EDWARD T. TAYLOR 1793-1871
- MM 1820, Corner Stone
- Charter Member 1823, Star in the East
- Member 1846, Columbian
- Grand Chaplain 1834-1837, 1840, 1841
FROM MOORE'S FREEMASON'S MONTHLY, 1872
From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXXI, No. 10, August 1872, Page 312:
Father Taylor, As A Mason.
"At the Springfield Conference of 1831, he was charged with disobeying the resolve of the Conference, not to participate in public Masonic ceremonies. They were lead to this course by the excitement then prevailing against the Order, and they expressed no opinion on the subject itself. Father Taylor had promised to conform and had broken lila pledge ; Wilbur Fisk was the complainant. He was found guilty, and the vote was, that he should be reproved by its President in open Conference. He accordingly walked up to the altar rail to the bishop. Bishop Hedding, his first and best friend, spoke of his conversion under his labors, and the interest he had felt for him, and affectionately advised as to his future conduct. When asked how he liked the punishment inflicted, he said: "The only objection I had to it was that there was not enough of it; I am willing to take advice from Bishop Hedding every day of my life, for I am sure he has a true heart, and what he says shall be an excellent oil that shall not break my head."
"Mr. Taylor joined the Corner Stone Lodge of Freemasons, at Duxbury, and received his degrees, according to its records, March 6th, 1820. His friend and Brother, Hon. Seth Sprague, Jr. was the Master of the Lodge at the time of his initiation. He loved this body to the day of his death. In the troubled days of the anti-Masonic excitement when many withdrew from the Order, and when members sometimes slunk into meetings hastily and with their cape pulled down over their faces, Bro. Taylor used to strut into the entrance of the hall with his hat thrust on his head, hung on the organ of obstinacy.
"When his Conference, to avoid occasion for stumbling had adopted a resolution not to participate in any public Masonic celebration for the coming year, the young obstinate marched all the more boldly in the procession, and Bishop Hedding, in his despair at his incorrigibility, and that of his comrade in popularity, peculiarity, and devotion to this cause, John Newland Maffit, partly petulant at their proceedings, and partly pleased at their pluck, said: Eddy and Johnny will wear tbeir aprons in spite of us.
"He was afterwards a member of the Columbian Lodge, constant in his attendance, and always welcome. His prayer at the opening of this Lodge, made when the anti-Masonic excitement swelled high, has been repeated thousands of times: Bless this glorious Order; bless its friends — yes, bless its enemies, and make their hearts as soft as their heads.
"Bro. Taylor was also a Knight Templar of the Boston Commandery, and took especial pride in its stately array, the rich, black uniform, and lordly cap and plume, making him look and feel most knightly. As he marched in its procession, his step was unusually haughty, even for his haughty nature."
He loved the Odd Fellows too, Joining Suffolk Lodge, at Boston, and when the oath of allegiance to this Order was administered to him, he took it with this qualification, uttered Lu his steadfast tones: Unless this obligation shall conflict with the paramount qualification of Freemasonry.
"In his journeys in Europe and the East, these associations were more than once of signal service."
"On a Sabbath just before his death, he dressed himself in lull Masonic regalia, and seated himself at the window. Perhaps his mind was wandering, but it wandered among scenes and companions that he loved." — Life of Father Taylor.
FROM PROCEEDINGS, 1873
From Proceedings, Page 1873-304:
REV. EDWARD T. TAYLOR, BOSTON. Methodist. 1834-1837, 1840-1841.
REV. BRO. EDWARD T. TAYLOR was admitted a member April 2, 1846, and served as Chaplain in 1847, 1848, 1849, 1850, 1851, 1852 and 1853. The compliment of honorary membership has lately been voted to him. He was born in Richmond, Va., December 25, 1793, but has lived in Boston between forty and fifty years. He was made a Mason in Duxbury, Mass., in 1819 , in the Lodge of which the Hon. Seth Sprague, Jr. was then the Master. He aided in forming the Star in the East at New Bedford. This is not the place to attempt to give an account of Bro. Taylor's long and devoted services in the Christian church, and of his untiring interest in promoting the temporal and spiritual welfare of the sailor. His early life was spent at sea, which enabled him to observe the exposure of seamen to immorality and vice; and he sought to ameliorate their condition, by removing temptations to which they were subject when on shore. A large portion of his life has been thus employed; and many there are who have been made better and happier through his humane and philanthropic efforts. He has ever felt a warm interest in Masonry. In the dark days which beset the institution, he was one of its staunchest defenders and supporters.
— History of Columbian Lodge, 1855.
Taylor, Edward T. ("Father Taylor"), many years preacher at the Seaman's Bethel, Boston, b. Richmond, Va., 25th Dec. 1794 ; d. Boston, 5 , Apr. 1871. A sailor in his youth, and ord. a Meth. preacher in 1819. His discourses, filled with quaint, nautical phrases, made him famous, and attracted many strangers. Chaplain to the U. S. frigate sent to Ireland during the famine there, and delivered public addresses at Cork and Glasgow.
— Drake's Biographies.
The survivors of the past two generations in this neighborhood need not be told who "Father Taylor" was; nor of his long and faithful ministry. He had a quaint speech and a way entirely his own, when addressing his audiences as a clergyman. To his church congregations, largely composed of sailors, he was an inspired teacher. They could understand his language, which was more or less maritime, and feel the force of his figures of speech, as they were adapted to their experiences and comprehension. The great truths touching our present existence and future welfare he failed not to present to his audiences in a manner designed to reach the most uncultivated intellect. His heart was in his work; and its outpourings found a warm response in the breast of many a weather-beaten and hardy seaman.
Sometimes biographies of distinguished men do injustice by overwrought eulogy. The biography of Edward T. Taylor is not liable to this criticism. Its writers, Rev. Gilbert Haven (now Bishop Haven) and Hon. Thomas Russell, have most ably and faithfully discharged their trust. They have portrayed the life, the character, and the peculiirities of the "Sailor Preacher," graphically, truthfully, and attractively, so that the reader's interest in the recital never flags, but is borne on from the beginning to the end. The work should be read by every one; for it is rare that a similar narrative embraces so much which is lively and interesting, and at the same time so eminently instructive. The liberty has been taken to transfer to these pages the following selections: —
The beginning of Father Taylor's life was when he was converted. If ever a second birth was a first birth, it was in this instance. It is oftener thus than many suppose. A few men of genius struggle into light without the regenerating power of the Holy Ghost. But most remain "mute and inglorious" unless touched with this life divine. The church has been the field that above all others has yielded abundant fruit to the thought of the world. Christ has been the chief husbandman of genius. Where would Bunyan have been but for the Holy Spirit? That wit so keen, that fancy so delicate, that imagination so rare, would have been lost in the orgies of bear-baiting, beer-drinking, and profanity. Augustine's genius was drowned in dreams and dissipation, until it was lifted out of its horrible pit by the grace of Christ.
South, Jeremy Taylor, Ward Beecher, Gough, Rowland Hill, Spurgeon, Hugh Miller, Robert Hall — these lights of the church and the world were without light but for the illuminations of the Holy Ghost. Milton had been songless, and Cowper and Herbert. Fuller had been witless, and Sir Thomas Browne and Bishop Hall and Erasmus, save for renewing grace. Luther's flame was kindled at the altar. The genius that wrought the cathedrals, statues and pictures of mediaeval times was wrought upon by the spirit of faith, and but for that recreation would have been dead while it lived.
This law was strikingly illustrated in Father Taylor. He was, undoubtedly, a wit on ship-board. He could not have roamed the seas for ten years and over, associated with sailors and landsmen in many ports, without revealing some signs of the talent which afterwards drew so many to his feet. But all that period is a blank. No hint of such a life stirs the chaos of those youthful years. His first remembered deeds and words associated with his life as a sailor, are after his conversion, and in connection with it. Nothing especially dissolute is recorded of those earlier days. He is described as a handsome fellow, as trim and taut as any of his tribe; much beloved by his shipmates, and deserving their love. But they give no memories of his talent. It was much to say of him, that he passed those perilous years from boyhood to manhood in the most perilous of callings, without especial stain on his character.
