Obrázky stránek

as your

of mace-bearer; it was only a thought that just came into my head. You will do well to bestow it upon some man of genius that deserves it, and not upon an ignorant person, who will make no other use of it but to pamper his body, as your holiness expresses it. Take example of Pope Julius of worthy memory, who gave such a place to Bramante, an ingenious architect. Having spoke thus, 1 made him a low bow, and took my leave. Bastiano, the Venetian painter, then coming forward, said to him; Most holy father, please to give this place to some person that exerts himself in the ingenious arts; and, holiness knows me to have dedicated my time to those studies, I humbly request you would think me worthy of that honour. The Pope made answer : this devil Benvenuto cannot bear a word of rebuke; I did intend to bestow the place upon him; but it is not right to behave so proudly to a Pope: I therefore don't know how I shall dispose of it."

He, however, bestowed it on Bastiano. The Pope, who was uncommonly anxious for the completion of the chalice, on leaving Rome for Bologna, commanded the Cardinal Salviati to hurry it on, expressing himself in these words: “ Benvenuto is a man that sets but little value


his abilities, and less upon me; so be sure you hurry him on, that the chalice may be finished at my return. This stupid cardinal sent to me in about eight days, ordering me to bring my work with me; but I went to him without it. As soon as I came into his presence, he said to me, Where is this fantastical work of yours ? have you finished it? I made answer; Most reverend sir, I have not finished my fantastical work, as you are pleased to call it, nor can I finish it, except you give me wherewithal to enable me. Scarce had I uttered these words, when the cardinal, whose phyz was liker that of an ass than a human creature, began to look more hideous than before, and immediately proceeding to abusive language, said, I'll confine you a-board a galley, and then you will be glad to finish the work. As I had a brute to deal with, I used the language proper on the occasion, which was as follows; My lord, when I am guilty of crimes deserving the gallies, then you may send me thither; but for such an offence as mine, I am not afraid ; nay I will tell you more, on account of this ill treatment, I will not finish the work at all; so send no more for me, for I will not come, unless I am compelled by the city-guards. The foolish cardinal then tried by fair means to persuade me to go on with the work in hand, and to bring what I had done, that he might examine it: in answer to all his persuasions, I said; Tell his holiness to send me the materials, if he would have me finish this fantastical work; nor would I give him any

other answer,

insomuch, that despairing

of success, he at last ceased to trouble me with his importunities. The Pope returned from Bologna, and immediately enquired after me, for the cardinal had, already, given him, by letter, the most unfavourable account of me, he possibly could. His holiness being incensed against me to the highest degree, ordered me to come to him with my work; and I obeyed. During the time he was at Bologna, I had so severe a defluxion upon my eyes, that life became almost insup


portable to me: that was the first cause of my not proceeding with the chalice: so much did I suffer by this disorder, that I really thought I should lose my eye-sight; and I computed how much would be sufficient for my support, when I should be blind. In my way to the palace, I meditated within myself, an excuse for discontinuing the work; and thought, that whilst the Pope was considering and examining my performance, I might acquaint him with my case; but I was mistaken; for, as soon as I appeared in his presence, he said to me, with great asperity, Let me see that work of yours : is it finished ? Upon my producing it, he few into a more violent passion than before, and said, As there is truth in God, I assure you, since you value no living soul, that if a regard to decency did not prevent me, I would order both you and your work to be thrown, this moment, out of the window. Seeing the Pope thus inflamed with brutal fury, I was for quitting his presence directly, and, as he continued his bravadoes, I put the chalice under my cloak, muttering these words to myself, The whole world would prove unable to make a blind man proceed in such an undertaking as this. The Pope, then, in a louder voice than before, said, Come hither :-what's that you say?—For a while, I hesitated, whether I should not run down stairs ;-at last, I plucked up my courage, and, falling on my knees, exclaimed aloud, in these words, because he continued to scold Is it reasonable, that, when I am blind with a disorder, you should oblige me to continue to work? He answered, you could see well enough to come hither, and I don't believe one word of what you say. Observing that he spoke with a milder tone of voice, I replied, If your holiness will ask your physician, you will find that I declare the truth. I shall inquire into the affair, at my leisure, said he. I now perceived that I had an opportunity to plead my cause, and, therefore, delivered myself thus, I am persuaded, most holy father, that the author of all this mischief, is no other than cardinal Salviati ; because he sent for me immediately upon your holiness's departure; and when I came to him, called my work a fantastical piece, and told me he would make me finish it in a galley: these opprobrious words made such an impression on me, that, through the great perturbation of mind I was in, I felt my face, all on a sudden, inflamed, and my eyes were attacked by so violent a heat, that I could hardly find my way home : a few days after, there fell upon them two cataracts, which blinded me to such a degree, that I could hardly see the light, and, since your holiness's departure, I have not been able to do a stroke of work. Having spoke thus, I rose up and withdrew. I was told, that the Pope said, after I was gone, When places of trust are given, discretion is not always conveyed with them; I did not bid the cardinal treat people quite so roughly; if it be true that he has a disorder in his eyes, as I shall know, by asking my physician, I should be inclined to look upon him with an eye of compassion."

