelligence. Most of the young friends with whom she 
had hitherto been connected, were well educated and 
intelligent ; but among her new friends were some who 
would have been distinguished in any circle by their 

140 The Family Pen. 

brilliant qualities of mind : they were, moreover, most 
of them, firm in their belief, and influenced by deep 
religious convictions. Among them, the alteration from 
literary to religious conversation was not felt to be 
difficult, or chargeable with incongruity. Instead ot 
seeing, as she had before too often seen, a marked 
separation between intellect and religion, she now saw 
them so united as to give attractiveness to the one, and 
the highest elevation to the other. 

She did not take her place among her new friends as 
an aspirant to literary distinction. Her literary faculty 
had not yet been so called forth as to give her repute 
among her friends, or to be felt by herself as a decided 
gift. She failed not, however, strongly to interest those 
to whom she was now introduced, or to make subse- 
quent intercourse fully as much desired on the one part 
as on the other. Friendships formed at the very age ot 
romance, are very commonly broken up when the illu- 
sions on which they were founded are dissipated : but the 
friendships formed at this time by my sister, were broken 
up only by death. 

Although her disposition rendered her peculiarly 
averse to anything having the nature of competition or 
rivalry, yet she could not but feel, indirectly, the stimu- 
lating influence of the friendships she now enjoyed; 
for they were precisely of the sort most likely to rouse 
her i)o\vers, and to render the exercise of them a means 
of winning pleasures which she valued more highly than 

Me?fioir of Jane Taylor. 141 

any gratification of literary vanity. I think I may 
afifirm that a very principal incentive, or perhaps the 
principal incentive to her poetical efforts, at least till 
the hope of doing good in the world became a promi- 
nent motive, was the desire of enhancing the regard ot 
the few friends whom she loved. A sentiment of this 
kind so frequently occurs in the course of her corre- 
spondence, that it cannot be doubted to have beeri a 
leading motive with her. Nor, indeed, did it seem in 
any degree impaired after she had been exposed to 
excitements which too often injure the better feelings ot 
the heart. To be loved, was, to her, a pleasure of 
incalculably higher price than to be admired. She first 
wrote in order to cherish the affection of her friends : 
and when, afterwar-ds, she felt the obligation of a more 
serious motive, that of making a faithful employment of 
the talent committed to her ; still that first feeling being 
most congenial to her character, continued to yield her 
the sweetest reward of her labours. 

It is not always that a sphere of usefulness is chosen, 
and entered upon, by the deliberate determination 
of the agent. He who gives to all their work, not 
only chooses v/ho shall serve Him, but leads those 
whom He calls into His service, in a path of which, 
when they enter upon it, they know not the direction. 
Ambitious minds may devise schemes big with import- 
ance, which they imagine themselves destined to exe- 


T42 The Family Pen. 

cute ; but it is seldom that such schemes are borne 
onward by tlie prospering breath of Heaven ! 

Certainly, it was with no ambitious intentions, nor 
even with the expectation of ever being heard of as 
authors beyond the immediate circle of their friends, 
that my sisters first wrote for the press. The circum- 
stances which led them to do so were, in themselves, 
trivial ; nor were they quick to attach any great im- 
portance to this new occupation. Jane wrote chiefly 
because she was accustomed, in everything, to be her 
sister's companion and partner. She did not readily 
admit the idea that she was responsible for the exercise 
of a peculiar talent. This impression did, however, after 
a while, gain its influence, and throughout the latter 
years of her life she wrote under a powerful sense 
of duty in this respect. I know it was her constant 
practice, whenever she took up the pen to write for the 
press, to ask guidance and assistance from Him, from 
whom "every good and eveiy perfect gift descends." 
Yet she never enjoyed the comfort of believing that 
she had done well in the charge committed to her ; for 
both constitutional diftidence and Christian humility 
inclined her to renounce every assumption of merit. 

The first piece of Jane's which appeared in print was 
a contribution in the "Minor's Pocket Book," for the 
year 1804. It will be found among the poetical pieces 
which accompany this volume. The pathos, simplicity, 

Metnoir of Jane Taylor. 143 

and sprightliness of " The Beggar Boy," even though 
the verse is fettered by the necessity of introducing a 
Hst of incongruous words, attracted much more attention 
than is often the lot of productions appearing in so 
humble a walk of literature. Her sister Ann had con- 
tributed to the same publication for several preceding 
years, and had gained notice. The authors of these 
verses became the subjects of inquiry ; and it was not 
doubted by those who were competent to calculate the 
probable success of literary enterprises, that a volume ot 
pieces, exhibiting the same vivacity, truth of description, 
good taste, and sound views, would secure public favour. 
Their father did indeed regard with pleasure the new 
engagements of his daughters, and yet it was with 
some anxiety, for he was strongly averse to .the idea 
of their becoming authors by profession. He, therefore, 
favoured their literary occupations only so far as these 
might consist with the predominance of those pursuits, 
which he considered to afford much more safe and 
certain means of independence. Nor did their mother 
(who then would have thought nothing more improbable 
than that she herself should become known as a writer) 
look with less distrust upon the effect of these new 
and exciting engagements. They were therefore carried 
on under just so much restriction as prevented their 
engrossing any considerable amount of thought and 
time. Almost everything written by my sisters for 
some years after their first appearance in print was 

1^4 'I'^i'-' Family Fen. 

composed, cither before the regular occupations of the 
day had commenced, or after they had been concluded. 
It was for the most part, after a day of assiduous appli- 
cation that the pieces contained in the volumes of 
" Original Poems," and " Rhymes for the Nursery,'' 
were written : nor was it, I think, till a much later 
period, that they ever permitted themselves the indul- 
gence of an entire day given to the labours of the pen. 

Under restrictions such as these, many of the most 
useful, and some even of the most admired literary 
works have been produced. It is true, that to those who 
are at once urged and impeded on the course of intel- 
lectual labour, such circumstances seem altogether 
unfavourable ; and they are fain to acknowledge that, 
if freed from the fetter, and exempted from the goad, 
genius would make a wider circuit, and bring home richer 
treasures. But this supposition may not be well founded : 
for so vague are the spontaneous efforts of the mind, 
and so much more painful is the effort necessary for 
useful production, than that of which most minds are 
at all capable when free from urgent motives — that these 
seemingly unfavourable circumstances ought, in many 
cases, to be welcomed as the stimulus necessary to put 
the mind in full activity. 

Their mother thus refers to the early literary engage- 
ments of her daughters. 

"During these various scenes, the talents of our two 
girls still continued farther to develop themselves. The 

Mevioir of Jane Taylor. 145 

little pieces which they had sent to the ' Minor's Pocket 
Book,' induced the publisher to inquire wIk) the authors 
were : he then applied to them for any pieces they 
might possess. These they collected and sent, re- 
ceiving ten pounds for them, and afterwards five, with 
a promise of fifteen more for a second volume. The 
arrival of the first sum was an interesting and memorable 

The little volume of " Original Poems for Infant 
Minds, by several young persons," was found to be 
highly acceptable to children, and so useful in the 
business of early education, that, in a very short time, 
it obtained an extensive circulation. It v/as quickly 
reprinted in America, and translated into the German 
and Dutch languages. What share of this success 
belongs to each of the contributors to the volume, 
could not be ascertained, even if to make the inquiry 
were of any importance. Jane, for her part, was ever 
forward to surrender all praise to others. 

The success of this volume presently suggested the 
production of a second, of a similar kind ; and the 
young writers, gratified by the unexpected favour they 
had won, readily listened to the wishes of parents 
and children. Although children will not be long 
entertained, or eff'ectively instru,cted by mere dulness, 
yet it is true that even the more intelligent of them 
may be entertained, and to a certain extent instructed, 
by what is very trivial, or is very much deformed by 

VOL. I. L 

146 The Family Pen. 

faults of style. But it is happy when the power of 
pleasing children, and of strongly engaging their 
attention, is so united with good taste and delicate 
tact in the choice of embellishments, and correct 
judgment, and sound principle in all that bears upon 
morals, as to give to such productions those merits 
that, in the Avork of education, are of higher impor- 
tance than perhaps any other excellences. For, to 
furnish reading, without vulgarizing the taste, or con- 
taminating the imagination, or enfeebling the judgment, 
or perverting the feelings, is a high praise in those 
who write for the young. 

A part of my sister's contributions to some of these 
little works, was composed under rather peculiar cir- 
cumstances, which must here be narrated ; because 
they served to mature her character, and to exhibit 
its solid excellences in a somewhat new and difficult 

Memoir of Jane Taylor: 147 



During the autumn and winter of the year 1808, 
the alarm of a French invasion (and it has since been 
ascertained that it was a well-founded alarm) prevailed 
throughout the country, and especially along the eastern 
and southern coasts. Colchester was, at that time, a 
principal military station : the incessant movements, 
therefore, of a large body of troops, held always in a 
state of readiness to meet the expected enemy, tended 
of itself to keep alive a constant impression of the 
impending danger ; besides this, the military persons 
who were in command of the station, took pains to 
excite the popular fears. Every day some whispered 
intimation of immediate danger from " the best au- 
thority" was circulated through the town, till a strong 
and general impression prevailed that the immediate 
neighbourhood might, very probably, become the scene 
of the first conflict with the invaders. In this state of 
public feeling, not a few of those of the inhabitants 
whose means allowed them to do so, either left the 

L 2 

148 The Family Fen. 

town for a time, or made such arrangements as should 
enable them to leave it at an hour's notice. 

At this time the house which, as has been mentioned, 
my fatlier owned at Lavenham, was without a tenant : 
this circumstance seemed to invite the step which the 
fears of the time suggested — that of removing a part 
of the family thither, where a home would be always 
in readiness for those who remained, should it be 
needed. No material difficulty prevented the exe- 
cution of this plan, and it was determined that Jane, 
with two of her brothers, and an infant sister, should 
remove to the vacant house. This separation of the 
family took place in the middle of October. 

So great was the confidence placed by her parents 
in Jane's discretion and ability, that they committed 
this divided portion of their family to her care without 
anxiety; nor was their confidence disappointed in any 
instance. Jane, though gifted with uncommon vivacity 
of spirit, was thoughtful and provident in a degree 
rarely found at her age ; — she was then only twenty. 
I can remember her active, laborious, and well-con- 
certed management of our little establishment. Such 
was her industry, that the new cares of a family were 
suffered but in a small degree to infringe upon the 
customary hours devoted to engraving; nor these upon 
her literary engagements ; for her winter evenings were 
assiduously occupied in composing her share of some 
little works which soon after appeared. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 149 

The characteristics of Jane's mind, and of her 
mother's too, are displayed in the letters which passed 
between Lavenham and Colchester at this time. It 
should be said in explanation of some circmnstances 
alluded to in these letters, that the alarm which had 
agitated the public mind for many months, and at 
Colchester especially, had made everybody familiar, 
in inlagination at least, with the terrible confusion to 
be apprehended from an invasion. Even the wealthy 
burgesses of the town had come to talk of shifts and 
contrivances, and modes of living, and modes of con- 
veyance, the most unlike their ordinary style. Much 
more did those whose means were limited reconcile 
themselves to such unusual courses. A start off to 
the sea, during the season, might imply a line of 
post-chaises and what not; but it was not so when, 
with Buonaparte on the coast, or near it, the half of 
a frugal family was to pioneer the inland flight of the 
whole. There was a van or wagon, once or twice in 
the week, dragging its cumbrous bulk through deep 
Suffolk lanes, from Colchester to Lavenham. In this 
van places were engaged for four of the family and 
their packages — not a few. 

At this time there was a constant stream of soldiers' 
wives and infants, who had been to take leave of their 
husbands in the barracks, and were returning to their 
hamlets in Suffolk and the midland counties. The day 
of the family exodus from Colchester, this van was 

I JO The Family Pen. 

nearly filletl with a company of this order. Jane, her 
brothers and sister, were handed into their berths in 
the after-part — call it the quarter-deck of the vessel — 
whence their prospect outward was over the heads of 
a score of good women, most of whom had a baby or 
two to nurse. The way was long — at the pace of two 
miles per hour, or little more, and the autumn evening 
came on before the first stage out of town was reached ; 
and a night — unusually dark, so we thought it — made 
needful the one lanthorn over the shafts, which gave 
the driver a chance of keeping to the road. It was 
late when the welcome announcement roused the party 
from their unquiet sleep, that a hospitable house had 
been reached. Jane's first letter to her mother was 
as follows : — 

" Mv DEAR Mother, 

" We are all safe and well this morning, which is a 

matter to me both of thankfulness and surprise. We 

had, indeed, a sorry journey. Upwards of twenty 

inside; and each woman had a young child. They 

were, indeed, of the lowest sort, but they were civil 

creatures. Our party appeared to excite some surprise 

amongst them. 'I dare say they're only going on a 

frolic,' said one: 'No, no,' said another, 'that they 

aren't, by her grieving: It was droll to see, when we 

first set off, that the whole party were in tears, for the 

women were soldiers' wives just parting from their 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 151 

husbands, not knowing whether they should ever meet 
again; and it was a long time before they dried their 
tears. But what we suffered with heat, smells, and 
bad language during the day, was nothing to what we 
suffered when night came on. The road bad — the 
wagon so loaded that we expected to break down, 
and the horses so tired, that they could scarcely get 
on. The drivers were frightened, and you may be sure 
the passengers were so. However, at half-past nine, we 
arrived at Mr. Langley's door ; for they would not drive 
to ours, — and we found them waiting for us with much 
anxiety, and more kindness. They would not hear of 
our going home that night, and had prepared beds for 
us. Mrs. Langley was very poorly, and had gone to 
bed ; but we had a nice supper, and went to bed, glad 
indeed to get there, for I had been terribly ill the whole 
day * * * but we are now all well, and much refreshed 
by our night's rest. Our coming has excited much sur- 
prise, and some alarm. We have been this morning 
and have seen everything safely unpacked at our house. 
The little parlour with a nice fire, though unfurnished, 
looks very comfortable, and we are quite in good spirits. 
The Langleys are really too kind. They insist on our 
breakfasting here this morning, and Mrs. L. presses 
us to dine, but that we shall not do * * * * * 
Mrs. L. is very uneasy; all her friends live near 
the coast. Pray let us know how the alarm goes on. 
Our garden is a wild paradise. What noble willows ! 

I r 2 The Family Pen. 

I am quite fliint for my breakfast, therefore adieu for 

the present." 

The house stood in one of the least frequented parts 
of the town — the garden abutting upon a common, and 
the house, being only in part occupied, and scantily 
furnished, the aspect of things within, as well as 
without, was very much in harmony with the feelings 
of terror under wliich we had sought this asylum. 
Jane exhibited on this occasion the strength of her 
mind; for althougli she was peculiarly subject to im- 
pressions of fear, both from real and imaginary dangers, 
such was her resolution, and such the force of principle, 
that, without wishing to retreat from her situation, she 
endured (what those who have more physical courage 
never endure) the terrors of a susceptible, and strongly 
excited imagination. This is indeed the courage of 
women ; and it may be questioned whether, in the pos- 
session and exercise of this high quality, the weaker sex 
does not often surpass the stronger. 

Yet our banishment was by no means without its 
enjoyments ; for Jane, who had a genuine domestic 
taste, soon gave an air of comfort to the part of the 
house which we occupied : and we received, during our 
stay, the kindest attentions from several families with 
which ours had been on terms of intimacy while formerly 
resident at Lavenham. I may here insert a few ex- 
tracts from letters written by my sister at this time. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 153 

To her friend Jane Watkinson she writes — "I beUeve 
Mrs. W. has received from Ann a full account of our 
late flight to Lavenham, v/here, after the first alarm 
had subsided, we found a very pleasant and comfortable 
asylum, for some months. Though we felt it a little 
mortifying, that our neighbour Buonaparte should have 
it in his power to give us such a thorough panic, and so 
completely to derange all our affairs, yet, I own, I en- 
joyed my residence in the old spot exceedingly. Being 
in our own house, and for so long a time, I began to 
fancy myself once more an inhabitant ; and it was not 
without pain that I took leave of a place that will ever 
be dear to me. During our stay at Lavenham, I took 
some delightful walks : perhaps you have by this time 
forgotten most of them. I found it highly interesting 
to tread once more the oft-trod paths ; and to recognise 
many a spot that had been the scene of former enjoy- 
ments. I know not whether to you it is so; but with 
me, no local attachments are so strong as those formed 
in childhood. * * -^ * * 

"Lavenham, October \Wi, 1803. 
" My dear Mother, 

"We have safely received your parcels and 

letters ; which were very acceptable to us. I am now 

quite comfortably settled in my new house ; and feel 

as if I had taken up my station here for a constancy. 

I manage capitally, as you may suppose ; and ' give 

1^4 The Family Pen. 

satisfaction.' I rise (I am sorry I cannot use the plural 
number) between six and seven, and get everything in 
order before breakfast, but with all my endeavours I 
cannot begin engraving before eleven ; to which I 
sit down again half an hour after dinner. We keep 
school very regularly; and Jemima comes on, both 
in reading and work. As to economy, I study it as 
much as possible ; and, for our employments— they are 
certainly broken in upon at present ; but will be less 
and less so, as we get more settled. We have not 
indulged in one walk yet ; though the country and 
weather have been beautifully inviting : but we sit at 
the bow window next the garden, and quite enjoy 

From a letter of a later date a few sentences may be 
extracted : — " I write this in hopes of your having it 
in time for the carrier, that you may know what things 
we most want. Of news I have none ; and should not 
have written now, but for the news above-mentioned. 
Thank you for the carpet ; it is quite a luxury to us. 
Although we brouglit everything absolutely necessary 
we have few conveniences; and though, if we were all 
huddled together in a barn, expecting the French to 
overtake us every instant, we might be very well 
contented with — 

' An open liroken elbow chair ; 
A caudlc-cup without an ear ; &c. ;' 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 155 

yet, living quietly, like our neighbours, we rather 
miss the conveniences we have been used to. I must 
confess we did not fast on the fast day ; we went, 
however, in the morning to the prayer meeting, where 
we heard an excellent prayer from Mr. Meeking, of 
three-quarters of an hour — its length spoiled it ; for we 
were all ready to faint. In the afternoon, we walked 
with the children. I thank you and father for what 
you say about walking ; but really we seem very little 
to need more exercise than we have in the house and 
garden, where the children play continually. If we 
take a walk once or twice a week, just to look at the 
old places, and show the children the new ones, it is 
quite sufficient." 

The following letter appears to have been written 
soon after the arrival of the party at Lavenham : — 

,, ,, ,1- "Lavenham. 

" My dear Mother, 

" I sit down to charm you with an account of the 
kindness of our friends ; but first I will tell you for 
your comfort that all the china, &c. &c. is safely un- 
packed, and locked up in the buffet. We came directly 
after breakfast and arranged everything comfortably. 
Mr. Hickman called about eleven ; walked round the 
garden, and directed us how to manage it ; and then 
we had a long consultation as to how to open the little 
parlour shutter, which at last by dint of hammers and 

, c6 -^^''' Fivnily Fen. 

screw-drivers we effected, and no sooner was it done, 
than wc bclield, what I think must have been a million 
of flies, that, I suppose, having heard of Buonaparte's 
intentions had, like ourselves, taken up their winter 
quarters here. We consulted with Mr. H. on the 
propriety of having anybody in the house ; but he 
says there is no need ; that there is no such thing as 
housebreaking in Lavenham. He only remembers one 
instance many years ago, at Lingley, and then, the man 
l)eing hanged, so much terror was excited, that no one 
has ventured since in the same line. Isaac thinks 
Lavenham very desolate, but he is much pleased with 
the house, and charmed with the Hickmans. * * * 
We had so many of that lady's customary speeches 
to-day, that we could hardly help laughing — 

" ' Oh, Mr. Taylor, I must show you that print your 
father gave me, before I went to America,' said Mr. H., 
and brought it in directly. 'Dear Mr. Hickman,' said 
Mrs. H., 'Master Taylor had better see it where it 
hangs,' and then led us into her elegant drawing-room. 
They were much pleased with the children, w^ho behaved 
very well. They have a high idea, they say, of your 
method of managing a family. Everybody treats us 
with great attention : nobody laughs at us for coming ; 
most think it quite right. Our letter excited much 
alarm ; everybody has heard of it. The people by their 
inquiries seem to think we have been admitted to 
Buonaparte's privy council. ' There are the Taylors,' 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 157 

we hear people whisper as we go along, and they stare 
at us till we are out of sight. The town is quite in 
a bustle to-day ; the fair much fuller than we expected. 
We saw people coming in crowds from the Bilstone road 
to it. * * * * Any letter you send (by post) ex- 
cept on Sunday, will reach Lavenham the next day. 
Pray write directly, if there's any news, good or bad. 
" Your affectionate 

" Jane." 

Jane during the winter made an exchange with her 
mother and sister ; she returning for a time to Col- 
chester ; and they taking her place at Lavenham. Thus 
she writes, dating — 

"Colchester, January igi/i, 1804. 
" My dear Mother, 

* * * " By father's directions I will proceed to 
answer some of the points in your letter, which appear 
to us very answerable. * * * 'p}^g good people at 
Lavenham seem to us to go a little too far in their 
assertions ; how, for instance, can they affirm that Buona- 
parte never threatened us, when, besides the immense 
army so long collected on the coast, which we hiow was 
called the Army of England, (and what was that but 
a threat ? ) — did he not declare to Lord Whitworth, 
that he would settle the dispute on the banks of the 
Thames 1 And was not that a threat 1 Besides num- 
berless other instances in which we camiot have been 

1^8 The Family Pen. 

totally misinformed. What do you mean by saying 
their numbers are inconsiderable? Are there not cer- 
tainly 200,000 men collected on the coast, besides large 
armies in other parts of France % And it appears to 
us a little inconsistent that people should at one time 
maintain that Buonaparte never intended, or thought 
of invading us, and then, that if we were not so 
much prepared to oppose them they certainly zvould 
invade us ! As to the French army being in winter 
<]uarters, we have never heard it, nor do we believe 
it ; and, as to all danger being over for the 7ainter, very 
strong expectations have been raised about this day 
month ; and Heath has very lately had fresh orders 
from Government to make provision in Cambridgeshire ; 
as ihey are considerably expected on the Norfolk coast, 
and to come round through Cambridge. 

"We think it looks very like a Providential inter- 
position that the weather has been so remarkably and 
unusually mild. They say in Holland that their ports 
not being frozen is almost unexampled, and indeed it 
a]i])cars nearly as remarkable as the Waal being frozen 
when the French took Holland. Though at Colchester 
there are many unbelievers and laughers ; there are many 
too who still entertain strong fears. Henry Thorn, for 
one, firmly believes they will come, and advises us not 
to return. The Stapletons have returned, on account of 
their school — by no means because they think the danger 
is over. The King's camp equipage is come to Chelms- 


Memoir of Jane Taylor. 159 

ford, and the Bishop of Worcester's palace (at Worcester) 
is preparing for the Royal family to fly to. A telegraph, 
which will cost 1000/. is now erecting at our barracks. 
Do all these things look as though all danger were over % 
As to this being a garrison town, it is of no use at all, 
unless it were fortified., which is not the case witli any 
town in England ; and Colchester, as a considerable 
town, and one so near the coast, must be more likely to 
attract the enemy, than an obscure out-of-the-way place 
like Lavenham." 

The following letter from her mother to Jane, must 
have been written late in this autumn. 

" Tluirsday, 10 o'clock. 

" My sweet Darlings, 

" Your epistle received last night was truly 
refreshing ; it gratified us in so many points that we 
read it twice over, and it is now on the road to London 
to gratify our dear friends there. Your management is 
unexceptionable, is admirable — save in one point ; and 
now I am going to scold most heartily. You boast that 
you have not taken one walk since you have been there ! 
More shame for you. I wonder you dared to mention 
such a thing. No exercise ! Perhaps you will say you 
have enough with the household affairs ; but where is 
Isaac's % Where is the children's % Shame on you ! 
Your father was quite surprised at it, and desires me to 
say that he expects you to walk every day when the 

i6o The Family Pen. 

weather will peinait, for an hour ; also see that the 
children run in the garden. Are they good ? I hope 
Jeff's education is not at a stand, and that he keeps 
school-hours. I am ve^-y sorry it is not in my power 
to send you a seed-cake ; but on Tuesday, when we 
should have baked, we could get no yeast : yesterday 
you know was fast-day ; we therefore cannot bake before 
to-morrow ; I promise then to send you one next week. 
As for the linen, by all means have it washed at Lavenham. 
Send me home everything that wants mending : pray let 
nothing get out of repair, but send it home at once. As 
for kitchen-utensils, you must first tell me what you want. 
I thought you had taken all necessaries ; however, I will 
accommodate you to the best of my power when I know 
your wants. And now for news : all here is perfectly 
quiet, and still no thinking people at all doubt our being 
invaded ; but as to their success there are different 
opinions : the foolish and uninformed, which you know 
in Colchester is by much the greatest part, now laugh at 
the late alarm — laugh at those who have left the town — 
laugh at General Craig — laugh at everything, and think 
all as safe and secure as if they were in the Garden of 
Eden : sure this is not one of those awful still calms before 
a violent storm ; certain it is that General Craig is still 
indefatigable in spite of all laughing ; the Butter Market 
is being walled up to make a guard-house ; and every- 
thing goes on with the utmost vigour. Yesterday was 
the Fast; the volunteers, mayor, &c., all went to St. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor, i6i 

James's to hear Mr. Round, who preached from the 
Maccabees ! Your father entered, for the first time in 
his Hfe, most seriously and earnestly into the spirit of 
the fast. He took one half-round of toast at breakfast, 
and no dinner : I took no breakfast, save half a pint of 
water, and a very little dinner ; no cloth laid : and Martin 
and Kitty were very compliant. Your father and Martin 
went to meeting in the morning; in the afternoon we 
read and prayed at home ; and in the evening had a 
lecture at our own place. I chose the text ; it was this : 
David's words to Goliath of Gath, — ' Thou comest to me 
with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield, but I 
come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, thg God 
of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.' It was 
a wonderful discourse. The people came about your 
father in the vestry, and begged him to have it printed ; 
several of them saying they ' would be five shillings to- 
wards the expense.' His comparison between Goliath 
of Gath and Buonaparte was ingenious : Goliath has 
three significations, — Revolution, Captivity, and Passing 
over : he dwelt some time on his armour, his target, his 
spear like a weaver's beam, compared to the amazing 
preparations now made to invade us : on the Lord as the 
God of Hosts — exhorting to trust in Him as such. He 
feared, should they make the attempt, many of our dear 
countrymen would wallow in their blood ; and expressed 
himself in the most affectionate terms to those of the 
volunteers now before him (in their uniforms), praying the 

VOL. I. M 

1 62 The Family Pen. 

Lord of Hosts to cover their heads in the day of battle, 
&c. But I sliall liave Gosling call, and must conclude. 

*' I liad intended to send you the other three chairs, 
l)ut he cannot take them. I will, however, try him with 
the little parlour carpet. 1 think you will be glad of it ; 
if he cannot take it, Finchman shall, with the chairs, &:c. 
next week. Your dear father set off this morning for 
London with Mrs. Stapleton, the two girls, Joseph, old 

Stapleton, and Miss B , who, I rejoice to say (poor 

thing), is going to be governess to Butler's children, while 
scliool is suspended ; so here I am all alone ; but God, 
who always gives strength for the day, supports my 
spirits wonderfully. I am tolerable in health, and Martin 
is very good ; so, my dear girl, make yourself easy. When 
your father returns, unless things should very much alter 
for the better, his intention is to send you more and 
• more of his property weekly, and after the wash I propose 
with Martin to pay you a visit for a week or two, when 
Isaac would return home, and when Martin has continued 
as long as himself, he shall return again ; so they shall 
take it in turns. Our dear Ann shall also pay you a 
visit, for we see no likelihood of your quitting your 
station all the winter, unless something very decisive 
takes place. As for the kindness of your friends, we 
cannot say enough to express our gratitude. God bless 
them all, and you my dear dutiful children, the comforts 
of my life, the solace of my heart. Farewell all, 

"Ann Taylor." 

Memoir of Jane Taylor/ 163 

Towards the close of her stay at Lavenham, Jane 
writes to her mother : — 

" Could you see us just now, I cannot tell whether 
you would most laugh at, or pity us. I am sitting 
in the middle of the room, surrounded with beds, chairs, 
tables, boxes, &c. &c., and every room is the same. 
But our brains are in still greater confusion — not know- 
ing now what to do. Have you heard this new alarm % 
It is said the French are actually embarking. Mr. 
Hickman strongly advises us not to move till we hear 
something more. We have at length resolved to wait, 
at all events till Saturday ; and if you write by return of 
post, we shall be able to act then according to your 
wishes ; but in the meantime we shall be in a most 
delightful plight, for most of the things are packed up, 
ready to go to-morrow : and then, if after all we must 
stay, it will be vexatious enough. If you find there 
is no foundation for the alarm, you will of course order 
us home directly. But do not fail to write, for we are 
quite deplorable. 

"And now, having despatched all my business, let me 
thank my dear mother for her wholesome reprimand, 
which, I hope, will be a lesson for the future. I feel no 
inclination to apologize for myself; but acknowledge, 
upon reflection, I was wrong — when I wrote I did not 
reflect. Yet this 1 can say : that, whatever opinion I 

may have formed of Mr, , I have never been 

otherwise than polite to him. What I said to L. was 
M 2 

164 The Family Pen. 

unpremeditated ; and believe me, if I had thought it 
probable that she would ever have met him, I should 
not have said what I did. Further, I declare I do not 
despise the gentleman, and I wrote only for my amuse- 
ment ; though it should not have been at another person's 

The alarm of invasion scarcely subsided till the spring 
of the following year. But at the earliest appearance of 
returning security, Mr. Taylor gladly recalled his family 
to their home ; and in the month of February we were 
once more united under the paternal roof. 

The winter passed at Lavenham, under circumstances 
of this sort ; the mind kept alive by responsibilities, 
alarms, and unremitted occupations, and also the 
stimulus of new literary engagements, had great in- 
fluence in giving strength and energy to Jane's cha- 
racter. In her twentieth year these various excitements 
would naturally take more effect upon her principles 
and feelings than they would have done ten years later 
in life. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 165 



About this time commenced that series of deaths among 
her earher young friends, to which frequent allusion is 
made in Jane's letters. The death of the four lovely 
sisters, of whom mention has already been made, was 
succeeded by that of several other endeared companions. 
But while early intimacies were thus dissolved, the more 
important and more lasting friendships that had now 
been formed were strengthened, and became every year 
the sources of increased pleasure and advantage. The 
summer months were always enlivened by visits from 
some of our young friends; and the records which I 
find among my sister's papers, of these social enjoy- 
ments, show that she derived from them, both the 
liveliest delight and the most important benefits. The 
interruption occasioned by these visits to ordinary occu- 
pation, was not much greater than was needed to recruit 
the spirits, and to prepare the mind for the unremitting 
occupation of the winter months ; for as soon as evening 
walks were no longer practicable, the labours of the pen 

1 66 ' The Family Pen. 

were eagerly resumed, and, till the returning summer, 
rarely suspended. 

Reference has been made above to the reluctant 
consent which their father and mother gave to their 
daughter's literary engagements ; and I have said that 
the latter would have thought anything probable rather 
than that she should herself ever come before the public 
as an author. This unthought-of event did, however, 
actually occur, some years later than the time now in 
view. Both father and mother won success in different 
lines as authors ; and in the list of the various works pro- 
ductions of the " Family Pen," the titles of several works 
will be found which, in their day, were received with 
much favour, and some of which have maintained their 
place among books of the same class — up to this present 
time. My mother was in her fiftieth year when the volume 
entitled " Maternal Solicitude " appeared. This book 
passed through several editions within three or four years 
after its first publication. My father's book — "Advice 
to the Teens," has also had an extensive circulation. 

Jane's letters to her young friends will best exhibit her 
feelings, and describe her employments at this period. 


-_ " Colchester, Z>^c^w^t';- 20//Z, 1805. 

My dear Luck, 

If, four or five years ago, you had suffered so 
long a chasm to be made in our correspondence, I should 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 167 

doubtless have indulged in some such painful soliloquy 
as you have prepared for me ; or perhaps in a yet 
more touching and plaintive strain. But now, enjoying 
all the sober rationality of maturer age — now, having 
happily passed that wild and fanciful season, by some 
denominated the silly age — or, at least, being a degree 
or two more rational than I was then, I feel far more 
disposed to attribute the long intervals to which every 
correspondence is liable, to some of those thousand 
nameless hindrances which every day presents, and to 
that inconvenient spirit of procrastination, of which 
most of us more or less partake, than to declining 
affection, to fickleness, or to affront. Perhaps it may 
have occurred to you in the course of this long period, 
which I fear has nearly put you out of breath, that I 
have been speaking one word for you, and two for 
myself : it would be very unfair for you to suppose so ; 
but even should your supposition be just, you will allow 
that to afford another person one third of a good thing, 
that might have been all one's own, is no mean pro- 
portion. But now it will be making a poor return for 
all this generosity, if you should become more than ever 
remiss in your communications ; and then make your- 
self easy by thinking that Jane will only impute it to 
" some nameless hindrance, or an inconvenient spirit 
of procrastination." 

But now for your grave and appropriate question, 
namely — "What do you think of this famous victory 

1 68 The Family Pen. 

(Trafalgar) % " To which, after due consideration, I reply : 
Why, pray, what do yoic think of it ? for I make little 
doubt that we have thought much alike on the subject. 
Should you, however, question this, and suppose that my 
humbler ideas have not stretched to the same height as 
yours, I will convince you of the contrary, by endea- 
vouring to recall some of the reflections that were 
inspired by this " famous victory." And first I thought 
that — it was a very " famous victory ; " did not you ? — 
and besides this, and much more, I thought a great 
many things that the newspapers had very obligingly 
thought, ready for me. Well, but to speak in a graver 
strain, and if you are disposed to hear what I have 
really thought about our late victories ; — why read 
on: — 

Now, impressed with the idea that my private 
opinion could in no way affect the public weal, I have 
allowed myself to form one without restraint ; well 
knowing that I might vainly attempt to pluck one leaf 
from the hero's laurel, even if I were disposed to do so, 
which I assure you I am not. For every one who 
performs his part with zeal and success, claims respect : 
and who can deny that Nelson has nobly performed his % 
But tell me, is the character of the warrior in itself 
to be admired 1 or, rather, can it be loved ? From 
what motives does a man at first devote himself to 
the trade of war % Do you not think it is more often 
from a desire of glory than from patriotism % And now, 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 169 

though I have often endeavoured to discover what there 
is either amiable or generous in the love of glory, I have 
never yet been able to discern it. I cannot tell how or 
why it is a less selfish principle than the love of riches. 
Is not he in reality the truest patriot who fills up his 
station in private life well — he who loves and promotes 
peace, both public and private ; who. knowing that his 
country's prosperity depends much more on its virtue 
than its arms, resolves that his individual endeavours 
shall not be wanting to promote this desirable end % 
And is not he the greatest hero who is able to despise 
public honours for the sake of private usefulness — he 
who has learned to subdue his own inclinations, to deny 
himself every gratification inconsistent with virtue and 
piety, who has conquered his passions, and subdued his 
own spirit % Surely he is " greater than he that taketh a 
city," or a squadron. If the great men of the earth did 
but act on these principles, our heroes would be sadly at 
a loss for want of employment; I fear they would be 
obliged to turn to making ploughshares and pruning- 

Now perhaps you will call me an ungrateful creature, 
but really I think I am not so — though, certainly, I have 
not joined without some secret misgivings in the un- 
qualified plaudits that have sounded from all quarters. 
If so many brave men must be sacrificed, I heartily 
rejoice that the dear-bought victory was ours. But how 
is it possible, while we regard them not merely as 

lyo The Family Pen. 

machines of war, but as immortal beings, to rejoice 
without sorrow and dismay in the result of the refi- 
confre? * * * 


Colchester, February i2t/i, 1806. 

* * * In truth, Jane Taylor of the morning and 
Jane Taylor of the evening are as different people, 
in their feelings and sentiments, as two such intimate 
friends can possibly be. The former is an active handy 
little body, who can make beds or do plain work, and 
now and then takes a fancy for drawing, &c. But the 
last-mentioned lady never troubles her head with these 
menial affairs ; — nothing will suit her but the pen ; — and 
though she does nothing very extraordinary in this way, 
yet she so far surpasses the first-named gentlewoman, 
that any one who had ever received a letter from both, 
would immediately distinguish between the two, by the 
difference of the style. But to drop this ingenious 
allegory, I assure you it represents the truth, and I am 
pretty well determined not again to attempt letter- 
WTiting before breakfast. For really I am a mere 
machine— the most stupid and dronish creature you 
can imagine, at this time. The unsentimental realities 
of breakfast may claim some merit in restoring my 
mental faculties; but its effects are far surpassed by 
the evening's tea: after that comfortable, social, in- 
vigorating meal, I am myself, and begin to think the 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 171 

world a pleasanter place, and my friends more agreeable 
people, and entre nous, myself a much more respectable 
personage, than they have seemed during the day ; so 
that by eight o'clock I am just worked up to a proper 
state of mind for writing. If you are liable to these 
changing frames, you will not only excuse and feel for 
me, but heartily acquiesce in my resolution of now 
putting dovvn the pen till the evening. 

It is now indeed evening, and several days have 
elapsed since I wrote the foregoing, and I do assure 
you that nothing but the fear of being unable to fill 
another sheet in time for my father's departure, should 
prevail with me to send you so much nonsense. I often 
reproach myself for writing such trifling letters ; but it is 
so easy to trifle, and so hard to write what may be worth 
reading, that it is a sad temptation not to attempt 
it. * * * 


Colchester, May Mi, 1806. 
My dear Luck, 

I have just been taking a solitary turn round 
our pretty garden, on this most lovely evening ; and glad 
should I have been to have enjoyed it in company with 
my dear Luck. But as this was a fruitless wish, I thought 
I could do nothing better than return to my desk, and 
spend £tn hour with you in this way. Ann and a young 
friend who is come to stay with us while father and 

1 72 The Family Pen. 

mother are absent, are going to enjoy this serene sky 
abroad ; but I have determined to forbear that pleasure, 
for the sake of enjoying even this imperfect intercourse 
with you. 

My dear Luck, much as I love London for the 
friends it contains, I think my delight in country scenery 
increases every year ; and while I occasionally cast a 
wistful look towards places where I feel a heart interest 
— feeling as if imprisoned in this uncongenial spot : yet 
when I contrast smoke, and noise, and darkness, with 
the smiling landscape, and the clear sky, and all the 
beauties of a country walk, which is here always within 
reach, I forget my privations of other kinds, and ac- 
knowledge that " the Hnes are fallen to me in pleasant 
places." I doubt not that, if I live, the time will come 
when I shall look back to our social evening walks here 
with rapture — or, perhaps, with agony! I am sure I 
shall never know happier days than these, though now, 
indeed, I am not without my anxieties ; but, oh ! how 
much deeper anxieties may I have to encounter ! When 
I look without, and observe the portion of affliction 
which is distributed to others, and more especially when 
I look within, and see the mass of vanity and worldly- 
mindedness which perhaps can be dispelled only by 
affliction, I assure you I tremble; and while I look 
round on my many, many comforts,— not, I hope, with- 
out an emotion of thankfulness— I feel the wisdom of 
enjoying them 7iow : one link broken in the dear family 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 173 

chain, and the happiness I now enjoy could, I think, 
never be entirely restored ; and oh, how soon it may be 
snapped ! What a wide field for anxiety and distress 
is a large family, to every member of which one's happi- 
ness seems to cling ! Yet we know they are but " short 
comforts, borrowed now, to be repaid anon." In this 
light I would ever desire to regard them with a feeling 
of grateful pleasure as to the present, and of cheerful 
resignation for the future. 

I feel much gratified by the many expressions of 
affection contained in your last letter ; this is the sweetest 
music I can listen to. The voice of affection is distinct 
from that of flattery ; and I hope the former will ever be 
more delightful to me than the latter. To merit the 
esteem of the few individuals whose esteem I believe 
myself to enjoy, is my constant wish, and almost my 
highest ambition. I do not know why I have said 
almost ; for I know nothing more desirable — nothing 
which could make me more truly happy. 


Coi.CH'ESTER, Seji^emder 24f/i, 1806. 
Good morning to you, my dear L. But if you are, 
as I conjecture, enjoying the last grateful slumber, be- 
lieve me, I intend not to disturb you ; though I own it 
seems a little hard that I should be employed so early 
(for it is only half-past seven) for your amusement and 

\>j^ The Faj?iily Fen. 

instruction. And, moreover, that I may have all the 
praise that belongs to me, permit me to assure you that 
I have been up this Ihour or more, and have done a 
great deal of business ; while you, perhaps, have only 
been struggling with an obstinate dream, that at last has 
left you with all its delusions, to awake no wiser or 
happier than you were yesterday. If this has been your 
case, I heartily sympathise with you ; for often has my 
evil genius thus tormented me ; though, in truth, I have 
no great right to complain of him, since I must allow 
that in my waking dreams I have not unfrequently 
practised the same species of torture upon myself. 

But to be serious, my dear L., I do believe that 
this habit of castle-building is very injurious to the mind. 
I know I have sometimes lived so much in a castle, as 
almost to forget that I lived in a lioiise ; and while I 
have been carefully arranging aerial matters there, have 
left all my solid business in disorder here. To be per- 
petually fancying what might be, makes us forget what 
we really are ; and while conjuring up what we might 
have, we are negligent of what we really possess. You 
will perceive I am recollecting youthful follies : do not 
suppose, I beseech you, that I noio indulge in these 
childish reveries. At my age, you know, I go soberly 
on, doing my proper business in its regular routine. 
Will you believe that I ever suffer my thoughts to 
wander from the employment of my hands ? If, for 
example, I am making tea, I think about the tea, the 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 175 

tea-pot, the water, the sugar, the cream, the bread, the 
butter, and the plate, all in regular succession ; then of 
the company, when it is proper to make the customary 
inquiries — and, think you, at any other times % In short, 
I am now a discreet personage, having left all the follies 
of sixteen far in the background. 

If you remembered Eliza L. Stapleton, in health, 
you were, I dare say, much shocked by the alteration. 
Poor L. is also on her journey ; whether she will ever 
reach Exeter is doubtful; if she do, I fear she will 
survive her arrival a very short time. You are now 
witnessing the progress of this complaint in your cousin. 
Let me hear continually, when you write, how she is. 
E. and L. make six of our immediate friends whom we 
have attended in this disorder ; besides many others, not 
so near to us, who have gone in the same way. That I, 
who am certainly delicate, have stood so long, and under 
many disadvantages, is more than might have been 
expected ; and I hope excites thankfulness. I have for 
some time felt as if waiting for my turn. To hear only 
that any of my friends has a cough, alarms me now ; 
and I look round upon them all with an anxious eye — 
which of them am I next to lose ? * * * 


Colchester, December 6//1, 1806. 
* * And now will you allow me to call in question 
the accuracy and justice of some of your opinions, 

iy6 The Family Pen. 

though formed, as you assure me, on the accumulated 
experience of " three-score years and ten." I will not 
accuse you of doing the world injustice, for even the 
peep I have had at it convinces me that it is, as you 
say, " deceit and wickedness ; " but surely there are some 
honest souls — some who are disinterested, open-hearted, 
and affectionate ; at least, if it is not so — if those whom 
I have long thought it my greatest happiness to love, 
and whom my unbiassed judgment has taught me to 
respect and venerate, I ought rather to suspect and fear 
— I do not wish to be undeceived ; I would rather be 
imposed upon ever so often, than endure the torture of 
a constant state of suspicion and jealousy. Yes, my dear 
Eliza, you must not deprive me of the pleasure of believ- 
ing I have a real share in your affections ; you must still 
allow me to think of you as a friend, without indulging 
a fear that you will violate the sacred title. The best 
use, I think, that we can make of the many instances of 
duplicity and insincerity which every day brings before 
our view, is to learn thereby to suspect ourselves ; here, 
indeed, we cannot be too watchful, or too accurate in 
our examinations ; but, alas ! how much easier is it to 
decide upon the conduct and motives of others, than 
to weigh and analyse our own ! and what abundant 
cause have we for deep humiliation, when we arrive at 
the springs of most of our best performances ! 