Still the genius lay folded in its napkin. He was only a common sailor, untaught in letters, untrained in manners, unelevated in rank, without hope or thought of advancement, like multitudes who accept the fate they are born to, and —
" Live and die unheard,
With a most voiceless thought sheathing it as_a sword."
He was born in Richmond, Va., Dec. 25, 1793. He had little knowledge of his parents. He remembered a love for preaching in that early boyhood, and especially for a sort that afterwards attracted him, and in which he was always successful. He used to preach funeral-sermons over dead chickens and kittens. He would gather the negro boys and girls about him, and discourse in most pathetic and forcible language on the life and death of the departed. If he could not bring them to tears by his oratory, he failed not to avail himself of the whip, and lashed them to appropriate grief over his chickens and his sermon. This way of making mourners and sympathetic listeners was afterwards maintained and continued in the whip his tongue so often applied to those who did not suitably respond to his persuasive efforts.
This love of preaching and of responsive auditories was no proof of his spiritual fitness for his subsequent life-work. It showed a passion for pulpit-oratory, but no call to it. That call slumbered for many years. He was brought up on a place near the city, by a lady to whom he had been given in charge. One day, when he was about seven years old, he was picking up chips for his foster-mother, when a sea-captain passed by, and asked him if he did not wish to be a sailor. He jumped at the offer, never finished picking up his chips, nor returned into the house to bid his friends "good-by," but gave himself to the stranger without fear or thought.
Thus began a life which continued for ten years, through every variety of that stormy experience. He seldom spoke of this period of his life, and hardly a memory of it remains. It was a blank. When a bronzed youth of seventeen, he entered the port of Boston. Whether he had previously visited this city or not, we cannot learn. Perhaps he had become familiar with its features; perhaps he was strolling through it for the first time, when he was captured by his heavenly Master, and rescued from the Evil One, who drags so many of his calling down to destruction. Boston was then a lively little seaport, of only about thirty thousand inhabitants. Its business centre was Dock Square, — the crowded market-place,— whose little size, irregular, triangular shape, and dingy, drop-down buildings, made it closely resemble the market-places of old European towns.
Hanover Street and Cornhill — now Washington Street — were its chief thoroughfares. Tremont Street was lined with residences hidden in gardens, as those of oldest Cambridge are to-day, but are fast ceasing to be. Old South was well up town; Summer Street was a haunt of retired gentlemen and retiring lovers, who did their soft whisperings and languishing promenades under its green shadows. The rest of the town was a semi-wilderness. The Common was a cow-pasture; a few houses fronted it on the north and east; and the negro-quarters were thrust away behind these Beacon-hill lords, in dirt and infamy.
The streets, with one or two exceptions, were paveless lanes and alleys, choked with traffic and dust. The whole city was a narrow belt stretohing along the shore, and going back only a few rods from the yet unwalled sea. Two long wharves were thrust out over the mud left bare by the ebbing tide; a new and stately brick block covered one of these, while crafts of all seas and flags hugged their sides, and made them livelier even than they are to-day. Adjoining one of these wharves lay an unknown vessel, with its unknown captain, cargo and port of departure, that had,among its unknown sailors one that has since become so well known. The brown, tough, wiry lad, then already
"Known to every star and every wind that blows,"
but utterly unknown of men, and seemingly unknown almost of his parents and his God, left his craft in his sailor-costume, and strolled through the streets of the small but active commercial metropolis of his country, on a pleasant evening in the autumn of 1811. On what thoughts he was intent we have no knowledge; probably on the usual thoughtless errands of Sabbath-wandering youth. He passed by Park-street Church, where Dr. Griffin was then preaching, and whose sermon he afterwards described, and turned down the lane just north of it on the right of the street. The Methodist chapel was located in that alley. Both of these churches had been built but a few years. The Methodists were offered the site of the Park-street Church, then unoccupied, a position far more eligible than the one they purchased; but they felt too poor to erect a structure suitable to such a location, or, as they put it, they could not put up a church with three sides of finished brick; and so recreated to the humbler quarters near at hand. Perhaps he drifted into Park Street on this very occasion, as he used to relate this incident.
"I was walking along Tremont Street, and the bell of Park-street Church was tolling. I put in; and, going to the door, I saw the port was full. I up helm, unfurled topsail, and made for the gallery; entered safely, doffed cap or pennant, and scud under bare poles to the corner pew. There I hove to, and came to anchor. The old man, Dr. Griffin, was just naming his text, which was, 'But he lied unto him.' " As he went on, and stated item after item, — how the devil lied to men, and how his imps led them into sin, — I said a hearty 'Amen;' for I knew all about it. I had seen and felt the whole of it.
"Pretty soon he unfurled the mainsail, raised the topsail, run up the pennants to free breeze; and I tell you, the old ship Gospel never sailed more prosperously. The salt spray flew in every direction; but more especially did it run down my cheeks. I was melted. Everyone in the house wept. Satan had to strike sail; his guns were dismounted or spiked; his various light crafts, by which he led sinners captive, were all beached; and the Captain of the Lord's host rode forth conquering and to conquer. I was young then. I said, '"Why can't I preach so? I'll try it.'"
This event probably happened after his conversion; for he was not in a mood before to appreciate a sermon.
It might have been a providential leading, when this poor youth turned away from the elegant church, then the handsomest in the city, — and not far from that rank to-day, — probably because its elegance too sharply contrasted with his appearance, and entered the lowlier conventicle. He had possibly never been brought to Christ if this door had not been opened.
Even this chapel was too ornate for him, —at least its entrance. He climbed in at a window. Whether the crowd was so great that he could find no other mode of entrance, or whether his outcast state and feelings led him to " hang round" the window through which the subsequent power of the Spirit of God drew him, we have never heard. Possibly both; for the church in those days was crowded; and the poor, shy sailor, without a home or friends, felt himself an alien, and took his place where this feeling prompted. An outcast was properly outside the sacred walls.
Who brought him to Christ? It took a man to save such a man. The preacher that night was Rev. Elijah Hedding. He was stationed, for the first time, in the chief church of his denomination in the chief city of the East. He was afterwards twice stationed there. He was a powerful preacher, of the solid and earnest type, full of matter, full of fire. A large man, with large head, sober ways, borne down by the greatness of his mission, he was already marked out by the church of this section as its favorite leader. He was then thirty-one years old, in the juicy vigor of his manhood. He was born in Duchess County, New York; born again in Vermont when sixteen years old; became immediately a great circuit-rider and a great revivalist, and at this early age had been brought to Boston for a few months only, probably to tide the new enterprise over its first embarrassments. His style of preaching was strong, clear, simple, earnest, devout; common sense on fire was its truest characteristic.
It is noticeable that two such famous preachers as Dr. Griffin and Bishop Hedding should have been brought together the only time in their history, around the conversion of Father Taylor, though that conjunction was merely nominal. He passed by the one, and drew near the other, as if only such fishers of men could catch such a man. He always spoke admiringly of Dr. Griffin, though Bishop Hedding was the idol of his heart. It may have been that only such a man of power could affect such a man of power. The homoeopathic axiom might be modified to this case, and the Similia similia curant, "Like cures like," be the appropriate motto for this event in his history. Appropriate if one found it necessary to regard exclusively the human instruments God employs in the work of conversion. The Holy Ghost in this service shows how indifferent He is sometimes to all channels of His divine impulses. It was shown in this instance, also. For the preaching of Mr. Hedding was only one of the causes of his conversion. After the discourse, the usual invitation was given for mourners to come forward. The sailor had been drawn through the window by the preacher, but had got no farther. The young people then, as now, responded to the entreaties of the preacher by their own direct effort, and, as soon as the invitation was given, started from their seats to solicit, personally, the unconverted to come forward for prayers.
Among those who went out on this mission was a young man of nineteen, named Thomas W. Tucker. As he walked down the aisle, his eye lighted on the affected youth. He spoke to him, and asked him to go forward. It was the first time that any one had seemed to care for his soul; perhaps the first time that he had been kindly addressed by any person outside of his own vocation. He yielded to the entreaty, went forward, and began to beg for mercy.
