Jul 282018
 

Today is the birthday (1844) of Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ, an English poet and Jesuit priest, whose posthumous fame established him among the leading Victorian poets. His manipulation of prosody (particularly his concept of sprung rhythm and use of imagery) established him as an innovative writer of verse. Two of his major themes were nature and religion.

Hopkins was born in Stratford in Essex (now in Greater London), as the eldest of probably nine children to Manley and Catherine (Smith) Hopkins. He was baptized at the Anglican church of St John’s, Stratford. His father founded a marine insurance firm and at one time served as Hawaiian consul-general in London. He was also for a time churchwarden at St John-at-Hampstead. His maternal grandfather was the physician John Simm Smith, a university colleague of John Keats, and close friend of the eccentric philanthropist Ann Thwaytes. As a poet, Hopkins’ father published works including A Philosopher’s Stone and Other Poems (1843), Pietas Metrica (1849), and Spicelegium Poeticum, A Gathering of Verses by Manley Hopkins (1892). He reviewed poetry for The Times and wrote one novel. Gerard’s mother was particularly fond of music and of reading, especially German philosophy, literature and the novels of Dickens. Both parents were deeply religious high-church Anglicans. Catherine’s sister, Maria Smith Giberne, taught Gerard to sketch. This interest was supported by his uncle, Edward Smith, his great-uncle Richard James Lane, a professional artist, and many other family members. Hopkins’ first ambitions were to be a painter, and he continued to sketch throughout his life, inspired, as an adult, by the work of John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites. Hopkins became a skilled draughtsman and found that his early training in visual art complemented his later work as a poet.

Manley Hopkins moved his family to Hampstead in 1852, near to where John Keats had lived 30 years before and close to the wide green spaces of Hampstead Heath. When 10 years old, Hopkins was sent to board at Highgate School from 1854 to 1863. While studying Keats’s poetry, he wrote “The Escorial” (1860), his earliest extant poem. At school he practiced early attempts at asceticism. He once argued that most people drank more liquids than they really needed and bet that he could go without drinking for a week. He persisted until his tongue turned black and he collapsed at drill. On another occasion, he abstained from salt for a week. Among his teachers at Highgate was Richard Watson Dixon, who became an enduring friend and correspondent, and among the older pupils was the poet Philip Stanhope Worsley, who won the Newdigate Prize.

Hopkins studied classics at Balliol College, Oxford from 1863 to 1867 and began his time in Oxford as a keen socialite and prolific poet. At Oxford he forged a lifelong friendship with Robert Bridges (eventual Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom), which would be of importance in his development as a poet and in establishing his posthumous acclaim. Hopkins was deeply impressed with the work of Christina Rossetti  http://www.bookofdaystales.com/christina-rossetti/ and she became one of his greatest contemporary influences. They met in 1864. During this time he studied with the eminent writer and critic Walter Pater, who tutored him in 1866 and who remained a friend until Hopkins left Oxford in September 1879.

On 18th January 1866, Hopkins composed his most ascetic poem, “The Habit of Perfection.” On 23rd January, he included poetry in the list of things to be given up for Lent. In July, he decided to become a Roman Catholic, and he travelled to Birmingham in September to consult the leader of the Oxford converts, John Henry Newman. Newman received him into the Roman Catholic Church on 21st October 1866. The decision to convert estranged him from both his family and a number of his acquaintances. After taking his degree in 1867, Newman provided Hopkins with a teaching post at the Oratory in Birmingham. While there he began to study the violin. On 5th May 1868 Hopkins firmly “resolved to be a religious.” Less than a week later, he made a bonfire of his poems and gave up poetry almost entirely for 7 years. He also felt the call to enter the ministry and decided to become a Jesuit. He paused to first visit Switzerland, which officially forbade Jesuits to enter.

Hopkins began his Jesuit novitiate at Manresa House, Roehampton, in September 1868. Two years later, he moved to St Mary’s Hall, Stonyhurst, for his philosophical studies, taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience on 8th September 1870. He felt his interest in poetry prevented him from wholly devoting himself to religion. However, on reading Duns Scotus in 1872 he saw that the two need not conflict. He continued to write a detailed prose journal between 1868 and 1875. Unable to suppress his desire to describe the natural world, he also wrote music, sketched, and for church occasions wrote some “verses,” as he called them. He later wrote sermons and other religious pieces.

