Nonfiction > Harvard Classics > Benvenuto Cellini > Autobiography
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Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571).  Autobiography.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
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ALL this while I worked as a goldsmith, and was able to assist my good father. His other son, my brother Cecchino, had, as I said before, been instructed in the rudiments of Latin letters. It was our father’s wish to make me, the elder, a great musician and composer, and him, the younger, a great and learned jurist. He could not, however, put force upon the inclinations of our nature, which directed me to the arts of design, and my brother, who had a fine and graceful person, to the profession of arms. Cecchino, being still quite a lad, was returning from his first lesson in the school of the stupendous Giovannino de’ Medici. On the day when he reached home, I happened to be absent; and he, being in want of proper clothes, sought out our sisters, who, unknown to my father, gave him a cloak and doublet of mine, both new and of good quality. I ought to say that, beside the aid I gave my father and my excellent and honest sisters, I had bought those handsome clothes out of my own savings. When I found I had been cheated, and my clothes taken from me, and my brother from whom I should have recovered them was gone, I asked my father why he suffered so great a wrong to be done me, seeing that I was always ready to assist him. He replied that I was his good son, but that the other, whom he thought to have lost, had been found again; also that it was a duty, nay, a precept from God Himself, that he who hath should give to him who hath not; and that for his sake I ought to bear this injustice, for God would increase me in all good things. I, like a youth without experience, retorted on my poor afflicted parent; and taking the miserable remnants of my clothes and money, went toward a gate of the city. As I did not know which gate would start me on the road to Rome, I arrived at Lucca, and from Lucca reached Pisa.  1
  When I came to Pisa (I was about sixteen years of age at the time), I stopped near the middle bridge, by what is called the Fish-stone, at the shop of a goldsmith, and began attentively to watch what the master was about. 1 He asked me who I was, and what was my profession. I told him that I worked a little in the same trade as his own. This worthy man bade me come into his shop, and at once gave me work to do, and spoke as follows: “Your good appearance makes me believe you are a decent honest youth.” Then he told me out gold, silver, and gems; and when the first day’s work was finished, he took me in the evening to his house, where he dwelt respectably with his handsome wife and children. Thinking of the grief which my good father might be feeling for me, I wrote him that I was sojourning with a very excellent and honest man, called Maestro Ulivieri della Chiostra, and was working with him at many good things of beauty and importance. I bade him be of good cheer, for that I was bent on learning, and hoped by my acquirements to bring him back both profit and honour before long. My good father answered the letter at once in words like these: “My son, the love I bear you is so great, that if it were not for the honour of our family, which above all things I regard, I should immediately have set off for you; for indeed it seems like being without the light of my eyes, when I do not see you daily, as I used to do. I will make it my business to complete the training of my household up to virtuous honesty; do you make it yours to acquire excellence in your art; and I only wish you to remember these four simple words, obey them, and never let them escape your memory:
        In whatever house you be,
Steal not, and live honestly.”
  2
 
Note 1. The Fish-stone, or Pietra del Pesce, was the market on the quay where the fish brought from the sea up the Arno to Pisa used to be sold. [back]
 

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