[ocr errors]

took me away again, not being able to live severe wound, and was proceeding further ;* without me.

And so, very discontented, I went but a great crowd had gathered, among wiich on with my music till I was fifteen.

were many friends of his antagonist, who, when

they saw things going badly for their friend, This shows, oddly enough, that in the began to throw stones, one of which struck iny very country of music, from whence all poor young brother on the head, so that he fell our earliest traditions on the subject down as if dead. I, who happened to be prescome, to be a good fiddler was not con- ent, though without either friends or arms, sidered a very high aim for a young man's had done enough. As soon as he fell down, I

called out to my brother to withdraw, as he ambition. In those days the active citi- rushed to him, and, seizing his sword, placed zenship of all, and the impulse of crea- myself in front of him, against many swords tion in art which was so richly and largely and stones lifted against me - nor ever left diffused throughout Italy, made the ideal my brother till some brave soldiers came from of existence itself more manly; and the the Porta San Gallo and saved me from the musician was necessarily an appendage crowd, wondering much to find such courage of a court, a part of the pomp of state, in one so young: I then took my brother home which the stern republic hated. There for dead, and it was no easy matter to bring

him to himself. was no place for him save in the luxuri.

When he was cured, the ous court of a Medici, or amid the vicious saries' to years of imprisonment, banished us

Eight, who had already sentenced our adverand elegant society of the princes of for six months outside the circuit of ten miles the Church. The Florentine Magnificos from Florence. I said to my brother, “Come were as intolerant of such a profession with me: ," and thus we took leave of our poor for a likely lad as any old woman in a father, who, instead of giving us money, which Scotch village, to whom the blind fiddler he did not possess, gave us his blessing. is the highest representative of the art. Benvenuto was saved from this fate in

This was an early beginning of the consequence of his father's loss, by mis. “sturt and strife” in which the young adventure, of his place in the band'; but artisan spent his days. . Cecchino, the the struggle was long between the wishes fierce little exile of fourteen, who had all of the father and son. He made such

but finished his adversary, was afterwards progress in the art he loved, however, a soldier under the famous Giovanni when permitted to work at it, that “in a

dalle Bande Neri, whose statue few months” he had taken his place stands on the Lung' Arno, with the most among the best of the young workmen, magnificent of inscriptions, for all the

Poor Giovanni Cellini was and began to earn something by his labor. world to see. “But I did not fail on this account to no more successful with his second son please my good father, playing the fute than with Benvenuto. He intended Cecor cornet to him; and every time he chino to be a man of learning and a law. heard me he shed tears and sighed deep: hear of no profession but that of arms.

but the young swordsman would ly." Youth came rapidly to maturity in those stirring days, under the high pres

He was killed finally in another street şure of a life so exciting and full of inci- fray in Rome. dent as that which was compressed within

In the mean time our young goldsmith, those narrow streets, where from time to sixteen, but already one of the migliori time the old vacca lowed – that is to giovani dell'arte, easily found occupation say, the big bell rang from the tower of

in Siena, whither he fled when this first Palazzo Vecchio - and every man and check in his career took place. He lived boy with a sword within reach, from all and worked there, residing in the house the workshops and busy hives of indus- of his kind master, for several months, try, grasped at the ready weapon, and his brother living with him. rushed out to see what bloodshed was to Benvenuto, “though he had begun to be done, what government upset, between study Latin, he was still so young ihat he two strokes of the brush or blows of the had not yet tasted the sweetness of virchisel. Here is an instance of the pre- amusing himself." They were finally re

tue, and did nothing but wander about cocity of these fierce little Florentines.

stored to their home by the intercession My brother, younger than myself by two of Cardinal de' Medici, afterwards Pope years, a very bold and liot-headed boy (who Clement. The Cellini were of the Mediwas then about fourteen, and I two years cean faction, and always fitfully patronolder), one Sunday, between the Porta' Sanized by the members of that house. But Gallo and the Porta Pinti, got into a quarrel with a youth of twenty, sword in hand, and The quiet simplicity of this expression, “ seguida pressed him so closely that he gave him a più oltre, is very suggestive.


