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


BY labouring incessantly I had now got my various works well forward; the Jupiter was nearly finished, and the vase also; the door began to reveal its beauties. At that time the King came to Paris; and though I gave the right date of the year 1544 for my daughter’s birth, we were still in 1543; but an opportunity of mentioning my daughter having arisen, I availed myself of it, so as not to interrupt the narrative of more important things. Well, the King, as I have said, came to Paris, and paid me a visit soon after his arrival. The magnificent show of works brought well-nigh to completion was enough to satisfy anybody’s eye; and indeed it gave that glorious monarch no less contentment than the artist who had worked so hard upon them desired. While inspecting these things, it came into his head that the Cardinal of Ferrara had fulfilled none of his promises to me, either as regarded a pension or anything else. Whispering with his Admiral, he said that the Cardinal of Ferrara had behaved very badly in the matter; and that he intended to make it up to me himself, because he saw I was a man of few words, who in the twinkling of an eye might decamp without complaining or asking leave.

On returning home, his Majesty, after dinner, told the Cardinal to give orders to his treasurer of the Exchequer that he should pay me at an early date seven thousand crowns of gold, in three or four instalments, according to his own convenience, provided only that he executed the commission faithfully. At the same time he repeated words to this effect: “I gave Benvenuto into your charge, and you have forgotten all about him.” The Cardinal said that he would punctually perform his Majesty’s commands; but his own bad nature made him wait till the King’s fit of generosity was over. Meanwhile wars and rumours of wars were on the increase; it was the moment when the Emperor with a huge army was marching upon Paris. Seeing the realm of France to be in great need of money, the Cardinal one day began to talk of me, and said: “Sacred Majesty, acting for the best, I have not had that money given to Benvenuto. First, it is sorely wanted now for public uses. Secondly, so great a donation would have exposed you to the risk of losing Benvenuto altogether; for if he found himself a rich man, he might have invested his money in Italy, and the moment some caprice took of him, he would have decamped without hesitation. I therefore consider that your Majesty’s best course will be to present him with something in your kingdom, if you want to keep him in your service for any length of time.” The King, being really in want of money, approved of these arguments; nevertheless, like the noble soul he was, and truly worthy of his royal station, he judged rightly that the Cardinal had acted thus in order to curry favour rather than from any clear prevision of distressed finances in so vast a realm.