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


I HAD a tennis-court in my castle, from which I drew considerable profit. The building also contained some little dwellings inhabited by different sorts of men, among whom was a printer of books of much excellence in his own trade. Nearly the whole of his premises lay inside the castle, and he was the man who printed Messer Guido’s first fine book on medicine. Wanting to make use of his lodging, I turned him out, but not without some trouble. There was also a manufacturer of saltpetre; and when I wished to assign his apartments to some of my German workmen, the fellow refused to leave the place. I asked him over and over again in gentle terms to give me up my rooms, because I wanted to employ them for my work-people in the service of the King. The more moderately I spoke, the more arrogantly did the brute reply; till at last I gave him three days’ notice to quit. He laughed me in the face, and said that he would begin to think of it at the end of three years. I had not then learned that he was under the protection of Madame d’Etampes; but had it not been that the terms on which I stood toward that lady made me a little more circumspect than I was wont to be, I should have ousted him at once; now, however, I thought it best to keep my temper for three days. When the term was over, I said nothing, but took Germans, Italians, and Frenchmen, bearing arms, and many hand-labourers whom I had in my employ, and in a short while gutted all his house and flung his property outside my castle. I resorted to these somewhat rigorous measures because he had told me that no Italian whom he knew of had the power of spirit to remove one ring of iron from its place in his house. Well, after the deed was done, he came to find me, and I said to him: “I am the least of all Italians in Italy, and yet I have done nothing to you in comparison with what I have the heart to do, and will do if you utter a single further word,” adding other terms of menace and abuse. The man, dumbfounded and affrighted, got his furniture together as well as he was able; then he ran off to Madame d’Etampes, and painted a picture of me like the very fiend. She being my great enemy, painted my portrait still blacker to the King, with all her greater eloquence and all her greater weight of influence. As I was afterwards informed, his Majesty twice showed signs of irritation and was minded to use me roughly: but Henry the Dauphin, his son, now King of France, who had received some affronts from that imperious woman, together with the Queen of Navarre, sister to King Francis, espoused my cause so cleverly that he passed the matter over with a laugh. So with God’s assistance I escaped from a great danger.