Of all the tasks that come to us in human life, perhaps those we wish to perform most faithfully are contained in the last requests of our relatives and friends. Whether they are accompanied by a promise on our part or not, they have an urge in them that will not be denied, and which haunts the mind, never letting it have complete rest, until the work is ﬁnished.
The publishing of the present volume of writings, from the pen of the late Mr. J. T. Taylor, is the sequel to such a request.
It happened in this way.
One day in the Autumn of the year 1923, I received a telephone call at Hartford New Works that Mr. J. T. Taylor wished to see me at the door. I went out to him at once, and invited him to come in to my office. He declined, and said he only wanted a few words with me. Generally, his conversations were carried on in bright, sharp, witty sentences, with something of a challenge in them, and — in imagination — I can still see his covert smile at any failure in repartee on my part. He enjoyed it greatly. But on this occasion it was quite different. He spoke much more seriously than usual.
“I’ve something particular I want to ask you,” he said. “I want you to grant me a request.” “What is your request?” I asked. “Will you write a brief memoir of my life, and publish my writings in a book after I’m gone? If you will do so, I will leave a sum of money to help to pay for the printing, and I'll ask some one at the Unitarian Chapel to help you to get subscribers to purchase the book.”
The tone of his voice betrayed his feelings. Revealed by the sunshine, I noticed big tears welling in his eyes.
I knew he had long cherished the idea that in his retirement he would collect his stories and poems and publish them, but now he seemed to realize, poignantly, that his powers were failing, and wished to transfer the task to other hands.
I felt sorry for him, and promised to do my best to carry out his wishes. It would be a great pity if these writings should pass into oblivion for want of someone to publish them in a more permanent form.
About a week after this interview he sent me his writings, a few of which he had marked to be included in the book, the rest he left for my selection. But he sent no information respecting his life for the Memoir. The next time I visited him I spoke to him about it. With a wave of his hand he said, “Oh! it’s o reet, man.” “Tha can do it.” “Tha knows all abeawt me.” I could get no more. Under the circumstances, therefore, nothing has been attempted in the Memoir beyond a brief description of the main events in Mr. J. T. Taylor’s career.
The volume you hold in your hands is the fulﬁlment of my promise. It will justify itself, as it contains some good humorous and pathetic stories, and a number of poems on various subjects, which prove that the author had insight and imagination, and was a close observer of the world around him.
I have edited the book with great care, and to the best of my ability, and I shall feel amply rewarded if it receives the approval of its readers, and presents in an attractive form the writings of my late friend.
My thanks are tendered to the Officials of the Unitarian and Healds Green Churches, and the Oldham Industrial Co-operative Society’s Education Committee, for the loan of blocks for illustrations, and to Mrs. J. T. Taylor, Mrs. Shepley, Mr. J. K. Cheetham, Mr. Lewis Whittaker, and one or two others for the supply of information solicited.
Since writing the foregoing, and after the death of Mr. J. T. Taylor, I was informed by his solicitor, Mr. Grifﬁths, that the person appointed to assist me with the business part of the book was Mr. Ellis Belﬁeld, of 6, Central Beach, Lytham.
I have had several interviews with that gentleman, and found him quite willing to render any help that is required.
Yours faithfully,Brunswick Place,
JOHN W. EASTHOPE.
42, Manchester‘ Road,
Oldham, July 20th, 1927.