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


THOUGH I want to enter upon other topics, and to leave all this rascality alone awhile, I am forced to narrate what happened at the termination of this five years’ contract. Instead of abiding by their promised word, those two rogues declared they meant to give me up my farm, and would not keep it any longer upon lease. I not unnaturally complained, but they retorted by ostentatiously unfolding the deed; and I found myself without any defense against their chicanery. When it came to this, I told them that Duke and Prince of Florence would not suffer folk to be so infamously massacred in their cities. That menace worked so forcibly upon their minds that they once more despatched Raffaello Schegcia, the same man who negotiated the former arrangement. I must add that they professed their unwillingness to pay the same rent of seventy crowns as during the five years past, while I replied that I would not take a farthing less. So then Raffaello came to look me up, and spoke to this effect: “My Benvenuto, you know that I am acting in your interest. Now these men have placed themselves entirely in my hands;” and he showed me a writing to this effect signed by them. Not being aware that he was their close relative, I thought he would be an excellent arbitrator, and therefore placed myself also absolutely in his hands. This man of delicate honour then came one evening about a half hour after sunset, in the month of August, and induced me with the strongest pressure to draw up the contract then and there. He did so because he knew that if he waited till the morning, the deceit he wished to practise on me must have failed. Accordingly the deed was executed, to the effect that they were to pay me a rent of sixty-five crowns, in two half-yearly installments, during the term of my natural life. Notwithstanding I rebelled against it, and refused to sit down quietly under the injustice, all was to no purpose. Raffaello exhibited my signature, and every one took part against me. At the same time he went on protesting that he acted altogether in my interest and as my supporter. Neither the notary nor any others who heard of the affair, knew that he was a relative of those two rogues; so they told me I was in the wrong. Accordingly, I was forced to yield with the best grace I could; and what I have now to do is to live as long as I can manage.

Close after these events, that is to say, in the December of 1566 following, I made another blunder. I bought half of the farm Del Poggio from them, or rather from Sbietta, for two hundred crowns. It marches with my property of La Fonte. Our terms were that the estate should revert at the term of three years, and I gave them a lease of it. I did this for the best; but I should have to dilate too long upon the topic were I to enter into all the rascalities they practised on me. Therefore, I refer my cause entirely to God, knowing that He hath ever defended me from those who sought to do me mischief.