|Newspaper Title||Melbourne Punch (Vic. : 1855 - 1900)|
BY BENJAMIN BISBA&LI.
MONSIGNORE DI CAPELLA was alone in his oratory reading Father PEOUT'S Defence of the Jesuits, and drinking Burgundy that had been bottled at the Massacre of St. Batholomew. As he closed his eyes and passed the rich wine over his palate he smiled. " It smacks of Ariftmsm," said he; " and yet why should it not ? If I, the to ego, am to be merged in the infinite minuteness of another's personality, why should I labour for an end which can never be obtained ? Alas, I wander in the intricacies of my own thoughts. The Minotaur of our modern religious formulas is there, bull-beaded and cloven-hoofed, but I cannot meet him face to face. I am a THESEUS without an ARIADNE. ARIADNE ! Even she was borne off by BACCHUS." And as he spoke he drained another goblet of Burgundy. " Psha!" he Cried, flinging PBOUT out of the window (he fell on a modern comic writer and neatly killed him), " why this ceaseless questioning? Neo-Platoriism comes by nature, but common sense is the gift of heaven. If I had been born a dancing-master I might have achieved greatness. Priests are out of place now-a-days—the world's grown honest. Yet, as Del Pojwlo says, ' There are things worth living for ; and Italy is not dead, but sleepeth.' If I got my toe into that boot I soon—but. Fatal but! the bound of all our ambitions. What is life ? A bundle of envies. I have no doubt but that the stalled oxen envied NEBUCHADNEZZAR." As will be gleaned from the above, His Eminence was by religious conviction a cosmopolitan.
CHAPTER III. The ancestral mansion of TONNERRE was built ou a gentle slope of the Yarra. For miles around the leafy boskage of the woods murmured the summer chant of love in idleness. On the right the river, like a loop of silver in the bandeau of a duchess, wound aug its velvet banks. Qn the left a volcano, open to the public on Sundays, spouted its soothiug flames. This volcano had been imported from Italy at a vast expense by TONNERRE'S ancestor, EJIPE- DOCLES, and was considered a family heirloom. TONNERRE loved to climb its red-hot sides, and would often sit for hours pensively gazing down the crater. Three waterfalls and a windmill broke the view on the left, and every description of landscape gardening that the heart of man could devise was scattered in promiscuous elegance about the grounds. It was currently reported that TONNERRE had given PAXTON laudanum, and then drawn out of his fevered ravings the notion of Skittle-alley. All that was most luxurious was found there. Cold meat was unknown. The kitchen of NEBUCHADNEZZAR, from whom TONNERRE was lineally descended, might have equalled but certainly not excelled the omelettes anx fines herbes. HERODIAS would have danced for joy at the sight of Maitte POLICHON'S outlets & la Jean h Baptiste. The scullery maids were all daughters of poor clergymen in the West of England, and the scullion's father bad been twice insolvent for large amounts. Nothing could be more respectable. A large assortment of birds were in the air, the lake was full of fish of various kinds, and the park wrts absolutely overrun With deer of all ages. The picture gallefy was the finest in Europe., It boasted a Watteau. a Wouvermans, and a Gerard Dow ; there were also several Rafael s and a Titian. The Duchess of BALACLAVA had taken away the Vandykes for her archery meeting, but in gazing upon the profusion of Eeynolds one did not miss them. One room Was quite a Reynolds' Miscellany. TONNERRE kept two horses and a pet beagle ; he was also a sportsman. Unfortunately he could not enjoy this paradise; he was beginning to feel that he should believe in something. CHAPTER IV. Mr. DiEAWAY was quite the ladies' man. He was & Baptist and popular preacher. In appearance he was tall, hairless, and unhealthy n If he had not given proofs to the contrary, one might have imagined him one of the Pope's choristers—the non Angli sed Ailgeli.' Ho had established a new law and new gospels. His law was self; his gospels, three in number—L. S. & D. He made a trade of his Christianity, and saved souls as other men soled shoes, at so much a pair. He did not preach from a pulpit—that would have been too ordinary a process: he walked up and down a platform, or lounged in a fed velvet chair. He twiddled his white hands in the face of heaven twice a week, and was so condescending as to patronise his Maker three times oil Sundays. ' When preaching became dull he would lecture, and was good enough to take Providence by the hand and get Him out of geological difficulties. He sang a good song, and i£ he had not been a minister of the gospel would probably have fbeen a comic vocalist. Partial friends vowed that he would succeed as well in one ti(ht nt republinMng Tmnfrrt hM \m& pui^iMed ty tiie of
line as the other, and he himself admitted that had he not been ALEXANDER he could have wished to have been DIOGENES. To this person did TONNERRE repair to ease his conscience. He found him composing a serliwn with a pair of scissors. " Pardon me for disturbing you," he said ; " I did not notice your occupation," " A discourse. My next Sabbath-day's'Crumb. I find it hard work composing how." "Howio?" " My memory is going, I fear. There was a time when I could repeat yoti A column of a newspaper after once reading it. I preached extempore better then." " Indeed!" said TONNERRE; "I have heard you preach twice, and I thought that m-emory was a faculty you—well, which you did not lack." . "Trdej" said DIEAWAY, " I hate been told so—by the envious." " Caii any one be envious of you?" said TONNERRE. "Alas! yes; many; especially journalists. The men who write for the.papers abuse me. They Say I affi a hypocrite and a humbug. Yerily they shall be rewarded according to their works." "I hope hot I" piously exclaimed TONNERRE. " But 1 hate cast them ofi* sir. 1,1( I—pray for them." ToNNEfillfe sighed. " Hate they, tbfen so deeply injured you ?" DIEAWAY did not . You want convictions, don't yoli ?" he Said. I do/' said TONNMRE. " Dome with M&j" replied DiEAWAY; " I will show you where I keep mine," Aiid he led the way into his kitchen.
CHAPTER V. Breakfast at Skittle-alley was the first meal of the day. The two tables were placed in form of a pentagon, and the married ladies sat next*eacli other's husbands. This System produced some curious confidences. The Count of ASPHOMONTE was a genius, and, what was more to the purpose, had £20,000 a year.. He was in the habit of sffioking a short clay at meal times, and this practice made him a favourite in society. In other respects he Was not remarkable, and wore his hair long. An acute perruquier has remarked that genius takes two forms— baldness or profusion. Science, on the other hand, affects spectacles. ABSOLOM was a type of the poet of the day. Pegasus gallops from under him, and leaves him suspended by his locks in a thicket of m<"WTiat do you think of the Pyramids ?" asked the Duchess of South " They are rather the worse for wear," said M. DE ST. BARBE. " I prefer the Montagues Busses." At the other table they were talking of original sin. , «' I don't believe there is such a thing," cried Monsignore. " Originality is out of fashion. EVE is hidden under the fig-leaf, and the Old ADAM owes a bill to his t&ilor." < , , „ ., ,, "SWINBOURNE is the only man who is really natural, said the Count; " he is naked, and Hot ashamed." In the midst of the conversation TONNERRE entered. " Congratulate the 1" he cried, " I have inteiited something." •< new coat ?" asked ASPROMONTE. « A new religion ! " sfdd TONNERRE. " Oh, you dear man!" said the Duchess. " Sit down and tell one allabokt.it?"