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When I call to remembrance the Poet of Humanity, who has tranfmitted his Name to Immortality, by Reflections written among the little Tomb-stones of the Vulgar, in a Country Church-Yard; I am urged by no falfe Shame to apologize for the feeming Unimportance of my Subject.
The Antiquities of the Common People cannot be studied without acquiring fome useful Knowledge of Mankind. By the chemical Procefs of Philofophy, even Wisdom may be extracted from the Follies and Superftitions of our Forefathers.
The People, of whom Society is chiefly compofed, and for whofe good, Superiority of Rank is only a Grant made ori. ginally by mutual Conceffion, is a refpectable Subject to every one who is the Friend of Man.
Pride, which, independent of the Idea arifing from the Neceffity of civil Polity, has portioned out the human Genus into fuch a variety of different and fubordinate Species, must be compelled to own, that the loweft of thefe derives itself from an Origin, common to it with the highest of the Kind. The beautiful Sentiment of Terence:
"Homo fum, humani nihil á me alienum puto." may be adopted therefore in this Place, to perfuade us that nothing can be foreign to our Enquiry, which concerns the smallest of the Vulgar; of those little Occupy the lowest Place in the political Arrangement of human Beings.
The late Mr Grey.
N. B. Here follow Mr Bourne's Title Page, Dedication, and Preface.
Of the Soul-Bell, its Antiquity, the Reafon of its Inftitution, the Benefit and Advantage of it, an Exhortation to the Use of it according to its first Inftitution.
HE Ceremony of tolling the Bell at the Time of Death, feems to be as ancient as the having of Bells themfelves; we are told, * it was about the feventh Century when Bells were first in the Church, and that venerable Bede is the firft 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
Bingham's Orig. Eccl. Lib. 3.
mentions the Word Campana, or Bell, there it alfo is, that we find a Bell made ufe of for the Dead: *For at the Death of the Abbefs St. Hilda, he tells us that one of the Sifters of a distant Monaftery, as she was fleeping, thought fhe 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 Occafion about Bede's Time, and confequently that the Ceremony is as ancient as his Days.
The Reason why this custom was instituted,. was not, as fome feem to imagine, for no other End than to acquaint the Neighbourhood, that fuch a Perfon was dead; but chiefly, that whoever heard the Noife of the Bell, fhould put up their Prayers for the Soul: Thus the Father above-mentioned tells us again, † That she who prefided in this Monastery, had no fooner heard this, than fhe raised all the Sifters, and called them into the Church, where she exhorted them to pray fervently, and fing a Requiem for the Soul of their Mother. Caf
Hæc, tunc in dormitorio fororum paufans, exaudivit fubito in aere notum campanæ fonum, quo ad orationes excitari vel convocari folebant, cum quis eorum de feculo fuiffet evocatus. Bed. Eccl. Hift. Lib. 4. Cap. 23.
† Quod cum illa audiffet, fufcitavit cunctas forores & in ecclefiam convocatas, orationibus & pfalmis pro anima matris operam dare monuit. Ibid,
falion alfo upon this Place of Bede, fays, That * the fame Cuftom is ftill obferved in England, that as foon as any bath departed this Life, the Bell belonging to the Parish he liv'd in, was immediately tolled, and for fome Time.—And though (fays 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 Cuftom of the old Church of England.
And for this Reafon it is, that this Custom was first observed, and fhould be still retained among us, viz. That the Prayers of the Faithful may be affifting to the Soul; and certainly it might be more profitably retained, were it fo ordered, that the Bell fhould be tolled before the Perfon's Departure, as was undoubtedly defigned when this Ceremony was continued, that good men might give him their Prayers. Was this always fo obferved, there might be fome Mofes amongst the Number of the Faithful, whofe Prayers could prevail upon God to beat back the Amalekites of Darkness; fome whofe Faith might remove a Mountain of Sins,
* Et talis ritus etiam de præfenti fervatur in Anglia, ut cum quis deceffit, ftatim campana propriæ illius Parochiæ speciali quodam modo fonat per aliquod temporis fpatium.— Quamvis Angli negent modo orationes & fuffragia defunctis proficua; non aliam tamen in hoc ab illis rationem potui percipere, quam quod talis fonus fit ritus antiquæ ecclefiæ Anglicana, Caffali de vet Sac. Chrift. Rit. P. 241.