The result of such reflections as these I have found 
very satisfactory and decisive : I find that it is quite 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 177 

in vain to attempt to perform any action, to think any- 
thought, or to cultivate any amiable sentiment aright, 
unless it be done with a view to the glory of God, and 
with a humble dependence on His supporting hand : of 
this important truth every day brings fresh conviction 
to my mind. I have long mourned over my temper, 
naturally irritable and impatient : I have read of, and 
I have witnessed, examples of uniform sweetness and 
meekness of temper, which have at once made me blush 
at my own deficiencies, and stimulated me to those exer- 
tions which others have successfully made in conquering 
their evil propensities. I have therefore resolved to 
make a noble stand against the risings of my temper, 
whatever provocations might occur : — but alas ! how 
feeble were those resolutions ! — perhaps they yielded 
to the very first attack, and the work was all to be done 
anew. What then was to be done % Must I give all 
over ; and suffer my ungoverned temper to prevail 1 
No J but I must first seek assistance from One whose 
"strength is made perfect in our weakness," who is 
as able to still the storms of passion, as to say to the 
raging waves, " Peace, be still : " — I must not hope to 
be able to resist the temptations to anger or fretfulness 
of one short day, if I have not in the morning of that 
day prayed to be enabled to overcome evil. One 
had better forget to say, " Give us this day our daily 
bread," than to put up the fervent petition, " Lead me 
not into temptation." 

VOL. I. N 

1 7 8 The Family Pen. 

But this is not all : — He who searches the heart will 
not afford me strength to overcome my temper, un- 
less He sees a right motive urging me to attempt it. 
If I wish to be amiable for the same reason that I 
might wish to be accomplished, or beautiful ; that is, 
that I may be admired, or beloved, or respected ; can 
I hope for success % Oh no ; if I be not actuated by 
an humble desire to obey the commands of God, and 
follow the bright example of Jesus Christ, by a hatred 
of all that is sinful, and an ardent desire to be "holy 
as He is holy," I must still strive and pray in vain. 
How does this increase the difficulty of the work, and 
show the absolute necessity of Divine assistance ! Not 
that I think a modest wish to please can be sinful ; 
indeed, without it, how can we ever expect to please ; 
but this must not be the grand spring of action, unless 
we would prefer the approbation of our fellow-creatures 
to the favour of God. * * * 


Colchester, October \2tJ1, 1807. 
* * * In the conversation we had together at 
Nayland, you may remember we lamented the trifling 
style into which we too often fall in our correspondence. 
It is undoubtedly a real evil, though a very common 
one : as in conversation, so in writing, it is easier to chat 
than to converse: it is easier to be witty than wise. 

Memoir of Jane Tayloi'. 179 

One can fill all sides of a sheet without stopping a 
minute, in such a way that one is quite ashamed to 
peruse it when done. If the mind is fatigued, or in an 
uncomfortable frame, what a labour it is to think ! and, 
at such a time, one is under a strong temptation to give 
the pen a full licence — curbing it neither by reason nor 
conscience : and what a range will it take when thus 
left to itself! But my dear L., is not this making that 
useless, or at best a mere diversion, which might be 
highly beneficial % And is not a similar fault often 
chargeable upon personal intercourse ? So seldom as 
we meet, and so short as are our interviews, what a pity 
that they should be trifled away ! Whenever we have 
had a friend with us, I sigh to think that so few of the 
hours in which we have had their company have been 
occupied by anything like improving conversation. For 
our own parts, I think the fault may, in great measure, 
be traced to our taste for drolk}-y. I have frequently 
regarded this propensity as a misfortune : especially as 
it is so rarely overcome. I am sure, my dear L., you 
have seen enough of it, and of its consequences, to 
make you think very much as I do on this subject. 
Does not a jest frequently put a stop to an interesting 
conversation, or dissipate a train of useful reflections % 
And do not droll turns of expression, or humorous 
associations, occasionally interfere even with our most 
serious engagements ? Have not these ideas frequently 
occurred to you? But to what does all this tend % Why, 

N 2 

i8o The Family Pen, 

I hope to an endeavour towards reformation : — at any 
rate, I will try this time to write a letter without trifling. 

In your last letter you just introduced the subject 
which ought to be more interesting to us than any other. 
It is strange, indeed, that those who are united in the 
bonds of friendship — as I hope, my dear L,, we are, 
and ever shall be — and who profess to be journeying 
together on the same pilgrimage, towards the same 
happy home, should so rarely exchange a word, relative 
to the difficulties and the dangers of the way, and to 
the hope of future rest. It is strange : yet, it is what 
we see every day. That unfortunate reserve which 
closes the lips of so many people on the subject of 
religion— whence does it proceed ] What other subject 
is there, however delicate, but what is sometimes intro- 
duced ? But here our lips are sealed. I beHeve we do 
ourselves a great injury by indulging this temper. For 
my own part, though I believe few people feel this reluc- 
tance more powerfully than I have done, it has not 
been the cause of my silence so often as the dis- 
couraging or uncomfortable state of my mind. Oh, 
could we but 7^^/ as much as we know of the importance 
and excellency of religion — could we but retain a just 
impression of the vanity of even the most important 
of our earthly pursuits, how different would be our 
manners and conduct! But seeing things as we do, 
only through the medium of our beclouded senses, 
every object is distorted or reversed. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. i8i 

I have lately been reading Dr. Watts's discourses on 
the Happiness of Separate Spirits. It is impossible to 
peruse them without feeling an elevation of mind above 
the trifles of earth — without being inspired by the desire 
" to see and taste the bliss : " — but oh, how soon is 
the mind sensualized again — even before one fleeting 
hour is passed ! How does the world flow in upon it 
again, after it has been for a while abstracted ! * * 


(Uncertain date.) 
It seems a long time since I held any converse 
with you; but I will not suffer that circumstance, 
especially as it is my own fault, to constrain me now, 
since I have every reason to believe you are the same 
Josiah whom I have been accustomed to address, and 
I, alas, remain too much like my former self! I was 
going to make some apology for what my letter may 
be, from the dulness of my present mood ; but I am 
afraid you will be tired of this, since, according to my 
own account, I have never written my best letter — 
that, I hope, will not be composed for a good while to 
come, and as I may never know which it is when it 
comes. How true is our kind friend M — 's remark re- 
specting writing and answering letters. How often have 
I felt and lamented it as I found the thoughts and 
feelings awakened by a welcome letter, gradually fading 

1 82 The Family Pen. 

away ere I could secure them, and especially when I 
find they are irrecoverably gone at the moment when 
they are most wanted ; but as this is an inconvenience 
common to us all, I have no right to make louder com- 
plaints than my neighbours. I would now gladly copy 
for you those grateful and eloquent compositions which 
saw the light, occasioned by your last letters ; but as 
they are quite gone and have left in this bewildered 
brain " no vestige but is fled," you must put up as usual 
with the dull uninspired production of my manufactory. 
* * * * * Well, then, what do you say to my 
being quite a convert ? Shall I tell you that I am per- 
fectly satisfied with my talents, that however injured and 
slighted by my envious contemporaries, I feel convinced 
that posterity will do me justice % That I feel confident 
in my own powers — would you believe it ? Well then, 
shall I tell you a more probable story ? That I am tired 
of wishing to be clever, that especially I am weary of 
the sickening, fatiguing struggle for competition, with 
such unequal forces : — a sling and a stone, or the jaw- 
bone of an ass, unless wielded by a David or a Samson. 
will not do. But I did not intend to trifle ; you did not, 
I am sure, expect your excellent letter should make any 
material alteration in my opinion or feeling of myself ; 
yet it was cheering and encouraging, and this was all 
you hoped it would be. * * * * 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 183 



Jane Avas at this time employed conjointly with her 
sister, upon some little works to which their names 
have never been attached. To this indeed they 
were always extremely reluctant; and they yielded 
their names only when it was no longer within their 
option to withhold them. It may be added, that, if 
publicity was not sought for by my sisters, neither 
were they incited by any prospects of considerable 
pecuniary advantage ; for, with one or two exceptions, 
the authors' share of the profits arising from the sale 
of their works never amounted in their early years to 
a sum which, if they had been dependent upon their 
exertions in this line, could have afforded them a 
comfortable subsistence. I feel it to be due to my 
sister's memory — and not to her memory alone— thus 
explicitly to contradict a supposition entertained, I 
believe, by some persons, that the very extensive sale 
of their works was the source of a large income to 
the authors ; this was far from being the fact in the 
early years of their course. 

184 The Family Peji. 

In pecuniary matters Jane was, at once, provident, 
exact, and liberal ; but her tastes and habits made 
her utterly averse to the care of accumulating money. 
Her feelings in writing were dissociated from the idea 
of gain ; and she would neither personally interfere to 
secure what she might deem her rights, nor suffer her 
mind to be long disturbed by solicitudes of this sort. 
She received, with gratitude to the Giver of all good, 
whatever share she actually obtained of the proceeds 
of her writing, and strove, as far as possible, to put 
away from her thoughts the disquieting recollection of 
what that share might have been. Often have I heard 
her break off a conversation on pecuniary matters, by 
an exclamation of this kind — " Ah well, it is God who 
determines what I am to have ; and if I were to gain 
all that I might fairly gain. He would know how, in 
other ways, to reduce the amount to the exact sum at 
which He sees best to fix my income." 

The success of her first attempt to write for the press 
administered no more stimulus to my sister's mind than 
her diffidence needed. Still she considered herself as 
merely filling up a subordinate part ; and it was with 
no feigned humility that, in addressing her sister, she 
says — 

" My Ann, you had taken the lyre ; 

And I, from the pattern you set, 
Attempted the art to acquire \ 

And often we play a duet. 

Memoir of Ja?te Taylor, 185 

But those who, in grateful return, 

Have said they were pleased with the lay, 

The discord could always discern ; 
And yet I continued to play." 

The second volume of " Original Poems " met with 
as much favour as the first ; — both volumes were soon 
reprinted in America, and have, to the present .time, 
continued there, as well as in England, to be very 
generally used in families. 

From the period of which I am now speaking, the 
history of my sister's mind will be best given by herself, 
in the extracts from her Correspondence ; and it will 
only be necessary to furnish such connecting facts as 
may render intelligible the perusal of the selected 
letters. The sound good sense which has recom- 
mended the later productions of her pen, began then 
to temper the sprightliness of her fancy ; and the 
letters of each succeeding year will exhibit a very 
marked progression in this respect • for not only did 
her understanding ripen, but the false diffidence by 
which it had been shackled was gradually removed by 
the successful exercise of her talents. In some young 
persons self-confidence occasions the precocious de- 
velopment of the reasoning powers ; while in others, 
a morbid diffidence retards their expansion, and even 
occasions a certain jejuneness of style long after the 
substance of thought has become worthy of mature 
years. This was very much the case with my sister : — 

1 86 . The Family Pen. 

if earlier in life she had beheved herself possessed of 
the powers she afterwards displayed, she might have 
laboured in a wider and higher sphere. She continued 
to address herself to children, not merely because she 
thought that to be the work for which she was best fitted ; 
but in great measure because, within this humble sphere, 
she felt herself safe ; and that, while she moved not out 
of it, the dreaded charge of presumption could not be 
brought against her. On many of the most important 
topics of religion, morals, and manners, she thought 
justly, and felt strongly : and she probably only needed 
the conviction that she could gain the attention of adult 
readers, in order to do so with success. But though 
representations of this kind were often made to 
her, she could never be prevailed upon to make the 

The little volume of " Rhymes for the Nursery," ap- 
peared not long after the " Original Poems : "■ — to this 
volume no one but my sisters contributed. Their aim 
was to present ideas, and to awaken emotions, in a form 
adapted to the earliest childhood. The question which 
the authors proposed in their preface — " Whether ideas 
adapted to the comprehension of infancy admit the 
restrictions of rhyme and metre " — seems now to be 
pretty well determined in the affirmative ; for it may be 
said to have been " carried by acclamation " from thou- 
sands of infant voices, that rhyme and metre are the 
friends of infancy; and that far from being "restrictions" 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 187 

upon the communication of ideas, they open the avenues 
of intellect more readily than any other means. Experi- 
ence proves that poetry itself, as distinguished from mere 
rhyme and metre, though not fully apprehended by the 
mind of a child, has truly a charm for it. Those who 
have been engaged in the instruction of the children of 
the poor, will grant it to be a fact, that if children of active 
minds are allowed to make their own selection of hymns to 
be committed to memory, they will for the most part 
choose rather such as have something of the spirit of 
poetry in them, than others which might have seemed 
better adapted to their comprehension, by being alto- 
gether prosaic in their style. The "Rhymes for the 
Nursery," though in phraseology brought down to a 
lower level, are, many of them, more poetical in their 
character than the " Original Poems ; " and it is believed 
that the success of the one has been, at least, fully equal 
to that of the other. 

Jane's literary pursuits were facilitated about this time, 
and her comfort much increased, by the appropriation of 
a room to her exclusive use, which she fitted up to her 
own taste. This attic was secluded from the rest of the 
house ; the window commanded a view of the country, 
and of a " tract of sky " as a field for that nightly soaring 
of the fancy of which she was so fond. Our parents 
always considered the exclusive occupation of a chamber, 
or study, by each of their family, as a most important 
advantage, both for the cultivation of the mind, and the 

1 88 The Family Pen. 

cherishing of devotional habits. So far as it was possible, 
we were all favoured in this respect; and Jane was 
always forward to avail herself of the privilege. Ad- 
dressing a literary friend, she thus describes her study : — 
" My verses have certainly one advantage to boast, 
beyond any that ever escaped from my pen heretofore — 
that of being composed in my own study. Whether 
instigated by the sight of your retired literarium, or what, 
I cannot exactly tell j but certain it is, that one of my 
first engagements, on my return home, was to fit up an 
unoccupied attic, hitherto devoted only to household 
lumber ; this I removed by the most spirited exertions, 
and supplied its place by all the apparatus necessary for 
a poet, which, you know, is not of a very extensive 
nature : a few book-shelves, a table for my writing-desk, 
one chair for myself, and another for my muse, is a pretty 
accurate inventory of my furniture. But though my study 
cannot boast the elegance of yours, it possesses one 
advantage which, as a poet, you ought to allow, surpasses 
them all — it commands a view of the country — the only 
room in the house, except one, which is thus favoured ; 
and to me this is invaluable. You may now expect me 
to do wonders ! But even if others should derive no 
advantages from this new arrangement, to me, I am sure, 
they will be numerous. For years I have been longing 
for such a luxury, and never before had wit enough to 
think of this convenient place. It will add so much to 
the comfort of my life, that I can do nothing but con- 

Memoir of Ja7ie Taylor. 189 

gratulate myself upon the happy tliought ; and I demand 
a large share of your poetical sympathy on the occasion. 
Although it is morning, and, I must tell you, but little 
past six, I have half filled this sheet, which capability 
I attribute chiefly to the sweet fields that are now smiling 
in vernal beauty before me." 

There is reason to believe that the advantage of being 
able to fulfil, literally, the command " to enter into the 
closet, and shut the door," was not slighted ; but that 
devotional exercises were more regularly attended to by 
my sister, from this time, from which, it is believed, an 
advance in her religious feelings may be dated ; though 
she still fell short of the peace and hope which become 
Christian faith. Nevertheless, the native soundness of 
her judgment showed itself when she was called to 
animadvert upon any morbid sentiments expressed by 
her young friends, as may be seen from the following 
letter :— 


Colchester, 1807. 
* * * In your last you again introduce the 
subject of worldly amusements ; and if I am not mis- 
taken, this is neither the first nor the second time you 
have done so ; and that in an argumentative style, as 
though our opinions were at variance. Now I really 
apprehend that we think as nearly alike on these points 
as one could reasonably wish ; and I think if you were to 

I go The Family Pen. 

examine some of my former letters, in which the subject 
has been discussed, you would find I acquiesce with 
you, at least in your most important objections. I can- 
not think what has given you the idea so strongly, that 
I am an advocate for the pleasures of the theatre ; unless 
it be, my having been persuaded, five years ago, to attend 
it one evening ; and though, certainly, I am not aware 
of having sustained any material injury, either to my 
moral or spiritual feelings, I have ever since decidedly 
resolved never to repeat the visit : and I hope you will 
believe me when I once again assure you that I do dis- 
approve of such amusements ; and should think it very 
dangerous, and exceedingly wrong, to be in the habit of 
frequenting them. You mention novels — you have read 
one or two here, and may conclude we are in the con- 
tinual habit of perusing them. I believe, in all my Ufa, 
I have read, and heard read, about a dozen — it may be, 
twenty ; and though I think it injudicious to suff"er very 
young girls to read even a good novel, if there be love in 
it, yet I must maintain the opinion that most, or many of 
those I have read, were of a beneficial, and not of a 
hurtful tendency. I would as soon read some of Miss 
Edgeworth's, or Miss Hamilton's novels, with a view to 
moral improvement, as Foster's Essays ; and I have too 
high an opinion of your good sense and hberality, to 
suppose that, after a candid perusal of these, and some 
few other good novels (for the number of good ones 
I readily allow to be very small), you would repeat that, 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 19 f 

" to read them was incompatible with love to God." You 
oblige me to recur to a hackneyed argument, that the 
abuse of a thing should not set aside its use. 

Do not say I am pleading for an indiscriminate indul- 
gence in novel reading, or 2<. frequent perusal of the very 
best of novels ; that, in common with every innocent 
recreation, may be easily carried to a hurtful excess : but 
you seem to me to fancy some fatal spell to attend the 
very name of novel, in a way that we should smile at, as 
narrow-minded and ignorant, in an uneducated person : 
all I wish you to admit — all I think myself is, that it is a 
possible thing for a book to be written, bearing the 
general form, appearance, and name of a novel, in the 
cause of virtue, morality, and religion ; and then, that to 
read such a book is by no means "incompatible with 
love to God," or in the least displeasing in His sight. 
I think you will not hesitate to admit this, and then we 
exactly agree in our opinions of " plays and novels." 
That plays, and bad novels, are " poisons which Satan 
frequently insinuates " with too great success, I have no 
more doubt of than yourself. Yet, if I am not mistaken, 
he has some still more potent venoms ; — if I might 
judge from myself, there are ways, in the most private 
life, in domestic scenes, in solitary retirements, by which 
Satan can as effectually operate on the heart, as in a 
crowded theatre. I believe I might read a hundred 
novels, and attend as many plays, and have my heart 
less drawn from God, than by those common pursuit 

igj The Family Fen. 

and interests which, while it would be sinful to avoid 
them, I cannot engage in without sin. It is in the 
realities of life, and not merely in the fictions that occa- 
sionally amuse us, that I find the most baneful poisons, 
the most effectual weaners from " love to God." 

I think many people " strain at a gnat, and swallow a 
camel," in these very circumstances ; and Satan willingly 
suffers them to abstain with holy horror from the theatre, 
or to throw aside a novel with abhorrence, so the idol — 
the real idol he has erected in their hearts, receive its daily 
worship. You cannot suppose I am bringing this for- 
ward by way of argument for the one or the other ; but 
it always appears to me that people begin at the wrong 
end, when they attack such errors as these. One might 
as well expect to demolish a building by pulling down 
some external ornament, while the pillars were left un- 
moved ; and I think many who exclaim with vehemence 
against those who indulge in some of the vain pleasures 
of the world (for which, probably, themselves have no 
relish, and from which, therefore, it costs them little self- 
denial to abstain), would do well to examine if there be 
not some favourite idol within their own breasts, equally 
displeasing in the sight of a heart-searching God. I do 
not say this to you, dear Eliza. I know that you watch 
your heart, as well as your conduct ; and earnestly desire 
to guard it in every quarter from the incursions of the 
wily adversary ; and while you have abundant occasion 
to warn me of that worldly-mindedness which I desire 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 193 

daily to mourn over and to mortify, I hope your anxiety 
for me, " as one who reads novels, and tolerates the 
frequenting of plays," will be abated, at least. I will 
discuss the subject with you as often as you please ; but 
do not again employ your time in arguing me out of 
opinions which I ever discarded. * * * 

A similar strain of good sense appears in the following 
passages : — 

" Those," she says in a letter to a friend, " who are 
in the habit of reading their own hearts, know that the 
heart may be as devotedly fixed on what is in itself a 
truly worthy and proper object of regard, as on the 
sinful vanities of the world : and, if that object be any- 
thing but God, its intrinsic value diminishes nothing from 
the idolatry of the feeling. Perhaps I need not blush to 
enumerate those worldly pleasures on which my heart is 
most intent : but I know I ought to blush, could I dis- 
close the high, monopolizing place they hold there : — they 
reign ; — when will these idols fall before the ark of God % 
Are they to be torn from their hiding-place, as yours 
have been % Oh ! why have I not had this trial rather 
than you ? 

"You have well described the difficulty, the ex- 
ertion, requisite for real and fervent prayer. I am 
glad that I do know the difference between that and 
the offering of lifeless petitions : you rightly affirm that 
' true prayer surpasses every other mental exercise, and 

VOL. I. O 

194 The Family Pen. 

is entirely beyond human attainment, without Divine 
aid.' Certainly, no one ever prayed who was not a 
Christian ; but, though sometimes I have found every 
faculty, for a few moments, intently engaged in the 
exercise, how can I hope that this was really prayer, 
when I remember the indifference, the coldness, the 
reluctance, that characterise the general state of my mind. 
Yet, in the midst of the darkness that surrounds my 
own mind, I rejoice, my dear friend, in the light which 
shines upon yours." 

How far this want of the comfort which religion can 
afford, might have been attributed to an obscured ap- 
prehension of " the hope set before us in the Gospel," 
is a question worthy of inquiry : — that it was not the 
consequence of cynical feelings or habits will be made 
apparent by a quotation from a letter addressed to a 
friend, whose mind was in some degree perverted by 
sentiments of that sort : — 

" In a certain sense, I may say with you, ' that my 
views of life are dark and melancholy : ' yet I believe 
when you say so, you mean something more than I 
do. You do not permit yourself to receive the comforts 
and delights that are offered you by Providence with ' a 
merry heart, giving God thanks.' Now, I think that 
though, when compared with heavenly happiness, the best 
joys of earth should appear mean and trifling in our eyes ; 
yet, considered in themselves, as they were given for 
our enjoyment, surely a cheerful and grateful delight in 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 195 

them, must be even acceptable to our all-bountiful 
Father. When we survey all our comforts — a happy- 
home, affectionate friends, easy circumstances, and the 
numerous train of common mercies and social delights, 
ought we to call the prospect ' dark and melancholy' % 
Surely, the cheerful song of praise befits us better than 
the sigh of discontent. Do not suppose I would plead 
for the gay amusements and dangerous pleasures of the 
world. I am as firmly convinced of their evil tendency 
as you can be : and would avoid them as carefully. I 
am referring only to the natural comforts and lawful 
enjoyments of life ; and even of these I would say, 
that we must still ' hold them as if we held them not ; 
and use them as not abusing them.' " 

The same order of sentiment appears in a letter of 
consolation, addressed to this friend, soon afterward, 
on the death of a beloved brother. '■'■ Afflictions rightly 
improved, are indeed blessings ; yet, how apt are we 
to abuse them by receiving impressions very different, 
from what they were intended to produce. I mention 
this from a fear that, notwithstanding your cheerful ac- 
quiescence in the Divine will, you do, in a degree, 
mistake the intentions of Providence. I hear your 
cough is become habitual, and that you firmly expect, 
and almost wish, to join your dear brother soon. Now, I 
am persuaded, it is not merely from a selfish motive that 
I would say, Do not court death ; but, I am sure, it is 
the language of reason, and the voice of duty. It 
o 2 

ig6 The Family Pen. 

cannot be a wholesome state of mind, even in the midst 
of the severest trials, when it is looking to death as a 
relief. The holy desire ' to depart, and to be with 
Christ,' is very different from the desire to depart, that 
we may be with some dear friend, a desire which can 
arise only from a worldly principle. In sending these 
sorrows, God usually intends to fit us for living more 
to His glory here below; and though they certainly 
contain a loud warning to ' prepare to meet our God,' 
as we know not how soon our turn may come, it is 
showing a degree of impatience under them to say — ' I 
cannot bear the separation, let me die also.' Let me 
intreat you then, my dear E., to take great and constant 
care of your health, for vain is the attention of your 
friends, unless you join your own endeavours; especially 
restrain yourself from that ardent pursuit of whatever 
happens to engage your present interest, which, I am 
very sure, has greatly undermined your health already, 
and which, if persisted in, will assuredly destroy it. May 
your soul also prosper ! I shall rejoice to hear that you 
have been led by this affliction, more confidently than 
ever, ' to lay hold of the only hope set before us.' " 

Unconsciously to herself, a real progression appears, 
from her letters, to have been taking place in Jane's 
religious feelings ; and, if not more happy in hope, she 
became more established in principle. In a letter of an 
earlier date than the last, she says— 

"Well, I hope I can say I have different views of life, 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 197 

and a higher ambition than formerly. I dare not trust my 
treacherous heart a moment. But yet, upon examination, 
I think I may say, I should feel at least contented to pass 
silently and soberly through the world, with a humble 
hope of reaching heaven at the end of my pilgrimage. 
I have many, many difficulties in my way; and, when 
I compare the state of my mind with that which is 
required of those who follow Jesus, and see how much 
must be done ere I can attain it, I have no other com- 
fort than this — ' With God all things are possible.' Yes, 
indeed, my dear EHza, we have each of us dangerous 
snares to avoid, and, as you say, temptations to love the 
world. But I well know, and with shame I would 
allow it, that yours are far more inviting, and require 
more courage and self-denial to resist, than mine : yet, 
you may escape, and I become the victim. With half 
your graces and accomplishments, what should I have 
been ! You mention talents ; — but indeed you mistake 
in supposing that the accidental success that has at- 
tended my feeble efforts, has been very hurtful to me. 
I wish I had no worse enemies than my wits. I do not 
deny — it would be ungrateful to do so — that the appro- 
bation we have met with, and the applause, especially 
of some whose opinion was particularly precious, have 
been sources of constant satisfaction : and perhaps, 
occasionally, my weak mind has been partly overset by 
them. Yet, I think I may say, my humiliations have 
generally counterbalanced such feelings, and kept my 

igS The Family Pen. 

mind in eqiiilibrio. No, though I own my muse has done 
me a few good turns, for which I shall always feel 
grateful : yet she has been the means of procuring me 
as many good, wholesome mortifications as any person- 
age, real or ideal, that I know of I do not say all this 
to prove that I am not vain, for I am ; if I were not, 
you know, I should not be liable to mortifications, nor 
have I yet thrown aside my pen in disgust, though I 
have many a time longed to do so." 

These counteractive feelings were brought into play 
at times when Ann and Jane — now authors — were intro- 
duced into new circles. Their mother says — 

" Desirous that our daughters should enjoy some 
recreation and suspension from their labours, they were 
allowed, alternately, an annual visit to London, among 
old friends, and where they gained some new ones. 
They had acquired by this time a degree of literary 
reputation : but as they had nothing to introduce them 
as persons in affluent circumstances, their reception, as 
in all similar cases, was regulated by the feelings and 
dispositions of those to whom they were introduced. 
And, while some treated them with cordiality and 
friendship, others favoured them with that amiable con- 
descension which is so current in the world, and is 
equally intelligible to many of those who are ' honoured 
with it.' " 

Jane's letters about this time, when notoriety as an 
author was new to her, abound with similar sentiments. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 199 

"We have been visiting some friends in the country, 
who correspond with the description you give of yours. 
They possess that natural intelligence, sound sense, and 
intrinsic excellence, which cannot fail to render them 
interesting, though deficient in cultivation, and un- 
polished in matters of taste. Now, among these friends, 
our poor superficial acquirements blaze away most 
splendidly. But though I am conscious of feeling elated 
at such times, yet it is checked by a humiliating sense 
of my real inferiority. I see them living in the daily 
exercise of virtues and graces to which I never ap- 
proached. In all that is sound, sterling, durable^in 
all that a heart-searching God can approve, I see how 
far I fall short ; and then, how contemptible and worth- 
less is all in which I may have the advantage. Although 
that degree of vanity which amounts to conceit, and 
obvious and obtrusive self-complacency, must, I think, 
be absolutely incompatible with dignity and refinement 
of mind, as well as with the Christian graces ; yet, 
where is the heart, in which, in a state more or less 
subdued, it exists not % And those who are wont to 
speak and think mainly of themselves — who are willing 
to prefer others to themselves — and who are continually 
deploring their deficiencies, yet, after all, evince great 
ignorance of their own hearts, if they imagine that, 
beneath all this humiliation, no seeds of vanity lie con- 
cealed ; in truth, they may spring up nowhere more 
luxuriantly than in the soil that is watered by the tears 

200 The Family Pen. 

of self-condemnation. With respect to this baleful 
weed, it may with peculiar propriety be said — 

' We cannot bear diviner fruit, 
Till grace refine the ground.' 

Here is the only remedy — religion, and religion only, 
can humble the proud spirit in the dust." 

Jane's intimate friends were not ignorant of the em- 
barrassed state of her religious feelings ; nor were they 
backward in affording to her the directions and en- 
couragement she seemed to require. These offices of 
Christian friendship were acknowledged by her with 
lively affection. 

" With feelings of sincere gratitude and love, I would 
again thank you, my very dear Anne, for the tender 
concern you manifested on my behalf; and the readiness 
with which you afforded the advice and encouragement 
I solicited. You are highly privileged, dear Anne, in 
having it in your power to promote pleasure and cheer- 
fulness wherever you appear. Your visit was truly a 
season of sunshine ; and how sweetly refreshing are such 
occasional gleams, breaking forth from a clouded sky — 
and such indeed is mine. I could bear the roughness 
of the road, if it were but bright overhead : however, I 
dare not turn back; and you, dear Anne, while going 
on your way rejoicing, will not, I am sure, be unmindful 
of your benighted friend. It may be long before we 
meet again ; but my heart has been accustomed to love 
the absent, and my thoughts have been trained to fly 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 201 

towards every point of the compass : and whether at 

, or at , they will frequently attend you, laden 

with sincere affection." 

In reply to a letter of religious consolation and advice, 
addressed, about this time, to Jane by another friend, 
she says : — 

"I have already thanked you for a letter received 
two months ago ; but I have yet to assure you, of 
what you seem to entertain a doubt — that the principal 
subject of it was very far from being uninteresting or un- 
welcome to me. I own, indeed, I do feel a backward- 
ness in introducing these topics; and that, as you say, 
greatly arising from a false shame, that ought not to be 
encouraged. But I have other impediments ; and if I 
cannot speak with entire freedom on religious subjects, 
it is not, indeed, because I cannot ' confide in you ; ' but 
for want of confidence in myself. I dread much more 
than total silence, falling into a common-place, technical 
style of expression, without real meaning and feeling ; 
and thereby, deceiving both myself and others. I well 
know how ready my friends are to give me encourage- 
ment, and how wiUing to hope the best concerning me ; 
and as I cannot open to them the secret recesses of my 
heart, they put a too favourable construction on my ex- 
pressions. You will not then impute it to a want of 
confidence, though I cannot speak otherwise than gene- 
rally on this subject. . . . Yet I do hope that I have 
of late seen something of the vanity of the world, and 

202 The Family Pen. 

increasingly feel that it cannot be my rest. The com- 
panions of my youth are no more : our own domestic 
circle is breaking up : time seems every day to fly with 
increased rapidity ; and must I not say ' the world 
recedes.' Under these impressions, I would seek con- 
solation where only I know it is to be found. I long 
to be able to make heaven and eternity the home of 
my thoughts, to which, though they must often wander 
abroad on other concerns, they may regularly return, 
and find their best entertainment. But I always indulge 
with fear and self-suspicion in these most interesting 
contemplations ; and doubtless, the enjoyments arising 
from them belong rather to the advanced Christian, than 
to the doubting, wandering beginner. I am afraid I feel 
poetically, rather than piously, on these subjects; and 
while I am indulging in vain conjectures on the employ- 
ments and enjoyments of a future state, I must envy the 
humble Christian who, with juster views, and better 
claims, is longing ' to depart and be with Christ.' Nor 
would I mistake a fretful impatience with the fatigues 
and crosses of life, for a temper weaned from the world. 
I could, indeed, sometimes say — 

' I long to lay this painful head, 

And aching heart, beneath the soil ; 

To slumber in that dreamless bed ; 
From all my toil.' 

And I have felt too those lines — 

* The bitter tear — the arduous struggle ceases here — 
The doubt, the danger, and the fear, 

All, all, lor ever o'er.' 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 203 

But these feelings, though they may afford occasional 
relief, I could not indulge in." 

The extracts from her correspondence will be found 
to exhibit, again and again, the same constitutional feel- 
ings, but counterpoised, as her character matured, by a 
firmer faith, and a brighter hope. Yet the improvement 
took place so insensibly that its immediate causes are 
difficult to ascertain. At the time the above cited letters 
were written, no advice, perhaps, no representations of 
the simplicity and certainty of that offer of happiness 
which is made to us in the Scriptures, would have availed 
to dispel the gloom and discomfort of my sister's mind ; 
for constitutional feelings are with difficulty uprooted. 
She nevertheless knew how to address consolations to 
her suffering friends. 


Colchester, December nth, 1807. 

It would be to me a most delightful and gratifying 
task to address you, my dear M., on this occasion, did 
I believe it to be in my power to speak to your deeply 
wounded spirit the language of real consolation ; but I 
feel forcibly the insignificancy and inefficacy of empty 
words, in a case of such sad reality : and I own the task 
would be only painful, were I not fulfilling your kind 

If it be consolatory to be persuaded that we do not 
mourn alone and disregarded, but that in our tears and 
sorrows we have the deep sympathy of a friend, then. 

204 ^^^^ Family Pen. 

indeed, my dear M., you may receive all the consolation 
such a persuasion can bestow. To a mind so well stored 
as yours with religious principles, and so well regulated 
by them, it would be superfluous to enumerate those 
sources of comfort which the word of God presents to 
the mourning Christian. Nor would it indeed become 
me, being sensible how far I fall short of your attain- 
ments in this respect ; and I am very sure you are daily 
receiving these lessons of pious resignation from your 
dear and excellent father. Have you not, dear M., felt 
something of the "joy of grief," and that too in a better 
sense than the poet intends, in the feeling of having a 
new tie to the heavenly world, while one of the strongest 
cords that bound your soul to this, is broken. Cowper 
beautifully rejoices in being the son of parents "passed 
into the skies." It is indeed a most inspiring idea, and 
those who have a good, well-founded hope of the happi- 
ness of their departed friends, cannot be inconsolable at 
the separation. A friend, who has lately lost a beloved 
brother, says, in a letter just received : " We are always 
happy in the idea that our dear brother is in heaven." 
This is the privilege of Christians — this is indeed a joy 
that the world knows not of. Oh, how can those 
who are without hope, either for themselves or for their 
friends, support the weight of such a stroke ! They are 
obliged to plunge into gaieties for a refuge from reflection. 
But how poor a substitute are these for the consolations 
of religion i * * * * 

Memoir of Ja7ie Taylor. 205 




Colchester, />i5;-«fl;7 14//%, 1808. 

Nothing less, my dear Eliza, than your actual pre- 
sence could, I believe, just now rouse me from the 
stupor of a long evening's application. I always grow 
quite rusty in the winter, and almost forget that the 
world reaches farther than from one end of the house 
to the other. Not but that my thoughts take an occa- 
sional flight to regions more remote; but they stretch 
so far into the blue distance, that I can scarcely tell 
whether they arrive at realities, or rest upon vapour and 
illusion. You, who have seen us only in the summer, 
when we are never so regular in our movements, can 
scarcely form an idea of the retirement and uninterrupted 
regularity of our winter life. We seem more like the 
possessors of some lone castle in the bosom of the 

2o6 TJie I'amily Fen. 

mountains, than the inhabitants of a populous town. 
Yet, do not imagine ine showing a deplorable face 
through the grates of my prison, and longing to break 
forth into the gay world. I assure you I enjoy this 
retirement — this peaceful and happy home, where my 
heart and my happiness are centred. When I look 
round at the dear and yet unbroken circle, I reproach 
myself if ever I have indulged a feeling of fretfulness 
— that the glow of thankfulness should ever forsake my 
heart. Yet we have troubles and anxieties that will 
sometimes destroy cheerfulness. But I feel persuaded 
that, however I may feel their pressure now, I shall 
never know happier days than these. And one advan- 
tage I have, which must soon forsake me — I am still 
young; and feel occasionally that flow of spirits — that 
bounding joy of heart — which ever attends the spring 
of life. The spirits may indeed be depressed, but they 
will rise again ; and I have often been surprised to feel 
not only cheerfulness, but hilarity, returning to my heart 
from no apparent cause, and when circumstances which 
had plunged me in dejection remained unchanged. * * 


Colchester, May i^th, 1808. 

* * * You still ask me to define a compliment : 
I thought we had agreed that praise bestowed upon 
real merit, sanctioned by the honest judgment, and 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 207 

administered temperately, ought not to be termed a 
compliment. Whenever praise exceeds the above- 
mentioned limits, it deserves no better name. Now 
I fear that unless we have courage to violate the 
common laws of good-breeding, we must all acknow- 
ledge ourselves to be faulty in this respect. Indeed, 
it seems to depend more upon the character of our 
associates than upon ourselves, to what degree we 
offend. I have friends whom I cannot compliment ; 
and I have acquaintances whom, unless I transgress 
these laws, I must needs compliment whenever I am 
in their company. In this view, if I have accused you 
of such a practice, I am willing to take the blame upon 
myself. And I will consider myself bound, for your 
sake as well as for my own, better to merit those com- 
mendations which neither your politeness could entirely 
withhold, nor my vanity wholly dispense with. It is 
difficult to distinguish accurately between an honest 
desire to please, and that poisonous love of admiration 
which acts rather as a cloy than a stimulus to mental 
improvement, — to judge between a laudable ambition 
to excel, and a vain and selfish desire to outshine others. 
How many mortifications should we escape, if we were 
always more solicitous to deserve the love of a few valued 
friends, than to excite general admiration ! A proud 
indifference to the opinion of the world is no amiable 
feeling. But to be independent of its smiles, by valuing 
chiefly the sweets of inward tranquillity, is indeed a most 

2o8 The Family Pen. 

desirable state of mind — only to be attained by culti- 
vating the best principles, and by seeking approbation 
from the highest source. * * * * 


Colchester, June 2d, 1808. 

* * * We have already had some delightful 
evening rambles. When we are all out together on these 
happy occasions, I forget all my troubles, and feel as 
light-hearted as I can remember I used to do some seven 
or eight years ago, when I scarcely knew what was meant 
by depression. If I should ever lose my relish for these 
simple pleasures — if I thought, by growing older, my 
feelings would no longer be alive to them, I should be 
ready, indeed, to cling to youth, and petition old Time to 
take a little rest, instead of working so indefatigably, 
night and day, upon me. But, alas ! he is such a per- 
severing old fellow, that nothing can hinder him : one 
must needs admire his industry, even though one may 
now and then be a little provoked with his obstinacy. 
But seriously, it is not right to shrink from age, much less 
from maturity ; and could I be sure of retaining some of 
my present ideas, feelings, and sentiments, and of parting 
only with those that are vain and childish, I think 
I could welcome its near approach with a tolerably good 
grace. But I dread finding a chilling indifference steal 
gradually upon me for some of my pursuits and plea- 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 209 

sures which have hitherto been most dear to me — an 
indifference which I think I have observed in some in 
the meridian of Hfe. I am always, therefore, delighted 
to discover, in people of advancing years, any symptoms 
of their being still susceptible of such enjoyments ; and 
in this view the letters of Mrs. Grant afforded me pecu- 
liar gratification : increasing years seem to have deprived 
her of no rational enjoyment. If time clipped a little 
the wings of her fancy, she was still able to soar above 
the common pleasures of a mere housewife ; — no re- 
flection, by-the-by, upon that respectable character; 
believe me, I reverence it, and always regard with 
respect a woman who performs her difiicult, complicated, 
and important duties with address and propriety. Yet I 
see no reason why the best housewife in the world should 
take more pleasure in making a curious pudding, than in 
reading a fine poem ; or feel a greater pride in setting 
out an elegant table, than in producing a well-trained 
child. I perfectly glory in the undeniable example Mrs. 
Grant exhibits of a woman filling up all the duties of her 
domestic station with peculiar activity and success, and 
at the same time cultivating the minds of her children 
usefully and elegantly ; and still allowing herself to in- 
dulge occasionally in the most truly rational of all 
pleasures — the pleasures of intellect. 

I daresay you read a paper in the Christian Observer 
for April, on Female Cultivation. I feel grateful to the 
sensible and liberally-minded author. I do believe the 

VOL. I. P 

2 1 o The Family Pen. 

reason why so few men, even among the intelligent, wish 
to encourage the mental cultivation of women, is their 
excessive love of the good things of this life ; they tremble 
for their dear stomachs, concluding that a woman who 
could taste the pleasures of poetry or sentiment, would 
never descend to pay due attention to those exquisite 
flavours in pudding or pie, that are so gratifying to their 
philosophic palates ; and yet, poor gentlemen, it is a 
thousand pities they should be so much mistaken ; for 
after all, who so much as a woman of sense and cultiva- 
tion, will feel the real importance of domestic duties ; 
or who will so well, so cheerfully, perform them ? * * * 


Colchester, February i\si, 1809. 
* * * Mr. James Montgomery is the principal 
subject of your last letter. I have felt quite impatient to 
add my thanks to those Ann has, I believe, already 
presented, for your truly friendly exertions to introduce 
us to his notice ; for as your interviews were few, and 
occupied by much more interesting discourse, to remem- 
ber two obscure country rhymers was very kind ; and so 
we feel it. As to his remarks on our books, they cannot 
be otherwise than gratifying. We feel all the difference 
between such an opinion, expressed by a man of taste 
and genius, and the customary compliment of " Sweet 
pretty things, ladies— they do you great credit," &c. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 211 

I regret he did not leave room to find fault. We are 
fully conscious that we deserve it. When we first wrote, 
we were not in the habit of taking pains ; that is to say, 
we were not aware what pains were necessary ; neither 
did we know what we had at stake ; consequently our 
earliest productions abound with inaccuracies. Parents 
are pleased with them, because their children are ; but 
from Mr. Montgomery, who is neither a little boy nor a 
father, I had not expected so favourable a critique. But 
since it would ill become me to question his judgment or 
^taste, the small portion of his praise which I take to my 
own share affords me solid satisfaction. 

Alas ! if a poor wight has ever had the misfortune to 
hit upon two words that jingle, what a craving appetite 
is created ; and he is, perhaps, doomed to endure per- 
petual starvation, or at best to derive a scanty and pre- 
carious subsistence from crumbs of praise : though it is 
as delicious to his palate (and even more so from its 
rarity) as to that of the favoured bard who receives it as 
his daily bread. But while I must confess that I have 
felt the appetite, I can say with sincerity that my happi- 
ness does not depend upon dainties of this sort, and that 
I can live contentedly upon plainer food. I wish to be 
thankful that I can find enjoyment in simple pleasures, 
and such as are, so far as I can discover, purified from 
the dross of selfishness and vanity. I am pleased to look 
within, and find that I am really happy when our com- 
plete family circle is formed, and useful and interesting 

212 The Family Fen. 

conversation arises and circulates. Memory can recall 
many livelier scenes, and fancy could present others still 
gayer, but neither memory nor fancy can persuade me to 
be discontented with the present. The loss of every 
external source of happiness, by the death of our early 
friends here, forced us to seek it in its native soil. I 
loved home, but I knew not how to value and enjoy 
it ; and to the beauties of nature, though blooming 
around me, I was blind. I am surprised when, looking 
back only a few years, I remember how totally insensible 
I was to those scenes which are now constant sources of 
delight ; though I should have been not a little startled 
had my taste and feeling been questioned — I, who have 
spent many a summer's evening on the old ivy-grown 
town wall, reading Thomson to the friend of my bosom ; 
and would strain my eyes till they ached, that I might 
read by moonlight ! But now, though I confess I prefer 
the convenience of a commodious apartment, and wil- 
lingly endure the gross vapours of tallow, and the bar- 
barism of artificial light ; yet, I flatter myself, I know 
better how to enjoy the glowing landscape, as well as to 
taste the beauties of the poet ; and that I contemplate 
the fair face of the moon with sensations not only more 
rational, but more pleasurable, than in those days of idle 
romance. That I have an eye to see, and a heart to 
feel, the beauties of nature, I acknowledge with gratitude, 
because they aiford me constant and unsatiating pleasure, 
and form almost my only recreation. And I indulge the 

Memoir of Jane Taylou 213 

hope that, having acquired a love for these simple enjoy- 
ments, I shall never lose it; but that in seasons of 
solitude or of sorrow, I shall continue to find a sweet 
solace in them. When I am low in spirits, weary, or 
cross — or especially when worried by some of the teasing 
realities of life, one glance at the landscape from the 
window of my attic never fails to produce a salutary 
effect upon me. And when " 'tis night, and the land- 
scape is lovely no more," — if moon, planet, or star, con- 
descends to beam through my casement, I revive under 
its benign influence. Many might smile at this, espe- 
cially as I have renounced the title of romantic, and 
claim that of rational, for my pleasures ; but I beg you 
will not. As a Londoner, I might apologize for dwelling 
on such a theme ; but to a poet I cannot ; and though 
to a correspondent I ought to apologize for so much 
egotism, to a friend I need not. 

