The Life of Benvenuto Cellini/Section I to IX




CEL V01 D021 Decorative character I.jpg Remained for some time in the Cardinal of Ferrara's palace, very well regarded in general by everybody, and much more visited even than I had previously been. Everybody was astonished that I should have come out of prison and have been able to live through such indescribable afflictions;[1] and while I was recovering my breath and endeavouring to resume the habit of my art, I had great pleasure in re-writing the Capitolo. Afterwards, with a view to re-establishing my strength, I determined to take a journey of a few days for a change of air. My good friend the Cardinal gave me permission and lent me horses; and I had two young Romans for my companions, one of them a craftsman in my trade, the other only a comrade in our journey. We left Rome, and took the road to Tagliacozzo, intending to visit my pupil Ascanio, who lived there. On our arrival, I found the lad, together with his father, brothers, sisters, and stepmother. I was entertained by them two days with indescribable kindness; then I turned my face towards Rome, taking Ascanio with me. On the road we fell to conversing about our art, which made me die of impatience to get back and recommence my labours. Having reached Rome, I got myself at once in readiness to work, and was fortunate enough to find again a silver basin which I had begun for the Cardinal before I was imprisoned. Together with this basin I had begun a very beautiful little jug; but this had been stolen, with a great quantity of other valuable articles. I set Pagolo, whom I have previously mentioned, to work upon the basin. At the same time I recommenced the jug, which was designed with round figures and bas-reliefs. The basin was executed in a similar style, with round figures and fishes in bas-relief. The whole had such richness and good keeping, that every one who beheld it expressed astonishment at the force of the design and beauty of invention, and also at the delicacy[2] with which these young men worked.

The Cardinal came at least twice a day to see me, bringing with him Messer Luigi Alamanni and Messer Gabriel Cesano;[3] and here we used to pass an hour or two pleasantly together. Notwithstanding I had very much to do, he kept giving me fresh commissions. Among others, I had to make his pontifical seal, of the size of the hand of a boy of twelve. On it I engraved in intaglio two little histories, the one of San Giovanni preaching in the wilderness, the other of Sant' Ambrogio expelling the Arians[4] on horseback with a lash in his hand. The fire and correctness of design of this piece, and its nicety of workmanship, made every one say that I had surpassed the great Lautizio, who ranked alone in this branch of the profession. The Cardinal was so proud of it that he used to compare it complacently with the other seals of the Roman cardinals, which were nearly all from the hand of Lautizio.


In addition to these things the Cardinal ordered me to make the model for a salt-cellar; but he said he should like me to leave the beaten track pursued by such as fabricated these things. Messer Luigi, apropos of this salt-cellar, made an eloquent description of his own idea; Messer Gabriello Cesano also spoke exceedingly well to the same purpose. The Cardinal, who was a very kindly listener, showed extreme satisfaction with the designs which these two able men of letters had described in words. Then he turned to me and said:" My Benvenuto,the design of Messer Luigi and that of Messer Gabriello please me both so well that I know not how to choose between them; therefore I leave the choice to you, who will have to execute the work." I replied as follows: "It is apparent, my lords, of what vast consequence are the sons of kings and emperors, and what a marvellous brightness of divinity appears in them; nevertheless, if you ask some poor humble shepherd which he loves best, those royal children or his sons, he will certainly tell you that he loves his own sons best. Now I too have a great affection for the children which I bring forth from my art; consequently the first which I will show you, most reverend monsignor my good master, shall be of my own making and invention. There are many things beautiful enough in words which do not match together well when executed by an artist." Then I turned to the two scholars and said: "You have spoken, I will do." Upon this Messer Luigi Alamanni smiled, and added a great many witty things, with the greatest charm of manner, in my praise; they became him well, for he was handsome of face and figure, and had a gentle voice. Messer Gabriello Cesano was quite the opposite, as ugly and displeasing as the other was agreeable; accordingly he spoke as he looked. Messer Luigi had suggested that I should fashion a Venus with Cupid, surrounded by a crowd of pretty emblems, all in proper keeping with the subject. Messer Gabriello proposed that I should model an Amphitrite, the wife of Neptune, together with those Tritons of the sea, and many such-like fancies, good enough to describe in words, but not to execute in metal.

