Benvenuto Cellini (15001571). Autobiography. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
I HAD but just dismounted from my horse, when one of those excellent people who rejoice in mischief-making came to tell me that Pagolo Micceri had taken a house for the little hussy Caterina and her mother, and that he was always going there, and whenever he mentioned me, used words of scorn to this effect: Benvenuto set the fox to watch the grapes,1 and thought I would not eat them! Now he is satisfied with going about and talking big, and thinks I am afraid of him. But I have girt this sword and dagger to my side in order to show him that my steel can cut as well as his, and that I too am a Florentine, of the Micceri, a far better family than his Cellini. The scoundrel who reported this poisonous gossip spoke it with such good effect that I felt a fever in the instant swoop upon me; and when I say fever, I mean fever, and no mere metaphor. The insane passion which took possession of me might have been my death, had I not resolved to give it vent as the occasion offered. I ordered the Ferrarese workman, Chioccia, to come with me, and made a servant follow with my horse. When we reached the house where that worthless villain was, I found the door ajar, and entered. I noticed that he carried sword and dagger, and was sitting on a big chest with his arm round Caterinas neck; at the moment of my arrival, I could hear that he and her mother were talking about me. Pushing the door open, I drew my sword, and set the point of it at his throat, not giving him the time to think whether he too carried steel. At the same instant I cried out: Vile coward! recommend your soul to God, for you are a dead man. Without budging from his seat, he called three times: Mother, mother, help me! Though I had come there fully determined to take his life, half my fury ebbed away when I heard this idiotic exclamation. I ought to add that I had told Chioccia not to let the girl or her mother leave the house, since I meant to deal with those trollops after I had disposed of their bully. So I went on holding my sword at his throat, and now and then just pricked him with the point, pouring out a torrent of terrific threats at the same time. But when I found he did not stir a finger in his own defence, I began to wonder what I should do next; my menacing attitude could not be kept up for ever; so at last it came into my head to make them marry, and complete my vengeance at a later period. Accordingly, I formed my resolution, and began: Take that ring, coward, from your finger, and marry her, that I may get satisfaction from you afterwards according to your deserts. He replied at once: If only you do not kill me, I will do whatever you command. Then, said I, put that ring upon her hand. When the swords point was withdrawn a few inches from his throat, he wedded her with the ring. But I added: This is not enough. I shall send for two notaries, in order that the marriage may be ratified by contract. Bidding Chioccia go for the lawyers, I turned to the girl and her mother, and, using the French language, spoke as follows: Notaries and witnesses are coming; the first of you who blabs about this affair will be killed upon the spot; nay, I will murder you all three. So beware, and keep a quiet tongue in your heads. To him I said in Italian: If you offer any resistance to what I shall propose, upon the slightest word you utter I will stab you till your guts run out upon this floor. He answered: Only promise not to kill me, and I will do whatever you command. The notaries and witnesses arrived; a contract, valid and in due form, was drawn up; then my heat and fever left me. I paid the lawyers and took my departure.
On the following day Bologna came to Paris on purpose, and sent for me through Mattio del Nasaro. I went to see him; and he met me with a glad face, entreating me to regard him as a brother, and saying that he would never speak about that work again, since he recognised quite well that I was right.