Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 03.djvu/13

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Baker
Baker
7

nation of the connection of Geoffrey Baker's work with that of Adam of Murimuth, and with that attributed to Sir Thomas de la More, that Swinbroke, the home of Geoffrey, Northmoor, from which Sir Thomas in all probability drew his name, and 'Fifield, the lordship of the house of Murimuth, all lay within the hundred of Chadlington,' on the borders of Oxfordshire. The only other event that can be considered as fairly certain in the life of Geoffrey Baker is, that some time after the great pestilence of 1349 he had, as he himself tells us, seen and spoken with William Bisschop, the comrade of Gurney and Maltravers, Edward II's murderers, and from his lips had gathered many of the tragic details of that king's last days.

[Stubbs's Chronicles of Ed. I and II (R.S.) ii. Introduction, lvii-lxxv; Giles's Chronica Galfridi le Baker (Caxton Society), pp. 43, 46, 85, 90, 91; Hardy's Catalogue, iii. 389-91; Pits, 846; Fabric. Biblioth. Lat. iii. 112; Tanner (under Walter and Geoffrey Baker), who distinguishes the writer of the shorter from the writer of the longer chronicle; Camden's Anglica, Authorum Vita, and 593-603. Manuscript copies of the Vita et Mors are in the British Museum: Cotton MSS. Vitell. E. 5; Harley MSS. 310. Geoffrey Baker's two chronicles are to be found in the Bodleian Library (MS. Bodley, 761), and are possibly in the author's own handwriting.]

T. A. A.

BAKER, GEORGE (1540–1600), surgeon, was a member of the Barber Surgeons' Company and was elected master in 1597. In 1574, when he published his first book, Baker was attached to the household of the Earl of Oxford, and the writings of his contemporaries show that he had already attained to considerable practice in London. Banester of Nottingham speaks of his eminence in Latin verse:—

  Ergo Bakere tuum superabit sidera nomen,
     Atque aliqua semper parte superstes eris.

And Clowes, another contemporary, prophesies the lasting fame of his works in English verse of the same quality. His first book is called 'The Composition or Making of the most excellent and pretious Oil called Oleum Magistrale and the Third Book of Galen. A Method of Curing Wounds and of the Errors of Surgeons,' 8vo. In 1576 Baker published a translation of the 'Evonymus' of Conrad Gesner under the title of 'The Newe Jewell of Health, wherein is contained the most excellent Secretes of Physicke and Philosophie devided into fower bookes,' 4to. Baker's own preface to the 'Newe Jewell' is a good piece of English prose. He defends, as do many authors of that time, the writing a book on a learned subject in the vulgar tongue. He was in favour of free translation, 'for if it were not permitted to translate but word for word, then I say, away with all translations.' The book treats of the chemical art, a term used by Baker as synonymous with the art of distillation. Distilled medicines, he says, exceed all others in power and value, 'for three drops of oil of sage doth more profit in the palsie, three drops of oil of coral for the falling sickness, three drops of oil of cloves for the cholicke, than one pound of these decoctions not distilled.' Both in this and in his other treatises on pharmacy, the processes are not always fully described, for Baker was, after all, against telling too much. 'As for the names of the simples, I thought it good to write them in the Latin as they were, for by the searching of their English names the reader shall very much profit; and another cause is that I would not have every ignorant asse to be made a chirurgian by my book, for they would do more harm with it than good.' Baker's 'Antidotarie of Select Medicine,' 1579, 4to, is another work of the same kind. He also published two translations of books on general surgery: Guido's 'Questions,' 1579, 4to, and Vigo's 'Chirurgical Works,' 1586. Both had been translated before, and were merely revised by Baker. He wrote an essay on the nature and properties of quicksilver in a book by his friend Clowes in 1584, and an introduction to the 'Herball' of their common friend Gerard in 1597. This completes the list of his works, all of which were published in London. The 'Galen' was reprinted in 1599, as also was the 'Jewell' under the altered title of 'The Practice of the New and Olde Physicke.'

[Works of Baker and of Clowes.]

N. M.

BAKER, Sir GEORGE (1722–1809), physician, was the son of the vicar of Modbury, Devonshire, and was born in that county in 1722. He was educated at Eton and at King's College, Cambridge, of which college he became a fellow and graduated in 1745. He proceeded M.D. in 1756, and the following year was elected a fellow of the College of Physicians. He began to practise at Stamford in Lincolnshire, but in 1761 settled in London. He soon attained a large practice,and became F.R.S., physician to the queen and to the king, and a baronet in 1776. Between 1785 and 1795 he was nine times elected president of the College of Physicians, and in his own day was famed for deep medical learning. He was a constant admirer of literature as well as of science, and wrote graceful Latin prose and amusing epigrams. Baker made an important addition to medical know-