By Charles Sangster



    A remarkable and touching story is connected with the “Limerick Cathedral Bells.”  They were originally brought from Italy, where they had been manufactured by a young Italian, who devoted a long period of his life to the accomplishment of his darling task.  He afterwards lived for many years in the vicinity of the convent for which they were purchased.  Civil war at length fell like a withering blight upon the land: the convent was razed to the ground, and the bells removed.  The Italian, broken hearted, and no longer young, travelled over the greater part of Europe in search of them; until at length, having sailed for Ireland, and proceeded up the Shannon, the vessel anchored off Limerick; and as the small boat, in which he was, approached the shore, from St. Mary’s steeple came the cheering music of his long-lost bells.  The effect was too much for him: the first peal smote him to the heart, and when they landed, he was found not only dead, but cold as marble.

In fair and sunny Italy, beneath its heavenly sky,
A young and stately Artisan on a mossy bank doth lie;
A light spreads o’er his features, and his darkly flashing eye—
Is it because his lovely wife and children all are nigh?

No—no—but on his ear there falls, from a neighboring convent


The pleasant chime of vesper bells, that proclaim the evening             hour;
And every morn, and every eve, for years it was his pride
To listen to the blending of their tones at eventide.

For they were of his handicraft—his ears first heard the tone
That had become a part of him as those happy years had flown;

            [Page 190]

Each note had been a joy to him, to other hearts unknown,
He would not exchange their music for the honors of a Throne.

But lo! the brand of civil war is flaming o’er the land—
He sees his treasures borne away by the marauder’s hand;
And though old and silver-headed now, he leaves Italia’s plain,


And deigns to tread the wide world o’er to hear their sounds             again.


     Upon St. Mary’s turret
          An old man keeps his eye,
     For there his long-lost idols
          His earthly treasures lie;


     The boat moves on serenely,
          The happy shore is nigh,
     Bathed in the softening radiance
          Of a summer evening sky.

     The old man sits reflecting,


          Perchance on happier times,
     When from the Italian convent
          First pealed those silvery chimes
     That on his ear, incessantly,
          From youth to age did fall,


     Soothing his ravished senses
          With their heaven-ascending call, [Page 191]

     For years he had not heard them,
          For years he had not known—
     Save in his secret memory—


          Their sweetly sounding tone;
     For in a foreign country,
          While he had weary grown,
     Strange ears drank in the melody
          That once was all his own.


     And now the aged wanderer
          Nears the desired shore,
     Fain would he clasp his treasures,
          Fain hear their peals once more,
     When, lo! as if to welcome him,


          Each with the other vied;
     He heard their silvery voices,
          He heard their tones—and died! [Page 192]