By Charles Matthews

Saturday, April 10, 2010

14. "Wolf Hall," by Hilary Mantel, pp. 235-250

Part IV, I, "Arrange Your Face," 1531, through "...because in the end we all come home to God."
Cromwell has an audience with Katherine and Mary, in which the former tells the latter, "This is Master Cromwell. Who now writes all the laws." When Mary makes a slighting remark about Wolsey, Cromwell retorts, "will you, of your charity, cease to speak ill of a man who never did you harm?" causing Mary to blush and reply, "I did not mean to fail in charity" and to look "cowed." But Katherine is incensed that the king "would send a man like you to tell me" that they are to be banished from the court, and makes a reference to his father's having been a blacksmith.

Having completed that task, Cromwell is surprised to learn from Wriothesley that Katherine and Mary are to be sent to separate residences. And when Gregory asks if he would be involved in executing Katherine, he explains to his son that "you give way to the king's requests. You open the way to his desires. That is what a courtier does. Now, understand this: it is impossible that Henry should require me or any other person to harm the queen.... Henry's heart, I assure you, is a heart full of feeling; and Henry's soul, I swear, is the most scrutinized soul in Christendom." Later, Gregory says, "Call-Me-Risley is frightened of you.... He thinks you would do anything."

From Anne Boleyn, Cromwell learns that John Seymour has had an affair with Catherine Fillol, his son Edward's wife. And that Anne is contemptuous of Jane Seymour, calling her "Pasty-face" and saying that "no one wants Milksop, and now no one will" after the scandal caused by her father's adultery. "They could tell Boccaccio a tale, those sinners at Wolf Hall."

Thomas Hitton, "a smuggler of Tyndale's scriptures" has been burned at the stake, and someone has poisoned the guests dining with Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, who was responsible for Hitton's execution. Thomas More "has become a master in the twin arts of stretching and compressing the servants of God. When heretics are taken, he stands by at the Tower while the torture is applied." Cromwell tells Anne that Fisher's cook is to be boiled alive. "Anne's face wears no expression at all. Even a man as literate as he can find nothing there to read." She wants to know how they will do it, but Cromwell "did not ask about the mechanics."

A grocer named John Petyt has been arrested on suspicion of heresy, and his wife Lucy comes to see Cromwell to see if he can help. He is unable to get either Anne or the king interested in the matter. He also corresponds secretly with Tyndale, who wants to come home, but "Tyndale will not come out in favor of Henry's divorce; nor, for that matter, will the monk Luther. You'd think they'd sacrifice a fine point of principle, to make a friend of the King of England: but no." Cromwell reflects that "More, Tyndale, they deserve each other, these mules that pass for men."  

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