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rev. Dr. Smith, where he made very great proficiency in all his studies, and gave proofs of extraordinary talents. To dramatic poetry he appears to have been very early attached, two pieces of his, Scipio Africanus, ," and 66 Henry IV. of France,” both tragedies, being represented on the stage before he had completed his twentieth year. He wrote several other poems, but his genius was limited to a short career, as he died Feb. 19, 1730-1, in the thirty-second year of his age."

BECKINGTON, BEKYNGTON, or DE BEKINTON (THOMAS), an English prelate, was born in the parish of Beckington, in Somersetshire, or according to Dr. Chandler at Wallingford in Berkshire, towards the close of the fourteenth century. He was educated in grammar learning at Wykeham's school near Winchester, while that great prelate was living, and proceeded to his college (New College) in Oxford in 1403, the year before Wykeham died, and there became doctor of laws, and continued in his fellowship about twelve years. Within this period, most probably, he was presented to the rectory of St. Leonard's, near Hastings in Sussex, and to the vicarage of Sutton Courtney in Berkshire. He was also prebendary of Bedwin, York, and Lichfield, archdeacon of Buckingham, and master of St. Catherine's hospital near the Tower in London. About 1429, he was dean of the court of arches, and a synod being then held in St. Paul's church, London, which continued above six months, Beckington was one of three appointed to draw up a form of law, according to which the Wickliffites were to be proceeded against. Having been once tutor to Henry VI. and written a book, in which, in opposition to the Salique law, he strenuously asserted the right of the kings of England to the crown of France, he arrived to high favour with that prince, and was made secretary of state, keeper of the privy seal, and bishop of Bath and Wells. On Sunday, Oct. 13, 1443, he was consecrated by the bishop of Lincoln in the old collegiate church of St. Mary of Eton; and after the ceremony, celebrated his first mass in his pontificals in the new church of St. Mary, then erecting, and not half finished, under a pavilion provided for the purpose at the altar, directly over the spot where king Henry had laid the first stone.

Bishop Beckington was well skilled in polite learning and

? Biog. Dramatica.--Jacob's Lives.

His pane

history, and very conversant in the holy Scriptures; a good preacher, and so generous a patron and favourer of all learned and ingenious men, that he was called the Mæcenas of his age. His works of munificence and charity were numerous. He contributed to the completion of Lincolncollege, which had been left imperfect by its founder, Richard Flemming, bishop of Lincoln, and got the manor of Newton-Longueville settled upon New college, Oxford, in 1440. He also laid out six thousand marks upon the houses belonging to his see; built an edifice, called New-buildings, and the west side of the cloisters at Wells; and erected a conduit in the market-place of that city. By his will, dated Nov. 3, 1464, and procured to be confirmed under the great seal, he left several charitable legacies. He died at Wells, Jan. 14, 1464-5, and was buried in his cathedral, where his monument is still to be seen. gyric was written by Thomas Chandler, warden of New college, who had been preferred by him to the chancellorship of Wells. He does not appear to have ever been chancellor of the university of Oxford. His book on the right of the kings of England to the crown of France is in the Cottonian library, with some other of his pieces, and a large collection of his letters is in the Lambeth library.

BECKWITH (THOMAS), an ingenious artist and antiquary, was the son of a respectable attorney in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He was early apprenticed as a housepainter to Mr. George Fleming of Wakefield, from whom he derived his skill in drawing and limning, as well as imbibed a love for the study of antiquities. To these he added heraldic and genealogical knowledge, to all which he applied himself, in his leisure hours, with such unwearied diligence, that his collection, together with the works of his own hands, became at length very considerable. Scarcely any object arrested his curiosity, particucularly if an antique, of which he did not make a drawing, and scarcely a church or a ruin in the vicinities of the places of his abode, that he did not preserve either in pencil or water-colours. Some years before his death he obtained a patent for a species of hardened crayons, which would bear the knife, and carry a point like a pencil; and about the same time he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. But what contributed most to make

· Biog. Brit.-Chandler's Life of Waynflete. Chalmers's Hist, of Oxford.


him known to those who were unacquainted with him in any other branch, was his extensive information respecting genealogical subjects, in consequence of which he frequently had the arrangement of the pedigrees of some of the first families, which he was enabled to execute from visitation books, and other authentic documents, which fell into his hands. Few men possessed more intelligence respecting the antiquity and descents of the principal families in the inland adjacent counties, and of various others more remote from him. It is much to his credit, likewise, that his industry in collecting could only be exceeded by his willingness to impart any information which he had received. Mr. Beckwith died Feb. 17, 1786. Previous to his death, he had compiled “A Walk in and about the city of York," on the plan of Mr. Gostling's - Walk in and about the city of Canterbury," but we have not heard that it has been published.?

