The life of Thomas Edward Taylor, M.P., 1863-1911. (1948)
AuthorsBillcliff, Charles F.show all
The thesis I advance for his place in the political life of this democracy is that he, essentially a self-taught man, entered the political life of the country from a strong sense of public duty and served as a spearhead for the humanitarian legislation of the Seddon Government as well as in local government. Then, I examine the reasons that impelled Taylor to enter public life and become drawn into ever widening activities. I submit that his restless energy, stirred by an intense religious experience in his youth, caused him to try to help those closest at hand. More often than not these people were drunkards. Frustrated by their continual lapses, Taylor girded himself to battle for the removal of all licences to sell liquor in the district of Sydenham. Success seemed to have been attained when a legal technicality nullified his efforts. To change the law became a necessity for him. He entered the political world and served his fellows with a much broader outlook than was first expected of him.
There is evidence to support the contention that Taylor was a spearhead for the Liberals, but because of the lack of information as to the precise time Seddon became committed to any particular reform, I cannot say that Taylor provided the underlying ideas. But he did educate public opinion as to them, and saw those ideas written into the Statute Book by Seddon. But any view of Taylor as a politician is incomplete that ignores his stimulating effect upon political integrity. Friends and opponents alike agree that he followed his conception of right fearlessly and was ever alert to denounce anything that smacked of intrigue or jobbery.
It is to be regretted that this work was not undertaken ten years earlier when most of those who were intimately associated with Taylor were still alive. L. M. Isitt made a collection of letters intending to write a life as Taylor, but these were destroyed by fire and the work was put aside.