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


AFTER returning to his palace, he called to mind the words I had spoken in our previous interview, some of which were so excessively humble, and others so proud and haughty, that they caused him no small irritation. He repeated a few of them in the presence of Madame d’Etampes and Monsignor di San Polo, a great baron of France. This man had always professed much friendship for me in the past, and certainly, on that occasion, he showed his good-will, after the French fashion, with great cleverness. It happened thus: the King in the course of a long conversation complained that the Cardinal of Ferrara, to whose care he had entrusted me, never gave a thought to my affairs; so far as he was concerned, I might have decamped from the realm; therefore he must certainly arrange for committing me to some one who would appreciate me better, because he did not want to run a farther risk of losing me. At these words Monsieur de Saint Paul expressed his willingness to undertake the charge, saying that if the King appointed him my guardian, he would act so that I should never have the chance to leave the kingdom. The King replied that he was very well satisfied, if only Saint Paul would explain the way in which he meant to manage me. Madame sat by with an air of sullen irritation and Saint Paul stood on his dignity, declining to answer the King’s question. When the King repeated it, he said, to curry favour with Madame d’Etampes: “I would hang that Benvenuto of yours by the neck, and thus you would keep him for ever in your kingdom.” She broke into a fit of laughter, protesting that I richly deserved it. The King, to keep them company, began to laugh, and said he had no objection to Saint Paul hanging me, if he could first produce my equal in the arts; and although I had not earned such a fate, he gave him full liberty and license. In this way that day ended, and I came off safe and sound, for which may God be praised and thanked.