Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 04.djvu/169

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Bell
Bell
165

graphy. He was forthwith entrusted with the serious task of preparing and editing an unabridged edition of Rollin's 'Ancient History' Glasgow, 1828, 3 vols. 8vo. The original notes, geographical, topographical, historical, and critical, with the life of the author by Bell, serve to this day to place this edition at the head of all that have yet appeared in English. Bell's fame as a geographical author reached its climax in his 'System of Geography, Popular and Scientific,' Glasgow, 1830, 6 vols. 8vo. It may be fairly urged that it opened a new era in the study of geography in our language; but it is doubtful if it nas commanded the attention of the geographical student south of the Tweed as much as it even now deserves. By his contemporaries Bell was held to be 'certainly one of the first critical geographers of this country.' In its method it never yet has been, and probably never will be, entirely superseded. The chapters on the history of geography contained in the third volume of Rollin and in the sixth volume of his 'System of Geography' have apparently served for models for all subsequent attempts of the kind during the last half-century.

His latest, but posthumous, work, 'A Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales,' Glasgow 1836, 4 vols. 8vo, although now almost obsolete, was, in its day, an exceedingly useful book of reference, a model of conciseness, and still valuable for its introduction drawn up under twelve sections; one of these, on the cartography of England and Wales, compiled mainly from Gough's 'British Topography,' is a feature peculiar to the gazetteer which has never been imitated by any subsequent one.

In forming a correct estimate of Bell and his literary work it is necessary to note that although he was an accomplished classical scholar, as his notes to Rollin show, he was not always an exact one, being more intent upon elucidating the ideas of his author than upon niceties of language. Finally, the greater portion of his work was done under the disadvantages of ill-health, the want of powerful friends, and an exceedingly limited apparatus of books; the last disadvantage his extraordinary memory enabled him to partially overcome. His religious sentiments were thoroughly Calvinistic, tempered with a feeling of wide tolerance for tne religious convictions of others, while few could wield the weapons of theological controversy with greater vigour and effect. Owing to increasing attacks of asthma to which he had always been subject, he waa obliged to leave Glasgow about ten or twelve years before his death and retire into the country. The place selected for the scene of his labours was a humble cottage at Campsie, twelve miles north of Glasgow. He died in this secluded but beautiful spot 3 May 1833, and was there buried, at the age of sixty-four.

[Anderson's Scottish Nation, i. 282; Chambers's Biogr. Dict, of Eminent Scotsmen, ed. Thomson, 1868, i. 119; Dublin University Mag. i. 687; Edin. Journal of Natural and Geographical Science, ii. 109, 193; Roy. Geog. Soc. Journal, ix. lvii.]

C. H. C.

BELL, JOHN, LL.D. (d. 1556), bishop of Worcester, was a native of Worcestershire, and was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, and at Cambridge, where he took the degree of LL.B. in 1504. He probably attended Sylvester Gygles, bishop of Worcester, to Rome, when sent by Henry VIII to the Lateran Council, for Sylvester in his letters thence mentions him as in communication with the pope, and as the best man to fill the vacancy of master of the English Hospital. He speaks of him as 'Master Bell, now dean of the arches' (State Papers Henry VIII, ii. 849, 928). In 1618 he was made by Sylvester vicar-general and chancellor of the diocese of Worcester, offices which he continued to hold under two of his successors (Thomas, Survey of Worcester Cathedral p. 206). Bell was rector of Sub-Edge, Gloucestershire, warden of the collegiate church of Stratford-upon-Avon, master of the hospital of St. Walstan's, archdeacon of Gloucester, and prebendary of Lichfield, St. Paul's, Lincoln, and Southwell cathedrals. At length his abilities being made known to Henry VIII, he was made one of his chaplains, sent by him to foreign princes on state affairs, and at his return was one of his counsellors' (ib.) While abroad he was made LL.D. of some foreign university, in which degree he was incorporated at Oxford in 1631 (Wood, Fasti, pt. i. col. 88). In 1626 Bell as 'official of Worcester' appears frequently as a member of the court appointed by Wolsey for the trial of heretics (State Papers Henry VIII, iv. 885-6). During the next three years he seems to have been in almost constant attendance upon the king, employed by him in divers ways in furthering his divorce from Katharine. He appeared as the king's proxy in 1527. In 1628 he was consulted by the king and by Wolsey on the pope's dispensation, and on the commission to Wolsey and Campeggio to decide the validity of his union with Katharine. In 1629, when the cause came before the legates in Blackfriars Hall, Bell appeared on several occasions as one of