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PROSE AND POETICAL
The Water Poet
LONDON: HAMILTON, ADAMS & CO
The greater part of the reading public have heard many times of John Taylor, The Water Poet, and probably know a good deal about him. But it is pretty safe to say that very few comparatively have ever seen any of his writings. Taylor's literary productions are all scarce and difficult to get. In these pages, for the first time, are any of his works placed within the reach of readers of very moderate means; and it may be appropriate to accompany them with a few biographical particulars regarding their singular author.
John Taylor was born on the 24th August 1580, at Gloucester. Little is known regarding his parentage, boyish days, and education, and for what little is known in these respects, we are chiefly indebted to stray remarks scattered throughout his numerous writings. That Taylor's parents belonged to the masses we may rest assured, but are not informed by what trade they earned a livelihood. We infer however, that they had been sufficiently well off, to keep their son at school for some years, as in his writings, Taylor refers to school-days and school boy poetical compositions. He also narrates an amusing anecdote regarding his schoolmaster, which has often been told, and may be repeated here. The poor man was in need of a cow, and on the occasion of his going to the market in order to purchase one, some of the neighbours played him rather an amusing trick. would appear that the schoolmaster was extremely short-sighted, and in other respects as well, was better suited to deal with books than to buy or sell cattle. This the neighbours fully aware of, with that love of innocent mischief which has not been confined to any age of the world's history, sold the poor man a bull in place of a cow, and which animal the hero of the rod drove contentedly home. Remaining entirely ignorant of the trick that had been played off upon him, until desiring to taste the milk of his new purchase, he requested the maid to milk the animal, and the amusing scene which followed may be readily imagined.
At an early age, young Taylor was taken from school, and apprenticed to a Thames waterman, or what would now be termed a ferryman, only the calling was not confined simply to carrying passengers