I first laid down an oval framework, considerably longer than half a cubit—almost two-thirds, in fact; and upon this ground, wishing to suggest the interminglement of land and ocean, I modelled two figures, considerably taller than a palm in height, which were seated with their legs interlaced, suggesting those lengthier branches of the sea which run up into the continents. The sea was a man, and in his hand I placed a ship, elaborately wrought in all its details, and well adapted to hold a quantity of salt. Beneath him I grouped the four sea-horses, and in his right hand he held his trident. The earth I fashioned like a woman, with all the beauty of form,
CEL V02 D127 perseus by cellini.jpg
the perseus by cellini
( florence )

the grace, and charm of which my art was capable. She had a richly decorated temple firmly based upon the ground at one side; and here her hand rested. This I intended to receive the pepper. In her other hand I put a cornucopia, overflowing with all the natural treasures I could think of. Below this goddess, in the part which represented earth, I collected the fairest animals that haunt our globe. In the quarter presided over by the deity of ocean, I fashioned such choice kinds of fishes and shells as could be properly displayed in that small space. What remained of the oval I filled in with luxuriant ornamentation.

Then I waited for the Cardinal; and when he came, attended by the two accomplished gentlemen, I produced the model I had made in wax. On beholding it, Messer Gabriel Cesano was the first to lift his voice up, and to cry: "This is a piece which it will take the lives of ten men to finish: do not expect, most reverend monsignor, if you order it, to get it in your lifetime. Benvenuto, it seems, has chosen to display his children in a vision, but not to give them to the touch, as we did when we spoke of things that could be carried out, while he has shown a thing beyond the bounds of possibility." Messer Alamanni took my side; but the Cardinal said he did not care to undertake so important an affair. Then I turned to them and said: "Most reverend monsignor, and you, gentlemen, fulfilled with learning; tell you that I hope to complete this piece for whosoever shall be destined to possess it;[5] and each one of you shall live to see it executed a hundred times more richly than the model. Indeed, I hope that time will be left me to produce far greater things than this." The Cardinal replied in heat: "Unless you make it for the King, to whom I mean to take you, I do not think that you will make it for another man alive." Then he showed me letters in which the King, under one heading, bade him return as soon as possible, bringing Benvenuto with him. At this I raised my hands to heaven, exclaiming: "Oh, when will that moment come, and quickly?" The Cardinal bade me put myself in readiness, and arrange the affairs I had in Rome. He gave me ten days for these preparations.


When the time came to travel, he gave me a fine and excellent horse. The animal was called Tornon, because it was a gift from the Cardinal Tornon.[6] My apprentices, Pagolo and Ascanio, were also furnished with good mounts.

The Cardinal divided his household, which was very numerous, into two sections. The first, and the more distinguished, he took with him, following the route of Romagna, with the object of visiting Madonna del Loreto, and then making for Ferrara, his own home. The other section he sent upon the road to Florence. This was the larger train; it counted a great multitude, including the flower of his horse. He told me that if I wished to make the journey without peril, I had better go with him, otherwise I ran some risk of my life. I expressed my inclination to his most reverend lordship to travel in his suite. But, having done so, since the will of Heaven must be accomplished, it pleased God to remind me of my poor sister, who had suffered greatly from the news of my misfortunes. I also remembered my cousins, who were nuns in Viterbo, the one abbess and the other camerlinga,[7] and who had therefore that rich convent under their control. They too had endured sore tribulation for my sake, and to their fervent prayers I firmly believed that I owed the grace of my deliverance by God. Accordingly, when these things came into my mind, I decided for the route to Florence. I might have travelled free of expense with the Cardinal or with that other train of his, but I chose to take my own way by myself. Eventually I joined company with a very famous clockmaker, called Maestro Cherubino, my esteemed friend. Thrown together by accident, we performed the journey with much enjoyment on both sides. I had left Rome on Monday in Passion Week, together with Pagolo and Ascanio.[8] At Monte Ruosi we joined the company which I have mentioned. Since I had expressed my intention of following the Cardinal, I did not anticipate that any of my enemies would be upon the watch to harm me. Yet I ran a narrow risk of coming to grief at Monte Ruosi; for a band of men had been sent forward, well armed, to do me mischief there. It was so ordained by God that, while we were at dinner, these fellows, on the news that I was not travelling in the Cardinal's suite, made preparation to attack me. Just at that moment the Cardinal's retinue arrived, and I was glad enough to travel with their escort safely to Viterbo. From that place onward I had no apprehension of danger, especially as I made a point of travelling a few miles in front, and the best men of the retinue kept a good watch over me.[9] I arrived by God's grace safe and sound at Viterbo, where my cousins and all the convent received me with the greatest kindness.


