Benvenuto Cellini (15001571). Autobiography. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
THE GUARD was now about fifty paces from us; for Maffio, their officer, had made some of them turn back to take up the corporal my brother killed. Accordingly, I quickly traversed that short space, wrapped in my cape, which I had tightened round me, and came up with Maffio, whom I should most certainly have murdered, for there were plenty of people round, and I had wound my way among them. With the rapidity of lightning, I had half drawn my sword from the sheath, when Berlinghier Berlinghieri, a young man of the greatest daring and my good friend, threw himself from behind upon my arms; he had four other fellows of like kidney with him, who cried out to Maffio: Away with you, for this man here alone was killing you! He asked: Who is he? and they answered: Own brother to the man you see there. Without waiting to hear more, he made haste for Torre di Nona;1 and they said: Benvenuto, we prevented you against your will, but did it for your good; now let us go to succour him who must die shortly. Accordingly, we turned and went back to my brother, whom I had at once conveyed into a house. The doctors who were called in consultation, treated him with medicaments, but could not decide to amputate the leg, which might perhaps have saved him.
As soon as his wound had been dressed, Duke Alessandro appeared and most affectionately greeted him. My brother had not as yet lost consciousness; so he said to the Duke: My lord, this only grieves me, that your Excellency is losing a servant than whom you may perchance find men more valiant in the profession of arms, but none more lovingly and loyally devoted to your service than I have been. The Duke bade him do all he could to keep alive; for the rest, he well knew him to be a man of worth and courage, He then turned to his attendants, ordering them to see that the brave young fellow wanted for nothing.
When he was gone, my brother lost blood so copiously, for nothing could be done to stop it, that he went off his head, and kept raving all the following night, with the exception that once, when they wanted to give him the communion, he said: You would have done well to confess me before; now it is impossible that I should receive the divine sacrament in this already ruined frame; it will be enough if I partake of it by the divine virtue of the eyesight, whereby it shall be transmitted into my immortal soul, which only prays to Him for mercy and forgiveness. Having spoken thus, the host was elevated; but he straightway relapsed into the same delirious ravings as before, pouring forth a torrent of the most terrible frenzies and horrible imprecations that the mind of man could imagine; nor did he cease once all that night until the day broke.
When the sun appeared above our horizon, he turned to me and said: Brother, I do not wish to stay here longer, for these fellows will end by making me do something tremendous, which may cause them to repent of the annoyance they have given me. Then he kicked out both his legsthe injured limb we had enclosed in a very heavy boxand made as though he would fling it across a horses back. Turning his face round to me, he called out thriceFarewell, farewell! and with the last word that most valiant spirit passed away.
At the proper hour, toward nightfall, I had him buried with due ceremony in the church of the Florentines; and afterwards I erected to his memory a very handsome monument of marble, upon which I caused trophies and banners to be carved. I must not omit to mention that one of his friends had asked him who the man was that had killed him, and if he could recognise him; to which he answered that he could, and gave his description. My brother, indeed, attempted to prevent this coming to my ears; but I got it very well impressed upon my mind, as will appear in the sequel.2
Note 1. The Torre di Nona was one of the principal prisons in Rome, used especially for criminals condemned to death. [back]
Note 2. Varchi, in his Storia Florentina, lib. xi., gives a short account of Cecchino Cellinis death in Rome, mentioning also Bertino Aldobrandi, in the attempt to revenge whom he lost his life. [back]