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THE HUGUENOT SOCIETY OF LONDON.
Third Ordinary Meeting of the Session, 1885-6, held at the Criterion, Piccadilly, W.
Wednesday, 17th March, 1886.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Austen Layard, G.C.B., &c., President, in the Chair.
The minutes of the Meeting held on the 13th January were read and confirmed.
The following candidates for admission to the Society were elected Fellows:
Henry Bathurst, Esq., late Captain 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Springhill, Frome, Somerset ;
Edwin Francis Chamier, Esq., Stamford Hill, Stratton, Cornwall;
Lady Cope, Bramshill, Hampshire;
The Hon. Sir John Henry de Villiers, L.L.D., K.C.M.G., Chief Justice of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope and President of the Legislative Council of the same Colony, Wynberg House, Wynberg, Cape of Good Hope;
The Rev. Jan Hendrik du Plessis, Clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church and Administrator of its Funds, Hofmeyr Chambers, Cape Town, South Africa;
George Somes Layard, Esq., Barrister at Law, 1, Hare Court, Temple, E.C.;
Capt. Charles Miller Layton, F.S.A., Shortlands, Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone;
H. Pigé Leschallas, Esq., Highams, Bagshot;
Johannes Swellengrebel le Sueur, Esq., Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa;
The Rev. Hendrik Carel Vos Liebbrandt, Keeper of the Colonial Archives and Parliamentary Librarian, Cape Town, 37, Roeland Street, Cape Town, South Africa;
The Rev. F. Henry Papillon, 12, Cheniston Gardens, W.; William Wyndham Portal, Esq., M.A., Southington and Laverstoke Mills, Overton, Hants.
On the recommendation of the Council, M. le Pasteur E. Arnaud, of Crest, Drôme, France, author of various works on French Protestant history, was elected an Honorary Fellow.
The President congratulated those present on the progress being made by the Society, which though less than a year old, now numbered about 180 Fellows. He referred to the absence, through domestic bereavement, of Mr. E. E. Stride, Member of Council, asking for him the sympathy of the Fellows in his sorrow. Speaking of the Fellows just elected, the President called attention to the fact that four were resident at the Cape of Good Hope and in each of these cases the form of application for admission had endorsed on it the pedigree of the applicant carried back for about two centuries. The President strongly recommended that this admirable precedent should be followed as frequently as possible.
After glancing at the work being done by the Huguenot Societies in France and America, and enforcing the duty of preserving such Huguenot records and traditions as still exist in England, the President called upon Mr. G. H. Overend to read the following paper:
THE FIELD PREACHINGS AT ANTWERP IN 1566 WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF THE ERECTION OF PROTESTANT TEMPLES IN THAT CITY.
A writer in a recent number of the Contemporary Review remarks upon the high esteem in which preaching was held amongst the Huguenots. Commenting upon the phrase "sitting "under the Word," he says it suggests to him the idea that the preacher was regarded as a channel of grace, and that in "listening to a sermon, refreshment was experienced analogous "to that produced in a plant by a copious shower." This predilection for sermons has always been a marked characteristic of times of great religious excitement. Another prominent feature of such times is the immense number of persons attending the the sermons, which are generally delivered in the open air. Either because no building can be found large enough to hold every one desirous of hearing some famous preacher, or through a lack of preachers of a particular doctrine, or because of the mutual protection afforded by a large crowd against attack, a religious revival is commonly distinguished by the huge size of the congregations. We have instances of this in our own country in the assemblies of the Scotch Covenanters, in the audiences of Wesley and Whitefield, and in later times in the meetings addressed by Moody and Sankey, But perhaps one of the most remarkable examples of it is to be found in the field preachings at Antwerp in the year 1566.
There was at this time no properly accredited representative of England in the Netherlands. Owing to the acts of piracy then common and difficulties which had arisen in the cloth and woollen trade, the commercial relations between the two countries were highly strained and "the intercourse was temporarily suspended. But Elizabeth still had agents there, who, as their business consisted chiefly in the raising of loans for the English Government, resided as a rule at Antwerp as the place best suited for that purpose. But though occupied with financial matters, these agents did not neglect to furnish Cecil with an account of every event of importance that came under their notice, and it is from passages in their letters home that the present paper has been mainly compiled. The most eminent of these agents was Sir Thomas Gresham, but his visits to Antwerp at this time were very rare, and in point of interest his letters are far surpassed by those of his servant, Richard Clough, which supply the fullest details concerning the preachings. The narrative of Clough has been largely supplemented from the letters of John Fitzwilliams, John Keyle, Thomas Cotton, and John Worrall, and for the period after the departure of the Prince of Orange to Germany in the spring of 1567, from the advices of the Italian merchants resident at Antwerp. These letters are printed in a volume recently issued by the Royal Commission of History of Belgium, entitled, "Relations Politiques des Pays-Bas et de l'Angleterre sous le règne de "Philippe II." The earlier publications of this Commission were largely made use of by Motley, and the main features of these famous preachings are described in his "Rise of the Dutch "Republic." But with the exception of a few quotations from one or two of the letters, which he found printed in Burgon's Life of Gresham, Motley does not appear to have made use of any of the documents here referred to. In order to add a freshness to the story the various incidents of the preachings are given with all details as they are narrated in these letters, and the quaint phraseology* of the writers has been preserved as far as possible in the relation of the more important events.
