Monday, September 24, 2007

Ministers Behaving Badly

In his memoir Remin-iscences of my Country and People (Cardiff, 1925), David Davies, Penarth, recounts the story of Thomas Jenkins, minister of the Welsh Baptist Church at Maudlin Street, Bristol, a man notable for his warm heart and girth. Indeed, Jenkins was a man so heay that he had problems walking unaided:

'For some years after my settlement in the ministry at Cardiff, I used to hear of Mr. Jenkins's periodical visits to Cardiff [...]. On one very hot summer day, Mr. Jenkins found the task of Walking the whole length of Bute road to what was then called the "Bristol Packet," specially arduous. But on the way down he saw an Irishman driving a donkey-cart to the Docks. He, in desperation, called: "Pat, what will you charge for taking me to the Docks?" "Faith; sixpence!" said Pat. "Very well," gratefully responded Mr. Jenkins, and he made for the centre of the road where the donkey-cart was. But on his arrival, an unexpected problem presented itself - how to get Mr. Jenkins into the cart! It was quite impossible for him to climb into the cart, and quite as impossible for the Irishman to lift him into it! They stood bewildered, but fortune smiled upon them, for at that very moment a powerful navvy happened to pass by. He was at once requisitioned. The donkey was at a standstill, and the tailborad of the cart was taken off, and then the navvy and Irishman, joining hands beneath Mr. Jenkins - and calling out "one," "two," "three," - made a supreme, almost a superhuman, effort to lift him up. This they just managed to do, but he was so heavy they were obliged to drop him with a thud on the bottom part of the cart at the tail-board end, when suddenly the donkey was shot upward into mid-air, kicking and braying hopelessly, until Mr. Thomas, on account of the sharply inclined plane that the bottom of the cart had now formed, slid off and dropped into the roadway, when the donkey, too, silmultaneously dropped to terra firma.
Poor Mr. Jenkins had the fright of his life; but so had the donkey - and so had the Irishman! Mr. Jenkins's exuberant spirits and genial humour, however, could not be suppressed even then, for as he lay helplessly on his back in the centre of Bute Road, he exclaimed in his broadest Welsh accent: "Pat, your donkey tried to take me up yonder too soon!" "Sure," replied Pat, in his most pronounced Irish brogue, "it's the impossible that my poor beauty was trying! It's downward that ye've been after going, in spite of the three of us!" Then giving a touch of the stick to the donkey, he exclaimed, "Faith, I wouldn't take ye for a quid!" and proceeding on his way he left poor Mr. Jenkins prostrate on his back to the mercy of the navy, who, being more human, lifted him up, and set him on his way anew!'



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