Father Taylor was always very demonstrative. The lad Taylor was none the less so. While earnest prayers were offered in his behalf by the preacher and the brethren, he also began to wrestle with God himself. With strong supplications he implored forgiving grace; and, as his friend and deliverer says in a note lately written in his eightieth year, "before the meoting was closed he was brought into the liberty of God's children." He immediately began:
"To tell to all around
What a dear Saviour he had found."
He was a shouting Methodist. Most Methodists in those days were of this class. "Our meetings," says Father Tucker, "were not remarkable for their stillness, even in Boston; "and Edward T. Taylor was no stiller than the rest. He had found the pearl of great price; why should he not rejoice over it? He was at last at home; why should he not make merry and be glad? He had never before been in a father's house. He had reached his heavenly Father's first. How could he help shouting for joy? The poor, homeless, parentless wanderer had found riches, home, parents. The house was warmed with the smile of God. The armor of Christ encompassed him; the grasp of affectionate brothers and sisters astonished him. He had found his father's family. They were poor in this world's goods, but heirs of the kingdom. They could sing lustily: —
"What poor, despised company
Of travellers are these? "
And then break forth with rejoicings: —
"Oh! these are of a royal line,
All servants of the King;
Heirs of immortal crowns, divine,
And, lo! for joy they sing."
- He has died since this book was begun.
Their comings together were seasons of great' comfort and gladness in the Holy Ghost. They loved one another as He, their divine Head, had given commandment. Their ministers were clothed with salvation, and the saints shouted aloud for joy.
Into this happy family, on that autumn evening in 1811, did this long-lost son find himself admitted. He broke out in his own language. Love opened the long dumb lips, and he prayed and spoke that night. What he said is not remembered; but it is never before reported by any hearer that he spoke at all. Undoubtedly he spoke after his subsequent fashion, in quaintness and freshness, though with a much greater mixture of bad grammar, wild words, and other defects, than he afterwards exhibited. Yet the sweet spirit, the humorous touch, the burning entreaty, the felicitous expression, were all there. The first taste of a new fountain is precisely like its following streams. His own description of this conversion is characteristic of the man, and deserves mention, as that utterance of his, connected with this new birth, which, if not his first recorded word, was undoubtedly very like what he said on that memorable night in his history, and is, at least, his testimony to the fact that then he began first to be. He said, "I was dragged through the lubber-hole" (the window), "brought down by a broadside from the seventy-four, Elijah Hedding, and fell into the arms of Thomas W. Tucker."
He never failed to dwell on this event with gladness. He rarely saw the companion into whose arms he fell, that he did not mention his instrumentality in his salvation, and kiss him affectionately in token of his gratitude. He always referred to the bishop in terms of profoundest love and pride, and undoubtedly sought him out first among the heavenly hosts as that one, under God, who had been the means of redeeming him unto God through the blood of the Lamb, and of making him a king and priest forever.
At the memorial service on his death, held by the New-England Conference of the Methodist-Episcopal Church, at its session in Chicopee, Mass., April 19, 1852, Father Taylor referred to these events, and to his relations to his honored friend.
A correspondent of The Springfield Republican, of that date, thus describes this:
"Last evening a meeting was held in the Methodist Church, with funeral services, in commemoration of the late venerable Bishop Elijah Hedding; prayer by Rev. A. D. Merrill. Bishop Morris, though excessively exhausted by the labors of the conference, opened with a brief but touching eulogy in behalf of the departed patriarch. The first time he saw him was at Baltimore, at the general conference in 1824, where Mr. Hedding was first made bishop. He had been familiar with him for many years, in social and professional relations, and ever found him the same calm, noble, unswerving friend and servant of Christ. When Mr. Hedding first began the travelling connection, he felt himself deficient in the elementary branches of the English language, and purchased a small grammar for study. But the prejudice against education was so strong among the Methodists at that time, that he dared not be seen studying the grammar; and so, while travelling, he would study by stealth, when any person approached being compelled to hide his book. He at last attained to high scholarship and versatility in various branches of literature. Bishop Morris gave a most lucid, yet simple, view of the man, and closed by describing his triumphant exit. The last words Bishop Hedding was heard to utter, while pushing off from mortal shores, were, "Glory to God, glory, glory, glory!" We observed some of the most intelligent and closely cultivated clergymen deeply and unusually moved by Bishop Morris's calm, dignified, yet truly eloquent allusions to Hedding.
"He was followed by Rev. Mr. Kilburn, who gave a very concise and comprehensive notice of the deceased. The service was concluded by Father Taylor. He opened his remarks in a manner entirely different from what was expected. The peroration was a masterpiece of the grand, the original, the touching and sublime. In Bishop Hedding, he had lost a father,—the only father he ever knew, since at an early day he was left an orphan, and now was unable to find the grave of either father or mother. He came into Boston a little sailor-boy, about forty years ago, and sought a place of worship. He wandered into Dr. Griffin's church, and heard him a while; then, while passing down the street, he heard the sound of a voice, coming from a church crowded with enchained auditors. He entered the porch, and stood hearing. The preacher went on; and, at last, the sailor-boy became so interested, that he walked clear up the aisle, so that he could see the preacher nearer. He stood till he found himself all riddled through and through by the man of God, and then he fell to the floor, weeping. That preacher was Hedding, and from that hour he had been his father.
"But now his father had gone. Mr. Taylor here grew unusually pathetic, in dwelling upon the glorious exit of Hedding, and on the spirit-home to which he had gone. It was good enough for a bishop to die, shouting 'Glory, glory!' and in the smoke ascend to heaven. He invoked the presence of the departed patriarch, and prayed that the ministry of his spirit might be near. He believed that all the retinue of heaven would not prevent that sainted spirit from often coming down to mingle with those beloved brethren whom he had left laboring below. It was a thought full of rapture and joy. Here the whole audience seemed deeply moved in sympathy, as though actually realizing the animating presence of celestial spirits, hovering around on missions of divine good. It was a scene of surpassing delight; and none entertaining faith in a rational, Christian philosophy would have failed being elevated with tho gladsome theme of immortality. Each soul seemed to leap with joy at the presentation of immortal life; atad the spiritual, affectional elements of the heart expanded with the solemn and serene hope of soon joining the innumerable throng of heavenly witnesses, hovering over this stormy pathway of the world, whispering of a world where the ransomed of the Lord shall clasp hands with palms of victory, and lift the everlasting song."
He not only endured failure, but chastisement also, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. The following incident showed his happy art of pressing a nettle to its silky softness. At the Springfield Conference of 1831 he was charged with disobeying the resolve of the conference, not to participate in public Masonic ceremonies. They were led to this course by the excitement then prevailing against this order, and they expressed no opinion on the subject itself. Father Taylor had promised to conform, and had broken his pledge. Wilbur Fisk was the complainant. He was found guilty; and the vote was, that he should be reproved by its president in open conference. He accordingly walked up to the altar-rail to the bishop.
Bishop Hedding, his first and best friend, spoke of his conversion under his labors, and the interest he had felt for him, and affectionately advised him as to his future conduct. When asked how he liked the punishment inflicted, he said, "The only objection I had to it was that there was not enough of it. I am willing to take advice from Bishop Hedding every day of my life; for I am sure he has a true heart, and what he says shall be an excellent oil that shall not break my head."
Mr. Taylor joined the Corner Stone Lodge of Freemasons at Duxbury, and received his degrees, according to its records, March 6, 1820. His friend and brother, Hon. Seth Sprague, Jr., was the Master of the Lodge at the time of his initiation. He loved this Body to the day of his death. In the troubled days of the anti-Masonic excitement, when many Lodges were abandoned, when many withdrew from the Order, and when members sometimes slunk into meetings hastily, and with caps pulled down over their faces, Brother Taylor used to strut into the entrance of the hall, with his hat thrust back on his head, hung "on the organ of obstinacy."
