Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
711
BELOMANCY—BELSHAZZAR

women were first admitted in 1895. The Greek department of the college has supervised since 1895 the public presentation nearly every year of an English version of a Greek play. The river furnishes good water-power, and among the manufactures are wood-working machinery, ploughs, steam pumps, windmills, gas engines, paper-mill machinery, cutlery, flour, ladies’ shoes, cyclometers and paper; the total value of the factory product in 1905 was $4,485,224, 60.2% more than in 1900. Beloit, founded by New Englanders in 1838, was chartered as a city in 1856.

BELOMANCY (from βέλος, a dart, and μαντεία, prophecy or divination), a form of divination (q.v.) by means of arrows, practised by the Babylonians, Scythians and other ancient peoples. Nebuchadrezzar (Ezek. xxi. 21) resorted to this practice “when he stood in the parting of the way ... to use divination: he made his arrows bright.”

BELON, PIERRE (1517–1564), French naturalist, was born about 1517 near Le Mans (Sarthe). He studied medicine at Paris, where he took the degree of doctor, and then became a pupil of the botanist Valerius Cordus (1515–1544) at Wittenberg, with whom he travelled in Germany. On his return to France he was taken under the patronage of Cardinal de Tournon, who furnished him with means for undertaking an extensive scientific journey. Starting in 1546, he travelled through Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, Arabia and Palestine, and returned in 1549. A full account of his travels, with illustrations, was published in 1553. Belon, who was highly favoured both by Henry II. and by Charles IX., was assassinated at Paris one evening in April 1564, when coming through the Bois de Boulogne. Besides the narrative of his travels he wrote several scientific works of considerable value, particularly the Histoire naturelle des estranges poissons (1551), De aquatilibus (1553), and L’Histoire de la nature des oyseaux (1555), which entitle him to be regarded as one of the first workers in the science of comparative anatomy.

BELPER, a market-town in the mid-parliamentary division of Derbyshire, England, on the river Derwent, 7 m. N. of Derby on the Midland railway. Pop. of urban district (1901), 10,934. The chapel of St John is said to have been founded by Edmund Crouchback, second son of Henry III., about the middle of the 13th century. There is an Anglican convent of the Sisters of St Lawrence, with orphanage and school. For a considerable period one of the most flourishing towns in the county, Belper owed its prosperity to the establishment of cotton works in 1776 by Messrs Strutt, the title of Baron Belper (cr. 1856), in the Strutt family, being taken from the town. Belper also manufactures linen, hosiery, silk and earthenware; and after the decline of nail-making, once an important industry, engineering works and iron foundries were opened. The Derwent provides water-power for the cotton-mills. John of Gaunt is said to have been a great benefactor to Belper, and the foundations of a massive building have been believed to mark the site of his residence. A chapel which he founded is incorporated with a modern schoolhouse. The scenery in the neighbourhood of Belper, especially to the west, is beautiful; but there are collieries, lead-mines and quarries in the vicinity of the town.

Belper (Beaurepaire) until 1846 formed part of the parish of Duffield, granted by William I. to Henry de Ferrers, earl of Derby. There is no distinct mention of Belper till 1296, when the manor was held by Edmund Crouchback, earl of Lancaster, who is said to have enclosed a park and built a hunting seat, to which, from its situation, he gave the name Beaurepaire. The manor thus became parcel of the duchy of Lancaster and is said to have been the residence of John of Gaunt. It afterwards passed with Duffield to the Jodrell family. In a great storm in 1545, 40 houses were destroyed, and the place was scourged by the plague in 1609.

See C. Willott, Historical Records of Belper.

BELSHAM, THOMAS (1750–1829), English Unitarian minister, was born at Bedford on the 26th of April 1750. He was educated at the dissenting academy at Daventry, where for seven years he acted as assistant tutor. After three years spent in a charge at Worcester, he returned as head of the Daventry academy, a post which he continued to hold till 1789, when, having adopted Unitarian principles, he resigned. With Joseph Priestly for colleague, he superintended during its brief existence a new college at Hackney, and was, on Priestly’s departure in 1794, also called to the charge of the Gravel Pit congregation. In 1805 he accepted a call to the Essex Street chapel, where in gradually failing health he remained till his death in 1829. Belsham’s first work of importance, Review of Mr Wilberforce’s Treatise entitled Practical View (1798), was written after his conversion to Unitarianism. His most popular work was the Evidences of Christianity; the most important was his translation and exposition of the Epistles of St Paul (1822). He was also the author of a work on philosophy, Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind (1801), which is entirely based on Hartley’s psychology. Belsham is one of the most vigorous and able writers of his church, and the Quarterly Review and Gentleman’s Magazine of the early years of the 19th century abound in evidences that his abilities were recognized by his opponents.

BELSHAZZAR (6th century B.C.), Babylonian general. Until the decipherment of the cuneiform inscriptions, he was known only from the book of Daniel (v. 2, 11, 13, 18) and its reproduction in Josephus, where he is represented as the son of Nebuchadrezzar and the last king of Babylon. As his name did not appear in the list of the successors of Nebuchadrezzar handed down by the Greek writers, various suggestions were put forward as to his identity. Niebuhr identified him with Evil-Merodach, Ewald with Nabonidos, others again with Neriglissor. The identification with Nabonidos, the last Babylonian king according to the native historian Berossus, goes back to Josephus. The decipherment of the cuneiform texts put an end to all such speculations. In 1854 Sir H. C. Rawlinson discovered the name of Bel-sarra-uzur—“O Bel, defend the king”—in an inscription belonging to the first year of Nabonidos which had been discovered in the ruins of the temple of the Moon-god at Muqayyar or Ur. Here Nabonidos calls him his “first-born son,” and prays that “he may not give way to sin,” but that “the fear of the great divinity” of the Moon-god may “dwell in his heart.” In the contracts and similar documents there are frequent references to Belshazzar, who is sometimes entitled simply “the son of the king.”

He was never king himself, nor was he son of Nebuchadrezzar. Indeed his father Nabonidos (Nabunaid), the son of Nabu-baladsu-iqbi, was not related to the family of Nebuchadrezzar and owed his accession to the throne to a palace revolution. Belshazzar, however, seems to have had more political and military energy than his father, whose tastes were antiquarian and religious; he took command of the army, living with it in the camp near Sippara, and whatever measures of defence were organized against the invasion of Cyrus appear to have been due to him. Hence Jewish tradition substituted him for his less-known father, and rightly concluded that his death marked the fall of the Babylonian monarchy. We learn from the Babylonian Chronicle that from the 7th year of Nabonidos (548 b.c.) onwards “the son of the king” was with the army in Akkad, that is in the close neighbourhood of Sippara. This, as Dr Th. G. Pinches has pointed out, doubtless accounts for the numerous gifts bestowed by him on the temple of the Sun-god at Sippara. So late as the 5th of Ab in the 17th year of Nabonidos—that is to say, about three weeks after the forces of Cyrus had entered Babylonia and only three months before his death—we find him paying 47 shekels of silver to the temple on behalf of his sister, this being the amount of “tithe” due from her at the time. At an earlier period there is frequent mention of his trading transactions which were carried out through his house-steward or agent. Thus in 545 B.C. he lent 20 manehs of silver to a private individual, a Persian by race, on the security of the property of the latter, and a year later his house-steward negotiated a loan of 16 shekels, taking as security the produce of a field of corn.

The legends of Belshazzar’s feast and of the siege and capture of Babylon by Cyrus which have come down to us from the book of Daniel and the Cyropaedia of Xenophon have been shown by the contemporaneous inscriptions to have been a projection