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BECHUANA

medicine at Mainz and body-physician to the archbishop-elector; and the same year he was made councillor of commerce (Commerzienrat) at Vienna, where he had gained the powerful support of Albrecht, Count Zinzendorf, prime minister and grand chamberlain of the emperor Leopold I. Sent by the emperor on a mission to Holland, he there wrote in ten days his Methodus Didactica, which was followed by the Regeln der Christlichen Bundesgenossenschaft and the Politischer Discurs vom Auf- und Abblühen der Städte. In 1669 he published his Physika subterranea, and the same year was engaged with the count of Hanau in a scheme for settling a large territory between the Orinoco and the Amazon. Meanwhile he had been appointed physician to the elector of Bavaria; but in 1670 he was again in Vienna advising on the establishment of a silk factory and propounding schemes for a great company to trade with the Low Countries and for a canal to unite the Rhine and Danube. He then returned to Bavaria, and his absence bringing him into ill odour at Vienna, he complained of the incompetence of the council of commerce and dedicated a tract on trade (Commercien-Tractat) to the emperor Leopold. His Psychosophia followed, and “An invitation to a psychological community” (Einladung zu einer psychologischen Societät), for the realization of which Duke Gustavus Adolphus of Mecklenburg-Gustrow (d. 1695) offered him in 1674 a site in his duchy. The plan came to nothing, and next year Becher was again busy at Vienna, trying to transmute Danube sand into gold, and writing his Theses chemicae veritatem transmutationis metallorum evincentes. For some reason he incurred the disfavour of Zinzendorf and fled to Holland, where with the aid of the government he continued his experiments. Pursued even there by the resentment of his former patron, he crossed to England, whence he visited the mines of Scotland at the request of Prince Rupert. He afterwards went for the same purpose to Cornwall, where he spent a year. At the beginning of 1680 he presented a paper to the Royal Society, De nova temporis dimetiendi ratione et accurata horologiorum constructione, in which he attempted to deprive Huygens of the honour of applying the pendulum to the measurement of time. The views of Becher on the composition of substances mark little essential advance on those of the two preceding centuries, and the three elements or principles of salt, mercury and sulphur reappear as the vitrifiable, the mercurial and the combustible earths. When a substance was burnt he supposed that the last of these, the terra pinguis, was liberated, and this conception is the basis on which G. E. Stahl founded his doctrine of “phlogiston.” His ideas and experiments on the nature of minerals and other substances are voluminously set forth in his Physica Subterranea (Frankfort, 1669); an edition of this, published at Leipzig in 1703, contains two supplements (Experimentum chymicum novum and Demonstratio Philosophica), proving the truth and possibility of transmuting metals, Experimentum novum ae curiosum de minera arenaria perpetua, the paper on timepieces already mentioned and also Specimen Becherianum, a summary of his doctrines by Stahl, who in the preface acknowledges indebtedness to him in the words Becheriana sunt quae profero. At Falmouth he wrote his Laboratorium portabile and at Truro the Alphabetum minerale. In 1682 he returned to London, where he wrote the Chemischer Glückshafen oder grosse Concordanz und Collection von 1500 Processen and died in October of the same year.


BECHUANA, a South African people, forming a branch of the great Bantu-Negroid family. They occupy not only Bechuanaland, to which they have given their name, and Basutoland, but are the most numerous native race in the Orange River Colony and in the western and northern districts of the Transvaal. It seems certain that they reached their present home later than the Zulu-Xosa [Kaffir] peoples who came down the east coast of the continent, but it is probable that they started on their southward journey before the latter. It would appear that the forerunners of the movement were the Bakalahari and Balala, who were subsequently reduced to the condition of serfs by the later arrivals, and who by intermingling to a certain extent with the aborigines gave rise to the “Kalahari Bushmen” (see Kalahari Desert). The Bechuana family may be classed in two great divisions, the western or Bechuana proper, and the eastern or Basuto. The Bechuana proper consist of a large number of tribes, whose early history is extremely confused and involved owing to continual inter-tribal wars and migrations, during which many tribes were practically annihilated. Further confusion was produced by subsequent marauding expeditions by the coast “Kaffirs.” An ingenious attempt to disentangle the highly complicated tribal movements which took place in the early 19th century may be found in Stow's Native Races of South Africa. One migration of particular interest calls for mention. In the early part of the 19th century a number of Basuto, led by the chief Sebituane, crossed the Zambezi near the Victoria Falls, and, under the name Makololo, established a supremacy over the Barotse and neighbouring tribes on the upper portion of the river, imposing their language on the conquered peoples. After the death of Sekeletu, Sebituane's successor, the vassal tribes arose and exterminated their conquerors. Only a few escaped, whom Sekeletu had sent with David Livingstone to the coast. These established themselves to the south of Lake Nyasa, where they are still to be found. Sesuto speech, however, still prevails in Barotseland. The chief Bechuana tribes were the Batlapin and Barolong (the last including the Baratlou, Bataung, Barapulana and Baseleka), together with the great Bakuena or Bakone people (including the Bahurutsi, Batlaru, Bamangwato, Batauana, Bangwaketse and Bakuena). The clans representing the southern Bakuena were in comparatively recent times welded together to form the Basuto nation, of which the founder was the chief Moshesh (see Basutoland). The Basuto have been not only influenced in certain cultural details (e.g. the form of their huts) by the neighbouring Zulu-Xosa [Kaffir] peoples, but have moreover received an infusion of their blood which has improved their physique. They are good riders and make considerable use of their horses in war and the chase.

The Bechuana, though not so tall as Kaffirs, average 5 ft. 6 in. in stature; they are of slender build and their musculature is but moderately developed except where a Kaffir strain is found. Their skin is of a reddish-brown or bronze colour, and their features are fairly regular, though in all cases coarser than those of Europeans. One of their chief peculiarities lies in the fact that each tribe respects (usually) a particular animal, which the members of the tribe may not eat, and the killing of which, if necessary, must be accompanied by profuse apologies and followed by subsequent purification. Many of the tribes take their name from their siboko, as the animal in question is called; e.g. the Batlapin, “they of the fish”; Bakuena, “they of the crocodile.” The siboko of the Barolong, who as a tribe are accomplished smiths, is not an animal but the metal iron; other tribes have adopted as their particular emblem respectively the sun, rain, dew, &c. Certain ceremonies are performed in honour of the tribal emblem, hence an inquiry as to the tribe of an individual is put in the form “What do you dance?” In certain tribes the old and feeble and the sickly children were killed, and albinos and the deaf and dumb exposed; those born blind were strangled, and if a mother died in childbirth the infant was buried alive in the same grave. With the extension of British authority these practices were prohibited. Circumcision is universally practised, though there is no fixed age for it. It is performed at puberty, when the boys are secluded for a period in the bush. The operation is accompanied by whipping and even tortures. Girls at puberty must undergo trials of endurance, e.g. the holding of a bar of heated iron without crying out. The Bechuana inhabit, for the most part, towns of considerable size, containing from 5000 to 40,000. Politically they live under a tribal despotism limited by a council of elders, the chief seldom exercising his individual authority independently, though the extent of his power naturally depends on his personality. They have their public assemblies, but only when circumstances, chiefly in reference to war, require. These are generally characterized by great freedom of speech, and there is no interruption of the speaker. The chief generally closes the meeting with a long speech, referring to the subjects which each