brother-in-law’s plays—Valère in Le Dépit amoureux, Dubois in Le Misanthrope, Alcantor in Le Mariage forcé, and Don Luis in Le Festin de Pierre—and was an actor of varied talents. In consequence of a wound received when interfering in a street brawl, he became lame and retired with a pension—the first ever granted by the company to a comedian—in 1670.
The more famous members of the family were two sisters.
Madeleine Béjart (1618-1672) was at the head of the travelling company to which her sister Geneviève (1631-1675)—who played as Mlle Hervé—and her brothers belonged, before they joined Molière in forming l’Illustre Théâtre (1643). With Molière she remained until her death on the 17th of February 1672. She had had an illegitimate daughter (1638) by an Italian count, and her conduct on her early travels had not been exemplary, but whatever her private relations with Molière may have been, however acrimonious and violent her temper, she and her family remained faithful to his fortunes. She was a tall, handsome blonde, and an excellent actress, particularly in soubrette parts, a number of which Molière wrote for her. Among her creations were Marotte in Les Précieuses ridicules, Lisette in L’École des maris, Dorine in Tartuffe.
Her sister, Armande Grésinde Claire Elizabeth Béjart (1645-1700), seems first to have joined the company at Lyons in 1653. Molière directed her education and she grew up under his eye. In 1662, he being then forty and she seventeen, they were married. Neither was happy; the wife was a flirt, the husband jealous. On the strength of a scurrilous anonymous pamphlet, La Fameuse Comédienne, ou histoire de la Guérin (1688), her character has been held perhaps unduly low. She was certainly guilty of indifference and ingratitude, possibly of infidelity; they separated after the birth of a daughter in 1665 and met only at the theatre until 1671. But the charm and grace which fascinated others, Molière too could not resist, and they were reconciled. Her portrait is given in a well-known scene (Act iii., sc. 9) in Le Bourgeois gentilhomme. Mme Molière’s first appearance on the stage was in 1663, as Élise in the Critique de l’école des femmes. She was out of the cast for a short time in 1664, when she bore Molière a son—Louis XIV. and Henrietta of England standing sponsors. But in the spring, beginning with the fêtes given at Versailles by the king to Anne of Austria and Maria Theresa, she started her long list of important rôles. She was at her best as Celimène—really her own highly-finished portrait—in Le Misanthrope, and hardly less admirable as Angélique in Le Malade imaginaire. She was the Elmire at the first performance of Tartuffe, and the Lucile of Le Bourgeois gentilhomme. All these parts were written by her husband to display her talents to the best advantage and she made the most of her opportunities. The death of Molière, the secession of Baron and several other actors, the rivalry of the Hôtel de Bourgogne and the development of the Palais Royal, by royal patent, into the home of French opera, brought matters to a crisis with the comédiens du roi. Well advised by La Grange (Charles Varlet, 1639-1692), Armande leased the Théâtre Guénégaud, and by royal ordinance the residue of her company were combined with the players from the Théâtre du Marais, the fortunes of which were at low ebb. The combination, known as the troupe du roi, at first was unfortunate, but in 1679 they secured Mlle du Champmeslé, later absorbed the company of the Hôtel de Bourgogne, and in 1680 the Comédie Française was born. Mme Molière in 1677 had married Eustache François Guérin (1636-1728), an actor, and by him she had one son (1678-1708). She continued her successes at the theatre until she retired in 1694, and she died on the 30th of November 1700.
BEK, ANTONY (d. 1311), bishop of Durham, belonged to a Lincolnshire family, and, having entered the church, received several benefices and soon attracted the attention of Edward I., who secured his election as bishop of Durham in 1283. When, after the death of King Alexander III. in 1285, Edward interfered in the affairs of Scotland, he employed Bek on this business, and in 1294 he sent him on a diplomatic errand to the German king, Adolph of Nassau. Taking part in Edward’s campaigns in Scotland, the bishop received the surrender of John de Baliol at Brechin in 1296, and led one division of the English army at the battle of Falkirk in 1298. Soon after his return to England he became involved in a quarrel with Richard de Hoton, prior of Durham. Deposed and excommunicated by Bek, the prior secured the king’s support; but the bishop, against whom other complaints were preferred, refused to give way, and by his obstinacy incurred the lasting enmity of Edward. In 1302, in obedience to the command of Pope Boniface VIII., he visited Rome on this matter, and during his absence the king seized and administered his lands, which, however, he recovered when he returned and submitted to Edward. He continued, however, to pursue Richard with unrelenting hostility, and was in his turn seriously harassed by the king. Having been restored to the royal favour by Edward II. who made him lord of the Isle of Man, the bishop died at Eltham on the 3rd of March 1311. A man of great courage and energy, chaste and generous, Bek was remarkable for his haughtiness and ostentation. Both as a bishop and as a private individual he was very wealthy, and his household and retinue were among the most magnificent in the land. He was a soldier and a hunter rather than a bishop, and built castles at Eltham and elsewhere.
Bek’s elder brother, Thomas Bek (d. 1293), bishop of St David’s, was a trusted servant of Edward I. He obtained many important and wealthy ecclesiastical positions, was made treasurer of England in 1279, and became bishop of St David’s in 1280. He was a benefactor to his diocese and died on the 12th of May 1293.
Another Thomas Bek (1282-1347), who was bishop of Lincoln from 1341 until his death on the 2nd of February 1347, was a member of the same family.
Antony Bek must not be confused with his kinsman and namesake, Antony Bek (1279-1343), who was chancellor and dean of Lincoln cathedral, and became bishop of Norwich after a disputed election in 1337. He was a quarrelsome man, and after a stormy episcopate, died on the 19th of December 1343.
See Robert of Graystanes, Historia de statu ecclesiae Dunelmensis, edited by J. Raine in his Historiae Dunelmensis scriptores (London, 1839); W. Hutchinson, History of Durham (Newcastle, 1785-1794); J. L. Low, Diocesan History of Durham (London, 1881); and M. Creighton in the Dictionary of National Biography, vol. iv. (London, 1885).
BEKE, CHARLES TILSTONE (1800-1874), English traveller, geographer and Biblical critic, was born in Stepney, Middlesex, on the 10th of October 1800. His father was a merchant in London, and Beke engaged for a few years in mercantile pursuits. He afterwards studied law at Lincoln’s Inn, and for a time practised at the bar, but finally devoted himself to the study of historical, geographical and ethnographical subjects. The first-fruits of his researches appeared in his work entitled Origines Biblicae, or Researches in Primeval History, published in 1834. An attempt to reconstruct the early history of the human race from geological data, it raised a storm of opposition on the part of defenders of the traditional readings of the book of Genesis; but in recognition of the value of the work the university of Tübingen conferred upon him the degree of Ph.D. For about two years (1837-1838) Beke held the post of acting British consul in Saxony. From that time till his death his attention was largely given to geographical studies, chiefly of the Nile valley. Aided by private friends, he visited Abyssinia in connexion with the mission to Shoa sent by the Indian government under the leadership of Major (afterwards Sir) William Cornwallis Harris, and explored Gojam and more southern regions up to that time unknown to Europeans. Among other achievements, Beke was the first to determine, with any approach to scientific accuracy, the course of the Abai (Blue Nile). The valuable results of this journey, which occupied him from 1840 to 1843, he gave to the world in a number of papers in scientific publications, chiefly in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society. On his return to London, Beke re-engaged in commerce, but devoted all his leisure to geographical and kindred studies. In 1848 he planned an expedition from the mainland opposite Zanzibar to discover the sources of the Nile. A start was made, but the expedition accomplished little. Beke’s belief that the