Thursday, January 29, 2009


The poem, ‘Curfew Must not Ring Tonight’ by Rose Hartwick Thorpe written in 1867 is based on an incident during the reign of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) as ‘Lord Protector’ of England. It describes the deep love of Bessie, a young and beautiful girl, with the young soldier, Basil Underwood. The soldier was charged with a crime and imprisoned. He was tried, found guilty and condemned to be shot dead at the moment when the bell rings to signal the evening curfew.

The executioners were waiting to hear the curfew bell to carry out the execution. Exactly at the prescribed moment, the bell-ringer grabbed the large rope and pulled it with full force to sound the huge bell. The bell moved but there was no sound. He pulled several times but the bell was silent. Cromwell sent soldiers to investigate why the bell did not sound. They found that Bessie, the soldier’s fiancée had climbed to the top of the bell tower and tied herself to the huge clapper hanging in the heavy bell to prevent its striking against the bell. She was knocked back and forth and smashed between the bell and the clapper with every pull of the rope. Her head, hands and ribs were crushed. She was produced before Cromwell with a bruised and bleeding body. Cromwell was deeply impressed by her willingness to suffer for love. He appreciated her heroic and courageous action and immediately pardoned the prisoner. He said to the lady, “Your lover shall live because of your sacrifice. Curfew shall not ring tonight.”

True love enables one to bear any injury or insult. St. Paul writes “I may be able to speak the languages of men and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell {1Corinthians 13: 1}. He adds, “Love never gives up; and its faith, hope and patience never fail” {1 Corinthians, 13: 7}.

Jesus demonstrated God’s infinite love by suffering public humiliation, agonizing pain and death on the Cross at Calvary to save humanity from the clutches of sin.

Jesus taught “And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples” {John 13: 34, 35}.


By: Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.

This is story No.99 in this site. Please click ‘older posts’ at bottom of page to read previous stories.

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