The infant smiles of spring have, perhaps, inspired 
me with this effusion : its return is always reviving and 
cheering; and while all around is gay and young, 
we forget that our winter has approached a step nearer. 
I am sometimes starded when I recollect that very pro- 
bably half- my allotted days are already spent; and 
possibly much more. Years that once appeared such 
long and tedious periods, now seem to fly onward with 
such rapidity, that they are gone ere they can be en- 
joyed or improved. Yet a few, at most, of these fleeting 
seasons, and I, and all I love, shall be forgotten on 

214 '^^ Family Pen. 

earth. You have heard, doubtless, that we have lost 
our friend Mrs. Stapleton. Thus, we see a family 
nearly extinct, in which, but a few years ago, was centred 
all that was interesting and dear to us. We have no 
juvenile recollections with which they are not con- 
nected ; and the much valued friendships we have 
formed in later years have not effaced those early im- 
pressions. It is difficult to realize such losses. And 
it is not these alone : for of a gay and happy circle, with 
whom we were intimately connected, Ann and I are the 
only survivors. * * * 

In the course of the year 1809, our long-united family 
was separated, by the removal of two of its members to 
London ; and, if the expressions of regret on this sub- 
ject, with which Jane's letters abound, were to be 
quoted, they would seem to many readers to go beyond 
the necessities of the occasion. But none of her feelings 
were more vivid than those of family affection; and, 
almost blind to the reason of the case, she would fain 
have held the endeared circle entire, at the cost of all 
secular interests. "I regard," she says, "this separation, 
as one of the greatest sorrows I have ever .known. I 
cannot view it merely as a parting with a friend, whom 
I may hope to meet again in a few months ; for though 
our interviews may be frequent, our separation as com- 
panions is final. We are to travel different roads ; and 
all the time we may actually pass together, in the course 

Memoir of Jajie Taylor. 215 

of occasional meetings, during our whole future lives, 
may not amount to more than a year or two of constant 

This foreboding was falsified by the event ; for, in 
fact, only a year or two of separation took place 
between Jane and the brother to whom she here refers : 
— excepting that short interval, it was his happiness 
to be the constant companion of her life. 

In a letter written to her brothers, Isaac and Martin, 
soon after their leaving home, she says — " Oh this cruel 
separation ! It would have killed me to have known 
when first we parted, how complete it would be. I am 
glad we deceived ourselves with the hope of keeping up 
frequent intercourse by letters and visits ; it saved us 
a severer pang than any we then endured. These 
painful reflections are revived by the disappointment of 
our fond hopes of a speedy reunion, which is now 
rendered not only distant, but very doubtful. You, 
engaged in business, and surrounded by friends, cannot 
feel as we do on this subject. We have nothing to do 
but to contemplate our cheerless prospects, or to think 
of the days that are past. I do not mean it reproach- 
fully when I say, that you will soon learn to do without 
us ; it is the natural consequence of your situation, and 
we ought to be reconciled to the 'common lot.' But 
how can I forget the happy years in which we were 
everything to each other ? I am sometimes half jealous 
of our friends, especially of , who now has that 

2 1 6 The Family Pen. 

confidence which we once enjoyed. But I will not 
proceed in this mournful strain : and do not think, 
my dear brothers, that I am charging you with neglect, 
or any decrease of affection; though I do sometimes 
anticipate, and that with a bitter regret, the natural 
effect of a long-continued separation." 

So eminently characteristic of my sister's mind were 
feelings of this sort, that I must exhibit them in one or 
two further quotations from her letters to her brothers. 

" We have not yet tried separation long enough to 
know what its effects will eventually be. I dread lest, 
in time, we should become so accustomed to it, as to 
feel contented to live apart, and forget the pleasure of 
our former intercourse ; and 1 cannot suffer myself to 
believe what, after all, is most probable, that we shall 
never be united again. It is a forlorn idea ; for what 
will two or three flying visits in the course of the year 
amount to? Life is short, and we perhaps half-way 
through it already. Well, I ought to be thankful that 
we have passed so large a portion of it in company, 
and that the best part, too ; and, as to the future, if I 
could be sure that years of separation would not in the 
least estrange our affections from each other, and that 
the glow which warms the youthful breast would never 
be chilled by our passage through a cold, heartless 
world, I would be content. But the idea of becoming 
such brothers and sisters as we see everywhere, is in- 
comparably more painful than that of a final banish- 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 217 

nient, in which we should love each other as we now 

* * * " We still indulge the hope of renewed inter- 
course \ this hope may indeed be fallacious, but I cannot 
reject it. In the meantime, we do, and we will, con- 
tinue to love each other ; and this is consolation. Long 
before the dear circle was broken up, I looked forward to 
the time of separation with dread ; chiefly from the ap- 
prehension lest that loveliest of plants, family affection, 
(which in spite of many storms, had been successfully 
reared and tenderly cherished among us) should droop, 
and in time wither, when the distracting cares of life 
should call off our attention from it. For my own part, 
I have scarcely yet made the trial ; for, although the 
separation has taken place, yet, as my situation remains 
the same, I have found no difficulty in retaining and 
cultivating that affection which flourished when we were 
companions ; and I am willing to believe that the scenes 
you have passed through since you left your home, have 
rather increased than lessened your attachment to it. 
It must be delightful, cheering, soothing, to turn from 
the chilling selfishness of those with whom you must 
often have to do, to the affection of your family and 
friends ; to know that there are those who do, and who 
always will love you — whose happiness, in a great mea- 
sure, depends upon yours, and who consider your 
interests to be the same as their own. 

" From experience I know how baleful it is to the 

2 1 8 The Family Fefi. 

disposition to be placed in circumstances in which the 
malevolent passions are liable to be roused, and in 
which we have to be concerned with those whom it 
is not only impossible to love, but whom it seems a sort 
of virtue to dislike. There is the same difiference 
between love and hatred, as between happiness and 
misery ; and there is more real enjoyment in the pains 
of the former, than in the qualifications of the latter. I 
envy those who can look with an eye of benevolent 
compassion upon the lowest instances of human de- 
pravity; Avho, discerning in their own hearts the seeds 
of the same hateful dispositions, feel more gratitude for 
the providential restraints to which they must attribute 
the difference, than anger towards those who have 
wanted these advantages." 

The same strong feelings of affection appear in the 
following letters to her friend Miss S. L. Conder : — 

Colchester, ATay ^th, 1809. 
* * * This letter was begun some time 
ago : many circumstances have prevented my finishing 
it ; and I have been in a state of anxiety about the 

settlement of , which has so much occupied my 

thoughts, that I have not had the heart to resume my 
pen. His affairs are yet undecided, and we are waiting 
very anxiously to see what is the will of Providence 
concerning him. When I remember how kindly our 
heavenly Father has hitherto led us on as a family, in 
credit and comfort, through many struggles, I feel a 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 219 

sweet consolation in committing all our temporal affairs 
to the same overruling Providence ; and hope that my 
dear brothers, for whose welfare we feel unspeakable 
solicitude, may be guided by that " pillar of cloud and 
of fire," by which we have been so far directed. Yet 
again, when I see that many an one, equally deserving, 
and equally dear to parents and sisters, becomes a prey 
to misfortune, and encounters nothing in life but neglect 
and disappointment, then I say, how can I be sure that 
this may not be the case with my dear brothers? 
Dear Luck, you would pity me if you knew the many 
tears I have shed with these forebodings. The world is a 
chilling place, and going from the bosom of an affec- 
tionate family, they must feel it so : but all this is foolish 
and wrong ; I do try cheerfully to commit them to God, 
and hope to be able to say with some submission, what- 
ever be their fate, " Thy will be done." The separation 
which now draws so near, I hardly know how to fortify 
myself to bear, for though the distance is short, and our 
interviews may be frequent, yet I must view it as the 
breaking-up of our family, so long and so closely united ; 
and a part of it so dear to us, leaving hovie — safe, happy, 
affectionate home, for ever. Excuse me, dear Luck, my 
heart is very full on this subject, and in writing to a friend, 
I could not avoid it. 

Oh, when the mind is weary and heavily laden wdth 
these worldly cares, how refreshing is it to look beyond 
them all to that rest — to those happy, peaceful mansions 

2 20 The Family Pen. 

that are prepared for the people of God ! The delight- 
ful hope of seeing all my dear family, and all I love 
below, safely landed there, makes these fears and 
anxieties fade into insignificance. But oh ! what new 
fears and anxieties arise here ! It may be well that our 
minds are not capable of measuring the vast disproportion 
between the concerns of this life and those of eternity, 
or we should not be able to give a sufficient degree of 
attention to our present duties. Could we view the most 
important events that can ever occur to us here, in the 
same light as we shall look back upon them from the 
other world, we should scarcely be able to exert a 
proper degree of energy in the pursuit or management 
of them. 


Colchester, November \st, 1809. 
* * * Life appears to me to be wearing out 
so rapidly, and so large a portion of mine is already 
spent, that I more than ever regret these long intervals 
in my communications with my friends. But when I 
consider the few days which will be all, probably, that 
in the whole course of my life I shall actually enjoy 
of the society of those from whom distance divides me, 
I am obliged to take comfort in the animating hope 
of renewing in a happier world these delightful friend- 
ships, which will there flourish without interruption, and 
without end ; and how refined and unalloyed will they 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 221 

then be — no selfishness or vanity, no little jealousies 
to embitter their sweetness. 

I regard it as one of the greatest blessings of my 
life, that all those whom my heart acknowledges as 
its owners, are travelling toward the same home ; so 
that I can say with sincerity and peculiar emphasis, 
" These are the choicest friends I know." Our earlier 
friendships, though they must ever be remembered 
with interest and fond affection, were little adapted to 
promote our truest welfare. To them indeed we are 
indebted for many benefits of a less valuable nature; 
but I look to my present circle of friends with gratitude 
that has a nobler subject. If ever I reach that happy 
land where their possessions lie, I shall have cause for 
endless thanksgivings to Him who gave me such com- 
panions on my way. * * * 


September 26th, 1809. 
* * * I have scarcely a greater pleasure than 
that of writing to my friends, especially as it is the 
only means of purchasing epistles ; and I have fre- 
quently lamented that this agreeable employment is 
frequently rendered a toil to me, from want of leisure 
to devote to it. But I am so thoroughly convinced 
of the advantages of a regular employment, that some 
sacrifices, I am sure, ought cheerfully to be made to it. 
This, I am persuaded, will be understood by my Oxford 

2 22 The Family Pen. 

friends, and indeed, my dear cousin, I cannot but congra- 
tulate you upon the advantages you enjoyin your excellent 
family. Young people who possess a thirst for knowledge, 
and an eager desire for improvement, with industrious 
habits and activity of mind, and with the best opportunities 
for instruction, cannot be otherwise than cheerful and 
happy. Nothing can be more favourable to cheerfulness 
of temper than habits of industry and useful exertion ; 
and a cheerful temper once acquired, so as to become 
habitual, is the greatest of blessings. Mirth and levity 
take wings and fly away at the first appearance of 
calamity or disappointment, but cheerfulness may be 
our companion in sorrow — will attend upon us in sick- 
ness — support us in poverty — enliven our old age, and 
smile upon the end of it ; especially when all these 
pursuits, however important and interesting, are kept 
in due subordination to still more important duties. 
In vain should we cultivate our minds with useful 
knowledge, and polish them by ornamental accom- 
plishments, if we forget or neglect the regulation of 
our tempers. This indeed is a task far more difficult 
than the acquirement of knowledge. It needs more 
constant watchfulness — more hourly exertion; — and in- 
deed, with so many evil propensities to encounter, and 
so many enemies to resist, our most courageous exertions 
would certainly fail, had we on them alone to depend ; — 
but we are not left unaided, if we are willing to seek 
Divine assistance ; and we may humbly hope to subdue 

Met7ioir of Jane Taylor. 223 

a proud spirit, a fretful temper, or whatever be our 
prevailing temptation. * * * My employments scarcely 
allow me any time for reading. Fortunately it is an old 
established custom in our family for Mother to read 
aloud at breakfast and tea-time, by which means we 
get through a great deal. Nothing is more stimulating 
than the example of those who with advantages perhaps 
no greater than our own, have yet made such rare at- 
tainments. They show us what may be done by a 
proper application of time and talents, and it is parti- 
cularly encouraging to find, as is very frequently the case, 
that proficiency is not the result of extraordinary genius, 
but the reward of industry and perseverance. * * * 

The regrets occasioned by the separation of the family 
were soon afterwards diverted by literary interests. 
Poetry had formed the bond of union in that circle 
of friends in which Jane thought herself so happy to 
be included ; and about this time a volume was pro- 
jected, in which the talents of those to whom poetical 
composition was familiar should be conjoined. My sister 
was reluctantly persuaded to take her part in this 
volume : she expresses her feelings on the subject in 
a letter to the friend who edited the work. Alluding 
to some verses which she was solicited to surrender 
for publication, she says : — 

" They were written to gratify my own feelings, and 
not for the ' Wreath ' (such was then proposed as the 

2 24 "^^^^ Family Pen. 

title of the volume) ; yet you have pressed them into the 
service ; and what shall I say % I feel that, in permitting 
them to be pubHshed, I make some sacrifice ; — as indeed 
all do who once begin to express their feelings in rhyme ; 
for sentiments and feelings that, in plain prose, would 
only be whispered in secret to a chosen friend, in this 
form gain courage, and court the gaze, and bear the 
ridicule of the vulgar and unfeeling. Since I have had 
time to think soberly about the ' Wreath ' — for this must 
always be its title — ^I have felt far less anxious about the 
share 1 am to have in it. Now I am not going to tease 
you with any of my ' morbid humility ; ' for I am as 
weary of it, and as angry with it as you are ; but I 
must just tell you how it affects me. I think I know 
pretty well how to estimate my poetical talent ; at least, 
I am perfectly persuaded I do not Jinderrate it ; and, 
in comparison with my blooming companions in this 
garland, I allow my pieces to rank as the leaves, which 
are, you know, always reckoned a necessary, and even 
pleasing part of a bouquet : and I may add, that I 
am not only contented, but pleased with this station ; 
it is safe, and snug, and my chief anxiety is not to 
suffer anything ridiculous, or very lame, to appear : 
with these views I consent. The opinion of the little 
hallowed circle of my own private friends is more to 
me than the applauses of a world of strangers. To 
them my pieces are already known; by them their 
merits and their faults are already determined; and 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 225 

if they continue to smile kindly upon my simple 
muse, she will not, I think, easily be put in ill- 

This volume was published under the title of " The 
Associate Minstrels." Some of Jane Taylor's contri- 
butions to it will be found in the second volume of 
this work ; none of them were written with any thought 
of publication ; but were the simple expressions of 
feeling on particular occasions. They exhibit the tender 
playfulness of her fancy, and the warmth of her heart \ 
but the poetic vigour which she afterwards displayed 
had not then been roused. Yet she has since written 
nothing more characteristic of herself, or perhaps more 
beautiful, than the " Remonstrance to Time." In this 
piece especially, and in the " Birthday Retrospect," she 
has given the portrait of her own mind with such vivid 
truthfulness, that those who knew her seem to see and 
converse with her while perusing them. To portray 
itself, her mind needed only the mild excitement of 
her habitual feelings. But to display its force it required 
the stimulus of the strongest extraneous motives. The 
productions of her pen under these different impulses 
are widely dissimilar. 

The volume was favourably received at the time, 
and it obtained for the authors expressions of approval 
from some whose commendations carried weight. The 
following letter furnishes some instances, prefaced by 

VOL. I. Q 

2 26 The Family Pen. 

what relates to the then unfixed position of the family 
at Colchester : — 

My dear Mother, 

A parcel has at length arrived, and I sit down 
immediately, according to promise, to communicate its 
principal contents, though I tell you beforehand, that 
you may not be disappointed, there is no particular 
news on the subject which most interests us. 

I shall now proceed to make extracts from the letters 
we have received. The parcel contained the sheet of 
hymns ; and letters from Josiah, Isaac, Martin, Luck, 
Susette, Emma, Sarah Hinton, Professor Smyth of Cam- 
bridge, Walter Scott, and Jaimes Montgomery. 

Walter Scott says : — 

"Mr. Walter Scott requests permission to intrude 
upon the 'Associate Minstrels' his grateful thanks for 
the pleasure he has received in perusing their beautiful 
poetry, and for the honour they have done him in the 
MS. verses. They have greatly overrated Mr. Scott's 
situation in life, which is not beyond a decent inde- 
pendence, and he might with still better grounds dis- 
claim some of the compliments to his poetry, were he 
not too much flattered by the exaggeration, considering 
the quarters from which it comes. Should the 'Asso- 
ciate Minstrels' be at any time disposed to drop the 
Incognito, Mr. Walter Scott would be happy to claim 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 227 

the honour of being made personally known to them, 
and meanwhile begs to assure them of his high respect 
for their poetical talents, and for the amiable qualities 
which their mode of employing them sufficiently in- 

" Edinburgh, yl/(zy 12//;." 

Thus far Walter Scott : now for our dear Mont- 
gomery : — 

" I believe I ought to acknowledge the honour which 
the 'Associate Minstrels ' have done me by their grace- 
ful dedication in a gratulatory ode recounting their 
merits, and foretelling their future glories ; but I am 
so entirely unaccustomed to write complimentary verses 
that I must in plain prose and in plain truth tell them, 
through you, that I sincerely and fervently thank them 
for the most pleasing and elegant token of unexpected 
and unbribed approbation, which I have yet received 
in pubHc for the labours of my muse. Thank them 
therefore individually, and thank them collectively ; 
their kindness is not the less estimable, because, except 
yourself, they are all unknown. 

"In the volume of the 'Associate Minstrels' your 
'Silence' is the promise of something so much greater 
than itself, that you must beware not to disappoint 
the expectation of your friends — shall I say of the 
world? You ought now never to write on mean or 
insipid subjects. I speak more confidently of your 
talents to your face, because I spoke highly — roman- 
Q 2 

2 28 The Family Fen. 

tically of them before I saw your face, or knew your 
name, &c. Of your companions I have only space 
to say little, and I am glad, because it will compel 
me to speak out, and to speak warmly. A. is in my 
mind the queen of the assembly. She is a poet of a 
high order ; the first unquestionably among those who 
write for children, and not the last by hundreds of 
those who write for men. The ' Maniac's Song ' has 
not only the melancholy madness, but the inspiration of 
poetry; also the simile, page 97, is wonderfully fine and 
perfectly original. The two stanzas that contain it are 
as lovely as the stars they celebrate. J. (Jane) is very 
delicate and sprightly, there is a tender playfulness in 
her best manner that is truly fascinating. E. has a 
splendid imagination, and excels in description ; her 
colouring is like that of nature, glowing and harmonious ; 
but she must travel a little wider, and vary her scenery 
more, lest we should lose the benefit of those of her 
powers which she has not yet discovered in herself, for 
lack of an opportunity of exercising them. The lyre of 
S. does not disgrace the concert of the 'Associate 
Minstrels.' I hope J.'s reply will induce C. senior to 
take his harp from the willows, and tune it to the songs 
of Zion." 

Thus far James Montgomeiy. And now, dear 
Mother, you have had the best of the juice. I have 
written in a wild hurry. We have no fresh news of 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 229 

any sort, indeed this might content you. Your affec- 
tionate, Jane. 

Up to this time Jane had written chiefly as an expres- 
sion of spontaneous feeling ; so soon as she was once 
convinced that the talent which she possessed might be 
rendered useful to others, she very rarely wrote as before, 
simply for her own gratification. 

Soon after the publication of this volume, my sisters 
entered upon an undertaking of peculiar difficulty — that 
of composing a volume of Hymns for the use of children. 
The difficulty of the task will not be underrated by those 
who have had experience in the work of education, and 
who have allowed themselves to perceive the many per- 
plexities which meet the teacher in the attempts to 
impart to a child anything beyond the most elementary 
religious notions. The utmost, perhaps, that can be done 
is to employ the most simple phraseology, and to use the 
plainest illustrations ; to allow no obscurities of style to 
be added to the inherent difficulties of the subject, and 
thus to take possession of a child's memory, instead of 
attempting to appeal to its reasoning faculties. My 
sister Jane, in a letter of this date, says : — " I think I 
have some idea of what a child's hymn ought to be j 
and when I commenced the task, it was with the pre- 
sumptuous determination that nothing should fall short 
of the standard I had formed in my mind. In order to 
do this, my method was to shut my eyes, and imagine 

230 The Family Pen. 

the presence of some pretty little mortal; and then 
endeavour to catch, as it were, the very language it 
would use on the subject before me. If in any instances 
I have succeeded, to this little imaginary being I should 
attribute my success. And I have failed so frequently, 
because so frequently I was compelled to say, ' Now you 
may go, my dear. I sliall finish the hymn myself " 

The authors, in their preface, justly say, " The ' Divine 
Songs ' of Dr. Watts, so beautiful and so justly admired, 
almost discourage, by their excellence, a similar attempt ; 
and lead the way, where it appears temerity to follow." 
The want, however, of a greater number of hymns of this 
kind, has always been felt by parents ; and parents very 
generally have thought that the want is well supplied in 
this volume. It was soon after followed by a smaller 
collection of a similar kind, adapted to the use of 
Sunday schools. In this last, the attempt to simplify 
language has, perhaps, been carried as far as is at all 
desirable. If one might judge by the appearance of the 
manuscript copy of these hymns, its intricate interlinea- 
tions and multiplied revisions, it would seem that many 
of them cost the authors more labour than any other of 
their writings. But a labour of this kind suited well 
Jane's habitual feelings, for it was at once undisturbed by 
any ambitious desire of hterary distinction, and blessed 
with the hope of extensive usefulness. 

Memoir of lane Taylor. 231 



Towards the close of the year 18 10, Mr. Taylor 
resigned his ministerial charge at Colchester, and in the 
course of the following year, removed with his family to 
Ongar, having accepted the invitation of the dissenting 
congregation in that town to become their pastor. While 
it was still uncertain to what place her father might 
remove, Jane writes thus to a friend : — 

'' It is a strange sensation to survey the map of 
England without an idea as to what part of it we are 
to occupy. Yet, perhaps, we feel less anxiety about it 
than you may suj^pose. Not to be further removed from 
London than we now are, is our chief solicitude, and to 
be nearer would be very desirable ; more especially on 
account of being able to see our dear brothers more 
frequently. For my own part, might I choose a situa- 
tion, it should be a very retired one, among plain, good 
people, whom we could love — a village, not a town. My 
love of quiet and retirement daily increases, and I wish 
to cultivate this taste : it suits me, and does me good. 

232 The Family Pen. 

To part with our house here — the high woods and the 
springs, will cost me a struggle ; and more especially my 
dear quiet attic. Might I hope to find such another in 
our next encampment, I should be less uneasy." 

Allusions to the expected change of abode occur in 
other letters written during the same year, and the com- 
mencement of the next. 


Colchester, August loth, 1810. 
* * * I should be rejoiced to think that the 
circumstances of our future lives would be more favour- 
able than heretofore to the cultivation of our friendship. 
Present prospects, indeed, seem to render this impro- 
bable. Yet we know not how or where our lot may be 
ordered ; and I do hope, however remotely we may 
eventually be situated, we shall never cease to cherish 
a lively affection for each other. 

I regret that I have never answered your last truly 
kind and excellent letter. I little thought then that an 
interview would take place before I could reply. I wish 
that it were in my power to answer it in the way that 
would afford you the most pleasure. A cloud over- 
shadows my mind : should it ever be dispelled, with 
what pleasure should I commune with you, and all my 
friends, on the subject that ought to be most interesting 
to us. I am ready to think that I should then be able 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 233 

to conquer that reluctance which too often seals the lips 
even of sincere Christians, and rejoice in free, unreserved 
communication. Yet I dread falling into the unfelt tech- 
nicality of religious conversation. But do not let me 
discourage you, my dear friend, from making this the 
principal subject of your letters. If I am at all more in 
earnest in the pursuit of the best things than in the days 
of my vanity, I may chiefly attribute the change, under 
the Divine blessing, to the example and precepts of my 
pious friends. I think I may venture to say, that I never 
receive one of their letters that does not make some 
desirable impression — transient, indeed, yet beneficial. 
In this number I am sure I may place your last, which 
has frequently been reperused in my hours of retirement 
with pleasure and advantage. 

I am looking forward with the greatest pleasure to 
your promised visit. Nor will I allow, that even if it 
were to happen at the time of our expected family 
meeting, you would be thought an intruder. Indeed, 
I must say, that if ever we regarded any friends with that 
kind of confidence and affection which is current in 
one's own family, you and your sister may claim that 
distinction. Perhaps you may be the last visitor we may 
receive at Colchester. It does seem, at last, as if some 
important changes must take place in our family. Our 
dear brothers' leaving us was the first signal, though we 
did not then perceive it ; from that hour we might have 
bid adieu to the many uninterrupted years of quiet 

234 The Family Pen. 

family happiness with which we have been indulged. 
Yet I am well persuaded it is all for our good. * * * 


Colchester, March 14//;, 181 1. 
My dear Luck, 

Not to be behindhand in generosity, I take 
this whole sheet, although I have so recently despatched, 
one. But I will not promise to fill it ; or, if I do, it 
must be with mere chat. Yet, as I feel disposed to say 
a little more than a note ought to contain, I do not see 
why I should not follow the impulse. How melancholy 
would be our banishment from friends, if it were not for 
this delightful substitute for personal intercourse ; it is, 
indeed, a privilege which, though so common, ought to 
be regarded with thankfulness. I often think, when 
enjoying it, of what I used to repeat when I was a good 

"Then thanks to my friends for their care in my breeding, 
Who taught me betimes to love luriting and reading." 

There are, indeed, many times when letter-writing 
appears a very slow and insufficient means of communi- 
cation ; I have felt it so often since you left us, when 
I have longed for such a kind of tete-a-tete as iete alone 
cannot enjoy. But whether or not I shall ever be in- 
dulged with more of your much-loved society than here- 
tofore, I hope this channel of communication will never 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 235 

be cut off. * * * It is in vain to wish that there 
were no alloy in the pleasures of friendship ; yet I cannot 
help wishing that, however the weeds of the field may 
carry on hostilities, the lovely flowers of the garden would 
never raise ^a hostile thorn. But we know this world 
would be far too pleasant if we met with rebuffs and 
crosses only from foreigners : we can say with David, 
" If it had been mine enemy, I could have borne it." 
What smooth, pleasant afflictions we should have, if we 
chose them for ourselves ! and what temples of idolatry 
would our hearts then become ! God knows where to 
strike, and how severe soever the chastisement may 
seem, we are well assured that — 

" Crosses, from His Sovereign hand, 
Are blesssings in disguise. " 


Colchester, April, 181 1. 
* * * In the present unsettled and uncertain 
state of our family affairs, you may, perhaps, imagine 
that I am able to think and write of little else ; but I am 
indeed surprised to find so little perturbation occasioned 
by them. There was a time when such events would 
have excited strong emotions of interest and anxiety, and 
when I could not have believed that I should ever con- 
template such changes with composure ; but now I have 
lived long enough to feel assured that life is life, every- 

236 The Family Pe?t. 

where, and that no material augmentation of happiness is 
to be expected from any external sources. Care, I 
know, will both follow and meet me, wherever I may go 
— even should I be transplanted from this cheerless 
desert into the bosom of my dearest friends. Friend- 
ship, far from its availing to shield us from the shafts of 
care, does but render us vulnerable in a thousand points. 
Yet, notwithstanding many anticipated troubles, there 
are times when I regard the possibility of a reunion with 
my dear brothers, and of joining the beloved circle from 
which we have hitherto been banished, with feelings of 
real delight. But our future destination is still so un- 
certain, that we have no distinct feeling, or very decided 
wish on the subject. When the idea of our leaving 
Colchester was first started, I desired nothing so much 
as a still more retired situation. I longed for the seclu- 
sion and tranquillity of an insulated village. A few 
months, however, have produced a great change in my 
views, if not in my wishes. Yet I believe it would be 
but too easy, even now, to persuade me to relinquish 
other projects, fraught as they are with anxiety and 
danger, to take refuge in some "holy shade," where 
I might welcome that " silence, peace, and quiet," for 
which I feel my heart and soul are made. 

Though the harassing circumstances of the last year 
have driven poetry and its smiling train far from my 
thoughts, yet I am not forgetful of the kindness which 
prompted you to speak a word of cheer to a fainting 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 237 

muse. I know I cannot better thank you for your excel- 
lent but long-neglected letter, than by saying it has fully 
answered the kind intention of the writer. What do you 
say, then, to my being quite convinced — shall I tell you 
that I am thoroughly satisfied with my talents and 
attainments, and feel an agreeable confidence in my own 
powers ; and that, however injured by envious contem- 
poraries, I am convinced that posterity will do me 
justice'? Do not youbeheve it ? Well, then, shall I tell 
a more probable story, and say, that in this respect, at 
least, I have learned to be content with such things as I 
have ; and that I have in some degree subdued that 
unworthy ambition which exposes one to mortification 
and discontent? Fatiguing and sickening is the struggle 
of competition. I desire to withdraw from the lists. 
But if this be all, you may still think your friendly en- 
deavours were unavailing. You did not, I am sure, 
expect that your letter would make any material altera- 
tion in my opinions and feelings ; yet it was cheering 
and encouraging : — I assure you I felt it so, and there- 
fore you will not think your pains unrewarded. As a 
source of harmless, perhaps even salutary, pleasure to 
myself, I would not totally despise or check the poetical 
talent, such as it is ; but it would be difficult to convince 
me that the world would have been any loser had I 
never written verses (such, I mean, as were composed 
solely for my own pleasure). I do, however, set a 
much higher value on that poetical taste, or rather 

238 The Family Pen. 

feeling, so far as I have it, which is quite distinct from 
the capability of writing verse ; and also what is generally 
understood when people say they are very fond of poetry. 
But while I desire ever to cherish the poetic taste, I own 
it appears to me to be as little my duty as my interest 
to cultivate the talent for poetry. With different senti- 
ments I am compelled to regard my own share in what 
we have published for children. The possibility of their 
fulfilling, in any degree, the end desired, gives them 
importance, and renders future attempts of a similar kind 
a matter more of duty than of choice. I dare not admit 
all the encouraging considerations you have suggested, 
nor can I fully explain what I feel on this subject. That 
" such reflections are not of a nature to inspire vanity," 
is true indeed. No, I desire to be humbled by the 
thought ; a consciousness of unworthiness makes it hard 
for me to indulge the hope of being rendered instru- 
mental of the smallest good. * * * 


Colchester, June 2.W1, 181 1. 
* * * What a pity it is that language should 
be so much abused, that what is really meant requires to 
be printed in italics ! Of this the poet has most to com- 
plain. He/^^/y, and perhaps his whole soul is filled, with 
a passage which ninety-nine of his hundred readers, at 
least, will peruse without emotion. This struck me in 
reading the first line of " Thalaba "— " How beautiful is 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 239 

night," — which may be read without the smallest impres- 
sion. I read it so at first, but returning to it, and 
endeavouring to enter into the feeling with which it was 
written, I find it to be, " How beautiful is night ! " and I 
discovered in these simple words all those inexpressible 
emotions with which I so often contemplate the dark blue 
depths, of which even Southey could say nothing more 
striking than this : — " How beautiful is night t " * * * 


Colchester, August 20th, 1811. 
Having a leisure evening — the last, probably, 
before our removal, I devote it to fulfilling my promise 
to write to you once more from Colchester. Yes, we are 
really going, and in a few days the place that so long has 
known us shall know us no more. Before I quit this 
scene of the varied interests of my childhood and youth, 
I ought to give my mind a long leave of absence, and 
send it back leisurely to revisit the past — to " recall the 
years in exile driven, and break their long captivity ; " 
but in the hurry of the moment the feeling of it is lost ; 
and even if I could afford to send my thoughts on this 
retrograde excursion, and " up the stream of time could 
turn my sail, to view the fairy haunts of long-lost hours," 
I ought not to ask you to accompany them, for they 
would stay to contemplate scenes and gaze on faces 
unknown and uninteresting to you. I can invite my 

240 The Family Pen. 

friends to sympathise in my present interests, and to 
survey with me my future prospects \ but of that fairy 
land they could only discern a line of blue distance ; 
while to me, " Here a cot, and there a spire, still glitter 
in the sun." But a melancholy and sentimental retro- 
spection is an unprofitable indulgence — a kind of luxury 
which, perhaps, I have no right to allow to myself. Let 
me rather, if I have time for contemplation, take a more 
humbling and painful survey; and, reviewing the sins 
and follies of childhood and youth, resolutely say, " The 
time past of my life shall suffice to have wrought them." 
But I want energy to commence a new careen Whether 
my mind will recover vigour under new circumstances, or 
will faint under the exertion I have in prospect, remains 
to be seen : it is a fearful experiment. 

Here I sit in my little room : it looks just as it always 
did ; but in a few days all will be changed : and this 
consecrated attic will be occupied (how shall I tell it 
you!) by an excise fnan ; for his wife observed to me, 
when surveying the house — "Ah, this room will do 
nicely for my husband to keep his books in ; " — well, 
I shall take with me all that has rendered it most inte- 
resting; and, as to the moonshine and the sunbeams 
that will continue to irradiate its walls, I would not 
withhold them from that son of traffic, although they 
will never kindle a spark of poetry in his eye. 

* * * My good friend, be not too confident in 
your scholarship : you may be master of all the learned 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 241 

languages, and yet a very dunce when you endeavour to 
decipher the hieroglyphics inscribed on a female heart. 
If you have a taste for puzzling studies, there are the 
Babylonish bricks for you, which have hitherto defied 
so much erudition : — but there would be a chance of 
success in attempting to decipher them. *■ * * * 
If I were qualified to offer the most judicious counsel on 
subjects where, in fact, I can but reason from distant 
analogies, I should still doubt whether, recalling the 
attention to a too interesting object, might not be pro- 
ductive of, at least, a counterbalancing evil. But indeed 
it is not my part to admonish you : were I to attempt it, 
I could adopt no better plan than that of making large 
quotations from your own letters, and then exhorting 
you to " mind what the gentleman says." If I feel a kind 
of confidence that your hope will not be blasted, it is by 
no means founded upon any outward appearances, which 
indeed at present afford no clue to conjecture ; but 
rather on that cheerful dependence on the Divine 
guidance, and humble submission to the Divine will, 
which characterise your feelings on this subject. That 
promise seems to justify such expectations. " Commit 
thy way unto the Lord ; trust also in Him, and He 
shall bring it to pass. He shall give thee the desires 
of thine heart." Yet it may be dangerous to refer too 
often to such a ground of hope, lest our very submission 
should become interested." * * * 

VOL. I. R 

242 The Family Pen. 



The wishes Jane had indulged were, for the most part, 
gratified in the removal to Ongar ; especially as regarded 
the house, its accommodations, and its vicinity : and 
she once more enjoyed her room; which, though not 
an attic, Avas all she could desire. The Castle House, 
which my father occupied during the first three years of 
his residence at Ongar, was a most picturesque, old- 
fashioned abode, containing ample space for the pursuits 
of the family. It occupied a rising ground, just outside 
the ancient market town— and afforded that quiet 
seclusion which was so valued by its inmates. In the 
garden, perched on a lofty well-timbered tumulus, and 
surrounded by a deep moat, stood some remains of the 
old castle, from which the house derived its name. 

Mr. Taylor occupied this pleasant abode for a period 
of three years. During this time, however, Jane was 
much from home. The winter was spent in London by 
the two sisters, and devoted to perfecting themselves 
in some of those lighter accomplishments which had 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 243 

hitherto been more or less neglected in their edu- 

These frequent absences from home, increasing lite- 
rary engagements, and other circumstances, induced my 
sister to relinquish her artistic pursuits, otherwise than 
as an occasional recreation : this change in her occupa- 
tions was made without reluctance ; though she always 
retained her fondness for drawing : and indulged it 
occasionally for the gratification of her friends : and 
she retained also, without any diminution, that vivid 
relish for the beauties of nature, which perhaps seldom 
exists in its highest degree, apart from some knowledge 
and practice of the imitative arts. 

The first letter written after the removal of the family 
to Ongar, is addressed 


Ongar, Septonber 2yd, 181 1. 
My dear Eliza, 

This is the first time I have dated from our 
new habitation ; having at length restored things to 
something like order, I sit down in my new room to 
address an old friend. At present, I scarcely know 
where I am, or who I am ; but now that I find myself 
at the old favourite station — my writing desk, and suffer- 
ing my thoughts and affections to flow in an accus- 
tomed channel, I begin to know myself again. And 
were it not for this, there are certain cares and troubles, 

R 2 

244 '^^^ Family Pen. 

bearing my name and arms, which will never suffer me 
long to question my personal identity ; it is, however, 
by a pleasure that I ascertain it this evening : I ought 
not, therefore, to begin by complaining. 

But, my dear friend, you are looking forward towards 
a change so much more important than a merely local 
one, that it may well appear to you comparatively 
trifling. That which you are about to undergo is, of all 
changes, the greatest and the most interesting but one ; 
and that one, if brought into comparison, makes even 
this appear insignificant. A recollection of the certain 
and speedy termination of every earthly connexion is, 
at such a season, likely rather to tranquillize than to 
depress the spirits : — it is calculated to allay anxiety, not 
to damp enjoyment. When marriage is regarded as 
forming a connexion for life, it appears, indeed, a tre- 
mendous experiment ; but in truth it is only choosing 
a companion for a short journey ; yet, with this differ- 
ence, that if the fellow-travellers become greatly endeared 
to each other, they have the cheering hope of renewed 
intercourse and perpetual friendship at their journey's 
end. * * * 


* * * Having never yet been called to en- 
counter trials so severe as those with which you have 
been exercised, I know I cannot fully enter into your 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 245 

feelings ; and indeed, in all cases it is so true that " the 
heart knoweth its own bitterness," that in general, 
perhaps silent sympathy is the best kind of condolence. 
" To weep with those that weep," is, I believe, often an 
alleviation of grief; and the tenderest friendship can do 
little more than this. It is well that, at those times 
when the weakness and insufficiency of all human 
support are peculiarly manifest, such consolations are 
received from above, as enable mourners to rejoice in 
their losses, and to say, " It is well for me that I have 
been afflicted." If the sympathy of earthly friends 
is soothing and grateful to the wounded mind, how 
consolatory must it be to know and feel that, even in 
the midst of chastisement, " the Lord pitieth us as a 
father his children." You know Montgomery's "Joy 
of Grief," and have felt its touching sweetness, more 
perhaps than I can do. You have lost a friend — a 
brother ; and you have, I doubt not, enjoyed the Sab- 
bath of the mind which Christian resignation produces. 
In the common harassing trials and vexations of life, 
there is seldom any mixture of that joy which soothes 
and tranquillizes the mind under severer trials. But 
these painful bereavements which, when contemplated 
at a distance, appear perhaps too heavy to be borne, 
are rendered supportable by the strong consolations 
with which they are usually attended ; and most fre- 
quently become occasions of thankfulness, on account 
of their salutary effects on the mind. 

246 The Family Pen. 

Prone as our earthly spirits are to cleave unto the dust, 
what should we be if all our worldly hopes were to be rea- 
lized ? Wise and kind is that system of discipline under 
which we are all placed ; and when, at the close of life, 
we come to look back upon our mental history, we shall 
never be inclined to say of this affliction, or of that 
mortification — " It might have been spared." We shall 
then see that our prayers for spirituality of mind were 
answered by the removal of those worldly joys which 
produced a contrary disposition ; and that when we 
desired that "our affections might be set on things 
above," our dearest friends were taken there : that so 
Heaven might become dearer, and earth less attractive. 
Such weaning events must tend, not only to reconcile 
our minds to the shortness of life, but to make us rejoice 
in it. We feel that "they are but light afflictions," be- 
cause " they are but for a moment." * * * 

A letter, which has no date, may here be intro- 
duced : — 

" Prayer is to me so difficult a task, that when I 
have performed it with any degree of correctness, I rise 
from my knees, exhausted both in body and mind ; 
every power is on the full stretch, and I have to labour 
and toil in order to gain but a ghmpse of Him whose 
face I desire to see ; and to realize His presence, and 
even His existence ; and, if I relax for a moment this 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 247 

painful exertion, then all is lost, and I seem to be 
addressing a shadow ; indeed, I fear that I never did 
address a single petition, or direct a single thought 
to God. Do you know what I mean by saying that my 
piayers seem to fall short of the object to whom I would 
ofer them % 

" Nor can I describe the perplexity with which my 
maid is entangled whenever I attempt to direct a 
thought towards the Saviour ; I feel as though I had no 
povers capable of viewing Him, or even of thinking of 
H'm ; and, though I am interested whenever I hear or 
read of His name, and feel encouraged and affected 
when I meet with the free and gracious promises and 
inwtations of the Gospel, yet when I attempt to apply 
th?m, they seem to lose their value and importance. If 
I lid but feel sin to be a burden, surely I should soon 
lea-n to fly to Him, who alone could release me from it ; 
but this is my misery, / see not the evil of sin; and though 
I kiow myself to be in cruel bondage to it, and a slave 
to 5atan, instead of a child of God, yet I love my 
chans, for they do not gall me; and, with my eyes open, 
the word of God before me, and knowing everything, 
but '^'^////o- nothing, I am ready to say, I shall never have 
other views. It seems to me impossible that so great a 
clange should take place in me. I am only surprised that 
I 50 on from day to day still seeking emancipation, and 
fe;ling uneasy in my present state, for I feel perpetually 
re>dy to give all up, and to draw back into perdition. 

