Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 03.djvu/14

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

ledge in the discovery that the Devonshire colic and the colica Pictonum were forms of lead-poisoning. That lead would produce similar symptoms was known, but no one had suggested the connection between these forms of colic and lead, and they were reputed endemic to the soil or climate of Devonshire and of Poitou. Baker, as a Devonshire man, was familiar with the disease. He noticed that it was most common where most cider was made in Devonshire, and that in Herefordshire, where cider was also a local production, colic was almost unknown. He inquired into the process of manufacture, and found that in the structure of the Devonshire presses and vats large pieces of lead were used, while in Herefordshire stone, wood, and iron formed all the apparatus. That colic and constipation, followed by palsy, might be produced by lead, was known. Baker completed his argument by extracting lead from Devonshire cider and showing that there was none in that of Herefordshire. Great was the storm that arose. He was denounced as a faithless son of Devonshire; the lead discovered was said to be due to shot left in the bottles after cleaning, the colic to acid humours of the body (Alcock, The Endemial Colic of Devon not caused by a Solution of Lead in the Cider, Plymouth, 1768, &c.) Baker extended and repeated his experiments, and at last convinced the Devonians, so that from that time forth leaden vessels were disused, and with their disuse colic ceased to be endemic in Devonshire. In other essays Baker traced other unsuspected ways in which lead-poisoning might occur, as from leaden water-pipes, from tinned linings of iron vessels, from the glaze of earthenware, and from large doses of medicinal preparations of lead. He examined the subsequent symptoms in detail, and left the whole subject clear and in perfect order. His other works are, a graduation thesis, 1755; a Harveian oration, 1761 ; 'On the Epidemic Influenza and Dysentery of 1762,' 1764 ; the preface to the 'Pharmacopeia' of 1788, all in Latin; and in English 'An Inquiry into the Merits of a Method of Inoculating the Small-pox,' 1766, and some other medical essays contained in the collected edition of his 'Medical Tracts' published by his son in 1818. His portrait was painted by Ozias Humphrey, R.A., and is preserved at the College of Physicians. Baker retired from active practice in 1798, and after a healthy old age died on 15 June 1809. He is buried in St. James's Church, Piccadilly.

[Munk's Roll, ii. 213; Baker's Medical Tracts, &c.]

N. M.

BAKER, GEORGE (1773?–1847), musician, was probably born in 1773. He himself, at the time of his matriculation at Oxford in 1797, stated his age to be twenty-four, thus dating his birth at 1773; in after life, however, he considered himself to have been born in 1750. But the later date is most probably the correct one, since the eccentricities of character which marked the latter part of his life might well account for his imagining himself much older than he really was. He was born at Exeter, and received his first musical instruction from his mother's sister, becoming, it is said, a proficient on the harpsichord at the age of seven. He was next placed under Hugh Bond and William Jackson of Exeter, remaining there until his seventeenth year, when he came to London under the patronage of the Earl of Uxbridge. His patron caused him to become a pupil of Cramer and Dussek, and during his residence in London he performed 'his celebrated "Storm"' at the Hanover Square Rooms, meeting with the approbation of Dr. Burney. In 1794 or 1795 he was appointed organist of St. Mary's Church, Stafford, a new organ by Geib having been purchased five years before. He seems to have matriculated and taken the degree of Mus. Bac. in 1797 at Oxford, but he appears not to have taken his doctor's degree during his residence at Stafford, for in the Corporation Books of that town he is called 'Mr. Baker.' The same documents hint at a state of affairs that can hardly have been satisfactory. On 5 March 1795 there is an entry to the effect 'that the organist be placed under restrictions as to the use of the organ, and that the mayor have a master key to prevent him having access thereto.' And on 16 July in the same year 'it is ordered that Mr. George Baker be in future prohibited from playing the piece of music called "The Storm."' The inhabitants of Stafford did not therefore concur in Dr. Burney's opinion as to the excellence of this piece, apparently its composer's chef d'œuvre. During the following years several entries prove that Baker habitually neglected his duties, and on 19 May 1800 the entry is 'Resignation of Baker.' In 1799 he had married the eldest daughter of the Rev. E. Knight of Milwich. If he ever took the degree of Mus. Doc., it must have been in or before 1800, as after that year the registers in Oxford were most carefully kept, but they contain no entry of the kind, while from 1763 to 1800 musical degrees were systematically omitted from the register, so that the absence of his name from the list does not absolutely prove that he did not receive the degree. In the pub-