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Скачать книгу Wolf Hall & Bring Up The Bodies: Two-Book Edition

Wolf Hall & Bring Up The Bodies: Two-Book Edition

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год

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‘That would be ideal, for fiscal purposes.’

The king takes a deep ragged breath. He’s been shouting. Now – and it’s a narrow thing – he decides to laugh. ‘You advocate prudence. Prudence is a virtue. But there are other virtues that belong to princes.’

‘Fortitude.’

‘Yes. Cost that out.’

‘It doesn’t mean courage in battle.’

‘Do you read me a lesson?’

‘It means fixity of purpose. It means endurance. It means having the strength to live with what constrains you.’

Henry crosses the room. Stamp, stamp, stamp in his riding boots; he is ready for la chasse. He turns, rather slowly, to show his majesty to better effect: wide and square and bright. ‘We will pursue this. What constrains me?’

‘The distance,’ he says. ‘The harbours. The terrain, the people. The winter rains and the mud. When Your Majesty’s ancestors fought in France, whole provinces were held by England. From there we could supply, we could provision. Now that we have only Calais, how can we support an army in the interior?’

The king stares out into the silver morning. He bites his lip. Is he in a slow fury, simmering, bubbling to boiling point? He turns, and his smile is sunny. ‘I know,’ he says. ‘So when we next go into France, we will need a sea coast.’

Of course. We need to take Normandy. Or Brittany. That’s all.

‘Well reasoned,’ the king says. ‘I bear you no ill will. Only I suppose you have no experience in policy, or the direction of a campaign.’

He shakes his head. ‘None.’

‘You said – before, I mean, in this speech of yours to the Parliament – that there was one million pounds in gold in the realm.’

‘I gave a round figure.’

‘But how would you find that figure?’

‘I trained in the Florentine banks. And in Venice.’

The king stares at him. ‘Howard said you were a common soldier.’

‘That too.’

‘Anything else?’

‘What would Your Majesty like me to be?’

The king looks him full in the face: a rare thing with him. He looks back; it is his habit. ‘Master Cromwell, your reputation is bad.’

He inclines his head.

‘You don’t defend yourself?’

‘Your Majesty is able to form his own opinion.’

‘I can. I will.’

At the door, the guards part their spears; the gentlemen step aside and bow; Suffolk pounds in. Charles Brandon: he looks too hot in his clothes. ‘You ready?’ he says to the king. ‘Oh, Cromwell.’ He grins. ‘How’s your fat priest?’

The king flushes with displeasure. Brandon doesn’t notice. ‘You know,’ he chuckles, ‘they say the cardinal once rode out with his servant, and checked his horse at the head of a valley, where looking down he saw a very fair church and its lands about. He says to his servant, Robin, who owns that? I would that were my benefice! Robin says, It is, my lord, it is.’

His story meets with poor success, but he laughs at it himself.

He says, ‘My lord, they tell that story all over Italy. Of this cardinal, or that.’

Brandon’s face falls. ‘What, the same story?’

‘Mutatis mutandis. The servant isn’t called Robin.’

The king meets his eye. He smiles.

Leaving, he pushes past the gentlemen, and who should he meet but the king’s Secretary! ‘Good morning, good morning!’ he says. He doesn’t often repeat things, but the moment seems to call for it.

Gardiner is rubbing his great blue hands together. ‘Cold, no?’ he says. ‘And how was that, Cromwell? Unpleasant, I think?’

‘On the contrary,’ he says. ‘Oh, and he’s going out with Suffolk; you’ll have to wait.’ He walks on, but then turns. There is a pain like a dull bruise inside his chest. ‘Gardiner, can’t we drop this?’

‘No,’ Gardiner says. His drooping eyelids flicker. ‘No, I don’t see that we can.’

‘Fine,’ he says. He walks on. He thinks, you wait. You may have to wait a year or two, but you just wait.

Esher, two days later: he is hardly through the gateway when Cavendish comes hurtling across the courtyard. ‘Master Cromwell! Yesterday the king –’

‘Calmly, George,’ he advises.

