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Taylor: Carlyle, who makes many allusions in his work “Signs of the Times,” mentions in passing a man by the name of Taylor, and he most likely refers to Jeremy Taylor (1613-), a distinguished Anglican Divine. Taylor attended Caius College, Cambridge, and later was became a fellow of All-Souls College, Oxford. By 1658, he moved to Ireland and preached his beliefs, and in 1660 he returned to London and become a bishop. According to George Rust, Taylor was a rare humanist, deeply versed in all the polite arts of learning. Taylor had a polite demeanor, the eloquence of a gentleman, and the acuteness of a schoolman. Rust continued to say that Taylor had the virtues to be a philosopher, a chancellor, a prophet, an angel, or a saint. Taylor, who was known for his extreme devotion and wit, believed in the moral power of individuals — something to which Carlyle refers when he mentions Taylor in passing along with “Socrates, Plato, and Hooker,” who “who inculcate on men the necessity and infinite worth of moral goodness, the great truth that our happiness depends on the mind which is within us, and not on the circumstances which are without us.” He does not distinguish between the four influential figures, since he is only interested in the common values of individual moral sanctity that each figure preached.

Carlyle, as he indicates clearly in Signs of the Times, believed that the world was being swept into a Mechanical Age, where both literal machines and figurative mechanisms dominated the way people thought. As Carlyle says, “Nothing is now done directly, or by hand; all is by rule and calculated contrivance.” Carlyle claims that the “Philosopher of this [mechanical] Age” has abandoned the Taylor's emphasis upon individual morality.


Thomas Carlyle: A Brief Biography.” Victorian Web, 1988. Web. 8 April 2010.

Rust, George. “Jeremy Taylor. ” Mclintock and Strong, eds. Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper and Brothers, 1881.

Last modified 8 April 2010