When his conference, in order to avoid occasion for stumbling, had adopted a resolution not to participate in any public Masonic celebration for the coming year, the young obstinate inarched all the more boldly in the processions; and Bishop Hedding, in half despair at his incorrigibility, and that of his comrade in popularity, peculiarity, and devotion to this cause, John Newland Maffit, partly petulant at their disobedience, and partly pleased at their pluck, said, "Eddy and Johnny will wear their aprons in spite of us." His conviction by his conference for this offence and correction in righteousness, and how he came out ahead, is related on a previous page.
He was afterwards a member of Columbian Lodge, constant in his attendance, and always welcome. His prayer at the opening of this Lodge, made when anti-Masonic excitement swelled high, has been repeated thousands of times: "Bless this glorious Order; bless its friends; yes, bless its enemies, and make their hearts as soft as their heads."
He was also a Knight Templar of the Boston Commandery, and took especial pride in its stately array, the rich black uniform and lordly cap and plume making him look and feel most knightly. As he marched in its processions his step was unusually haughty, even for his haughty nature. He loved the Odd Fellows, too, joining Suffolk Lodge at Boston; and when the oath of allegiance to this Order was administered to him he took it with this qualification, uttered in his sturdiest tones: "Unless this obligation shall conflict with the paramount qualifications of Freemasonry." In his journeyings in Europe and in the East these Associations were more than once of signal service. On a Sabbath just before his death he dressed himself in full Masonic regalia, and seated himself at the window. Perhaps his mind was wandering, but it wandered among scenes and companions that he loved.
His daughter, Mrs. Judge Russell, adds these interesting incidents: —
"My earliest recollections are of reading aloud to father, when I was so small that the books were laid on a chair, before which I sat on a cricket, while he turned the leaves as fast as I travelled down the pages. In this way I read Wesley's and South's Sermons; and, although I could not understand a sentence, I was obliged to enunciate with the utmost distinctness, because father would not endure a 'slovenly pronunciation'; and the evident delight he took in every word made me try to appear as if I also enjoyed it. Once, after I had become old enough to appreciate, father asked me what I thought of something I was reading. I was ashamed to confess that I had thought nothing about it; but, in trying to givo an opinion that might do, betrayed so lamentably my inattention, that he lost patience, and said, sharply, 'Don't be a fool, girl!' I went on, but with a face so scarlet and a manner so snappish, that he at last said, 'Stop! I want you to see yourself! You repeat words like a parrot; you are angry, because I've found you out' (here he threw me a mischievous smile); 'and because I gave you a little fatherly warning. Now, what are you ?' —' Oh, I am a fool, father !' I said. 'Well,'he retorted, 'I shan't contradict you; it's a capital thing to know. Now read on.'
"We children soon learned that to distrust him was to make him a tyrant; but to express utter and unlimited confidence made him our slave. Nothing was too much trouble for him; we could not be too exacting, if we only believed in him. One day he came in with a triumphant gleam on his face, and one hand hidden behind him. 'What is it, father? ' I said, preparing to follow upstairs, — for he delighted in wonderful little surprises for us. 'Stay there till I call you, daughter,' was the answer. It seemed such a long time to wait, that I slowly mounted, step by step, until I thought father must be ready, and I would just peep in and see. I caught him fastening a paper-bag between the folding-doors; and, as he turned and discovered my disobedience, his frown was fearful. 'Go out!' he thundered; and I felt as if banished forever. Soon we were called, and I crept in, dreading my deserved reproof. Not a word was said; but a cane was given each of us, with which we were to strike one blow every time we marched under the bag until it was broken.
"Then came a shower of red and white candies, which we scrambled for,— father with us, of course. But I was not happy, for he looked at me as if I had disappointed him, until I mustered up courage to say, 'Was it very bad just to come upstairs and look in a little bit? '
'"It was not only looking in a little bit,' he said; 'that was a very small part of it. Your poor father thought he would surprise his little girls, and make them so happy; and then, when he was almost ready, one little girl would not wait, and spoiled all her father's pleasure, and, worse than that, made him vexed, so that he called out angrily, — and his little girls know that it breaks his heart to scold them. And, oh, if that little girl had only believed that her father wanted to please her, and hadn't forgotten her a moment! But,' he added, as I began to sob, bending on me one of his rare, sweet, unfathomable smiles, "it is all over now; you are only a little child, and we are all great ones; and we none of us have faith enough in our Father.'
"My greatest delight was in listening to father's conversations with all sorts of people: with foreigners, who visited him from curiosity; students, who came to be taught; and sailors, who depended upon his loving counsel. From my corner in the study I watched all, and learned to know what every line of his mouth, every curve of his brows, every gleam of his eyes, meant. Often I wondered that people did not understand when they had said enough; and to one youth, whom I considered especially rash, I once whispered a friendly warning: 'When you see that queer green light come in father's eyes,' I said, 'and he lies back in his chair, smiling and still, be sure you've said something silly; you'd better stop then.'
"His reckless generosity was so boundless that, if it had not been for mother's constant watchfulness, we should not have had bread to eat from day to day. Once, at the beginning of a year, he was sent out with a bank-note of fifty dollars to pay a bill, which he was to bring back receipted. In due time he returned, but with such an expression of anxiety, and such an evident desire to escape observation, that I was convinced he had been 'naughty.' 'Where's the bill, father?' said mother. 'Here, my dear.' The pucker in his forehead became so tremendous, that the truth flashed upon me at once, and I was fully prepared for mother's astonished cry of 'It isn't receipted; father, you've given away the money!' I held him so tightly that he couldn't run; so at last he stammered, 'Well, wife, just 'round the corner I met a poor brother, a superannuated brother, and — and' — with a tone of conviction calculated to prove to us all the utter impropriety of his doing anything else, — ' and, of course, my dear, I couldn't ask him to change it!'
"'Are you dreaming, father?' I said one day, when he was leaning back in his chair, with closed eyes, and a happy smile playing about his mouth. "'I am in heaven a little way,' he answered, without moving. "'And what is heaven, really?' I asked, climbing upon his knees. "'It is loving God,' he replied, still with the same soft, dreamy tone. "'And did you always love him,' I persisted; 'and did you always preach?' "'Yes ,' he said; 'I don't remember the time when I did not love him, and I think I did always preach; for, when I was a very little boy, I used to kill chickens, so that I might make funeral sermons; and, when there were no more chickens or birds, I dug them up, and buried them over again. I was very proud and happy when I could make the boys cry by my sermons; but, if words would not do, then I whipped them a little, for I had to have mourners.' "'People cry now, all themselves, father; what's that for?' "'Because they begin to realize how their Father loves them, and they feel that they love him, and mean to more; and a little bit of heaven comes to them, and that is what your father likes to preach for.'"
We have cruised with our captain over many waters. We have seen him in storm and calm, in wandering youth, glowing manhood, revered, beloved age. Like all things mortal, he must fade as a leaf, and all his power comsume away like the moth. "Thou turnest man to destruction, and sayest, Return, ye children of men." No matter how wide he sails, he must ever come to this port.
"Earth laughs in flowers to see her boastful boys,
Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs;
Who steer the plough, but cannot steer their feet
Clear of the grave!"
The order "Return to the dust out of which thou art taken" fell on Father Taylor many years before it was accomplished. Not less than ten years was his leaf in withering. Journeys and other reliefs delayed its fall; but it gradually ripened, despite all attempts to prevent it, and its autumn richness of color leagues, before he consented to abandon the quarter deck; even then he would play captain to these captains, and, sitting in his pulpit, nod defiance or approval, or, if his dislike rose still higher, would tell the congregation in plain terms not to mind the words they had heard. Some of these interruptions are more amusing to read than they were to hear, especially by those who were their victims. Thus, as a venerable and especially beloved friend, who relieved the vacant hours of a superannuated ministry with the cultivation of grapes, anounced as his text, "I am the true vine," and began by saying, "There are some vines that will not bear good grapes," "That's so!" breaks in Father Taylor; "you sold me one of that sort."
