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Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571).  Autobiography.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
XXIII
 
 
WHILE I was pushing forward Salamanca’s vase, I had only one little boy as help, whom I had taken at the entreaty of friends, and half against my own will, to be my workman. He was about fourteen years of age, bore the name of Paulino, and was son to a Roman burgess, who lived upon the income of his property. Paulino was the best-mannered, the most honest, and the most beautiful boy I ever saw in my whole life. His modest ways and actions, together with his superlative beauty and his devotion to myself, bred in me as great an affection for him as a man’s breast can hold. This passionate love led me oftentimes to delight the lad with music; for I observed that his marvellous features, which by complexion wore a tone of modest melancholy, brightened up, and when I took my cornet, broke into a smile so lovely and so sweet, that I do not marvel at the silly stories which the Greeks have written about the deities of heaven. Indeed, if my boy had lived in those times, he would probably have turned their heads still more. 1 He had a sister, named Faustina, more beautiful, I verily believe, than that Faustina about whom the old books gossip so. Sometimes he took me to their vineyard, and, so far as I could judge, it struck me that Paulino’s good father would have welcomed me as a son-in-law. This affair led me to play more than I was used to do.  1
  It happened at that time that one Giangiacomo of Cesena, a musician in the Pope’s band, and a very excellent performer, sent word through Lorenzo, the trumpeter of Lucca, who is now in our Duke’s service, to inquire whether I was inclined to help them at the Pope’s Ferragosto, playing soprano with my cornet in some motets of great beauty selected by them for that occasion. 2 Although I had the greatest desire to finish the vase I had begun, yet, since music has a wondrous charm of its own, and also because I wished to please my old father, I consented to join them. During eight days before the festival we practised two hours a day together; then on the first of August we went to the Belvedere, and while Pope Clement was at table, we played those carefully studied motets so well that his Holiness protested he had never heard music more sweetly executed or with better harmony of parts. He sent for Giangiacomo, and asked him where and how he had procured so excellent a cornet for soprano, and inquired particularly who I was. Giangiacomo told him my name in full. Whereupon the Pope said: “So, then, he is the son of Maestro Giovanni?” On being assured I was, the Pope expressed his wish to have me in his service with the other bandsmen. Giangiacomo replied: “Most blessed Father, I cannot pretend for certain that you will get him, for his profession, to which he devotes himself assiduously, is that of a goldsmith, and he works in it miraculously well, and earns by it far more than he could do by playing.” To this the Pope added: “I am the better inclined to him now that I find him possessor of a talent more than I expected. See that he obtains the same salary as the rest of you; and tell him from me to join my service, and that I will find work enough by the day for him to do in his other trade.” Then stretching out his hand, he gave him a hundred golden crowns of the Camera in a handkerchief, and said: 3 “Divide these so that he may take his share.”  2
  When Giangiacomo left the Pope, he came to us, and related in detail all that the Pope had said; and after dividing the money between the eight of us, and giving me my share, he said to me: “Now I am going to have you inscribed among our company.” I replied: “Let the day pass; to-morrow I will give my answer.” When I left them, I went meditating whether I ought to accept the invitation, inasmuch as I could not but suffer if I abandoned the noble studies of my art. The following night my father appeared to me in a dream, and begged me with tears of tenderest affection, for God’s love and his, to enter upon this engagement. Methought I answered that nothing would induce me to do so. In an instant he assumed so horrible an aspect as to frighten me out of my wits, and cried: “If you do not, you will have a father’s curse; but if you do, may you be ever blessed by me!” When I woke, I ran, for very fright, to have myself inscribed. Then I wrote to my old father, telling him the news, which so affected him with extreme joy that a sudden fit of illness took him, and well-nigh brought him to death’s door. In his answer to my letter, he told me that he too had dreamed nearly the same as I had.  3
 
Note 1. Gli Arebbe fatti più uscire de’ gangheri; would have taken them still more off the hinges. [back]
Note 2. Lit., “the largest piece left of me should be my ears.” [back]
Note 3. The Camera Apostolica was the Roman Exchequer. [back]
 

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