campaigns of the Grande Armée as colonel-general of the Guard Cavalry (1805, 1806, 1807). In 1805 he had received the Grand Eagle of the Legion of Honour, and in 1800 was created duke of Istria. With the outbreak of the Peninsular War, Marshal Bessières had his first opportunity of an independent command, and his crushing victory over the Spaniards at Medina del Rio Seco (1808) justified Napoleon’s choice. When disaster in other parts of the theatre of war called Napoleon himself to the Peninsula, Bessières continued to give the emperor the very greatest assistance in his campaign. In 1809 he was again with the Grande Armée in the Danube valley. At Essling his repeated and desperate charges checked the Austrians in the full tide of their success. At Wagram he had a horse killed under him. Replacing Bernadotte in the command of the Army of the North, a little later in the same year, the newly-created duke of Istria successfully opposed the British Walcheren expedition, and in 1811 he was back again, in a still more important command, in Spain. As Masséna’s second-in-command he was present at the battle of Fuentes d’Onoro, but Napoleon never detached him for very long, and in 1812 he commanded the Guard Cavalry at Borodino and in the retreat from Moscow. Wherever engaged he won further distinction, and at the beginning of the 1813 campaign he was appointed to the command of the whole of Napoleon’s cavalry. Three days after the opening of the campaign, while reconnoitring the defile of Poserna-Rippach, Bessières was killed by a musket-ball. Napoleon, who deeply felt the loss of one of his truest friends and ablest commanders, protected his children, and his eldest son was made a member of the Chamber of Peers by Louis XVIII. As a commander, especially of cavalry, Bessières left a reputation excelled by very few of Napoleon’s marshals, and his dauntless courage and cool judgment made him a safe leader in independent command. He was personally beloved to an extraordinary extent amongst his soldiers, and (unlike most of the French generals of the time) amongst his opponents. It is said that masses were performed for his soul by the priests of insurgent Spain, and the king of Saxony raised a monument to his memory.
His younger brother, Bertrand, Baron Bessières (1773-1855), was a distinguished divisional leader under Napoleon. After serving with a good record in Italy, in Egypt and at Hohenlinden, he had a command in the Grande Armée, and in 1808 was sent to Spain. He commanded a division in Catalonia and played a notable part at the action of Molins de Rey near Barcelona. Disagreements with his superior, General Duhesme, led to his resignation, but he subsequently served with Napoleon in all the later campaigns of the empire. Placed on the retired list by the Bourbons, his last public act was his defence of the unfortunate Ney. The rest of his long life was spent in retirement.
BESSUS, satrap of Bactria and Sogdiana under Darius III. In the battle of Gaugamela (1st of October 331) he commanded the troops of his satrapy. When Alexander pursued the Persian king on his flight to the East (summer 330), Bessus with some of the other conspirators deposed Darius and shortly afterwards killed him. He then tried to organize a national resistance against the Macedonian conqueror in the eastern provinces, proclaimed himself king and adopted the name Artaxerxes. But he was taken prisoner by treachery in the summer of 329. Alexander sent him to Ecbatana, where he was condemned to death. Before his execution his nose and ears were cut off, according to the Persian custom; we learn from the Behistun inscription that Darius I. punished the usurpers in the same way.
BEST, WILLIAM THOMAS (1826-1897), English organist, the son of a solicitor, was born at Carlisle on the 13th of August 1826. Having decided upon a musical career, he received his first instruction from the cathedral organist. He applied himself especially to Bach’s music, and became a player of great skill. His successive appointments were to Pembroke chapel, Liverpool, 1840; to a church for the blind, 1847, and the Liverpool Philharmonic Society, 1848. For a short time (1854-1855) he was in London at the Panopticon in Leicester Square, the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, and Lincoln’s Inn chapel. In 1855 he returned to Liverpool as organist of St George’s Hall, where his performances rapidly became famous throughout England. Ill-health compelled him at last to retire in 1894. He was engaged as solo organist at all the Handel festivals at the Crystal Palace, and also as organist at the Albert Hall, where he inaugurated the great organ in 1871. He had been in the receipt of a civil list pension of £100 a year since 1880, and in 1890 went to Australia to give organ recitals in the town hall of Sydney. Best died at Liverpool on the 10th of May 1897.
His command over all the resources of his own instrument was masterly; his series of Saturday recitals at St George’s Hall, carried on for many years, included the whole field of organ music, and of music that could be arranged for the organ, ancient and modern; and his performances of Bach’s organ works were particularly fine. His own compositions for the organ, chiefly comprised in the publication entitled Organ Pieces for Church Use, have a strong and marked individuality. Best, unlike many soloists, was an all-round musician, and fully acquainted with every branch of the art. His bust, by Conrad Dressler, has been placed on the platform in front of the Liverpool organ, as a memorial of his long series of performances there.
BESTIA, the name of a family in ancient Rome, of which the following were the most distinguished.
1. Lucius Calpurnius Bestia, Roman tribune of the people in 121 B.C., consul in 111. Having been appointed to the command of the operations against Jugurtha, he at first carried on the campaign energetically, but soon, having been heavily bribed, concluded a disgraceful peace. On his return to Rome he was brought to trial for his conduct and condemned, in spite of the efforts of Marcus Scaurus who, though formerly his legate and equally guilty, was one of the judges. He is probably identical with the Bestia who encouraged the Italians in their revolt, and went into exile (90) to avoid punishment under the law of Q. Varius, whereby those who had secretly or openly aided the Italian allies against Rome were to be brought to trial (Appian, Bell. Civ. i. 37; Val. Max. viii. 6. 4). Both Cicero and Sallust express a high opinion of Bestia’s abilities, but his love of money demoralized him. He is mentioned in a Carthaginian inscription as one of a board of three, perhaps an agricultural commission.
See Sallust, Jugurtha; Cicero, Brutus, xxxiv. 128; for the general history, A. H. J. Greenidge, Hist. of Rome, vol. i. (1904), pp. 346 foll.
2. Lucius Calpurnius Bestia, one of the Catilinarian conspirators, possibly a grandson of the above. He was tribune elect in 63, and it had been arranged that, after entering upon his office, he should publicly accuse Cicero of responsibility for the impending war. This was to be the signal for the outbreak of revolution. The conspiracy, however, was put down and Bestia had to content himself with delivering a violent attack upon the consul on the expiration of his office. This Bestia is probably not the Lucius Calpurnius Bestia, aedile, and a candidate for the praetorship in 57. He was accused of bribery during his candidature, and, in spite of Cicero’s defence, was condemned. In 43 he attached himself to the party of Antony, apparently in the hope of obtaining the consulship.
Sallust, Catiline, xvii. 43; Appian, Bell. Civ. ii. 3; Cicero, Ad Q. Fr. ii. 3, 6.
BESTUZHEV-RYUMIN, ALEXIUS PETROVICH, Count (1693-1768), grand chancellor of Russia, the second son of Count Peter Bestuzhev, the early favourite of the empress Anne, was born at Moscow on the 1st of June 1693. Educated abroad, with his elder brother Mikhail, at Copenhagen and Berlin, he especially distinguished himself in languages and the applied sciences. Peter the Great, in 1712, attached him to Prince Kurakin at the Utrecht Congress that he might learn diplomacy, and for the same reason permitted him in 1713 to enter the service of the elector of Hanover. George I. took him to London in 1714, and sent him to St Petersburg as his accredited minister with a notification of his accession. Bestuzhev then returned to England, where he remained four years. It was the necessary apprenticeship to his brilliant diplomatic career. His passion for intrigue is curiously illustrated by his letter to the tsarevich