Home  »  Autobiography  »  XLIX

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


I OBEYED the Cardinal, and returned to Paris, where I made excellent cases for my three silver vases, After the lapse of twenty days, I began my preparations, and packed the three vases upon a mule. This animal had been lent me for the journey to Lyons by the Bishop of Pavia, who was now once more installed in my castle.

Then I departed in my evil hour, together with Signor Ippolito Gonzaga, at that time in the pay of the King, and also in the service of Count Galeotto della Mirandola. Some other gentlemen of the said count went with us, as well as Lionardo Tedaldi, our fellow-citizen of Florence.

I made Ascanio and Pagolo guardians of my castle and all my property, including two little vases which were only just begun; those I left behind in order that the two young men might not be idle. I had lived very handsomely in Paris, and therefore there was a large amount of costly household furniture: the whole value of these effects exceeded 1500 crowns. I bade Ascanio remember what great benefits I had bestowed upon him, and that up to the present he had been a mere thoughtless lad; the time was now come for him to show the prudence of a man; therefore I thought fit to leave him in the custody of all my goods, as also of my honour. If he had the least thing to complain of from those brutes of Frenchmen, he was to let me hear at once, because I would take post and fly from any place in which I found myself, not only to discharge the great obligations under which I lay to that good King, but also to defend my honour. Ascanio replied with the tears of a thief and hypocrite: “I have never known a father better than you are, and all things which a good son is bound to perform for a good father will I ever do for you.” So then I took my departure, attended by a servant and a little French lad.

It was just past noon, when some of the King’s treasurers, by no means friends of mine, made a visit to my castle. The rascally fellows began by saying that I had gone off with the King’s silver, and told Messer Guido and the Bishop of Pavia to send at once off after his Majesty’s vases; if not, they would themselves despatch a messenger to get them back, and do me some great mischief. The Bishop and Messer Guido were much more frightened than was necessary; so they sent that traitor Ascanio by the post off on the spot. He made his appearance before me about midnight. I had not been able to sleep, and kept revolving sad thoughts to the following effect: “In whose hands have I left my property, my castle? Oh, what a fate is this of mine, which forces me to take this journey! May God grant only that the Cardinal is not of one mind with Madame d’Etampes, who has nothing else so much at heart as to make me lose the grace of that good King.”