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Jeremy Taylor

Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) was a clergyman in the Church of England who achieved fame as an author during The Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell.

He was educated at Caius College, Cambridge where he graduated in 1626. He was under the patronage of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury. He went on to become chaplain in ordinary to King Charles I as a result of Laud's sponsorship. This made him politically suspect when Laud was tried for treason and executed by the Puritan Parliament during the years preceding the English Civil War. After the Parliamentary victory over the King, he was briefly imprisoned several times.

Eventually, he was allowed to retire into Wales, where he became the private chaplain of the Earl of Carbery. Upon the Restoration, his political star was on the rise, and he was made bishop of Down and Connor in Ireland. He was also made vice-chancellor of the University of Dublin.

Jeremy Taylor is best known as a prose stylist; his chief fame is the result of his twin devotional manual, Holy Living and Holy Dying. (The Rules and Exercises of Holy Living, 1650 and The Rules and Exercises of Holy Dying, 1651). These books were favourites of John Wesley, and liked for their prose style by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas de Quincey. They are marked by solemn but vivid rhetoric, elaborate periodic sentences, and careful attention to the music and rhythms of words:

As our life is very short, so it is very miserable; and therefore it is well that it is short. God, in pity to mankind, lest his burden should be insupportable and his nature an intolerable load, hath reduced our state of misery to an abbreviature; and the greater our misery is, the less while it is like to last; the sorrows of a man's spirit being like ponderous weights, which by the greatness of their burden make a swifter motion, and descend into the grave to rest and ease our wearied limbs; for then only we shall sleep quietly, when those fetters are knocked off, which not only bound our souls in prison, but also ate the flesh till the very bones opened the secret garments of their cartilages, discovering their nakedness and sorrow.

-- From Rules and Exercises of Holy Dying


Jeremy Taylor is also a British folk singer / songwriter who has spent much of his life in South Africa, but is now living in Wales.

His songs are political and biased but impartial - that is he is happy to ridicule all systems - and usually humourous. He has the dubious claim that he has been banned from performing by both pre and post apartheid South African governments.

Some of his more popular songs are: "Jobsworth", "Mrs Harris" and "Prawns in the game".



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