After leaving Viterbo with the comrades I have mentioned, we pursued our journey on horseback, sometimes in front and sometimes behind the Cardinal's household. This brought us upon Maundy Thursday at twenty-two o'clock within one stage of Siena. At this place there happened to be some return-horses; and the people of the post were waiting for an opportunity to hire them at a small fee to any traveller who would take them back to the post-station in Siena. When I was aware of this, I dismounted from my horse Tornon, saddled one of the beasts with my pad and stirrups, and gave a giulio to the groom in waiting.[10] I left my horse under the care of my young men to bring after me, and rode on in front, wishing to arrive half-an-hour earlier in Siena, where I had some friends to visit and some business to transact. Although I went at a smart pace, I did not override the post-horse. When I reached Siena, I engaged good rooms at the inn for five persons, and told the groom of the house to take the horse back to the post, which was outside the Camollía gate; I forgot, however, to remove my stirrups and my pad.

That evening of Holy Thursday we passed together with much gaiety; and next morning, which was Good Friday, I remembered my stirrups and my pad. On my sending for them, the postmaster replied that he did not mean to give them up, because I had overridden his horse. We exchanged messages several times, and he kept saying that he meant to keep them, adding expressions of intolerable insult. The host where I was lodging told me: "You will get off well if he does nothing worse than to detain your gear; for you must know that he is the most brutal fellow that ever disgraced our city, and has two sons, soldiers of great courage, who are even more brutal than he is. I advise you then to purchase what you want, and to pursue your journey without moving farther in this matter."

I bought a new pair of stirrups, although I still hoped to regain my good pad by persuasion; and since I was very well mounted, and well armed with shirt and sleeves of mail, and carried an excellent arquebuse upon my saddle-bow, I was not afraid of the brutality and violence which that mad beast was said to be possessed of. I had also accustomed my young men to carry shirts of mail, and had great confidence in the Roman, who, while we were in Rome together, had never left it off, so far as I could see; Ascanio too, although he was but a stripling, was in the habit of wearing one. Besides, as it was Good Friday, I imagined that the madnesses of madmen might be giving themselves a holiday. When we came to the Camollía gate, I at once recognised the postmaster by the indications given me; for he was blind of the left eye. Riding up to him then, and leaving my young men and companions at a little distance, I courteously addressed him: "Master of the post, if I assure you that I did not override your horse, why are you unwilling to give me back my pad and stirrups?" The reply he made was precisely as mad and brutal as had been foretold me. This roused me to exclaim: "How then! are you not a Christian? or do you want upon Good Friday to force us both into a scandal?" He answered that Good Friday or the Devil's Friday was all the same to him, and that if I did not take myself away, he would fell me to the ground with a spontoon which he had taken up—me and the arquebuse I had my hand on. Upon hearing these truculent words, an old gentleman of Siena joined us; he was dressed like a citizen, and was returning from the religious functions proper to that day. It seems that he had gathered the sense of my arguments before he came up to where we stood; and this impelled him to rebuke the postmaster with warmth, taking my side, and reprimanding the man's two sons for not doing their duty to passing strangers; so that their manners were an offence to God and a disgrace to the city of Siena. The two young fellows wagged their heads without saying a word, and withdrew inside the house. Their father, stung to fury by the scolding of that respectable gentleman, poured out a volley of abusive blasphemies, and levelled his spontoon, swearing he would murder me. When I saw him determined to do some act of bestial violence, I pointed the muzzle of my arquebuse, with the object only of keeping him at a distance. Doubly enraged by this, he flung himself upon me. Though I had prepared the arquebuse for my defence, I had not yet levelled it exactly at him; indeed it was pointed too high. It went off of itself; and the ball, striking the arch of the door and glancing backwards, wounded him in the throat, so that he fell dead to earth. Upon this the two young men came running out; one caught up a partisan from the rack which stood there, the other seized the spontoon of his father. Springing upon my followers, the one who had the spontoon smote Pagolo the Roman first above the left nipple. The other attacked a Milanese who was in our company, and had the ways and manners of a perfect fool. This man screamed out that he had nothing in the world to do with me, and parried the point of the partisan with a little stick he held; but this availed him naught: in spite of his words and fencing, he received a flesh wound in the mouth. Messer Cherubino wore the habit of a priest; for though he was a clockmaker by trade, he held benefices of some value from the Pope. Ascanio, who was well armed, stood his ground without trying to escape, as the Milanese had done; so these two came off unhurt. I had set spurs to my horse, and while he was galloping, had charged and got my arquebuse in readiness again; but now I turned back, burning with fury, and meaning to play my part this time in earnest. I thought that my young men had been killed, and was resolved to die with them. The horse had not gone many paces when I met them riding toward me, and asked if they were hurt. Ascanio answered that Pagolo was wounded to the death. Then I said: "O Pagolo, my son, did the spontoon then pierce through your armour?" "No," he replied, "for I put my shirt of mail in the valise this morning." "So then, I suppose, one wears chain-mail in Rome to swagger before ladies, but where there is danger, and one wants it, one keeps it locked up in a portmanteau? You deserve what you have got, and you are now the cause of sending me back to die here too." While I was uttering these words, I kept riding briskly onward; but both the young men implored me for the love of God to save myself and them, and not to rush on certain death. Just then I met Messer Cherubino and the wounded Milanese. The former cried out that no one was badly wounded; the blow given to Pagolo had only grazed the skin;[11] but the old postmaster was stretched out dead; his sons with other folk were getting ready for attack, and we must almost certainly be cut to pieces: "Accordingly, Benvenuto, since fortune has saved us from this first tempest, do not tempt her again, for things may not go so favourably a second time." To this I replied: "If you are satisfied to have it thus, so also am I;" and turning to Pagolo and Ascanio, I said: "Strike spurs to your horses, and let us gallop to Staggia without stopping;[12] there we shall be in safety." The wounded Milanese groaned out: "A pox upon our peccadilloes! the sole cause of my misfortune was that I sinned by taking a little broth this morning, having nothing else to break my fast with." In spite of the great peril we were in, we could not help laughing a little at the donkey and his silly speeches. Then we set spurs to our horses, and left Messer Cherubino and the Milanese to follow at their leisure.


