Few readers of Robert Scoble’s book are likely to be so pure of heart as to avert their eyes from its distinctly bizarre frontispiece. This reproduces a Victorian photograph of a shaven-headed young man wearing a scapular and some candy-striped bathing drawers, the tightness of which emphasises the contours of an elegant backside. He is kneeling in front of an altar, beneath the image of a female saint. To the left of the picture, partly in shadow, stands a curly-headed boy, naked save for an exiguous white slip.
The not-so-high-minded are likely, however, to be disappointed. Far from supplying further evidence, if any were needed, that Frederick Rolfe (1860–1913), aka Baron Corvo, was given to what is nowadays called ‘inappropriate behaviour’ with pubescent minors, the photo enshrines a moment of candid religious innocence as both Rolfe and his