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Baker
Baker
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under disgrace' with his father, 'who allowed him a very scanty income,' and was compelled to retire into Worcestershire, where he is reported to have 'died of that loathsome disorder, the morbus pediculosus.' His namesake, David Erskine Baker, in the 'Biographia Dramatica,' undertakes at some length his defence. He, however, states that a character named Maiden, introduced in 'Tunbridge Walks,' the best-known comedy of Thomas Baker, was intended by the author for himself, and was designed for purpose of warning, to place his own failings in a ridiculous light. If this story, which is unsupported by any obtainable evidence, is true, Baker must have been sufficiently despicable in early life to justify the dislike of his first biographer. Maiden, first played by an actor inappropriately named Bullock, is one of the most effeminate beings ever put on the stage. The character sprang into favour, and was imitated in the Fribbles and Beau Mizens of subsequent comedy. The plays of Baker, all of them comedies, consist of: 1. 'Humour of the Age,' 4to, 1701, played the same year at Drury Lane, with Wilks, Mrs. Verbruggen, and Mrs. Oldfield in the principal parts. 2. 'Tunbridge Walks, or the Yeoman of Kent,' 4to, 1703, played 27 Jan. of the same year at Drury Lane; revived at the same theatre in 1738 and 1764, and at Covent Garden in 1748, and given, in three acts, under the title of 'Tunbridge Wells,' at the Haymarket, so late as 13 Aug. 1782, by Palmer, Parsons, and Mrs. Inchbald. 3. 'An Act at Oxford,' 4to, 1704. This piece, one scene in which is in the theatre at Oxford, disclosing the doctors, the undergraduates, and the ladies, in their proper places, commences with the two opening lines of the 'Iliad,' delivered in Greek by Bloom, a gentleman commoner. Its performance was prohibited, it is supposed through university influence, and it saw the footlights in an altered version, called (4) 'Hampstead Heath,' Drury Lane, 30 Oct. 1705. Under this title it was reprinted in 4to, 1706. 5. The 'Fine Lady's Airs,' 4to, no date (1709), played at Drury Lane 14 Dec. 1708, and revived 20 April 1747. A curious reference to some of these plays and to the author occurs in the preface to the 'Modern Prophets, or New Wit for a Husband,' a comedy by Thomas Durfey, London, no date (1709). In this Durfey speaks not very intelligibly of Baker as one of 'a couple of bloody male criticks,' from whose 'barbarous assassinating attempts' he has escaped. Durfey condemns the plotless and trifling quality of 'Tunbridge Walks,' accuses Baker, in reference to two other comedies, of having 'brought Oxford upon Hampstead Heath,' and declares that the 'Fine Ladies Airs' (sic) was 'deservedly hist' (hissed). Baker's plays are indeed 'plotless.' They are fairly written, however, and are up to the not very exalted level of comedies of the period. Baker is credited with the authorship of the 'Female Tatler' (London, 1709), which Lowndes, who omits all mention of Baker under his name, describes as a 'scurrilous periodical paper.' After 1709 all reference to Baker ceases.

[Biographia Dramatica; Gilliland's Dramatic Mirror; G(iles) J(acob)'s Poetical Register, or Lives and Characters of the English Poets, 1723; Thespian Dictionary; Genest's Account of the English Stage; List of Dramatic Authors appended to Whincop's Scanderbeg, 1747, &c.]

J. K.


BAKER, THOMAS (1656–1740), an eminent author and antiquary, was born at Lanchester, in the county palatine of Durham, 14 Sept. 1656, the younger son of George Baker, esquire, of Crook, and Margaret Forster, his wife. He received his early education at Durham, and at the age of sixteen was entered a pensioner of St. John's College, Cambridge, along with his elder brother George (Mayor, Admissions to St. John's, pt. ii. p. 50), under Ralph Sanderson, a north-countryman and fellow of the college. He was elected a scholar, and subsequently (30 March 1680) fellow of his college, on the foundation of Dr. Ashton, dean of York, to whom he has recorded his sense of gratitude as one to whom he was indebted for 'the few comforts' he afterwards enjoyed in life. Horace Walpole (Corresp. with Cole, iv. 114) observes, 'that it would be preferable to draw up an ample character of Mr. Baker, rather than a life. The one was most beautiful, amiable, conscientious; the other totally barren of more than one event.' During the time that he retained his fellowship, his pursuits afforded an admirable illustration of the uses which such endowments, when rightly applied, are capable of subserving. He was a model of an able, high-minded, and conscientious scholar, his time and energies being mainly devoted to antiquarian and historical research. Unfortunately he was a nonjuror, and as early as 1690 he resigned the living of Long Newton to which he had been presented by Lord Crewe, bishop of Durham. On the accession of George I, the enactment of the abjuration oath brought the law to bear with renewed severity on non-compliers, and on 21 Jan. 1716-7 Baker also was compelled to resign his fellowship—a fate, observes Cole, which had already befallen 'many more worthy and conscientious men.' Dr. Jenkin,