A young minister, Rev. M. M. Parkhurst, relates that, preaching for him on the text, "He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned," in order to catch the most sceptical fish, who run out the longest lines, he granted the fact that a man's belief was all that was necessary to his salvation. The old man, surmising that the boy was going to leave out the essence of truth, and make any belief salvable, shook his head, fist, and cane at the preacher; and, as he went on developing this thought, he wriggled, frowned, and at last shouted forth, "Sit down! Sit down! " — "No," said the self-composed youth, "I'm skipper of this craft now." He then changed his tactics, and showed that under this very law, only a right belief produced a right character, and that faith in Christ is an absolute necessity to true spiritual life. The quick eye behind him saw that he was off the breakers, and "Out to sea the streamers flew; "and he shouted, "Open sea! Up sail and on! "
To the last he allowed no one, of his school at least, to utter any but the most orthodox truths to his congregation. One of his last sermons is thus described by Rev. Mr. McDonald. " It was from the text, ' Where is your faith?' He touched every chord of the human heart; now he denounces sin in the most awful manner, and then weeping over the sinner as though his heart would break. At one time he pictures the world of woe in colors so dark that one almost felt the blackness of darkness gathering around. And then the gates of heaven are thrown wide open, with angels and spirits of just men made perfect; with golden streets, trees of life, crystal waters, harps and harpers, crowns, robes, and palms, in full view, until every heart was ready to sing: —
" ' When shall I reach that happy place ?'
but everything broke down when he, with face bathed in tears, exclaimed, 'O God, what will become of my children?' meaning sailors. 'My life has been spent with and for them. I have stood in my boyhood with them at the guns, amidst blood and carnage. My manhood has been devoted to their interests and welfare. And now I am old, and must soon depart. 0 God, preserve my children!' There was a general giving up to tears. "Here he changed his tone of voice, and expression of countenance, and exclaimed, 'I am not dead yet.' Then turning to me, he said, 'You have heard that I was dead; but I am not, nor do I expect to die soon. Just now I begin to feel young again. Glory to God! I am able to fight a little longer."
But this fighting was not much more than shouldering his crutch, and showing how his old fields were won. He was contented with saying, "I can do it," as Jupiter, in Lessing's fable, made himself the superior marksman of Apollo by simply saying, "I could beat that if I had a mind to." The mind did not come to the Greek or Boston Jupiter, who had, in the latter case, been Apollo also. He descended from his deck, and accepted fate. He confessed that
"It was time to be old,
To take in sail;
The god of bounds,
Who sets to seas a shore,
Came to him in his fated rounds,
And said, ' No more ! '"
He turned his vessel's prow towards the harbor of earth and time. He formally resigned the leadership in 1868, and retired from the front. Still he felt this resignation was not final nor complete; and, whenever and wherever he pleased, he broke in upon the regular governors with criticism and censure, and even orders, that showed he wrestled hard with himself in accepting, after so many years of sovereignty, the place of a subordinate. His memory broke up by degrees. Calling on him with Bishop Janes and Dr. Harris, about three years before his death, he greeted them, as was his wont, with a kiss of affection, as if he knew them perfectly. Saying to him, "We have brought the bishop to see you." — " The bishop!" says he, "where's the bishop?" And yet no one knew him better or loved him more than this reverend father in God. Being reintroduced, he of course went all through his salutation again, his kiss of love included.
His wife's death, almost two years before his own, found him far in the realm of second childhood. He wandered up and down the house, a half ghost himself, whether in the body or out of the body he could not often tell. He seemed hardly aware of the painful event, and more like a child than a man he passed through this sad experience.
At her funeral he was full of smiles and tears, bowing, weeping, rejoicing, all together. On the ride to the grave he kept up that politeness of manner which never deserted him, and bowed gracefully from his mourning coach to some poor Irishwoman on the curb-stone, not knowing them, and showing that he retained his courtesy after his consciousness had largely gone.
The days of life grow shorter, darker and stormier. He became almost as helpless as a babe, yet with an obstinacy, shrewdness and wit that belonged to the ripest of men. Three of his daughters, Mrs. Brigham, Mrs. Russell, and Mrs. Barnes, were kind and attentive to all his wants; but the chief charge devolved upon his wife's niece, Miss Sarah Millett, and his old sailor friend, Capt. Bridgett. This gentleman was his constant companion for over a year and a half, caring for him by day and by night. It was very proper that one of his "boys" should lead him down into the deep waters, until he was received by the Master Boatman on the other shore. His niece accepted his reverse compliments with calmness, and helped him quietly and kindly down the steep places of life, which he was stumbling over in his tottering steps. A great debt of gratitude is due to her assiduous care. It was to her, and of her, that he shot forth that unjust stroke of wit. He would never light the fire in his study with a match, but always persisted in the oldest fashion of carrying a shovelful of coals up three pairs of stairs, when he wanted a fire. "Sally," as she was called, protested against this practice, as exceedingly dangerous to himself and the house. But the more she protested, the more he would do it. And so he tottered up his stairs day by day, with this shaking pan of live coals. At last she spoke to Mrs. Taylor; and "the head of the house" had to obey its superior head, as so many husbands find is their fortunate fate.
But he had his revenge on "Sally." Being seated at the table, he was glum and silent. After due pause, he is requested to ask the blessing. He refuses to speak, or to recognize the request. Again she asks, and again there is a sulky silence. Hunger at last getting the better of anger, on the third mild request, he breaks forth, "O Lord, save us from conceit, deceit, and tattling. Amen!" He thus evidently kept a good share of his brains about him, to the very verge of his dissolution, as another incident better illustrates. Rev. Mr. Waterston, father of Rev. Dr. Waterston, met him about a year before he died, both very old. Father Taylor, in his usual ardent way, caught and embraced him, saying, " I am as glad to see you as I should be to see St. Paul" — Ah," replied Mr. Waterston, "we must go to heaven if we would see St. Paul." — "Wherever," replied Father Taylor, with his grandest emphasis of voice and manner, "wherever the truly good man is, there is Heaven." Never was a better thought better spoken. Equally keen was his remark to a well-meaning sister, who sought to console him in his decline by the stereotyped phrase, "There's sweet rest in heaven!" "Go there if you want to," responds the tart old man. "But," persists the consoler, "think of the angels that will welcome you." "What do I want of the angels?" he replies; "I prefer folks; " and then, with rarest insight, he adds, "but angels are folks."
He got the better of his fate through his faith, and did not sink down as that Englishman did, who, lamenting on this last journey, that he must leave so lovely a paradise as England, was told, for his solace, that he was going to a better country. "Yes," he replies, sadly; "but it isn't England." Father Taylor's double-winged faith and reason conquered this sense of separation between angels and men, and reduced that foolishly-painted, weak-faced, broadwinged, white-grained creature of fancy, to a bright-brained, warm-hearted child of God, and dweller in the heavens, full of " comeatableness," of dependence, of touches of weakness and winsomeness. "Angels are folks" is the best picture of heaven ever painted.
He fought hard for life. "How pleasant it must be," said a good woman, "for you to leave this worn-out tabernacle, and go to a better home!" — "I'll stay while there's a bit left," is the stubborn reply; and he kept his word.
His chief companion, Capt. Bridgett, relates many interesting incidents connected with the breaking up of this old ship of fourscore years. He knew all his humors. He had resisted him more than once to his face, because he was to be blamed. After the old gentleman had given him a tremendous overhauling on one occasion, he saw he had done wrong, but confessed it after the usual manner of non-confession. Going across the square from the Bethel, Capt. Bridgett offered him the keys. "But," says Father Taylor, "you are willing to be forgiven, ain't you? If you are willing to be forgiven, I'll forgive you the whole of it. Take the keys home with you. I don't want them at my house."
The last few months of his life he was exceedingly restless and nervous. No bed could hold him. He would wriggle himself out of the clothes and out of bed. He seemed to be squaring off against being driven out of existence, as Dickens says babies double up their tiny fists at their birth, as if squaring off against existence itself. "Wearisome nights were appointed unto him." Not so much suffering as uncontrollable nervousness. His watcher sought to relieve this by getting him away from himself. He would advance heresies to set the old fighter again on his disputatious pins. Never could he get any consent to anything but the stiffest Methodistic orthodoxy from his lips. He would mix up quotations, right or wrong, to bother his head, and take him away from himself; but he would answer, "'Taint right. I don't know why. Can't get my cocoanut to it; but it isn't right." If he should quote Wesley or Fletcher, he would instantly say, "That's it!" His old instinct never failed him. As his companion says, "Asleep or awake, at no time of day or night could you get any unsound, mixed-up stuff down the old man's throat."
