« PreviousContinue »
from the foundation of old St. John's house to the present time; with some occasional and incidental account of the affairs of the University, and of such private colleges as held communication or intercourse with the old house or college; collected principally from MSS. and carried on through a succession of masters to the end of Bishop Gunning's mastership, 1670." (The original, fit for the press, is among the Harleian MSS. N° 7028.)
His MS Collections relative to the History and Antiquities of the University of Cambridge, amounting to XXXIX volumes in folio and III in quarto, are divided between the British Museum and the Public Library at Cambridge; the former possesses XXIII volumes, which he bequeathed to the Earl of Oxford, his friend and patron; the latter XVI in folio and IIÍ in quarto, which he bequeathed to the University. A particular detail of the contents of those in the British Museum may be seen in the Harleian Catalogue, from N° 7028 to 7054; and also in “ Masters's Memoirs of Baker," together with the contents of those in the Public Library at Cambridge.
“ Baker, after many years passed in Biography, left his manuscripts to be buried, in a library, because that was imperfect which could never be perfected *.”
Dr. Knight styles him" the greatest master of the Antiquities of this our University;" and Hearnet says, “ Optandum est ut sua quoque collectanea de Antiquitatibus Cantabrigiensibus juris faciat publici cl. Bakerus, quippe qui eruditione summâ judicioque acri et subacto polleat.
Mr. Baker intended something like an Athence Cantabrigienses on the plan of the Athene O.conienses. Had he lived to have completed his design, it would have far exceeded that work, notwithstanding the reflection, as unjust as severe, with which the writer of Anthony Wood's article in the first edition of the “ Biographia Britannica" insults Cambridge, by saying, “ that Mr.
* Dr. Johnson, in the Idler, No. LXV. July 14, 1759.
Pref. ad Ross. Warw. p. 6.
Baker's feeble attempt of the likekind undoubtedly reflects the highest honour on Mr.Wood's performance."
With the application and the industry of Anthony Wood Mr. Baker united a penetrating judgement and a great correctness of style; and these improvements of the mind were crowned with those amiable qualities of the heart, candour and integrity *.
Among his contemporaries who distinguished themselves in the same walk with himself, and derived assistance from him, may be reckoned Mr. Hearne, Dr. Knight, Dr. John Smith, Hilkiah Bedford up, Browne Willis, Mr. Strype, Mr. Peck, Mr. Ames, Dr. Middleton, and Professor Ward. Two farge volumes of his letters to the first of these Antiquaries are in the Bodleian Library.
There is a mezzotinto print of him by Simon from a memoriter picture; and a very good likeness by C. Bridges. Vertue was privately engaged to draw his picture by stealth. Dr. Grey had his picture, of which Mr. Burton had a copy by Mr. Ritz. The Society of Antiquaries have another portrait of him.
He wrote a neat, but very remarkable hand; and it was his custom in every book * he had, or read, to in
* Dr. Grey collected materials for a life of him, which were given by his widow to Mr. Masters, who thought them hardly sufficient to make a work by themselves, but would have prefixed them to Mr. Baker's History of St. John's college; and applied to Dr. Powell, the late master, for the use of the tranScript taken, at his predecessor Dr. Newcome's expence, from the original in the British Museum. But this was declined, as the history, though containing several curious matters, is written under the influence of partiality and resentment. · It is probable, however, that Mr. Baker's Collections will some time or other be laid before the publick. This was written in 1762. + Of whom see vol. 1. p. 167.
“ His observations that he wrote in books were often very trifling. When Dr. Taylor published his Lysias he told me (1 think) that he gave him a large-paper copy; and when he died was very desirous to get a sight of it to see what he had written : but found only the copy of his own admission and Mr. Morton's, to whom it is dedicated. It should be observec!, however, that Baker did nt live long after the publication.” T. F.—This objection Mr. Masters in some degree obviates, by observing, “that Mr. Baker's notes were generally of a biographical nature; and related either to the life of the Author', or some account of the Book; and instances the notes on "Smith's Catalogue."
sert observations, and an account of the author. Of these a considerable number are at St. John's Cambridge, and several in the Bodleian Library, among Dr. Rawlinson's bequests; and many others are dispersed in the hands of curious
collectors. Mr. Bindley has his copy of Philipps's Life of Abp. Williams, full of valuable MS notices.
Dr. John Bedford * of Durham had his copy of the “Hereditary Right” greatly enriched by Mr. Baker. -Dr. Grey, who was advised with about the disposal of the books, had his copy of Spelman's Glossary p. I once possessed a fair
transcript of his select M's observations on Dr. Drake's edition of Archbishop Parker, 1729; but don't recollect to whom I gave it.
Mr. Crow married a sister of Mr. Baker's nephew Burton; and, on Burton's death intestate, in the autumn after his uncle, became possessed of every thing. What few papers of Mr. Baker's were among them, he let Mr. Smith of Burnhall see; and they, being thought of no account, were destroyed, except the
* Of whom, see vol. I. p. 169.
