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BENVENUTO CELLINI,

From Blackwood's Magazine. could be more appropriate than this occu

pation of the halcyon years which every “ALL men of every class, who have laboring man seems to have a right to done something creditable, ought, being before the end. We follow the calm days trustworthy and honest men, to write their of their retired leisure with a pleasant lives with their own hand,” says the great sense of fitness. It is seemly and natural artist and extraordinary personage whose that they should discourse to us seated in name stands at the head of this page. the easy-chair of old age, which is a natNo words more fit could be found with ural throne and pulpit; and the old man's which to begin the discussion of a class narrative of his youth has a tender inof books which, if not altogether so valu- terest, a suppressed and gentle pathos, able as Ser Benvenuto considers them, which goes to our hearts. But it is only have supplied many excellent and more a few who have this blessed and beautiful amusing pages to general history. . If his old age. The majority of men carry their advice had been largely followed, it would cares with them to the very brink of the scarcely be hyperbole to say that the grave, and only get rid of their burden world would not contain the volumes that when the shoulders fail under it: indeed might have been written so that we the majority of men do not live to old age may conclude ourselves fortunate that the at all, and so have neither the ineans nor impulse only comes to one now and then; its seclusion and calm. Sometimes yet we have no doubt it comes to a great the opportunity of giving us the benefit of many who never get the length of auto- the will and all surrounding circumstances biography. When old age arrives gently being in favor of the intended revelation and pleasantly, when the man who has - it is postponed too long, till the hand lived an active and important life finds falls powerless and the memory is insuffihimself, without much pain, and with cient to the task. Sometimes just enough many consolations of comfort, and honor, is accomplished to make us feel the exceland observance, put aside from it, and lence of the method, when the pen drops left with a long and wealthy past behind from the eble fingers, and has to be him, and a somewhat impoverished pres- taken up by somebody who knows the ent thinly filling its place, - it is a very subject only as others know it, from outnatural impulse which bids him find side, seeing the mountains like molehills, amusement and companionship for his and upsetting the perspective of events. old age in making the great public his But yet we have a sufficiently large list of confidant, and telling his own story to the completed and finished efforts to show vague crowds whom he will never see, but their value; and it is an instructive and in whom imagination represents to him somewhat sad pleasure for the student of many an unknown friend and sympathetic human nature to watch those shadows as soul. Whatever there may be of humilia. they appear before him, each anxious to tion in the sense that he has found him- give the best account of itself, some in self, or, still worse, that others have found serene human unconsciousness thrusting bim, no longer fit for the charge he has so their own little tale of events between him long held, is softened by the conscious and the history of the world, finding their ness that he can leave behind a record of infant or their apple-tree of more impor. many things worth knowing, clear up, per- tance than the convulsions of nations. haps, some historical mysteries of his Still even an apple-tree, the wonderful period, and keep the incidents of his own crop upon which so excites its owner as life alive among men.

An old statesman to confuse his apprehension of the impor. in his dignified retirement, an old priest tance of the greatest public event, is of in the quiet of his parsonage or his cell, use in its way as revealing that undercur. an old author whose inventions are over, rent of peaceable life which streams seand wbo finds his experiences more inter- renely on, whatever storms may convulse esting to himself than any effort of ro- the air, and which is the real secret of

