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challenge our approbation, is “ The Art of Ringing,”—than which none is stated to be more diverting, ingenious, harmless, and healthful. The author of “ Campanalogia Improved,” stoutly defends his Sport from the reproach of it's being “ a mean and mechanical exercise,” — as many noble and ingenious persons have expressed their delight in it, and have been very ambitious of acquiring a perfect knowledge of the art. And he adds, that there are several learned and eminent persons, both Clergy and Laymen of good estates, who are Members of several Societies of Ringers, within the City, who think themselves much respected, and highly favoured, that they can arrive at so great an happiness and honour.
Of the melody of Bells he observes, that no Musick, either vocal or instrumental, can afford a more pleasant and harmonious sound, than eight or ten merry Bells well rung by so many Ringers, who are well skilled and practised in this art, -wherefore, it must be allowed to be a very proper and suitable exercise for one who is apt to be melancholy, to divert and withdraw his thoughts from keeping company with so hurtful and pernicious a companion.
Nor is it less esteemed and admired by several Foreigners, whose curiosity has engaged them to travel through many countries of Europe, acknowledging that in all parts wherever they have been, the Science is brought to the greatest perfection here, and therefore, they have, not improperly, named England, “ The Ringing Island.” 12
HENTZNER, when describing the manners of the English, says,“ they are pow“ erful in the field, successful against “ their enemies, impatient of any thing “ like Slavery, — vastly fond of great “ noises that fill the ear, such as the firing “ of cannon, drums, and the ringing of “ Bells, so that it is common for a num“ber of them, that have got a glass in “ their heads, to go up into some belfry,
Campanalogia, pp. 1, et seq.
“ and ring the bells for hours together, for “ the sake of exercise." 13
The late Dr. PARR was partial to the art of Bell-ringing, and proud of his little peal at Hatton-and in his copy of the “ Clavis Campanalogiæ” he fondly styled it, “ a favourite book.”.
Of an amusement so warmly praised, it were not unreasonable to suppose, that some admirers would testify their affection by pecụniary bequests.
In 1683, half an acre of land was given by some person, whose name is forgotten, for the benefit of the Bell-Ringers of the parish of Harlington, to provide them with a leg of pork, for ringing on the 5th of November. It is called “ The Pork Acre,” and is let for 50s. a year.
In 1730, THOMAS KEMP, of Laleham, gave an annuity of 20s. to the young men of Chertsey, to ring and make merry with, on the 6th of August yearly, in remembrance of him.—And he also
13 Hentzner's Travels, p. 47. 14 Rep. ix. p. 226.
gave another annuity of 10s. to the young men of East Molesey, for the like festive purpose. 15
In 1750, THOMAS CHAPMAN, Clerk of the parish of Catton, gave the interest of a small sum,“ to the three best Ringers that
may be had, for ringing on Christmasday.” 16
? videIn 1787, MARK -SMITHSON, of. Ald. borough, bountifully gave 101. a year to the Ringers of that Town, to ring a peal on Thursday evenings and Sundays. 17
In 1817, JAMES HARRIS, of Shiere, in Surrey, gaye to the Ringers of the Church bells 10s. yearly for ever on old Christmasday.18
Other benefactors have provided against the wear occasioned by these frequent Peals, by specifying their gifts expressly for the purchase of Bell Ropes.!!
So that it is evident, that these donors were not only delighted with the “ noble
15 Rep. XI. p. 620.
17 Rep. III. p.
450. 16 Rep. XI. p. 725. 18 Rep. XIII. p. 464. 19 Rep. IV. p. 267.—Rep. XIII. p. 525.-Rep. xiv.
recreation of ringing,” but strove to encourage it as a Science.
The custom of putting out their fires and lights about sun-set in Summer, and about eight o'clock at night in Winter, at the sounding of a Bell, called the “ Couvre Feu,” or “ Curfew Bell,” is supposed by some writers to have been introduced by WILLIAM the First, and to have been imposed upon the English as a badge of Servitude.20 But this opinion does not seem to be well founded. For there is sufficient evidence, that the same Custom prevailed in France, Spain, Italy, Scotland, and probably in all the Countries of Europe, at that period,--and was intended as a precaution against fires, which were then very frequent and very fatal, when so many houses were built of wood.21
20 Hume's Hist. of England, vol. i. p. 479.
Henry's Hist. of Brit. 4to. vol. iii. p.567.