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BECK, D.—BECKET

Euripides (1778–1788), Apollonius Rhodius (1797), Demosthenes De Pace (1799), Plato (1813–1819), Cicero (1795–1807), Titus Calpurnius Siculus (1803). He translated Ferguson’s Fall of the Roman Republic and Goldsmith’s History of Greece, and added two volumes to Bauer’s Thucydides. He also wrote on theological and historical subjects, and edited philological and bibliographical journals. He possessed a large and valuable library of 24,000 volumes.

See Nobbe, Vita C. D. Beckii (1837); and G. Hermann, Opuscula, v. 312.


BECK (or Beek), DAVID (1621–1656), Dutch portrait-painter, was born at Arnheim in Guelderland. He was trained by Van Dyck, from whom he acquired the fine manner of pencilling and sweet style of colouring peculiar to that great master. He possessed likewise that freedom of hand and readiness, or rather rapidity of execution, for which Van Dyck was so remarkable, insomuch that when King Charles I. observed the expeditious manner of Beck’s painting, he exclaimed, “Faith! Beck, I believe you could paint riding post.” He was appointed portrait-painter and chamberlain to Queen Christina of Sweden, and he executed portraits of most of the sovereigns of Europe to adorn her gallery. His death at the Hague was suspected of being due to poisoning.


BECK, JAKOB SIGISMUND (1761–1840), German philosopher, was born at Danzig in 1761. Educated at Königsberg, he became professor of philosophy first at Halle (1791–1799) and then at Rostock. He devoted himself to criticism and explanation of the doctrine of Kant, and in 1793 published the Erläuternder Auszug aus Kants kritischen Schriften, which has been widely used as a compendium of Kantian doctrine. He endeavoured to explain away certain of the contradictions which are found in Kant’s system by saying that much of the language is used in a popular sense for the sake of intelligibility, e.g. where Kant attributes to things-in-themselves an existence under the conditions of time, space and causality, and yet holds that they furnish the material of our apprehensions. Beck maintains that the real meaning of Kant’s theory is idealism; that of objects outside the domain of consciousness, knowledge is impossible, and hence that nothing positive remains when we have removed the subjective element. Matter is deduced by the “original synthesis.” Similarly, the idea of God is a symbolical representation of the voice of conscience guiding from within. The value of Beck’s exegesis has been to a great extent overlooked owing to the greater attention given to the work of Fichte. Beside the three volumes of the Erläuternder Auszug, he published the Grundriss der krit. Philosophie (1796), containing an interpretation of the Kantian Kritik in the manner of Salomon Maimon.

See Ueberweg, Grundriss der Gesch. der Philos. der Neuzeit; Dilthey in the Archiv für Geschichte der Philos., vol. ii. (1889), pp. 592-650. For Beck’s letters to Kant, see R. Reicke, Aus Kants Briefwechsel (Königsberg, 1885).


BECKENHAM, an urban district in the Sevenoaks parliamentary division of Kent, England, 10 m. S.S.E. of London by the South Eastern & Chatham railway. Pop. (1881) 13,045; (1901) 26,331. It is a long straggling parish extending from the western tower of the Crystal Palace almost to the south end of Bromley, and contains the residential suburb of Shortlands. Its rapid increase in size in the last decade of the 19th century was owing to the popularity which it attained as a place of residence for London business men. It retains, however, some of its rural character, and has wide thoroughfares and many handsome residences standing in extensive grounds. King William IV.’s Naval Asylum was endowed by Queen Adelaide for 12 widows of naval officers. The church of St George was built in 1866 on the site of an ancient Perpendicular church. Some 16th-century brasses, an altar tomb and a piscina were removed hither from the old church. The tower of the church was completed in 1903, and furnished with two bells in memory of Cecil Rhodes, in addition to the old bells, one of which dates from 1624.


BECKER, HEINRICH (1770–1822), German actor, whose real name was Blumenthal, was born at Berlin. He obtained, while quite a young man, an appointment in the court theatre at Weimar, at that time under Goethe’s auspices. The poet recognized his talent, appointed him stage-manager, entrusted him with several of the leading roles in his dramas and consulted him in all matters connected with the staging of his plays. For many years Becker was the favourite of the Weimar stage, and although he was at his best in comedy, he played, to Goethe’s great satisfaction, Vansen in Egmont, and was also seen to great advantage in the leading parts of several of Schiller’s plays; notably Burleigh in Maria Stuart, Karl Moor in Die Räuber, and Antonio in Torquato Tasso. Becker left Weimar in the spring of 1809, played for a short time at Hamburg (under Schröder) and at Breslau, and then began a wandering life, now joining travelling companies, now playing at provincial theatres. Broken in health and ruined in fortune he returned in 1820 to Weimar, where he was again cordially received by Goethe, who reinstated him at the theatre. After playing for two short years with indifferent success, he died at Weimar in 1822.

Becker was twice married. His first wife, Christiane Luise Amalie Becker (1778–1797), was the daughter of a theatrical manager and dramatic poet, Johann Christian Neumann, and made her first stage appearance in 1787 at Weimar. Here she received some training from Goethe and from Corona Schröter, the singer, and her beauty and charm made her the favourite both of court and public. She married Heinrich Becker in 1793. She died on the 22nd of September 1797. Her last part was that of Euphrosyne in the opera Das Petermännchen, and it is under this name that Goethe immortalized her in a poem which first appeared in Schiller’s Musen Almanack of 1799.


BECKER, WILHELM ADOLF (1796–1846), German classical archaeologist, was born at Dresden. At first destined for a commercial life, he was in 1812 sent to the celebrated school at Pforta. In 1816 he entered the university of Leipzig, where he studied under Beck and Hermann. After holding subordinate posts at Zerbst and Meissen, he was in 1842 appointed professor of archaeology at Leipzig. He died at Meissen on the 30th of September 1846. The works by which Becker is most widely known are the Gallus or Römische Scenen aus der Zeit Augusts (1838, new ed. by Göll, 1880–1882), and the Charicles or Bilder altgriechischer Sitte, (1840, new ed. by Göll, 1877–1878). These two books, which have been translated into English by Frederick Metcalfe, contain a very interesting description of the everyday life of the ancient Greeks and Romans, in the form of a romance. The notes and appendixes are valuable. More important is the great Handbuch der röm. Alterthümer (1843–1868), completed after Becker’s death by Marquardt and Mommsen. Becker’s treatises De Comicis Romanorum Fabulis (1837), De Romae Veteris Muris atque Portis (1842), Die römische Topographie in Rom (1844), and Zur römischen Topographie (1845) may also be mentioned.


BECKET, THOMAS (c. 1118–1170), by his contemporaries more commonly called Thomas of London, English chancellor and archbishop of Canterbury under Henry II., was born about the year 1118 in London. His mother was a native of Caen; his father, who came of a family of small Norman landowners, had been a citizen of Rouen, but migrated to London before the birth of Thomas, and held at one time the dignified office of portreeve, although he ended his life in straitened circumstances. The young Thomas received an excellent education. At the age of ten he was put to school with the canons of Merton priory in Surrey. Later he spent some time in the schools of London, which enjoyed at that time a high reputation, and finally studied theology at Paris. Returning at the age of twenty-two he was compelled, through the misfortunes of his parents, to become a notary in the service of a wealthy kinsman, Osbert Huit Deniers, who was of some importance in London politics. About 1142 a family friend brought Thomas under the notice of Archbishop Theobald, of whose household he at once became an inmate. He accompanied the primate to Rome in 1143, and also to the council of Reims (1148), which Theobald attended in defiance of a prohibition from the king. It appears to have been at some time between the dates of these two journeys that he visited