† “ I return you a thousand thanks for the trouble you have had with my uncle's catalogue, and for your kind endeavours to procure me a better price for the remaining part of his books ihan what has been offered at Cambridge. I find they are like to raise little money at best: and my cousin Baker seeming desirous to purchase them, and have them preserved in memory of his uncle, and to prevent their being exposed in shops; I think to bring them into the country, which I hope may be done without a great expence, as we have water-carriage the whole way: should the young man happen to change his mind when he comes to age, the loss (it is likely) cannot be great. I am told, Mr. Thurlbourne says he would give any (even my own) price for some of the books in the catalogue. After so much trouble as I have given you, I am really ashamed to take any further liberties of that sort. Yet, I must confess, I should be very thankful to you, if, at your leisure, you would be so good as to mark a few of the most valuable of them: the books of low (or no) price, I beg you will give yourself no trouble about. So soon as I am able to write, I will desire Dr. Williams to look out Spelman's Glossary, which you will give me leave to beg a place for in your study, where I shall be proud to have it preserved, as a memorial of our common friend; and a mark of that esteem with which I am, &c.
Letter to Dr. Grey, Jan. 16, 1740-1. « Some time since I did myself the pleasure of answering your obliging letter, and am sorry to find it has not reached
deed concerning the exhibitions at St. John's, ' his own copy of the History of the College, notes on the Foundress's funeral sermon, and the deed drawn for creating him chaplain to Bishop Crew in the month and year of the Revolution, the day left blank, and the deed unsubscribed by the Bishop as if rejected by him.
This article is reprinted almost literally as it stood in the former edition of these Anecdotes *; to which I
your hands. In it I did acquaint you that I have made diligent search after the effects and papers my uncle left, but can find none, as I believe they were all consumed after Mr. Burton's death, by an accident, when in his brother Crow's custody, so that I am afraid I can give you no light whatsoever of his correspondence or life. I am greatly obliged to you for your kind intention of perpetuating the memory of my uncle; and am, &c. GEORGE Baker.” Letter to Dr. Grey, dated Elemore, Sept. 13, 1755.
* Two years after the first appearance of those “ Anecdotes," some regular “Memoirs" of Mr. Baker were published, by the late Rev. Robert Masters, B. D. who tells us that “ Dr. Grey was apt to wonder at the silence of Mr. Baker's fellow-collegians, and endeavoured to make amends for it by collecting together what materials he could. These, blended with others in relation to many other eminent Nonjurors, were obligingly put into the hands of the present editor by Dr. Grey's widow, some years since, with power to dispose of them as he thought proper; and they would have been earlier reduced into some form, and committed to the publick, had not an obstacle to his first design, which it is not now perhaps necessary to relate, occasioned this delay."In a Review of those Memoirs by a Literary Club (of which Mr. Gough was President) it was truly observed, That, though Mrs. Grey put these materials into the editor's hands some time ago, she or her executors did not think themselves precluded from selling the rest of the Doctor's papers, to the best advantage, to a bookseller at Northampton. From thence a number of valuable papers found their way to London ; and among the rest an abstract of the most material parts of Mr. Baker's Life, which will want no extraordinary compression to make them lie within the compass of a folio half-sheet. These, with many other papers *from the same quarter, becoming the property of Mr. Nichols, it was thought could not appear to better advantage than in that temple of gratitude and fame which he was then erecting to his Friend and Patron, and his learned contemporaries, and in which Mr. Baker was fairly entitled to a place. But, not content with this, he accepted some hints which another of his friends is charged with furnishing from the Life of Mr. Baker, which Mr. Masters confidentially put into his hands. The utmost that could be purloined from this meagre MS. was a few dates of the few historical facts in it; and if this is a breach of confidence that entitles a person to be set to the bar with the illustrious names
shall now only add the following very apposite remark, transcribed by my late excellent friend Mr. Gough, in the margin of the former edition of these Anecdotes * : “ Mr. Baker's MSS. at Cambridge, the work of his long life, are no longer consulted, but slighted and abused by a younger generation, who undervalue them chiefly from their ignorance of the contents of them. But it is no longer a wonder that Antiquaries are treated with contempt by a race of men who are tired of their Religious Establishments, and would have a new one every ten or twenty years.
“ Feb. 7, 1772. W.C.-Feb. 5, 1783. R. G.”
of Moore and Bodley, Umfreville, Rawlinson, Willis, &c. (and we might add some later stealers of books, manuscripts, coins, and other antiquarian supellex), we venture to affirm he would be acquitted, with a copy of his indictment.--But a worse charge renains for the second count. Some disagreeable truths have come out in the second edition of the British Topography. Historic Verity has recorded something to the discredit of Mr. Masters in his dispute with a modest and ingenious architect of Cambridge, whose works he had purloined. To his History of Corpus Christi College he has annexed a plan of the intended new building, designed by himself. Let Mr. Cole, who best knew the whole transaction, give an account of it. · This was just as much designed by himself as the drawing of Pythagoras's school was; that is, he had no hand in either. Mr. Essex drew the plan of the new college, where invenit honestly stands for found it, if it relates to the coinpiler of this book; if to Mr. Essex, in its natural sense.—The other was found at Mr. Stephens's, the engraver, at Cambridge, where it had been left by Mr. West, who, with Mr. Esser, took the draught, and gave it to Mr. Stephens, where it was found, as has been observed. I have the original draught now by me, with Mr. West's name scratched out, which had been under the drawing.” The curious Reader is referred to Gent. Mag. 1784, vol. LIV. pp. 194, 329.
* The quarto edition of Lord Orford's Works contains « The Life of the Reverend Mr. Thomas Baker, of St. John's College in Cambridge; written in 1778; " of which," an intelligent Friend observes to me, “ I suppose you will make some mention, dry, and dull, and uninteresting as it is. I never thought that the sprightly and inquisitive Horace Walpole could ever have written any thing of so little information or curiosity. How writers at times differ from themselves, in their most essential points of character !”