In 1874 Hopkins returned to Manresa House to teach classics. While he was studying in the Jesuit house of theological studies, St Beuno’s, near St Asaph in North Wales, he was asked by his religious superior to write a poem to commemorate the foundering of a German ship in a storm. So, in 1875 he was moved to take up poetry once more and write a lengthy poem, “The Wreck of the Deutschland”. The work was inspired by the Deutschland incident, a maritime disaster in which 157 people died, including five Franciscan nuns who had been leaving Germany due to harsh anti-Catholic laws. The work displays both the religious concerns and some of the unusual meter and rhythms of his subsequent poetry not present in his few remaining early works. It not only depicts the dramatic events and heroic deeds but also tells of the poet’s reconciling the terrible events with God’s higher purpose. The poem was accepted but not printed by a Jesuit publication. This rejection fed his ambivalence about his poetry. Most of his poetry remained unpublished until after his death.

Although Hopkins was a brilliant Latin and Greek student who had left Oxford with a first-class honours degree, he failed his final theology exam. This failure meant that although he could be ordained (1877), he could not progress in the order. In 1877 he wrote God’s Grandeur, an array of sonnets which included “The Starlight Night”. He finished “The Windhover” only a few months before his ordination. Though rigorous, isolated and sometimes unpleasant, his life during Jesuit training had at least had some stability. The uncertain and varied work after ordination was much harder on his sensibilities. In October 1877, not long after he completed “The Sea and the Skylark” and only a month after he had been ordained as a priest, Hopkins took up his duties as subminister and teacher at Mount St. Mary’s College, Chesterfield. In July 1878 he became curate at the Jesuit church in Mount Street, London. In December he became curate at St. Aloysius’ Church, Oxford, then moved to Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. While ministering in Oxford, he became a founding member of Oxford University Newman Society, a society established in 1878 for the Catholic members of the University of Oxford. He taught Greek and Latin at Mount St Mary’s College in Sheffield, and Stonyhurst College in Lancashire.

In 1884 he became professor of Greek and Latin at University College Dublin. His English roots and his disagreement with the Irish politics of the time, as well as his own small stature (5 feet 2 inches), unprepossessing nature and personal oddities meant that he was not a particularly effective teacher. This, as well as his isolation in Ireland, deepened his gloom. His poems of the time, such as “I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark, not Day”, reflected this. They came to be known as the “terrible sonnets”, not because of their quality but because according to Hopkins’s friend Canon Richard Watson Dixon, they reached the “terrible crystal”, meaning that they crystallized the melancholic dejection that plagued the later part of Hopkins’ life.

Several issues may have exacerbated his melancholic state and restricted his poetic inspiration during the last five years of his life. His work load was extremely heavy. He disliked living in Dublin, away from England and friends. He was also disappointed at how far the city had changed from its Georgian elegance of the previous century. His general health deteriorated as his eyesight began to fail. He felt confined and dejected. As a devout Jesuit, he found himself in an artistic dilemma. To subdue any egotism (which would violate the humility required by his religious position), he decided never to publish his poems. At the same time, he realized that a poet requires an audience for criticism and encouragement. This conflict between his religious obligations and his poetic inclinations caused him to feel that he had failed them both.

After suffering ill health for several years, Hopkins died of typhoid fever in 1889. Although Hopkins suffered from what might be diagnosed now as bipolar disorder or chronic depression, his final words were “I am so happy, I am so happy. I loved my life.” Hopkins was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, following his funeral in Saint Francis Xavier Church on Gardiner Street, located in Georgian Dublin.

Much of Hopkins’s historical importance has to do with the changes he brought to the form of poetry, which ran contrary to conventional ideas of meter. Prior to Hopkins, most Middle English and Modern English poetry was based on a rhythmic structure inherited from the Norman side of English literary heritage. This structure is based on repeating “feet” of two or three syllables, with the stressed syllable falling in the same place on each repetition. Hopkins called this structure “running rhythm”, and though he wrote some of his early verse in running rhythm he became fascinated with the older rhythmic structure of the Anglo-Saxon tradition, of which Beowulf is the most famous example. Hopkins called his own rhythmic structure “sprung rhythm.” Sprung rhythm is structured around feet with a variable number of syllables, generally between one and four syllables per foot, with the stress always falling on the first syllable in a foot. It is similar to the “rolling stresses” of Robinson Jeffers, another poet who rejected conventional meter. Hopkins saw sprung rhythm as a way to escape the constraints of running rhythm, which he said inevitably pushed poetry written in it to become “same and tame.” In this way, Hopkins’ sprung rhythm can be seen as anticipating much of free verse. His work has no great affinity with either of the contemporary Pre-Raphaelite and neo-Romantic schools, although he does share their descriptive love of nature and he is often seen as a precursor to modernist poetry or as a bridge between the two poetic eras.

The language of Hopkins’s poems is often striking. His imagery can be simple, as in “Heaven-Haven,” where the comparison is between a nun entering a convent and a ship entering a harbor out of a storm. It can also be metaphysical and intricate, as in “As Kingfishers Catch Fire,” where he leaps from one image to another to show how each thing expresses its own uniqueness, and how divinity reflects itself through all of them.