While we were making our escape, the sons of the dead man ran to the Duke of Melfi, and begged for some light horsemen to catch us up and take us prisoners.[13] The Duke, upon being informed that we were the Cardinal of Ferrara's men, refused to give them troops or leave to follow. We meanwhile arrived at Staggia, where we were in safety. There we sent for a doctor, the best who could be had in such a place; and on his examining Pagolo, we discovered that the wound was only skin-deep; so I felt sure[14] that he would escape without mischief. Then we ordered dinner; and at this juncture there arrived Messer Cherubino and that Milanese simpleton, who kept always muttering: "A plague upon your quarrels," and complaining that he was excommunicated because he had not been able to say a single Paternoster on that holy morning. He was very ugly, and his mouth, which nature had made large, had been expanded at least three inches by his wound; so that what with his ludicrous Milanese jargon and his silly way of talking, he gave us so much matter for mirth, that, instead of bemoaning our ill-luck, we could not hold from laughing at every word he uttered. When the doctor wanted to sew up his wound, and had already made three stitches with his needle, the fellow told him to hold hard awhile, since he did not want him out of malice to sew his whole mouth up. Then he took up a spoon, and said he wished to have his mouth left open enough to take that spoon in, in order that he might return alive to his own folk. These things he said with such odd waggings of the head, that we never stopped from laughing, and so pursued our journey mirthfully to Florence. We dismounted at the house of my poor sister, who, together with her husband, overwhelmed us with kind attentions. Messer Cherubino and the Milanese went about their business. In Florence we remained four days, during which Pagolo got well. It was lucky for us that whenever we talked about that Milanese donkey, we laughed as much as our misfortunes made us weep, so that we kept laughing and crying both at the same moment.

