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573
BEAN–FEAST—BEAR

the attacks of the aphis by the end of June, when it begins its ravages. Field-beans yield from 25 to 35 bushels to the acre.

Phaseolus vulgaris, the kidney, French or haricot bean, an annual, dwarf and bushy in growth, is widely cultivated in temperate, sub-tropical and tropical regions, but is nowhere known as a wild plant. It was long supposed to be of Indian origin, an idea which was disproved by Alphonse de Candolle, who sums up the facts bearing on its origin as follows:—Phaseolus vulgaris has not been long cultivated in India, the south-west of Asia and Egypt, and it is not certain that it was known in Europe before the discovery of America. At the latter epoch the number of varieties in European gardens suddenly increased, and all authors began to mention them. The majority of the species of the genus exist in South America, and seeds apparently belonging to the species in question have been found in Peruvian tombs of an uncertain date, intermixed with many species, all American. Hence it is probable that the plant is of South American origin.

It is a tender annual, and should be grown in a rich light loamy soil and a warm sheltered situation. The soil should be well enriched with hot-bed dung. The earliest crop may be sown by the end of March or beginning of April. If, however, the temperature of the soil is below 45°, the beans make but little progress. The main crops should be got in early in May; and a later sowing may be made early in July. The earlier plantings may be sown in small pots, and put in frames or houses, until they can be safely planted out-of-doors. A light covering of straw or some other simple shelter suffices to protect from late frosts. The seeds should be covered 1½ or 2 in. deep, the distance between the rows being about 2 ft., or for the dwarfest sorts 18 in., and that between plants from 4 to 6 in. The pods may be used as a green vegetable, in which case they should be gathered whilst they are so crisp as to be readily snapped in two when bent; but when the dry seeds are to be used the pods should be allowed to ripen. As the green pods are gathered others will continue to be formed in abundance, but if old seed-forming pods are allowed to remain the formation of young ones will be greatly checked. There are numerous varieties; among the best are Canadian Wonder, Canterbury and Black Negro.

Phaseolus multiflorus, scarlet runner, is nearly allied to P. vulgaris, of which it is sometimes regarded as a variety, but differs in its climbing habit. It is naturally perennial and has a thick fleshy root, but is grown in Great Britain as a tender annual. Its bright, generally scarlet flowers, arranged in long racemes, and the fact that it will flourish in any ordinary good garden soil, combine to make it a favourite garden plant. It is also of interest as being one of the few plants that twine in a direction contrary to the apparent motion of the sun. The seeds of the runner beans should be sown in an open plot,—the first sowing in May, another at the beginning of June, and a third about the middle of June. In the London market-gardens they are sown 8 to 12 in. apart, in 4 ft. rows if the soil is good. The twining tops are pinched or cut off when the plants are from 2 to 2½ ft. high, to save the expense of staking. It is better, however, in private gardens to have the rows standing separately, and to support the plants by stakes 6 or 7 ft. high and about a foot apart, the tops of the stakes being crossed about one-third down. If the weather is dry when the pods are forming abundantly, plenty of tepid water should be supplied to the plants. In training the shoots to their supports, they should be twined from right to left, contrary to the course of the sun, or they will not lay hold. By frequently picking the pods the plants are encouraged to form fresh blooms from which pods may be picked until the approach of frost.

The ordinary scarlet runner is most commonly grown, but there is a white-flowered variety which has also white seeds; this is very prolific and of excellent quality. Another variety called Painted Lady, with the flowers red and white, is very ornamental, but not so productive. Carter’s Champion is a large-podded productive variety.

Another species P. lunatus, the Lima bean, a tall biennial with a scimitar-shaped pod (whence the specific name) 2 to 3 in. long containing a few large seeds, is widely cultivated in the warmer parts of the world.

The young pods of another leguminous climbing herb, Dolichos Lablab, as well as the seeds, are widely used in the tropics, as we use the kidney bean. The plant is probably a native of tropical Africa, but is now generally cultivated in the tropics. The word Dolichos is of Greek origin, and was used by Theophrastus for the scarlet runner.

Another species, D. biflorus, is the horse gram, the seed of which is eaten by the poorer class of natives in India, and is also, as are the pods, a food for horses and cattle.

The Soy bean, Glycine hispida, was included by Linnaeus in the genus Dolichos. It is extensively cultivated in China and Japan, chiefly for the pleasant-flavoured seed from which is prepared a piquant sauce. It is also widely grown in India, where the bean is eaten, while the plant forms a valuable fodder; it is cultivated for the latter purpose in the United States.

Other references to beans will be found under special headings, such as Calabar Bean, Locust-Tree. There are also several non-leguminous seeds to which the popular name bean is attached. Among these may be mentioned the sacred Egyptian or Pythagorean bean (Nelumbium speciosum), and the Ignatius bean (probably Strychnos multiflora), a source of strychnine.

The ancient Greeks and Romans made use of beans in gathering the votes of the people, and for the election of magistrates. A white bean signified absolution, and a black one condemnation. Beans had a mysterious use in the lemuralia and parentalia, where the master of the family, after washing his hands three times, threw black beans over his head nine times, reiterating the words “I redeem myself and my family by these beans.”


BEAN-FEAST, primarily an annual dinner given by an employer to his workpeople, and then colloquially any jollification. The phrase is variously derived. The most probable theory is that which connects it with the custom in France, and afterwards in Germany and England, of a feast on Twelfth Night, at which a cake with a bean buried in it was a great feature. The bean-king was he who had the good fortune to have the slice of cake in which was the bean. This choosing of a king or queen by a bean was formerly a common Christmas diversion at the English and Scottish courts, and in both English universities. This monarch was master of the revels like his congener the lord of misrule. A clue to his original functions is possibly found in the old popular belief that the weather for the ensuing twelve months was determined by the weather of the twelve days from Christmas to Twelfth Night, the weather of each particular month being prognosticated from each day. Thus the king of the bean of Twelfth Night may have originally reigned for the twelve days, his chief duty being the performance of magical ceremonies for ensuring good weather during the ensuing twelve months. Probably in him and the lord of misrule it is correct to find the lineal descendant of the old king of the Saturnalia, the real man who personated Saturn and, when the revels ceased, suffered a real death in his assumed character. Another but most improbable derivation for bean-feast connects it with M.E. bene “prayer,” “request,” the allusion being to the soliciting of alms towards the cost of their Twelfth Night dinner by the workpeople.

See Wayzgoose; Misrule, Lord of; also J. Boemus, Mores, leges et ritus omnium gentium (Lyons, 1541), p. 222; Laisnel de la Salle, Croyances et légendes du centre de la France, i. 19-29; Lecœur, Esquisses du Bocage normand, ii. 125; Schmitz, Sitten und Sagen des Eifler Volkes, i. 6; Brand, Popular Antiquities of Great Britain (Hazlitt’s edit. 1905), under “Twelfth Night”; Cortet, Fêtes religieuses, p. 29 sqq.


BEAR, properly the name of the European brown bear (Ursus arctus), but extended to include all the members of the Ursidae, the typical family of Arctoid carnivora, distinguished by their massive bodies, short limbs, and almost rudimentary tails. With the single exception of the Indian sloth-bear, all the species have forty-two teeth, of which the incisors and canines closely resemble those of purely carnivorous mammals; while the molars, and especially the one known as the “sectorial” or “carnassial,” have their surfaces tuberculated so as to adapt them for grinding vegetable substances. As might have been supposed from their dentition, the bears are omnivorous; but most prefer vegetable food, including honey, when a sufficient