Hopkins invented the curtal sonnet form. “Pied Beauty” is probably his most famous poem in this form. The first eight lines of a classic Petrarchian sonnet are translated into the first six lines of a curtal sonnet and the last six lines of the classic sonnet are translated into four with a half line or “tail” at the end. Hopkins describes the last line as half a line, though in fact it can be shorter than half of one of Hopkins’s standard sprung rhythm lines. “Pied Beauty” not only exhibits Hopkins’ unique use of rhyme schemes and meter, but also his complex use of language and imagery.

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things —
  For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
  Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;
    And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
  Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                Praise him.

Because Hopkins was a great Victorian I could give you something from Mrs Beeton, but because he was a Jesuit I think that the French pastry Jésuites is fitting. Jésuites are a triangular pastry, so named because they look like the triangular hats that were once common for Jesuits. They are commonly filled with almond frangipane (confectioner’s custard. I’ll give you a video on how to make them with an ingredient list to begin, because the video lacks one. You’ll also need puff pastry.

Jésuites

Ingredients:

1 cup/114 gm finely ground whole blanched almonds or almond flour
4 tbsp/57 gm unsalted butter, softened
½ cup/100 gm granulated sugar
2 large eggs (plus extra yolks if you wish)
3 tbsp/30 gm unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt

 

 

Jan 282018
 

On this date in 1547 Henry VIII died and his only son became Edward VI of England and Ireland until his death six years later. He was nine years old when he was crowned on 20th February. Edward was England’s first monarch to be raised as a Protestant, and, even though his reign was brief, it was a momentous time for the church and the monarchy. During his reign, the realm was governed by a Regency Council because he never reached his majority. The Council was first led by his mother’s brother, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (1547–1549), and then by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick (later, Duke of Northumberland).

Edward’s reign was marked by economic problems and social unrest that in 1549 erupted into riot and rebellion. An expensive war with Scotland, at first successful, ended with military withdrawal from Scotland and Boulogne-sur-Mer in exchange for peace. The transformation of the Church of England into a recognizably Protestant body also occurred under Edward, who took great interest in religious matters. Although his father, Henry VIII, had severed the link between the Church and Rome, he had never permitted the renunciation of Catholic doctrine or ceremony. The Protestant Reformation in Europe is often couched in religious terms, but it was as much a political reality as a theological one. Heads of state across the continent chafed at the fact that the pope was quite legally capable of meddling in affairs of state. Most of the time their conflicts could be staved off with bribes: but not always. Sometimes it came to war. In Henry’s case, the matter was very simple. He wanted a divorce and the pope would not grant it.

Somerset

There is no question that Henry was a devout Catholic, and he even couched his request in Biblical terms. Leviticus forbids a man from marrying his dead brother’s wife (levirate marriage), but that is exactly what Henry’s father, Henry VII, had forced him to do. Henry’s father wanted an alliance with Aragon and so had married his eldest son and heir, Arthur, to Catherine of Aragon. When Arthur died, Henry VII wanted to salvage the alliance, so he married his second son, Henry, off to Catherine. She produced only a daughter, and no live sons, so Henry argued that this was God’s curse on the marriage for breaking Biblical law. The pope, for various reasons, was not persuaded, so Henry, following the lead of the German states, broke from Rome, declared himself head of the Church of England, and granted himself a divorce: done and dusted. He was not remotely interested in changing the doctrines and rituals of the church. He remained until the day he died, in all but name, a staunch Catholic.

Northumberland

It was during Edward’s reign that Protestantism was properly established in England with reforms that included the abolition of clerical celibacy, and the Mass, and the replacement of services in Latin with compulsory services in English. Both Somerset and Northumberland followed an increasingly vigorous program of church reform. Although Edward VI’s practical influence on government was limited, his intense Protestantism made a reforming administration obligatory. His succession was managed by the reforming faction, who continued in power throughout his reign. The man Edward trusted most, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, introduced a series of religious reforms that revolutionized the English church from one that—while rejecting papal supremacy—remained essentially Catholic, to one that was institutionally Protestant. The confiscation of church property that had begun under Henry VIII resumed under Edward—notably with the dissolution of the chantries—to the great monetary advantage of the crown and the new owners of the seized property. Church reform was therefore as much a political as a religious policy under Edward VI. By the end of his reign, the church had been financially ruined, with much of the property of the bishops transferred into lay hands. This seizure of property meant effectively that when Edward died and his half-sister Mary came to throne, wishing to turn England back to a Catholic country, she was blocked at every turn because the church was bankrupt, and its backbone, the monasteries, chantries, and church lands, could not be restored.