Pagolo recovered, as I have said, with ease; and then we travelled toward Ferrara, where we found our lord the Cardinal had not yet arrived. He had CEL V02 D141 pope paul iii.jpgpope paul iii
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already heard of all our accidents, and said, when he expressed his concern for them: "I pray to God that I may be allowed to bring you alive to the King, according to my promise." In Ferrara he sent me to reside at a palace of his, a very handsome place called Belfiore, close under the city walls. There he provided me with all things necessary for my work. A little later, he arranged to leave for France without me; and observing that I was very ill pleased with this, he said to me: "Benvenuto, I am acting for your welfare; before I take you out of Italy, I want you to know exactly what you will have to do when you come to France. Meanwhile, push on my basin and the jug with all the speed you can. I shall leave orders with my factor to give you everything that you may want."

He then departed, and I remained sorely dissatisfied, and more than once I was upon the point of taking myself off without license. The only thing which kept me back was that he had procured my freedom from Pope Paolo; for the rest, I was ill-contented and put to considerable losses. However, I clothed my mind with the gratitude due to that great benefit, and disposed myself to be patient and to await the termination of the business. So I set myself to work with my two men, and made great progress with the jug and basin. The air was unwholesome where we lodged, and toward summer we all of us suffered somewhat in our health. During our indisposition we went about inspecting the domain; it was very large, and left in a wild state for about a mile of open ground, haunted too by multitudes of peacocks, which bred and nested there like wildfowl. This put it into my head to charge my gun with a noiseless kind of powder; then I tracked some of the young birds, and every other day killed one, which furnished us with abundance of meat, of such excellent quality that we shook our sickness off. For several months following we went on working merrily, and got the jug and basin forward; but it was a task that required much time.


At that period the Duke of Ferrara came to terms with Pope Paul about some old matters in dispute between them relating to Modena and certain other cities. The Church having a strong claim to them, the Duke was forced to purchase peace by paying down an enormous sum of money; I think that it exceeded three hundred thousand ducats of the Camera. There was an old treasurer in the service of the Duke, who had been brought up by his father, Duke Alfonso, and was called Messer Girolamo Giliolo. He could not endure to see so much money going to the Pope, and went about the streets crying: "Duke Alfonso, his father, would sooner have attacked and taken Rome with this money than have shown it to the Pope." Nothing would induce him to disburse it; at last, however, the Duke compelled him to make the payments, which caused the old man such anguish that he sickened of a dangerous colic and was brought to death's door. During this man's illness the Duke sent for me, and bade me take his portrait; this I did upon a circular piece of black stone about the size of a little trencher. The Duke took so much pleasure in my work and conversation, that he not unfrequently posed through four or five hours at a stretch for his own portrait, and sometimes invited me to supper. It took me eight days to complete his likeness; then he ordered me to design the reverse. On it I modelled Peace, giving her the form of a woman with a torch in her hand, setting fire to a trophy of arms; I portrayed her in an attitude of gladness, with very thin drapery, and below her feet lay Fury in despair, downcast and sad, and loaded with chains. I devoted much study and attention to this work, and it won me the greatest honour. The Duke was never tired of expressing his satisfaction, and gave me inscriptions for both sides of the medal. That on the reverse ran as follows: Pretiosa in conspectu Domini; it meant that his peace with the Pope had been dearly bought.


While I was still engaged upon the reverse of this medal, the Cardinal sent me letters bidding me prepare for my journey, since the King had asked after me. His next communication would contain full details respecting all that he had promised. Accordingly, I had my jug and basin packed up, after showing them to the Duke. Now a Ferrarese gentleman named Alberto Bendedio was the Cardinal's agent, and he had been twelve years confined to his house, without once leaving it, by reason of some physical infirmity. One day he sent in a vast hurry for me, saying I must take the post at once, in order to present myself before the King of France, who had eagerly been asking for me, under the impression that I was in France. By way of apology, the Cardinal told him that I was staying, slightly indisposed, in his abbey at Lyons, but that he would have me brought immediately to his Majesty. Therefore I must lose no time, but travel with the post. Now Messer Alberto was a man of sterling worth, but proud, and illness had made his haughty temper insupportable. As I have just said, he bade me to get ready on the spot and take the journey by the common post. I said that it was not the custom to pursue my profession in the post, and that if I had to go, it was my intention to make easy stages and to take with me the workmen Ascanio and Pagolo, whom I had brought from Rome. Moreover, I wanted a servant on horseback to be at my orders, and money sufficient for my costs upon the way. The infirm old man replied, upon a tone of mighty haughtiness, that the sons of dukes were wont to travel as I had described, and in no other fashion. I retorted that the sons of my art travelled in the way I had informed him, and that not being a duke's son, I knew nothing about the customs of such folk; if he treated me to language with which my ears were unfamiliar, I would not go at all; the Cardinal having broken faith with me, and such scurvy words having been spoken, I should make my mind up once for all to take no further trouble with the Ferrarese. Then I turned my back, and, he threatening, I grumbling, took my leave.

