1839); a continuation, with W. Wallace, of Sir James Mackintosh’s History of England (vols. iv.-x., 1830-1840); and the fifth volume (1840) of the Lives of the British Admirals, begun by R. Southey. He was a director of the Royal Literary Fund, and well known for his open-hearted generosity to fellow men of letters.
BELL, a hollow metallic vessel used for making a more or less loud noise (A.S. bellan, to bellow; Mid. Eng. “to bell”; cf. “As loud as belleth, winde in helle,” in Chaucer, House of Fame, iii. 713). Bells are usually cup-like in shape, and are constructed so as to give one fundamental note when struck. The term does not strictly include gongs, cymbals, metal plates, resonant bars of metal or wood, or tinkling ornaments, such as e.g. the “bells” upon the Jewish high priest’s dress (Exodus xxviii. 32); nor is it necessary here to deal with the common useful varieties of sheep or cow bells, or bells on sledges or harness. For house bells see the end of this article. A “diving-bell” (see Divers) is only so called from the analogy of its shape.
The main interest of bells and bell-ringing has reference to church or tower bells, their history, construction and uses.
Early Bells.—Of bells before the Christian era there is no trustworthy evidence. The instruments which summoned the Romans to public baths or processions, or that which Lucian (A.D. 180) describes as set in motion by a water-clock (clepsydra) to measure time, were probably cymbals or resonant plates of metal, like the timbrels (corybantia aera, Virg. Aen. iii. 111) used in the worship of Cybele, or the Egyptian sistrum, which seems to have been a sort of rattle. The earliest Latin word for a bell (campana) is late Latin of the 4th or 5th century A.D.; and the first application of bells to churches has been ascribed to Paulinus, bishop of Nola in Campania about A.D. 400. There is, however, no confirmation of this story, which may have arisen from the words campana and nola (a small bell); and in a letter from Paulinus to the emperor Severus, describing very fully the decoration of his church, the bishop makes no mention of bells. It has been maintained with somewhat more reason that Pope Sabinianus (604) first used church bells; but it seems clear that they were introduced into France as early as 550. In the 7th century Bede mentions a bell brought from Italy by Benedict Biscop for his abbey at Wearmouth, and speaks of the sound of a bell being well known at Whitby Abbey at the time of St Hilda’s death (680). St Dunstan hung many in the 10th century; and in the 11th they were not uncommon in Switzerland and Germany. It is said that the Greek Christians were unacquainted with bells till the 9th century; but it is known that for political reasons, after the taking of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, their use was forbidden lest they should provide a popular signal for revolt.
Several old bells are extant in Scotland, Ireland and Wales; the oldest are often quadrangular, made of thin iron plates hammered and riveted together. A well-known specimen is St Patrick’s bell preserved at Belfast, called Clog an eadhachta Phatraic, “the bell of St Patrick’s will.” It is 6 in. high, 5 broad, 4 deep, adorned with gems and gold and silver filigree-work; it is inscribed 1091 and 1105, but it is probably alluded to in Ulster annals in 552. (For Scottish bells, see Illustrated Catalogue of Archaeological Museum, Edinburgh, for 1856.)
The four-sided bell of the Irish missionary St Gall (646) is preserved at the monastery of St Gall, Switzerland. In these early times bells were usually small; even in the 11th century a bell presented to the church at Orleans weighing 2600 ℔ was thought large. In the 13th century larger bells were cast. The bell Jacqueline of Paris, cast in 1400, weighed 15,000 ℔; another Paris bell of 1472, 25,000 ℔; and the famous Amboise bell at Rouen (1501) 36,364 ℔
To these scanty records of the early history of bells may be added the enumeration of different kinds of bells by Hieronymus Magius, in his work De Tintinnabulis:—1. Tintinnabulum, a little bell, otherwise called tinniolum, for refectory or dormitory, according to Joannes Belethus, but Guillaume Durand names squilla for the refectory; 2. Petasius, or larger “broad-brimmed hat” bell; 3. Codon, orifice of trumpet, a Greek hand-bell; 4. Nola, a very small bell, used in the choir, according to Durand; 5. Campana, a large bell, first used in the Latin churches in the steeple (Durand), in the tower (Belethus); 6. Squilla, a shrill little bell. We read of cymbalum for the cloister (Durand) or campanella for the cloister (Belethus); nolula or dupla in the clock; signum in the tower (e.g. in the Excerptions of St Egbert, 750); the Portuguese still call a bell sino.
