18 October 2014

A little light blasphemy

(London, 1532. A gathering of merchants discusses civil disorder in the city:)

Humphrey Monmouth says, 'Shall we have our meeting first, and broker marriages later? We are concerned, Master Cromwell, as you must be, as the king must be ... we are all, I think', he looks around, 'we are all, now Bonvisi has left us, friendly to the cause for which our late brother Petyt was, in effect, a martyr, but it is for us to keep the peace, to disassociate ourselves from outbreaks of blasphemy...'

In on city parish last Sunday, at the sacred moment of the elevation of the host, and just as the priest pronounced, 'hoc est enim corpus meum', there was an outbreak of chanting, 'hoc est corpus, hocus pocus'. And in an adjacent parish, at the commemoration of the saints, where the priest requires us to remember our fellowship with the holy martyrs, 'cum Joanne, Stephano, Mathia, Barnaba, Ignatio, Alexandro, Marcellino, Petro...' some person had shouted out, 'and don't forget me and my cousin Kate, and Dick with his cockle-barrel on Leadenhall, and his sister Susan and her little dog Posset'.

He puts his hand over his mouth. 'If Posset needs a lawyer, you know where I am'.

'Master Cromwell,' says a crabbed elder from the Skinners' Company, 'you convened this gathering. Set us an example in gravity'.

- Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall, London, 2009, p.384-5.
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