248 The Family Pen. 

*' Were anything less than the welfare of my immortal 
soul concerned, I should hesitate to trouble you so 
repeatedly, with the detail of my difficulties and fears; 
but here I hardly dare apologise — it is for my life — and 
I cannot refrain. Many months have passed since I 
first made you acquainted with the state of my mind, 
and though it is still enveloped with the thickest dark- 
ness, I have never ceased to rejoice that I did so. Tie 
knowledge that your disease — in some respects simikr 
to my own — has been so completely cured, has awakered 
a hope which has encouraged me to persevere, when I 
believe I should otherwise have given over, and jou 
have instructed me in the way." * * * 


Ongar, March z\st, 1812 
* * * If you are indeed so happy as to be 
able to feel that " the attainment of your hope is worhy 
only of secondary anxiety," you need not fear maling 
me melancholy by reminding me that " we must di; to 
be happy : " it is a truth which, though at first admited 
with reluctance, becomes more and more welcome as 
one after another eludes us ; till at length it is received 
as the best and the only source of consolation. Ve 
ought, however, to distinguish between the language )f 
Christian hope, and that of worldly despondency ; — te- 
tween the cheerful desire which rises towards "tie 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 249 

mansions that are preparing on high," and the gloomy- 
contemplation of that solitude where " the weary lie at 
rest." But it is not merely under the complete failure 
of our schemes of happiness that this truth is impressed 
upon us ; though the accomplishment of them may, at 
first sight, appear inconsistent with the grand condition 
of our pilgrimage — " in the world ye shall have tribula- 
tion" : experience soon teaches us how easily our dearest 
delights become sources of trial ; — " each pleasure has its 
poison too ; " so that when the world has done its best 
for us, we are still mercifully compelled to acknowledge 
that, " we must die to be happy." May we both be 
supported by this hope in our conflict with the last 
enemy! * * * 

About this time several of Jane's friends entered 
into the married state, and received her congratu- 


Ongar, March 2i,th, 1812. 
My very dear Luck, 

Though in much uncertainty whether this letter 

will reach you amidst the bustle of preparation, or after 

the grand event has taken place, I shall venture to 

dispatch it, hoping that, under whatever circumstances 

it may arrive, you will not deem it too great a trespass 

on your time to receive my kindest wishes and most 

250 The Family Pen. 

affectionate farewell. Though I have no apprehension 
of feeling any diminution of interest and regard towards 
my friend in a new character, yet I cannot but feel that 
I am taking leave of a name endeared by many a year 
of friendly intercourse ; and while most sincerely re- 
joicing in a change which seems in every respect likely 
to promote your comfort and happiness, you will forgive 
me for mingling with my heartfelt congratulations, some 
tears of tender regret. There are no forms of expression 
■ — at least I cannot command any — which seem ade- 
quate to an occasion like the present. With everything 
to feel, there seems little to be said : — the best wishes 
are so comprehensive, that they occupy but a small 
space ; and the strongest emotions are usually the least 
eloquent. You have, my dear Luck, my most earnest 
wishes and prayers for every blessing to attend you in 
your new and important situation ; may you look back 
upon the transactions of the approaching day with 
increasing satisfaction and pleasure, every future year 
of your life ! 

We can now look back upon past trials with feelings of 
joy and gratitude : — how different is the colouring of the 
clouds of care while they are spread over us in dense 
and unbroken masses, and when they are rolling off far 
in the distance, and leaving but a dark streak on the 
horizon 1 " * * * 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 251 


(Miss S. L. Conder.) 

Ongar, May 1st, 1812, 

My very dear Friend, 

In compliance with your kind wish, as well 
as to gratify my own inclinations, I take up the pen 
to address a line to you. Circumstances which I need 
not explain have obliged me to defer writing till it is 
nearly time to dispatch my letter, so that I am under 
the necessity of sending you an epistle very inade- 
quate to the importance and interest of the occasion. 
At a future time, I shall hope to converse with you at 
leisure ; now, I must offer my congratulations with 
nearly as much brevity as you conveyed your kind 
adieu ; though not with less sincerity and affection. 

In this sorrowful world the tones of joy and con- 
gratulation are so seldom heard, that one is almost 
startled by the sound ; but they acquire additional 
sweetness from contrast : — it is truly refreshing to me 
to turn from various causes of pain and anxiety, to think 
of my dear Luck, and contemplate her fair prospects. 
For though I have lived too long in this changing world 
to imagine they will never be clouded ; yet there is 
surely every reason to hope that, with the right views 
and moderated expectations with which you enter your 

252 The Family Pen. 

new career, as large a portion of temporal happiness 
will enliven it as can be desired by those who are looking 
forward towards a better inheritance. That the blessing 
of Heaven may rest upon you, my dear friend, in your 
new connexion, is my sincere and earnest prayer for 

Every day convinces me, more and more, of the 
folly and uselessness of forming any defined wishes for 
earthly happiness, either for myself or others that are 
dear to me ; — nothing will do but resigning all to the 
disposal of Him who not only knows, but does what is 
best for us. To Him I know you have committed all 
the events of your future life ; and, in this cheerful de- 
pendence you must be safe and happy. * * * 


(Miss Eliza Forbes.) 

Ongar, i^^_;/ wth, 1812. 
My dear Eliza, 

There was no part of your last kind letter more 
agreeable to me than that which expressed a wish for 
maintaining a more regular and frequent epistolary in- 
tercourse : on this the existence of our friendship must 
now, more than ever, depend : at least, without this kind 
of communication it cannot be either pleasant or profit- 
able. You will give me credit for the sincerity of this 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 253 

declaration; although my apparent inattention might 
awaken contrary suspicions ; at least, in a more recent 
friendship. But you and I, dear Eliza, are too old and 
sober-minded to indulge in dreams of cruel neglects 
and faithless friendships ; having, as I believe, enter- 
tained a sincere regard for each other for many years — 
a regard which, though formed in the doubtful ardour 
of youthful enthusiasm, has healthfully survived those 
short-lived transports — it is no longer romantic to in- 
dulge the hope that the mutual affection will be as 
permanent as it is sincere. I am not indeed insensible 
to the disadvantageous consequences of an almost total 
suspension of personal intercourse ; and the still more 
unpropitious effects of an entire dissimilarity of interests 
and of occupations : still I am inclined to believe that 
there is a peculiar interest attached to the connexions 
formed in childhood, or early youth, which is not easily 
lost; and that those who are inseparably united with 
the history of our fairy years may insure a place in 
the lively and affectionate recollections, even of de- 
clining age. I have wandered so far from my unfinished 
apology, that I think you will not wish me to retrace 
my steps in search of it ; I will, therefore, only add 
my sincere wish and intention to atone for past remiss- 
ness by future regularity. 

Letter-writing is much more of a task to me than 
it used to be : often, when I should enjoy a tetc-a-tete, 
to converse on paper with a friend is almost burden- 

254 "^^^^ Family Pen. 

some. I know not whether it is that I am growing 
old, or stupid, or lazy; though I rather suspect, all 
three. Seriously, however, I am certainly experiencing 
some of the disadvantages of increasing years. With 
the follies of youth, a portion of its vigour too is fled ; 
and being deficient in constitutional or moral energy 
to supply its place, my mind is hanging as limp as a 
dead leaf. But perhaps, dear Eliza, you will scarcely 
thank me for talking of the effects oi years, in which 
respect I am so little beforehand with you. I do not, 
however, ascribe all to the depredations of time ; many 
a gay lady of five-and-forty retains more of youth 
than I do ; and in you, though not a gay lady, will 
long, I hope, appear a young and lovely wife. So 
I will take this opportunity to turn to a more 
pleasing subject, and tell you how much I rejoice to 
hear from yourself how agreeably you are realizing the 
fair prospects which have so lately opened upon you ; 
and from others, with what peace and propriety you 
occupy the new and important station upon which 
you have entered : may you long enjoy and adorn it, 
my dear friend ! Earthly happiness (comfort I should 
rather say, for I believe the former exists only in the 
Dictionary) is indeed to be prized when it does not 
interfere with higher pursuits; and still more so when 
it tends to assist and stimulate them. 

The ease and leisure afforded by such a lot as yours, 
is, in this view, highly desirable : it presents the most 

Meinoir of Jane Taylor, 255 

favourable opportunities for usefulness to others ; and 
to yourself, for growing in meetness for the heavenly 
inheritance. Happy are you, dear Eliza, that it is your 
highest ambition thus to improve them. While some 
are driven through life as over a stormy sea — inces- 
santly tossed and thwarted by the restless billows, till 
they arrive, faint and weary, at the haven of rest, 
others are permitted to ramble at leisure through a 
pleasant vale, till they gradually ascend to the ever- 
lasting hills : and of how little consequence is it by 
which course we are led, so long as our wanderings 
do but terminate in the same blissful country. We 
all receive the kind of discipline which our peculiar dis- 
positions require ; and if it is severe, we may be sure 
it is necessary too. * * * 

256 The Fatnily Pen. 



My sister's taste for the beauties of nature was gratified 
about this time, by a residence of some months in the 
most romantic part of Devonshire. The occasion of 
this visit must be mentioned, as it determined the 
course of her Hfe for several succeeding years. 

The brother, to whose part it has fallen to prepare 
this Memoir, had lately spent some months in the 
west of England, for the recovery of his health, and 
had returned to London greatly benefited ; but on the 
approach of the following winter, being again advised 
to seek a milder climate, it was determined that his 
two sisters should accompany him to Devonshire. 

Having just before roamed over a great part of that 
delightful county, and become familiar with its beauties, 
it was to him a pleasure of the liveHest kind, to in- 
troduce his sisters to these novel scenes. With young 
persons whose taste for the beauties of nature is very 
strong, and who have been accustomed only to the 
uniform surface and the simple rural amenities of the 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 257 

eastern counties, a first sight of the scenery of the west 
of England excites the most vivid delight. Jane felt 
these pleasures to the full ; and even after a second 
and a lengthened residence at Ilfracombe had rendered 
her familiar with its scenery, the pleasure with which 
she rambled daily among its rocks was undiminished. 

During the whole of the first winter passed at Il- 
fracombe, the change in my sister's mode of life was 
almost as great as it could be ; for instead of that assi- 
duous occupation of her time to which she had always 
been accustomed, the mornings, whenever the weather 
permitted, were spent in social or solitary rambles, and 
the evenings, most often, in agreeable society — and 
some highly agreeable society was indeed to be found 
at Ilfracombe. Except in maintaining correspondence 
with her friends, I do not know that she wrote anything 
during this winter; the time, however, was not lost, 
for she not only improved in health, but she gained 
greater breadth of mind and wealth of imagination, and 
acquired those more free habits of thought which are 
scarcely compatible with unremitted application. 

Yet she was impatient of this long-continued in- 
action. "I have found," she says, "that any great 
external interest, for a continuance, will not agree with 
my mind ; it is living upon dainties, instead of plain 
food. Accustomed to expect my evening's entertain- 
ment from myself, in some kind of mental exertion, 
a complete relaxation from this, and depending wholly, 

VOL. I. s 

258 The Family Pen, 

for many months, on external means of gratification, 
is a kind of indulgence which will not do to live upon ; 
my mind never had so long a holiday, and I feel it is 
time to send it home." 

Referring in a letter of a later date to the same period, 
she writes — 

" As to my employments during the winter, it is very 
true that I have been disappointed in my expectations 
of writing : but I have not neglected any favourable 
opportunity, for none has presented itself I went to 
Ilfracombe, expecting to find there complete retirement 
and much leisure. You know how mistaken we were 
in this calculation. The engagement of the evenings 
with our welcome visitors, completely deprived me of 
the only time I can ever profitably devote to writing. I 
am far, however, from thinking this a lost winter, or 
that I have enjoyed a too expensive pleasure : for I 
would not but have known and seen what I have at 
Ilfracombe, for twice the expense of time and money. 
I do, however, look forward, with much satisfaction, 
to the prospect of resuming my former habits after this 
long relaxation; and, whenever I take up the pen 
again, I hope to reap the advantage of the past 

The swell of the sea is not indeed so great at Ilfra- 
combe as it is on the north-western coast of Cornwall ; 
but when the pent-up tides of the British Channel 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 259 

meet a hurricane from the Atlantic, and the contention 
falls upon the sharp and towering precipices of this 
coast, the beauty and terror of a sea-storm can hardly 
be better displayed. Not at all intimidated by rain 
or wind, Jane would seldom stay within, when the 
breaking of the sea over the house in which we lodged, 
announced the coming storm. 

The neighbourhood of Ilfracombe has also, in several 
spots, the charm of rural and sequestered beauty. The 
deep ravines which commence upon the elevated moors 
and run down to the sea-side, are, some of them, thickly 
wooded, or they were so fifty years ago, and are studded 
with stone-built, ivy-covered cottages ; and though not 
on the largest scale, these glens present in their way 
the most perfect combinations of picturesque objects. 
Scenery of this kind is much less dependent upon the 
decorations of summer than the wooded slopes of a 
merely rural country ; for there it is alone the clustered 
evergreens that hide the desolation of the season ; but 
here the permanent forms are equally beautiful with 
those that are transient : and indeed, many of these 
spots produce a more congruous effect upon the mind 
in the gloom of a December afternoon, than under the 
splendours of July. 

The Poem entitled " Philip," opens with a descriptive 
passage which will at once be recognised by any reader 
who has traversed the coast of North Devon. The 
peculiar scenery of Lea filled Jane's imagination : it 

S 2 

26o Tfie Family Pen. 

was her favourite walk ; and having heard the melan- 
choly story of a secluded being who, with his maniac 
daughter, had long inhabited one of its few dwellings, 
she fixed upon it as the scene of a history which floated 
in her mind for three or four years, but of which 
only a portion was ever committed to paper. 

The following letter to her friend, Mr. Josiah Conder, 
may here find a place : — 

Ilfracombe, November ld,fh, 1812. 
* * * Though you may consider this as a 
tardy perfomiance of my promise, it is, I assure you, 
but the second letter I have dated from hence. I per- 
ceive that it is all in vain to run to the remotest corner 
of the earth for retirement and leisure ; at least, it is 
in vain to seek for them amid the rocks of Ilfracombe. 

* * * I wish I could introduce you for a moment 
(or as much longer as you could stay) to our comfortable 
fireside, around which we often talk of those we have 
left, till we forget the distance which separates us. 

* * * I promise not to detain you long with de- 
scriptions of the scenery around us, to which it would 
probably be more toil than pleasure to listen. For in 
such cases, where the imagination of the writer can fly, 
that of the reader must climb ; and perhaps she is 
wholly indisposed to the exertion. Besides that, it 
is not the most agreeable thing to be told that " you 
can form no idea — you can't imagine — you never saw 

Memoir of JaJie Taylor. 261 

anything like it," &c. So then, to do the thing more 
pohtely, I must tell you that / had formed no idea of 
the kind of scenery with which we are surrounded j 
and that I had never before seen anything like it, was 
evident from the effect it at first produced upon me. 

Ilfracombe is situated in a deep valley, surrounded 
on one side by barren hills, and on the other by 
stupendous rocks which skirt the sea. Our lodgings 
very pleasantly overlook the harbour, which affords us 
constant entertainment. The sea is close behind the 
house, and is so near a neighbour, that, during the last 
high tides, the waves rose in immense sheets of foam, 
and fell over a high wall opposite our chamber windows : 
it also flowed into the house in front, and kept us close 
prisoners. Our walks in every direction are so inter- 
esting, that, while the weather permitted, we spent 
a great part of the day abroad. Our rambles among 
the rocks I enjoy most ; though at first they excited 
sensations of awe and terror, rather than of pleasure. 
But now we climb without fear amid a wilderness of 
rocks, where nothing else can be seen, and nothing 
heard, but the roar of the distant sea ; here the only 
path is over the huge fragments which lie scattered 
in all directions, and which it requires some courage 
as well as dexterity to scale. Besides these, we have 
several cheerful walks, commanding the sea, bounded 
to the north by a beautiful line of Welsh mountains. 
Their aspects are very various \ at times appearing only 

262 The Family Pen. 

like faint clouds in the horizon ; but when the weather 
is clear, and the sun shines upon them, they exhibit 
an exquisite variety of light and shade, and delicate 
colouring, finished by distance, like the finest minia- 
ture. From some of the highest hills we have distinctly 
perceived the buildings on the nearer part of the coast ; 
— to the west the wide ocean is before us, — 

" Now sparkling with sunbeams, now dimpled with oars, 
Now dark with the fresh-blowing gale." 

The rocky cliffs of Lundy Island add beauty and interest 
to the scene. * * * 

Ilfracombe, February 2\tJi, 1813. 

My dear Father, Mother, and Co, 

The appointed interval of silence being nearly 
expired, I undertake to despatch another sheet, though 
with no news to communicate, but as no news is 
good news, you cannot complain. We have had 
lately some very mild spring weather, and often think 
how pretty the Ongar garden is looking with snowdrops, 
just as it did this time last year when we returned from 
our London expedition. Here we do not see much 
to denote the change of seasons, as the barren hills 
and rocks owe little to these variations. * * * About 
a week ago, we had some rough weather, and a great 
deal of thunder and lightning; the first storm there 
has been since October. The sea was very fine — I 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 263 

only wish I could tell you how fine. We were called 
out of bed one morning by the Fortescues to go and 
see it. The same day we went out among the rocks, 
and took shelter from an approaching storm in a fine 
but tremendous cavern. The sea was then rolling like 
the loudest thunder, the clouds hanging heavily over 
it, and we expected lightning as well as rain. Nothing 
could be finer, if we had not been frightened. At 
last we set off in hopes of escaping the storm. Our 
way home was over perilous fragments of rock among 
which we had to scamper at full speed ; I got a heavy 
fall and sprained my arm. The rain . came on in tor- 
rents, and we were all soaked through. A few days 
before an Irish packet put into Ilfracombe for a day 
or so, on its way from Bristol to Cork. One of the 
passengers was a young lady, the daughter of a dis- 
senting minister of Cork, who took lodgings close to 
us, and we and the Gunns became acquainted with 
her; we felt for her, as she was greatly afraid of the 
water. When the packet set sail we went to see her 
off, with many good wishes for a prosperous voyage. 
All the passengers seemed very merry as they sailed 
out of the harbour ; and we were shocked to hear a 
day or two afterwards that during the storm which 
blew last night, three of the people were washed over- 
board and lost. We hear so many affecting things 
of this kind here, that we shall feel much more than 
ever on a stormy night. 

264 The Family Peri. 

We have been very busy lately in helping Mr. Gunn 
to form a Book Society here. He is soliciting every- 
body for presents for it. We promised to ask Father 
if he had anything to bestow, thinking he might very 
well spare a copy of " Lowell's Sermons " : — if he is 
willing, let it be sent, with anything else he does not 
care for. Your affectionate 


A name here occurs which may deserve a brief 
notice : it is that of a gifted man whose influence over 
my sister's mind was more than transient. Mr. Daniel 
Gunn, a Scotch minister, had charge, at the time of 
our sojourn at Ilfracombe, of a small dissenting con- 
gregation in the town. He was from the extreme 
north — Wick, in Caithness : — a highlander of the finest 
type, and in style and appearance, or seen on horse- 
back, would no doubt have been thought military rather 
than clerical in his training and associations. Heading 
a company of Highlanders in a charge, he would have 
seemed to be more in his place than when expounding 
Scripture to fifty poor folks in a meeting-house. In 
private (and he was a very frequent guest at our 
lodgings) there was a charm in Mr. Gunn's manner, 
and a life in his conversation which made him the 
centre and the sovereign of every company. Keen — 
wary — reticent as a Scotchman, he was nevertheless 
an enthusiast in his way— and, must it not be added 1 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 265 

a fanatic too. The influence he had with young per- 
sons — the children of Sunday Schools, was magical; 
and the Sunday School was his chosen sphere. Sur- 
rounded by children and young persons — whether scores 
of such at Ilfracombe, or hundreds afterwards at Christ- 
church — his look — the glance of his eye — was law to 
the crowd: who could resist that fiery eye? And yet 
it was a fire shot forth from a loving nature : — a loving 
nature, and yet its demonstrations were such as to 
need much charitable interpretation in frequent in- 
stances. Mr. Gunn had brought with him from Scot- 
land a hatred of prelacy, and of Establishments, and 
of liturgical worship, which was intense to the last 
degree — it was a fanaticism, and almost an insanity. 
This deep passion nevertheless so ruled itself within 
him that, on the exterior, all was bland, courteous, 
gentlemanlike. He soon found or felt that we, his 
new friends, although at that time good dissenters 
enough, after the tame English fashion, were very far 
from being alive to the infinite importance of the prin- 
ciples of Dissent; — ours was a milk-and-water non- 
conformity : — we could speak of bishops, and not bum 
as we spoke ; or we might even on occasion enter a 
Church ! Our wary friend did not assail this indiffer- 
ence with vehemence. He felt his way. His influ- 
ence over us was great, and he used it with caution. 
The result of this influence in the two years of our in- 
tercourse, was — with my sisters, to invigorate their non- 

2 66 The Family Pen. 

conformity ; and with Jane it was enough to give point 
to some passages in " Essays in Rhyme " which other- 
wise would have been wanting in so much animation. 

Happily, friendships were soon after formed with 
pious persons, members of the Established Church, 
which availed to moderate and modify this eager 
polemic feeling. I believe that Mr. Gunn in his later 
years at^Christchurch was eminently useful, and always 
much respected. 

Early in the spring of the year 1813, we prepared 
to leave Ilfracombe : in the expectation of doing so, 
my sister says — 

" In a week or two we expect to take our leave of Il- 
fracombe. Thus ends another short chapter of the little 
history of life. Like many others its contents have not 
corresponded with the title, — it has disappointed our 
fears, and greatly exceeded our expectations of en- 
joyment : may it end with a hymn of praise ! " 

The most romantic part of the Devonshire coast is 
about eighteen miles east of Ilfracombe : this spot we 
determined to visit on our way home. The excursion 
is described by Jane in a letter written from Linton 
to her father and mother : — 

" Here we are at this celebrated part of North 
Devon. We arrived yesterday, about four o'clock, and 
I think you will pity us when I tell you that, from an 
hour after we left Ilfracombe to the present moment, 
it has rained incessantly. We calculated upon arriving 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 267 

in time for a ramble before evening, and hoped to 
spend the whole of this day in exploring the beauties 
of the place ; instead of all this, we have been obliged 
to content ourselves with sitting before a blazing fire — 
turning over Warner's ' Walk in the Western Counties,' 
the ' Miseries of Human Life,' and an odd volume of 
the ' Gentleman's Magazine.' Nor is this all ; for I 
awoke yesterday at Ilfracombe with every symptom of 
a bad cold, which is now at its height ', so that I have 
no hope of going out, even if the weather had cleared 
up— this is pleasure ! Ann and Isaac have twice ven- 
tured out in the course of the day, and have taken a 
hasty view of the Valley of Rocks, and of the village 
of Linmouth ; and I have had the satisfaction of hearing 
a description of what I am within half a mile of, and 
came on purpose to see. However, not to make the 
worst of our story, I must add that when we arrived 
within two miles of Linton, a scene of grandeur and 
beauty opened upon us, which alone would repay us 
for coming. We had travelled several miles over a 
high, wild, and dreary tract of country; giving the 
idea of travelling over the world as a planet, and ren- 
dered still more desolate in appearance by torrents of 
rain. We were obliged to continue in the carriage, 
ascending hills, where travellers almost always alight 
to relieve the horses, and were even constrained to do 
the same in passing a frightful precipice, where there is 
neither fence nor hedge, and where a chaise very lately 

268 The Family Pen. 

fell over. At this point, a fine mountain scene opened 
upon us ; and a sudden turn of the road discovered 
the enchanting vale and village of Linmouth, close to 
the sea, and at the base of rocks of tremendous height, 
and most exquisitely diversified in their colouring. After 
a long and steep ascent, we reached the Inn, where, 
fortunately, the room we occupy overlooks a con- 
siderable part of this fine prospect. This Inn stands 
near the edge of the precipice that overhangs the sea, 
and seems to be in the clouds. To-morrow morning 
we are to meet a chaise from Minehead, at the top of 
the opposite hill — the ascent being so steep that chaises 
rarely come across the valley." 

The letter is continued from Axminster : — 
" On Thursday morning, finding my cold surprisingly 
better, and the weather being finer, I resolved at least 
to see the Valley of Rocks : so, at half-past five, we 
set off at full speed, and I was gratified with a hasty 
sight of it. The place gives the idea of gigantic archi- 
tectural ruins ; and the impression left upon my mind 
by the novelty and silent solemnity of this magnificent 
scene, will not soon be effaced. We returned to break- 
fast at the Inn, and directly afterwards set off to climb 
the opposite hill, attended by a horse with panniers, 
carrying our baggage. This walk afforded us an oppor- 
tunity of seeing something of the beauties of the vale 
of Linmouth, which I will not attempt to describe. At 
the summit of the hill we found our chaise ; and at the 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 269 

end of the day reached Taunton, where we stayed a day, 
and the next, set out for Axminster, and found the 
kindest welcome from our dear friends." 

With these kind friends, and with others in the south 
of Devon and Dorsetshire, some weeks were very agree- 
ably passed by my sisters, before their return to their 
father's house, where they spent the next summer. 

During her stay at Ongar, Jane took an active part, I 
believe for the first time, in a Sunday-school, then lately 
established at some distance from the town ; but of her 
labours in the Sunday-school I shall again have occasion 
to speak. 

On the approach of the autumn, it once more seemed 
desirable to return to Devonshire ; and Jane's sisterly 
affection was now tried, not only by the call to banish 
herself from a kind and comfortable home, but by the 
necessity of leaving behind her the companion of her 
former excursion \ for her sister was now preparing to 
leave her father's roof for one of her own. Jane ex- 
presses her poignant feelings at this separation from 
the constant companion of her life, in a letter which 
was addressed to Mr. Josiah Conder, some time after 
her return to Devonshire : — 

Ilfracombe, February l^th, 1S14. 
Although many months have now elapsed since we 
parted in the Barnstaple coach, and although in all 
that time you have received nothing from me but a 

270 The Fajnily Pen. 

postscript, I cannot plead any of the engagements 
with which you accuse me, — of the whole list, there 
is not more than one that I can plead guilty even of 
thinking about. Yet your conjecture that I have been 
"wondrous busy," is perfectly correct. You well know 
how one week after another slides away, in every day 
of which we intend to write to our friend " to-morrow ; " 
and when to-morrow comes, even if some pressing oc- 
cupation does not fill it, it finds us so dull and flat, 
that we resolve to devote the evening to some " outer 
court" correspondent, for whom the only requisite 
materials are pen, ink, and paper. Thus it was with 
me during the months of November and December. 
Of January I can give a better account ; for one fatal 
morning, early in that month, Miss March and I set 
off for Barnstaple. I said, " Good-bye, I shall return 
on Saturday 3 " but it was exactly a month before I saw 
Ilfracombe again ; being imprisoned by the snow all 
that time. I wished to have written to you from thence, 
but even friendship is not warm enough to keep ink 
and fingers from freezing during a sharp frost, except 
by the fireside, and that agreeable trio — fire, friendship, 
and solitude, did not meet me there. I have been back 
only for a fortnight, the last week of which has been 
occupied in entertaining Mr. Gardner, who has been 
our guest. He left us this afternoon, and this evening 
I am at your service, having clearly proved it to be the first 
in the last five months in which I could write to you. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 271 

Much has occurred in our Httle circle since we last 
met ; — so much, that if you were to ask me now, I 
could scarcely get through the whole. The recollec- 
tion of all that has taken place sometimes makes me 
melancholy, and sometimes it makes me glad ; but 
oftener it makes me neither the one nor the other. But 
this indifference, or rather sameness of feeling, under the 
important changes of life, always makes me melancholy 
when I think about it. 

After walking so far through the vale of tears, inse- 
parable companions, Ann and Jane are at last divided 
a few short interviews is all, perhaps, we shall ever 
more see of each other on this side the grave. We 
are both still in the vale of tears, and shall continue to 
weep and to smile as heretofore ; but not together : 
our way will still be chequered by cloud and sunshine ; 
but it may often be stormy weather with one, while the 
other is enjoying a clear sky. But tears will not always 
flow ; the heartrending feelings once over, the common 
temperature of happiness returns. It is but occasionally 
that I have leisure to ruminate upon our separation, and 
then it is difficult fully to realize it. It is very true that 
we cannot always be as miserable as we wish — cheer- 
fulness steals upon us insensibly, and we are surprised 
to find ourselves tolerably happy again, in spite of our 
heroic resolutions to the contrary. You will think these 
reflections unsuitable to the occasion, and perhaps say 
that I am too inexperienced in suffering to offer remarks 

272 The Family Fen. 

upon the subject ; of this, however, I must be allowed 
to be the best judge ; though I have hitherto been 
mercifully preserved from the severer and more sudden 
strokes of the rod, I am not unacquainted with sorrow ; 
and it is in consequence of what has passed in my 
own mind that I am sceptical as to the existence 
of such a thing as incurable grief, though it is often 
talked of. * * * 

The following letter recites the incidents of our 
return to Ilfracombe. 

Ilfracombe, October 2nd, 1813. 
My dear Family, 

Without preface I must tell you that we arrived 
here in safety, and that we experienced no kind of in- 
convenience from the journey. * * * We accomplished 
all we had to do in good time, and after a refreshment 
in Bucklersbury, set off with S — and J — , who sat in 
the coach with us a quarter of an hour till it drove off. 
* * * At the White Horse Cellars we took up pas- 
sengers, one of whom was a large woman with a sick 
baby, and a bundle as large as both. We were greatly 
discomfited at this ; but by variety of eloquence, I suc- 
ceeded in persuading her to remove into the other 
compartment at the next stage, which she quietly 
occupied for the rest of the journey. This was a 
great relief, and on we went very comfortably; it was 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 273 

a fine night, and the morning broke beautifully over 

Salisbury Plain. We got to Taunton at eight, had a 

good supper, and went to bed ; but owing to the fatigue, 

I fell into such a profound sleep, that in the morning 

the porter, after rattling at the door several minutes, 

went and told Isaac that he could not " wake the 

lady." Isaac, much alarmed, gave orders for the door 

to be broken open ; but previously calling through the 

crack, I answered, and when he found I was not dead, 

he spoke rather smartly. This was merely the effect of 

unusual fatigue, as I am now very wakeful. It was 

rather singular that the next town I came to I saw 

this chalked upon a wall — " She is not dead, but 

sleepeth ! " It was scarcely light when we left Taunton, 

but by the time we got to Bishop's Hull the day had 

dawned, and we saw Mr. Gunn's pretty cottage all 

shut up, and the curtains drawn above stairs. The 

cruel coach flew by, and I went on feeling much more 

than I usually do at 5 o'clock in the morning i * * * 

As we got to Barnstaple before five, and as the evening 

was very promising, we determined to go on immediately. 

* * * As the evening began to close in over those 

dreary hills, it seemed as though we were taking leave 

of the world, and we could not help pitying ourselves — 

two lonely travellers, at such a distance from our home 

and friends. The evening was very dull, and the greatest 

part of the way it was more than twilight. In order to 

keep up our spirits, we talked of the cheerfulness of 

VOL. I. T 

274 ^'^ Family Pen. 

Ilfracombe, and the comforts of our home there. About 
eight o'clock we entered the town ; the Hght of the 
blacksmith's shop showed us the Meeting as we drove by. 
When we arrived at Mrs. Blackmore's we were pleased 
to hear Peggy called for ; the rooms are all nicely done 
up, and everything clean and comfortable. * * * 

Monday Morning. 
By riding outside a few miles, I took a cold which, 
though not violent, confined me indoors all Saturday; 
which I greatly lamented as it was very fine, and Isaac 
took the first walks alone. I have now scarcely any 
remains of it, but as yesterday was Sunday, and this is a 
rainy morning, I have not yet even been on to the Lan- 
thorn Rock. * * * Peggy is just as usual, and always 
coughs (as before) when she opens the door, * * * 

Ilfracombe, November 2,1st, 1 8 1 3. 
My dear Family, 

Perhaps the appointed time for writing is scarcely 
arrived ; but at this important period, we feel very im- 
patient for home news, and for a few weeks to come 
we must not grudge postage, and I hope you will not 
grudge time to satisfy our solicitude. The pleasure 
with which I used to look at the Castle House is 
much abated since mother's letter. We long, of course, 
to know how it is likely to go. If you are to be moved, 
perhaps it will be a more healthful or perhaps a less 
expensive situation. I hope at least you will not have 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 275 

to turn out before Michaelmas. * * * Thank you, dear 
Jemima, for your interesting journal, the beginning of 
which we hope to receive. We are very glad that you 
have had so much pleasure, and hope it will do you 
good in every sense. We went yesterday morning at 
ten o'clock with Miss March, to see a hunt, and climbed 
the highest hills beyond the church, called the Great 
MoUicot ; — about these we scampered in pursuit of the 
sport for three hours, following the hunt through hill 
and dale, and a fine sight it was amongst that noble 
scenery. At last we actually joined the party, being 
introduced by Mrs. Hill's brother ; and among horses, 
and huntsmen, and the whole pack of dogs, we pressed 
on to see the poor hare started. We saw her crouching 
down in a hedge, and in a moment dart out and scamper 
over the hills, with the whole party in full pursuit. 
Returning from this exploit we were not in the least 
fatigued, and could have set out again with pleasure. 
* * * Everybody tells me I am looking much better 
than when I came, and that I am growing fat. You 
would have been surprised if you could have looked in 
upon us a few days ago, and seen two little girls at our 
table. Three Irish packets, full of passengers, were 
windbound here, and we heard that on board of one 
were two little children, with nobody to take care of 
them but an old soldier. We therefore sent for them 
to spend a day with us, and found they were officers' 
children going to their parents at Kilkenny, in Ireland 

!• 2 

276 The Family Fen. 

Upon further inquiry we found they had just come from 
Colchester, where they had been two years and a half 
at boarding-school with Miss Balls on Easthill ! They 
were pretty little creatures of seven and eight. The 
old corporal had been all the way to Colchester for 
them, and they were very fond of him. We had them 
again on Sunday, on which day they sailed, and we saw 
them off. We gave them our hymns, and some tracts. 

After many disappointments Miss arrived last 

Tuesday. I waited on her next morning. Her first 
appearance rather disappointed me. She is far from 

the delicate beauty one might expect a sister of 's 

to be. She is, however, altogether a fine girl. She 
sent her compliments to me on Sunday morning, and 
said Mr. Hunt was going to preach, and she would be 
glad if I would go to church with her. Poor Peggy 
hesitated and looked quite frightened when she delivered 
the message. Of course I begged to be excused. 

Miss says he certainly does preach the Gospel, and 

from what we hear, I believe he is trying to do so. 
He abstains from all gay company and cards, and seems 
quite the divine. * * * Our hours, of which Ann 
inquires, are professedly the same as before, only 
that we really aim to breakfast at eight, and should 
generally do so if Peggy were punctual ; and we really 
sup at nine when we are alone, and retire very regularly 
when the clock strikes ten ; so that when you are just 
sitting down to supper, we are going to bed. * * * 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 277 

In the beginning of October, Jane and her brother 
were once more comfortably settled at Ilfracombe ; and 
though the social attractions of the place were now less 
than they had been on our first visit, it still contained 
kind friends; and the advantage of more leisure and 
seclusion was now enjoyed and improved by my 
sister, who presently resumed her literary pursuits with 

At the close of this year, Jane addressed a letter to 
her sister on the occasion of her marriage to the Rev. 
Joseph Gilbert — then one of the tutors of the Theo- 
logical College at Rotherham. From this letter the 
following passages are extracted : — 

Ilfracombe, December \%th, 1813. 
My dear Ann, 

I cannot suffer this interesting morning to pass 
without something of a salutation from Ilfracombe j and 
I dare say this letter will arrive in good company ; but 
I am sure no one will address you who can feel on this 
occasion either so glad or so sorry as I do. So far as 
you only are concerned, I think I am entirely glad, and 
feel as perfectly satisfied and happy as one can do about 
untried circumstances. But I cannot forget that this 
morning, which forms one indissoluble partnership, dis- 
solves another, which we had almost considered so. 
From the early days of " Moll and Bett," down to these 

278 The Family Fe?i. 

last times, we have been more inseparable companions 
than sisters usually are, and our pursuits and interests 
have been the same. My thoughts of late have often 
wandered back to those distant years, and passed over 
the varied scenes which chequered our childhood and 
youth : — there is scarcely a recollection, in all that long 
period, in which we are not mutually concerned, and 
equally interested. If this separation had taken place 
ten years ago, we might, by this time, have been in 
some degree estranged from each other; but having 
passed so large and important a portion of life in such 
intimate union, I think we may confidently say it never 
will be so. For brothers and sisters to separate is the 
common lot ; — for their affection and interest to remain 
unabated is not common, but I am sure it is possible, 
and I think the experience we have already had, proves 
that we may expect its continuance. Farewell, my dear 
Ann ! and in this emphatical farewell, I would com- 
prehend all the wishes, the prayers, the love, the joy, 
and the sorrow, which it would be so difficult tc express 
in more words. If there is a dash of bitterness in the 
grief with which I bid you farewell, it is only from the 
recollection that I have not been to you the sister that 
I might have been. My feelings have been so strongly 
excited to-day, that I cannot bear more of it ; and I 
must leave you to imagine what more I would say on 
this occasion. 

I cannot — no, I cannot reahze the busy scene at 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 279 

the Castle House, nor fancy you in your bridal appear- 
ance. I intend to place myself before the view of the 
house, about the time I imagine you will be walking 
down the gravel-walk, and stand there while you are at 
church, and till I think you are coming back again. How 
strange — how sad, that I cannot be with you ! What 
a world is this, that its brightest pleasures are, almost 
invariably, attended with the keenest heart-rendings. 

My mother's feelings in parting with her daughter, 
though she had every reason to rejoice on the occasion, 
were very strongly excited : with the hope of adminis- 
tering comfort, Jane addressed to her a letter, of which 
the following is a part : — 

" I hope that, even so soon as this, Time has per- 
formed his kind office, and taken off the edge of your 
sorrow. If I did not know that he can perform wonders, 
even in a few days, I could not venture to say so. I 
was grieved indeed, but not much surprised to hear that 
you felt the parting so acutely ; and when reading your 
description of it, almost congratulated myself that I was 
so far off. Now, however, I would gladly come, and be 
your comforter if I could. My dear father and mother, 
we have felt much for you — believe that you have the 
love and the prayers of your absent children. I seldom 
close my eyes without thinking of you, and hoping you 
are comfortable. I feel the separation more this time 
than I did before, though in all other respects I enjoy 

28o The Fa^nily Pen. 

as much comfort as I can expect to do in this world. 
I am rejoiced to know that you have had the solace of 
dear S.'s tenderness ; and in this respect, you have 
indeed been gainers by my absence ; she has, I know, 
done all that human sympathy can do, to console and 
soothe you. 

" I walked here (to Barnstaple) last Wednesday with 
Miss March, without any fatigue, though it is ten miles 
of incessant up-and-down hill. The deepest snow 
remembered in Devonshire set in the day after I came, 
and has so blocked up the roads, that I am detained a 
close prisoner. I intended to have returned on Monday, 
but they are so unused to snow here, that no one will 
venture to go, though I should not be afraid. I cannot 
tell, therefore, how long I may be detained. Though I 
am very comfortable at Mr. Gardiner's, I am now im- 
patient to return home, as I left my brother only for a 
day or two." 

The snow continued to render the road between 
Barnstaple and Ilfracombe nearly impassable for more 
than a month. Jane's solicitude on her brother's 
account induced her to hazard the journey the first 
day on which it was j)ronounced to be practicable ; 
and she returned to Ilfracombe on horseback, some 
cime before any carriage could pass the road. 

Without obtruding what relates to myself, in this 
Memoir, I could not fully display the self-denying, 
indefatigable, and tender assiduity with which Jane 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 281 

devoted herself to her brother's comfort ; — to promote 
his restoration to health was, indeed, the business of 
her life, during several years. The reader of her memoir 
must not forget this principal feature of Jane's character 
— her generous devotedness to the welfare of those she 
loved, though the exemplification of it may appear in 
these pages less prominently than it might. 

The marriage of her sister Ann, and the consequent 
separation of the sisters, hitherto such constant com- 
panions, may properly afford opportunity for a brief 
notice of the highly estimable and accomplished man 
who thus came in to divide the sisters. The Rev. 
Joseph Gilbert, at the time now spoken of, was Classical 
Tutor at the Rotherham Independent College — Dr. 
Williams being the Theological Tutor and Principal. 
Mr. Gilbert had himself received his College training 
in that College, where his attainments — classical and 
mathematical, and his powers of thought — had brought 
him into a conspicuous position among his fellows, and 
especially had won for him the regard of Dr. Williams, 
himself a man of very eminent ability, and favourably 
known by his theological and metaphysical writings. 
The trustees of the College, listening to the advice of 
the Principal, to the wishes of the students, and to 
a prevailing opinion of Mr. Gilbert's ability, invited him 
to take the position in the College which he retained, 
together with the charge of a congregation at Sheffield, 
for several years, and until his removal to Hull. 

2S2 The Family Pen. 

It had been by the perusal of several much talked- 
of articles in the recently established Eclectic Review^ 
of which Ann Taylor Avas reported to be the author, 
that Mr. Gilbert was induced to seek an introduction to 
her. The first interview took place at Ilfracombe, dur- 
ing the first winter of our sojourn there. The marriage 
took place in the following winter, while Jane and her 
brother were a second time making it their home. 

Mr. Gilbert, after some years' ministrations at Hull, 
removed to Nottingham, taking charge of the Friar's 
Lane congregation. It was there that he died in 1852. 
A man of the warmest benevolence, of extraordinary 
intelligence, extensive acquirements, excellent judgment 
in common affairs, and withal of deep and elevated 
piety. His wife, the "Ann" of the "Original Poems" 
and " Hymns," passed peacefully away on the 20th 
of December, 1866, surrounded by her sons, her 
daughters, and her grandchildren. 

The seclusion and leisure of this second winter at 
Ilfracombe were employed by my sister in writing the 
earlier portions of the tale entided " Display." She 
commenced it with a definite idea of the characters she 
designed to portray ; but without any specific plan for 
the development of the story. She followed, every day, 
the suggestion of the moment ; and this was, perhaps, 
the only way in which she could ever have written. It 
was her custom, in a solitary ramble among the rocks, 
for half an hour after breakfast, to seek that pitch 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 283 

of excitement without which she never took up the pen. 
This fever of thought was usually exhausted in two or 
three hours of writing, after which she enjoyed a social 
walk, and seldom attempted a second effort in the day ; 
for she had now adopted the salutary plan of writing 
in the morning only. To this plan she adhered ever 
after with only occasional exceptions. 

A letter to Mrs. Golding exhibits the tranquil happi- 
ness she enjoyed at Ilfracombe. 

" April l-^rd, 18 14. 
"* * * I doubt not that your natural vivacity and 
vigour of mind will enable you to retain, much longer 
than I shall, some of the sweetest feelings of youth. 
Those which are connected with its follies we wish not 
to retain ; but there is a dehcious glow of feehng which 
already, I am conscious, has lost much of its warmth. 
At this beautiful reviving season, I am reminded of that 
spring which is for ever passed away. But I would not 
have this letter tinged with the melancholy such re- 
flections are apt to bring with them, especially as it is 
very far from my usual state of feeling. I am as happy 
now as I can expect ever to be in this troublous world ; 
and could I feel a little more security of the continuance 
of my present circumstances, I should not have a wish 
with respect to external things. But this would be too 
much like a rest to be good for me. Even the recol- 
lection of the spring of life being gone by, occasions 

284 The Family Pen. 

melancholy, only because our views are so much con- 
fined to this infancy of our existence; to cultivate an 
intimacy with the circumstances relating to its future 
stages is truly the only wisdom ; for this alone can re- 
concile us to the decaying conditions of mortality. I 
can easily believe that those who have but lately entered 
into the important relations of life, feel rather as if it 
were but just begun, than approaching its termination ; 
but I, who am sailing down the stream of time without 
any such interruption, am more conscious of progression, 
and have more leisure to look back upon the past, and 
to expect the future. But I had intended quite another 
strain ; perhaps the scene before me has made me thus 
sentimental. The tide is just filling the pretty harbour, 
and the evening sun shines mellowly on the rich rocky 
banks opposite, and on the venerable hill which fronts 
the port. I enjoy, though not as I once should have 
enjoyed, this fine spring, in this charming place. 


Memoir of Jane 2 ay lor. 285 




" youths' MAGAZINE." 

My sister's literary engagements were suspended during 
the following summer by our departure from Ilfracombe. 
Having determined to spend the next winter in Corn- 
wall, we held ourselves ready to take the first oppor- 
tunity that should ofter of going thither by sea. It was 
on a fine evening in June that we left Ilfracombe in 
a small fishing vessel, intending to pass round the 
Land's End to Mount's Bay; but Jane suffered so much 
from sickness that, in the evening of the next day, we 
landed at St. Ives ; and after spending a few days there, 
proceeded to Marazion, where we had already engaged 

St. Ives, June iitk, 1814. 