the spectator feels that nothing national continuance. So long as that

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goes on unaffected, the heart of a country frankness of his self-revelation. In both is safe though its throne should be upset these points be is as remarkable as in his a hundred times. Thus the narrowest genius, which is saying much for he domestic record widers our experience of was an admirable artist, inexhaustit!: in human nature, which, of all things in- fancy, and full of the truest instinct, as volved, changes least from one generation well as the most swaggering of gallants, to another; and the spectacle of its in the fiercest of swordsmen, the most chol. sensibility to the great catastrophes and eric of egotists. Involuntarily as we rush revolutions going on around, its calm per- through his stormy narrative, another severance in its own way though the pil. figure comes and stands beside us, sug. lars of the earth should be shaken, is as gested by the contrast, – the neat and interesting and instructive as any other trim figure, in periwig and ruffles, of our part of the perennial drama. To see how English model of secret biography, the little agitated is the race even when it' is demure and cunning, yet sagacious and agitated most, to listen to a soft little genial Pepys. Nothing can be more unlove-strain singing itself to all the gentle like the complaisant murmuring of his echoes under the very horrors and fierce own peccadilloes to his own bosom, of excitements of the French Revolution, that most graphic and subtle commentaand to know that the least misadventure tor, his half-amused yet half-remorseful of his son Tom was more important to a confessions, all under strictest lock and village chronicler than the tragic exit of key, than the dashing strut and brag of “the martyr Charles” or the coming of the Florentine, whose passions, both of vio“the hero William," are curious revela. lence and love, are set before us without a tions; but they fill up - better even than thought of apology or any consciousness those narratives of the back stairs and of offence, and who prosessedly intends records of all the underplots that influ- for the public eye the astounding record ence a great event, to which the world is of a life spent in brawls and turmoils, in so much addicted - the full and catho- which his hand was against every man, lic story of human life. Thus, whether it and his own capricious liking the sole rule is the exciting recollections of one who of his conduct. It is the air of reality has been involved in imperial events, and about both men which brings them toholds the clue of historical secrets, or the gether in our fancy, — Pepys, with his leer calm narrative of the rustic, over whose of demure hypocrisy outside, and un. head these events have passed without abashed self-knowledge within ; and Benever disturbing his honest rest, every per- venuto, with his unbounded vanity, his hot sonal experience adds to our knowledge. temper, his brag and bluster, as true to Manners and customs alter, governments the fashion of the fierce citizen-artist of are turned upside down, laws are modified the Middle Ages in turbulent Italy, as the or overthrown, but man remains the same other is to that the judicious from age to age. And there is no better official standing between a licentious court way of recognizing ourselves as brothers and a still partially Puritanical public, and across the continents and centuries than doing his best to serve God and Mamby those individual chronicles which carry mon, with a half-humorous consciousness the chain of kindred feeling from one gen- of the difficulties of that undertaking. eration to another without any material Both men are perfectly frank; to both, change.

their own interests and pleasures are su

preme; and both have a sense of what is When we begin our series with such a best, in their own way at least, — Pepys bizarre figure as that of Benvenuto Cel-being invariably honest, and a supporter lini, we strain this link of human resem- of honesty, in the most corrupt of ages; blance almost as far as it can be strained while all Benvenuto's virulence of temper

- for to tell the truth, there are not many and sense of personal superiority never like him, either in the stormy self-suffi- blind him to excellence in art. But we ciency of his nature, or the undaunted need not follow a comparison which is not

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so much a comparison as a contrast. For while, on the other hand, he is as willing while Pepys speaks under his breath, with to work the guns of St. Angelo as to inan. traditional finger on his lip, with an age the fine tools of the goldsmith, has alarmed enjoyment of his own candor, yet his hand on his sword at every suspicion mischievous delight in the thought that it of offence, and finds his natural place in can never be profitable to anybody else, every commotion, public or private. How Benvenuto's determination is to proclaim he contrived during this storm of existe everything, so that even the deaf may ence to execute so much fine, delicate, and hear, and nobody suppose that he is not elaborate work, is a problem most difficult ready to stand to any one of his actions. to solve. His art is precisely that which Not a word that is sotto voce comes from we should imagine to have most urgently his hasty lips; his artifices are as frankly demanded unbounded quiet, protection, set forth as his amours, and his murders and peace; but he never rested, quarrelied

; are accomplished in an open-handed and with every patron he ever had, found matter-of-course way, with which con- rivals and enemies wherever he went, and science evidently has nothing to do. He made them where he had them not, — yet neither considers himself blamable, nor all the while went on elaborating the finest expects to be so considered by others, on and minutest work, doubling the value of account of a rival stabbed or a light love the precious metals in which he worked, superseded. These are the customs of making of a salt-cellar a prize for which his time, with which no code of morals princes contended; though all the while has anything to do. What he gives us is a flinging out and in of these same princes' record, not a justification, far less an apol- audience chambers, too touchy to be cenogy, for conduct in which there is nothing sured, too hasty to be guided -a very to be ashamed of so far as he is aware, tempest of a man. This combination of but rather a great deal to applaud, since endless industry with perpetual interruphis always prompt and ready action proves tions seems the test of the capacity of the him a man who never loses an opportu. mediæval artist. Perhaps in strict point nity, never spares an opponent, or relin- of date we are wrong in applying this quishes a pleasure.

title to the favorite workman of the ad. The picture of his time which he sets vanced Renaissance; but Benvenuto, before us is of the most animated descrip- though he had the advantage of classic tion. It is full of kings and emperors, models and the new spirit, is in himself and reigning dukes and princes — even as much a man of the Middle Ages as if the pope himself in all his impious gran- he had lived two centuries earlier. And deur, with his train of sons and parasites, though dukes were necessary to his trade, sweeping by times across the scene; and and luxury the very breath of his artist in the busy streets a swarm of lesser men being, yet wherever he went - in the

