THE BELLS OF FORRABURY CHURCH.
"Farewell, rewards and fairies,
Good housewives now may say:
For now foul sluts in dairies
Do fare as well as they.
"A tell-tate in their company
They never could endure;
And who kept riot secretly
Their mirth, was punish'd sure."
Farewell to the Fairies- Richard Corbet
'The Cornish drolls are dead, each one;
The fairies from their haunts have gone:
There's scarce a witch in all the land,
The world has grown so learn'd and grand."
Henry Quick, the Zennor Poet.
TO this day the tower of Forrabury Church, or, as it is called by Mr Hawker, "the silent tower of Bottreaux," remains without bells. "At Forrabury the chimes have never sounded for a marriage, the knell has never been heard for a funeral." --Collins.
In days long ago, the inhabitants of the parish of Forrabury--which does not cover a square mile, but which now includes the chief part of the town of Boscastle and its harbour--resolved to have, a peal of bells which should rival those of the neighbouring church of Tintagel, which are said to have rung merrily at the marriage, and tolled solemnly at the death, of Arthur.
The bells were cast; the bells were blessed; and the bells were shipped for Forrabury. Few voyages were more favourable; and the ship glided, with a fair wind, along the northern shores of Cornwall, waiting for the tide to carry her safely into the harbour of Bottreaux.
The vesper bells rang out at Tintagel; and the pilot, when he heard the blessed sound, devoutly crossed himself, and bending his knee, thanked God for the safe and quick voyage which they had made.
The captain laughed at the superstition of the pilot, as he called it, and swore that they had only to thank themselves for the speedy voyage, and that, with his arm at the helm, and his judgment to guide them, they should soon have a happy landing. The pilot checked this profane speech; but the wicked captain--and he swore more impiously than ever that all was due to himself and his men--laughed to scorn the pilot's prayer. "May God forgive you !" was the pilot's reply.
Those who are familiar with the northern shores of Cornwall will know that sometimes a huge wave, generated by some mysterious power in the wide Atlantic, will roll on, overpowering everything by its weight and force.
'While yet the captain's oaths were heard, and while the inhabitants on the shore were looking out from the cliffs, expecting, within an hour, to see the vessel, charged with their bells, safe in their harbour, one of these vast swellings of the ocean was seen. Onward came the grand billow in all the terror of its might. The ship rose not upon the waters as it came onward. She was overwhelmed, and sank in an instant close to the land.
As the vessel sank, the bells were heard tolling with a muffled sound, as if ringing the death-knell of the ship and sailors, of whom the good pilot alone escaped with life.
When storms are coming, and only then, the bells of Forrabury, with their dull, muffled sound, are heard from beneath the heaving sea, a warning to the wicked; and the tower has remained to this day silent.