« PreviousContinue »
When I call to remembrance the Poet of * Humanity, who has transtnitted his Name to Immortality, by Reflections writ. ten among the little Tomb-stones of the Vulgar, in a Country Church-Yard; I am urged by no false Shame to apologize for the seeming Unimportance of my Subject.
The Antiquities of the Common People cannot be studied without acquiring some useful Knowledge of Mankind. By the chemical Process of Philosophy, even Wisdom may be extracted from the Follies and Superstitions of our Forefathers.
The People, of whom Society is chiefly composed, and for whose good, Superiority of Rank is only a Grant made ori. ginally by mutual Conceflion, is a respectable Subject to every one who is the Friend of Man.
Pride, which, independent of the Idea arising from the Neceflity of civil Polity, has portioned out the human Genus into such a Variety of different and subordinate Species, must be compelled to own, that the lowelt of these derives itself from an Origin, common to it with the bigheft of the Kind. The beautiful Sentiment of Terence :
“ Homo sum, humani nihil á me alienum puto." may be adopted therefore in this place, to persuade us that nothing can be foreign to our Enquiry, which concerns the smallest of the Vulgar; of those little ones, who occupy the lowest Place in the political Arrangement of human Beings. Westgate-Street, Newcastle, 2
J. B. Nov. 27, 1976.
• The late Mr Grey.
N. B. Here follow Mr Bourne's Title Page, Dedi
cation, and Preface.
Of the Soul-Bell, iis Antiquity, the Reason of its
Institution, the Benefit and Advantage of it, an Exhortation to the Use of it according to its first Inftitution.
T HÉ Ceremony of tolling the Bell at
the Time of Death, seeins to be as
ancient as the having of Bells themselves; we are toid, * it was about the seventh Century when Bells were first in the Church, and that venerable Bede is the first that mentions them. If this be true, then it is as true, that the tolling of the Bell was instituted about that Time; for where our Countryman
mentions the Word Campana, or Bell, there it also is, that we find a Bell made use of for the Dead: * For at the Death of the Abbess St. Hilda, he tells us that one of the Sisters of a distant Monastery, as lhe was lleeping, thought she heard the well-known Sound of that Bell, which called them to Prayers, when any of them had departed this Life. But be that as it will, it is evident that the Bell was tolled upon this Occasion about Bede's Time, and consequently that the Ceremony is as ancient as his Days.
The Reason why this custom was instituted, . was not, as some seem to imagine, for no other End than to acquaint the Neighbourhood, that such a Person was dead; but chiefly, that whoever heard the Noise of the Bell, should put up their Prayers for the Soul: Thus the Father above-mentioned tells us again, † That she who presided in this Monastery, had no sooner heard this, than she raised all the Sifters, and called them into the Church, where The exhorted them to pray fervently, and fing a Requiem for the Soul of their Mother. Casa
. * Hæc, tunc in dormitorio fororum pausans, exaudivit Iubito in aere notum campana fonum, quo ad orationes excitari vel convocari folebant, cum quis eorum de feculo fuisset evocatus. Bed. Eccl. Hift. Lib. 4. Cap. 23.
+ Quod cum illa audisset, fufcitavit cunctas forores & in ecclefiam convocatas, orationibus & pfalmis pro anima matris operam dare monuit. lbid.
Palion also upon this place of Bede, fays, That * the fame Custom is fill observed in England, that as foon as any hath departed this Life, the Bell belonging to the Parish he liv’d in, was immediately tolled, and for some Time. And though (says he) the English now deny, that Prayers are of any Service to the Dead; yet I could meet with no other Account of this Ceremony, than that it was a Custom of the old Church of England.
And for this Reason it is, that this Custom was first observed, and fhould be still retained · among us, viz. That the Prayers of the Faith
ful may be aflisting to the Soul; and certainly it might be more profitably retained, were it so ordered, that the Bell should be tolled before the Person's Departure, as was undoubtedly designed when this Ceremony was continued, that good men might give him their Prayers. Was this always so observed, there might be some Mofes amongst the Number of the Faithful, whose Prayers could prevail upon God to beat back the Amalekites of Darkness; foine whose Faith might remove a Mountain of Sins,
* Et talis ritus etiam de præsenti fervatur in Anglia, ut cum quis deceflit, ftatim campana propriæ illius Parochiæ speciali quodam modo fonat per aliquod temporis fpatium.Quamvis Angli negent modo orationes & suffragia defun&tis proficua; non aliam tamen in hoc ab illis rationem potui per. cipere, quam quod talis fonus sit ritus antiquæ ecclesiæ Anglicane, Gasali de vet Sac. Christ. Rit. P. 241.