Bell-founding.—The earliest bells were probably not cast, but made of plates riveted together, like the bells of St Gall or Belfast above mentioned. The bell-founder’s art, originally practised in the monasteries, passed gradually into the hands of a professional class, by whom, in England and the Low Countries especially, were gradually worked out the principles of construction, mixture of metals, lines and proportions, now generally accepted as necessary for a good bell. In England some of the early founders were peripatetic artificers, who travelled about the country, setting up a temporary foundry to cast bells wherever they were wanted. Miles Graye (c. 1650), a celebrated East Anglian founder, carried on his work in this fashion, and in old churchwardens’ accounts are sometimes found notices of payment for the casting of bells at places where no regular foundry is known to have existed. The chief centres of the art in medieval times were London, York, Gloucester and Nottingham; and bells by e.g. “John of York” (14th century), Samuel Smith, father and son, of York (1680-1730), Abraham Rudhall and his descendants of Gloucester (1684-1774), Mot (16th century), Lester and Pack (1750), Christopher Hodson of London (who cast “Great Tom” of Oxford, 1681) and Richard Phelps (1716) are still in high repute. The Whitechapel Bell Foundry (now Mears and Stainbank), established by Robert Mot in 1570, incorporated the business of the Rudhalls, Lester and Pack, Phelps, Briant and others, and is now one of the leading firms of bell-founders; others being Warner and Sons of Spitalfields and Taylor & Co., Loughborough, the founders of “Great Paul” for St Paul’s cathedral (1881). Of Dutch and Flemish founders the firms of van den Gheyn (1550), Hemony (1650), Aerschodt & Wagheven at Louvain and others have a great reputation in the Low Countries, especially for “carillons,” such as those at Antwerp or Bruges, a form of bell-music which has not taken much root in England, despite the advocacy of the Rev. H. R. Haweis, who proclaimed its superiority to English change-ringing.
Bell-metal is a mixture of copper and tin in the proportion of 4 to 1. In Henry III.’s reign it was 2 to 1. In Layard’s Nineveh bronze bells, it was 10 to 1. Zinc and lead are used in small bells. The thickness of the bell’s edge is about one-tenth of its diameter, and its height is twelve times its thickness.
Bells, like viols, have been made of every conceivable shape within certain limits. The long narrow bell, the quadrangular, and the mitre-shaped in Europe at least indicate antiquity, and the graceful curved-inwardly-midway and full trumpet-mouthed bell indicates an age not earlier than the 16th century.
The bell is first designed on paper according to the scale of measurement. Then the crook is made, which is a kind of double wooden compass, the legs of which are respectively curved to the shape of the inner and outer sides of the bell, a space of the exact form and thickness of the bell being left betwixt them. The compass is pivoted on a stake driven into the bottom of the casting-pit. A stuffing of brickwork is built round the stake, leaving room for a fire to be lighted inside it. The outside of this stuffing is then padded with fine soft clay, well mixed and bound together with calves’ hair, and the inner leg of the compass run round it, bringing it to the exact shape of the inside of the bell. Upon this core, well smeared with grease, is fashioned the false clay bell, the outside of which is defined by the outer leg of the compass. Inscriptions are now moulded in wax on the outside of the clay-bell; these are carefully smeared with grease, then lightly covered with the finest clay, and then with coarser clay, until a solid mantle is thickened over the outside of the clay bell. A fire is now lighted, and the whole baked hard; the grease and wax inscriptions steam out through holes at the top, leaving the sham clay bell baked hard and tolerably loose, between the