I next went to the Duke with my medal, which was finished. He received me with the highest marks of honour and esteem. It seems that he had given orders to Messer Girolamo Giliolo to reward me for my labour with a diamond ring worth two hundred crowns, which was to be presented by Fiaschino, his chamberlain. Accordingly, this fellow, on the evening after I had brought the medal, at one hour past nightfall, handed me a ring with a diamond of showy appearance, and spoke as follows on the part of his master: "Take this diamond as a remembrance of his Excellency, to adorn the unique artist's hand which has produced a masterpiece of so singular merit." When day broke, I examined the ring, and found the stone to be a miserable thin diamond, worth about ten crowns. I felt sure that the Duke had not meant to accompany such magnificent compliments with so trifling a gift, but that he must have intended to reward me handsomely. Being then convinced that the trick proceeded from his rogue of a treasurer, I gave the ring to a friend of mine, begging him to return it to the chamberlain, Fiaschino, as he best could. The man I chose was Bernardo Saliti, who executed his commission admirably. Fiaschino came at once to see me, and declared, with vehement expostulations, that the Duke would take it very ill if I refused a present he had meant so kindly; perhaps I should have to repent of my waywardness. I answered that the ring his Excellency had given me was worth about ten crowns, and that the work I had done for him was worth more than two hundred. Wishing, however, to show his Excellency how highly I esteemed his courtesy, I should be happy. if he bestowed on me only one of those rings for the cramp, which come from England and are worth tenpence.[15] I would treasure that so long as I lived in remembrance of his Excellency, together with the honourable message he had sent me; for I considered that the splendid favours of his Excellency had amply recompensed my pains, whereas that paltry stone insulted them. This speech annoyed the Duke so much that he sent for his treasurer, and scolded him more sharply than he had ever done before. At the same time he gave me orders, under pain of his displeasure, not to leave Ferrara without duly informing him; and commanded the treasurer to present me with a diamond up to three hundred crowns in value. The miserly official found a stone rising a trifle above sixty crowns, and let it be heard that it was worth upwards of two hundred.


Meanwhile Messer Alberto returned to reason, and provided me with all I had demanded. My mind was made up to quit Ferrara without fail that very day; but the Duke's attentive chamberlain arranged with Messer Alberto that I should get no horses then. I had loaded a mule with my baggage, including the case which held the Cardinal's jug and basin. Just then a Ferrarese nobleman named Messer Alfonso de'Trotti arrived.[16] He was far advanced in years, and a person of excessive affectation; a great dilettante of the arts, but one of those men who are very difficult to satisfy, and who, if they chance to stumble on something which suits their taste, exalt it so in their own fancy that they never expect to see the like of it again. Well, this Messer Alfonso arrived, and Messer Alberto said to him: "I am sorry that you are come so late; the jug and basin we are sending to the Cardinal in France have been already packed." He answered that it did not signify to him; and beckoning to his servant, sent him home to fetch a jug in white Faenzo clay, the workmanship of which was very exquisite. During the time the servant took to go and return, Messer Alfonso said to Messer Alberto: "I will tell you why I do not care any longer to look at vases; it is that I once beheld a piece of silver, antique, of such beauty and such finish that the human imagination cannot possibly conceive its rarity. Therefore I would rather not inspect any objects of the kind, for fear of spoiling the unique impression I retain of that. I must tell you that a gentleman of great quality and accomplishments, who went to Rome upon matters of business, had this antique vase shown to him in secret. By adroitly using a large sum of money, he bribed the person in whose hands it was, and brought it with him to these parts; but he keeps it jealously from all eyes, in order that the Duke may not get wind of it, fearing he should in some way be deprived of his treasure." While spinning out this lengthy yarn, Messer Alfonso did not look at me, because we were not previously acquainted. But when that precious clay model appeared, he displayed it with such airs of ostentation, pomp, and mountebank ceremony, that, after inspecting it, I turned to Messer Alberto and said:"Iam indeed lucky to have had the privilege to see it!"[17] Messer Alfonso, quite affronted, let some contemptuous words escape him, and exclaimed: "Who are you, then, you who do not know what you are saying?" I replied: "Listen for a moment, and afterwards judge which of us knows best what he is saying." Then turning to Messer Alberto, who was a man of great gravity and talent, I began: "This is a copy from a little silver goblet, of such and such a weight, which I made at such and such a time for that charlatan Maestro Jacopo, the surgeon from Carpi. He came to Rome and spent six months there, during which he bedaubed some scores of noblemen and unfortunate gentlefolk with his dirty salves, extracting many thousands of ducats from their pockets. At that time I made for him this vase and one of a different pattern. He paid me very badly; and at the present moment in Rome all the miserable people who used his ointment are crippled and in a deplorable state of health.[18] It is indeed great glory for me that my works are held in such repute among you wealthy lords; but I can assure you that during these many years past I have been progressing in my art with all my might, and I think that the vase I am taking with me into France is far more worthy of cardinals and kings than that piece belonging to your little quack doctor." After I had made this speech, Messer Alfonso seemed dying with desire to see the jug and basin, but I refused to open the box. We remained some while disputing the matter, when he said that he would go to the Duke and get an order from his Excellency to have it shown him. Then Messer Alberto Bendedio, in the high and mighty manner which belonged to him, exclaimed: "Before you leave this room, Messer Alfonso, you shall see it, without employing the Duke's influence/' On hearing these words I took my leave, and left Ascanio and Pagolo to show it. They told me afterwards that he had spoken enthusiastically in my praise. After this he wanted to become better acquainted with me; but I was wearying to leave Ferrara and get away from all its folk. The only advantages I had enjoyed there were the society of Cardinal Salviati and the Cardinal of Ravenna, and the friendship of some ingenious musicians;[19] no one else had been to me of any good; for the Ferrarese are a very avaricious people, greedy of their neighbours' money, however they may lay their hands on it; they are all the same in this respect.

