The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Taylor, (James) Bayard
TAYLOR, tā'lȯr, (James) Bayard, American writer: b. Kennett Square, Pa., 11 Jan. 1825; d. Berlin, Germany, 19 Dec. 1878. He had a secondary education at West Chester and Unionville, and in 1842 was apprenticed to a printer in the former town, but did not serve out his apprenticeship. In 1844 he set sail for Liverpool, and during the next two years he traveled, chiefly on foot, in Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy and France. He described his journeys for several American newspapers, his letters being collected and published on his return under the title ‘Views Afoot or Europe Seen with Knapsack and Staff’ (1846). In 1847 he received an appointment on the staff of the New York Tribune, and two years later went to California as special correspondent of that newspaper at the gold-fields, his letters being republished in 1850 as ‘Eldorado, or Adventures in the Path of Empire.’ In 1851 he was again in Europe, and before returning to the United States in 1854 he visited Egypt, Asia Minor, India, Hong-kong, China and Japan. Among the literary results of this tour were ‘A Journey to Central Africa’ (1854); ‘The Land of the Saracen’ (1854), and ‘A Visit to India, China and Japan’ (1855). On these traveling experiences he lectured with much success. He had by this time gained some reputation as a poet by ‘Ximena and Other Poems’ (1844); ‘Rhymes of Travel, Ballads, and Other Poems’ (1848); ‘A Book of Romances, Lyrics and Songs’ (1851), and ‘Poems of the Orient’ (1855); and in 1855 he published a collective edition of these under the title ‘Poems of Home and Travel.’ ‘Northern Travel’ (1857) contains an account of a visit to Sweden, Denmark and Lapland. In 1862-63 he was secretary of legation and for a time chargé-d'affaires at Saint Petersburg, and in 1870 he lectured at Cornell University on German literature. He became United States Ambassador at Berlin in May 1878. In addition to works already mentioned the following may be enumerated: 'At Home and Abroad' (1859-62); 'Byways and Europe' (1869); a translation of Goethe's 'Faust' in the original metres (1870); the novels; ‘Hannah Thurston’ (1863); ‘John Godfrey's Fortunes’ (1864); ‘The Story of Kennett’ (1886); ‘Joseph and His Friend’ (1870); ‘The Poet's Journal’ (1863), and other volumes of verse. Two collections of miscellaneous writings appeared posthumously, ‘Studies in German Literature’ (1879), and ‘Essays and Notes’ (1880). It is by his translation of ‘Faust,’ one of the finest attempts of the kind in any literature, that Taylor is generally known; yet as an original poet he stands well up in the second rank of Americans. His ‘Poems of the Orient’ and his Pennsylvania ballads comprise his best work. His verse is finished and sonorous, but at times over-rhetorical. Consult the ‘Life and Letters’ by his wife and H. E. Scudder (1884).