The wrath of his holiness was again excited by the delay of the Artist, and, after waiting two months, during which time, Benvenuto, who had declared he would not strike a single stroke, had wrought at it constantly with the utmost diligence, he

deprived him of his place in the Mint. Our author requested the bearer of this intelligence, to inform his holiness, that he deprived himself, and not him, of the place; and that if he should be ever so desirous to restore it, Benvenuto Cellini would, upon no account, accept it. The Pope next required him to deliver the chalice in its present state ; but to this, the Artist, with his usual spirit of independance, replied, that this was not like the place in the Mint, of which it was in the power of his holiness to deprive him—that the five hundred crowns, he had received, were, indeed, the property of his holiness, and these he would restore; but, as for the work, it was his, and he would dispose of it as he thought proper. In a few days afterwards, the Pope sent two of his gentlemen to Benvenuto, with orders to conduct him to prison, if he still refused to deliver up the chalice-he refused, and was, in consequence, taken before the Governor and Procurator, who rated, expostulated, and advised, by turns, telling him, that he who was employed by another, in any work, should take it back when required;—but Benvenuto made answer " that it was not agreeable to justice, and that a Pope had no right to act in that manner, because his holiness was not like those petty tyrants, who oppress their subjects to the utmost, paying no regard either to law or justice.”—“ Benvenuto,” exclaimed the governor, “ you will, at last, oblige me to use you according to your deserts.”—“ You will, in that case," replied Benvenuto, "behave honorably and politely to me.” Intimidation and coaxing, both failing, they applied to the head of the Christian Church, for instructions ;-he was pleased to command, that, as his honor was concerned, the Artist should bring the work, sealed up in a box, in which state, it should be quickly returned to him : with this command, Benvenuto answered, smiling, he would gladly comply, because he was desirous of knowing what dependance could be placed upon the faith of a Pope. Having, therefore, sent for, and sealed up, his work, he transmitted it, by the governor, to his holiness, who, after turning it round several times, asked the governor if he had seen it, and, on his replying that he had, and that it appeared to him an extraordinary performance, the Pope said,

“ You may tell Benvenuto, that Roman Pontiffs have authority to loose and bind things of much greater importance than this; and whilst he uttered these words, he, with an angry look, opened the box, taking off the cord and the seal."

Although the apostolic faith was as easily broken as the seal, our Benvenuto, after some further display of spirit, was prevailed upon to finish this important piece of plate, the Pope promising to grant him any favor he desired.

Benvenuto next fell in love with a fair Sicilian, who having suddenly left Rome with her mother, he committed innumerable extravagancies in search of her, of which he says it would be tedious to give a circumstantial account; he became acquainted with a professor of necromancy, witnessed his magical spells, and beheld a legion of devils, who, in answer to his request, that he might be in company with his Sicilian mistress, declared that it should come to pass in a month, and it did actually take place on the very day the month expired, at Naples; to which place he had retired, in consequence of having broken the head of a certain Beneditto.

