|Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916.|
Vol. V. Nineteenth Century
|The Synod of Dordrecht|
|By Sydney Smith (17711845)|
From Letters to Archdeacon Singleton
I MET the other day, in an old Dutch chronicle, with a passage so apposite to this subject, that, though it is somewhat too light for the occasion, I cannot abstain from quoting it. There was a great meeting of all the clergy at Dordrecht, and the chronicler thus describes it, which I give in the language of the translation:And there was a great store of bishops in the town, in their robes goodly to behold, and all the great men of the state were there, and folks poured in in boats on the Meuse, the Merve, the Rhine, and the Linge, coming from the Isle of Beverlandt and Isselmond, and from all quarters in the Bailiwick of Dort; Arminians and Gomarists, with the friends of John Barneveldt and of Hugh Grote. And before my lords the bishops, Simon of Gloucester who was a bishop in those parts, disputed with Vorstius and Leoline the monk, and many texts of Scripture were bandied to and fro; and when this was done, and many propositions made, and it waxed towards twelve of the clock, my lords the bishops prepared to set them down to a fair repast, in which was great store of good thingsand among the rest a roasted peacock, having in lieu of a tail the arms and banners of the archbishop, which was a goodly sight to all who favoured the Churchand then the archbishop would say a grace, as was seemly to do, he being a very holy man; but ere he had finished, a great mob of townspeople and folks from the country, who were gathered under the window, cried outBread! bread! for there was a great famine and wheat had risen to three times the ordinary price of the sleich; and when they had done crying Bread! bread! they called outNo bishops!and began to cast up stones at the windows. Whereat my lords the bishops were in a great fright, and cast their dinner out of the window to appease the mob, and so the men of that town were well pleased, and did devour the meats with a great appetite; and then you might have seen my lords standing with empty plates, and looking wistfully at each other, till Simon of Gloucester, he who disputed with Leoline the monk, stood up among them and said, Good my lords, is it your pleasure to stand here fasting, and that those who count lower in the Church than you do should feast and fluster? Let us order to us the dinner of the deans and canons, which is making ready for them in the chamber below. And this speech of Simon of Gloucester pleased the bishops much; and so they sent for the host, one William of Ypres, and told him it was for the public good, and he much fearing the bishops, brought them the dinner of the deans and canons; and so the deans and canons went away without dinner, and were pelted by the men of the town, because they had not put any meat out of the window like the bishops; and when the count came to hear of it, he said it was a pleasant conceit, and that the bishops were right cunning men, and had dingd the canons well.