At the hour of twenty-two Fiaschino arrived, and gave me the diamond of sixty crowns, of which I spoke above. He told me, with a hang-dog look and a few brief words, that I might wear it for his Excellency's sake. I replied: "I will do so." Then putting my foot in the stirrup in his presence, I set off upon my travels without further leave-taking. The man noted down my act and words, and reported them to the Duke, who was highly incensed, and showed a strong inclination to make me retrace my steps.

  1. This assertion is well supported by contemporary letters of Caro and Alamanni.
  2. Pulitezza. This indicates precision, neatness, cleanness of execution.
  3. The name of Cesano is well known in the literary correspondence of those times.
  4. It will be remembered that the Cardinal was Archbishop of Milan.
  5. A chi l'arà avere. For whomsoever it is going to belong to.
  6. This was the famous Francois de Tournon, made Cardinal in 1530, and employed as minister by Francois I.
  7. This official in a convent was the same as cellarer or superintendent of the cellar and provisions.
  8. This was March 22, 1540.
  9. Tenevano molto conto di me. This is perhaps equivalent to held me in high esteem. But Cellini uses the same phrase with the meaning I have given above, in Book I. chap. lxxxvi.
  10. The word I have translated by "pad" above is cueino in the original. It seems to have been a sort of cushion flung upon the saddle, and to which the stirrups were attached.
  11. The Italian is peculiar: il colpo di Pagolo era ito tanto ritto che non era isfandato.
  12. Staggia is the next post on the way to Florence.
  13. The Duke of Melfi, or Amalfi, was at this time Alfonso Piccolomini, acting as captain-general of the Sienese in the interests of Charles V.
  14. Cognobbi. The subject to this verb may be either Cellini or the doctor.
  15. Anello del granchio, a metal ring of lead and copper, such as are now worn in Italy under the name of anello di salute.
  16. This man was a member of a very noble Ferrarese family, and much esteemed for his official talents.
  17. Pur beato che io l'ho veduto! Leclanché translates thus: "Par Dieu! il y a longtemps que je l'ai vu! "I think Cellini probably meant to hint that he had seen it before.
  18. See Vol. I., p. 138, for this story.
  19. Cardinal Giovanni Salviati was Archbishop of Ferrara; Cardinal Benedetto Accolti, Archbishop of Ravenna, was then staying at Ferrara; the court voas famous for its excellent orchestra and theatrical display of all kinds.