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


IMMEDIATELY after my arrival, there came to visit me a certain Raffaellone Scheggia, whose trade was that of a cloth-of-gold weaver. He began thus: “My Benvenuto, I should like to reconcile you with Piermaria Sbietta.” I replied that nobody could settle the affairs between us except the Lords Counsellors; in the present court Sbietta would not have a Federigo de’ Ricci to support him, a man willing, for the bribe of a couple of fatted kids, without respect of God or of his honour, to back so infamous a cause and do so vile a wrong to sacred justice. When I had uttered these words, and many others to the like effect, Raffaello kept on blandly urging that it was far better to eat a thrush in peace than to bring a fat capon to one’s table, even though one were quite sure to get it, after a hot fight. He further reminded me that lawsuits had a certain way of dragging on, and that I could employ the time far better upon some masterpiece of art, which would bring me not only greater honour, but greater profit to boot. I knew that he was speaking the mere truth, and began to lend ear to his arguments. Before long, therefore, we arranged the matter of this way: Sbietta was to rent the farm from me at seventy golden crowns in gold the year during the whole term of my natural life. But when we came to the contract, which was drawn up by Ser Giovanni, son of Ser Matteo da Falgano, Sbietta objected that the terms we had agreed on would involve our paying the largest duties to the revenue. He was not going to break his word; therefore we had better draw the lease for five years, to be renewed on the expiry of the term. He undertook to abide by his promise to renew, without raising further litigation. That rascal, the priest, his brother, entered into similar engagements; and so the lease was drawn for five years.