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


MANY weeks passed, but of me nothing more was spoken. This neglect drove me half mad with despair. Now about that time the Queen of France sent Messer Baccio del Bene to our Duke for a loan of money, which the Duke very graciously supplied, as rumour went. Messer Baccio del Bene and I had been intimate friends in former times; so when we renewed our acquaintance in Florence, we came together with much mutual satisfaction. In course of conversation he related all the favours shown him by his most illustrious Excellency, and asked me what great works I had in hand. In reply, I narrated the whole story of the Neptune and the fountain, and the great wrong done me by the Duchess. He responded by telling me how her Majesty of France was most eager to complete the monument of her husband Henri II., and how Daniello da Volterra had undertaken a great equestrian statue in bronze, but the time had already elapsed in which he promised to perform it, and that a multitude of the richest ornaments were required for the tomb. If, then, I liked to return to France and occupy my castle, she would supply me with all the conveniences I could ask for, provided only I cared to enter her service. These proposals he made on the part of the Queen. I told Messer Baccio to beg me from the Duke; if his most illustrious Excellency was satisfied, I should very willingly return to France. He answered cheerfully: “We will travel back together!” and considered the affair settled. Accordingly, next day, in course of conversation with the Duke, he alluded to myself, declaring that if his Excellency had no objection, the Queen would take me into her employ. The Duke replied without a moment’s hesitation: “Benvenuto’s ability in his profession is known to the whole world; but at the present time he does not care to go on working.” Then they touched on other topics; and upon the day following I called on Messer Baccio, who reported what had passed between them. Then I lost all patience, and exclaimed: “Oh, me! His most illustrious Excellency gave me nothing to do, while I was bringing to perfection one of the most difficult master-pieces ever executed in this world; and it stands me in more than two hundred crowns, which I have paid out of my poverty! Oh, what could I not have done if his Excellency had but set me to work! I tell you in pure truth, that they have done me a great wrong!” The good-natured gentleman repeated to the Duke what I had answered. The Duke told him we were joking, and that he wanted me for his own service. The result was that in my irritation I more than once made up my mind to make off without asking leave. However, the Queen preferred to drop negotiations, in fear of displeasing the Duke; and so I remained here, much to my regret.