But,” says

[ocr errors]

our fiery youth was soon on the road me many blessings, telling me that in the time again. Some time after this, Cecchino, of my absence from him I had made great being a handsome fellow, and the pet of progress, and entreated me to carry it on, and the household, came home on a visit, not to lose so fine a talent. when his elder brother was absent, and The end of this struggle, however, was apparently coaxed his sisters (though they that Benvenuto, when he grew a man, were buone ed oneste) to give him some began also to find a charm in music, and new and fine clothes, a coat and cloak, consented to play in the pope's band, and which belonged to Benvenuto. When even to accept a regular place in it, to the elder returned and found his fine the great contentment of his father; so clothes gone, he was very angry, and not that Giovanni got a little satisfaction in much mollified by his father's mild philos. his favorite fancy at the last. ophy on the subject, and pious reminder Benvenuto was now at the age when that God himself had bidden those who every new suggestion moved him. At have to give to those who have not; and one time he was about to set out for Enin a blaze of wrath be took all the clothes gland with Torrigiani, the big bully who and money that remained to him — the broke Michelangelo's nose; until the povero resio - and left his father's house, braggard chose to tell the story of that not knowing whither he was going. This assault, when Benvenuto turned from him time, however, he went no farther than with generous indignation and disgust. Pisa, where he found another kind master, “ These words raised such horror in me and plenty of work, and where he got rid - for I had constantly in my sight the altogether of the music which was such a works of the divine Michelangelo — that burden to him. When at last he let his not only I gave up all thought of going father know where he was, poor Giovanni to England with him, but I could not

gentle, futile personage wrote en- endure the sight of him." At another trcating him to come home; but in the time a quarrel about the everlasting flute mean time reminded him of his flute, and set the youth off in hot haste upon his begged him not to forget an art which travels in company with a wood-carver had been taught him with so much pains. called Tasso, who had quarrelled with his “At this all desire to return home left mother on some equally important submy mind,” says Benvenuto, "so much I ject. Parents must have been kept in detested that wretched music; and I good subjection in Florence in those seemed to be in paradise for all that year days. On this occasion Benvenuto went in Pisa, where I never touched an instru- to Rome, where he worked admirably as ment." But he could not convince his usual, and as usual became the subject of father of this rooted dislike. When he a quarrel between two of his masters for went home at last, he was seized with an his invaluable services. He returned to illness, during which he was most ten- Florence in two years, a full-grown man, derly cared for by his family, but not and as touchy and hot-headed a person as without ulterior motives : “My father, ever trod the pavements of that stormful with great love and kindness, nursed and city; and being now able to work for cured me, telling me continually that it himself, and to invent some charming seemed a thousand years to him till I novelties of ornament which had not should be well, that he might hear me occurred to his old masters and teachers, play." Nothing overcame the persist. he raised a great deal of envy and oppo. ence of this excellent fanatic, whose weak sition in the trade, and among his rival and tearful obstinacy has a comic side to workmen. Benvenuto, on his side, was it, besides furnishing a "lesson to fa. as ready with his tongue as with his thers” which many would do well to note. sword; and once more the old city, with

its narrow streets, its intense and continWhile he talked to me of playing [Benve- ual rivalries, its feuds and deadly quarrels nuto continues] holding his finger on my pulse between houses facing each other, and

- for he had some knowledge of medicine and enemies seen every day and hour, appears of Latin - he felt so great an irregularity in to us like a picture. “I shook myself the said pulse whenever he spoke of music, free of them all, and considered them no that he was frightened, and left me weeping. better than thieves and wretches,” says When I saw how unhappy he was, I told one of my sisters to fetch me a flute, which, as it the young goldsmith; and with these was the least fatiguing instrument, I could play laudable sentiments in his mind, it was without inuch disturbance; and this I did with not long before he got into an open quarsuch excellent adjustment of the hands and rel. His enemies threatened to make voice, that my father, coming in suddenly, gave him repent his bold words; and he, who

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ did not know what color fear was,” | got their securities apparently more easily scorned their menaces.

