Basses-Pyreaees, a department of France, bounded S. by the Pyrenees and W. by the bay of Biscay; area, 2,945 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 476,700. It was formed from Beam, Navarre, and a part of Gascony. About half the surface is covered with pastures and marshes; forests occupy one sixth; the rest is fertile. The mountains give birth to numerous torrents, the principal of which are the Adour, Bidouze, and Nive. The chief mineral springs are those of Eaux-Bonnes and Eaux-Chaudes. There is much industrial and commercial activity, and an active trade is carried on through Bayonne. It is divided into the arrondissements of Pau, Bayonne, Orthez, Oloron, and Mauleon. Capital, Pau.
Bassoon, a musical wind instrument made of wood, in the shape of a long tube, which is played by means of a reed through a bent brass mouthpiece. It is called by the Italians fagotto, because composed of two pieces of wood bound together like a fagot, and serves as the base to the clarinet and oboe, its tone being closely assimilated to that of the latter. It has a compass of three octaves, from double B flat to B flat in alt, and from its sweet and plaintive tone is an agreeable instrument in the orchestra, where for many years, however, it occupied a very subordinate position. It was invented by Alfranio, a canon of Pavia, in 1539, and was introduced into England by Handel about 1720.
Bassus Caesius, a Roman lyric poet of the 1st century. Only two lines of his poems are extant, one being quoted by Priscian and another by Diomedes; but he was praised by Quintilian, and Persius addressed a satire to him. He is said to have been destroyed with his villa by the eruption of Vesuvius which buried Herculaneum and Pompeii (79).
Bassutos, a tribe or a political union of several tribes of the Bechuanas, S. Africa. Their territory, which covers an area of about 12,700 sq. m., is bounded E. by Cafiraria and Natal, N. and W. by the Orange Free State, and S. by Cape Colony; pop. estimated at about 100,000. The Bassutos are indebted to a chieftain named Moshesh for improvements in agriculture, the introduction of something like civilized manners, and the organization of a regulated administration. Protestant missionaries, chiefly those of the French societe des missions etangeliques, have been laboring among them since 1830, and have numerous stations. After protracted wars with the Orange Free State, the Bassutos had on March 26, 1866, to conclude a peace by which a portion of their territory was ceded to that republic; the remainder, with about 60,000 inhabitants, was on March 12, 1868, annexed to Natal,
Bastia, a seaport town on the N. E. coast of the island of Corsica, 66 m. N. N. E. of Ajaccio; pop. about 20,000. It is built in the shape of an amphitheatre, on a mountain; has narrow angular streets, and is defended by modern forts. It has a small but convenient harbor, is the chief commercial city of Corsica, and the seat of its highest courts. The inhabitants carry on a trade in skins, wine, oil, wax, and fruits. Bastia was founded in 1380, by the Genoese, Leonel Lomellino. In 1745 the English took it, but were compelled to surrender it in the following year. In 1748 it successfully defended itself against the Austrians and the Piedmontese. After the union of Corsica with France, in 1768, the English held it for a short time, and in 1794, under Admiral Hood, they took the city after a long siege.