They began to fill in the foundations, at 10 in the morning (6 a.m.), here and there; and Filippo Strozzi was the first who began to throw down the gravel and chalk, on this side, together with certain medals.
They finished filling in the foundations on this side, in the Piazza de' Tornaquinci. And all this time they were demolishing the houses, a great number of overseers and workmen being employed, so that all the streets around were filled with heaps of stones and rubbish, and with mules and donkeys who were carrying away the rubbish and bringing gravel; making it difficult for anyone to pass along. We shopkeepers were continually annoyed by the dust and the crowds of people who collected to look on, and those who could not pass by with their beasts of burden.
The bronze dragon was placed on the Palazzo Strozzi.(1)
(1) To understand and correct where necessary these notices, it will perhaps be a help to refer to the above-mentioned Tribaldo de' Rossi: "20th October, 1490, I record that at the palace which Filippo Strozzi is having built, the builders put up the campanella at the corner which is opposite the Loggia de' Tornaquinci, that is to say - the campanella del Serpente ...."
That Filippo who was building the abovementioned palace died; and he did not see it carried up even as far as the lanterns. He only saw it carried up to the campanelle.(1) One sees how vain are the hopes of transitory things! It appears as if we were master of them, but in reality it is the other way about; they are master of us.
This palace will last almost eternally: has not this palace mastered him then? And how many others! We are not masters, but only dispensers, in so far as it pleases the goodness of God. All lies in God's hands, and happens as is meet for His universe. Therefore I pray that God may pardon Filippo Strozzi his sins.
(1) Campanelle are the large iron rings on the walls of palaces to which horses and other beasts of burden were attached, and which often had sockets above, intended for flags, those at the corners being specially ornamented. (Trans.)
BUONARROTO, — Some days ago I received a letter from thee acquainting me with the whole story of Piero Aldobrandini and the dagger. I may tell thee that if it were not for love of thee I would leave him to babble on as long as he liked. Thou must know that the blade I sent, and thou hast received, was made according to his — that is to say, Piero's measurements, for he sent me a drawing in a letter and told me that I was to get it made exactly like that. I did so. However, if he wanted a dagger he should not have sent me measurements for a rapier : but I wish to tell thee in this letter what I would not say before, and that is, that thou hadst better not have p41 dealings with him because it is not thy business. If he should come to thee for the aforesaid blade, by no means let him have it ; put a good face on the matter and tell him I gave it to one of my friends that will be enough. I may tell thee that it cost me nineteen carlini here, with thirteen quattrini for the tax.
My affairs here are proceeding favourably, by the grace of God, and I hope to cast my figure before a month is past. Pray God, therefore, that it may turn out well, so that I may return quickly to you, for I am minded to do for you all as I promised. Be kind to Giovansimone and tell him to write to me sometimes, and say to Lodovico that I am well and that I will certainly let him know before I cast my figure. Commend me to Granaccio when thou seest him. I have nothing more to tell thee. The plague is beginning here, and is of a virulent type, for wherever it enters it carries off all within the house, although at present it has not claimed many victims — forty households, perhaps, so they tell me.
This twenty-sixth day of March.
Sculptor, in Bolognia.
P.S. — If thou hast given the dagger to Piero say no more about it, but if thou hast not done so do not give it him at all.
Much to Michelangelo's satisfaction, Piero refused the dagger, which enabled the artist to give it to Filippo Strozzi, who had admired it.