Most Revered Father, — I have to-day received a letter from you, from which I learn that Lapo and Lodovico have been talking to you. I am content that you should rebuke me, because I deserve to be rebuked as a wretch and a transgressor quite as much as anyone else, and perhaps more. But you must understand that I have not transgressed in any wise in the matter for which you rebuke me, either against them or against anyone else, unless it be that I have done more than I ought. All the men with whom I have ever had dealings know very well what I give them ; and if anyone knows it, Lapo and Lodovico are the two who know it best of all, for in a month and a half one of them has had twenty-seven broad ducats and the other eighteen broad ducats, each with their expenses. Therefore I beg of you not to be carried away by their story. When they complained about me you ought to have asked how long they were with me and how much they had received from me then you would have had to ask them what cause they had for complaint. But the reason of their great anger, particularly of that rascal Lapo, is this they had given it out on all sides that they were the men who were doing this work, or rather, that they were in partnership with me ; and they never realised — Lapo in particular — that he was not the master until I sent him off. Only then did he understand that he was in my service ; and having already given p35 a great deal of trouble and caused the Pope's favour to show signs of declining, it appeared a strange thing to him that I should drive him away like a beast. I am sorry that he should still have seven ducats of mine, but when I return to Florence he shall most assuredly pay me back, though if he has any conscience he would also feel obliged to give me back the other money he has received. But enough. I shall say no more about it as I have written a sufficiently full account of their performances to Messer Agniolo (the Herald). I beg you to go to him, and if you can take Granaccio with you, do so, and let him read the letter I have written so that he may understand what abject creatures they are. But I beg of you to keep silent as to what I have written about Lodovico, for if I cannot find anyone else to come here and cast the metal I shall endeavour to get him back, because as a matter of fact I have not dismissed him ; only Lapo, who received more blame than he cared to support alone, lightened his own load by corrupting Lodovico. You will learn the whole matter from the Herald, and also how you are to act. Do not have any dealings with Lapo, for he is too great a scoundrel, and we have nothing to do with either of them.
With reference to Giovansimone, it does not seem to me advisable that he should come here, as the Pope is leaving during Carnival ; I believe he will visit Florence on the way, and he does not leave affairs here in good order. According to rumour, there is a want of confidence prevalent here which it is wise neither to inquire into nor to write about : but enough that, even if nothing were to happen — and I believe p36 nothing will — I do not want to have the care of brothers on my shoulders. Do not be surprised at this and do not breathe a word of it to anyone, because I have need of assistants, and I should find none willing to come if this were known. And besides, I still think things may turn out well. I shall soon be back in Florence and I will behave in such a manner as to satisfy Giovansimone and the others, if it please God ! To-morrow I will write you another letter with reference to certain moneys I wish to send to Florence, telling you what to do with them. I understand about Piero ; he will answer on my behalf, for he is a good fellow, as he has always been.
P.S. I have something else to add in reply to the curious behaviour Lapo attributes to me. I want to tell you one thing, and it is this. I bought seven hundred and twenty pounds of wax, and before I bought it I told Lapo to find out where it could be got, and to settle the price, saying that I would give him the money so that he could buy it. Lapo went, and came back again, and told me that it could not be got for a farthing less than nine broad ducats and twenty bolognini the hundred (pounds), which is equal to nine ducats forty soldi. He added that I ought to take the opportunity without delay because I had been very fortunate. I replied that he was to go and find out whether he could get the odd forty soldi per hundred knocked off and that I would then buy it. He answered that the Bolognesi were of such a nature that they would not abate one farthing of the price p37 they had asked. This raised my suspicions, and I let the matter drop. Later in the same day I called Piero aside and told him secretly to go and ask the price of the wax per hundred. Piero went to the same man as Lapo and bargained with him for eight and a half ducats, to which price I agreed, and afterwards I sent Piero to receive his commission, and he got that also. This is one of my strange performances. Of a truth I know it seemed strange to him that I was able to see through his deceit. It was not enough for him to receive eight broad ducats a month and his expenses, but in addition he tried to swindle me ; and he may have swindled me on many occasions of which I know nothing, for I trusted him. I have never met a man who appeared more honest, so I suppose his straightforward look must have misled many another person. Therefore do not trust him in anything, and pretend not to see him.
The Francesco Granaccio mentioned here was a painter and a fellow-student with Michelangelo in the workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio. He studied also with Michelangelo in the Medici Garden at San Marco.