He loved to hear lines of familiar hymns, and especially delighted in that happy strain which he would dream over for hours in his study and in his chamber: —
"Blest Jesus, what delicious fare!
O How sweet thy entertainments are!
Never did angels taste above
Redeeming grace and dying love."
How full of old camp-meeting revivals, love-feasts, and other "chaste, holy, spiritual delights," were the memories lhat condensed themselves into such precious musings! Months before he died his attendant heard him, one morning, praying. He was pleading thus with God: "O Lord, what am I here for? I am of no use to any one. The love of my friends for me will soon be gone; my love for them will soon be lost. I can't do any good. Now, Lord, some summer morning snatch me to thyself." This is a vein of fancy and familiarity more beautiful than the like phrase in Charles Lamb's "Hester," of which he had probably never heard:—
" My sprightly neighbor gone before
To that unknown and silent shore,
Shall we not meet as heretofore,
Some summer morning?"
Only Father Taylor's was a word to his Lord, and a word that was answered. Ere the summer came he was snatched away to heaven and home.
He was a hard case to manage. A few nights before his death, Mr. Bridgett was going to give him some hydrate of chloral. He refused to take it. When he refused, he refused. So Mr. B. was compelled to use gentle force, and he had betokened its decay. He had many helpers in his pulpit, and one or two to open his mouth, when down went the dose. Gasping out of his hands, his eyes full of fiery indignation, and his feeble fists doubling up, he exclaimed, "You rascal, I had hopes of you all along; but you'll be lost, I know you will." — "The Lord don't cast us off," meekly replied Brother Bridgett. He doubled up his fists again and retorted, "Ah, that's the way thousands of such fellows lose their souls." Mr. Bridgett, having secured his end, made due and humble confession for his sins. The old man heard his confession, raised himself up, and, half doubting his sincerity, said, "You rascal, if I thought you was honest I would take back every bit of it; but I'm afraid it is only in spots." A reply fully equal to that given by Peter Cartwright to an over-censorious and sensitive bishop, who, to rebuke his overflowing spirits, said very solemnly, "Brother Cartwright, are you growing in grace?" — "Yes, bishop, in spots."
Of like sort was his retort on his making some petulant remark to Mr. B., who said, "Well, you know you said Jesus died for all of us." — "No, I never said he died for you. Never! " exclaimed the witty, wrathful old man, limiting the atonement in a manner totally foreign to his creed, but in accordance with his momentary impulse. Bridgett, defending a poor fellow who was always yielding to temptation on the score of his being born so, Father Taylor indignantly denied any such false teachings. "It's because he wanted to do it. God never wanted him to tumble and sprawl so in his sins." Thus to his last he clung to man's freedom as the only basis of his responsibility and of the love of God.
Another night, he lay in bed and began to preach sermons. "O Lord," he mutters in a half whisper, "where has poor humanity got to? The pith and marrow and power of the Gospel don't reach poor humanity. It's numb. If something can't be done for it, then I'm afraid they'll all be lost. How's that, brother?" he cries out to his companion, still wanting the auditor's response to the last feeble flicker of his oratory. "It's numb," is one of the best descriptions of "poor humanity," and showed the flash was after the old sort in quality, though sadly less in quantity.
One of these last nights he had fallen into a complaining mood. "Lord," he cries, piteously, "here I am all alone; no money, no friends, and in a strange place. What will become of me?" — "O Father Taylor," interposes his companion, "you are in your own house." Said he, "I know better; no such thing." Then Mr. B., who had often caught him with this guile, began to quote his favorites, Wesley, Fletcher, Webster, to get him away from himself; he saying, "That's good, that's clear! Where did you get it?" But now these all failed. He still sank in the Slough of Despond, which is as often near the Celestial as the Wicket Gate; so Brother Bridgett began to pray the Lord "to have mercy on this poor, backslidden Methodist preacher, who is ungrateful, fault-finding, and everything else bad." The old man fired up in a minute at such a reflection on himself, went at his friend with every sort of biting epithet, piled on the fire and brimstone, and utterly forgot his own low state in this old-fashioned, half-earnest fury of his soul.
The next night he was exceedingly nervous, and had to be put into his bed eight times in half an hour. After getting him in the eighth time, his nurse got on the outside to keep him in." What are you doing here sir?" said he. "Haven't you got a bed of your own over there? My liberties are curtailed. I won't stand it! Go to your own bed, sir." He began to tell him a smooth story to quiet him. Up he came, and threw the bed-clothes over him, in his determination to get on to the floor. Mr. Bridgett held his wrist loosely in his fingers to keep him down. As he was holding him thus, the old man lifted himself up on his elbow, and said, "Do you know how smoothly you are sinning?" — "No, sir, I aint sinning, father." — "Oh," said he, "you think the Devil don't know you are sinning; but he does, and he'll find you out. Any sinner that can sin as smooth as you can, the Devil is sure to got him." Mr. B. bad to yield him his bed; but exhausted by his efforts, and gratified in his whims, he pronouuced a benediction over his "smooth sinner," now a brother beloved, kissed him, and told him to go to sleep.
The Sunday but one before he died, he dressed himself in his full Masonic regalia. He had often walked in the handsome dress of knight-templar, one of the handsomest in the procession. With his cap, plume and sword, he fought the old battle for his beloved Order over for the last time in that stately uniform. The most pathetic of these incidents, and most characteristic, as illustrating at once his ruling passion in all its strength, occurred about ten days before his death. Rambling across the room, as was his wont, he passed the glass. His eye caught the figure of a tottering old man. He instantly stopped, turned, and made the aged stranger his very best bow, and began to preach to him. "My dear sir," said he, "you are old; you are infirm. But Christ will save you. Come now, my dear sir, come now! He will, he will save you now." Exhausted by his talk and his long standing, he sank on the sofa, and lost sight of the figure. He called Sally to him. "Sally, come here. That old man don't know enough to be saved. He didn't stir a peg while I was talking to him." Two days after, passing along, he saw the old man again. He made a most exquisite bow, and renewed his exhortation. "It is a very late hour," he said, "but Jesus will save you. Make the venture." He sank down again, and calling Sally said, "That old man is an infidel. He won't have salvation at any price." Mr. Bridgett, to see if he was in earnest, in a few minutes said, "Father Taylor, who is that old man about here?" He replied, "There is an old man about here; but nobody knows who he is or where he comes from." So he fulfilled a request he had often said and sung, even to an image, and that an image of himself: —
"Happy, if with my latest breath
I may but gasp His name;
Preach him to all, and cry in death,
Behold, behold the Lamb !"
He is fast nearing the port. The last Sunday morning, only thirty-six hours before he drops anchor, after he had been washed and dressed, he appeared very weary. Mr. Bridgett told him he would get rested soon. "I don't know," he replies. "Oh, yes! you will by and by." — "No," says he, tired; "I don't know anything." — "Don't you know Jesus?" With his old smile, full of significance lighting up his face, and his familiar punch in the ribs, he replies quick, wide awake as ever, "Yes, yes, yes! I know Jesus." — "Is he precious?" With a look full of his old fire he whispers joyfully, "Why, certainly, certainly!" This was his last word. Jesus he knew to the last, and Jesus was precious. What more could he say? His life-experience and life-work were summed up in this last articulate breath.
"On His breast he leaned his head,
And breathed his life out sweetly there."
He continued restless, but not conscious, all day and night, wriggling off his mattress, which, for several days, had been placed on the floor, because of this uncontrollable activity, — a hulk that still tossed on the waves, though lying so near the wharf of heaven. The next morning, his last, being again dressed and laid on his bed, he instantly hitched down the bed. Lifting him up gently, his attendant straightened him out, and placed him back on the pillow. Indignant at this interference with his liberty of action, he doubled up his fist in his old, familiar way, and shook it smilingly at his nurse. This was his last conscious act. Down he went among the billows of death, and never lifted his head again above the waves. He lingered till nine minutes past midnight, when the weary one was forever at rest.
