"Consule Jones"
A Glimpse of St Beuno's Through the Eye of a Beadle

Welsh air `Cader Idris' or `Jenny Jones'
(My name's Edward Morgan, I live at Llangollen)

My name's Peter Prestage, I'm Beadle at St Beuno's,
My post is a sinecure, sine qua non,
I have made it a point to see what's under my nose
And here's a short statement of things that go on.
There's Hayden at work upon `graces' and `merits'
Barraud warbles snatches of tunes and of tones,
While Reeve all the while may be out with the ferrets,
Our tastes are so various "consule Jones".

Bacon (the title of one he must pardon)
And James the Primeval from over the Main
Are evergreen natures from Paradise garden,
Mates ever mating and mating again.
Cardwell an Englishman once and a true man
His thoughts all turned German, his words all gone gruff:
A learned and amiable bonfire scarce human
Serves to warn Dubberley not to take snuff.

Scoles an Apostle whose method is `souping'
has cakes for the belly, and truths for the head.
All round the affectionate Taffies come trouping
They know on which side he has buttered their bread.
Clayton a sturdy ostensible Sisyphus,
making a road which will never be made,
looks on, and lets others (he seems in a busy fuss)
trundle the barrow and sweat at the spade.

Murphy makes sermons so fierce and hell-fiery,
mothers miscarry and spinsters go mad.
Hayes pens his seven and twentieth diary,
Bodo' does not, there's no time to be had.
Lund, ever youthful, well visor'd and turban'd,
Robs hives of that honey which we are to sip
And we should live at peace but we harbour a serpent,
'tis calumny dropped from de Lapasture's lip.

These are our notables though we have others,
Rigby alone would employ me till ten;
And I can but allude to two bivalves of brothers
The Splaines of the `North Pole', the Kerrs of the Den.
Of the first I'll add so much, if they'll not look daggers,
I fancy they'll list in the cavalry soon--
for I think, as I see them swing by with such swaggers
that Sib's a Huzzar and that Bill's a dragoon.

How blest is the man with a fireplace and scuttle!
His mate of the `Hamlet' sits cold in his cot.
The laybrothers' distinction of bedrooms is subtle:
some heating by `piping' and some `piping hot'.
Such are my thoughts of our folk and our domicile
couched in plain language not meant to be rude;
and having thus been as good as my promise I'll
keep you no longer, and here I'll conclude.



"Consule Jones"
Newfound poem by Gerald Manly Hopkins, S.J.

by Joseph Feeney, S.J.

Last July, in the Jesuit archives in London, I discovered an unknown poem by the English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ (1844-89). comic work of 48 lines, "Consule Jones" was written in 1875 to entertain his Jesuit community at St. Beuno's College in north Wales, where Hopkins was studying theology in preparation for priesthood. The date is significant: it was composed a few months before his first great poem, "The Wreck of the Deutschland," one of the finest odes in English. "Consule Jones" reveals the sounds, rhymes, rhythms, and wordplay that filled his mind at the threshold ofpoetic brilliance.

Its title, playing on a Latin ablative absolute, means "when Jones was rector," and the poem tells how Jones's community--Hopkins's fellow theologians--spent their lesiure hours. Written as if narrated by Peter Prestage, SJ, the theologians' beadle (liaison with the rector), it shows the young Jesuits working on theology or German, practicing sermons ("tones"), hunting rabbits with ferrets, mating birds or small animals, puffing on a pipe or taking snuff, teaching catechism to Welsh children ("Taffies") while giving them sweets ("souping" is to make converts by offering food), building paths, writing sermons and diaries, and keeping bees. One man is so gentle that people joke about it, another seems terribly busy, and two blood brothers walk with the swagger of cavalrymen. A wry comment on St. Beuno's unsuccessful new heating system ends the poem.

"Consule Jones" was first "performed" (Hopkins's word) on July 22, 1875, perhaps sung by Hopkins himself. The occasion was the annual visit of the Jesuit superior from London. That day, records the vice-rector, "after dinner the community assembled at the little Rock" on the hill behind St. Beuno's "and spent the evening pleasantly with songs."

They surely had a good time. Since St. Beuno's is in Wales, "Consule Jones" is written to a Welsh melody--the lively "Cader Idris" (also known as "Jenny Jones")--in 3/4 time. The rhymes bring further jollity: Beuno's/my nose, true man/human, Sisyphus/busy fuss, and domicile/promise I'll. One couplet is gloriously ridiculous: "Murphy makes sermons so fierce and hell-fiery/mothers miscarry and spinsters go mad." The anapestic rhythm, two sort syllables followed by one long one, adds its own verve as the lines follow or dodge the music's beat, foreshadowing Hopkins's famous sprung rhythm.

Unlike his typically serious, often anguished poems, "Consule Jones" presents an antic Hopkins who enjoyed the comic verse of Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, W. S. Gilbert, and Thomas Hood (a Hopkins family friend). Mr Hopkins, SJ, shows a surprising skill as both comic poet and lively entertainer.