- painters, goldsmiths, artificers of every pope's chapel or in the French king's gay kind, even the carpenter singing at his and splendid court — he was always the work; but in the front of all, and mak. same high-handed Florentine, arrogant ing even popes and emperors subordi- and dauntless, who might have headed a hate to his restless, daring personality, tumult in the days of the Bianchi and this same Benvenuto, the greatest genius Neri, or brawled in a Parlamento, or in his way, the readiest hand, the keenest schemed and struggled with the fuortongue,

usciti. We cannot say that the character

is an amiable or even an upright one, but Most forward still

its force and picturesque tumultuous enIn every deed or good or ill,

ergy are not to be gainsaid. fearing neither cardinal nor bravo. Noth- And this rapidity and precipitate force ing is extenuate in the bold record. He of life are all the more remarkable that is ready to answer Pope Paul himself, and Benvenuto wrote not in the fire of his to rate the great Francis, and to tell the youth, but when years bad whitened his Medici that they know nothing of art; | head if not subdued his spirit. He hira

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self lays it down as a rule that those | Giovanni's heart. When the youth's senwho follow his advice as to writing their timents became known, as the two own lives should not take up “this fine fathers, from their close neighborhood, enterprise” till they have passed the age know each other well, it was easy to, conof forty. He himself was “approaching clude the alliance ;” but first there was a fifty-eight,” when, “being in Florence, conversation about the dot — that most my native place, and contemplating the necessary preliminary. Ser Andrea, on contrarieties that happen to all," at a the one side, boasted of his son that he moment when he felt himself more free was the best youth in all Florence — nay, from those contrarieties than he had ever in Italy - and worthy of the best-dowered been before, and blessed with more “con bride; to which Ser Stefano replied, with tent of mind and vigor of body” than he amiable yet slightly sarcastic acquieshad ever known, he set about the compo- cence, “ Thou art right a thousand times; sition of his memoirs. But it is evident but I have five girls, and many sons bethat he was one of those who never grow sides; and, reckoning all things, this and old; and the narrative of his declining that is as far as I can go.” Young Gio. years is still hot and hasty, with all the vanni, with the impatience of a lover, bad force of youth.

been listening unseen; and, mild as he The beginning of the story is very char- was for a Cellini, he was not without acteristic. Although,” he says, “such something of the family vivacity. He men as have by their endeavors given sprang out of his hiding-place while the assurance of the valor that is in them, old men talked, and broke in upon their ought to be satisfied with being generally negotiations. Oh, my father,” he cried, known and recognized as men of merit, “it is the girl I love and long for, and not yet we ought at the same time to do as their money. Woe to him who would others do; and as the curiosity of the make himself with his wife's fortune! If world directs itself to certain points, it is true, as you have boasted, that I am the first of which is to know whether good for something, cannot I provide for we derive our blood from persons of an- my wife and satisfy her needs with less cient and virtuous descent, I am Benve- money than you ask? I give you to wit nuto Cellini, son of Giovanni, of Andrea, that it is the girl that is my desire, and the of Cristofano Cellini” — and so forth money yours.” At this Andrea, who was through many generations. Whether we a little odd,” un po' bizzarretto, like the are intended to conclude that the Ro- rest of them, drew back in high dudgeon. man officer Florentius of Cellino, after “But a few days after, Giovanni brought whom, he declares, Julius Cæsar named home his bride, and asked no fortune with the city of Florence, was a direct ances- her.” This way of making a marriage tor, is not quite apparent; but as this was no doubt deeply ridiculous, not to hero is brought into the story without say wicked, to the two keen old Florenrhyme or reason, it may be permitted to tines, whom one can see in their doorus to believe that this is the purpose of ways in the cool of the evening, settling his introduction. Enough, however, for down to a comfortable struggle over the all reasonable uses are the three gen. settlements, so to speak, when the lioterations of immediate progenitors, who headed youngster broke in with his folly, are more easily identified. Cristofano, thinking of nothing but Elisabetta. Ser the first of these, was sent to Florence by Andrea, the bizzarretto, choleric like his his family from the Val d'Ambra, in con- race, Alings off in a fury; but Stefano, sequence of a quarrel between him and more wise, seeing his own advantage, the son of a neighboring house, which laughs in his sleeve, and lets the young threatened to involve both families. The couple have their way. With five girls to blood of Cellini thus came hot to Flor- provide for, he was no doubt well pleased ence, with all the choleric quality which to marry one without a dot; and thus a descended to Cristofano's great-grandson. world of warm human passion, generous Giovanni, the father of Benvenuto, seems love, and hot temper, and wary calculato have been of milder mould. He was tion comes out before us at a word. a great musician, a good artist, and a dis- In an equally pretty scene the name of interested lover, as the following pretty the great Benvenuto is accounted for. story proves. Next door to the Cellini in Madonna Elisabetta had no children for Via Chiara, vicino a muro, wall to wall, eighteen years, though very desirous of fived a certain Stefano Granacci, with that doubtful blessing. After that time many fair daughters, and among them they came in quick succession. Her one, Elisabetta by name, who took young eldest child was a girl, and by various

