“The ropes hang through holes in the bell-chamber ceiling; and when touched by the ringer’s practiced hand, the brazen monsters groan in their airy loft above, as they begin to swing on their gudgeons. It is like the first growl of the lion, when the keeper stirs him in his den–but there is no use in their resisting. One moment more, and the ringer has dropped his bell one-half pull, and set her the next–all eight are now fairly raised–hand, ear, eye, and heart of every ringer are intensely strained and engaged in the work; yet, cool withal, no flurry or disorder appearing–
“And through the whole tower there begins to ring a glorious din, which, with the creaking of the wooden bell frames, and a shaking of the very building itself, much reminds one of the noise and recoil of a battle-ship, when she opens her broadside fire.
“Now is the moment for the spectator to hurry up the broad ladder into the belfry, to watch the wild summersaults, performed at intervals, by every bell in the peal. For a moment the bell rests against the slur-bar, turned completely upwards; and the next it swings down, and is immediately turned up again on the other side,–the clapper striking as it ascends. Poor fellows! See how they whirl upon their axles. The gazer almost sickens as he watches their extraordinary revolutions and tossings: but the ringer’s heart is merciless–and when you look at the wretched bell, as at “a thing of life,” and almost expect it to drop motionless and dead on the stocks, a “cannon” is suddenly struck on all eight at once, as if to rouse them afresh for the course of seemingly interminable changes which immediately follow.
“Henceforth the bells appear to roll about in frantic disorder; and, stunned by the noise, chilled by draughts of cold wind, and shaken in nerve by the reverberation, the spectator descends with careful steps from his tyro-visit to the belfry.”
~from The Bell: its Origin, History, and Uses by the Rev. Alfred Gatty, M. A., Vicar of Ecclesfield. (London: George Bell 186 Fleet Street, 60-61), 1848.
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