The religious convictions of both Somerset and Northumberland have proved elusive for historians, who are divided on the sincerity of their Protestantism. There is less doubt, however, about the religious fervor Edward, who was said to have read twelve chapters of scripture daily and enjoyed sermons, and was commemorated by John Foxe as a “godly imp.” Edward was depicted during his life and afterwards as a new Josiah, the biblical king who destroyed the idols of Baal. He could be priggish in his anti-Catholicism and once asked Catherine Parr to persuade Lady Mary “to attend no longer to foreign dances and merriments which do not become a most Christian princess.” We should be a little cautious, however. In the early part of his life, Edward conformed to the prevailing Catholic practices of his father, including attendance at mass. But he became convinced, under the influence of Cranmer and the reformers among his tutors and courtiers, that “true” religion should be imposed in England.

The English Reformation advanced under pressure from two directions: from the traditionalists on the one hand and the zealots on the other, who led incidents of iconoclasm (image-smashing) and complained that reform did not go far enough. Reformed doctrines were made official, such as justification by faith alone and communion for laity as well as clergy in both kinds, of bread and wine. The Ordinal of 1550 replaced the divine ordination of priests with a government-run appointment system, authorizing ministers to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments rather than, as before, “to offer sacrifice and celebrate mass both for the living and the dead.” Cranmer set himself the task of writing a uniform liturgy in English, detailing all weekly and daily services and religious festivals, to be made compulsory in the first Act of Uniformity of 1549. The Book of Common Prayer of 1549, intended as a compromise, was attacked by traditionalists for dispensing with many cherished rituals of the liturgy, such as the elevation of the bread and wine, while some reformers complained about the retention of too many “popish” elements, including vestiges of sacrificial rites at communion. The prayer book was also opposed by many senior Catholic clerics, including Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, and Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London, who were both imprisoned in the Tower and, along with others, deprived of their sees.

After 1551, the Reformation advanced further, with the approval and encouragement of Edward, who began to exert more personal influence in his role as Supreme Head of the church. The new changes were also a response to criticism from such reformers as John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, and John Knox, who was employed as a minister in Newcastle upon Tyne under the Duke of Northumberland and whose preaching at court prompted the king to oppose kneeling at communion. Cranmer was also influenced by the views of the continental reformer Martin Bucer, who died in England in 1551, by Peter Martyr, who was teaching at Oxford, and by other foreign theologians. The progress of the Reformation was further speeded by the consecration of more reformers as bishops. In the winter of 1551–52, Cranmer rewrote the Book of Common Prayer in less ambiguous reformist terms, revised canon law, and prepared a doctrinal statement, the Forty-Two Articles, to clarify the practice of the reformed religion, particularly in the divisive matter of the communion service. Cranmer’s formulation of the reformed religion, finally divesting the communion service of any notion of the real presence of God in the bread and the wine, effectively abolished the mass. The prayer book of 1552 remains the foundation of the Church of England’s services. However, Cranmer was unable to implement all these reforms once it became clear in spring 1553 that Edward, upon whom the whole Reformation in England depended, was dying.

Cranmer

In February 1553, at age 15, Edward fell ill. When his sickness was determined to be terminal, he and his Council drew up a “Devise for the Succession”, to prevent the country’s return to Catholicism. Edward named his first cousin once removed, Lady Jane Grey, as his heir, excluding his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, declaring them illegitimate. This decision was disputed following Edward’s death, and Jane was deposed by Mary nine days after becoming queen. During her reign, Mary reversed Edward’s Protestant reforms, which, nonetheless, became the basis of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement of 1559.

There are a number of Tudor recipes extant, and in searching my files I came across a couple with an unfortunate name: farts of Portingale. The second part is easy enough. The term “of Portingale” means “in the style of Portugal.” The terms “farts” is the tricky one. The etymology is obscure but is not the same as the word for breaking wind. It is variously spelled “fertes” or “fartes.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as, “A tiny spherical titbit. A Whet, or Subtelty.” Recipes of the time are either for spheres of light sweetened pastry, or of minced mutton and fruit. Here’s a recipe for each.

From: A book of cookrye. Very necessary for all such as delight therin by “AW” (1591)

To make Farts of Portingale.

Take a quart of life Hony, and set it upon the fire and when it seetheth scum it clean, and then put in a certaine of fine Biskets well serced, and some pouder of Cloves, some Ginger, and powder of sinamon, Annis seeds and some Sugar, and let all these be well stirred upon the fire, til it be as thicke as you thinke needfull, and for the paste for them take Flower as finelye dressed as may be, and a good peece of sweet Butter, and woorke all these same well togither, and not knead it.

From: The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin by Thomas Dawson (1594)

How to make Farts of Portingale.

TAKE a peece of a leg of Mutton, mince it smal and season it with cloues, mace pepper and salt, and dates minced with currans: then roll it into round rolles, and so into little balles, and so boyle them in a little beefe broth and so serue them foorth.