He had fulfilled his promise. He had not surrendered while a bit of life remained. He had shown his strong traits of nature in his last deeds, his goodnatured pugnacity, mirthfulness and sportfulness. He had shown the higher traits of grace in his last trustful and joyful words. He could leave his quarter-deck, and go ashore in the heavenly port, and report to the Captain of his salvation, whom he had so long and so faithfully served. Never did a previous sailor rejoice more on making that blessed port. Never has one more passionately loved that city, country and king. He has reached
"The happy harbor of God's saints,
The sweet and pleasant soil."
It was a noticeable event, to the sailors especially, that the man they loved above all men should have gone out with the tide; thus conforming unwittingly, in his death, to those very peculiarities of his "boys," by the employment of which he had won so much of fame and love. It was just at the turn of the tide, in the dark of that midnight morning, April 6, 1871, that his spirit floated off "this bank and shoal of time," and made the happy harbor for which he had so long and faithfully sailed.
Chief, however, of the contributions from this source [Unitarian] were the words of Rev. Dr. Bartol. More than any other of his school he had been in intimate relations with his friend and "father." They had often eaten and drank, talked and travelled together. He had watched his genius in their conversational hours; had seen it glow with a brightness far above the brightest brightness of the sun at noon; had absorbed into his own spirit this rare affluence of a rare nature, and, out of the abundance of the heart, brought forth his inscription for his monument. His sermon had as its motto, 2 Kings ii. 12, "My father! my father!" The following are its chief passages: —
"In the year 1833, with a fellow-student from the Divinity School in Cambridge, I walked to Boston to attend the dedication of the Seamen's Bethel. The instant the minister appeared in the pulpit, I felt he was such a man as I had never seen before. His omnipresent glance, taking in the whole assembly; his swift step, glowing look, voice strong as thunder or a breaking wave; his gesture lively and expressive as the elder Booth's, as he beckoned up into the open desk — saying, 'My pulpit has no doors' — such as could not find seats below, told me very plainly that no pompous ecclesiastic, droning parson, or straitlaced bigot was to discourse that day, and be primate and bishop of that establishment.
"Last Wednesday morning, at the age of seventy-seven, that human form, so long aflame with zeal at its busy, restless task, fell quietly into that sleep to which the sweetest slumber we know before is but uneasiness.
"Knowing and loving Father Taylor as I did, perhaps as well as any one did outside his immediate circle, my duty is my desire to speak of him. Yet I hardly dare, scarce have right, feel 'tis vain to try, that praise is disrespect: yet I must; for to few am I so in debt.
"No American citizen — Webster, Clay, Everett, Lincoln, Choate — has a reputation more impressive and unique. In the hall of memory his spiritual statue will have forever its own niche. What is his peculiar place ? He belonged to no class. In any dogma he was neither leader nor led. He is the sailor's representative. Those were landsmen. He stands for the sea, the greatest delegate the ocean has sent upon the stage of any purely intellectual calling, at least in this part of the world; aid his fame has been borne into thousands of ships, by almost millions of mariners who have christened him Father, into every port and commercial city of the globe. The sailor says he has been in places where the United States had not been heard of, but not where Father Taylor had not; while the universal eagerness of all other classes to hear him has been scarce less than of the navigators, who make s"o great a division of our fellow-men.
"How account for this phenomenon? We had here a case of that authentic genius, whose office and warrant is to speak intelligibly to people of every sort, span every social gulf that yawns, and bring all that oppose or differ to be of one mind. I must risk the charge or suspicion of extravagance, and call him the only man of my acquaintance to whom the term genius absolutely belongs. I recognize in others perceptions as keen and clear, a glance deeper and stronger in some directions, a judgment more harmonious and broad. Some have held the telescope spiritual things are seen through with a steadier hand, have analyzed more closely, like the matter of the sun, the substances their mental spectroscope surveyed, and weighed more coolly and justly the relative value of diverse principles and thoughts. In many, imagination, that eye of the soul, has been as wide open; comparison to detect material and moral correspondences as thorough and exact; and combination of old elements into new ideas, or maxims to start from, even more masterly and pure, — he not being a philosopher of the patient and reflective school, to discover new planets in the inner firmament. But I have never in my life known one who was with his intuitions so possessed and carried away. It was mere insight with him; his vision was passion too. Like an engine, it made a train of his faculties, and swept his whole being on.
"'When he enters company,' it was said of one, ' he leaves the scholar behind; I see in his study he is a different man.' Mr. Taylor never left himself behind anywhere, but was himself everywhere. Like the creature Wordsworth describes, 'that moveth altogether if it move at all,' his casual talk was as good as his public performance. He put on no robe; he sang without any singing-garlands. Meet him at the corner of the street, he was just as eloquent and just the same as addressing a throng. He was natural; for Nature was too mighty in him that he should be aught but that. He carried his sublimity into his trivial conversation, and his homeliest humor into his gravest discourse. He would provoke irresistible laughter in a congregation, or wet your eyes with the way of his private greeting; put you in church with the little touching sermon of his grace at table, or make an April day of smiles and tears at his evening vestry, or overcome you with his solemnity in your house; so that one said he was like a cannon, better on the Common than in a parlor. But that was a mistake. In your sitting-room he could be a flute; no maid more tender and soft. How often I have seen him, in the most accidental encounters, melt hard-faced persons with his pathos, or surprise the despondent into good cheer with before undreamed-of consolations!
"He was an improvisator, the finest specimen ever in this community. He was an extemporaneous speaker, more condensed, with more fiery combustion, and less watery dilution, than any beside I have known in that order. I have seen many a human diamond shining; in him was the diamond burning. So I set him down for my best example of genius, because his genius — as always, I suppose, happens where genius is supreme — was his master, used and ordered him round, and did its manifest purpose with him as its servant and apprentice for life.
"The spirit of this prophet was not 'subject to the prophet.' What distinguished his communication was, not only its brilliant originality in the idiomatio raciness of the language, or the substance of what he would convey, but the marvellous suppleness of every fibre and organ to his conception, which made his whole body a tongue. . . .
"An actor he might himself have been, surpassed or equalled by none celebrated in his day. He did not believe in preaching from notes; and I have seen him take off a brother-clergyman confined to his notes, looking from his manuscript to his hearers, gazing one way, gesticulating another, his tableau vivant being good as a play, throwing into comic convulsions all who witnessed it. If he had read sometimes, he would have done better. Once, at my table, he impersonated an Oriental dervish, through all his spinning raptures, with an ease and perfection I cannot imagine Garrick or Kean could match, though we noticed after the inspired exhibition he seemed greatly fatigued.
"His style and accent, in the most ordinary proceeding, could not be withstood or forgot. 'Move a little,' he said, to some one who took too much room in the crowded seat; 'accommodation is a part of religion;' and, as though his request conferred a privilege or a favor, they moved. But this acting was no illusion, or superficial trick, he practised on others; but his essence, perfect nature, and so perfect art. He could not, like the dramatic teacher Delsarte, have picked out the muscle to express heaven or hell. He knew not how he did it, more than you knew; but it was done, as Delsarte cannot do it.
"It was said of a great orator, he used to make a study of his motions in a glass. But here was a face ignorant of mirrors. Some inward sculptor had carved its thousand seams and wrinkles, which he could use by turns for the mouth for every emotion, to make you merry; or, as was said of Mr. Choate, ' cant his countenance so as to fetch tears out of you in two minutes.' What was the secret, but a sympathy raised to the highest power, so as to exceed all we conceive under that name, so that he saw out of people, as well as into them? He put on their eyes for his eye-glasses, looked at the word as they did, and they found and felt him in them, at the core and centre.
"His distinction from other superior men was, there seemed nothing calculated or elaborate in his most wonderful display. His was not their slowly crystallized thought; it was not a gem or a fiowTer, but a meteor and aerolite, a flash and a bolt. I heard Dr. Channing and him preach the same day; it was the difference between reflection and spontaneity. He preached as the birds sing; he could not help it any more. He was an actor who enacted not only law, or truth, but the beauty of God. Like the character in 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' it mattered not what part he took, he could do all equally well.
