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Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571). Autobiography.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


SIGNOR PIER LUIGI, the Pope’s son, had well considered the large sum for which I stood accused; so he begged the reversion of it from his most holy father, and asked that he might have the money made out to himself. The Pope granted this willingly, adding that he would assist in its recovery. Consequently, after having kept me eight whole days in prison, they sent me up for examination, in order to put an end if possible to the affair. I was summoned into one of the great halls of the papal castle, a place of much dignity. My examiners were, first, the Governor of Rome, called Messer Benedetto Conversini of Pistoja, who afterwards became Bishop of Jesi; secondly, the Procurator-Fiscal, whose name I have forgotten; and, thirdly, the judge in criminal cases, Messer Benedetto da Cagli. These three men began at first to question me in gentle terms, which afterwards they changed to words of considerable harshness and menace, apparently because I said to them: “My lords, it is more than half-an-hour now since you have been pestering me with questions about fables and such things, so that one may truly say you are chattering or prattling; by chattering I mean talking without reason, by prattling I mean talking nonsense: therefore I beg you to tell me what it really is you want of me, and to let me hear from your lips reasonable speech, and not jabberings or nonsense.” In reply to these words of mine, the Governor, who was a Pistojan, could no longer disguise his furious temper, and began: “You talk very confidently, or rather far too arrogantly; but let me tell you that I will bring your pride down lower than a spaniel by the words of reason you shall hear from me; these will be neither jabberings nor nonsense, as you have it, but shall form a chain of arguments to answer which you will be forced to tax the utmost of your wits. Then he began to speak as follows: “We know for certain that you were in Rome at the time when this unhappy city was subject to the calamity of the sack; at that time you were in this Castle of Sant’ Angelo, and were employed as bombardier. Now since you are a jeweller and goldsmith by trade, Pope Clement, being previously acquainted with you, and having by him no one else of your profession, called you into his secret counsels, and made you unset all the jewels of his tiaras, mitres, and rings; afterwards, having confidence in you, he ordered you to sew them into his clothes. While thus engaged, you sequestered, unknown to his Holiness, a portion of them, to the value of eighty thousand crowns. This has been told us by one of your workmen, to whom you disclosed the matter in your braggadocio way. Now, we tell you frankly that you must find the jewels, or their value in money; after that we will release you.”