than he. Then seeing that nobody was One day I was leaning against the shop of rushed out of the Palazzo, ran to his shop

watching him, "inflamed with rage,” he one of them, when he called to me, and began to get a weapon, and then with a bound to reproach and defy me, swered, that if they had behaved as they ought was in the house of his enemies. to me, I should have called them honest men ;

They were at table, and the young fellow but as the contrary had been the case, they Gherardo, who was at the bottom of the whole should blame themselves, and not me. While

matter, got up to meet me; to whom I gave I stood talking, one of them, called Gherardo a stab in the breast which pierced bis coat and Guasconti, their cousin, probably by consent doublet to his linen, without touching his skin with them, seeing an ass coming, along the or doing him any harm whatever. The jar of streets Jaden with bricks, pushed it violently my hand and the sound of the cloth pierced by against me, so that it hurt me much. Turning the knife, and his sudden fall prostrated by round suddenly upon him, and seeing him fear, making me suppose that I had done him laugh, I gave him such a blow on the temple great harm, I cried, " Oh, traitors ! to-day I that he fell down like a dead man. Then I shall kill you all.” The father, mother, and turned to his family and cried, “.This is how sisters all thinking the day of judgment had I treat cowardly thieves like you ;” and as they come, threw themselves on their knees, and seemed inclined to make a disturbance (fare cried for mercy with all their might; and seealcuna dimostrazione), because they were many, ing that nobody made any resistance, and that I, flaming up, put my hand on a little knife I the young man lay stretched out like one dead, wore, saying, "Whoever goes out of this shop it seemed beneath me to touch them further. had better run for a confessor, for a doctor I rushed furiously up the stair, and reaching will be unnecessary.” They were so alarmed the street, found all the rest of the kindred, by this, that not one of thein stirred to help more than twelve in number, armed, one with their kinsman.

a spade, one with a great bar of iron, others

with hammers, anvils, and sticks. I plunged These were the very same strait streets, each a narrow thread of way between two five of them to the ground, and fell with them,

among them like a mad bull, threw four or rugged piles of Tuscan masonry, where wielding my dagger on every side. Those Dante saw the young cavalier turn out who remained afoot showered down blows his toes from his stirrups as he rode upon me with both hands, with their sticks along, to push the passengers against the and hammers; but God being once more piti. wall. Benvenuto had no business there : ful, procured that neither they nor I did any he had come to flout his adversaries, lean- hurt with our blows. My cap remained in ing against the front of their shop, and their hands, and was taken possession of by no doubt the clatter of the patient ass's some of my adversaries who had fled at first, hoofs had been drowned in the noisy afterwards examining their dead and wounded,

but who now pierced it with their weapons; and wrangle. Nor would any bystander take found that no one was any the worse. much notice of Gherardo lying on the stony pavement, knocked down so clever. This violent but harmless encounter is ly, or think it unnatural that the coltello no doubt a good specimen of the tumults should, if need was, be brought into play. that arose at every chance, and which Benvenuto was called before the Eight probably for the most part were equally for this little amusement of his midday innocent, not much more serious than leisure, and declared that he had only a football “scrimmage,” though with an given a ceffata, a slap with the open hand, accompaniment of dagger and coltello, to his opponent: an excuse which called which adds dignity, if it does not greatly forth an amusing discussion upon certain increase the danger. Benvenuto, lowintricacies of Florentine law, but ended ever, rushed away from the scene of the with something like a binding over to conflict, in the full and happy conviction keep the peace. Benvenuto, furious, that he had slain two or three of his summoned a kinsman to be bail for him, enemies, and running against a monk on who refused the responsibility: “at which the way, appealed to him for sanctuary, I was indignant, and swelling with rage " This good friar told me to fear nothing; like an asp, resolved to do something des- for if I had done the greatest crimes in perate," “for," says the pious historian, the world, I should be pe:fectly safe in “one's star does not so much incline as his little cell.” Thus all that the Eight force one's fate.” He waited in the au- could do was to vex the soul of poor dience chamber where the Eight had Giovanni, the father of the young repro. laughed at his rage, until all had gone bate, who stood up manfully for his son; away to dinner, magistrates and officials, and to fulminate a sort of anathema and the parties on the other side, who had against Benvenuto, denouncing pains and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