My DEAR Father, Mother, etc 

I am thankful to say we landed here safe last 
night, and as the letter informing you of our intended 
departure from Ilfracombe was not put in the post till 
yesterday, I am in hopes the letters will arrive nearly 

286 The Family Pen. 

together, so that you will have little or no suspense. 
We set sail from Ilfracombe at nine o'clock, on Thurs- 
day evening. A mild pleasant breeze wafted us out 
of the harbour, and some friends stood waving their 
handkerchiefs to us on the Lanthorn Rock. We sat 
upon deck till it was nearly dark, and then were obliged 
to go into the cabin, in which there was something like 
a bed for me and a shelf for Isaac. We were tolerably 
comfortable till about two in the morning, when a fresh 
breeze sprung up, and almost directly I called out, "Oh! 
I'm sick !" and the answer was, " So am I." From that 
till the moment we landed we continued so with very 
short intervals, and those were not free from miserable 
qualmishness — never did I suffer so much, I could not 
rise from my bed all the day, though I much wished to 
see the coast as we passed. We set off, intending to go 
round to Marazion, but gladly accepted the proposal 
of the Master to put into St. Ives, for it seemed as 
though another night of it would have killed me. The 
sailors were extremely kind and tender, and paid us 
every attention they could. I was sick to the very 
moment of being carried into the boat which brought 
us on shore, and when we came to the Inn, I could 
only he all my length on the floor till bed-time. Isaac 
was not nearly so much troubled, which I was very glad 
of, and I doubt not we shall both soon feel the good 
effects of the voyage, which is reckoned extremely 
beneficial. The night before we set sail, I felt my 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 287 

courage failing, and could sleep but little with the 
thought of the voyage ; but the next day my spirits 
were much better, and kind Barney said everything he 
could think of to encourage me ; and from the moment 
we set sail, it was so calm and pleasant that I felt no 
fear, and afterwards, when the gale was fresher, I was 
too ill to think of danger. * * * We landed at nine 
o'clock. This morning we only feel weak and queer ; 
you may see my hand trembles a little. It is about 
seven miles across the land to Marazion, but we felt it 
would be much the most comfortable plan to rest awhile 
before proceeding ; so we have been looking out for 
lodgings, and have hired comfortable rooms which we 
shall enter this evening. If we should feel ourselves 
comfortable, we may, perhaps, stay a week or a fortnight, 
but this is quite uncertain at present. * * * The 
sea view here is very pretty ; but the place not at all so. 
* * * I thought of you entering the new house, and 
much long to hear particulars. * * * I hope the fatigue 
has not been too much for you. All day Thursday we 
were as busy packing as you could be. 

Post going off this minute, so I can say no more. 
Farewell, your affectionate 


The "kind Barney" here referred to might claim a 
few lines in this Memoir. How often, in our winter's 
walk at noon upon the pier, have we stopped for five 

288 The Family Pen. 

or ten minutes chatting with poor Barney, and asking his 
opinion of wind and weather, in relation to which he 
was well skilled. Seldom did his prediction fail of fulfil- 
ment, when, looking ominously at the sky, he said, 
"There's dirt above!" Rain followed, as a matter of 

This Barney was a sailor ; he was still young ; a man 
of robust make, regular features, and a fine, free, sea- 
faring look ; always cheery, though a little pensive. 
From exposure to wet and cold on an Arctic voyage, 
he had become entirely paralysed in his lower limbs, 
and was wholly dependent in all his movements upon 
the help of others. 

Weather rough or smooth, he was daily lifted out of 
his little cabin, at the foot of the Lanthorn Rock, and 
seated in a sort of crib on wheels, and was thus brought 
upon the pier, where he could change his position a 
little, by applying his powerful hands to the wheels of 
his carriage. I believe he had some sort of pension, but 
he was pensioner for all his little comforts and cooking 
upon the faithful love of a young woman, to whom he 
had been engaged before the occurrence of this calamity ; 
and who continued through a course of years, I believe, 
to devote herself to her lover, doing whatever she might 
well do for him, and especially cooking his frugal dinner 
with great care, so as to temjDt his delicate appetite, for 
he used to say, " If there's the least thing unpleasant 
to look at, I can't touch a morsel." 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 289 

The letters following should here find a place : —, 1 8 14. 

My dear dear Family, 

* * * I wish you could just look in, and see me 
as I am now sitting, — in a beautiful study, with my 
window open upon the bay ; vessels passing before me, 
and the sea breezes wafting the deHciaus coolness. 
The offer of Mrs. Grenfell's house, which I mentioned 
in my last, we accepted — all difficulties being removed — 
and took possession last Monday ; and we find it so cool, 
so airy, and so extremely pleasant, that we esteem it quite 
a providence for us ; for I do think it likely to be es- 
sentially beneficial to Isaac, during the heat of summer, 
besides the change of scene, and cheerfulness, which 
produce a real effect. The house stands close at the 
bottom of the hill which rises behind the town, so that 
I walk straight out of my bed-room, which is at the 
top of the house, through a trap-door into the first 
garden. From this, a flight of steps takes us to the 
second, and another long flight to the third, which is 
the garden in which we have always had the liberty to 
walk. My bed-room has a fine sea-view, and I see the 
vessels passing as I lie in bed. Isaac's is very large and 
airy, with a view likewise. Our only difficulty is, to know 
where to sit — we have such a choice. There is the 
dining-room, and the drawing-room, and the sitting-room, 
and this charming study, besides our own rooms, &c. 
VOL. I. u 

290 The Family Pen. 

* * * I suppose mother had not time to copy out any 
part of the "Panorama Review?" If anybody can do 
me this charity by the parcel, I shall be greatly obliged. 
I am much more anxious to see blame than praise, 
and the thought that you may keep back anything 
of that kind, would fidget and discourage me beyond 
measure. Perhaps you are not aware how much. I 
am out of the way here of hearing what is said, and 
though you tell me that it is " highly popular," I should 
like to know who says so, and how you know it. Is 
the Second Edition out ] * * * 

Your affectionate Jane. 

Marazion, November 2^th, 1814. 
My dear Father and Mother, 

We removed to our lodgings the last week in 
October. Mrs. Thomas exerted herself much, to prevent 
our feeling the change. Several new things were bought, 
and everything made as comfortable as possible. We 
have quite won Ann's heart [the servant], so she is 
delighted to come and bring us a pat of her butter, or 
one of her Cornish cakes. * * * It will, as it is, be 
quite as much as I shall do, to get out my book by 
the spring. Sometimes I write pretty fast, but often 
sit whole mornings without a word. I reckon that I 
have done just half of it. * * * We had a most in- 
teresting sight just before we left the Grenfells', which I 

Memoir of Ja?ie Taylor. 291 

venture to say you will never have at Ongar, — an India- 
man wrecked upon the rocks ahnost under our windows". 
I woke early one morning with the violence of the 
storm, and going to the windows to look at the sea, 
beheld the torn sails streaming in the wind over the 
tops of the houses. We hastened down to the shore, 
and there was indeed a scene ! The rocks and sands 
lined with hundreds of people, or tvreckers, as they are 
called, ready to seize all that floated on shore ; the 
boats going out at the hazard of the lives of the men, 
to save the passengers, who narrowly escaped. It 
was a rich cargo, and the sands have been covered with 
coflee ever since. * * * One trick of trade, which 
I have found very useful myself, 1 daresay you are 
up to — that is, in discussing any fault in ^a character, 
to have the real fault of a real character in my eye ; 
which prevents the advice from being too general, and 
is more likely to make it come home to the con- 
science and feelings. This, I think, I can do without 
uncharitableness ; it is only studying Nature, and without 
it I could do nothing. If you are at a loss for a 
character, take mine, and you will find faults enough 
to last out the whole volume. I assure you that I take 
greater liberties with myself, in that way, than with 
any of my friends or neighbours ; and have really found 
so far, the beam in my own eye makes me see more 
clearly to take the mote out of others'. The moment 
that I leave off looking at some original, I find I am 
u 2 

292 The Family Pe?i. 

writing what is tame and unnatural, or general and un- 
impressive. Pray do not think I am dictating, or that 
it is in consequence of dissatisfaction with your writings ; 
it is only because it struck me, and I should be thankful 
for any hints in return. 

Yours affectionately, 


If she had not found agreeable society at Marazion, 
and formed there some friendships which she highly 
valued, my sister would have continued to regret the 
rocks and solitudes of North Devon ; its gloomy and 
romantic scenery suited peculiarly her tastes, and the 
temper of her mind, which Avere little pleased by the 
business and bustle, and open bareness of Cornwall. 
Yet the aspect of Mount's Bay is agreeable ; and Pen- 
zance is as pleasantly situated as almost any town in 
the kingdom. The country in its immediate neighbour- 
hood is more wooded than other parts of the county, 
and the Bay, the villages on its margin, the Mount with 
its Castle, and the distant rocky hills, form a most 
complete ajad pleasing picture. 

At Marazion we staid long enough to form a strong 
local attachment; our mode of life was suited to our 
tastes ; Jane's occupations filled her thoughts, and were 
relieved by frequent intercourse with three or four 
persons, whom she was happy to call her friends. 

Speaking of her feelings at this time, she says, — 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 295 

*' The ease, tranquillity, and comfort of my present lot, 
so perfectly congenial to my temper and feelings, demand 
my constant thankfulness. It is no business of mine to 
inquire how long it will last. Long, I know, it will 
not last ; and this I feel so sensibly, that my anxiety 
for myself, and my dear family, lessens as it respects 
our prosperity in this world, and increases for better 
things, — that it may be well for us all in the next," 

And again, in a letter to her mother, — 

" Notwithstanding the toil of writing, it has its plea- 
sures j and often, both this winter and last, when I 
have sat down at ten o'clock, all alone in our snug 
parlour, with a cheerful fire, and with nothing to in- 
terrupt me for four hours, I have really felt very happy. 
As to my writing ' under disadvantageous circumstances,' 
it is so far from being the case, that I am sure I can 
never expect to be more favoured. All domestic cares, 
except just giving orders and settling my accounts, are 
completely taken off my hands by Mrs. Thomas. The 
afternoon suffices for the needlework I have to do ; 
and we are little interrupted by visitors; besides the 
rare privilege of having a room and fire quite to myself 
during the morning. I therefore cannot plead my 
present circumstances in excuse, either for the poverty 
or slowness of my writing ; for I do actually what you 
describe as so desirable — 'sit down composed and 
unembarrassed in my study.' Indeed, I cannot be 
sufficiently thankful for the large share of comfort I 

294 -^^ Family Pen. 

have enjoyed the last three years : with nothing to try 
my temper, and exempt from most of those unpleasant 
realities which you mention as inseparable from the charge 
of a household. But I do not wish to fly from family 
cares ; and one of the satisfactions of returning to you 
for a time would be that I might share them with you." 

From the friendships above alluded to, and from in- 
tercourse of a more general kind enjoyed at Marazion, 
Jane Taylor derived new and important advantages. 
For, hitherto, her connexions had been almost exclu- 
sively within the pale of one religious community ; but 
her Marazion friends were, most of them, members 
of the Established Church, and moreover, were very 
jealously attached to its constitution and its forms. She 
had also full opportunity of observing the state and 
spirit of another religious body — the Wesleyan Me- 
thodists, who, in the western part of Cornwall, are the 
predominant sect. She ever looked back upon the 
expansion of her views and feelings which took place 
at this time, with great satisfaction. Yet her attachment 
to the principles in which she had been educated did 
not become less firm : perhaps it was made more de- 
cided by the comparison she had now the means of 
forming between different practices and opinions. 

As there was at Marazion no society of Congrega- 
tional dissenters, Jane attended the service of the 
EstabHshed Church, and that also of the Wesleyan 
Methodists ; and she gave her assistance, regularly, at 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 295 

the Sunday School connected with the former : — making 
only this exception — that she should not be required 
to teach the Church Catechism. The concession was 
amicably yielded ; and in this school she continued to 
labour with great pleasure, during the two years of her 
residence at Marazion. Her exertions on the Sunday 
were, however, so much beyond her strength, that they 
evidently impaired her general health. But Jane, far 
from yielding to any plea on this ground, adhered reso- 
lutely to the triumph of doing " what she could," and 
continued her labours in the Sunday School during ten 
years of declining health ; and indeed, till the very 
last time of her attending public worship, a few weeks 
before her death. 

Among the friendships formed in Cornwall, there 
were two or three that have a claim to be noticed. 
The first name I shall mention is that of Jos i ah 
Hill, whose name is already familiar to the readers 
of John Foster's " Life and Correspondence,'' for to 
him many of Foster's letters were addressed ; and these 
letters were of a kind that indicates — or as we may 
say — connotes the intellectual qualities of the party 
addressed. I have just now said that the Rev. Daniel 
Gunn might easily have been mistaken for an officer 
in a Highland regiment ! This— our new friend — might 
have been taken for almost anything rather than for 
what he was— a Wesleyan Preacher ! I intend no dis- 
respect to the order in saying so : but, in truth, whether 

296 The Family Pen. 

one encountered him in the street, or saw and Hstened 
to him in " Chapel," or conversed with him in private, 
there was a feehng as if Josiah Hill, the Wesleyan 
minister, had somehow missed his place, and had come, 
socially and ecclesiastically, into a false position. His 
Christian convictions had led him to devote himself to 
the Ministry of the Gospel : — his scruples on some 
points had forbidden his taking orders in the Established 
Church (he was independent of stipend), although his 
tastes and feelings were of that kind which would have 
made the social position of a clergyman altogether 
congenial and homogeneous. How then a Wesleyan 
minister? Some very emphatic feelings or beliefs in 
regard to Calvinist doctrine had availed to alienate him 
from the Evangelical Dissenters — Independents and 
Baptists, and thus it was that the door of Wesleyan 
Methodism, and no other, stood open to him. 

The readers" of John Foster's Correspondence will 
need no aid in fonning a notion of Josiah Hill : — medi- 
tative, pensive, with a range of thought fitting him to 
maintain intercourse through many years, with such a 
one as the author of the " Essays," The friendship 
commenced about the year 181 2 ; and was maintained 
until severed by death, the one surviving the other only 
a few weeks. Foster thus speaks of his friend in a 
letter written twenty years after the commencement 
of the intimacy. " A man of very great and rare 
excellence : pious, benevolent, intelligent, and of liberal 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 297 

spirit and sentiments, with large knowledge and expe- 
rience of mankind." 

At the time when we were resident at Marazion, Mr. 
Hill was a preacher on the Penzance Circuit ; and in 
his turn, according to the " Plan " — which we took care 
to inspect — preached in the Marazion chapel. He 
made acquaintance with us, although we were hearers 
only, and not " in Society ; " and after two or three 
calls it became a frequent incident, most agreeable to 
ourselves — that he hung the bridle of his horse upon 
the hook of our shutter, where, to the annoyance of 
passengers it stood, blocking the narrow street for 
two, three, or four hours ; and until in fact the 
" preacher's " thoughtlessness as to his poor beast drew 
upon him some severe animadversions. In truth, 
conversation did not often flag ; and it was late in the 
day perhaps, when an unusually energetic kick or 
stamping of the exhausted and patience-tried animal, 
awakened his rider to a recollection of times and sea- 
sons, and he abruptly left us. 

These conversations were, in subjects and in tone, 
a contrast to those of Mr. Gunn at Ilfracombe : 
and they had, no doubt, much influence in enlarging 
my sister's habitudes of thought. The Dissenterism 
which had lately been instilled by our Highland friend, 
was much softened ; intellectual Christian feeling, with 
an admixture of pensiveness, coming in the place of 
the sectarian zest; and this mellowing mood was 

298 The Family Pen. 

recommended also by literary tastes, and much general 
information. Wlien in the course of things Josiah Hill 
left the Circuit, we were much in the mood to which 
Foster gives utterance, on a like occasion, when Mr. 
Hill removed from Bristol. Writing to his friend from 
Stapleton, November, 1822, he says — " Even your vanity 
will hardly be competent to imagine how much I have 
felt the loss of your near neighbourhood. Going into 
Bristol, or the thought of doing it (I mean for an hour 
or a day, not for residence), is now quite a different 
thing, and I do it much less frequently. With all due 
regard for my friends there (and they are very worthy 
ones), I must confess that the special point of attraction 
is gone; and the grievance is, that there is no hope 
of its being there again. My maledictions have not 
been slight ; nor seldom repeated, upon that Methodist 
system of yours, which will let nothing stay in a place 
that one would most wish to keep there. My good 
wife most cordially says Amen, to these imprecations — 
till we recollect that this is doubtless a part of the 
system tending very powerfully, on the whole, to its 
utility." * * * 

A young lady must take the next place in these 
notices of my sister's Marazion friends. This was Miss 
Anne Maxwell — the lady to whom is addressed a poem 
entitled, "The Shipwrecked Lascar — a True Tale." 
The incident out of which this Lascar story took its 
rise, is mentioned in the foregoing letter to her father 

Memoir of Jajie Taylor. 299 

and mother. Miss Maxwell was the daughter of a Lin- 
colnshire gentleman ; but on account of the extreme 
delicacy of her health, and perhaps for other reasons, 
resided at Marazion with a maiden aunt. The circum- 
stances of this young lady's early life, which might not 
have been of the most favourable kind, had taken effect 
upon a peculiar temperament in which were combined 
extraordinary fixedness of temper, with a self-denying 
kindliness, such as would have fitted her well for the 
labours and sacrifices of a " Sister of Charity." In truth, 
her manner and appearance were very much those of 
a nun. She might have sat to a painter as his model 
for a St. Agnes. Hitherto Jane had become acquainted 
with no sample of this order of character. This new 
friend — a lady by habits and connexions — but desti- 
tute of that cultured intelligence and literary proficiency 
which she had been used to look for as a matter of 
course in her more intimate friends — nevertheless, com- 
manded respect, and engaged affection on account of 
virtues of which no instance had before come in her 
way. Wanting in that Uberty of thought which attends 
intellectuality, Anne Maxwell exhibited upon occasion 
a courage and a romantic determination which Jane 
Taylor would not easily have imitated. So it was on 
the occasion referred to in the Poem above-mentioned. 
The Indiaman wrecked in Mount's Bay was a " country- 
built ship" — and was manned by Hindoos, Lascars, 
and Mahometans. These men were for a time lodged 

300 The Family Pen. 

in a building near the town, and it had become our 
amusement to visit the place, and to watch their various 
modes of caring for themselves. At length they were 
put on board a vessel London-bound — one of them 
excepted, who was in too feeble a state to be moved, 
from his pallet. Of this invalid Anne Maxwell took 
charge, and during several weeks, or months, was his 
nurse, and found for him whatever he needed. 

A few years later than this time, Miss Maxwell became 
the wife of a clergyman, the Rev. Henry Lyte, a volume 
of whose miscellaneous poetry still has its admirers. 
Husband and wife have been some years deceased. 

Another friend — if, indeed, my sister would have ven- 
tured to speak of her as her "friend" — was one, her 
acquaintance with whom had a marked influence in 
opening her mind, inasmuch as she witnessed an order 
of Christian excellence very unlike any that had oc- 
curred within the circle of her earlier friendships. In a 
letter above cited, Jane mentions the kind offer of a 
spacious house at Marazion for some months, which we 
gladly accepted. The offer was made by Mrs. Grenfell, 
whose daughter, Lydia, has become known to readers 
of the " Memoirs of Henry Martyn" as the object of 
an attachment of which his letters contain such affecting 
evidence. Soon after our arrival at Marazion, my sister 
had become acquainted with Miss Grenfell, and had 
rendered aid in the Sunday School under this lady's 
management. The time now spoken of was about two 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 301 

years after the death of Henry Martyn, which occurred 
at Tocat, October 16, 1812, and Httle more than one 
year after that event had become known to her to whose 
earthly happiness it was fatal. 

The notices of this lady which occur in the " Memoir 
of Henry Martyn" are very brief; but his letters to her 
from India and Persia give evidence of those high 
qualities which in his view fitted her to be his companion 
in that course of arduous service upon which he was 
entering. His biographer says : " Here it is due to the 
full illustration of his Christian character to mention, 
that it was not merely the ties of family or friendship 
which bound him to Cornwall ; others there were of a 
tenderer, if not stronger kind ; for he had conceived a 
deeply-fixed attachment for one of whom less ought not, 
and more cannot be said, than that she was worthy of 
him : an attachment which — whether he thought, as he 
afterwards did, that it should be encouraged, or, as he 
now did, that it ought to be repressed — equally exhibits 
him as a man of God, whose affections were set upon 
things above, and not on things on the earth." 

Henry Martyn thus speaks of his parting with the 
woman of his heart : *' Our ride home (with several 
Christian friends) was delightful, our hearts being all 
devotedly disposed ; mine only was unhappy. Parted 

with L (Lydia Grenfell) for ever in this life, with a 

sort of uncertain pain which I knew would increase to 
greater violence." " These forebodings," says his biogra- 

302 The Family Pen. 

pher, " were but too soon realized. On the evening of 
the same day, and for many succeeding days, his mental 
agony was extreme." In his Journal there are expressions 
of this anguish : " How miserable did life appear, with- 
out the hope of Lydia. Oh ! how has the discussion of 
this subject opened all my wounds afresh. I have not 
felt such heartrending pain since I parted with her in 

Cornwall My heart was sometimes ready to 

break with agony, at being torn from its dearest idol; 
and at other times I was visited by a few moments of 
sublime and enraptured joy." 

None who saw and conversed with Miss Grenfell, as 
my sister did, unknowing of the love through which she 
had so recently passed, could have surmised the fact, or 
could have supposed what had been the peculiarity of 
the trial she had endured. Perfectly calm in deport 
ment, and cheerful when engaged in labours of Christian 
charity, she betrayed no inward conflicts : yet, must 
there not have been such ! The " study " in the attic 
story of the house which Jane mentions, and whence 
she enjoyed the prospect of the Bay and the Mount, 
had no doubt been the scene of conflicts such as none 
but the strong in soul are liable to, or, suffering them, 
may survive. A dignity like that of high birth, softened 
by unaffected Christian humility and meekness, was her 
characteristic. Yet was it evident that she held at a 
distance any who were not entitled to her intimate 
regard. My sister's intimacy with Lydia Grenfell was not 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 303 

of that kind. I do not know that any correspondence 
between them took place after we left Cornwall. 

Thus far my part has been to record friendships which 
death has severed ; it remains to mention the name of 
one who survives, and to whom several letters among the 
later dated are addressed. These letters exhibit more 
affection than is usual in a friendship of so recent a 

Nearly opposite our lodgings at Marazion resided the 
Rev. Melville Home, with his family ; which consisted 
of his wife, her aged mother, and a daughter, Marianne. 
Mr. Home was minister of the Episcopal Chapel already 
mentioned, and where we usually attended. He had 
become known in the evangelic and missionary move- 
ments of the time, and had gone out to Western Africa 
as a missionary. At this time the period of his public 
services was drawing to a close. He soon afterwards 
took a curacy in Yorkshire, and finally at Salford ; and 
thence, under the care of a devoted daughter, removed 
to Ashbourne, Derbyshire. 

Of this daughter, Jane's young friend, I shall say 
nothing more than this — that the intercourse was very 
frequent, almost daily, and that notwithstanding the 
disparity of years, a friendship took its rise which was 
maintained till my sister's death. Miss Home's affec- 
tionate warmth and vivacity, in contrast with the icy 
sweetness of Anne Maxwell, and the lofty meekness of 
Lydia Grenfell, took effect as a sort of amalgam, giving 

304 TJie Family Pen. 

to our Marazion circle an animation that engaged my 
sister's feelings, which otherwise might have received a 
chill from the much less fervent style of the other two. 

These three ladies, evangelic in their principles, firm 
and decisive in their attachment to the Established 
Church, and very devout in their observance of its 
ritual, made their way into Jane's affectionate regard on 
grounds wholly unlike those which had determined 
nearly all her earlier friendships. These excellent per- 
sons were not enthusiasts in literature and poetry ; their 
tastes, line of reading, and conversation were such as a 
few years earlier would have stood in the way of inti- 
macy, Jane Taylor at twenty might not have recognised 
the excellence which at thirty commanded her esteem ; 
in these new friends she acknowledged a superiority 
of which hitherto she had thought little — as she had 
seen little — that of Christian devotedness, apart from 
intellectuality and its tastes and accomplishments. 

These new impressions of evangelic piety produced 
an effect upon my sister's own feelings and impressions, 
if not decisively on her inherited opinions, which greatly 
modified her style of thought as a writer ; and, in fact, 
the product of this change of feeling and of this en- 
largement of her religious sympathies may be very 
distinctly traced in many of her papers, among the 
"■ Contributions of Q. Q." Those, at least, who had known 
Jane Taylor at the time of her sojourn in Devonshire, 
would easily see that the three years' sojourn in Cornwall 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 305 

had had a great effect in giving depth and breadth to 
her Christian consciousness, and thus had quahfied her 
the better to teach and to train the young, who have 
been and are her readers. 

Moreover, it was during these three years that my 
sister came into contact with Wesleyan Methodism. A 
way into Methodism, if I may so speak, was opened for 
us by our intellectual friend Josiah Hill, whose large and 
free modes of thinking, and habits of speaking, allowed 
him to converse with us on subjects touching the merits 
of the Society in a manner in which perhaps his brethren 
on the Penzance circuit would not quite have approved. 
When, therefore, we attended at the Wesleyan chapel, 
what we saw and listened to was — Methodism intei-preted. 
Then, on the other hand, we came to know something of 
the Christian worthiness of some persons of humble rank 
who were leaders or prominent persons in the Society. 
Moreover, two or three useful men among the preachers 
came within our circle. It was in this new circle that my 
sister learned to look with charity upon the prejudices — 
may we say the innocent prejudices of Christian people. 
Among the books we had brought with us was, as matter 
of course, a " Watts's Psalms and Hymns." It chanced 
that in some way which I forget, we came to know that 
this book was an object of aversion, almost terror, to 
the good people with whom we lodged, who were well- 
instructed Wesleyans ; it was that " Calvinist book " which 
they had been taught to hold in abhorrence. This very 

VOL. I. X 

3o6 The Family Pen. 

same book Jane speaks of in a letter, as in use in the 
Episcopal chapel, and the use of which in the service, 
she says — " made the prayers go down." Thus, while we 
were stretching our candour towards Wesleyan prejudices 
against ''Watts's Hymns," we ourselves were only breaking 
away from the thraldom of Dissenting prejudices against 
the Liturgy ! Yet these narrow feelings did at length 
give way, albeit my sister continued to the last to think 
herself a Dissenter. 

Soon after our removal to Marazion, my sister resumed 
writing the Tale she had commenced at Ilfracombe ; and 
late in the same year it was sent to press, under the title 
of " Display." The favour with which this work was 
received, and more especially the high praise bestowed 
upon it by a few individuals whose judgment and sin- 
cerity could not be questioned, produced a very desirable 
effect upon her mind ; for it gave her, in some degree, 
that confidence in her own powers which she so much 
needed. Hitherto, she had persisted in attributing 
almost the whole success of the works in which she had 
had part to her sister, but this was all her own ; and 
she was constrained to believe that she could write well, 
and that too in a higher line than she had before 
attempted ; for " Display " was admired on account of 
excellencies of a more substantial kind than such as 
attach merely to an entertaining or pathetic fiction. The 
advice which had been long and often urged upon her 
of undertaking to write for mature readers, was now 

Memoir of Jane Taylor, 307 

greatly corroborated. Yet, perhaps, had she attempted 
a fiction upon a more extended scale, she might have 
found herself to be moving out of her proper sphere. 
For the beauties of her style accord best with a brief, 
inartificial, and condensed narrative. Breadth of design, 
amplification, and digression, seemed not to be within 
her range — her simple story is merely a thread, sup- 
porting a series of just sentiments and sparkling graces. 
That knowledge of the human heart which is evinced in 
" Display," might deserve to be called intimate ; but it 
is exhibited in touches so delicate, that they might 
escape the eye of the reader whose eye was less quick 
and piercing than that of the author. But probably it 
has been these fine and half-hidden beauties that have 
procured for this tale the praise (not often won by mere 
fictions) of being read again and again, with ever fresh 

The volume did not, however, escape without some 
strong animadversions — chiefly on the ground of the 
opinions expressed in it. In reply to some observations 
on one point, the author says : — 

"As to the dancing, I certainly did not think I had 
erred on the strict side ; and I think I have observed 
the distinction you mention, of not objecting to dancing 
in itself. The children at Stokely, you may remember, 
were all dancing very merrily one evening. But, in fact, 
except with mere children, there is no such thing as 
' select Christian dances.' Go where you will, it is the 
X 2 

3o8 The Family Pen. 

worldly who dance ; and the serious do not. E is 

an instance of what is said about Emily ; her newly ac- 
quired religion is so far from having made her dull or 
precise, that there are many whom I have seen shake 
their heads at her youthful sprightliness. Yet since 
she has been a Christian, she says she does not wish 
to dance, especially as it could not be without as- 
sociating with those who think only about this world. 
As to what Mr. Leddenhurst says about ' dancing 
through the world,' it is a remark I have heard made 
by those who are very far from being puritanical in 
their manners, or narrow in their views ; and I merely 
understand by it, that a person of a contemplative and 
serious turn of mind, impressed Avith the grand realities 
of religion, and intent upon remedying, as far as pos- 
sible, the sin and misery of the world, will not be much 
disposed to go ' dancing through it.' " 

The suggestions of her friends were so far admitted 
as to induce Jane to look -svider abroad than hitherto, 
for the topics of her next undertaking. But to express 
her opinions on grave subjects, in naked prose, was 
more than she could dare. In verse, she felt as if 
sheltered. She therefore determined to write what she 
thought and felt, \vith less reserve than hitherto ; but 
under the cover of poetry. Such were the views with 
which, soon after the publication of Display, she began 
writing her "Essays in Rhyme." With an exception 
presently to be mentioned, the composition of this 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 309 

volume occupied her time during the remainder of her 
stay at Marazion. 

Throughout the winters of the years 18 14-15, my 
sister read much more than she had ever before done 
in the same length of time. The works she selected 
were of the kind best adapted to invigorate the under- 
standing ; — her taste in reading was for histor)-, which 
always excited in her mind a much deeper interest 
than even the most fascinating fictions : — fictions she 
did, indeed, occasionally read ; but it was only in those 
seasons when the exhaustion of long-continued excite- 
ment in wTiting had rendered her incapable of close 
attention. The interests of the real were fast pre- 
vailing over those of the ideal world ; her mind, 
every day, more and more needed the stimulus of an 
object, such as she could deem important ; and she 
became indisposed to exertion, at the impulse of mere 
fancy, or personal feeUng. 

This marked change in her mind and habits of feeling, 
was evidently much promoted by the new scenes she 
witnessed, and the new fiiendships she formed in 
Cornwall. Before the time of her visit to INIarazion, 
she had had too little opportunity of becoming ac- 
quainted with the sufi"erings and the wants of the 
poor. She knew, indeed, by report the e%dls that 
abound in the real world; but her experience had 
scarcely presented to her any other evils than "those 
sorrows of the heart, and of the imagination, which 

3IO The Family Peti. 

are either wholly created, or are aggravated by morbid 
sensibilities ; and which, however amiable they may 
seem, are more or less seclusive, if not selfish, in their 
influence. Friendships — and literary friendships — and 
polished tastes, and the delights of fancy, and wit, and 
criticism, are fine things ; and where they exclude 
either frivolity or grossness, they are good things ; but 
if the heart be rightly disposed, they will sink in 
estimation, when we are called daily to administer 
relief to the urgent wants and the real sufferings of 
human life. And perhaps the instances are rare, if, 
indeed, such instances are at all to be found, in which 
laborious zeal in works of mercy, exists in union with 
a vivid relish of the pleasures of the imagination. Be 
this as it may, it was observable with my sister, that 
in proportion as her mind admitted the paramount 
claims which the sufferings of those around us have 
on our sympathies and our activities, she became less 
regardful of the gratifications of taste, and of the 
luxuries and sensibilities of the imagination, and more 
solicitous in all her engagements to pursue utility. 

The three or four excellent persons at Marazion, 
whom my sister ever thought it her happiness to have 
known, were distinguished by their Christian zeal in every 
good work ; and she at once admitted, and cherished, 
in her own character, the influence of their example. 

The tendency of her acquaintance with Methodism, 
was also of the same kind. And while, as will be 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 311 

apparent from her letters, she was far from being 
bhnd to the defects of that rehgious system, or con- 
verted to its pecuHar opinions; she confessed herself 
to owe to it a new impression of some branches of 
Christian feeling and duty. 

Early in the year 18 16, while still at Marazion, Jane 
commenced her contributions to the Youths' Magazme ; 
which she continued to supply, with few exceptions, 
during the succeeding seven years. It was with extreme 
reluctance, and not without the urgent persuasion of 
those to whose advice she was accustomed to listen, 
that she yielded to the repeated request of the con- 
ductors of that publication, to write statedly for it. 
She dreaded the bondage under which she felt 
such an engagement would bring her; she dreaded, 
especially, lest the necessity of writing at stated times, 
whether or not she felt a spontaneous impulse, should 
induce the habit of prosing ; or should impair that 
feeling of sincerity, simplicity, and genuine interest, 
with which hitherto she had always written ; and with- 
out which, to write at all, she would have thought an 
abuse of her talent, and a presumption upon that 
degree of favour she had won. Happily, these ob- 
jections were overruled ; and, soon finding herself 
successful, she felt a pleasure in the employment ; and 
was incited to use her best exertions to improve, for 
the highest purposes, this opportunity of addressing con- 
stantly so large a number of young persons. 

312 The Family Pen. 

To a writer whose invention is fertile, whose judgment 
and taste are matured, and who, above all, has too 
much self-respect to allow him to sink into inanity or 
frivolity, the necessity of writing at stated times may be 
advantageous, and it may produce, at once, freedom, 
and simplicity of style. Under such circumstances, 
that fastidiousness which would substitute tame pro- 
prieties for faulty beauties, must be laid aside : — a 
subject having once presented itself to the thoughts, 
must not be dismissed, merely because it seems un- 
promising; and the mind, by the very feeling of being 
tied to an unpromising subject, is roused to make the 
greater effort. Thus it often was with my sister; and 
the result has been, that this collection of papers con- 
tains, perhaps, her happiest and her most useful com- 

The "Essays in Rhyme, on Morals and Manners," 
were finished in the spring of the year 1816. Jane never 
wrote anything with so much zest and excitement, as the 
pieces composing this volume. While employed on 
them, she was almost lost to other interests : even her 
prevailing domestic tastes seemed forgotten, and in our 
daily walks she was often quite abstracted from the scene 
around her. In trath she had stepped upon ground new 
to herself, and felt an impulse which gave an unwonted 
vigour to her mind. Her impatience of pretension and per- 
versity in matters of religion, and her piercing discernment 
of the deceptions of the heart, give a peculiar force and 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 313 

pungency to many passages in the " Essays in Rhyme ; " 
while others are distinguished by the same interchanging 
pathos and playfulness which had been displayed in her 
earlier writings. A few lines, perhaps, in this volume, 
may have seemed too pungent to some readers. This 
she fully anticipated, but would not shrink from the 
hazard. Her feelings and her judgment were averse to 
compromise, or to the cautious concealment of opinions. 
Some such concealment had been recommended to her 
by a friend, to whom the manuscript had been submitted, 
previous to publication : in reply to these suggestions, 
she says : — 

" It is now time to refer to a former letter of yours, 
respecting certain passages in the ' Essays in Rhyme.' 
It is scarcely necessary to say, after having written them, 
that I do not agree with you as to the propriety of total 
silence on all disputed subjects. Had that plan been 
always pursued, what would now be the state of the 
world % I am very far from blaming Mr. Cunningham 
for writing the ' Velvet Cushion ' (his doing it unfairly is 
another thing) 3 and with regard to introducing particular 
sentiments in works of a general nature, it appears to me 
one of the best ways of doing it. Who ever blamed Mrs. 
More for poking the steeple into almost every page of 
her writings % What happened to Miss Hamilton for 
making the hero of her novel a Dissenter % or, which is 
more to my purpose, what has been the consequence of 
the severe sarcasms of Cowper upon the Church and its 

314 The Family Peti. 

ministers % The consequence is, indeed, that he is hated 
by the High Church party ; but that does neither him 
nor his works any harm. What harm did he suffer from 
the review of his poems when they first appeared, by our 
old friend the Critical Review, when they said — ' This 
is an attempt to be witty in very lame verse T I grant 
it is probable that no proselytes have been gained to any 
party by what he wrote ; but who will deny that the 
diffusion of the liberal sentiments that abound in his 
writings, has been of great service to the cause of truth 
and moderation ? Do not suppose I am here placing 
myself by the side of Cowper — I am only pleading 
against the system of preserving a profound silence on 
all controverted subjects in works of a general nature." 

To some criticisms of a different kind, she thus 
replies : — 

" You will not be surprised, and I am sure you will 
not be offended, to see in how few instances I have 
availed myself of your criticisms, if you reconsider the 
nature of them — that is, how very few were merely 
literary. To those few I paid every attention ; most of 
them had already been marked for correction, either by 
myself, or other critical friends ; but I was disappointed 
to find so few of that description ; and still more, to find 
so many relating to matters of opinion, which you would 
hardly expect I should give up. I cannot guess why the 
very same opinions — or creed, if you please (for I know 
that is a word you are particularly fond of), — which were, 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 315 

I believe, expressed with quite as much plainness in 
'Display,' should offend you so much less there. You 
say, indeed, that you have only remarked upon that style 
of language which refers to a party — not to a principle : 
but, on the contrary, I found not a single note upon 
those few passages in which I write as a Dissenter. If 
you mean to call religious sentiment parly, I shall not 
dispute the term with you. Christianity has had a great 
many ill names from its commencement to this day. 
But they have never done it the least harm, nor ever 
will. Do you think I would condemn you for using a 
prayer-book, or kneeling at an altar — for going under 
water, or even for wearing a broad brim 1 No. But as 
I would not make my creed narrower than that of the 
Bible, so I dare not make it wider. ' There is no other 
name under Heaven, whereby we must be saved.' ' He 
that believes shall be saved ; he that believes not shall 
be damned.' This is all I would contend for, and all, 
I think, that I have contended for, as essential ; and if 
it is to this you object, I fear not boldly to say you are 
wrong. And my heart's desire and prayer is, that you 
may be led, as many a confident opposer has been, to 
what I must still maintain to be 'the only place — the 
feet of Jesus.' 

" I think your prejudice — may I say your party spirit 
(for never does party spirit show itself so openly, or 
speak so narrowly, as when it embraces the sceptical 
creed) — has got the better of your good taste, in the 

3i6 The Family Pen. 

present instance ; your taste is good, when left to its 
free exercise ; but in several of your criticisms, I scruple 
not to say you have, under the influence of other feelings, 
betrayed a very bad one. For instance, you object to 
passages that are simple quotations from the Bible. 
Here I can speak quite confidently, in a literary view, 
that the effect of such quotations is good, and that they 
confer a dignity on the verse. Where, for instance, I 
have introduced, almost literally, those passages — ' In 
Thy presence is fulness of joy ' — ' In My Father's house 
are many mansions ' — I am sure that I am more classical 
than you, in your very ill-chosen remark upon them. 
That these expressions have been quoted a thousand 
times by 'Lady Huntingdon,' or 'Mr. Huntingdon' 
cannot render them at all less affecting or sublime ; and 
to call such language ' religious cant,' is in my opinion 
' irreligious cant.' " 

Me^noir of Jane Taylor. 317 



Marazion, June 18, 1814. 

My DEAR Family, 

It quite vexes me to trouble you with so much 
postage, but knowing you will be anxious to hear of our 
comfortable settlement, I would not delay writing. I 
cannot help sending some fond and longing thoughts 
towards home, now that at more than three hundred 
miles' distance I think of its present interesting, and I 
hope, happy circumstances. This letter will, I hope, 
find dear Anne once more among you ! How we should 
enjoy it if we could be admitted for one half-hour ! I 
long inexpressibly to hear all about it, with the history 
of the moving, and how you enjoy the new house — how 
Anne likes it, &c. &c. It is indeed having news from a 
far country, and in this strange land will seem quite 
refreshing. I trust you received my letter from St. Ives : 
we spent a quiet week there, in which we lost neither 
time nor money, as we went on with our usual employ- 
ments. Our lodgings were very comfortable, but we 
did not quite like the people, and the town was so 

3i8 The Family Pen. 

deplorable that I felt in poor spirits all the time, and 
finding Mrs. Thomas was ready to receive us, we re- 
solved to depart at the week's end. Cornwall is just 
what we expected. Fine hills, but not so high and abrupt 
as'those in North Devon, much enriched with fragments 
of rock, very bare of trees, and divided by stone hedges, 
characterise this part of it. The shafts of mines appear 
perpetually, and the hills are dotted over with the huts 
of the miners, and mills where the ore is broken and 
washed. We have heard the high Cornish key, which 
rises to the highest pitch at the end of the sentences, 
to a degree that would not be believed if imitated. We 
hired a gig to come here, where we arrived at four 
o'clock yesterday afternoon. We did feel alone in the 
world as we drove along in this strange land at the ends 
of the earth. The afternoon was fine, and the road 
pretty. Within about a mile of Marazion we caught a 
view of the Southern Channel, and presently of the fine 
even bay on which we are situated. Next appeared 
St. Michael's Mount — a striking object ; on the summit 
stands most picturesquely a fine minster, and altogether 
it forms a very beautiful and interesting object from this 
place. It is only a quarter of a mile distant from us, 
and a walk at low water. Isaac went over this morning. 
There is a small fort and several houses on the mount ; 
I daresay father has a view of it somewhere. By the 
help of the map and gazetteer, you may easily form an 
idea of our situation. The bay, called Mount's Bay, 

Metnoir of Jane Taylor. 319 

forms a fine sweep ; it is surrounded by hills. On the 
western side lies Penzance, which we see distinctly, and 
it appears a very large town. Just opposite to it is 
Marazion, which consists of one long street, and several 
straggling ones. It is completely sheltered from the 
north and east, and is reckoned much warmer than 
Penzance. There is a fine turnpike-road, close to the sea, 
from hence to Penzance ; it is three miles' distance : — 
we intend making an expedition there the first day next 
week that the weather permits. The country here is a 
complete change from Ilfracombe ; — there, we were 
blocked up with abrupt hills, — here, all is wide and 
open. It is certainly a beautiful bay, and the surround- 
ing country has a great air of cheerfulness. The country, 
too, is very populous, as many towns and villages are 
included in this small peninsula ; and in Penzance and 
its neighbourhood there are a great many good families ; 
and, I understand, all the conveniences of life are to be 
obtained there in perfection. We had not raised our 
expectations very high about the lodgings — such a cheer- 
ful look-out as at Ilfracombe we must not expect to find 
again. The house is in a street, — small but neat. The 
parlour, on the ground-floor, comfortably furnished, but 
small and not light. The bedrooms, both in front, and 
close together, are very comfortable — not quite so large, 
perhaps, as Isaac's at Ilfracombe. There is a very pretty 
little kitchen, on the right as you enter — our parlour is 
on the left. The great recommendation is, that we are 

320 The Family Pen. 

much pleased with the people ; they are Methodists, as 
almost everybody is in Cornwall, Mrs. Thomas is a tidy, 
managing woman, and there is an air of such extreme 
order and cleanliness over the house, kitchen, and 
pantry, as is very pleasant. They have no children, and 
we are waited on by a very nice servant \ moreover, Mrs. 
Thomas seems extremely anxious to oblige and accom- 
modate us, so that, though the apartments are not all 
that we could wish as to size, we think ourselves alto- 
gether pretty well off, and desire to be thankful for being 
again taken care of, and furnished with another temporary 
home. At our leisure we shall look about us, especially 
at Penzance, but are quite contented for the present. 
There is a respectable old medical man here (our hostess 
says he is the most skilful man for miles around), who 
was recommended to us by a gentleman who was our 
neighbour at llfracombe, and who quite recovered his 
health by staying several months at Marazion last year, 
I think Anne would be quite reconciled to our situation, 
by its being directly opposite the post-office. This is 
the regular post town, and we see the mail stop at the 
door twice in a day, A London coach also passes every 
day; so that for letters and parcels we are very con- 
veniently situated. We are well supplied with milk, as 
our hostess keeps cows, and makes butter ; she will also 
make and bake our bread. There is a market for meat, 
once a week, and things may at any time be procured 
from Penzance. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 321 

Monday morning. — We are rather awkwardly circum- 
stanced as to a place of worship where we should like 
to attend. There is a small Baptist place, not, we fear, 
very respectably supplied ; a Methodist Chapel, and a 
Chapel of Ease, in the Establishment, where, I appre- 
hend, we shall prefer attending, though it is by no means 
what we like to do. The Rev. Melville Home, well- 
known in the religious world as an active and zealous 
missionary, and who has spent years abroad, is the 
settled minister there. He has been here three months, 
and a house nearly opposite ours is preparing to receive 
his family, who are expected this week. I daresay we 
shall become acquainted. He is said to be a most 
amiable, pleasant man. I heard him twice yesterday 
(Isaac being confined by rain), and was much pleased. 
He is not a High Churchman, and said many things that 
showed great liberality. Dr. Watts's hynins are always 
sung at the chapel, which make the prayers go down 
a little better. We are increasingly pleased with our 
landlady, and discontented with nothing but the parlour, 
which Isaac fears would in winter be too dark for him. 
We now sit at work in our own rooms, which are com- 
fortable. We recovered from the effects of the voyage 
in a few days, and are now as well as usual. We set all 
to rights on Saturday, and are now once more quietly 
settled, for how long we know not. I think Mrs. Thomas 
is very desirous to detain us. I remain, dear family. 
Very affectionately yours, Jane. 

