Edward Thompson Taylor


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(1793–1871), as an orphan of seven began his life at sea, which lasted ten years. Ashore at Boston, he experienced an old-fashioned conversion in a Methodist chapel. Although he was not formally schooled, his fervor and unusual natural gifts brought him a ministry in the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1829 the Seamen's Bethel was established at Boston to further the moral and religious welfare of sailors, and “Father Taylor,” as he was affectionately known, was chosen to be its minister. His manner, which was like a sea captain's rather than a preacher's, and his sermons, which were full of imagery and language of the sea, are reproduced in the sermon of Father Mapple in Moby-Dick. His popularity may be judged by Dana's remark in Two Years Before the Mast that the first inquiry of the far-off California sailors was for Father Taylor. He is mentioned in Harriet Martineau's Retrospect of Western Travel, Dicken's American Notes, and Emerson's Journals, and is the subject of an article by Whitman.

From The Oxford Companion to American Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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