"It was said of Prince Esterhazy, he was so gorgeously dressed he could not move but a pearl or a diamond fell. All his words gleamed as they dropped. The reason? Because a love, like Shakspeare's, for all humanity was at the bottom of his impersonations. His mountain stood on fire; it was a volcano. A Southern heart married a Northern brain at its birth.
"He entered into every nature he touched. The pigeons swarming round him, lighting on his head and hands from the dove-cot in North Square, only figured the more numerous human creatures that flocked to him for nobler food than grain of barley or wheat. Once, walking with him in the Public Garden, a little bird flew startled from its bush away. He stretched his hand after it, and spoke to it, saying, 'I would not squeeze or hurt you;' and I almost thought the bird would come. What was this sympathy but the root of his liberality? He was a Methodist, but Methodism was neither his gaol nor goal. He was superior to sect, belonged to no party, but, like the Indian on the prairie, said he walked large, — no man ever larger.
"He did not like what is called Spiritualism, perhaps could not do it justice, and told me several times with some complacency, as of an exorciser, 'The spirits never stay after I come; can't get them to do anything; they are afraid, and run away as fast as they can go.' When the clergy of the Methodist circuit, in which he formerly had toiled so terribly, were, at a meeting of the Unitarian Association, described as paid, though poorly, some two hundred dollars, all they were worth, who, that was present, but must remember how his battery blazed? 'All they are worth? I will put the humblest of them foot to foot, eye to eye, with any of you,' he cried, 'with a Bible in his hand and a wilderness of human souls before him, and see who will beat!' . . .
"There was something so inimitably quaint and grotesque at times in his repartees, you might have thought of Punch and Judy, or Harlequin, but you did not because of the earnest meaning he always conveyed. A young man, rather rationalistic in his views, who preached for him in the Bethel, having accidentally upset the Bible, and stooping to pick it up, 'Never mind,' said Taylor to him, 'I can put it up well and easy enough myself next Sunday.' In the vestry of this church, at a morning prayer-meeting, he, talking as a revivalist, and crying out, 'How long shall we compass this Jericho before the walls fall down?' I answered, 'Conversion cannot be completed on the spot; let us eat not mince-pie of praise, but humble-pie of repentance.' He, being displeased with my contradiction, left in haste, a little hurt, and hot. But the next time I overtook him in the street he threw his arms round me, gathered me to his bosom, and gave me the kiss of peace, as whenever and wherever we met, in the room or on the sidewalk, he always gave me that of love. Never was such a placable enthusiast, such a charitable devotee. There was room in his heart for all men, as well as God. He kept the second commandment, as well as the first. He would have been a fanatic, but that he could not help his love. I think he looked on Transcendentalism with a half-serious, half-humorous mistrust, as a curious compound of good and bad, to the last. 'It is like a gull,' he said to me, 'long wings, lean body, poor feathers, and miserable meat.'
"I can afford to quote the wit with which I do not quite agree. His condemnation was like a sentence of death; but though his rebuke was like a broadside from a frigate, or a lion's roar, deeper good-humor was his trait; seldom or never anything bitter or biting in his speech. He was sorry to wound, but had no choice, could not help saying what he did; it came to him, and were sacrilege to reject it or withhold. 'Too far off,' I heard him bluntly say to a speaker in his conference; 'the King's business requires haste.' He named the talkers, one, 'Pure Hebrew;' another, 'North of Europe;' a third, 'Salvation set to Music' His praise was like a medal, or badge, or the freedom of the city in a gold box, it had in it such solid value or precious stamp.
" At my house Dr. Channing inquired about a famous Methodist preacher then in town. 'Oh, I should like to see him!' added Dr. Lowell. 'You can't see him,' Taylor immediately answered; 'he is behind his Master.' Could Shakspeare do better? He would have been a sort of spiritual glue, a mere sympathy, but for the military hand ready to throw the gauntlet; so that we must be thankful for the iron resistance in him that prevented mental dissipation, else I know not where he would have gone, or what become of him. His exceeding, immeasurable tenderness combined with his purity of heart — the eye in him to see God — to make him at once so cordial and courteous to women. Affection for them was a great deep in him, surging like his beloved sea. But never billow lapped the beach more softly than his untaught delicacy treated the other sex. He was demonstrative; but his demonstration was a drop to the heaving gulf behind. His manners were royal, king that he was. I have seen him touch his heart, head, and lips with his hand in such a style it seemed a salutation too much for mo, but meant for and worthy of the universe. This marvellous force, like the demon of Socrates, that seized and wrought through him, not being always present, but like a detached locomotive, explains his occasional failures and flounderings to the disappointment of strangers and friends who hung their head. Once, in his confusion, he said, ' I have lost my nominative case, but I am on the way to glory.' "He was a great observer, a continual muser. When the woman foreordained from all eternity to be his wife, who also called him not husband only, but father, asked him why he went round, muttering so to himself; 'Because,' was his loving retort, ' I always like to talk to a sensible man.'
"His tenets were but shrouds to the ship, that he might better spread to the wind of the Spirit every sail. Disappointment, deciding to appeal to God, is one condition of surpassing mind or character. God, like man, taxes us on the amount of our property. Yet he was a blessed man; said he never had an unhappy day; and found in Boston the crown of his joy. How dear to him the 'Port Society'!
"'Laugh till I get back!' I remember as one of his farewells; 'till we get back,' we might now say. He hated gloom, and told me of a dismal theologian, that he seemed to have killed some one, and wanted him to go help bury the body.
"He had a sentiment for the little fish he caught and threw back into the sea, saying, 'There, little one, go tell your grandmother that you have seen a ghost.' The chaise he once owned was always full of ragged children; so that he could not take his own family to ride. I wish he had owned it always.
"He was no borrower or quoter, but original in every nerve. In all his soaring was common sense, — weight, not of a sparrow, but an eagle. His fervor had a natural, real tone; all affectation he despised. In the noble Methodist, no jot of Methodist cant, but only Methodist truth and zeal. Methodist let him be; I claim him only as a universal man. The seven-year old girl knew his temper, that knelt and prayed for him on his bier, saying to those who would understand her act, 'He was my friend.'
"His last audible prayer was, 'Lord, what am I here for? What am I doing here? I'm no use to anybody. The love my friends have for me will soon be lost. The love I have for my friends will soon be gone. Now, Lord, some morning suddenly snatch me to thyself.'
"The Lord heard, the Lord did, last Wednesday morning, very early. The sailor went out, as a sailor would, with the ebb-tide, just at its turn. It Was flood-tide somewhere. That death was a great birth. Such a soul is to us and itself, beyond miracle or prophecy, the best proof of immortality. A brother once asked him for a subject; 'It would be too hot for you to hold,' he said. 'Tis marvellous such a flame burnt so long; and now the fire has not gone out, but the mortal fuel. There must be more fuel — must there not? — for such a fire."
FROM NEW ENGLAND CRAFTSMAN, 1922
From New England Craftsman, Vol. XVII, No. 11, August 1922, Page 326:
THE FEARLESS FATHER TAYLOR
Of The Seamans Bethel, Boston
Bro. Taylor joined the Corner Stone Lodge of Freemasons at Duxbury, Mass., and received his degrees, according to its records, on March 6, 1820. His friend and brother, Honorable Seth Sprague, Jr., was Master of this lodge at the time of his initiation. He loved this body to the day of his death. In the troubled days of the anti-Masonic excitement, when many lodges were abandoned: when many withdrew from the order and when members somtimes slunk into meetings hastily, and with caps pulled down over their faces, Brother Taylor used to strut into the entrance of the hall, with his hat thrust back on his head, hung "on the organ of obstinacy."
Father Taylor was a charter member of Star in the East Lodge, December 3, 1823, and in April 2, 1848, he joined Columbian Lodge of Boston.
He was chaplain of the last named, and his prayer at the opening of the lodge, made when anti Masonic excitement swelled high, has been retold many times. "Bless this glorious Order: bless its friends — yes, bless its enemies and make their hearts as soft as their heads." - Life of Rev. Brother Taylor.
See his Funeral Oration for Josiah Sturgis in the memorial.