Lord Beaconsfield has been praised for his integrity in money matters; the praise could have been spared—it does not rise high enough. It is also said to his honour that he “never struck at a little man,” and that was well; but it is explained as readily by pride and calculation as by magnanimity. A man of extraordinary coolness and self-control, his faults in every kind were faults of excess: it is the mark of them all. But whatever offence they gave, whatever mischief they did, was soon exhausted, and has long since been pardoned.
Authorities.—The writer’s personal knowledge is largely represented in the above article. Among the biographical literature available prior to the authoritative Life the following may be cited:—Lord Beaconsfield’s Preface to 1849 edition of Isaac D’Israeli’s works; Correspondence with his Sister, and Home Letters, edited by Ralph Disraeli; Samuel Smiles, Memoirs and Correspondence of John Murray; Life of the Earl of Beaconsfield, by F. Hitchman; Memoir by T. E. Kebbel; Memoir by J. A. Froude; Memoir by Harold Gorst; Sir William Fraser’s Disraeli and his Day; The Speeches of Lord Beaconsfield, edited by T. E. Kebbel. In 1904, however, the large collection of material for Lord Beaconsfield’s life, in the hands of his executors Lord Rowton and Lord Rothschild, was acquired by The Times, and the task of preparing the biography was assigned to Mr W. F. Monypenny, an assistant editor of The Times (1894–1899), who was best known to the public as editor of the Johannesburg Star during the crisis of 1899–1903. (F. G.)
BEACONSFIELD, a town of Devon county, Tasmania, on the river Tamar, 28 m. direct N.W. of Launceston. Pop. (1901) 2658. From its port at Beauty Point, 3½ m. distant, with which it is connected by a steam tramway, communication is maintained with Georgetown and Launceston. It is the centre of the most important gold-field in the island.
BEACONSFIELD, a town of South Africa in Griqualand West, about 3 m. S.W. of Kimberley, of which it is practically a suburb, though possessing a separate municipality. Pop. (1904) 9378, of whom 2780 were whites. Beaconsfield was founded in 1870 near the famous Dutoitspan diamond mine. The land on which the town is built belongs to the De Beers Company. (See Kimberley.)
BEACONSFIELD, a town in the Wycombe parliamentary division of Buckinghamshire, England. 23 m. W. by N. of London, on the main road to Oxford, and on the Great Central & Great Western joint railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 1570. It lies in a hilly well-wooded district above the valley of the small river Wye, a tributary of the Thames. The broad Oxford road forms its picturesque main street. It was formerly a posting station of importance, and had a considerable manufacture of ribbons. The Perpendicular church of St Mary and All Saints is the burial place of Edmund Burke (d. 1797), who lived at Gregories, or as he named it Butler’s Court, near the town. He would have taken his title from Beaconsfield had he survived to enter the peerage. A monument to his memory was erected in 1898. Edmund Waller the poet owned the property of Hall Barn, and died here in 1687. His tomb is in the churchyard. Benjamin Disraeli chose the title of earl of Beaconsfield in 1876, his wife having in 1868 received the title of Viscountess Beaconsfield. The opening of railway communication with London in 1906 resulted in a considerable accretion of residential population.
BEAD, a small globule or ball used in necklaces, and made of different materials, as metal, coral, diamond, amber, ivory, stone, pottery, glass, rock-crystal and seeds. The word is derived from the Middle Eng. bede, from the common Teutonic word for “to pray,” cf. German beten and English bedesman, the meaning being transferred from “prayer” to the spherical bodies strung on a rosary and used in counting prayers. Beads have been made from remote antiquity, and are found in early Egyptian tombs; variegated glass beads, found in the ground in certain parts of Africa, as Ashantiland, and highly prized by the natives as aggry-beads, are supposed to be of Egyptian or Phoenician origin. Beads of the more expensive materials are strung in necklaces and worn as articles of personal adornment, while the cheaper kinds are employed for the decoration of women’s dress. Glass beads have long been used for purposes of barter with savage tribes, and are made in enormous numbers and varieties, especially in Venice, where the manufacture has existed from at least the 14th century. Glass, either transparent, or of opaque coloured enamel (smalti), or having complex patterns produced by the twisting of threads of coloured glass through a transparent body, is drawn out into long tubes, from which the beads are pinched off, and finished by being rotated with sand and ashes in heated cylinders.
