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BESANT—BESSEMER

113,418 in gold and 345,706 in silver. In recent years considerable advance has been made in enamelling and other decorative processes in connexion with this industry. There is a national school of watch- and clock-making. Population(1881),39,800; (1896), 36,942, (comm.) 49,178. Besant, Sir Walter (1836-1901), English author, was born at Portsmouth, 14th August 1836, third son of William Besant of that town. He was educated at King’s College, London, and Christ’s College, Cambridge, of which he was a scholar. He graduated in 1859 as 18th wrangler, and from 1861 to 1867 was senior professor of the Boyal College, Mauritius. From 1868 to 1885 he acted as secretary to the Palestine Exploration Fund. In 1884 he was mainly instrumental in establishing the Society of Authors, a trade-union of writers designed for the protection of literary property, which has rendered great assistance to inexperienced authors by explaining the principles of literary profit. Of this society he was chairman from its foundation in 1884 till 1892. He married Mary, daughter of Mr Eustace Foster-Barham of Bridgwater, and was knighted in 1895. He died at his house, Frognal End, Hampstead, on the 9th of June 1901. Sir Walter Besant practised many branches of literary art with success, but he is most widely known for his long succession of novels, many of which have enjoyed remarkable popularity. His first stories were written in collaboration with Mr James Rice, and two at least of these, The Golden Butterfly and Ready-Money Mortiboy, are among the most vigorous and most characteristic of his works. Though not without exaggeration and eccentricity, attributable to the influence of Dickens, they are full of rich humour, shrewd observation, and sound common-sense, and contain characters which have taken their place in the long gallery of British fiction. After Rice’s death, Sir Walter Besant continued to write alone, and in All Sorts and Conditions of Men (1882) produced a stirring story of East End life in London, which set on foot the movement that culminated in the establishment of the People’s Palace in the Mile End Road. Other popular novels from his pen were Dorothy Forster, Armorel of Lyonesse, and Beyond the Dreams of Avarice. He also wrote critical and biographical works, including The French Humorists, Rabelais, and lives of Coligny, Whittington, Captain Cook, and Richard Jefferies, and undertook a series of important historical and archaeological volumes, dealing with the associations and development of the various districts of London—a “survey” of the metropolis of the present day. His books on London, Westminster, and South London showed that his mind was full of an attractive subject. Ho man of his time evinced a keener interest in the professional side of literary work, and the improved conditions of the literary career in England were largely due to his energetic and capable exposition of the commercial value of authorship and to the unselfish efforts which Sir Walter constantly made on behalf of his fellow-workers in the field of letters. (a. wa.) Bessarabia, a province of south-west Russia, on the Black Sea, bounded by Bukovina (Austria) in the N.W., Rumania in the W. and S., the Black Sea in the S.E., and the Russian provinces of Kherson and Podolia in the N.E. and N. It occupies the space between the Dniester and the Pruth, and, since the Berlin treaty, is separated by the Kilia mouth of the Danube from the Dobruja belonging to Rumania. Area, 17,619 square miles. Owing to its fertile black earth soil, its level prairies, and its warm climate (year, 50° at Kishineff; January, 26°; July, 72°; 25’2 inches of rain and snow), wheat growing and the culture of the vine and tobacco, as also the raising of fine breeds of sheep, are prosperous. Nearly one half of the total surface (4,468,000

acres) is under corn crops, 1,229,000 acres under meadows, 689,500 under forests, 241,950 under vineyards (17,000,000 gallons of wine), and 4180 under tobacco. Wheat, barley, and linseed, as also wine and wool, are exported. Industry is developing, and there are now several woollen-cloth mills, three foundries, soapworks and tanneries. The Dniester, down which considerable amounts of timber and wooden ware are shipped from Galicia, as also corn and wool within Bessarabia itself, is an important artery of navigation. Steamers ply up to Moghilev, and on the Pruth up to Leovo. Bessarabia is also well provided with railways, three branches of the Woloczisk to Odessa railway starting westwards and ramifying towards the Rumanian frontier. Population,988,431 in 1860; 1,933,436 in 1897, ot whom 942,179 women, and 302,852 living in towns. Divided into eight districts, the chief towns of which are:—Kishineff, capital of the government (108,796 inhabitants in 1897), Akkemian (28,303), Bendery (31,851), Byeltsy (18,526), Izmail (31,293), Khotin (18,126), Orghyeeff (13,356), and Soroki (15,800). Kagul (7094), on the Pruth, and Reni (6946), on the Danube, a railway terminus opposite Galatz in Rumania, are also worth mentioning. After the Mongol invasion the Genoese founded their colonies at the mouth of the Dniester. Later the territory became tributary to, and subsequently was annexed by Turkey. Russian troops, in their wars against Turkey, took possession of it five times from 1711 to 1812, when it was finally annexed to Russia. In 1829 the delta of the Danube was added to Bessarabia, but was returned to Turkey by the Paris treaty. Out of it was made the Dobruja, the northern part of which became Russian again in 1878. Bessarabia was peopled in the 19th century by a very motley crowd of Russian immigrants, runaway serfs and Nonconformists, Germans, Greeks, and Bulgarians, in addition to its indigenous inhabitants, Moldavians, and Little Russians (Galicians), with an addition of Jews (181,000) and gipsies, part of whom were serfs. (p. A. K.) Bessemer, a town of Jefferson county, Alabama, U.S.A., a few miles south-west of Birmingham, a little north of the centre of the state, and on the Southern, the Queen and Crescent, the Louisville and Nashville, and the Kansas City, Memphis and Birmingham railways. It is in the Alabama coal and iron region, and its industries consist chiefly in the smelting and manufacture of iron. Population (1890), 4544; (1900), 6358. Bessemer, Sir Henry (1813-1898), English engineer, was born on 19 th January 1813, at Charlton, in Hertfordshire. Throughout his life he was a prolific inventor, but his name is chiefly known in connexion with the Bessemer process for the manufacture of steel, by which it has been rendered famous throughout the civilized world. Though this process is now largely supplemented, and even displaced, by various rivals, at the time it was brought out it was of enormous industrial importance, since it effected a great cheapening in the price of steel, and led to that material being widely substituted for others which were inferior in almost every respect but that of cost. Bessemer’s attention was drawn to the problem of steel manufacture in the course of an attempt to improve the construction of guns. Coming to the conclusion that if any advance was to be made in artillery better metal must be available, he established a small ironworks in St. Pancras, and began a series of experiments. These he carried on for two years before he evolved the essential idea of his process, which is to effect the decarbonization necessary to convert cast iron into steel by forcing a blast of air through the mass of metal when in the molten condition. The first public announcement of the process was made at the Cheltenham meeting of the British Association in 1856, and immediately attracted considerable notice. Many metallurgists were sceptical on theoretical grounds about his results, and only became convinced when they saw that his process was really able to convert melted cast iron into malleable iron in a perfectly fluid state. But though five firms applied without delay for licenses to work under his patents, success did not at once attend his efforts; indeed, after several ironmasters had put the process to practical trial and failed to get good results, it was in danger of being thrust aside and entirely