Home  »  Autobiography  »  XCIII

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


WHEN two more days had passed, and the chorus of praise was ever on the increase, I resolved to go and present myself to the Duke, who said with great good-humour: “My Benvenuto, you have satisfied and delighted me; but I promise that I will reward you in such wise as will make you wonder; and I tell you that I do not mean to delay beyond to-morrow.” On hearing this most welcome assurance, I turned all the forces of my soul and body to God, fervently offering up thanks to Him. At the same moment I approached the Duke, and almost weeping for gladness, kissed his robe. Then I added: “O my glorious prince, true and most generous lover of the arts, and of those who exercise them! I entreat your most illustrious Excellency to allow me eight days first to go and return thanks to God; for I alone know what travail I have endured, and that my earnest faith has moved Him to assist me. In gratitude for this and all other marvellous mercies, I should like to travel eight days on pilgrimage, continually thanking my immortal God, who never fails to help those who call upon Him with sincerity.” The Duke then asked me where I wished to go. I answered: “To-morrow I shall set out for Vallombrosa, thence to Camaldoli and the Ermo, afterwards I shall proceed to the Bagni di Santa Maria, and perhaps so far as Sestile, because I hear of fine antiquities to be seen there. Then I shall retrace my steps by San Francesco della Vernia, and, still with thanks to God, return light-hearted to your service.” The Duke replied at once with cheerful kindness: “Go and come back again, for of a truth you please me; but do not forget to send a couple of lines by way of memorandum, and leave the rest to me.”

I wrote four lines that very day, in which I thanked his Excellency for expected favours, and gave these to Messer Sforza, who placed them in the Duke’s hands. The latter took them, and then handed them to Messer Sforza, remarking: “See that you put these lines each day where I can see them; for if Benvenuto comes back and finds I have not despatched his business, I think that he will murder me.” Thus laughing, his Excellency asked to be reminded. Messer Sforza reported these precise words to me on the same evening, laughing too and expressing wonder at the great favour shown me by the Duke. He pleasantly added: “Go, Benvenuto, and come again quickly, for indeed I am jealous of you.”