In architecture, the term “bead” is given to a small cylindrical moulding, in classic work often cut into bead and reel.
BEADLE, also Bedel or Bedell (from A.S. bydel, from beodan, to bid), originally a subordinate officer of a court or deliberative assembly, who summoned persons to appear and answer charges against them (see Du Cange, supra tit. Bedelli). As such, the beadle goes back to early Teutonic times; he was probably attached to the moot as its messenger or summoner, being under the direction of the reeve or constable of the leet. After the Norman Conquest, the beadle seems to have diminished in importance, becoming merely the crier in the manor and forest courts, and sometimes executing processes. He was also employed as the messenger of the parish, and thus became, to a certain extent, an ecclesiastical officer, but in reality acted more as a constable by keeping order in the church and churchyard during service. He also attended upon the clergy, the churchwardens and the vestry. He was appointed by the parishioners in vestry, and his wages were payable out of the church rate. From the Poor Law Act of 1601 till the act of 1834 by which poor-law administration was transferred to guardians, the beadle in England was an officer of much importance in his capacity of agent for the overseers. In all medieval universities the bedel was an officer who exercised various executive and spectacular functions (H. Rashdall, Hist. of Universities in the Middle Ages, i. 193). He still survives in many universities on the continent of Europe and in those of Oxford and Cambridge, but he is now shorn of much of his importance. At Oxford there are four bedels, representing the faculties of law, medicine, arts and divinity. Their duties are chiefly processional, the junior or sub-bedel being the official attendant on the vice-chancellor, before whom he bears a silver mace. At Cambridge there are two, termed esquire-bedels, who both walk before the vice-chancellor, bearing maces.
BEAK (early forms beke and becke, from Fr. bec, late Lat. beccus, supposed to be a Gaulish word; the Celtic bec and beq, however, are taken from the English), the horny bill of a bird, and so used of the horny ends of the mandibles of the octopus, the duck-billed platypus and other animals; hence the rostrum (q.v.) or ornamented prow of ancient war vessels. The term is also applied, in classic architecture, to the pendent fillet on the edge of the corona of a cornice, which serves as a drip, and prevents the rain from flowing inwards.
The slang use of “beak” for a magistrate or justice of the peace has not been satisfactorily explained. The earlier meaning, which lasted down to the beginning of the 19th century, was “watchman” or “constable.” According to Slang and its Analogues (J. S. Farmer and W. E. Henley, 1890), the first example of its later use is in the name of “the Blind Beak,” which was given to Henry Fielding’s half-brother, Sir John Fielding (about 1750). Thomas Harman, in his book on vagrants, Caveat or Warening for commen cursitors, Vulgarely called Vagabones, 1573, explains harmans beck as “counstable,” harman being the word for the stocks. Attempts have been made to connect “beak” in this connexion with the Old English béag, a gold torque or collar, worn as a symbol of authority, but this could only be plausible on the assumption that “magistrate” was the earlier significance of the word.
BEAKER (Scottish bicker, Lat. bicarium, Ger. Becher, a drinking-bowl), a large wide-mouthed drinking-cup or laboratory vessel. See Drinking-Vessels.
BEALE, DOROTHEA (1831–1906), English schoolmistress, was born on the 21st of March 1831 in London, her father being a physician of good family and cultivated tastes. She had already shown a strong intellectual bent and considerable force of character when in 1848 she was one of the first to attend lectures at the newly opened Queen’s College for Ladies, London, and from 1849 to 1856 she herself took classes there. In 1857