BECQUET (ANTHONY), a native of Paris, where he was born in 1654, became a monk of the Celestine order, and was for forty years their librarian at Paris. He was a man of considerable taste, well acquainted with books and authors, and wrote Latin and French with great purity. He died at Paris, Jan. 20, 1730. His principal work is a history of the congregation of the Celestines, with the lives of the most distinguished men among them. This work, written in Latin, was published at Paris, 1719, 4to. In 1721 he published in French, a pamphlet, entitled “ Supplement et remarques critiques sur le vingt-troisieme chapitre du vi. tome de l'histoire des ordres monastiques et militaires, par le P. Heliot." Where he speaks of the Celestines, Becquet corrects his errors, and throws considerable light on the history of St. Celestin and the order. In the Trevoux memoirs, where this piece is inserted, Becket wrote also some remarks on Baillet's lives of the saints, and on the abbé Fleuri's Ecclesiastical History. He is said to have employed some years on a “Roman Martyrology," with notes biographical, critical, and astronomical, but this has not been published, nor is it certain it was completed.

BECTOZ (CLAUDE DE), daughter of a gentleman of Dauphiné, abbess of St. Honoré de Tarascon, where she was honoured with the name of Scholastica, made great progress in the Latin language, and in several branches of

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science, under Denys Faucher, monk of Lerins and almioner of his monastery. Francis I. was so charmed with the letters of this abbess, that he carried them, as it is said, about him, and shewed them to the ladies of his court, as models for their imitation. He went from Avignon to Tarascon, with queen Margaret of Navarre, for the sake of conversing with this learned lady. She died in 1547, after having published several works, Latin and French, in verse and in prose. Two Italian writers, Louis Domenichi and Augustin della Chiesa, bave published eloges on this lady in their respective works.

BEDA, or BEDE, the brightest ornament of the eighth century, and one of the most eminent fathers of the English church, whose talents and virtues have procured him the name of the VENERABLE BEDE, was born in the year 672, or according to some in the year 673, on the estates belonging afterwards to the abbies of St. Peter and St. Paul, in the bishopric of Durham, at Wermouth and Jarrow, near the mouth of the river Tyne. Much difference of opinion prevails among those who have treated of this illustrious character, respecting the place of his birth, some even contending that he was a native of Italy; but we shall confine ourselves to such facts as seem to be clearly ascercertained by the majority of historians. These are indeed but few, for the life of a studious, recluse, and conscientious ecclesiastic, cannot be supposed to admit of many of the striking varieties of biographical narrative. At the age of seven years, or about the year 679, he was brought to the monastery of St. Peter, and committed to the care of abbot Benedict, under whom and his successor Ceolfrid, he was carefully educated for twelve years, a favour which he afterwards repaid by writing the lives of these his preceptors, which were first published by sir James Ware at Dublin in 1664, 8vo. At the age of nineteen he was ordained deacon, and in the year 702, being then thirty, he was ordained priest by John of Beverley, bishop of Hagulstad or Hexham, who had been formerly one of his preceptors. It was probably from Beverley, a person of high character for piety and learning, that Bede imbibed his opinions concerning the monastic state, and the duties of such as embraced it. The bishop thought that in all professions inen ought to labour for their own maintenance, and

1 Moreri.Dict, Hist.

for the benefit of the society. He was consequently averse to the great errors of this institution, ease and indolence: He inculcated upon Beda's mind, that the duties of this life consisted in a fervent and edifying devotion, a strict adherence to the discipline of the house, an absolute selfdenial with respect to the things of this world, an obedience to the will of his abbot, and a constant prosecution of his studies in such a way as might most conduce to the benefit of his brethren, and the general advantage of the Christian world.

Nor were these lessons thrown away. Beda became so exemplary for his great diligence and application, and his extensive and various learning, that his fame reached the continent, and particularly Rome, where pope Sergius made earnest applications to the abbot Ceolfrid, that Beda might be sent to him; but Beda, enamoured of his studies, remained in his monastery, exerting his pious labours only in the Northumbrian kingdom, although tradition, and nothing but tradition, insinuates that he at one time resided at the university of Cambridge, a place which in his day probably had no existence, or certainly none that deserved the name of university. Remaining thus in his own country, and improving his knowledge by all the learning his age afforded, animated at the same time with a wish to contribute to the improvement of his brethren and countrymen, he concentrated his attentions to that point in which he could be most useful. The collections he made for his “ Ecclesiastical History” were the labour of many years, a labour scarcely conceivable by modern writers in the amplitude and facilities they possess for acquiring information. This history was in some respects a new work, for although, as he owns, there were civil histories from which he could borrow some documents, yet ecclesiastical affairs entered so little into their plan, that he was obliged to seek for materials adapted to his object, in the lives of particular persons, which frequently included contemporary history : in the annals of their convents, and in such chronicles as were written before his time. He also availed himself of the high character in which he stood with many of the prelates, who procured for him such information as they possessed or could command. They foresaw, probably, what has happened, that this would form a lasting record of ecclesiastical affairs, and making allowance for the legendary matter it contains, without a mixture of which it VOL. IV,


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