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That pavement damp and cold
No mingling voices sound-
Oh! change-oh! wondrous change-
Oh! change-stupendous change!
Wheatley, in his Illustration of the Common Prayer, says of the passing bell:-" Our church, in imitation of the saints in former ages, calls on the minister and others to assist their brother in his last extremity. In order to this, when any one is passing out of life, this bell should be tolled but now the passing bell is not struck till the soul has left the body. The passing bell was anciently rung for two purposes: one, to bespeak the prayers of all good Christians for a soul just departing;
and the other, to drive away the evil spirits that stood at the bed's foot, and about the house, ready to seize their prey, or at least to molest and terrify the soul in its passage; but by the ringing of that bell they were kept aloof; and the soul, like a hunted hare, gained the start, or had what is by sportsmen called law. In order to do this effectually, a high price was demanded for the toll of the largest bell; for, being louder, the demons must go further off to be out of its reach." The Golden Legend, by Wynkyn de Worde, also assures us that evil spirits have a dislike to bells. "It is said, the evill spirytes that ben in the regyion of thayre, doubte muche, when they here the belles rongen and this is the cause why the belles ben rongen whan it thondreth, and whan grete tempeste and outrages of wether happen, to the ende that the feinds and wycked spirytes should be abashed and flee, and cease of the movynge of tempeste."
There have been some bells of extraordinary magnitude: that at Pekin, in China, weighs 112,000lbs.; is thirteen feet in height, and three feet in the curve; the metal twelve inches thick. Father Le Compte says, that there are seven of these sonorous monsters at Pekin. They had some very large ones at Nanking; but their enormous weight brought down the tower, and they have ever since been buried in the earth. Father Kircher speaks of a bell at Erfurth, 25,000 lbs. weight. Weever says, "In this little sanctuary at Westminster, King Edward III. erected a clochier, and placed therein three bells, for the use of St. Stephen's Chapel; about the biggest of them were cast in the metal these words:
King Edward made thirtie thousand weight and three,
Take me down and wey mee, and more you shall find mee."
And as for the Bastile, the terror is in the word. Make the most of it you can, said I to myself, the Bastile is but another word for a tower, and a tower is but another word for a house you can't get out of. Mercy on the gouty! for they are in it twice a year; but with nine livres a day, and pen, and ink, and paper, and patience, albeit a man can't get out, he may do very well within, at least for a month or six weeks; at the end of which, if he is a harmless fellow, his innocence appears, and he comes out a better and wiser man than he went in.
I had some occasion (I forget what) to step into the court-yard as I settled this account; and remember I walked down stairs in no small triumph with the conceit of my reasoning. Beshrew the sombre pencil! said I vauntingly, for I envy not its powers which paints the evils of life with so hard and deadly a colouring. The mind sits terrified at the objects she has magnified herself and blackened: reduce them to their proper size and hue, she overlooks them. 'Tis true, said I, correcting the proposition, the Bastile is not an evil to be despised; but strip it of its towers, fill up the fosse, unbarricade the doors, call it simply a confinement, and suppose 'tis some tyrant of a distemper and not of a man which holds you in it, the evil vanishes, and you bear the other half without complaint. I was interrupted in the heyday of this soliloquy with a voice which I took to be of a child, which complained" it could not get out." I looked up and down the passage, and seeing neither man, woman, nor child, I went out without further attention. In my return back through the passage, I heard the same words repeated twice over; and looking up,
I saw it was a starling hung in a little cage ; I can't get out, I can't get out," said the starling. I stood looking at the bird; and to every person who came through the passage, it ran fluttering to the side towards which they approached it, with the same lamentation of its captivity-"I can't get out," said the starling. God help thee! said I, but I'll let thee out, cost what it will; so I turned about the cage to get the door. It was twisted and double twisted so fast with wire there was no getting it open without pulling the cage to pieces. I took both hands to it. The bird flew to the place where I was attempting his deliverance, and thrusting his head through the trellis, pressed his breast against it as if impatient; I fear, poor creature, said I, I cannot set thee at liberty. "No," said the starling, "I can't get out; I can't get out," said the starling. I vow I never had my affections more tenderly awakened; or do I remember an incident in my life where the dissipated spirits, to which my reason had been a bubble, were so suddenly called home. Mechanical as the notes were, yet so true in tune to nature were they chanted, that in one moment they overthrew all my systematic reasonings upon the Bastile; and I heavily walked up stairs, unsaying every word I had said in going down them.
Disguise thyself as thou wilt, still Slavery, said I, still thou art a bitter draught; and though thousands in all ages have been made to drink of thee, thou art no less bitter on that account. 'Tis thou, thrice sweet and gracious goddess, addressing myself to Liberty, whom all in public or in private worship, whose taste is grateful, and ever will be so, till nature herself shall change; no tint of words can spot thy snowy mantle, or chemic power turn thy sceptre into iron; with thee to smile upon him as he eats his crust, the swain is happier than his
monarch, from whose court thou art exiled. Gracious Heaven! cried I, kneeling down upon the last step but one in my ascent, grant me but health, thou great bestower of it, and give me but this fair goddess as my companion, and shower down thy mitres, if it seem good unto thy divine providence, upon those heads which are aching for them.
The bird in his cage pursued me into my room. I sat down close to my table, and leaning my head upon my hand, I began to figure to myself the miseries of confinement. I was in a right frame for it, and so I gave full scope to my imagination. I was going to begin with the millions of my fellowcreatures born to no inheritance but slavery; but finding, however affecting the picture was, that I could not bring it near me, and that the multitude of sad groups in it did but distract me, I took a single captive, and having first shut him up in his dungeon, I then looked through the twilight of his grated door to take his picture. I beheld his body half-wasted away with long expectation and confinement, and felt what kind of sickness of the heart it was which arises from hope deferred. Upon looking nearer, I saw him pale and feverish, in thirty years the western breeze had not once fanned his blood; he had seen no sun, no moon, in all that time, nor had the voice of friend or kinsman breathed through his lattice; his childrenbut here my heart began to bleed, and I was forced to go on with another part of the portrait. He was sitting upon the ground upon a little straw, in the furthest corner of his dungeon, which was alternately his chair and bed: a little calendar of small sticks lay at the head, notched all over with the dismal days and nights he had passed there he had one of these little sticks in his hand, and with a rusty nail he was etching another day of misery to add to the heap. As I darkened the