Title: Du Bellay to Montmorency [The Fate of Wolsey, Suffolk, Money and Montdidier in 1523]
This despatch has been delayed, as it has been needful to write and rewrite several times the letters I send you, and by the repeated going and coming of the Dukes to Windsor, whence at this moment they have sent them to me in the form you will see by the copy. They trust it may be excused if they are not found satisfactory, as they have not yet got into the way of managing with the King; but they swear they will do marvels in future, and are so confident that I can hardly help believing them.
I have visited the Cardinal in his troubles. He is the greatest example of fortune that one could see. He represented his case to me in the worst rhetoric I ever saw; for heart and tongue failed him completely. He wept, and prayed that Francis and Madame would have pity upon him, if they found that he had kept his promise to be a good servant to them so far as his honor would permit. But at last he left me, without being able to say anything more to me than his countenance did, which has lost half its animation (qui est bien descheu de la moitié de juste pris). His case is such that his enemies, even though they be Englishmen, could not help pitying him, yet they do not desist from persecuting him to the last; and he sees no means of safety, unless Francis and Madame will help him. He does not desire legateship, seal of office, or influence,—is ready to give up everything, to his shirt, and to go and live in a hermitage, if this King will not keep him in disfavor.
I have consoled him as well as I could, but I have been able to do little. He has since sent to me, by one whom he trusts, to show what he would wish done for him, saying that it would not hinder Francis if he at least wrote to this King that there is a great rumor in France that he had removed Wolsey from his presence and from his good favor, so that he was in danger of being destroyed, which Francis could not readily believe, and hoped Henry would not suddenly take up a bad impression against those who have seen that he was the instrument of this perpetual amity, so renowned throughout Christendom; and that if, perchance, he had fallen into his displeasure, he hopes the King will moderate his anger, which he is sure he will be counselled to do by those about him who have the management of his Grace's affairs. This was the most reasonable of all his requests; in which I hope I am not obtruding my advice if I say that such a letter ought not to be taken ill by any man here, especially when they consider, as they do, that they are compelled to take your part more than ever.
Moreover, I assure you that the greatest advantage they have ever had of him, and what has served most to put him in discredit with the King, was, that at my coming he declared too openly his wish to go to Cambray. The others persuaded the King that this was only to escape from being at the expedition of the marriage; and I can tell you, that without him they were terribly near bringing the King to break off the peace negotiations. So I wrote to you at the time; but I left ten times as much to say, which I must keep till I see you, and which I am sure you will find very strange. If the King and Madame think this advisable, they will have withdrawn a faithful servant from the gates of hell.
But he begs above everything that this King be not informed that they have been asked to do it; for his enemies insinuate that he has always had, both in peace and war, secret intelligence with Madame, from whom during the war he received large presents, and that this was the reason why, when Suffolk was at Montdidier, he did not help him with money, which would have enabled him to take Paris.
This they talk of in a whisper, that I may not be apprised of it. As to the said presents, he hopes Madame will not do him an injury if it be spoken of. In all other things he recommends himself to her Grace. These Lords intend, after he is dead or ruined, to impeach the state of the Church, and take all their goods; which it is hardly needful for me to write in cipher, for they proclaim it openly. I expect they will do fine miracles. I have also been told by your great prophet with the brazen face, that this King will hardly live more than ..., to whom, as you know, so far as I see by his writings, he has allowed no further term than the monster (monstre) of May.
I must not omit to say that if Francis and Madame wish to do anything for Wolsey they must make haste. The letters will never be here before he has lost the seal. But he no longer cares about that. They will help for the rest. Also they should give my successor, whom every one is expecting here in a few days, charge to speak about it. The worst of his evil is that Mademoiselle de Boulen has made her friend promise that he will never give him a hearing, for she thinks he could not help having pity upon him. London, 17 Oct.