VOL. I. Y 

32 2 The Family Pen. 


Marazion, June 20ih, 1814. 
My dear Friend, 

As this is one of our Saints' days, I cannot do 
better than devote it to my friends : one letter I have 
already despatched to Ongar ; and I am sure it is quite 
time to address you, as I believe my last letter was 
written to inform you of our arrival at Ilfracombe, 
though I think the fault has not been all on my 
side. The interval has been pretty well filled with in- 
cidents : — S. and A. have not been idle; you and the 
Prince Regent have been receiving company ; Father 
and Mother have left the Castle House ; we have 
removed to Marazion ; and Buonaparte to Elba : — so 
that the world does not pay us the compliment of 
standing still till we have time to animadvert on its 

I would have waited a week or two longer, when 
I should have been better able to say how well we like 
our new situation, but that I hope this will now reach 
you before your friends leave you, as S. mentioned 
the last week in June for returning. To what is she 
returning ! I hope to a life of usefulness and happi- 
ness. I have never known one better fitted to enjoy 
and to adorn the peaceful scenes of domestic life, than 
our dear S. Happy is he who is destined to be the 
companion of them ! 

I suppose by this time Mr. C. has been introduced 

Me?noir of Jane Taylor. 323 

to his little grandson, with whom I may safely venture 
to guess he is pleased. I enjoy for you, my dear friend, 
the pure and real pleasures of the nursery. I am 
thinking too anxiously of dear Ann. The wide distance 
that separates us increases this anxiety : — if I could be 
near her, I should feel comparatively little ; but to wait 
a five or six days' post for such intelligence, is what I 
dread. Yet He, to whom we should cheerfully com- 
mit her, is " nigh at hand, and not afar off." * * * 
I told S. that we did not think of leaving II- 
fracombe till August ; but finding that during the 
summer, it does not often happen that vessels from 
Cornwall put into Ilfracombe, we determined to avail 
ourselves of the first good opportunity : — we regretted 
that one offered so soon : — we had scarcely twenty- 
four hours' notice. But our little affairs were soon 
arranged, and at nine o'clock on the evening of the 
9th, we set sail, and a mild breeze wafted us from our 
dear Ilfracombe. We were tolerably well till about the 
middle of the night, when a fresh gale springing up, 
from that time to the moment of our landing, at nine 
o'clock the following evening, we suffered continual 
sickness. We landed at St. Ives, and took lodgings there 
for a week : on Friday evening we reached this place, 
where we had before engaged lodgings : they are not 
so pleasantly situated as those we occupied at Ilfra- 
combe ; but they are comfortable, and our hostess is 
a good woman wno takes pains to please us. 
y 2 

324 The Family Pen. 

Marazion is pleasantly situated on the margin of 
Mount's Bay, which forms a fine sweep : on the western 
side lies Penzance, nearly opposite to us, at the distance 
of three miles : — it is a fine ride by the seaside. This 
morning we have been there : it is a large and very 
pleasant town : and being so near, we can have many 
of the conveniences it affords. The views here are 
open and agreeable : St. Michael's Mount is a fine 
object, distant about half a mile, and Penzance and the 
adjacent villages very prettily skirt the bay. We were 
recommended to come here in preference to Penzance, 
as being milder, and it suits us better as being more 
retired. In spite of our nonconformity we shall pro- 
bably attend at the Chapel of Ease, at which Mr, 
Home now officiates, whose name T daresay you have 
heard. * * * 

The following letter is the first of several addressed 
to a young lady — Elizabeth March, with whom Jane 
had made acquaintance in Devonshire. Her brother — 
Henry March — had lately come out from a family, 
gay in their habits, and had professed himself a dis- 
senter, and a Christian in the Evangelic sense. To 
the service of the Christian ministry among Congre- 
gational dissenters he had recently devoted himself, and 
in that field of labour has well and usefully spent his 
years. His sister Elizabeth — Jane's friend and corre- 
spondent, followed her brother in his religious con- 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 325 

victions : a year or two later she became the wife of 
Mr. Webb, a highly respected dissenting minister. 


Marazion, Cornwall, Jidy 2nd, 18 14. 
* * * The expectation of shortly leaving Ilfra- 
combe, made me defer writing from day to day, thinking 
I should soon be able to tell you whither we were 
destined ; but at last we went off so suddenly, that we 
had scarcely time to arrange our little affairs ; and, 
although I have felt impatient to do so, I would not 
write immediately after our arrival here, that I might 
be better able to tell you how we like Cornwall. I have 
been sorry to hear that you are unwell, and I know that 
you do not complain of trifles. It is not surprising 
that exchanging the pure air of Devon for such as you 
are now inhaling, your health should suffer. Although 
there is so little temptation to go abroad, you must not 
neglect daily exercise. It is not complimenting London 
air too much to allow that it is better out of doors than 
in. I am not surprised that London makes you love 
Devonshire more than ever. The sight of it, especially 
after a considerable absence, never fails to make me 
low-spirited ; and I scarcely know whether this is occa- 
sioned most by its wretchedness, or its magtiijice?ice. I 
entirely understand your affection for the old mulberry 
tree : there is a laburnum at Colchester which is quite 

326 The Family Pen. 

as good a friend of mine. I saw it blossom sixteen 
springs ; and plucked a spray when I took leave of it, 
thinking it would be a great pleasure to ruminate over 
it now and then, but I believe I have never found 
time to look at it yet : it has lain ever since undis- 
turbed, amidst a variety of similar relics, which have 
been abandoned to the same neglect. 

In consequence of strongly urged advice, we de- 
termined, early in the year, to remove to Cornwall 
during the summer months, for I could not summon 
courage to undertake the voyage on the approach of 
the autumnal gales. We had not intended to leave 
Ilfracombe quite so soon ; but a good opportunity 
offering, we availed ourselves of it ; and after a passage 
more safe than agreeable, landed at St. Ives, from 
whence we crossed to this place ; which has been re- 
commended to us in preference to Penzance; and where 
we had already engaged lodgings. 

I think you have not been so far into Cornwall ; so I 
may tell you we are very pleasantly situated on the 
margin of Mount's Bay, which fonns a fine regular 
sweep, surrounded by sheltering hills. Penzance, a 
handsome town, at the distance of three miles, is in 
full view ; and with its adjacent villages, prettily skirts 
the bay. The surrounding country is open and cheerful 
— near Penzance, pleasantly wooded; and here and 
there are some shaded and rural spots. St. Michael's 
Mount, directly opposite to us, and accessible at low 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 327 

water, is the most striking object in the scene. We 
have not yet thoroughly explored it ; but it is much finer 
and more picturesque than we had expected, from such 
views as we had seen of it. Altogether, we are pleased 
with our situation ; it is a complete contrast to the wild 
and solitary scenery of Ilfracombe. Being prone to 
form local attachments, I cannot at present decide 
impartially to which I should give the preference. 

How long we shall sojourn in this land of strangers 
is quite uncertain. I ieel with you, that I dare not look 
forward to distances I may never reach ; and I too 
could think of next summer with the delightful hope 
of again seeing many that are dear to me : but I am 
afraid of expecting it, or of forming any plan beyond 
to-day : by painful lessons, I have learned that it is vain 
and dangerous to do so. Seldom, perhaps, till we have 
lived long enough to observe that the wishes we form 
for ourselves are either directly thwarted, or if indulged, 
that they wholly disappoint our expectation, are we 
sincerely disposed to say " Choose Thou mine inherit- 
ance for me." When such wishes appear very moderate 
and hmited— falling far short even of the common ob- 
jects of worldly pursuit— when we ask neither for length 
of days, riches, nor honours, but only for some one 
favourite comfort, we are almost ready to expect that 
such a reasonable request will be granted; and it is 
well if we are taught, either by being disappointed of it, 
or with it, that eager desires for anything short of the 

328 The Family Pen. 

favour of God, are displeasing to Him, and injurious 
,to ourselves : there is a sweet feeling of security in 
committing our future way to Him, with an entire de- 
pendence on his wisdom and goodness, and a cordial 
acquiescence in his appointments. * * * 


Marazion, September 23rd', 1814. 

Months have passed since I wrote to you ; and in 
the interval I have travelled a hundred miles further 
west, and seen many new places and faces : but this I 
can say (and I hope you will think it worth sending 
three hundred miles to tell you) that association with 
strangers, so far from alienating my thoughts and affec- 
tions from those I have long known and valued, attaches 
me still more to them. I am surrounded by those who 
know that I am — Miss Taylor ; but know not that I am 
— " Jane ; " and it sometimes makes me sigh for a 
renewal of intercourse with those who, for that simple 
reason, have yielded me an unmerited share of their 
regard. The many follies, infirmities, and deficiencies 
which are intimately known to them, may, it is true, be 
partially and for a time concealed from strangers : but 
yet, I would rather be with those who " with all my 
faults, have loved me still." * * * 

Nothing can be more tranquil and agreeable than 
the manner in which our time passes here ; we are 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 329 

both sufficiently occupied to preserve us from dulness ; 
nor do we need other relaxation than the pleasure of 
conversing with each other in those hours of the day 
which we spend together. We have, however, some 
society here — more indeed than at Ilfracombe. I would 
gladly avoid the trouble of it ; but I know it is good for 
me to be obliged to exert myself in conversation some- 
times. * *■ * 

I do not think my attachment to Nonconformity 
is likely to be at all shaken by my present circum- 
stances ; — on the contrary, I long to attend " among 
my own people," and to worship in the simplicity of 
the Gospel. Yet it is both pleasant and useful to asso- 
ciate with good people who differ from ourselves. 

It is not from intention, but accident, that I am 
writing to you on this day of the month. You re- 
member, I dare say, the advanced stage at which I am 
arrived : — at five and twenty I regretted the departure 
of youth : but now I am quite reconciled to being as 
old as I am. In looking back upon the past, nothing 
strikes me so forcibly, for future benefit, as the different 
sensations occasioned by a review of its misfortunes, 
and its faults. Upon seasons of care, anxiety, and 
distress, of which (though they have been comparatively 
few and light) I can remember some, I can reflect 
without a feeling of regret and uneasiness ; indeed, 
there is a kind of satisfaction and complacency in look- 
ing back upon scenes of suffering : while the mistakes, 

330 The Family Pen. 

follies, and sins, that have marked my life, are sources 
of present and perpetual uneasiness. Of this, past 
experience and present feeling tend increasingly to 
convince me, that whatever afflictions may be appointed 
for me in future, if, in the course of the next ten or 
twenty years (should I see so many) I shall attain more 
holiness, I shall also enjoy more happiness than in the 
years that are past. To do quietly the duties of to-day, 
without ambition, and without anxiety, is to ensure 
comfort; — and comfort is a word that suits better the 
present state than happiness ; and in truth it is all that 
would be desired by us if our thoughts were familiar 
with death and eternity ; — if we habitually remembered 
that the time is short — that all we are most interested 
about is i^assing away, and that the flower we love best 
fadeth. * * * 


Marazion, May 31^/, 1815. 
My dear Friend, 

Although I quite forget the date of my last, I 
know that I have many times since felt much inclined 
to converse with you ; and that I have not written 
before is only owing to the constant recurrence of some 
employment that is more immediately pressing, and 
whose plea is more readily admitted, because it is some- 
thing that requires less exertion than writing, even to 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 33 1 

so kind and candid a friend as you, to whom I know 
the most simple expressions of regard are more agree- 
able than a studied epistle. Some people think it a 
great recommendation to be able to write a "clever 
letter;" but, if there is anything I dislike to receive, 
or that I am unambitious of writing, it is a clever letter ; 
by which I mean a letter that exhibits obviously an 
endeavour to be smart and pointed, or worse still, fine 
and sentimental. In this I am sure you will think with 
me. But to my languid mind, it is generally an effort 
to say anything beyond "How d'ye do?" and therefore 
I often delay the task in hope of an hour of vigour, 
till those who are oftenest remembered might fairly 
imagine themselves forgotten ; but now, though I am 
flat and chilly, and have more than half a headache, 
I am determined to spend the morning with you. 

What you told me in your last letter, made me almost 
envy the situation of those to whom religion appears 
as a glorious novelty, and who embrace it with all the 
ardour, and gratitude, and joy of a newly received 
message from heaven. They who, "from their child- 
hood, have been taught the Holy Scriptures" have, no 
doubt, their advantages; but how liable are these ad- 
vantages to be abused ! It often happens, I believe, 
that persons who have been long familiar with the name 
of Jesus, as the sinner's Friend, are shamed out of their 
coldness and negligence by the warmth and energy of 
those whose eyes are newly opened to behold Him. 

332 The Family Pen. 

To inquiries such as those which you make relative 
to your not having felt the strong convictions, and the 
overwhelming fears that many experience in the com- 
mencement of their religious course, I have heard the 
most judicious Christians reply, that a holy walk with 
God, a humble consciousness of preferring Him and 
His service to any other thing, is a better and safer 
evidence of a real change of heart than a reference to 
the most remarkable emotions of mind at any particular 
time. The Bible does not specify any certain measure 
of terror, or any violent apprehensions of the Divine 
anger, as essential to true conversion. ** Believe on the 
Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," is its simple 
declaration ; and as the evidence that we do believe, 
and that our repentance is genuine, we must " bring 
forth the fruits of righteousness." True sorrow for sin, 
flowing from a contemplation of Divine mercy, which 
is called in the Scriptures "a broken heart," is surely 
a more acceptable sacrifice than the most fearful appre- 
hensions of Divine wrath. 

I cannot pass over in silence your hint on the subject 
of Church communion. Although it is nowhere men- 
tioned as essential to salvation, yet the tender injunction 
of our Lord : " Do this in remembrance of me," is so 
forcible an appeal to our gratitude, that the neglect of it 
cannot be considered an immaterial circumstance. If 
the rules of a society calling itself a Church of Christ, 
are so strict as to present any real obstacle to a humble 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 333 

candidate, they must be unscriptural. And in some 
places, where a full written account of the candidate's 
religious history and feelings is made an indispensable 
condition of admission, such rules are unscriptural, 
though, even then, whether the exaction should be con- 
sidered as a real obstacle, is a serious question. In 
most cases, I believe, a private conversation with the 
minister, or a Christian friend, is deemed sufficient ; and 
whether so, or in writing, a simple and general pro- 
fession of trust in the Lord Jesus, and of willingness 
to surrender heart and life to His service, is all that 
would be required. Many, no doubt, would be better 
pleased with a circumstantial experience ; but I beheve 
it is very rarely demanded, and I am sure it would not 
be by your present pastor. You know, too, that what 
is communicated on such occasions is not heard or read 
by a whole congregation, but only by the members of 
the church ; and that in the absence of the candidate. 
The admission of a member is always considered as 
a pleasing and profitable, not an awkward or formidable 
service, by those who witness or are engaged in it. * * * 


Marazion, September \<^tli, 18 15. 
My dear Friend, 

It is quite time to ask you how you do once 

again upon paper, though if you did but know it, I am 

very often making the inquiry in my thoughts. I have 

334 The Family Pen. 

so many far distant and dear friends to think now of, 
that my thoughts are become quite expert at the busi- 
ness, and fly from Ongar to Rotherham, and from thence 
to Axminster, Bridport, or London, with wonderful ease 
and expedition. There was a passage in your last letter, 
which brought old days so forcibly and suddenly to my 
recollection, that it made my tears overflow before I 
was aware. There is a long train of recollection, you 
know, connected with those days ; but they are over and 
gone — all is settled, and well settled. For myself, as to 
external things, I was never so happy. I should rather 
say so comfortable (for that word best suits this world) 
as I am now. The last two years of my life have been 
so tranquil, so free from irritation, passed in a manner 
so suited to my taste and temper, with such a beloved 
and genial companion ; they have been so occupied with 
agreeable employments, and so enlivened at times by 
pleasant society, that I have often thought, should any 
thing occur to alter my present lot, I should look back 
upon it as the brightest spot in my life. Ah well ! I 
hope I am in some degree willing to commit the future 
to One who knows how to control it, and who will 
certainly prolong my present comfort, if it is for my 
good. * * * 


Marazion, October idth, 1815. 
Your ceremonious commencement of our correspon- 
dence, my dear Marianne, was so discordant with my 

Memoir of Ja7ie Taylor. 335 

feelings, at the moment of receiving your affectionate 
letter, that I determined to break through all restraint at 
once. But if you do not follow my example, I shall 
consider it as a signal for returning to the usual formality 
in the next. 

Your kind letter was gratifying to me as a better 
evidence of real regard than the most elaborate epistle. 
I thank you for your many expressions of friendship. 
If I were conscious of having been a friend to you in 
every and the best sense, I should receive them with 
unmixed pleasure. I am however the more obliged for 
affection which must overlook so many deficiencies, im- 
perfections, and infirmities, as a twelvemonth's inter- 
course has exhibited to your view. I say this, not as a 
flourish, but from the bottom of my heart. It was some 
time after your departure before I quite ceased to listen 
for the well-known step upon the stairs : for a few days 
I was miserably flat, and unable to take any interest in 
my employments. But I have by this time begun to be 
again sensible of the pleasures of regularity, and of the 
satisfaction of resting in some degree upon myself This 
revival, however, is not accompanied by any diminution 
of regard towards those who are gone. The substantial 
pleasure of having gai?ied a friend — of having one more 
heart in this cold world with which I can feel sympathy, 
and from which I may expect it, remains. And as for 
the rest, the rehef and recreation of frequent intercourse 
— it is a pleasure which, however desirable, may be 

336 ■ The Family Pen. 

cheerfully resigned, without at all impairing friendship, 
and which, indeed, might have been enjoyed inde- 
pendently of any feeling that deserves the name. * * * 


Marazion, January 16, 18 16. 

* * * Here we are surrounded by Methodists, and 
have the opportunity of knowing what Methodism really 
is. We often attend at their chapel : their preachers 
generally appear to be zealous and devoted men ; and 
their preaching well adapted to be useful to the class of 
persons who are their hearers. I have never anywhere 
before seen so general a profession of religion, and there 
is every reason to believe it is more than a profession with 
many. A romantic little fishing town, just opposite to us 
across the bay, contains, we are told, a large society of 
experienced and fervent Christians, and the same is the 
case with many of the forlorn, desolate-looking villages 
in the neighbourhood, that seem in all things else a 
century behind the rest of the world. * * * 

When one has been screwed up for some time with 
narrow-minded people, it is no small relief to meet 
with those of enlarged and liberal views ; especially if 
their piety does not suffer by their intelligence. But I 
am indeed much inclined to believe that the poor in 
every sense, the mentally poor, are generally the richest 
in faith — that they receive the Gospel more simply as it 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. Til"] 

is, without reasonings and disputings, and live upon it 
more entirely, and more happily. * * * 

Marazion, Alarch iMi, 1816. 
My dear Father and Mother, 

* * * We thank you dear father for your 
kind remembrance of us. We need not such assurances 
of your affection, but still they are gratifying, long as we 
have been banished from a nearer enjoyment of it. I 
never think without pain of the very long time out of 
our short life that we have been separated, especially 
from dear father's society, as for the best part of a twelve- 
month before we left Colchester he was from home, and 
since our removal we have been almost entirely away ; 
so that our recollections of him are almost entirely 
confined to the dear old engraving days, and they will 
ever be among my pleasantest recollections. I doubt 
not that whenever we are permitted to meet we shall 
all observe in each other that Time has been carrying on 
his usual operations ; but I am sure from both your 
letters you think I suff'er more from anxiety than I do, — 
so that perhaps I may not be so much careworn as you 
fear. * * * j have, like Mrs. Palmer, an extreme 
dislike of " being uncomfortable," which generally dis- 
poses me to make the best of things, so that my letter 
gave you really a false idea if it made you think I am 
" bowed down under a weight of cares." * * * In 
her last letter Ann informs me that James Montgomery 

VOL. I. z 

338 The Family Pen. 

has seen my specimens. I could not repeat all the 
handsome things he says of them, and only refer to 
his opinion as another weight in the scale. As a poet 
he is a judge, and he is one by no means given to 
flatter. * * * 


* * * You and I, my dear Emma, are, I fear, at 
present too little acquainted to do each other much 
good. Were I to be favoured with a closer acquaintance 
with your character, I hope I should prove myself your 
friend by making occasional observations, as might then 
appear suitable, and be equally ready to receive yours 
in return. But at this distance we can only draw a bow 
at a venture ; and instead therefore of assuming the 
character of your monitor, which on every account 
would so ill become me, I would rather congratulate 
you on being so closely surrounded by friends from 
whose wise and affectionate instruction, and still more 
by whose example, you must be urged forward. In your 
two cousins you have invaluable friends, whose silent 
virtues are all eloquence. Were it my happiness con- 
stantly to enjoy their society, I should hope in time to 
reflect some of their rays ; and if I might be permitted 
to point out particularly any point in their character, it 
would be that peculiar simplicity in their manner, pro- 
ceeding from (I know not what better word to use) an 
— honesty of heart. It is no uncommon thing in these 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 339 

days to see young women of cultivated minds and 
superior talents joined with grace and accomplishments, 
but is it not at least more rare to find these united 
advantages unalloyed by ill-concealed self-sufficiency 
and an artificial style of conduct that is at once 
detected even by superior observers'? We have fre- 
quently remarked in our intercourse with your cousins 
that we never for a moment perceived the smallest 
attempt to set themselves off, as it is called, or the least 
approach to affectation in their manners ; and the reason 
plainly is, that their virtues are built on a solid founda- 
tion, and that the only humility which can be genuine — 
a Christian humility, influences all their conduct. From 
bitter experience, my dear Emma, I can warn you against 
indulging in that kind of discontent with yourself, which, 
as a little self-examination will convince you, has its 
source in anything rather than true humility. You men- 
tion in your letter being in the habit of making painful 
comparisons between yourself and your friends ; and so 
far as such comparisons tend to urge and stimulate us to 
an imitation of their perfections, it is well ; but it, too, 
has a contrary effect, and leads us to view our own real 
or supposed defects with fretful despondency. I would 
not put such an affront upon your understanding, dear 
Emma, as to endeavour to persuade you that you have 
no cause for self-dissatisfaction, though from general 
observation I might say, with perfect truth and sincerity, 
that you have no occasion for discouragement, but that 

z 2 

340 The Family Pen. 

you possess many advantages, both personal and relative, 
which demand your gratitude. But we have all too 
much occasion for deep humility when we look within 
and see how much is amiss there. But we are too apt, I 
fear, instead of looking within, to look without, and even 
when regarding the perfections of our most valued friends, 
are we not too apt to envy them the less important 
advantages, and those which are least attainable, than to 
emulate those solid excellences which are really within 
our reach 1 It is their beauty, their accomplishments, 
their talents, their taste, that we desire to possess ; while 
their piety, their usefulness, their sweetness and humility 
are attainable if we pursue the same end, and make the 
same sacrifices to attain them. Religion, indeed, will 
not do everything for us ; it will give us neither graces 
nor accomplishments, nor taste, but the blessings it offers 
are, a humble mind, a meek and lowly spirit, and it will 
enable us, not only with resignation, but with cheerful- 
ness and gratitude, to take an allotted portion, and will 
teach us industriously to cultivate our one talent, if we 
have no more. * * * A large family is an extensive 
field for the exercise of all virtues, and calls for our self- 
denial, patience, and forbearance, and demands our 
activity, kindness, and generosity ; and how much of 
the comfort of our future lives must depend on present 
conduct ! When our parents are no more, and every 
opportunity of showing them respectful attention and 
grateful love is over ; when our brothers and sisters 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 341 

are dispersed, and no longer require our affectionate 
attention, it will be an unspeakable happiness if we 
can look back upon those days without painful reflection 
or self-reproach. I said, respectful attention : respect is 
a word I am fond of, for if well attended to in a family, 
it will go a great way towards promoting its order and 
happiness. A respectful conduct should by no means 
be confined to strangers, where common politeness 
demands it, nor even to our parents and acknowledged 
superiors. That familiarity which breeds contempt should 
be carefully avoided even among brothers and sisters of 
equal ages. Affection loses all its gracefu/ness without 
that accompanying respect which should never be lost 
sight of, even among perfect equals, and especially Avhere 
we must acknowledge superiority. " Honour to whom 
honour is due," is a text well worth studying, and I hope 
I have, in part at least, acted under its influence in my 
own family. * * * I hope that not only in my 
feelings, but in my conduct also, I have remembered 
the respect which must ever be due to those from whom 
we hope and wish to karn. You have a brother, and I 
am sure you are not insensible to this privilege. If you 
are really solicitous to reap benefit from his society, be 
not contented to love and admire him, but let the 
deference you pay to his superiority influence your 
outward cmidud, and your manner towards him, and 
you will find it will greatly promote and dignify mutual 
affection. * * * 

342 The Family Pen. 


I am very glad, my dear Emma, that even at such a 
little distance of time you can look back on your visit to 
us with so much pleasure. It certainly evinces a pre- 
vious disposition and determination to be pleased, since 
our house possesses few indeed of those attractions 
which would render it agreeable to most visitors ; so 
that, except the charm of novelty, and the regard which 
you avow for its inhabitants, all the rest must be attri- 
buted to your own good disposition and good nature. 
But from many expressions in your letter, it is evident 
that some feelings of dissatisfaction mingle with the more 
agreeable recollections. I well know what it is to call 
myself to an account upon my return from a visit ; and 
though I have sometimes found it a painful operation, it 
is doubtless a very salutary and a very necessary one, 
especially if the inquiry is not — What will my friends 
think of me % but — What do I think of myself? For 
that, indeed, is but a false and superficial repentance 
which is not awakened till faults are discovered by 
others. Our own consciousness of them ought to 
awaken the severest pain. Self-disapprobation, my dear 
Emma, is the first step towards improvement ; without 
this nothing can be done — nor need any one (especially 
those who are young) be greatly discouraged, even 
should they upon examination find there is much to be 
done. This should stimulate to extra exertion, and by 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 343 

no means lead to despondency. From sad experience, 
I know the wide difference between our planning and 
reforming; weak resolutions and half-efforts will never 
do. If we wish for amendment, we must make up our 
minds to work hard. Nothing but real fighting can 
ensure victory. I am persuaded, dear Emma, that after 
so many expressions of affection and esteem as you have 
bestowed upon me, I need not solicit your forgiveness 
for writing with that freedom which a few years' more 
experience of the vanity, weakness, and deceitfulness of 
the human heart may perhaps warrant me in attempting 
to advise you. I beheve you will give me credit for the 
kindness and sincerity of my motives in so doing. You 
might, indeed, feel justly indignant were I to compli- 
ment you by denying what you acknowledge, and to 
attempt to persuade you that you had no occasion for 
self-reproach. You know far better than I can possibly 
do on what your dissatisfaction is grounded ; it is not 
my business to inquire. I would only urge you by 
every argument, not to rest contented at this critical 
period with careless complaints or faint endeavours — 
but to be absolute zxiA prompt ; and that the disease may 
not be "healed slightly," do not set about external 
reformation, nor rest satisfied till you really are what you 
would appear to be. Desire to become a sterling character ; 
and whether or not you excite the admiration of strangers, 
be ambitious to respect yoicrself, and to win the esteem 
of your best friends and nearest associates. A pre- 

344 The Family Pen. 

vailing desire for admiration, if not wholly incompatible 
with moral and religious improvement, is, I believe, the 
greatest bar to it. Indeed, dear Emma, the love and 
respect of one truly valuable friend is worth more than 
the admiration and flattery of the whole world, * * * 
It is true that when we are led to survey the recesses of the 
heart, and so to discover something of the chaos within 
— when we come to search our motives, and examine 
the merits of our best actions — the idea of restoring 
order is most discouraging, and we may well exclaim, 
"Who is sufficient for these things'?" Truly writ, as it 
is impossible. How suitable, then, and encouraging are 
the promises of a new heart and a right spirit to those 
who really desire, and earnestly seek the blessing ! 
Thus, then, we have no right to despond, no right cause 
to complain of the difficulties either from within or 
without, since such potent aids are promised us. Only 
this idea must not tempt us to relax our own exertions ; 
we must watch as well as pray, for heavenly arms are 
provided on purpose that we may fight with them. But 
you, dear Emma, are too well instructed to need to be 
told, and, I hope, too considerate to need to be reminded, 
that the shortest, the safest, the easiest, the pleasantest, 
indeed the only way to conquer the difficulties of which 
you complain, is to seek heavenly wisdom ; is to learn 
of Him who was meek and lowly in heart, and you shall 
find rest and peace to your soul. We hear with pleasure 
from Josiah that you have come to the determination 

Memoir of Ja7ie Taylor. 345 

of leaving home. Now, dear Emma, do not be hurt, 
or surprised, if, instead of sympathising with you on 
this occasion, I am more disposed to congratulate you, 
because I do indeed believe, provided the situation is 
not very unpropitious, you will be better and happier 
for the change. Great and ample are the rewards of 
self-denial ;— and when from a sense of duty we do 
anything that appears unpleasant, we are often sur- 
prised to find how much less pain and difficulty there is 
in it than we expected. I am much mistaken if you will 
not in the present instance find this to be true. For 
besides the great pleasure of doing right, and making 
a laudable sacrifice — a change of situation, and especially 
should it be one that requires constant employment, 
may be most advantageous to your character, and con- 
ducive to your improvement. It is much more easy to 
follow up good resolutions, and to break old habits and 
begin new ones, in a new sphere and among different 
people. The necessity of constant mental exertion 
would be another important benefit, for the mind decays 
even more than the body, without regular exercise. 
And indeed, dear Emma, if you should be placed in 
a situation where this was required, and all your mental 
powers called into action, you would find a new world 
of satisfaction and enjoyment open to you. Constant 
useful employment gives you distaste for, a disgust 
at, triflers, and enables us to see them in their true 
significance. If the duties you are called to perform 

346 The Family Pen. 

are not considered as mere tasks or drudgery, but are 
pursued with interest and energy, I will venture to say 
that the pain you may experience from the first effort 
will be amply recompensed by a large amount of sub- 
stantial pleasure and satisfaction. When I commenced 
my letter, I had no notion of speaking so plainly ; but 
having been led to do so, I cannot prevail with myself 
not to send it. I shall be both pleased and obliged if 
you take it kindly, and I should indeed be rejoiced if 
anything I have said should stimulate and encourage 
you in your exertions, or even reconcile your mind to 
the change you have in contemplation. * * * 


Marazion, April Zifth, 1816. 

* * * I am glad you have heard and were pleased 
with Mr, Josiah Hill, and wish you knew him as a par- 
lour companion : — one does not often meet with a person 
so completely intellectual. 

Of Methodism and Arminianism, I knew scarcely 
more than the names before I came here, and am very 
glad of having seen them for myself. Cornwall certainly 
offers a favourable specimen of the Methodists : the 
good they have done is unquestionable, even by the 
most prejudiced witnesses. But what they have effected 
is fairly attributable to their zeal and laboriousness, 
rather than to their peculiar opinions. The ignorant 

Mejtioir of Jane Taylor. 347 

poor, when they become pious, are so almost exclusively 
" taught of God " — they are so little encumbered with 
human knowledge, that I believe it makes very little 
practical difference indeed whether they are called Ar- 
minians or Calvinists. The same unerring Spirit guides 
the minds of both to all essential truth. But does it 
not seem that opinions are of more importance and 
produce more decided effects on the more cultivated ? 
I think I have lately witnessed some such effects. An 
Arminian who is much interested in his pecuhar views, 
unconsciously perhaps to himself, very sparingly and 
partially exhibits in his preaching the good news of the 
Christian system : — he seems fearful of preaching a too 
free salvation for sinners. I am far from saying that 
this is the case generally with the Methodist preachers, 
but I am sure it was the case with the most zealous 
Arminian I ever heard or knew. But if peculiar 
opinions give a bias to the strain of preaching on one 
side, there can be no doubt that it does so in a much 
more baleful degree on the other. I would much rather, 
as I value my soul's safety, attend the preaching of an 
Arminian than of a high Calvinist. I have heard a 
few of these preachers, and have seen and heard much 
of the effects of such doctrine among the common 
people. It is said to be just now a fast-spreading evil 
among the Evangelical clergy of the Establishment ; and 
it is spreading like a leprosy among the ignorant in all 
denominations. I believe there is scarcely any tendency 

348 The Family Pen. 

towards it among the regular dissenting inmisters ; but 
some of their flocks are infected. There is something 
so flattering, and imposing, and comfortable in the state- 
ments of preachers, of this class, and the evil (except 
in avowed Antinomianism) is so much concealed, that it 
is no wonder that the doctrine is eagerly embraced by 
those who wish for a cheap and indulgent way of getting 
to heaven : nor even that many of the sincere and 
humble are led into the snare. If the accounts we 
hear are correct, it is not Towgood, but high Calvinism, 

that has induced Mr. to leave the Establishment : 

— it is said he objects especially to reading the Ten 

Having heard and seen so much of the evil tendency 
of these sentiments, I was very sorry to hear lately that 

they had found their way to ■ : at least, what I 

heard led me to suppose that it was so : — it was said 

that Mr. had lately professed that a great change 

had taken place in his views : that he now perceived 
he had never before known or preached the Gospel ; and 
that the minds of many of his most pious hearers had, in 
consequence of this change, been very much unsettled; 
but that they were now falling into his views. Now, 
though it would be very wrong to judge upon this 
evidence alone, yet this is so precisely the language 
of the party, that one cannot but fear that the fact is as 
I have supposed. * * * Many of the people, I have 
no doubt, are so truly Christians, that their own minds 

Memo 17' of Jane Taylor. 349 

may sustain but little injury, and their lives continue as 
ornamental to their profession as before, but it is not 
probable that this will be the case with the majority. 
It is certainly a temptation to a young man to preach in 
that strain, for nothing will so certainly ensure popularity, 

I am glad that so favourable a change has taken place 

at , and hope Mr. may find some judicious 

guide to direct his inquiries ; though, if he is indeed 
inquiring, he will doubtless be directed well at last. I 
have lately read an excellent paper on hyper-Calvinism, 
explaining some causes of its growth, and especially 
tracing it to a backwardness on the part of many pro- 
fessedly Evangelical ministers in introducing the grand 
truths of the Gospel, so that their hearers, having real 
cause of complaint, readily run to the opposite extreme. 

You have, indeed, been led to the true, the only way 
of solving your difficulties on some of the deeper 
doctrines of religion. Every attempt to explain them 
has, to me, always rather increased than removed the 
difficulty and my own discouragement. But certainly, I 
should not fly to Antinomianism in order to escape from 
it. This system may, indeed, seem to remove the 
difficulty a step further off; but there it meets us 
again, just the same as before, unless the omnipotence 
and omniscience of God be disputed. But let us 
wait :— it is but a little while, and we shall comprehend 
something of the depths of the wisdom and knowledge 
of God; though now "unsearchable, and past finding 

350 The Fa?7iily Pen. 

out." How chilling are the very terms oi controversy, 
and how unHke the language of the Bible ! To live 
near to God, to walk humbly with Him, is the surest 
way of having our minds satisfied on these points. 
" Tlie secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him : 
He will show them His covenant." * * * 

MejHoir of Jane Taylor. 351 



The consequences upon my sister's health and spirits, of 
the great and long sustained excitement occasioned by- 
writing the " Essays in Rhyme," were such as seemed 
to render change of scene, and complete relaxation, 
necessary. She therefore determined to spend some 
part of the ensuing summer in Yorkshire. We left 
Marazion in the month of June 18 16; and after an 
agreeable journey of a week, reached Masborough, near 
Rotherham, where Mr. Gilbert then resided. This 
visit afforded the most delightful and beneficial re- 
laxation to her mind, by yielding her at once the 
lively enjoyments of a renewed intercourse with those 
most dear to her, and the pleasures of an introduction 
to the very intelligent and agreeable society of that 

The religious circles within which Jane Taylor was 
welcomed in Yorkshire, when on visits to her sister, 
Mrs. Gilbert, afforded samples of intelligence, of 
Christian feeling and of consistent conduct, of which 
she had seen very little at Colchester ; and it was thus 
again that her views were expanded. She had lately, 

352 The Family Pe7i. 

as has been mentioned, formed friendships among 
zealous members of the EstaWished Church — dis- 
tinguished more by the fervour of their piety than by 
hterary tastes. She now found literary tastes, and a 
general intellectual zest — less simple-minded, perhaps, in 
an evangelic sense^less purely evangelic — but yet un- 
doubtedly sincere and genuine, as well as fruitful in 
works of Christian benevolence. What those changes 
are which may have come in upon English dissenting 
Christianity, in the course of fifty years, this is not the 
place to inquire ; but it is certain that fifty years ago 
there existed a feeling in and among the larger con- 
gregations (perhaps the smaller also) throughout the 
midland counties, which made it a golden time for a 
popular religious writer, — and especially for a female 
writer. There was intelligence — there were habits of 
reading — there was the listening to noted preachers — 
Robert Hall the prince of them, which altogether raised 
some of these societies to a level, as to thought, taste, 
and knowledge, which no other religious communions 
of the time had reached ; and a knowledge of which 
might have amazed some of those literary magnates 
whose only notion of the " sects " was that they were 
knots of self-willed and ignorant enthusiasts, of whom 
it would be well if England could be thoroughly cleared. 
Such were not the leading Dissenters of Yorkshire, 
Lancashire, and the manufacturing districts, and a 
little way southward. In truth, some very small dis- 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 353 

senting congregations in obscure towns might then have 
been named, within which as many books were annually- 
read as would have sufficed for satisfying the intellectual 
hunger and thirst of the " Clergy, Nobihty, and Gentry " 
of a county for seven years. What I have seen and 
known in several parts of England, warrants my risking 
the conjecture. 

Six weeks were thus pleasantly passed in Yorkshire : 
in August we returned to Ongar, after an absence from 
home of nearly three years. In this interval my father 
had left the Castle House, and had removed to what 
had been a farmhouse, a short distance from the town : 
with this house and its garden, my sister was delighted ; 
and felt the highest pleasure — a pleasure altogether con- 
genial with her character, in being once again in 
seclusion with those she most loved. Her feelings on 
this return home are described in a letter of this 
date : — 


Ongar, August 2M2, 1816. 
* * * Why have you neglected to fulfil your 
promise of telling me something of yourself — body and 
mind? Remember that the surest way of making your 
letters interesting, is to let them contain particulars 
respecting yourself. I shall be severely punished, 
indeed, for having made " Egotism " the subject of 
one of my "Rhymes," if it should influence any of 

VOL. I. A A 

354 T^^ Family Peti. 

my friends to refrain from those communications on 
which the interest of a friendly correspondence entirely 
depends. In truth, I have found it one of the incon- 
veniences attendant upon making one's opinions public 
(and I assure you these inconveniences are not few), 
that others are apt to suppose one is always on the 
watch for those failings that have been censured ; or 
that the censure or raillery was directed against some 
individual. I assure you it is much more from a know- 
ledge of my own heart, than from observation on the 
failings of others, that I have written on the subjects I 
have chosen. 

I wish this fine morning I could take a turn with you 
in your pleasant garden, and talk instead of write ; or 
rather, if wishing were of any avail, I would wish that 
you could take a turn with me in mine, which I think 
you would enjoy. I must, however, tell you something 
of our movements. We stayed a fortnight longer with 
Ann than we proposed ; the time passed pleasantly, 
and we were unwilling to part. I think, however, you 
who know my taste for retirement, and my dislike of 
general company, would have pitied me if you had 
seen the continual bustle of visiting, with which my 
time was occupied. The contrast with our mode of 
life at Marazion, was as great as it could be : perhaps 
the total change of scene was what I needed. 

On the 13th of August we left Rotherham, and in 
a few days reached our dear paternal home, after an 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 355 

absence of three years. It was, indeed, a joyful 
meeting ; and when, that evening, we once more knelt 
around the family altar, I believe our hearts glowed 
with gratitude to Him who had permitted us thus to 
assemble in peace and comfort, and had disappointed 
all our fears. Here we are again in complete retire- 
ment ; and a sweeter retreat I do not wish for. We 
are nearly a mile from the town, and surrounded with 
the green fields. The house is an old-fashioned place, 
with a pretty garden, which it is the delight of my 
father and mother to cultivate ; at the door is a rural 
porch, covered with a vine. Here we are rarely inter- 
rupted by any one; and, although only twenty miles 
from the great world of London, we enjoy the most 
delightful seclusion. The rooms are large and pleasant, 
and the whole has exactly that rural air which we all so 
much admire. * * * 

Jane's influence within the little society at Ongar was 
real and great, though noiseless, and of a kind of which 
it would be very difficult to render an account in words : 
— it was the influence of a superiority which every one 
around her recognised — to which every one gave way, 
readily, cordially, and unconsciously. Never was this 
superiority assumed, or claimed, or even taken for 
granted : it realized itself — one could not say how. 
At this time, Jane Taylor had acquired an extensive 
literary reputation — a fame, as a popular female writer. 
A A 2 

356 The Fa?nily Feu. 

which ensured her a flattering welcome ahnost wherever 
she went. And yet no stranger, incidentally entering 
the room where she was quietly taking her part in a 
Ladies' Working Society, would have surmised the fact, 
or have thought anything more than this : — That the 
daughter of the minister of the congregation at Ongar 
was there present — doing just what a minister's daughter 
is expected to do — setting an example of assiduity in a 
labour of charity. 

To some individuals of this small circle, Jane's 
influence was peculiarly beneficial. One, especially, 
may be mentioned — now long ago deceased. Sarah 
Bingham— then by several years my sister's senior — was 
the daughter of a preceding minister, Thomas Bingham, 
one of Dr. Doddridge's students at Northampton. An 
early disappointment in love, and, I think, the unkind 
behaviour of a sister and other relatives, had gone 
near to overset her mind ; at least, so far as to make 
her much too sensitive of unintended slights and affronts. 
She was, however, a woman of intelligence, and of some 
acquaintance with books, being the daughter of a well- 
educated and well-read man. She at once found in Jane 
Taylor — not one to supplant her, or to claim over her 
any superiority, but a delicate and considerate friend — 
ready at all times to stand at her side, and to assist 
her in maintaining the position due to her among the 
people, as their late minister's daughter and repre- 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 357 

A philosophic observer might have watched with 
advantage the gradual sanative influence of Jane Taylor 
in restoring the mind of her senior friend. No intimacy, 
in Jane's own sense of the word, took place between the 
two — no correspondence resulted from this friendship. 
But whenever Jane was resident at home, Miss Bingham 
enjoyed frequent intercourse with her ; nor failed, to the 
last, to give evidence of the benefit she thence derived 
in an increasing tranquillity — a self-possession, and a 
consciousness, so healing to the wounded in spirit, that 
there is in the world one, at least, by whom she is 
understood and esteemed. 

During this visit at home, Jane and her mother pro- 
jected a work, to be executed conjointly, in the form of a 
correspondence between a mother and her daughter at 
school. These letters were commenced at Ongar, and 
completed at Hastings, where we passed the whole of 
the following winter. The composition of her part of 
these letters, together with her stated contributions to 
the Youths' Magazine, furnished her with just so much 
literary employment at Hastings as was consistent with 
her health, which had materially suffered by the great 
exertions she had made during the preceding winter. 
She now devoted a much larger proportion of her time 
to reading than at any former period. The usual conse- 
quence of much reading she soon felt and regretted ; 
namely, a great indisposition to the exertion necessary 
for writing. And, indeed, after this time, she never again 

358 The Fa?nily Fen. 

surrendered herself fully to the excitement necessary for 
productive efforts of the mind. 

