Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne
Et properare meum clamant,
     è Turre propinqua,
Obstreperæ Campanæ aliorum
     in funere, funus.

From the Bells of the Church
adjoyning, I am daily remem-
bred of my buriall in the
funeralls of others.

WE have a Convenient Author, who writ a Discourse of Bells, when hee was prisoner in Turky. How would hee have enlarged himselfe if he had beene my fellow-prisoner in this sicke bed, so neere to that Steeple, which never ceases, no more than the harmony of the spheres, but is more heard. When the Turkes took Constantinople, they melted the Bells into Ordnance; I have heard both Bells and Ordnance, but never been so much affected with those, as with these Bells. I have lien near a Steeple, in which there are said to be more than thirty Bels; And neere another, where there is one so bigge, as that the Clapper is said to weigh more than six hundred pound, yet never so affected as here. Here the Bells can scarse solemnise the funerall of any person, but that I knew him, or knew that he was my Neighbour: we dwelt in houses neere to one another before, but now hee is gone into that house, into which I must follow him. There is a way of correcting the Children of great persons, that other Children are corrected in their behalfe, and in their names, and this workes upon them, who indeed had more deserved it. And when these Bells tell me, that now one, and now another is buried, must not I acknowledge, that they have the correction due to me, and paid the debt that I owe? There is a story of a Bell in a Monastery which, when any of the house was sicke to death, rung alwaies voluntarily, and they knew the inevitablenesse of the danger by that. It rung once, when no man was sick; but the next day one of the house, fell from the steeple, and died, and the Bell held the reputation of a Prophet still. If these Bells that warne to a Funerall now, were appropriated to none, may not I, by the houre of the Funerall, supply? How many men that stand at an execution, if they would aske, for what dies that man, should heare their owne faults condemned, and see themselves executed, by Atturney? We scarce heare of any man preferred, but wee thinke of our selves, that wee might very well have beene that Man; Why might not I have beene that Man, that is carried to his grave now? Could I fit my selfe, to stand, or sit in any mans place, and not to lie in any mans grave? I may lacke much of the good parts of the meanest, but I lacke nothing of the mortality of the weakest; They may have acquired better abilities than I, but I was borne to as many infirmities as they. To be an Incumbent by lying down in a grave, to be a Doctor by teaching Mortification by Example, by dying, though I may have seniors, others may be elder than I, yet I have proceeded apace in a good University, and gone a great way in a little time, by the furtherance of a vehement Fever; and whomsoever these Bells bring to the ground to day, if hee and I had beene compared yesterday, perchance I should have been thought likelier to come to this preferment, then, than he. God hath kept the power of death in his owne hands, lest any man should bribe death. If man knew the gaine of death, the ease of death, he would solicite, he would provoke death to assist him, by any hand, which he might use. But as when men see many of their owne professions preferd, it ministers a hope that that may light upon them; so when these hourely Bells tell me of so many funerals of men like me, it presents, if not a desire that it may, yet a comfort whensoever mine shall come. 

Source :
Donne, John.  The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne.
Charles M. Coffin, Ed. New York: Modern Library, 1952. 438-440.
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