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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Francis Sylvester Mahony (Father Prout) (1804–1866)

Pot-Luck at the Vatican

From “Father Tom and the Pope”

WHEN his riv’rence was in Room, ov coorse the pope axed him to take pot-look wid him. More be token, it was on a Friday; but, for all that, there was plenty of mate; for the pope gev himself an absolution from the fast on account of the great company that was in it—at laste so I’m towld. Howandiver, there’s no fast on the dhrink, anyhow—glory be to God!—and so, as they wor sitting, afther dinner, taking their sup together, says the pope, says he, “Thomaus”—for the pope, you know, spakes that away, all as one as one ov uz—“Thomaus a lanna,” says he, “I’m towld you welt them English heretics out ov the face.”

“You may say that,” said his riv’rence to him again. “Be my soul,” says he, “if I put your holiness undher the table, you won’t be the first pope I floored.”

Well, his holiness laughed like to split; for you know, Pope was the great Prodesan that Father Tom put down upon purgathory; and ov coorse they knew all the ins and outs of the conthravarsy at Room. “Faix, Thomaus,” says he, smiling across the table at him mighty agreeable, “it’s no lie what they tell me, that yourself is the pleasant man over the dhrop ov good liquor.”

“Would you like to thry?” says his riv’rence.

“Sure, amn’t I thrying all I can?” says the pope. “Sorra betther bottle ov wine’s betuxt this and Salamancha, nor there’s fornenst you on the table; it’s raal Lachrymalchrystal, every spudh ov it.”

“It’s mortial could,” says Father Tom.

“Well, man alive,” says the pope, “sure and here’s the best ov good claret in the cut decanther.”

“Not maning to make little ov the claret, your holiness,” says his riv’rence, “I would prefir some hot wather and sugar, wid a glass ov spirits through it, if convanient.”

“Hand me over the bottle of brandy,” says the pope to his head butler, “and fetch up the materi’ls,” says he.

“Ah, then, your holiness,” says his riv’rence, mighty eager, “maybe you’d have a dhrop ov the native in your cellar? Sure it’s all one throuble,” says he, “and, troth, I dunna how it is, but brandy always plays the puck wid my inthrails.”

“’Pon my conscience, then,” says the pope, “it’s very sorry I am, Misther Maguire,” says he, “that it isn’t in my power to plase you; for I’m sure and certaint that there’s not as much whisky in Room this blessed minit as ’ud blind the eye ov a midge.”

“Well, in troth, your holiness,” says Father Tom, “I knewn there was no use in axing; only,” says he, “I didn’t know how else to exqueeze the liberty I tuck,” says he, “of bringing a small taste,” says he, “of the real stuff,” says he, hauling out an imperi’l quart bottle out ov his coat-pocket; “that never seen the face ov a guager,” says he, setting it down on the table fornenst the pope; “and if you’ll jist thry the full ov a thimble ov it, and it doesn’t rise the cockles ov your holiness’s heart, why then, my name,” says he, “isn’t Tom Maguire!” and wid that he outs wid the cork.

Well, the pope at first was going to get vexed at Father Tom for fetching dhrink thataway in his pocket, as if there wasn’t lashins in the house: so says he, “Misther Maguire,” says he, “I’d have you to comprehind the differ betuxt an inwitation to dinner from the succissor of Saint Pether, and from a common mayur or a Prodesan squireen that maybe hasn’t liquor enough in his cupboard to wet more nor his own heretical whistle. That may be the way wid them that you wisit in Leithrim,” says he, “and in Roscommon; and I’d let you know the differ in the prisint case,” says he, “only that you’re a champion ov the Church and entitled to laniency. So,” says he, “as the liquor’s come, let it stay. And in troth I’m curis myself,” says he, getting mighty soft when he found the delightful smell ov the putteen, “in inwistigating the composition ov distilled liquors; it’s a branch ov natural philosophy,” says he, taking up the bottle and putting it to his blessed nose.

Ah! my dear, the very first snuff he got ov it, he cried out, the dear man, “Blessed Vargin, but it has the divine smell!” and crossed himself and the bottle half a dozen times running.

“Well, sure enough, it’s the blessed liquor now,” says his riv’rence, “and so there can be no harm any way in mixing a dandy of punch; and,” says he, stirring up the materi’ls wid his goolden muddlar—for everything at the pope’s table, to the very shcrew for drawing the corks, was ov vergin goold—“if I might make bowld,” says he, “to spake on so deep a subjic afore your holiness, I think it ’ud considherably whacilitate the inwestigation ov its chemisthry and phwarmaceutics, if you’d jist thry the laste sup in life ov it inwardly.”

“Well, then, suppose I do make the same expiriment,” says the pope, in a much more condescinding way nor you’d have expected—and wid that he mixes himself a real stiff facer.

“Now, your holiness,” says Father Tom, “this bein’ the first time you ever dispinsed them chymicals,” says he, “I’ll jist make bowld to lay down one rule ov orthography,” says he, “for conwhounding them, secundum mortem.”

“What’s that?” says the pope.

“Put in the sperits first,” says his riv’rence; “and then put in the sugar; and remember, every dhrop ov wather you put in after that, spoils the punch.”

“Glory be to God!” says the pope, not minding a word Father Tom was saying. “Glory be to God!” says he, smacking his lips. “I never knewn what dhrink was afore,” says he. “It bates the Lachrymalchrystal out ov the face!” says he—“it’s Necthar itself, it is, so it is!” says he, wiping his epistolical mouth wid the cuff ov his coat.

“’Pon my secret honour,” says his riv’rence, “I’m raally glad to see your holiness set so much to your satiswhaction; especially,” says he, “as, for fear ov accidents, I tuck the liberty of fetching the fellow ov that small vesshel,” says he, “in my other coat-pocket. So devil a fear ov our running dhry till the butt-end of the evening, anyhow,” says he.

“Dhraw your stool in to the fire, Misther Maguire,” says the pope, “for faix,” says he, “I’m bent on analising the metaphwysics ov this phinomenon. Come, man alive, clear off,” says he, “you’re not dhrinking at all.”

“Is it dhrink?” says his riv’rence; “by gorra, your holiness,” says he, “I’d dhrink wid you till the cows ’ud be coming home in the morning.”

So wid that they tackled to, to the second fugee apiece, and fell into a larned discourse.