‘– yesterday he sent us four cartloads of furnishings – come and see! Tapestry, plate, bed hangings – was it by your suit?’

Who knows? He hadn’t asked for anything directly. If he had, he’d have been more specific. Not that hanging, but this hanging, which my lord likes; he likes goddesses, rather than virgin martyrs, so away with St Agnes, and let’s have Venus in a grove. My lord likes Venetian glassware; take away these battered silver goblets.

He looks contemptuous as he inspects the new stuff. ‘Only the best for you boys from Putney,’ Wolsey says. ‘It is possible,’ he adds, almost apologising, ‘that what the king appointed for me was not in fact what was sent. That inferior substitutions were made, by inferior persons.’

‘That is entirely possible,’ he says.

‘Still. Even so. We are more comfortable for it.’

‘The difficulty is,’ Cavendish says, ‘we need to move. This whole house needs to be scrubbed out and aired.’

‘True,’ the cardinal says. ‘St Agnes, bless her, would be knocked over by the smell of the privies.’

‘So will you make suit to the king’s council?’

He sighs. ‘George, what is the point? Listen. I’m not talking to Thomas Howard. I’m not talking to Brandon. I’m talking to him.’

The cardinal smiles. A fat paternal beam.

He is surprised – as they thrash out a financial settlement for the cardinal – at Henry’s grasp of detail. Wolsey has always said that the king has a fine mind, as quick as his father’s, but more comprehensive. The old king grew narrow as he aged; he kept a hard hand on England; there was no nobleman he did not hold by a debt or bond, and he said frankly that if he could not be loved he would be feared. Henry has a different nature, but what is it? Wolsey laughs and says, I should write you a handbook.

But as he walks in the gardens of the little lodge at Richmond, where the king has allowed him to remove, the cardinal’s mind becomes clouded, he talks about prophecies, and about the downfall of the priests of England, which he says is foretold, and will now happen.

Even if you don’t believe in omens – and he doesn’t, personally – he can see the problem. For if the cardinal is guilty of a crime in asserting his jurisdiction as legate, are not all those clerics, from bishops downwards, who assented to his legacy, also guilty? He can’t be the only person who’s thinking about this; but mostly, his enemies can’t see past the cardinal himself, his vast scarlet presence on the horizon; they fear it will loom up again, ready for revenge. ‘These are bad times for proud prelates,’ says Brandon, when next they meet. He sounds jaunty, a man whistling to keep his courage up. ‘We need no cardinals in this realm.’

‘And he,’ the cardinal says, furious, ‘he, Brandon, when he married the king’s sister out of hand – when he married her in the first days of her widowhood, knowing the king intended her for another monarch – his head would have been parted from his body, if I, a simple cardinal, had not pleaded for him to the king.’

I, a simple cardinal.

‘And what excuse did Brandon make?’ the cardinal says. ‘“Oh, Your Majesty, your sister Mary cried. How she did cry and beg me to marry her myself! I never saw woman cry so!” So he dried her tears and got himself up to a dukedom! And now he talks as if he’s held his title since the Garden of Eden. Listen, Thomas, if men of sound learning and good disposition come to me – as Bishop Tunstall comes, as Thomas More comes – and plead that the church must be reformed, why then I listen. But Brandon! To talk about proud prelates! What was he? The king’s horsekeeper! And I’ve known horses with more wit.’

‘My lord,’ Cavendish pleads, ‘be more temperate. And Charles Brandon, you know, was of an ancient family, a gentleman born.’

‘Gentleman, he? A swaggering braggart. That’s Brandon.’ The cardinal sits down, exhausted. ‘My head aches,’ he says. ‘Cromwell, go to court and bring me better news.’

Day by day he takes his instructions from Wolsey at Richmond, and rides to wherever the king is. He thinks of the king as a terrain into which he must advance, with no sea coast to supply him.

He understands what Henry has learned from his cardinal: his floating diplomacy, his science of ambiguity. He sees how the king has applied this science to the slow, trackless, dubious ruin of his minister. Every kindness, Henry matches with a cruelty, some further charge or forfeiture. Till the cardinal moans, ‘I want to go away.’
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