The months passed at Hastings were passed in com- 
plete seclusion from society ; — it was, however, to my 
sister an agreeable winter ; for though she could relish 
the pleasures of general society, when they came in her 
way, they were what she never sought or wished for, 
when deprived of them ; and of the society of her 
dearest friends she had long been accustomed to be 
deprived. With the pleasures of regular employment, 
books, and fireside comforts, she was ever satisfied and 
delighted. Writing to her sister from Hastings, she 
says : — 

" We have had a peaceful, comfortable winter : all I 

have wanted to make it as comfortable to me as formerly, 

was the same interesting employment. In the prospect 

of returning to Ongar, I feel keenly the pleasantness of 

the situation, and the affection of my family. The former 

is much more to me than you would imagine, from what 

you saw of me in a much finer country. There is a 

composure of mind and freedom from excitement which 

is essential to my enjoyment of the country; and its 

being then the time of the ' Essays ' coming out, together 

with all the bustle and variety, totally destroyed that 

composure ; but I can truly say, — 

' I would not for a world of gold 
That Nature's lovely face should tire.' 

And though the time of romance is over, I rejoice to 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 359 

feel in myself an increasing capability of intellectual 
pleasure. Excuse me, dear Ann, for this pure egotism, 
and for reflections which to you, surrounded by so many 
pressing realities, must seem trivial. But to none of my 
married friends, except you, can I write of my own in- 
terests, without feeling that I am intruding upon theirs. 
I feel, in writing to them, that they are married. But 
I except you, dear Ann, not only because you are a kind 
sister, but because you retain the enthusiasm of other 
days — you are not hardened and blunted by the world." 

The leisure enjoyed by my sister at Hastings was 
employed in maintaining intercourse with her friends. 


Hastings, December lot/i, 1816. 

If you knew the glow of pleasure and affection with 
which I take up my long-neglected pen, every suspicion 
of neglect which my silence may have occasioned would 
be dispelled. I know of few things that would give me 
greater pleasure than your taking a place at our new 
fireside ; and as the best substitute for that unattainable 
pleasure, I do hope you will, as soon as compatible with 
your engagements, let me receive another of your inter- 
esting and ever-welcome epistles. * * * 

Here we are enjoying as much comfort as I ex- 
pect in this world. Our lodgings are pleasanter than 

360 The Family Pen. 

those we occupied at Marazion. We are close to jthe 
sea, and all the rooms command a full view of it. 
Hastings, however, affords by no means the quiet 
seclusion which we there enjoyed. In summer, of 
course, it is crammed with Londoners; and even 
through the winter many families remain ; so that the 
walks, though very picturesque, are continually in- 

* * * I think my last was written from Sheffield. 
We soon after took a painful leave of our dear sister, 
and returned, after three years' absence, to Ongar. 
Oh, what a pleasure it was to be welcomed by kind 
parents to a home ! Nothing could exceed their kind- 
ness and indulgence all the time we were there ; and 
after so long an interval, we knew how to value this 
affection. They thought me not looking well, and it 
has been my dear mother's constant business to nurse 
me up again during my stay. Our house stands alone 
in a pretty country : it is an old farmhouse — more 
picturesque than splendid — and therefore it suits both 
our tastes and our fortunes. I enjoyed exceedingly the 
three quiet months we spent there ; all my love of 
nature returned in a scene so well adapted to excite 
it, and it was delightful to see our dear father and 
mother enjoying, in their declining years, so peaceful 
a retreat, and wishing for no other pleasures than their 
house and garden and their mutual affection afford. 
Although I have dwelt so long upon our affairs and 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 361 

adventures, I must a little longer continue the same 
strain, to thank you for the generous and candid praise 
bestowed upon my last volume. I do assure you that 
the sensible and sincerely expressed approbation of 
the friends I love, is far more gratifying to me than 
that of a world of strangers ; and from you I feel 
especially pleased to receive this approbation ; be- 
cause the book contains some lines with which you 
must be so far from pleased, that nothing but genuine 
liberality could enable you to judge favourably of the 
remainder. I would that my spirit were as catholic as 
yours ! 


Hastings, March 'jih, 181 7. 
* * * As I feel obliged to my friends for remem- 
bering me ever, I do not complain, though I may regret 
a long silence. Of all things, I dread having to do with 
affrontable people ; and therefore have always endea- 
voured to avoid this disposition myself. Besides, as in 
the present instance I am chargeable with a long silence, 
I have no right to find fault with you. That feeling 
of self-importance which leads one to make a large 
demand upon the recollections and attentions of friends, 
is gradually cured by time and experience, if not by 
good sense and reflection; and altogether, it is, I hope, 
pretty well damped in me. For a few weeks during 
the last summer, I felt much pleasure in the thought 

362 The Family Pen. 

of being once more within reach of you : but that 
plan was abandoned, and I have now Httle expectation 
of seeing North Devon again. It is a country I shall 
always remember with interest, both on account of the 
friends I found there, and because it was the first 
romantic country I had ever seen ; and that first vivid 
impression is such as will never be effaced. I am glad, 
however, that my North Devon friends are not fixtures, 
like its hills. 

* * * I am sorry to hear of the unpleasant cir- 
cumstances at . People will never understand that 

it is not religion, but irreligion, that causes these mis- 
chiefs. If " the children of God are peacemakers," 
surely the breakers of peace cannot claim Him for 

their Father. I remember Miss , and she was 

what you describe. I knew one in still humbler life 
at Marazion, of the same sort. She was a servant in 
the house we occupied there for a few months ; — a 
Methodist, and of such slender abilities that she could 
rarely understand a common order, till it had been 
repeated once or twice ; yet she was indeed " wise 
unto salvation." Her conversation (perfectly unaffected 
and unassuming) was, on religious subjects, enlightened 
and edifying. Her plain face beamed till it was beautiful 
with Christian love and peace. I remember her with 
affection and respect. How strange it seems, that in 
Christian societies so few should be found who thus 
adorn the doctrine they profess, in all things. 

Memoir of Jmie Taylor. 363 

* * * How strange that those who know they must 
die should ever feel indifferent about the future world ! 
It is one of the strongest marks of a depraved nature — 
one of the greatest wonders of the present state. I 
have sometimes thought that more might be done than 
is commonly attempted in education to familiarize the 
idea of death to the minds of children, by representing 
it as the grand event for which they were born ; and 
thus making a future state the object of their chief in- 
terest and ambition. Perhaps something more might 
be done ; but, after all, we know and feel that nothing 
but the mighty power of God can overcome the earth- 
liness of the mind, and give it the discernment of things 


Hastings, March \%th, 1817. 

* * * This fine weather reminds me strongly of 
Marazion. I look at the sea, and sometimes fancy I 
am on the shores of Mount's Bay ; and sometimes wish 
myself on board one of the vessels we see passing 
down the Channel, which might in a few hours convey 
me to those from whose society I am separated. But 
though this may not be, the time is fast coming when 
there will be only a dark river to pass, in order to unite 
us. The indistinct ideas we have of the unseen world 
render it difficult to derive so much pleasure from such 
thoughts as they are fitted to yield. Yet, when we 

364 The Family Pen. 

recollect now soon this fearful stream must be forded, 
it is surprising that we can feel deep interest in anything 
beside. But, alas ! our eyes are beclouded, and not so 
much by the fears of death, as by the cares and interests 
of life : at least it is thus with me. The longer we 
live the more we see of the weakness, deceitfulness, 
and vanity of our hearts ; and of the inefficiency of 
outward circumstances to rectify these inward deep- 
rooted evils. I used to think, when I was more exposed 
to the common snares of the world than I have lately 
been, that if I were but completely secluded from it I 
should find it comparatively easy to make progress in 
the Divine life. But I have had the most humbling 
proofs that the evil lies within. 


Hastings, March iMi, 181 7. 

* * * Since I have been here I have looked back 
with more regret than ever to the short season of my 
intimacy with you. Until within a few days I have 
not conversed with a human being since I came to 
Hastings, except my brother and the people of the 
house. The dissenting minister of the chapel died 
very soon after we came here ; since that time there 
has been no minister settled at the place. We have 

generally attended at] church. Mr. , whom I 

mentioned to you, has preached during the winter, in 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 365 

both churches ; they have been unusually crowded, and 
much attention has been excited, at least among the 
common people : the higher classes complain of his 
Methodism. He preaches with much earnestness and 
faithfulness ; and it is hoped will do good. * * * 

I was sure, my dear friend, before your last letter 
convinced me of it, that, in your present solitude and 
banishment from external excitements, your mind would 
grow, and your graces brighten, so that when you are 
restored to the pleasures of society, you will be prepared 
to meet its dangers. Ah ! it is easier to " keep the heart 
with all diligence" amongst common, than amongst 
interesting people, is it not % That the seat of the evil, 
however, is not in the world without, but in the heart, 
I have the fullest conviction. It may be wise, indeed, 
to fly from outward temptations ; but if this is all, we do 
much too little. The experience I have had of life, and 
of my own heart, renders me (at least in times of sober 
reflection) increasingly indifferent with respect to future 
events. There is, certainly, this great advantage in 
having tried several different modes of life, that one 
can ascertain in what degree circumstances tend to 
influence the character and affect the happiness. I 
have been placed in situations such as I should have 
imagined, some years ago, would have made me ex- 
tremely happy ; and now I know that nothing external 
can do this. And though there are enjoyments that I 
have not tried, yet I see others in the possession of 

366 The Family Pen. 

them, and I observe in them the appearances of dis- 
satisfaction. Thus I endeavour to check the inquiry 
which we are all so ready to make, — " Who will show 
me any good 1 " It is easier even to repress this inquiry, 
than to conclude the verse with sincerity — " Lord, lift 
Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon me, and 
that shall put more joy in my heart." 

Have you met with any of Madame de Stael's writings? 
I have just been reading " Corimie, on V Italic^'' and have 
been so deeply interested that it seems as though I had 
gained a new friend. It gives a striking description of 
Italy : as a novel, though of deep interest, it is in some 
respects faulty. But the profound reflections with which 
it abounds — displaying the most intimate acquaintance 
with the human heart, and the most just and elevated 
taste for nature and the fine arts — form its distinguishing 
merit. She is said to be, and I can believe it to be just, 
the first female writer in Europe. You may judge how 
much the book interested me, when I tell you that, lazy 
as I am, I made many pages of extracts from it. I have, 
however, had forbearance enough not to read another 
novel of hers which is in the library here ; for, indeed, 
I have felt the enervating effects upon the mind of read- 
ing in succession several works of the lighter class. I 
have, however, with the one exception mentioned, ab- 
stained from novels : but too much poetry produces an 
effect of the same kind, and I have lately been taking 
tonics ; that is, reading Robertson's histories of Scotland, 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 367 

and of Charles V. I am now reading the Life of Mrs. 
Carter, in which, though there is much literary trifling, 
which is to me extremely disagreeable, yet I find what 
repays one for the perusal. I think you would be pleased 
with it, as her tastes and talents were so much of your 

Do not be discouraged with regard to your qualifica- 
tions for teaching, because you find the work laborious, 
and your pupils sometimes incorrigible. I believe it is 
yowx forte. But your being " apt to teach," cannot always 
make your scholars apt to learn. 

It was mere forgetfulness at the time, that I did not 
give you the history of the Lascars, and of the interesting 
wreck which happened a few days after you left us. I 
fully intended to do so, but forgot it when I next wrote, 
and now it is too much out of date. Poor Andrew, the 
sick stranger, remained three months under the care of 
Miss Maxwell. She was entirely the means of restoring 
him to life ; and she sent him away completely equipped 
by her own hand. * * * 

368 The Family Pen. 



In April of the following year we left Hastings ; and 
Jane spent some weeks with her friends, in and near 
London ; after which she once more returned to Ongar. 
It was about this time that she first perceived an indura- 
tion in the breast, which continued, during the following 
years of her life, to hold her in a state of constant appre- 
hension, and at length proved fatal. 

My sister's religious comfort had been, for some time, 
gradually increasing; while the pensiveness and diffi- 
dence of her temper seemed to give way to the influence 
of matured judgment, and confirmed principle. Her 
religious belief had long been settled ; but she had 
failed to apprehend, with comfort to herself, her own 
part in "the hope set before us in the Gospel." It was 
at length, rather suddenly, in the summer of the year 
18 1 7, that the long-standing doubts as to her own 
personal religion were dispelled ; and she admitted joy- 
fully the hope of salvation. The extreme reserve of her 
temper, as well as her want of religious comfort, had up to 
this time withheld her from making an explicit profession 
of her faith in Christ, and joining in the commemoration 

Memoir of Ja?ie Taylor. 369 

of His death. Now, however, this reluctance gave 

A letter addressed to her sister, written a few months 
afterwards, shows that her views on the subject had not 
been uninfluenced by her intercourse with her Wesleyan 
friends in Cornwall. She says : — 

" My mother told you of my having joined the church. 
You may have supposed that I was frightened into it by 
my complaint ; but I feel thankful that this was not the 
case ; for it was not till after I had consulted Mr. Clyne 
that I felt any alarm about it ; nor had I before any idea 
of its being of a formidable kind. My mind, all the 
summer, had been much in the state it has been in for 
years past, that is, unable to apply the offer of the Gospel 
to myself; and all confusion and perplexity, when I 
attempted to do so. One evening (about three weeks 
before going to London for advice), while alone in my 
room, and thinking on the subject, I saw, by an instan- 
taneous light, that God would, for Christ's sake, forgive 
my sins : the effect was so powerful that I was almost 
dissolved by it.* I was unspeakably happy ; I believed 
that had I died that moment I should have been safe. 

* It scarcely seems necessary to caution the young reader against 
a misinterpretation of these expressions. Nothing preternatural 
was supposed by my sister in this instance to have taken place. 
She simply means that the gloom, or confusion of mind, which had 
long distressed her, was suddenly dispelled by a more just view of 
the great truths of Christianity. Her temperament was very far 
from being that of the enthusiast, and none who knew her would 
impute to her a tendency to indulge illusory religious excitements. 


370 The Family Pen. 

Though the strength of the emotion soon abated, the 
effect in a great degree remained. It was in this state 
I went to London ; and when I heard, what was to me 
wholly unexpected, I could not but consider the change 
in my feelings as a most kind and timely preparation for 
what, but a few weeks before, would have overwhelmed 
me with consternation and distress. As it was, I heard 
it with great composure ; and my spirits did not at all 
sink till after I returned home. Since then I have had 
many desponding hours, from the fear of death. The 
happiness I enjoyed for a short time has given place 
to a hope, which, though faint, secures me from 

Soon afterwards, Jane accepted an invitation from a 
beloved friend at Reading, to pass the winter there : she 
also spent some weeks with her kind relatives at Oxford. 
She left Reading early in the following spring, and after 
spending a month near London, once more returned to 
Ongar. During this winter, the symptoms of the disorder 
above-mentioned became more specific and alarming : 
she had before received the advice of eminent surgeons 
in London ; and at Reading she was daily under the 
care of a very highly-esteemed medical friend, whose 
anxiety for her recovery could not have been greater 
had she been a daughter. This gentleman (father of 
the friend with whom she was a visitor) interdicted to 
her, absolutely, all literary labours ; indeed, she had 
now begun to feel the excitement of composition to be 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 371 

directly injurious to her health ; and after this time she 
wrote only occasionally, and at distant intervals. 

The summer of the year i8r8 was a season of severe 
and continued sickness in our family. Jane herself, one 
of her brothers, and her father, were, in turns, confined 
for several weeks by dangerous illness. In her anxiety 
for those dear to her, she so much forgot herself, that 
her own alarming complaint seemed quiescent ; and 
in the autumn, when family comfort was pretty well 
restored, she appeared to look more cheerfully upon 
life than lately she had been wont to do ; and consented 
that arrangements should be made for increasing her 
comfort at home. With this view she once more fitted 
up a study, to which she became as strongly attached as 
to any she had ever occupied. 

Believing herself to be now likely to remain at Ongar, 
she actively engaged in works of Christian charity. 
During a former abode at her father's house, she had 
originated a Ladies' Working Society for the benefit of 
the poor, and to the meetings of this society she gave 
her attendance whenever she was at home. She became 
also a constant and most laborious teacher in the Sun- 
day-school, and continued to be so long after it was 
apparent that the exertion exceeded her strength. It 
was in the sedulous and affectionate instruction of the 
children of her own class that she delighted ; and so 
far was she from assuming any right of superintendence 
over her fellow-teachers, that she retreated as much as 

BB 2 

372 The Family Feji. 

possible from the precedence which would gladly have 
been yielded to her ; doing less, perhaps, in matters of 
general direction, than she might have done with pro- 
priety and advantage. 

My sister was in nothing an enthusiast ; she was not 
therefore supported through the fatigues and discourage- 
ments that attend such laborious duties by those ardent 
feelings or sanguine hopes, which often aid the bene- 
volent activity of young persons. The reverse was too 
much the case, and, whenever good appeared to result 
from her labours, it seemed to take her by surprise. 
Nor were her early habits or her tastes much in unison 
with exertions of this sort. Whatever she did of this 
kind was done simply from a strong conviction of the 
obligation of Christians not " to please themselves," but 
to be " always abounding in the work of the Lord." 

The influence of principle over her mind became still 
more conspicuous when she was called to take her part 
in promoting the objects of the Bible Society in her 
neighbourhood. For that publicity and those business- 
like forms which seem inseparable from the conduct of 
this and similar institutions, were peculiarly in opposi- 
tion, if not to her judgment, at least to her habits and 
her feelings ; yet when she was convinced that it was 
not practicable fully to attain the important ends of the 
society by silent and unconnected exertions, she sub- 
mitted to the apparent necessity of the case, and took 
her part in associations and committees. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 373 

Besides the attention bestowed on the children of her 
class on the Sunday, Jane instructed them in writing and 
arithmetic one afternoon in every week. Labours of 
this kind were agreeable to her, because she found in 
them what is needed by minds devoid of enthusiasm — a 
direct and perceptible benefit resulting from her exertions. 

During this period my sister wrote fewer letters than 
she had been wont to do, yet dropped none of her 
epistolary connexions. The following letters belong to 
the time of which I am speaking : — 


Ongar, August 22,rd, 181 7. 

My dear Salome, 

. When I heard of your being suddenly summoned 
to attend your brother, I felt an immediate desire to 
write to you, not from the idle expectation that I could 
say anything to lessen your uneasiness, but from a feel- 
ing of true sympathy which similarity of circumstances 
awakened. I asked for your address when I wrote to 
Ann ; but was still dubious whether to trouble you with 
a letter, when the arrival of yours quite determined me. 
I thank you for it, and I thank you still more for finding 
any pleasure in writing to me, and for the assurances of 
your kind recollections. They are, I assure you, accept- 
able. I have learned to value a little love more than 
many times the quantity oi praise; and when I receive 

374 "^^^ Family Pen. 

expressions of affection from any one who, I know, in 
some degree understands me, and who has had oppor- 
tunity of observing many of my faults, I feel both obliged 
and comforted. 

I was truly glad to hear a better account of your 
brother's health. I think you cannot yet have felt 
more desponding than I have formerly done about my 
brother : for a considerable time I was quite persuaded 
that he could not recover ; and whenever I allowed my- 
self to entertain any hope, I felt all the time a secret 
conviction that it was wilful flattery. Yet now — I would 
say it with thankfulness — he is so far recovered as to 
remove all immediate anxiety. I know not whether 
there is anything encouraging to you in this ; but it is 
encouraging to know that the same Almighty Friend 
who spoke the healing word in one case can do so 
in another, and assuredly will if it be really desirable. 
He who is " the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever," 
still regards the prayers and tears of a sorrowing sister. 
I used very often to say, " Lord, if Thou art here, my 
brother shall not die ;" and I used to try to add, " Thy 
will be done," and if ever I can say this with sincerity 
it is when I take pains to reflect on the wisdom and 
goodness of God, and think how certainly what He does 
is best. And even with respect to the spiritual interests 
of beloved friends, where certainly acquiescence in dis- 
appointment is most difficult (perhaps in this world im- 
possible), even in this case there is great consolation in 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 375 

recollecting that the Judge of all the earth will do right 
"We are not more benevolent or compassionate than 
He, and it is with this simple persuasion that I find 
it easiest to repel those hard and rebellious thoughts of 
God, which certain passages to which you allude are so 
apt to excite. We may be sure that if we put any con- 
struction upon them that is in any way injurious to the 
Divine character in our minds, it is, it must be, a false 
construction. I think there is greater encouragement 
to pray for the salvation of those dear to us than for 
anything, except our own. There are, indeed, many 
instances of the prayer of faith being answered at last 
in such cases : but it should be the prayer oi faith, not 
a desponding, distrustful prayer. " When ye ask, beliei'e 
that ye shall receive, and ye shall have." 

I do not know whether your removal to was 

agreeable to you or otherwise. Your attachment to 

was, I believe, local^ and one may suffer in parting from 
places, as well as from persons. I know you must regret 
the beautiful scenery you have left, especially as all you 
have thought and felt in that period of life when the 
thoughts are most lively and the feelings most keen, is 
inseparably connected with it. There the illusions of 
youth have been cherished ; and whatever scenery may 
surround you when they begin to fade, it will inevitably 
appear less enchanting. 

I am so perfectly acquainted with the whole history 
and mystery of the feelings you describe, that you need 

376 The Family Pen. 

not expatiate on that subject. Madame de Stael, who 
seems to have felt everything that a susceptible mind 
can feel in this world, has some admirable passages on 
that very subject. In the prospect of quitting society 
of a certain kind, she says : — 

" II me semblait que j'entrerais en possession de 
I'univers le jour ou je ne sentirais plus le souffle desse- 
chant de la mediocrite malveillante." Again : " On est 
honteux des affections fortes devant les ames legeres : 
un sentiment de pudeur s' attache a tout ce qui n'est pas 
compris — \ tout ce qu' il faut expliquer — a ces secrets de 
r ame, enfin, dont on ne vous soulage qu' en les devinant." 
Again : " C'est en vain qu'on se dit, tel homme n'est 
pas digne de me juger; telle femme n'est pas capable 
de me comprendre : le visage humain exerce un grand 
pouvoir sur le coeur humain ; et quand vous lisez sur ce 
visage une disapprobation secrete, elle vous inquiete tou- 
jours, en depit de vous-meme ; enfin, le cercle qui vous en- 
vironne finit toujours par vous cacher le reste du monde." 

I have not given these extracts to fill up my letter, 
but because I thought they would please you ; though 
perhaps it is necessary to be somewhat acquainted with 
her style to enter fully into them. 

After all, a little, or perhaps a great deal of Christian 
humility is the best antidote to the uncomfortable feel- 
ings generated by mixing with society either above or be- 
neath one ; and the simple desire to do good to others will 
dissipate in a moment a thousand unfavourable feelings. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 377 

Do not suppose I am in your debt in affectionate and 
agreeable recollections of the hours we spent together ; 
and believe me to be very affectionately your friend. 


Reading, January 20tJi, 1818. 
My dear Eliza, 

I have indeed longed to tell you how much I have 
felt for and with you since I heard of your severe ill- 
ness ; and being myself, at the time the account reached 
me, considerably indisposed, and in low spirits about my 
complaint, I felt a peculiar sympathy with you, thinking 
it probable that, after being so many years connected in 
intimate friendship here, we might in a very short time 
recommence our intercourse in another world. However 
this may be, we may each of us feel persuaded that it 
cannot be many years before we enter that world. That 
we should either of us see old age is improbable. Oh 
that this quickening thought might have its due influence ! 
I have still occasional pain, which keeps alive anxiety; 
but on the whole my spirits are pretty good. I endea- 
vour to cast this care upon God : and especially to 
impress my mind with the consideration that, even if 
my most sanguine hopes of recovery should be realized, 
it would make no essential difference in my prospects. 
There is no cure for mortality. Attention and supreme 
regard to my eternal interests is absolutely necessary'. 

378 The Family Pen. 

independent of all immediate considerations. Yet I feel 
the use — the benefit of this perpetual monitor, and pray 
that its voice may not be heard in vain ; for, after all, the 
most threatening afflictions are vain, unless the Spirit of 
God makes them the means of good to us. This, too, 
I have strikingly experienced. But how encouraging 
under all discouragements, is that simple promise — 
" Ask, and ye shall receive : " especially when we re- 
flect that God, " who cannot lie," has given it to each 
of us. This may encourage us to ask, not only for 
salvation from the wrath to come, or for just grace 
enough to save us at last, with which it would be easy 
to be contented: but for great spiritual blessings — 
eminent spirituality of mind — "a life hid with Christ 
in God," so as to have at last " an abundant entrance 
into the kingdom of God." * * * 


London, May zoth, 1819. 

* * * I am come to London for a few days to 
execute some home commissions. These fine showers 
that are making the hills and vales rejoice, are making 
London more dreary than usual ; and they confine me 
to a dull apartment, where, in rather lower spirits than 
are common to me, even in London, I sit down in 
perfect solitude to seek your distant society ; my brother 
is out for the whole day on business. Solitude in the 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 379 

country is sweet; but in London it is forlorn indeed. 
So you see all things conspire to make this a very 
animated composition. 

My health has not been so good this spring as during 
the past winter and summer ; for this there is " a needs 
be." But though I believe these continued warnings to 
be good and necessary, yet fear seems to have an un- 
favourable influence upon my mind ; inasmuch as I am 
apt to suspect the genuineness of prayer that is rendered 
more fervent than usual by an apprehension of danger. 
I feel regret unspeakable in looking back upon those 
past years of health and vigour that were devoted to 
self-pleasing. And yet is there, not "all consolation," 
and consolation T^r ally in the unqualified offers of the 
Gospel, and in the simplicity of its declarations ? — 
" Daughter, be of good cheer ; thy sins, which are many, 
are forgiven thee : " — what needs one more than this % 
and surely nothing less will do — not at least for those 
who are obliged by some threatening disease to realize 
their own mortality, and to look at eternity, as those 
who are in sound health cannot see it. In comparing 
the temperature of my feehngs with yours, I was dis- 
couraged : yet I know that religion does not alter the 
constitution of the mind, any more than of the body. 
In you, ardent and' energetic ; in me, languid and 
phlegmatic, it would never assume the same appear- 
ances. They, however, are doubtless the happiest 
Christians the constitution of whose minds is the most 

380 The Family Pen. 

favourable to the life of religion. But I feel that these 
considerations will not serve as an excuse for me, 
seeing that " God is able to make all grace to abound 
in us also." 

Monday Mornittg. 
I heard yesterday three good sermons. * * * 
That in the evening by a plain Methodist preacher ; the 
best, I thought, of the three — that is, the most to the 
grand purpose of preaching. Why do we not hear such 
sermons oftener] Some ministers appear to be under 
an unaccountable infatuation; as if they were afraid or 
ashamed to come to the point ; — as if every subject 
connected with religion were to be discussed in pre- 
ference to that which is the foundation of all ; — as if 
they would rather direct their hearers to any surrounding 
objects than immediately to " the Lamb of God, who 
taketh away the sin of the world." How little do they 
consider the disappointment they occasion to those of 
their congregations who go, Sabbath after Sabbath, 
hungering for "the bread of life" — who need the con- 
solations of the Gospel ! 


Ongar, June 'Jth, 1819. 
If the frequency of my letters bore any proportion to 
the value I set upon yours, I am sure, my dear friend, 
you would be weary both of them and of me. Never, 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 381 

since the days of romance were over with me (or perhaps 
I might date a httle later than that), never since the ter- 
mination of a correspondence of unusual private interest, 
has letter-writing been in itself easy or agreeable to me ; 
though, as a means of maintaining friendship with a itw 
I love, I value it as highly as ever. It was extremely 
easy to write at that period of life, when " realities ap- 
peared as dreams, and dreams as realities." Oh, the 
sheets I have despatched about absolutely nothing ! It 
is easy, at any time, to write when interesting facts are 
to be related, and when hopes and fears are keeping the 
mind in perpetual agitation. But this is rarely the case 
during the greater part of our course. When the cur- 
rent of life is seen near its rise — sparkling amid rocks 
and hills, and meandering through flowery recesses, — 
it is entertaining enough to trace its windings ; but 
when it has reached the plain, and glides in a broad 
and even channel for many a mile, though its incessant 
flow towards the boundless ocean may afford subject for 
pensive reflection, there is little to invite description. 

Thus I often contemplate my own course ; — the illu- 
sions of youth are completely over; — I think there are 
no circumstances that could now cheat me into a belief 
that life is, or could be, very different from what I now 
see it to be. I might indeed be more busy; and so 
have less leisure and inclination to morahze about it; 
but this would not alter the case. " Then I saw that 
this also is vanity" — is the confession that must be 

382 The Family Fen. 

extorted from every heart, as one scheme of happiness 
after another has had its trial. Perhaps it was after 
some similar experience that David said — "I shall be 
satisfied when I awake in Thy likeness." When we 
have felt that nothing else can satisfy the mind, then 
we are constrained to look to the Fountain of happiness. 
* * * It is not strange that the wicked should go 
on in their wickedness ; but is it not strange that 
those who know anything of religion should not adorn 
it more? This is the discouragement. Yet perhaps 
there are many " hidden ones," who, unknown to their 
fellow-Christians, are living near to God, while those 
who stand foremost in the church are content " to follow 
Christ afar off." * * * i rejoice to hear from a 
mutual friend that you are actively engaged in doing 
good. There is something stimulating in reading Paul's 
salutations to the good women of his acquaintance ; — 
he evidently singles out those for especial notice who 
were most active and zealous in good works — " Priscilla, 
his helper in Christ Jesus " — " Mary, who bestowed 
much labour on them " — " Phoebe, a succourer of many : " 
while we may imagine that his more general remem- 
brance — " To all the saints that are with you " — refers 
to others, a little resembling those modern professors of 
Christianity of whom charity is bound "to hope all 
things." How pleasant and cheering is it to look at 
the few who are not of this doubtful character ; and 
how delightful when those who are most dear to us 

Memoir of Jafie Taylor. 383 

give us this pleasure 1 * * * This increase of piety 
in our dearest friends is real prosperity ; and when we 
think prosperity of any other kind very desirable, we 
forget ourselves, and view the world with the worldlings 
eye. * * * 


Ongar, September id^h, 1819. 

* * * I truly rejoice with you in the happi- 
ness of seeing another of those most dear to you 
walking in the truth. This is family prosperity. How 
weak is our faith when we suffer anxiety for any other 
kind of success to exceed the desire for the endless 
happiness of those we love ; and how little do we feel 
like Christians, when we are surprised and mortified to 
see them encountering those trials and disappointments 
which we know to be the most usual and effectual means 
of promoting spiritual life. I have just received an 
account of the severe trial of one, of whom, judging 
as the world judges, one should say that severe affliction 
was not needed. But God sees not as man ; — those 
whom He loves best He ordinarily chastens most, that 
they may be " seven times refined." " To him that hath 
shall be given, that he may have abundantly." * * * 

Poor Mrs. , what an unhappy life hers must be ! 

unspeakably more unhappy than it would be if she were 
wholly destitute of that " little religion," as it is called, 
that she has ! To see age tenaciously clinging to the 

384 The Family Pen. 

receding world, is the most melancholy and disgusting 
sight this evil world presents. * * * In so small 
a society as that with which we are connected, her zeal, 
for want of stimulus, is apt to sink into total torpor. 
In this respect there are advantages in living in a large 
town, where the zeal of the few keeps the lukewarmness 
of the many from freezing. I feel heavily the peculiar 
responsibility that attaches to me as a single woman, 
remembering that of such it should be said that " she 
careth for the things of the Lord ; " while, partly from 
indolence, and partly from a sort of infelicity in dealing 
with others, I am too apt to recoil from those very duties 
which seem to lie most in my way. "She hath done 
what she could," is a sentence which often strikes pain- 
fully on my conscience. It is high praise, and what 
sacrifice can be too great to deserve it ? * * * 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 385 



Three or four years were thus passed at home by my 
sister, in the quiet discharge of domestic and rehgious 
duties ; interrupted only by occasional visits to her 
friends. During this time, the slow progress of her 
complaint kept her mind in a state of anxiety, and 
deterred her from attempting to execute some literary 
projects which had often employed her thoughts. Be- 
sides keeping up her correspondence with her friends, 
and writing the papers before mentioned, she com- 
posed, I believe, nothing but the fragment entitled 
" Philip ; " and two or three pieces expressive of per- 
sonal feeling. 

Besides the delicate and declining state of her own 
health, my sister's thoughts were much occupied by 
the continued illness of her father. During these 
times of domestic affliction it was impossible for her 
to abstract her attention from present interests. In 
the autumn of the year 1820 she attended him to 
Margate ; and had the pleasure of seeing her beloved 

VOL. I. cc 

386 The Family Pen. 

parent surmount a disorder which had long threatened 
his life. 

Early in the following year Jane again left home, to 
visit her sister, Mrs. Gilbert. She continued at Hull 
more than four months ; in which time she made ex- 
cursions to York and Scarborough. In this visit she 
seemed to enjoy the pleasures of general society more 
than at any former time. Yet it was but for an hour 
that the flattering attentions she often received abroad 
ever drew away her thoughts from the domestic circle 
within which her heart reposed. 

The following letter belongs to this time : — 

York, April 20th, 1821. 
My dear Family, 

* * I set off at noon on Monday, from Hull, 
in the steamboat for Selby; from whence, about seven 
in the evening, I took the coach for York. It was 
a beautiful moonlight night, and I enjoyed it much. 
The Minster is indeed overpowering. Robert Hall, 
who lately saw it, says, all the angels in heaven could 
not have built it. After that, the Quakers' humble 
Asylum interested me most. We are just now going 
to hear the Romish Service in a nunnery. To-morrow 
Cecil and I propose to return by the coach and steam- 
packet to Hull; as on the following day is the grand 
Sunday-school anniversary, for which Ann and I have 
\viitten the enclosed hymns ; and they have presented 
us with so many copies, that we thought we might 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 387 

save ourselves the expense of printing if they chose to 
use any of them at our own anniversary. Mr. Pritchett's 
house is close to Micklegate Bar, where the pole on 
which the Duke of York's head was stuck is still visible. 
Every turn here is interesting. * * * 

Saturday, on board the Steam-packet. 

A pleasant day. Cecil and I left York this morning, 
after a very pleasant visit. The service at the nunnery 
was exceedingly interesting. There are about thirty 
nuns ; and we saw them at the close of the service — it 
being Good Friday — all kneel around the altar, while 
the priest showed to each a piece of the cross, in a 
silver box. Their dress and movements were most 
graceful and interesting. 

This excursion appeared so much to have improved 
her general health, that there seemed reason to believe 
that, as long as her mind could be agreeably occupied, 
without too much excitement, her complaint might re- 
main in a quiescent state. In this hope, her many 
kind friends in Yorkshire, Devon, and in the neigh- 
bourhood of London, warmly urged her to pass her 
time in successive visits among them. She felt deeply 
the kindness of these invitations ; and believed also 
that this frequent change of scene, and these social 
pleasures, would be more likely than any other means 
to promote her recovery. But she determined rather 
to remain at home. 

c c 2 

383 The Family Pen. 

This determination, I have reason to know, was in- 
fluenced chiefly by a regard to her reUgious interests ; 
for she had felt, with regret and fear, the eff'ects of con- 
tinued external excitements, in diverting her attention 
from objects of supreme importance. She trembled at the 
danger of losing sight of her highest hopes ; she wished 
now to call home her thoughts, and to converse with 
her own heart, without interruption. Such were the 
motives which she repeatedly avowed to those with 
whom she was accustomed to converse confidentially, 
when urged to avail herself of the kind invitations of 
her friends, — " I find," she often said, " that home is the 
place that suits me best." 

It was, therefore, with a free and deliberate preference 
of the interests of the soul to those of this life, that 
she returned to seclusion, and to the oflfices of Christian 
charity, when she had every facility and strong motives 
for pursuing a different course. 

The house at Harden Ash, near Ongar, in which 
my father had lived eight years, being at this time 
let, with the farm to which it belonged, he removed 
from it to a house which he purchased in the town. 
This new abode, although altogether more commodious 
than the last, was so much less suited to my sister's 
tastes, that she felt many regrets at the removal, and 
it evidently increased the depression of her spirits ; and 
thus hastened the progress of her disorder. 

In the autumn of the year 1821, attended by one 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 389 

of her brothers, and a nephew, she visited Margate, 
where she placed herself under a new medical direction ; 
and with the view of giving full effect to the course of 
remedies recommended, she passed the following winter 
months near London, where she could have the ad- 
vantage of constant advice. The months passed in 
this way gave her the pleasure of daily intercourse with 
a new friend, to whose kindness and Christian counsels 
she thought herself deeply indebted. At this time, her 
opinion of her own case had become decidedly un- 
favourable ; though still, when alarming symptoms 
abated, she admitted the hope of recovery. The state 
of her mind, under these circumstances, was neither so 
tranquil as she wished, nor so much agitated as those 
who knew the timidity of her disposition had feared it 
would have been. 

Her feelings are described in a letter to Mrs. Gilbert, 
from which the following passages are extracted. After 
informing her sister of the unfavourable opinion of her 
case, which had been given by two surgeons whom she 
had lately consulted, she says, — 

" You may judge, then, dear Ann, what my expecta- 
tions are, when I calmly and steadily view my present 
circumstances. Of late, too, I have felt ray general 
health more affected than hitherto. But it requires 
much utterly to extinguish the hope of recovery ; with 
God nothing is impossible. Besides, it is really difficult, 
while occupied with the usual pursuits of hfe, and while 

390 The Family Fen. 

able to go in and out much as usual — it is difficult to 
realize the probability of death at hand. But it comes 
strangely across me at times when, forgetting it, I have 
been planning as usual for the future. Then a dark 
cloud overshadows me, and hides all earthly concerns 
from my sight, and I hear the murmuring of the deep 
waters. I expect I shall have deep waters to pass 
through — already I feel the sting of death, but am not 
without hope that it may be taken away." 

Though the hope of recovery continued to agitate her 
mind, still her principal anxiety related to her hope of 
the better life. The doubts that at times distressed her 
took their rise, for the most part, from the high notions 
she had formed of the requirements of the Christian life. 
Of the way of salvation, as a free and full provision of 
mercy, she seemed to have a clear apprehension; but 
she had long believed, that, from the want of a suf- 
ficiently explicit, particular, and authoritative exposition 
of the law of Christ, as given to us in His discourses, 
the Gospel is extensively and fatally abused in the pro- 
fessedly Christian world ; and she trembled lest the 
flatteries of self-love should delude herself into a similar 

It will be seen from her letters with how much 
pleasure she listened to those preachers with whom 
the great doctrine of salvation through the sacrifice of 
Christ is the principal subject, and who, following 
the example of the Apostles, make the freest offer of 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 391 

this salvation to their hearers. But still she listened 
with jealousy to the glad tidings thus proclaimed, unless 
constantly accompanied with a fearless, distinct, and 
uncompromising exposition of the parallel truth, that 
" every one shall receive according to his works." Her 
frequent expressions were such as these — "I have no 
doubt as to the way of salvation — it lies upon the surface 
of the Scriptures, and appeals with the force of truth 
to every heart that is humbled by the conviction of 
personal guilt. But those who shall receive the benefit 
of this free salvation, and who shall be * accounted 
worthy to stand before the throne,' are those who on 
earth are meet for heaven, by being truly like Christ : 
and am I — are the mass of those of whom we are 
accustomed to think well — are they like Christ % " 

Entertaining such views, my sister was often distressed 
with the apprehension that there are indeed " few who 
shall be saved ; " and not being able to class herself 
among the few whose eminent holiness of temper and 
of life, and whose abounding labours in the Lord, dis- 
tinguish them, beyond doubt, as the disciples of Christ, 
she was long unable to admit the comfort of assured hope. 

Whatever may be thought of this state of mind, 
and of the justness of those views which were the occa- 
sion of it, I have, at all events, believed it to be right to 
mention them. 

Jane had, in consequence of peculiar circumstances, 
become deeply concerned for the orphan family of a 

392 The Fainily Pen. 

deceased friend. Her anxiety on their behalf prompted 
her to address them, collectively, in the following 
letter : — 


Ongar, August l^tk, 1822. 

* * * As my time is limited, I cannot devote much 
of it to subjects of inferior moment, but must address 
myself at once to that which is all-important, and in 
which all other advices are included. But in treating 
this subject there is a peculiar diflficulty in addressing 
those who, like you, are continually reminded of its 
importance, both by private and public instructions ; 
to whom, therefore, every argument is familiar, and 
must appear common-place. Nor would I be thought 
to infer, by any remarks I may make, that your minds are 
not already impressed, more or less, with the importance 
of the subject. But from experience I know what need 
there is of being incessantly quickened and roused 
afresh ; and it sometimes happens that a word from 
a comparative stranger has more effect than the same 
thing suggested by a familiar voice. 

But now I know not where to begin, nor how to 
find language to reach the heights and depths of this 
boundless subject. No language, indeed, can do this ; 
and, therefore, we find in the Scriptures no attempt is 
made beyond the most plain and simple statements, 
but which are, on that very account, the more striking. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 393 

What, for instance, could the utmost powers of language 
add in force to that question, " What shall it profit a 
man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own souH" 
And, my dear friends, there is very great danger, not- 
withstanding all the warnings and admonitions we 
receive — there is very great danger of losing our souls ! 
It is so easy to pass on from one stage of life to another 
— from youth to age — with good intentions towards 
religion, and with a common respectable attention to 
it, without once coming to the point — without once 
tasting the happiness of a good hope, or enjoying the 
supreme satisfaction of making a full surrender of our 
hearts and lives to God. Multitudes of the professors 
of religion thus live and thus die ; making their comfort 
and prosperity in this life their chief object of pursuit, 
and paying only so much attention to religion as they 
deem absolutely necessary to escape eternal destruction. 
But this is not Christianity, such as the Scriptures 
describe it ; and it is surprising that, with the Bible in 
their hands, any person can make so great a mistake 
about it. If God has not our hearts, we are not His : 
He will accept nothing less. If our affections are not 
in heaven, we shall never reach it. I remember that, 
during my youth, I was for many years greatly dis- 
couraged, and almost in despair at last, on this ac- 
count ; feeling the impossibility of bringing my earthly 
mind to prefer spiritual things — to love God better than 
the world. At length, in a letter from a pious friend, 

394 ^^ Family Pen. 

I was reminded that this great work, though impossible 
to me, was easy to Him ; and that He had promised 
to do it for all who ask. From that time my difficulties 
began to yield. I saw how absurd it was to doubt the 
promises of God ; and that it was in respect to these 
very difficulties that He says, " Seek and ye shall find : " 
so that I began to see, with unspeakable joy, that the 
hardness, reluctance and earthliness of my heart were 
no real obstacles, provided that I did but apply to 
Him for a cure. Yes, to cast ourselves entirely on 
God, to do all for us, in the diligent use of means, is 
the sure, the only way, to obtain the benefit. But it 
is surprising what reluctance there is in the mind to do 
this, and how ready we are to try every other means 
first ; especially we are unwilling to come by a simple 
act of faith to the Saviour, and to accept from Him 
a remedy for all the evils of our nature, although 
there is no other way. How much labour is often 
lost for want of this. Come to Him, my dear friends, 
and " He will not cast you out : " He declares He 
will not. And come as you are. It is Satan's con- 
stant artifice to persuade us that we must wait till we 
are fit to come. And as this faith that believes and 
lives, however simple, is the gift of God, pray incessantly, 
importunately, till you receive it. 

I am sure you are all convinced already that delay, 
neglect, or indiff"erence, in religion, is the greatest folly, 
the deepest cruelty we can practise towards ourselves. 