To Rome, however, he was soon recalled, by the Cardinal de Medici, and shortly afterwards Pope Clement the Seventh died. Pompeo, one of the favorites of the deceased Pontiff, and an ancient foe, having offered a public insult to Benvenuto, he fell upon Pompeo, when surrounded by ten armed men, and, forcing his way through them, killed him on the spot. In this affair, Cardinals Cornaro and de Medici contended for the honor of protecting our author. A safe conduct was made out for him by order of Cardinal Farnese, just elected Pope under the title of Paul the Third, and he was re-instated in his place of Stamp Master. The death of Pompeo, however, entailed a succession of adventures and troubles upon our hero, chiefly by the machinations of an illegitimate son of the Pope, Pier-Luigi, whose favorite had married Pompeo's daughter. This PierLuigi had other motives than affection for his favorite, for undertaking to revenge the death of Pompeo ;-it is insinuated that he had laid hands upon the portion of Pompeo's daughter. The first attempt was made through a Corsican soldier, who was hired to assassinate Benvenuto. The following is an account of their meeting.

“One day, just after dinner, they sent for me, in the name of Signor Pier-Luigi: I went directly, as that lord had often talked to me about several pieces of plate, of new invention, which he proposed to have executed. I left my house in a hurry with my usual arms, and went down the street Julia, not thinking to meet any body, at that time of day: when I was at the top of the street, and preparing to turn towards the Farnese Palace, it being customary, with me, to take the round-about way, I saw the Corsican bravo quit the place, where he was sitting, and advance to the middle of the street : without being in the least disconcerted, I kept myself in readiness, and having slackened my pace a little, approached the wall as close as I could, to make way for the Corsican, and the better to defend myself. He drew towards the wall, and we were near to each other, when I plainly perceived, by his gestures, that he had a design upoir me, and seeing me alone in that manner, imagined it would succeed. I was the first that broke silence : Valiant soldier, said I, if it were night-time, you might possi


bly have mistaken me for another, but, as it is broad day-light, you must be sensible who I am, and that I had never any connection with you, nor ever gave you offence, but should rather be disposed to serve you, were it in my power. Upon my uttering these words, he, with a resolute air, and without ever quitting his ground, told me that he did not know what I meant. I replied, but I know very

well what

you mean; yet your enterprise is more dangerous than you are aware of; and the success may be very different from what you imagine: I must tell you, that you

have a man to deal with, who will sell his life very dear; neither does your design become such a brave soldier, as you appear to be. All this while I stood upon my guard, with a stern and watchful eye, and we both changed colour. By this time a crowd was gathered about us, and the people perceived what we were talking of, so that not having the spirit to attack me, under those circumstances, he only said, we shall see one another again. I answered, I am always glad to see gallant men, and those that behave themselves like such. Having left him, I went to Signor Pier-Luigi, but he had not sent for

From thence, I returned to my shop, when the Corsican gave me notice, by means of a particular friend, of his and mine, that I need be, no longer, under any apprehensions from him, since he would, for the future, consider me as a brother; but that I should beware of others, for many persons of distinction had sworn they would have

my life. I returned him thanks by the messenger, and kept upon my guard, the best I could. A few days after, I was told, by an intimate friend, that Signor Pier-Luigi had given express orders for taking me that evening; this I heard at six o'clock.

At eight he took post for Florence, and on his arrival at that city was made Stamp Master to the Mint by Duke Alexander de Medici, whom, however, he soon left for Rome, under a safe conduct from the Pope, to clear himself from the charge of murder, at the feast of the Virgin Mary, by walking in procession; on which occasion the usual formality of his surrendering himself to prison, was, at his earnest entreaty, dispensed with. Passing over several incidents recorded by the author; such as his presentation, by the direction of the Pope, of a highly ornamented Prayer Book, whose cover of massive gold had been curiously wrought by him, to the Emperor Charles the Fifth on his entry into Rome; and his short stay at Padua with Cardinal Bembo, from whom he received flattering attention; we find him at Paris soliciting an interview with Francis the First, which he accomplished at Fontainbleau, where he had a favorable audience for a whole hour. He journeyed in the retinue of the court to Lyons, where he fell ill, and became so disgusted with the French court, that on his recovery he set off incontinently to Rome. Whilst assiduously pursuing his business at this city, he received a very flattering account from the Cardinal Ferrara, whose friendship he had cultivated whilst in France, of the manner in which his most Christian Majesty had expressed

« PředchozíPokračovat »