The field preachings of the Reformers commenced at Antwerp on St. Peter's Day, Saturday, the 29th June, 1566. It had been reported that a great number of Frenchmen, some men of position, had come to the town "about matters of religion," and apparently some trouble was anticipated by the authorities. Orders had been sent to apprehend certain preachers, and to punish those who had attended their services. The Italians * The spelling has however been modernised.
and Spaniards in the town had become greatly alarmed, and appealed to the Magistrates for protection, The chief Abbot petitioned for leave to fill his house with men to provide against attack. His prayer was, however, refused, and he was forced to be contented with the assurance, that no harm would be done to him or his monks if they remained quiet. The burgesses were individually warned by messages sent to their houses, not to stir out of the town on the Saturday, while the gates were kept by armed men. Yet notwithstanding this, two preachers held services attended by an immense concourse of people. The one, "Monsieur Marviell, a French gentleman," who had been been in England with the Marchioness of Northampton, addressing a meeting in a little wood about a mile from the the town, and the other, "Johannes Flaman, a Dutchman,” sent by the Elector Palatine, delivering his discourse under a hedge close by,
From ten to twelve thousand persons of both sexes, " many of them of very good credit and vocation," assembled to hear them, passing through the gates in great troops, without hindrance from the warders. Keyle, who was an eyewitness, in reporting the matter to Cecil the next day, says he never saw people go to any thing more joyfully, nor return more "tentedly, nor use themselves in the churches more reverently than they did in the fields."
In the afternoon of the next day, Sunday, sermons were again preached in the same places, in French and Dutch, the crowd of hearers being greatly increased. The services were attended by Nicholas de Hammes, Councillor of the Order of the Golden Fleece and "Toison d'Or," who had been sent by the Regent, the Duchess of Parma. He announced to the preachers and their audiences," that the Regent and Council "did not only marvel at their uproars and unlawful usages, but "also commanded them to leave the same in any wise." They replied, “that neither did they use any uproar, nor stir any "person to unquietness, nor disobedience to their Prince, nor "meant to do none, but in all things would diligently obey him "and all his laws, in all civil matters. But as for that they did, there was matter touching their souls [of] which their Prince had not the order, and that would they continue in 'still, and for no commandment that by him was sent, or other"wise should come unto them," would they cease. To this de Hammes answered, "My Masters, now that I have said and "done mine embassade unto you, now will I talk with you as a "Christian brother, being glad and most joyful to see your
constancy, and do most earnestly desire you all, in the name of Him whom you profess, that you, with the same godly "minds and constant souls, continue as you have begun; and "fear not for any respect their threatening, for God is strong enough for you, and friends you lack not, so long as you "keep from tumult and seditions, as I hope you will."
The Lords, or Magistrates as they are also called, were now requested to provide a church for the preachers, and it was arranged to hold the services meanwhile three times a week.
So far no disturbance had taken place, the Magistrates contenting themselves with stationing men at the gates, to warn those who passed through against attending the sermons.
On the following Tuesday, a great festival was to be held in honour of Our Lady, to whom the Cathedral was dedicated. Strict orders were issued that no one should leave the town to attend the field preachings. But threats and entreaties were used in vain, and close upon 18,000 persons were present. Three sermons were preached, two in Dutch and one in French. Some slight commotion was caused at the meetings by the approach of four or five horsemen, who rode suddenly up to the crowd; but the preachers, keeping their places, called out to the people not to fear, one of them saying, "It is I they "seek the father-and not the children," and then went on with his discourse. This was reported in the town, rumour magnifying the disturbance, and many persons came to witness the return home of the congregations.
Personally, many of the Magistrates were not so opposed to the new teaching as their official action would seem to indicate. The course they took was in a great measure prompted by a fear, that if they exhibited any sympathy with the reformed doctrines, they would be accused of encouraging sedition. Their position was one of great difficulty. On the one hand, they ran the risk of endangering the privileges of the town if they neglected the Regent's orders, on the other, any attempt to suppress the preachings by force would be accompanied by great rioting and bloodshed. One of them sent for one of the merchants, an intimate friend of his-a very wealthy man and known to belong to the new church-and earnestly besought him to persuade his co-religionists not to cease their attendance at the preachings, whatever order came from the Lords, giving him to understand, that from them they would receive no harm. He also desired him to try to induce some of the better class of merchants to be present at the services "that it might not appear to the[ir] adversaries that none "went but common and mean people.'