Meitioir of Jane Taylor. 395 

as it respects our interests in the future world. And, 
indeed, it is so as to this world too. I have seen 
something more of life than you, and I have lived long 
enough to see that promise in numerous instances ful- 
filled, that "they who seek first the kingdom of God" 
have other things added to them, in a more especial 
and desirable way than those who make them the 
primary object. I am firmly convinced that, taking the 
whole of life together, the most pious and devoted 
persons — such as made an early and complete surrender 
of heart and life to God — have most real prosperity and 
success in this world, as well as infinitely more enjoy- 
ment of earthly good. But really this is a point scarcely 
worth proving, when the interests of a boundless futurity 
are concerned ; yet, as it is one of the chief illusions 
of " the father of Hes " to persuade persons that, in 
becoming decidedly religious, they must sacrifice the 
choicest pleasures of life, and that God's ways are not 
"ways of pleasantness," it is desirable to expose the 
falsehood. All the real and reasonable enjoyments of 
life are entirely compatible, not only with an ordinary 
profession of religion, but with the highest spirituaHty 
of mind ; and are greatly sweetened by it, if kept in 
their subordinate place : and as for the rest, the gaiety, 
the vanity, the evil tempers, the restless desires of a 
worldly heart, its selfishness and frovvardness, and all those 
indulgences which are forbidden to us, they are as cer- 
tainly destructive of our true interests and happiness 

396 The Family Pen. 

here, as of our eternal happiness. Of this truth, expe- 
rience too late convinces the most successful votaries 
of the world. But let us rise above these lower con- 
siderations ; the question is. Are we desirous to secure 
the salvation of our souls % And it is impossible to 
fix a steady thought on eternity without being so. Then 
let us take the Bible for our rule, and never rest till 
we have a Scriptural foundation for our hope ; nor till 
our life, as well as our creed, is conformed to its pre- 
cepts and examples. Allow me then to mention those 
means which are most essential to the attainment of 
this happiness. 

To use means is our part ; it is a comparatively easy 
part ; and if we will not even do this, it shows that we 
are not at all in earnest on the subject I will mention, 
then, as the first and the last — as that which is indis- 
pensable to our making any progress in x€i\g\QXi— daily, 
constant, private prayer. I am aware that where this 
habit has not been formed very early, there may be a sort 
of awkwardness and false shame felt in the commence- 
ment of it in a family ; but it is false shame, which a 
little effort will conquer, and a short time entirely re- 
move. I believe you know that it was my intention to 
have recommended this practice to you, if not already 
adopted ; and now I cannot feel' satisfied without doing 
so ; for if ever I was sure that 1 was giving good advice, 
I am sure of it in this instance ; and I will — I must — 
most earnestly request your attention to it. Perhaps 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 397 

some of you might reply that, seldom feeling inclined 
to prayer, it would generally be a formal and heartless 
service ; but this is the very reason why it must never be 
neglected. This reluctance to spiritual engagements is 
what the best of Christians have to combat with, and it 
can only be overcome by prayer. If, then, you were to 
wait till you are of yourselves so disposed, depend upon 
it, you would pass through life and plunge into eternity 
in a prayerless state ; and although you may often 
engage in private devotion with little feeling, and no 
apparent benefit, yet there is one certain advantage 
gained by it, namely, that the habit is strengthened ; and 
as we are creatures of habit, and God has made us so, 
He requires us to avail ourselves of its important advan- 
tages. If there is any one thing more than another 
among the many privileges of a religious education for 
which I feel thankful, it is the having been trained, from 
my early years, to retire, morning and evening, for this 
purpose. I found that a habit thus early and strongly 
formed, was not easily broken through, notwithstanding 
all the vanity of my youthful years ; and however much 
I have to lament the abuse of it, yet, if ever I have 
known anything of religion, it is to the closet that I must 
trace it ; and I believe that universal experience testifies 
that our comfort and -progress in the divine life are 
entirely regulated by the punctuality and fervour of our 
engagements there. There is no need that the exercise 
should be tedious; a short portion of Scripture read 

398 The Family Pen. 

with thought, and a few simple sentences uttered with 
the whole heart, are far preferable to a much longer 
address, in which the same heartless phraseology is con- 
tinually repeated. But as your desires enlarge, so will your 
petitions ; and the more you are in earnest, the less liable 
you will be to fall into hackneyed and formal expressions. 
There is another practice which, next to prayer and 
reading the Scriptures, I have found most profitable ; — 
I mean reading once every day, at the time either of 
morning or evening retirement, a few pages of some 
pious book — selecting for this purpose, not the light 
productions of the day, but the writings of the most 
eminently useful and impressive authors. Christian 
biography, also, is peculiarly profitable. This custom 
need not add more than ten minutes to the time of 
retirement ; and it is, I think, one of the very best 
means for retaining a daily impression of serious things. 
Habit, also (try it for one month, and see if it is not so), 
will render this pleasant, even though it should seem 
irksome at first. If you will excuse my entering into 
such minute particulars, I will add, that the most advan- 
tageous time for the purposes I have recommended is 
not that of retiring for the night ; drowsiness will generally 
invade us then ; besides, few young people can be quite 
alone at that time, and a prayer said by the bedside, with 
a companion present, is not — I might almost say, ca?mot 
be — personal prayer. It is a good — I will call it a blessed 
custom — for a family to disperse to their respective 

Meffioir of /a?ie Taylor. ^g() 

places of retirement half an hour before supper. Nor 
is it, you must be aware, from my own experience alone 
that I recommend it ; for it is a practice which I know 
to be strictly observed by all my pious friends, and 
which I have remarked in every serious family in which 
I ever visited. As to the morning, it is highly desirable 
that it should take place before breakfast, as afterwards 
it interferes with other duties, and is in great danger of 
being quite neglected. Besides, it is as essential to the 
health of the body, as of the soul, to rise at least early 
enough for such a purpose. I fear I shall tire you, and 
will mention but one other thing, and that is, the advan- 
tage of a more particular improvement of Sabbath 
evenings, as the time most suitable for longer retirement 
and deeper thoughtfulness than the engagements of other 
days will admit. 

My dear friends, be not contented with low aims and 
small attainments in religion : — they are, indeed, fearful 
signs of insincerity ; or, at best, proceed from a merely 
slavish fear of the consequences of quite neglecting it. 
Oh, do aspire to something beyond an ordinary reputable 
profession of it ! Here ambition is sanctified. Deter- 
mine to number yourselves among the happy kw ; and 
do not be discouraged by difficulties, nor think it too 
much for you to attain. It is not humility, but inac- 
tivity and despondency, that leads us to think so. God 
will give us all the grace, and strength, and ability, we 
really desire and ask for. 

400 The Family Pen. 

And let me affectionately recommend you early to 
seek to be engaged in some sphere of active usefulness. 
Doing good is the most excellent means of getting good. 
There is no mistake greater than to suppose that we are 
sent into the world only to attend, however industriously, 
to our own personal, or even family, interests. Love to 
our neighbour demands our active exertions in his be- 
half ; and we are all required, more or less, " to go and 
work in the vineyard." We have all a talent entrusted 
to us ; and what shall Ave say when our Lord comes, if 
we have not improved it? Did you never remark, in 
reading Romans xvi., how St. Paul, in his salutations, 
particularizes those who were most zealously engaged in 
good works % — " Phoebe, a servant of the church, and a 
succourer of many ; " — " Priscilla and Aquila, his helpers 
in Christ;" — "Mary, who bestowed much labour on 
them ; " — " Persis, who laboured much in the Lord ; " — 
while he passes over, with a slight remembrance, or notes 
with censure, others who " minded only their own things, 
and not the things that are Jesus Christ's." It must have 
been gratifying to have been thus distinguished by the 
Apostle ; but oh ! how much more so to be approved by 
Him, who for our good requires these services from us ; 
and to hear Him say at last, "Well done, good and 
faithful servant ! " We should suffer no day to pass 
without thinking of and acting for that day when we 
shall be " judged according to our works," as the only 
evidences of our faith ; and very encouraging is that kind 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 40 1 

and considerate expression of our Lord, concerning a 
poor woman, showing that He is no hard master, and 
not unreasonable in His requisitions — " She hath done 
what she could." But how few of us deserve this praise ! 
I am persuaded you would find useful activity one of the 
best preservatives against the innumerable temptations 
to which, as youth advances, you will be exposed. How 
many young persons have blessed God that ever they 
were led to engage in Sunday-school teaching ! It profit- 
ably occupies that time which, if wasted in frivolity and 
indulgence, leads to the worst consequences ; and in 
teaching others, a double blessing often descends upon 
the teacher. 

But in engaging in active usefulness, especially when 
we are required to associate with others, there are evils 
to be guarded against ; and we must be clad with the 
impenetrable armour of Christian simplicity and meek- 
ness, in order to avoid them. We may have to encounter 
those who are ofiicious, unreasonable, monopolizing, 
ambitious, and overbearing ; and if any similar tempers 
are indulged in ourselves, continual contention must 
ensue. The only way is to rise superior to those petty 
jealousies and inferior motives ; to do good for its own 
sake alone ; to persevere in a quiet, forbearing, yielding 
line of conduct, which never fails to disappoint and 
weary out the most troublesome, at last. And even if 
any should say to us, however unjustly, ''Friend, go 
down lower," our wisdom and happiness is to submit 

VOL. I. D D 

402 TJie Family Pen. 

with a good grace, and cheerfully to labour In a humbler 
sphere. That temper and conduct which is called 
"spirited "in asserting our rights, and maintaining our 
consequence, is as unwise and impolitic as it is unchris- 
tian-like. Nothing forms so truly great and dignified a 
character as " the meekness and gentleness of Christ." 

But with regard to our conduct, whether at home or 
abroad, we cannot mistake, if we will but follow the 
precepts of Scripture, in their plain and literal sense. 
This is too much neglected, strangely neglected, even by 
those who profess to make the Bible their rule. If we 
had no other directions whatever for our conduct than 
those contained in that beautiful chapter, Romans xii., it 
would make a heaven of earth, were they but attended to. 
It is an excellent chapter to read very often, and deeply 
and daily to study. It would make a little paradise of 
any society or family where its spirit was imbibed ; and 
after all, it is at home — in the bosom of our families, in 
our daily and hourly tempers and conduct, that we have 
the best opportunity of practising holy obedience to the 
commandments of Christ. Keeping these command- 
ments,, which " are not grievous " — though we are prone 
to think they are, till we try — implies a continual exer- 
cise of self-denial ; and if we are conscious that we make 
no such sacrifices — that we are not in the habit of 
denying ourselves, it is plain that we are not following 
Him at all; for those who do must bear some cross. 
There is, indeed, something in the very sound of this 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 403 

word j-^^</(?;z/«/ which alarms our indolence; self-indul- 
gence, pride, and wilfulness are the greatest enemies to 
our peace and happiness; and one day's experience is 
enough to show that, in proportion as they are resisted 
and mortified, we are comfortable, tranquil, and happy. 

May God bless you all, and lead every one of you 
safely through this dangerous world, to His eternal rest ! 
This is the earnest hope, and will be the frequent prayer 
of your sincere and affectionate friend, t rp 

To the young lady who, as the eldest of the same 
orphan family, sustained some responsibility in relation 
to her sisters and brothers. Miss Taylor writes : — 

Ongar, June "jih, 1823, 
* * * Do you remember the remark, that the 
reason why, in the history of our country, the female 
reigns have been most prosperous, is that women, 
feeling their own insufficiency to hold the reins of 
government, have been more ready than kings to depend 
upon the advice and assistance of wise and able coun- 
sellors ? Hence it has been said, that in female reigns 
we have been governed by men; while kings have often 
allowed themselves and their kingdom to be governed 
by women. Certainly as much wisdom and prudence 
may be shown in the choice of advisers, as even in 
determining important affairs ourselves. But above all, 
my dear friend, your safety and wisdom will be, to " ask 

DD 2 

404 The Family Pen. 

counsel of the Lord ; " and that not only in a general 
way, but with a firm and steady dependence on Him, to 
do what you ask of Him ; and this will not be to order 
things in any particular way that you feel most anxious 
for, but to overrule them so as He knows to be best for 
you. " Commit your way unto the Lord, and He will 
direct your paths ; " but I daresay you are already suffi- 
ciently acquainted with your own heart to know that it is 
no easy thing to do this unreservedly. We are prone 
secretly to dictate to His Providence, instead of feeling 
an entire resignation to it. I will venture to add one 
more particular recommendation ; and that is, that in 
the choice of persons to advise you in your future 
domestic arrangements, you will select those only who, 
in addition to worldly prudence, are qualified by the 
most decided piety to counsel you. 

I remember, several years ago, a very wise, kind, and 
good man said to me, that as a general rule (though 
certainly not without exceptions) it will be found, when 
we have a choice to make in regard to our affairs, that 
the decision which is least agreeable to our inclinations 
is most conducive to our ultimate welfare. This remark 
I have never forgotten ; and I have often since proved 
the justness and utility of it, notwithstanding its apparent 
severity. I quote it to you with less hesitation, because 
I know that, in any arrangements in which the pleasures 
and relaxations of young persons are concerned, I am 
always disposed to lean to the side of indulgence, to a 

Mejnoir of Jane Taylor. 405 

degree which I have often been blamed for. This I tell 
you, that you may not too hastily conclude my opinions 
in such matters to be stern or rigid. * * * 

To the second daughter of this family she addressed 
several letters, from among which the following is 
selected : — 


Ongar, December l<)th, 1823. 

My dear Elizabeth, — 

It is only the thought of your being too busy to 
attend to anything but the business in hand, that has 
prevented my writing before, to welcome you into the 
new house ; or, perhaps, if I had followed the dictates of 
my own feelings, and consulted yours, I should rather 
have condoled with you on forsaking the old one. I can 
guess what feelings have been uppermost with you in 
every interval of bustle ; and though not in fact, yet in 
thought, I have paced with you through the deserted 
rooms — sympathising with you in the remembrances they 
awaken. I am no stranger to local attachments, and 
I respect them in others, as indications of better feelings. 
The trees, the walks, the walls, that seem so dear, are 
chiefly so as they are associated in our minds with those 
we love, to whom they have been equally familiar. 
Sorrow in parting with these objects is therefore an 
amiable regret; and it will be felt in proportion as 

4o6 The Family Pen. 

home, its inhabitants, and its quiet pursuits, have been 
loved and enjoyed. Cowper has sanctioned such feel- 
ings in addressing his mother's picture : — 

" Where once we lived, our name is heard no more ; 
Children not thine have trod our nursery floor," &c. 

But, my dear girl, while I sympathise with your 
sorrow, and more than that, love you for it, yet you know 
I would not encourage its unrestrained indulgence. The 
proper and effectual antidote to every undue and morbid 
indulgence of regret is to be found in the cheerful per- 
formance of the daily recurring duties of life ; which, by 
the wise appointment of Providence, prevent brooding 
melancholy, while they do not tend (like the relief 
sought in amusements and society) to blunt the edge of 
genuine feeling. * * * 

The youngest brother, then at school, she addressed 
as follows, three months only before her death : — 

Ongar, January i6th, 1824. 

Dear John, — 

Ever since you first went to K , I have felt a 

wish to write to you, but have deferred it to this time, 
thinking that letters from your friends might be most 
acceptable during the vacation, on account of the little 
disappointment you have undergone in not returning 
home. I was very much pleased to hear how cheerfully 
you submitted to the decision of your friends respecting 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 407 

this ; the consciousness of which will, I am sure, aftbrd 
you much more solid satisfaction, than if you could 
have prevailed on them by childishly pleading to 

I have also heard, with very great pleasure, the good 
accounts that have reached your sisters respecting your 
conduct at school ; and hope that you will feel a lau- 
dable ambition to maintain this good character. We 
all know that it is an easier thing to set out well while 
there is the stimulus of novelty to excite us, than 
steadily to persevere in a good course. Yet I need 
not remind you that nothing short of such steady per- 
severance in well-doing, will avail anything to your real 
advantage ; and it is this alone that truly merits praise. 
You cannot, therefore, guard too carefully against the 
first small temptations that may present themselves, of 
whatever kind; if these are yielded to, others more 
powerful will quickly follow ; and thus, for want of a 
little timely effort, every good resolution may eventually 
fail. " He that despiseth small things shall fall by little 
and little." You are now old enough, dear John, to 
reflect seriously ; and let me advise you to endeavour 
to gain some acquaintance with your own disposition, 
in order to correct what may be amiss ; and whatever 
you discover to be the fault to which you are most 
liable, and the temptation by which you are most easily 
overcome, there set a double guard, and resist them as 
your worst enemies. 

4o8 The Family Pen. 

It has been frequently remarked by those who are 
engaged in education, that pupils who show most 
quickness, and make most progress in their studies, 
are the least worthy of praise in other and 7nore im- 
portant respects. Now, dear John, do not let this be 
your case ; never be content with half a character, but 
be still more ambitious to distinguish yourself for obe- 
dience, gentleness, kindness, and a resolute resistance to 
all that you know to be wrong, than for any mental 
attainments, remembering that cleverness, unconnected 
with goodness, proves a curse, rather than a blessing. 

On the other hand, allow me to remind you of the 
importance of diligently improving your present oppor- 
tunities for acquiring knowledge. How valuable know- 
ledge is, and how glad you will be of it in future life, 
you can scarcely at present imagine ; and be assured, 
ho time will ever arrive when the business you have 
now to attend to can better be done, even if it could 
be done at all. But it has truly been said, that time 
and opportunities lost in one period of life, can never 
be recovered in another, because every portion of life 
is fully occupied with its own proper engagements ; so 
that what is lost through negligence in childhood or 
youth, is lost irrecoverably. Now the only way to 
make real proficiency in learning of any kind, is to 
acquire a love of it for its own sake ; and this may 
always be done by taking pains. Never be contented 
with merely getting through your daily tasks in order 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 409 

to escape fines and punishments. No boy of sound 
sense, and of a strong mind, will need to be governed 
by such motives : he will find a pleasure in that daily 
round of business, which, to the sluggish or trifling, is 
all toil ; and those difficulties which discourage and 
disgust the idle, do but stimulate the diligent to 
greater efforts. 

But, my dear John, let me still more urgently entreat 
you not to suffer either business or pleasure to divert 
your mind from what you know is all important. Oh 
do not indulge that foolish and false idea, that the great 
concerns of religion may be put off to a future day ! 
Do but try, and you will find that "the fear of the 
Lord is " indeed " the beginning of wisdom," and that 
they who seek Him early, enjoy His peculiar favour and 
blessing on all the pursuits and events of life ; and you, 
bereaved as you are of early friends, how much more 
than you can possibly at present imagine, do you need 
God to be your Father, and the Guide of your unpro- 
tected youth ! Study His will, then, by constantly 
reading the Scriptures, and seek Him for yourself by 
earnest prayer, and be assured you will not seek in 
vain. I will not apologize for not writing you an 
entertaining letter ; since it is the desire I feel for 
your truest good, that induces me to fill it with such 
plain advice, persuaded that you will not only receive 
it kindly, but peruse it with attention and serious 
thought. You have heard how much your sister and 

4IO The Family Pen. 

I were disappointed in not being able to visit you 
while we were at Bedford ; the bad weather rendered 
it quite impossible. Believe me, dear John, 

Your affectionate Friend. 

I have found a letter dated the day after the above, 
and it is almost the last written by my sister, who from 
this time became incapable of maintaining her usual 
epistolary intercourse with her friends. 


Ongar, Jamiary iTth, 1824. 
* * * I rejoice to hear of your continued pro- 
sperit)'; and am not surprised that the pressure of 
so important a charge should, at times, depress your 
spirits ; nor that even your happiest seasons should be 
clouded by the distraction of mind consequent upon it ; 
especially while it is yet new to you. There are, doubt- 
less, advantages in a life of leisure which, if duly im- 
proved, would tend greatly to heighten the happiness of 
the Christian life. But, considering what our depraved 
nature is, there is a strong probability that they will tiot 
be improved. So that, if I might so speak, I believe 
the chances are greater of making spiritual progress in a 
life of activity, or even of bustle, than when the mind is 
left at leisure to prey upon itself, and indulge its morbid 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 411 

I thank you, my dear friend, for planning so pleasant 
a scheme as that of my visiting you at Manchester. 
I will not say it can never be; yet I cannot indulge 
the expectation of my health permitting me to undertake 
so long a journey. I have been very much indisposed 
for many weeks past, with a severe attack of rheumatism, 
which has greatly confined me to the house, and affected 
my general health. From this, I am thankful to say, I 
am slowly recovering ; but in other respects, I cannot 
boast of improvement ; yet the chastisements with which 
I am visited are still lighter than my expectations ; and 
how much lighter than my deserts ! I am endeavouring, 
but with small success, "to forget the things that are 
behind, and to press forward." But oh, how little can 
affliction in itself do to produce spiritual affections ! 
I feel this ; and that, without the grace of God to help 
me, all these rendings from life and earthly happiness 
will be in vain. 

* * * I have lately taken a final leave of Mrs. 
Wenham, the friend of my happier days : it was but a 
short interview; but we had time to take a hasty and 
impressive retrospect of the past ; — of life, such as we 
had each found it; and to compare our early ex- 
pectations with those circumstances in which we are 
at present placed. The moral was obvious— " This is 
not our rest." * * * 

4-12 The Family Pen. 



The last two letters have anticipated the course of 
the Memoir; and to this I now revert. On the 
occasion of the death of her uncle, the Rev. James 
Hinton, of Oxford, which occurred in the month of 
July, Jane was impressed with the belief that death 
was not to visit the family with a single blow ; and 
this foreboding was not falsified, for, in the following 
November, another uncle, Mr. Charles Taylor {the 
editor of Calmet), was removed ; and in a few months 
more, her own death took place. 

With the hope of at least recruiting her spirits, my 
sister, accompanied by her brother and a young friend, 
visited Margate once again ; where she passed the 
month of October tranquilly and pleasantly : on her 
return she went to Bedford, and availed herself of the 
opportunity to visit Olney and Weston ; the feelings of 
the moment she has expressed in the lines written on 
visiting Cowper's garden. Her return from Bedford 
took place at the time of an extraordinary inundation j 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 41-? 

and she was exposed, with the young friend who ac- 
companied her, to considerable peril in the journey. 

At this time she was so far exempt from suffering, or 
any positive inconvenience from the disease that was 
preying upon her constitution, and her ordinary comfort 
was so little impaired, that she took her part in the 
common engagements of life, with scarcely any apparent 
diminution of her wonted activity and animation. In 
these respects, she was indeed remarkably favoured by 
the goodness of God ; for, to the last, her sufferings 
were only those consequent upon extreme debility. 
The local disease insensibly prevailed over the strength 
of her constitution, with little external show of its 
progress, and with scarcely any positive pain. This 
exemption from suffering was noted by herself and her 
family, as calling for lively gratitude. 

The event might probably have been somewhat dif- 
ferent, had not new symptoms been induced by acci- 
dental exposure to cold. On the 21st of November, 
my sister went to London to take leave of one of her 
most intimate friends, who was then preparing to leave 
England. This interview, it was known by both jDarties, 
must terminate an intercourse of long standing, and of 
unusual tenderness and confidence : the meeting was 
therefore protracted as long as possible, so as to allow 
my sister to return to Ongar the same day. Being 
unable to procure a coach, she and her friend took 
boat at Lambeth, late in the afternoon, and proceeded 

414 The Family Fen. 

as far as London Bridge, through a chilly rain. This 
exposure produced general pains, which from that time 
continued to be the principal cause of her suffering, 
and, apparently, of the rapid decay of her strength. 

Notwithstanding her extreme weakness, she still con- 
tinued to attend public worship ; and even to teach her 
class in the Sunday-school. The last time of her doing 
so was on the 4th of January. She went to the chapel 
accompanied by a friend, whom, after teaching the 
children the usual time, she took to a window over- 
looking the burial-ground ; and, pointing to a spot 
opposite, said, — " There, Betsy, that is where my grave 
is to be." The same afternoon, a funeral sermon was 
preached, on the occasion of the death of a highly- 
esteemed friend — the mother of a large family, whose 
death had very deeply affected her. She looked at the 
weeping family, and deliberately realized the scene, 
soon, as she believed, to be repeated in the same place, 
when her own family should be the mourners. 

Either by the too great excitement of her feelings on 
this occasion, or by her exposure to the weather, her 
symptoms seemed to be aggravated from this time : — 
her breathing became so quick and feeble, as to keep 
her spirits in constant agitation, and almost to prevent 
her joining in conversation. She still took her place in 
the family circle, though it had now become necessary 
that she should be carried from her chamber to the 

Memoir of Jatie Taylor. 415 

Partly from the impulse of that restlessness which 
often attends a last illness, and with the hope of 
deriving at least some alleviation from medical advice, 
she determined, in the month of February, upon 
spending a week with some friends in London, whose 
affection towards her gave her the assurance that she 
should find all the comforts of home in their house. 
Though extremely distressed by the exertion of being 
placed in the chaise, the journey seemed greatly to 
revive her ; — she in some measure enjoyed the society 
of her friends, and returned home in amended health. 
She describes her feelings about this time, in the fol- 
lowing letter to her sister : — 

Ongar, March 2^t/i, 1824. 

* * * I hope the pleasant excursion to Notting- 
ham will do you both good. Give my kind love to 

C and S , of whom I often think ; but I now 

refrain from writing to any one unless it is absolutely 

necessary. I feel much obliged by Mr. 's kind 

remembrance of me : as to writing three verses, or one, 
for his album, it has been, and is, quite impossible. 

You heard from mother that I went to town for 
advice. I was most kindly nursed there for a week, 
and returned much better; nor have I since had a 
return of that tremendous heaving of my breath, which I 
can compare only to an inward tempest. This laborious 
breathing, however, though relieved, has never subsided 

4 1 6 The Family Pen. 

entirely since I first felt it, which was from the com- 
mencement of the rheumatic attack. The weather for 
some weeks past has been very unfavourable to me. I 
think there is still a hope that my strength and appetite 
may be restored, at least to what they were, when I am 
able to take the air, and perhaps to change it. But I 
more often think that a gradual decline has commenced ; 
and if you were to see how much I am reduced, you 
would not wonder at my forming such an opinion. My 
bones indeed " look and stare upon me ;" my strength, 
too, fails me, so that I cannot walk more than once or 
twice across the room at a time, and whenever I do, I 
feel as if all within me were hanging in heavy rags. 
Whenever the weather permits, I am drawn round the 
garden, which is a great refreshment. 

I need not tell you how kindly I am nursed, and how 
tenderly all is done that can be done for my relief and 
comfort. I have also to be thankful for being so free 
from pain : my suffering now is almost entirely from 
debility, and weariness, and difficulty of breathing ; but 
what I am most of all thankful for, is that the prospect 
of death is less formidable to me, owing to my having 
more " peace in beheving ;" and an increase of this is 
all I want in order to reconcile me to it entirely. I 
often think, too, that if I am taken off by a gradual 
decay I ought to rejoice, as being thereby rescued pro- 
bably from far greater suffering ; but I desire to leave 
it all with God. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 417 

■ I hope you do not forget that this summer is your 
time for coming to Ongar. For a long time I have been 
looking forward to it as affording a hope of our meeting 
once more, which I am sure we should both wish. We 
do not like the thought of Mr. Gilbert's coming so far 
south without our seeing him : could you not both come 
on from Nottingham ? Though, unless I should be- 
come rapidly worse, it would be better for you to come 
when the season is more advanced. Dear Ann and 
Mr. Gilbert, remember me in your prayers, as I am 

^ ' Your affectionate Sister, 


Referring to this time, her mother writes : — 

" What a winter was the ensuing ! Her disease baffled 
every means that we had recourse to. On the 13th of 
February she went again to London for further medical 
advice, and we were allowed to hope that she might be 
nursed on for several years. This hope we were natu- 
rally disposed to cherish, when after a week's absence 
she returned, apparently improved ; but these flattering 
symptoms were of short duration : her breathing be- 
came increasingly laborious, as was supposed from the 
cancerous disease having affected the diaphragm ; other- 
wise she suffered from the affected part less pain than 
is usually felt under this disease. 

" On the Saturday previous to her death the physician 
visited her, and now finally extinguished our hopes, and 

VOL. I. E E 

41 8 The Family Pen. 

at the same time hinted that her dissolution was very- 
near : this, as we had not expected it so soon, was a 
severe shock. She evidently discovered by our coun- 
tenances the state of the case, but forbore to ask any 
questions. She was not confined to her bed a single 
day, but was brought down in the arms of her brother 
Isaac and placed on the sofa." 

Neither Jane herself nor her family fully apprehended 
the now near approach of death ; some degree of delu- 
sion is very frequent in such cases, and in this the 
flatteries of hope were strengthened by that calmness 
and fortitude, and reluctance to receive any assistance 
she could possibly dispense with, which in great mea- 
sure concealed the progress of her decline ; and also by 
the undiminished vigour of her mind, and the unabated 
interest she took in everything with which she was wont 
to be concerned. 

Though she had at this time become incapable of 
long-continued religious exercises, yet, to the last day 
of her life, the stated times of retirement were observed 
by her. Usually in the evening, by her request, her 
brother read to her some portion of Scripture, and a 
few pages of Bennett's " Christian Oratory," a book she 
highly valued. On these occasions her conversation, 
though not elevated by the language of unclouded 
hope, frequently contained the expression of a humble 
and growing trust in the power and grace of the Saviour. 

Memoir of Jaiic Taylor. 410 

Happily for herself, my sister's imagination, which 
throughout her life had been too much alive to ideas of 
terror, seemed in a great degree quelled by the languor 
of disease. Thus her mind was relieved from those 
unreal fears which otherwise might have possessed her 
thoughts in the near prospect of death. Still, occasion- 
ally, she seemed to be contending with what she ac- 
knowledged to be terrors of the imagination only. 
"Oh!" she would say, "the grave! — the grave is dark 
and cold. But surely, even to the wicked, there is no 
suffering in the graved For some time she seemed much 
distressed by an apprehension that her remains might 
be disturbed after burial ; but from this fear she was 
relieved by an explicit promise that such precautions 
should be taken as should render such disturbance im- 
possible. For the most part, however, the higher and 
the real interests of the future life occupied their proper 
place in her thoughts ; and whatever other anxieties 
might harass her for a moment, she quickly returned 
to this sentiment, — 

" If sin be pardon' d, I'm secure : 
Death has no sting besides." 

For months past she had been wishing to transcribe 
her will, with a view of amending it in some particulars, 
but had deferred doing so in the hope of a return of 
strength, which might make her more equal to the task ; 
but feeling now her powers of body rapidly declining, 

EE 2 

420 The Family Pen. 

she roused herself by an extraordmary effort, and in a 
way quite characteristic of herself; for it was always 
some endeavour to promote the comfort or interests of 
those she loved that called forth the vigour of her mind. 
She was therefore supported (April 5th) at her desk, and 
continued writing with evidently a very painful effort 
for more than an hour : she completed her task in the 
three or four following days. I may just take the occa- 
sion to say that in the disposal of her affairs she was 
guided by the most exact impartiality, acting consis- 
tently with the principle she had often warmly pro- 
fessed, and which is so rarely regarded — that there can 
be no more right to do wrong (by indulging capricious 
preferences) in making a will than in any other trans- 
action of life. 

Though the least exertion had now become distress- 
ingly painful, her mind was so perfectly collected that 
the transcript of her will was made without errors, and 
the parts in which it differed from the original were 
expressed with her wonted perspicuity : she also, the 
same afternoon in which she completed her task, entered 
some payments in her accounts, as well as the daily 
memorandums in her pocket-book, which are completed 
to the Thursday before her death. 

On Saturday she was visited by the medical man 
whom she had consulted when last in London. She 
was then, though actually dying, so little aware of the 
near approach of death that she asked his opinion of 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 421 

the practicability of her leaving home for change of air. 
After he left her, however, recollecting his expressions 
and manner of replying to her inquiries, she inferred 
the truth, and on Sunday plainly indicated to her family 
that she did so. 

Her last Sunday was passed tranquilly : several times 
in the course of it she exerted her utmost strength to 
converse with her mother, into whose mind she endea- 
voured to pour that consolation which she knew would 
be much needed. In the evening she conversed sepa- 
rately with her father and brother ; and to them, as 
before to her mother, she professed her settled hope of 
heaven. To the latter she said, " I am now quite 
happy, as happy as my poor frame will bear." 

On Monday she came down stairs at the usual hour, 
and was calm in spirit, seeming distressed only by in- 
creased debility. During the morning she conversed 
for some time with her brother, who received her dying 
wishes and injunctions, and an emphatic expression of 
affection, which will ever sound fresh in his recollection 
as if heard but yesterday. In the afternoon she resolved 
to make a last effort to finish a letter to her young 
friends in I^ondon. For this purpose her brother sup- 
ported her in his arms, for she was now utterly unable 
to sustain herself; her affectionate earnestness to ex- 
press to them her deep concern for their highest interests 
cost her an effort that seemed as if it must have has- 
tened her dissolution. It is as follows : — 

42 2 The Family Pen. 

Ongar, April wth, 1824. 

I must no longer wait till I am more able to 
write, as every day I become weaker ; though I know 
it will give you pain, yet I must tell you that I should 
not be surprised if these {q\\ lines are the last I shall 

ever be able to send you. I am very ill ; Mr. 

came yesterday to see me, and I assure you he thinks 
me so. It is possible, he thinks, that a change in the 
weather may revive me ; but I am now so weak that I 
think there is as much to fear as to hope from the 
warm weather. However, that I leave ; I will take care 
that you shall be informed as often as needful how 
I go on to the last, and I shall hope to hear from you, 
for though I cannot write I can read a letter. I thank 
dear Elizabeth for her last. I am now indeed too ill 
to accept your kind invitation. 


I fear I cannot finish. Oh, my dear friends, if you 
knew what thoughts I have now, you would see as I do, 
that the whole business of life is preparation for death ! 
Let it be so with you. If I have ever written or spoken 
anything you deem good advice, be assured I would, if 
I could, repeat it now with tenfold force. Think of 
this when I am gone. Tell James I hope he will read 
" Williams's Diary," and study to become such a charac- 
ter as a man of business and a Christian. I wish you 
all to read it. My love and best wishes to John. 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 423 

May God bless you all. Farewell ! farewell ! dear S., 
dear E., dear P., dear J. ; farewell. Yours till death, 
and after that, I hope, 

Jane Taylor. 

In the evening a minister called, with whom she con- 
versed a short time in a tone of cheerful and confirmed 
faith. Afterwards with her mother, in terms of inter- 
mingled affection, consolation, and hope. 

When carried upstairs on Monday night, she for the 
first time allowed her sister to do everything for her. 
She passed the night quietly ; but in the morning felt 
herself unable to rise as usual. About ten o'clock her 
brother read a psalm and prayed wath her. Soon after- 
wards she w^as placed in an easy chair by the bedside. 
About the same time one of her brothers arrived from 
London ; to him she spoke with the most emphatic 
earnestness, professing very distinctly the ground of her 
own hope, and the deep sense she then had of the 
reality and importance of eternal things. Her voice 
was now deep and hollow, her eyes glazed, and the dews 
of death were on her features ; but her recollection was 
perfect, and her soul full of feehng. While thus sitting 
up, and surrounded by her family, in a loud but in- 
terrupted voice, she said, " Though I walk through the 
valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for 
Thou art with me : Thy rod and Thy staff they 
comfort me." 

424 Th^ Family Pen. 

Soon after she repeated with the same emphasis the 

verse, — 

"Jesus, to Thy dear faithful hand 
My naked soul I trust ; 
And my flesh waits for Thy command 
To drop into the dust." 

Repeating with intense fervour the words, — 

" Jesus, to Thee my naked soul — 
My naked soul I trust." 

Being then placed in bed, all withdrew but her sister, 
with whom she conversed for some time, giving her 
several particular directions with great clearness. She 
then requested that everything in the room might be 
put in the most exact order ; after this she lay tran- 
quilly an hour or two, seeming to suffer only from the 
laborious heaving of the chest ; and in reply to a ques- 
tion to that effect, said she was " quite comfortable." 

In the afternoon she observed her brother to be writ- 
ing a letter \ she inquired to whom : being told it was 
to Mrs. Gilbert, who was then on her way to Ongar, 
she gave her opinion as to the best way of insuring her 
sister's meeting the letter, so as, if possible, to hasten 
her arrival. She had just before said, "Well, I don't 
think I shall see Ann again ; I feel I am dying fast." 

From this time she did not again speak so as to be 
understood ; but seemed sensible till about five o'clock, 
when a change took place : her breathing became 
interrupted, still she was tranquil, and her features 

Memoir of Jafie Taylor. 425 

perfectly placid. At half-past five she underwent a 
momentary struggle, and ceased to breathe. 

Her mother says : — 

" It was my sad office to close her eyes, an office 
which, according to the course of nature, should have 
been reversed, yet if I know myself, the acute feeling 
I manifested on that occasion was not unaccompanied 
by humble submission to the Divine will. 

" Thus have I conducted the reader to her dying 
bed, who from such a tranquil scene will be disposed 
to say, ' Let my death be the death of the righteous ; 
let my latter end be like theirs.' " 

The interment took place in the burial-ground of the 
chapel at Ongar, where a simple monument has been 
erected to mark the spot. 

No likeness of my sister exists which would be 
thought satisfactory by those who knew her. In truth, 
the expression of her face was of that kind which is 
the most difficult to be seized by the pencil, for it was 
the expression of the finest feelings habitually veiled 
from observation. Her features were delicately formed 
and regular ; her stature below the middle size ; every 
movement bespoke the activity of her mind, and a 
peculiar archness and sprightliness of manner gave 
significance to all she did. 

But the truest image of the writer's character will be 
found in her letters, which were ever the genuine ex- 

426 The Family Pen. 

pression of her feelings. Not one of the many of which 
I have had the perusal, betrays any attempt to write "a 
clever letter :" she corresponded with noxiQ.\)vA. friends, 
and the intercourse with those she loved was inspired 
only by warm and generous affection. This may, indeed, 
be named as the prominent feature of her character, 
for to love and to be loved was the hapjDiness she sought. 

Once and again in these letters there are acknow- 
ledgments of the constitutional irritability of her tem- 
per. This irritability Avas, however, more often excited 
by concern for the interests of those whom she loved 
than by any other cause — I may say never by the 
thwarting of mere selfish wishes. Her abhorrence of 
every kind of pretension, of fraud, and of injustice, was 
indeed strong ; and this feeling, added to her piercing 
discernment of the secret motives of those with whom 
.she had to do, often occasioned her much fruitless 
uneasiness, and might sometimes give to her manner 
an air of constraint ; for, to seem to accept as genuine 
either actions or words which she suspected to be 
spurious, required a degree of self command of which 
she was hardly capable. 

In her letters my sister frequently complains of the 
languor and inertness of her mind ; but these expres- 
sions, without explanation, would convey a false idea to 
the reader. It is indeed true that the delicacy of her 
constitution, especially after it was impaired by literary 
labour and by sickness, rendered her liable to much 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 427 

languor ; but her disposition and her habits were 
active and dihgent. In whatever she undertook she was 
assiduous, persevering, and exact ; and all her exertions 
were directed by a regard to usefulness. She was fond 
of the labours of the needle, as also of every domestic 
engagement. Indeed, so strong were her tastes of this 
kind, so completely feminine was her character, and so 
free was she from that ambition which often accom- 
panies intellectual superiority, that had she early in life 
been placed in a sphere of home duties, her talents would 
probably never have been elicited. 

The combination of humour and pensiveness be- 
longed in a peculiar degree to my sister's mind, and 
gave a grace and an interest to the productions of her 
pen. Without this union and counteraction, humour is 
apt to become broad and oflensive, and pensiveness to 
sink into sentimentality or dulness. But where it exists, 
even when both do not actually appear, the one will 
operate by a latent influence to give point and vivid- 
ness to the most sombre sentiment, while the other 
serves at once to enrich and to chasten the sportiveness 
of fancy. To these qualities of my sister's mind were 
added a fine sense of the beautiful and sublime in 
nature, and a nice perception of the characteristic points 
of every object she observed. 

In spontaneous conversation, especially on some 
matters of opinion, she might seem much influenced 
by peculiar predilections ; but whenever she felt her- 

428 The Family Pen. 

self responsible for the opinion she gave, and especially 
when she wrote for the press, her judgment was acute 
and sound, and happily directed by intuitive good sense. 
Of this excellence, I think her correspondence with her 
friends, and the papers contributed to the Youths' Maga- 
zine^ will furnish frequent and striking instances. 

Her poetical remains exhibit a considerable versatility 
of talent. My sister first wrote simply to express the 
overflowing emotions of her heart : these pieces breathe 
tenderness ; and relieved as they are by an elegant play- 
fulness, give the truest image of the writer's mind. It 
was under the guidance of a peculiarly nice ear for the 
language of nature that she accommodated these talents 
to the difficult task of writing verse for children. Her 
compositions of this kind are for the most part distin- 
guished by a perfect simplicity and transparency of dic- 
tion ; by brief, exact, and lively descriptions of scenery, 
by frequent touches both of humour and of pathos, and 
by a pervading purity and correctness of moral principle.! 

But her earlier compositions gave little promise of 
that energy of thought, elevation of sentiment, and force 
of diction which appear in the " Essays in Rhyme." 
This long-latent vigour was, however, soon quelled by 
the languor of sickness : had it been sustained a few 
years, she would probably have attempted some projects 
with which her mind was teeming at the time when she 
found it necessary to abstain from literary occupations. 
Yet perhaps her delicate frame, even if it had not been 

Memoir of Jane Taylor. 429 

shaken by disease, would not have sustained the effort 
necessary to give expression to the thoughts with which 
her imagination laboured. 

But whether or not there may be reason to suppose 
that, under more favourable circumstances, she might as 
a writer have moved in a higher sphere, it is enough to 
know that her talent was most beneficially occupied. 
For, setting aside those of her works which display the 
most genius, she has in an unpretending walk of litera- 
ture widely scattered the seeds of virtue and piety. Nor 
can it be doubted that the good fruits of her labours 
shall endure and increase long after those who now 
cherish a fond remembrance of her virtues in private 
life shall have passed away. 




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Our Own Fireside. 

" This dear, bright, lively, and instructive little volume. Few books have been 
written equal to it." — Eclectic Review. 

"We fancy that Christian parents wanting a thoroughly pleasant, wholesome, 
genial, and quickening book for their young people, could not do better than put into 
their hands these ' Contributions.'" — Christian Spectator. 


Taylor. Forty-si.xth Edition. i8mo. -is. 6d. cloth. 


HODDER, Editor of " The New Sunday-school Hymn-book." Square i6mo. 

beautifully illustrated, price 3.?. 6d. cloth elegant. 
" Whilst the wondrous facts are told with historic accuracy, they pass before the 
eye in forms of much poetic beauty, and fall on the ear in sounds of melody that will 
long ring in memory." — T/ie Homilist. 

TOSSED ON THE WAVES : A Story of Young Life. , 

By the same Author. Crown 8vo. ts. cloth. 
" A fine manly story ; a book that would delight a boy's heart, and do him good." 
— Christian Work. 

WASHED ASHORE ; or, the Tower of Stormount Bay. 

By WiLLiA]\[ H. G. Kingston, Author of "Peter the Whaler," &c. With 
Twelve full-page Illustrations, elegantly bound in square cloth, price 3.?. 6d. 
" This is a glorious seaside story for young folk.s, naturally and artistically told." — 
British Quarterly Review. 

BENAIAH : A Tale of the Captivity. By Mrs. Webb, 

Author of " Naomi," &c. Square i6mo. cloth elegant, y. 6d. illustrated. 
" A very charming Scripture story. The illustrations are very good." — Morning 


Blind Boy of Dresden and his Friends. A Story from Germany. Square i6mo. 

cloth elegant, ^s. 6d. with a Frontispiece. 
" A tale which, with alternate touches of pathos and pleasantry, teaches prosperous 
children to sympathise with the sorrow and rejoice at the happiness of the children 
of the poor." — Atheneeu;n. 


Old Merry. Square i6mo. cloth elegant, 3^. 6d. with a Frontispiece. 
"Our boys will laugh with heartiness, then think in quietness, over the pleasant, 
racy, wise talk of this genial friend " — Nonconformist. 

THE BUTTERFLY'S GOSPEL, and other Stories. By 

Fredrika Bremer. Translated by Margaret Howitt. With Engravings, in 
square i6mo. cloth elegant, 2.r. 6d. 
" This is one of the most delightful books for children we have seen since Herr 
Andersen gave up telling his little poems to the small people." — Athenceiiin. 

London : JACKSON, WALFORD, AND HODDER, 27, Paternoster Row.