|Elevating of the bell in the Kremlin. 1674. Engraving
“Ivan the Great Sways”
They tell an interesting story of a bell master M.G.Bogdanov who lifted up the Great Assumption Bell in 1819. “When everything was ready to lift the bell, Metropolitan Serafim visited Moscow. Someone told him that the elevating scaffolding was not very good and the beams of the bell tower were rather unsteady. The matter was so important, that Metropolitan Serafim referred to the General Governor to demand the architect and mechanical engineer to examine the scaffolding and the bell tower”. Indeed, the special clerks of the late count A.P.Tormassov observed the objects, and found both of them unreliable. They offered to erect new elevating scaffolding and to put the granite columns on the bell tower for the special crossbeams. It was obvious that new constructions would demand new significant expenses. Despite all these facts, the bell master Bogdanov insisted that the existing structure is sufficient and reliable. He guaranteed that by his head and was doing that with some noble persistence.
However, it was hard to rely on the assurance of a common man. Fortunately for Bogdanov, there was an experienced architect, who examined the scaffolding and crossbeams in the bell tower and confirmed the reliability of the structure. Then Metropolitan Serafim decided to grant his permission to lift the bell. With several ecclesiastic people he came to the Assumption Cathedral. The square around was filled full of countless people. Suddenly His Grace got a report, that master Bogdanov was crying bitterly at the porch. He got very worried, as he thought that the master was crying of shyness or repentance. He ordered to call for him in order to understand why he was in such despair. He consecrated to lift the bell only after soothing of Bogdanov; the bell went up very fast and smoothly, it passed almost half of the height, when suddenly the word came from all over the square: “Ivan the Great is swaying, the scaffolding is falling down”. The crowd became agitated, pressured women and children were screaming. Fortunately, a chief-police officer A.S.Shulgin showing surprising presence of mind thrust himself into the crowd near the seven winches, which elevated the bell, and declared in a decisive voice, that is the rumor was not true and that was an invention of the swindlers! The crowd calmed down, having realised that neither Ivan the Great, nor the scaffolding are swaying. Bogdanov controlled the winches by the stick and the small bell, he managed to retain the people in their places and to efficiently prevent the disaster. On the same day the bell was safely lifted up and fixed on the crossbars with the help of some new additional beams.
On that very day of the bell elevation the Metropolitan invited M.Bogdanov to his table for the first, but not the last time. No awards for the work could comfort Bogdanov more! He cried of deep emotions and of gratitude, he celebrated, because his services were recognized by the authorities. – “Well! If I did not allow you to raise the bell and send for a permission to St. Petersburg? – asked the metropolitan Serafim. – What would you do?” – “I have already decided” – said Bogdanov – at night I would bring the bell and elevate it with my companions, even if your will would be to punish me!».
It was told, when Bogdanov set the vaults to raise the bell from the pit, a famous foreign engineer came to the plant. He felt sorry for the Russian caster and proved that it would be impossible to elevate such a heavy thing to rotten crossbars. “Come tomorrow to ring the bell!”- was Bogdanov’s answer; indeed, on the next day, the bell was lifted up and remained there until the elevation to the bell tower!
That was the case of the historical memorability of that bell, which left the pleasant trace in the heart of any Russian citizen!»
Historical Guide-Book (Istorichesky putevoditel), 1827