Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 03.djvu/435

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Baxter
Baxter
429

titude of addresses in verse to contemporary 'fair ladies and brave men,' each signed N. B., and evidently written with a view to some pecuniary reward. 'Ourania' resembles Sir Robert Chester's 'Rosalind, or Love's Martyr.'

Our last notice of Baxter shows him still contending in 1633 for his first puritan teaching. He published 'The Answer of Nathanael Baxter, Bachelor in Divinitie and Warden of New Colledge in Youghal, to the arguments of Mr. Jo. Downes, Bachelor in Divinitie, in a Controversie of Justifying Faith preached by the said Mr. Downes in Bristoll,' 1633. According to Downes, who in 1635 replied to, if he did not answer Baxter, the book by his assailant was so hard to be obtained that it had taken him two years to get possession of it–a convenient euphemism for a willing delay in 'answering' a formidable opponent. Nathaniel Baxter, having long before left Youghal, exposed himself to this retort by Downes: 'In the inscription though it please him in such sort to stile himselfe, I thinke to make the reader beleeve that I had met with my peer at least; and if I were a Bithus (Horat. lib. i. Sat. 7) he were no lesse then a Bacchius; yet could he not without great arrogance challenge these titles to himselfe, having never taken such degree in either of the universities, and being no more warden of Yoghul then was Captaine Stukelie marques of Ireland, or Robert Venantius in the Council of Trent archbishop of Armagh' (To the Reader). Nothing later is known of Baxter. He must have reached a ripe old age in 1633-35; for in 'Ourania,' written before 1606, he described himself thus:

And now comes creeping old Endymion.

He has escaped Anthony à Wood, but doubtless was of Oxford.

[Besides authorities as given, see Hunter's MS. Chorus Vatum in Brit. Mus., and Baxter's books.]

A. B. G.

BAXTER, RICHARD (1615–1691), presbyterian divine, was the son of Richard Baxter, of Eaton-Constantine, near Shrewsbury, in Shropshire, by his wife Beatrice, daughter of Richard Adeney, of Rowton, near High Ercall, in the same county. His birthday is somewhat uncertain. He himself in one place gives it as 12 Nov. 1615, and in another mentions '19 November my baptism-day.' His baptism is thus entered in the parish register: 'Richard, sonne and heyr of Richard Baxter, of Eaton-Constantyne, and Beatrice his wife, baptized the sixth of November' (Orme, Life and Times of Baxter). It is just possible that the parish-clerk miswrote 'sixth' for 'sixteenth' or for 'nineteenth' (ut supra), which would reconcile '12 November' as the date of his birth with that given in 'Reliquiæ Baxterianæ.'

In the 'Breviate' of the life of his wife, Baxter describes his father as 'a mean freeholder, called a gentleman for his ancestors sake.' This indicates decadence of position paternally; and those curious in such 'vicissitudes of families' will find the 'gentle' ancestry hinted at, fully traced by William Baxter [q. v.], the nephew of Richard Baxter, in his 'Reliquiæ Baxterianæ.' The genealogy goes back to Baxters of Shrewsbury in the reign of Henry VI, and remoter still. His birthplace was not Eaton-Constantine, but Rowton, in his mother's home. It is to be feared that this return home was necessitated by the loose life of his father. In his youth he had 'gambled away' his freehold property, and otherwise involved himself in debts and difficulties, so that the young wife and mother must have been hard put to it. But a great, decisive, and permanent change came over the elder Baxter. Through 'searching of the Scriptures' he was awakened to a sense of his misconduct. From about the time his son Richard was born, Baxter senior showed by his altered daily life how profound and real was the change effected in him. The 'Reliquiæ Baxterianæ' furnishes sorrowful glimpses of the condition of Eaton-Constantine and of High Ercall. In the latter there were 'four readers' in the course of six years–all of them grossly ignorant, and two of them immoral men. At Eaton-Constantine there was a 'reader' of eighty years of age, Sir (i.e. Rev.) William Rogers, who never preached, though he held two livings twenty miles apart. His sight failing, he repeated the prayers 'without book,' but employed a common thresher or labourer one year, a tailor another, to read the lessons; and at the last his own son, 'the best stageplayer and gamester in all the country,' obtained orders and supplied one of his places. Within a few miles round there were nearly a dozen more clergy of the same character, ignorant readers and dissolute. With characteristic courage and integrity, Baxter, in his 'Third Defence of the Cause of Peace,' gives the names of the clergy and readers referred to, with flagrant details; and these were never impugned. To the grievous annoyance of the family a maypole was erected right in front of the Baxters' residence. These illiterate and discredited readers and teachers were young Baxter's only early instructors. From his sixth to his tenth year he was placed under the four successive curates of the parish of High Ercall, two of