penalties of the severest kind upon whom- "I then aimed with my arquebuse,” he soever should give him shelter. That says, “at a point where the battle raged same day he was sent away from Flor-hotly, and where there was something in ence, his father and one of his friends the middle raised over the heads of the conveying to him a sword and a coat of rest; but who it was, and whether on mail. “Oh, my good son, ," cried his horseback or on foot, I was not able to father, after many tears and blessings, discern. Turning to Lessandro and Cec“with these in your hands you must live chino, I made them also fire their musor die.” Thus equipped, and covering kets; and when we had made two shots, his mail with a monk's habit, he escaped I advanced cautiously behind the wall, out of the city, and began in earnest his and seeing in the distance an extraordiwild and violent career.

nary tumult, discovered that our bullets We must not linger upon the earlier had killed Bourbon — for he it was who portion of Benvenuto's sojourn in Rome had been raised above the others, as I – during which he was as usual in hot afterwards understood.” After this wonwater with a number of jealous competi- derful stroke the three left the walls, and tors, but petted and made much of by the hurrying through the streets, reached with patrons who contended with each other great difficulty the gates of the Castle of to get a vase made or a jewel set by the St. Angelo, which they entered in haste, Florentine artist; but who, when it came the enemy being already in the town, so to the question of payment, were apt to close behind them as to be almost • get out of harmony too. The part he their shoulders." The portcullis was played during the siege of Rome is, how. down, and it was all the little party could ever, more important than these small do to get within this last citadel of Rome. matters, of which we hear so much Here Benvenuto, being in the pope's serthroughout his life. He had already a vice, was immediately laid hands upon host of acquaintances, had become one of and set to work; and as long as the siege Pope Clement's musicians, and had been lasted

- a whole month — remained one employed by him, and many of the great of the most vigorous defenders of the personages in Rome, in important works stronghold. A more striking picture than of art, when, on one dreadful morning of that he gives us could scarcely be. From May, 1527, the Constable of Bourbon, with the heights on which he now stood, all forty thousand men, appeared suddenly Rome lay under the eyes of the defenders, under the walls. The roving Florentine, with Bourbon's mercenaries pouring into always in the centre of all that was going the rich and defenceless city. on, had already got together a band of fifty young men, “at the time of the Co. As soon as I found myself within the walls lonnas,” in the previous autumn, though served by a bombardier called Giuliano, a

I approached the nearest guns, which were of his action then he affords us no details. Florentine. This Giuliano looking out from When, however, the news of this new the battlement saw his poor house sacked, and and more formidable invasion ran through his wife and children ill-treated. He dared all the bottegas, Alessandro del Bene en- not fire his guns lest he should complete the treated Benvenuto to accompany him to destruction of those belonging to him, but the walls, which he did with one or two throwing the match on the ound, with a great companions. There the sight of the cry, tore his hair, as did many others of the “marvellous army” outside, and of the gunners. I, who had no such passion to remany dead withín, startled even those strain me, seized one of these matches, and hot-headed youths. The confusion, the with the aid of other bystanders, directing the

guns where I saw there was need, cleared off terrible odds, the molti giovini, young many of the enemy: if I had not done this, the recruits and volunteers who were being besiegers who entered the city that morning sacrificed on the walls, and the hopeless would have pushed on to the castle; and it is want of means for defence — for Pope possible that they might have made an easy Clement, vacillating and uncertain, had conquest of it, since the artillery did nothing disbanded his troops - gave the young against them. I went on firing; for which men so strong an impression of hope. many cardinals and lords blessed me, and lessness, that their hearts failed them. praised my great courage, which emboldened “There is no remedy in the world,” even

me still more, and enabled me to do things Benvenuto cried out; " but since you have beyond my strength : suffice it to say that I

was the means of saving the castle that mornbrought me here," he adds, to Lessandro, ing, and of rousing the other gunners to do spavento, in a panic, who has just turned their duty. ... I, who often was more in. to go back, — "since you have brought clined to this profession of arms than to my me here, let us do one act of manhood.” | own, took it up with so much good-will that Í

[ocr errors]


did it better than my own trade. When night | Benvenuto, affording an excellent mark fell, and the enemy had entered Rome, we who to the besiegers, until he had to complain were in the castle, especially I, who always of them, and get them confined to another took delight in seeing anything that was new, part of the stronghold, thereby earning stood gazing at this wonderful novelty, and the their ill-will afterwards. On another ocfires which burned everywhere - things which those in other places could neither see nor im- casion he seems to have been fairly frightagine.

ened by the threat of private vengeance.

