Helping to put to flames the great libraries whose loss he now deplored

A sample character sketch from Rose Macaulay’s The Towers of Trebizond (ch4). Another author I’ve long meant to read and now wish I’d taken up sooner.

Father Chantry-Pigg said later on that this [refusal to register arguments] made it difficult to discuss theology with Turks, as one had been used to do with Byzantines, who had reasoned all the time, reasoning themselves in and out of all the heresies in the world, and no doubt they could easily have reasoned themselves into the Anglican heresy. Father Chantry-Pigg always spoke as if he had just parted from the Byzantines, and was apt to sigh when he mentioned them, though, as aunt Dot pointed out, he had missed them by five centuries. His crusading ancestor, Sir Jocelyn de Chantry, had found them, but, being of the Latin Church, had dealt with them unkindly. The fact was that Father Chantry-Pigg would not really have liked the Byzantines much had he encountered them, though he would have preferred them to Turks and other Moslems. He was not actually a sympathetic clergyman, and, had he been with his ancestor for the great attack on Constantinople in 1203, he would have been among those who, brandishing the cross above their heads, massacred and pillaged and looted in the name of Latin Christendom, helping to put to flames the great libraries whose loss he now deplored. He was better at condemning than at loving; aunt Dot used to wonder what Christ would have said to him.

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