Baker, William

, a learned printer, son of Mr. William Baker, a man of amiable character and manners, of | great classical and mathematical learning, and more than forty years master of an academy at Reading, was born in 1742. Being from his infancy of a studious turn, he passed so much of his time in his father’s library as to injure his health. His father, however, intended to have sent him to the university, but a disappointment in a patron who had promised to support him, induced him to place him as an apprentice with Mr. Kippax, a printer, in Cullum- street, London, where, while he diligently applied to business, he employed his leisure hours in study, and applied what money he could earn to the purchase of the best editions of the classics, which collection, at his death, was purchased by Dr. Lettsom. This constant application, however, to business and study, again 'endangered his health, but by the aid of country air and medicine he recovered and on the death of Mr. Kippax he succeeded to his business, and removed afterwards to Ingram court, where he had for his partner Mr. John William Galabin, now principal bridgemaster of the city of London. Among his acquaintance were some of great eminence in letters Dr. Goldsmith, Dr. Edmund Barker, the Rev. James Merrick, Hugh Farmer, Caesar de Missy, and others. An elegant correspondence between him and Mr. Robinson, author of the “Indices Tres,” printed at Oxford, 1772, and some letters of inquiry into difficulties in the Greek language, which still exist, are proofs of his great erudition, and the opinion entertained of him by some of the first scholars. Such was his modesty, that many among his oldest and most familiar acquaintance were ignorant of his learning, and where learning was discussed, his opinion could never be known without an absolute appeal to his judgment. There are but two little works known to be his; 1. “Peregrinations of the Mind through the most general and interesting subjects which are usually agitated in life, by the Rationalist,” 12mo, 1770, a collection of unconnected essays, not, as hie biographer says, in the manner of the Rambler, but somewhat in the manner of a periodical paper. 2. “Theses GrifcciE et Latince selectse,” 8vo, 1780, a selection from Greek and Latin authors. He left behind him some manuscript remarks on the abuse of grammatical propriety in the English language in common conversation. He wrote also a few minor poems, which appeared in the magazines, and is said to have assisted some of his clerical friends with sermons of his composition. la the Greek, Latin, French, | and Italian languages, he was critically skilled, and some knowledge of the Hebrew. He died after a lingering illness, Sept. 29, 1785, and was interred in the vault of St. Dionis Backchurch, Fenchurch-street, and an elegant Latin epitaph to his memory was placed on the tomb of his family in the church-yard of St. Mary, Reading, by his brother John. 1


Coates’s History of Reading, p. 442,