One of the captains of the fortress, Orazio These fierce lights glowing all over the Baglioni, pointed out to him a great com. miserable city, the eager spectators gaz- motion below in a tavern bearing the sign ing down upon them few with hearts of the Sun, where apparently some per: so disengaged and free to remark upon sons of importance were collected, and the inestimabile novità as the Florentine suggested that he should direct his gun stranger who had no home to be outraged to that spot. Benvenuto explained that in the streets below — with all the smoke he should already have done so, but that and flame and cries of the sufferers ris. la barrelful of stones stood so near the ing upwards, and the unhappy gunners mouth of the cannon, that the discharge afraid to fire at their enemies lest they would inevitably throw it down upon the should complete the ruin of their friends, heads of the people in the lower line of

- what a sight for curious eyes! The the defence. The captain, impatient, defenders shut up in their litile strong-called out to him to lose no time — if the hold between heaven and earth, unable to pope himself were below, mnco male, aid the helpless crowds, their own fami- the less harm “ Fire! fire!” he cried. lies and friends, who were below, com- Benvenuto fired accordingly, doing great pelled to look on at their houses burning, damage at the sign of the Sun; but uptheir goods destroyed, and to imagine setting the stones, according to his own more miseries still which they could not prevision, nearly on the heads of Cardinal see, present to us as cruel a glimpse of Farnese and Jacopo Salviati — the latter human anguish as it is possible to imag- being the man who had persuaded Pope ine. But there was no such anguish in Clement to disband his arıny, and was Benvenuto. If he had a regretful thought considered by all to be the cause of their of his trinkets, or the silver vase he was present danger. These worthies were making for that Spanish bishop, these quarrelling furiously — threatening each were not sharp enough to go to his heart; other with word and fist; and it was the and he flew at the guns with an energy in agility of their rage which saved them which there was positive pleasure, and from destruction. The captain, however, found himself master of the occasion, and frightened for the consequences to himwas inspired by all the plaudits he re- self, rushed down from the height of the ceived. To have killed the commander great round donjon to the lower circle to of the opposing army by that chance shot see what harm was done; while Ben. from the city walls, to have saved St. venuto, cautiously peeping from behind Angelo from the first rush of the invaders, the wall, heard the bystanders exclaiming by means of that match smouldering on that the gunner who had done this should the ground which had fallen from poor be made an end of. Now Benvenuto was Giuliano's convulsed fingers, what a always warmly aware that though there triumph for the young fellow! Amid all might be little harm done by crushing a the conflagrations and the miseries, and pope, the life of the great Cellini was a that hoarse roar of anguish and tumult thing which the world could not spare: rising to the skies, here was one man at he took his measures of self-defence withleast whose pulses were dancing with ex- out a moment's delay. citement, and curiosity, and pleasure who felt he was doing this new thing bet. I turned two of the small guns towards the ter even than his own business, and was stair with a resolute mind, determined to fire

Certain servants of the hero of the moment, besides the grat- upon the first comers. ification of that inestimabile novità.

Cardinal Farnese, sent by their master to The ordinary dangers of the siege, punish me, were the first to appear, and I, adhowever, were straightforward, and more vancing with the lighted match in my band, easily dealt with than the perils involved called out to some of them whom I knew

“O rascals, if you do not take yourselves out in the company of so many powerful pers of that, if you attempt to come up by these sonages inside the strict enclosure of the steps, I have here two falconets ready, and I castle walls. Various cardinals, in their will blow you to powder. Go and tell the car. red berrettas, would come and talk to dinal that I acted under orders, - that I meant

« VorigeDoorgaan »