Nonfiction > Harvard Classics > Benvenuto Cellini > Autobiography
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Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571).  Autobiography.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
LVII
 
 
WHEN the Pope took his journey to Bologna, he left Cardinal Salviati as Legate of Rome, and gave him commission to push the work that I was doing forward, adding: “Benvenuto is a fellow who esteems his own great talents but slightly, and us less; look to it then that you keep him always going, so that I may find the chalice finished on my return.”  1
  That beast of a Cardinal sent for me after eight days, bidding me bring the piece up. On this I went to him without the piece. No sooner had I shown my face, than he called out: “Where is that onion-stew of yours? 1 Have you got it ready?” I answered: “O most reverend Monsignor, I have not got my onion-stew ready, nor shall I make it ready, unless you give me onions to concoct it with.” At these words the Cardinal, who looked more like a donkey than a man, turned uglier by half than he was naturally; and wanting at once to cut the matter short, cried out: “I’ll send you to a galley, and then perhaps you’ll have the grace 2 to go on with your labour.” The bestial manners of the man made me a beast too; and I retorted: “Monsignor, send me to the galleys when I’ve done deeds worthy of them; but for my present laches, I snap my fingers at your galleys: and what is more, I tell you that, just because of you, I will not set hand further to my piece. Don’t send for me again, for I won’t appear, no, not if you summon me by the police.”  2
  After this, the good Cardinal tried several times to let me know that I ought to go on working, and to bring him what I was doing to look at. I only told his messengers: “Say to Monsignor that he must send me onions, if he wants me to get my stew ready.” Nor gave I ever any other answer; so that he threw up the commission in despair.  3
 
Note 1. Cipollata. Literally, a show of onions and pumpkins; metaphorically, a mess, gallimaufry. [back]
Note 2. Arai di grazia di. I am not sure whether I have given the right shade of meaning in the text above. It may mean: You will be permitted. [back]
 

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