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signs she had made up her mind that the making a musician of his boy — who was second would be a girl too. The very taught to play the fute and to sing from name was decided upon. She was to be his earliest years, though much against Reparata, per rifare la madre di mia the urchin's will. Giovanni himself be. madre. The nurse, however,

came one of the band of the Signoria,

until he was withdrawn from it by his who knew that they looked for a girl, when patron, Lorenzo de' Medici, who thought she had washed the creatura and wrapped it in he gave too much of his time to this art

, beautiful white clothes, came softly (cheta cheta) and neglected his other gifts. , “ The to Giovanni, my father, and said, “I bring a beautiful present which you don't expect." greatest desire he had in the world conMy father, who was a true philosopher, was cerning me,” says Benvenuto, was that pacing about the room; he said, “Whatever I should become a great musician, and God sends me is always dear to me,” and, the greatest annoyance that I had was opening the coverings, saw the unexpected when he talked to me on this subject, boy; then, joining his palms, he raised them saying that if I would, I had so much and his eyes to God, and said, “ Lord, I thank talent for it, I should be the first man thee with all my heart. This one is very clear in the world.” Then follows a curious to me, and very welcome (è sia il Benvenuto).” little scene, in which old Florence once All who were present joyfully asked him what name he would give me. Giovanni made them

more opens before us. Great things were no answer but this, E sia il Benvenuto ;” and going on then, of which the son of the this accordingly was the name given 'me in architect-musician gives no sign. Savonholy baptism, and which I have lived to bear arola from San Marco was keeping the with the grace of God.

city in holy subjection, quando Piero ne

fu cacciato, at the time when Piero, the Benvenuto does not dwell much upon son of Lorenzo de' Medici, was driven his childhood; but one incident of it is out of Florence. The great Dominican often quoted. “When I was about five,” might but just have gone out of the hall he says, “my father was in a little room in the palace of the Signoria when Giowhere the great wash had been going on, vanni, with his little boy on his shoulder, and where there was a good fire of oak went in with the band, to play before the wood. Giovanni, with a violin on his arm, new dignitaries who had succeeded Piero. was playing and singing, according to his The Medici ruler had been succeeded by custom, beside the fire. It was very cold, the Magnifico Piero Soderini, “who knew and looking at the fire he saw by accident the marvellous genius of 'my father.” in the midst of the hottest glow a little Benvenuto says: animal like a lizard playing in the flames. As soon as he perceived what it was, he

At this time I was of tender years, and my called my sister and me, and showing it to us children, gave me a great cuff, at me play the flute and take soprano parts with

father carried me in on his shoulder, and made which I immediately began to cry. He the musicians of the palace, before the Signoria, soothed me gently, saying to me, My with a little badge round my neck. The Gondear little son, I have done this not for a faloniere, who was the said Soderini, took great punishment, but to make thee remember pleasure in hearing me chatter, and gave me that this lizard thou hast seen in the fire sweetmeats, and said to my father,

“ Messer is a salamander, which has never been Giovanni, teach him your other beautiful arts seen by any one before, so far as can be as well as music.”. To which my father reknown with certainty;' and saying this, plied, " I do not wish him to do anything but he kissed me and gave me a few pennies." Sion I believe I can make him the first in the

; play and compose music; for in that profesThis wonderful story is not supported world, if God spares him.” To these words by any further testimony, and must be

one of the old Signori replied, “Ah, Messer taken on Benvenuto's word.

Giovanni, do what the Gonfaloniere bids jo... The excellent father, who thus lost no Why should he never be anything better than opportunity of instructing his child, was a fiddler?”

When these words were told not only excellent in architecture, which to me, I entreated my father to allow me to was his hereditary profession, but also a draw so many hours a day, and all the rest I great musician and maker of musical in- would play to satisfy him.

“ Then playing is

no pleasure to thee?” he said. To which I struments. “My father made organs with wonderful pipes of wood, and cym; art in comparison with that which I had in my

answered no, since it appeared to me a vile bals, the best and most beautiful that had head. My good father, in despair, put me ever been seen, violins, lutes, and beauti- into the shop of the father of the Cavaliere ful harps." It was not wonderful, then, Bandinello, a goldsmith in Pinzi di Monte ; that he should have set his heart uponl... but when I had been there a few days, he

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