In the name of God, this — day of March, 1497.
Dear Brother — for as such I esteem thee, etc., From thy brother Michelagniolo I have received thy letter, from which I derived the greatest comfort, chiefly because it contains news of your seraphic (sarafico) Frate Jeronimo, who has set the whole of Rome talking. They say here that he is a vile heretic : so much so that at all costs he ought to come to Rome and prophesy a little for these people here ; then they would canonise him. Wherefore let all his friends be of good courage.
Brother, thou art constantly in my thoughts ; wherefore be of good courage and strive to learn all thou canst, as thou art doing. I have told Frizzi(1) everything, and he understands the whole matter. Fra Mariano [da Genazzano] has nothing but evil to say of your prophet. I have nothing more to add. In my next letter I will give thee more information, for now I am in a hurry. There is no other news to give thee, save that seven paper bishops were made yesterday, and five of them were hanged by the neck. Bear my remembrances to all the members of thy family, and especially to Lodovico my father, for as such I esteem him : and when thou writest hither, commend me to Michelagniolo. No more. Written in the dark.
Thy Piero, in Rome.
The "paper bishops" referred to in this letter were offenders against the law who were condemned to stand in the pillory with paper caps on their heads. Buonarroto was born on May 26th, 1577, and was younger than Michelangelo by two years.
In the first place, you sent him to Rome with the statue to finish and erect it. What he did and left undone you know already. But I must inform you that he has spoiled the marble wherever he touched it. In particular, he shortened the right foot and cut the toes off; the hands too, especially the right hand, which holds the cross, have been mutilated in the fingers. Frizzi says they seem to have been worked by a biscuit-maker, not wrought in marble, but kneaded by someone used to dough. I am no judge, not being familiar with the method of stone-cutting; but I can tell you that the fingers look to me very stiff and dumpy. It is clear also that he has been peddling at the beard; and I believe my little boy would have done so with more sense, for it look as though he had used a knife without a point to chisel the hair. This can easily be remedied, however. He has also spoiled one of the nostrils. A little more, and the whole nose would have been ruined, and only God could have restored it.