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 name of God, this 19th day of August, 1497.
Dearest Father, — I write this to let you know that Buonarroto arrived here on Friday last, and that directly I heard of it I went to see him at his inn. He gave me all the news by word of mouth, and he tells me further that Consiglio, the draper, is causing you a great deal of anxiety, that he is unwilling to agree to any terms, and that he wishes to have you arrested. My advice is that you should endeavour to make some arrangement with him, and should pay him a few ducats in advance : then let me know what arrangement has been made between you and how much remains to be paid. If you have not this money I will send it you, although I have but little myself; but as I have already said, I will do my best to find the sum, so that you may not be obliged to borrow it from the Monte, as Buonarroto says you will have to do. Do not marvel if sometimes my letters are filled with wrathful sentences, for I am kept continually in a state of agitation by many things which cannot fail to cause anxiety to one who is absent from his own home.
I was instructed by Piero de' Medici to make a statue, and I bought the piece of marble for it; but I have never set my hand to the work because he has not done by me as he promised. I am accordingly working for myself, and am carving a figure for my own pleasure. I bought a piece of marble and paid five ducats for it, but it proved to be of no use, and the money was thrown away. Then I bought another piece and paid away another five ducats, and it is on this I am now working for my own amusement. I tell you these things so that you may know that I, too, have my troubles and expenses. Nevertheless, whatever sum you ask me for I will send you, even if I have to sell myself into slavery to raise it.
Buonarroto arrived here quite safely and has returned to the inn, where he has a room and is comfortable ; he shall lack for nothing for as long as it pleases him to stay here. I have not the means to have him with me as I am myself lodged in the house of another, but you may rest assured that he shall want for nothing. Well, as I hope you are.
MICHELAGNIOLO, in Rome.
Buonarroto, -- To-day, this 19th day of December, I have received a letter from thee in which thou recommendest to me Pietro Orlandini (Aldobrandini), asking me to perform what he requires of me. Know that he has written asking me to have a dagger blade made for him, and that he wants it to be of admirable workmanship. However, I do not know how I can serve him quickly and well ; one reason being that it is not my craft, and the other that I have no time to attend to it. I will endeavour, nevertheless, to secure that before a month has passed he shall be served to the best of my ability. I received thy tidings concerning your daily life, and especially the news about Giovansimone. It pleases me that he should enter the same shop as thyself and that he is eager to improve, for I desire to assist him as well as you others ; and if God help me, as He has ever done, I hope before Lent is over to p26 have finished what I have to do here, when I will return to Florence and will assuredly do for you as I promised. With reference to the money which, as thou sayest, Giovansimone wishes to invest in a shop, it seems to me better that he should wait for another four months so that the "flash and the report" may take place simultaneously. I know thou wilt understand my meaning, so I will say no more. Tell him from me to strive towards improvement, and that if, after all, he should want the money of which thou speakest in thy letter, it will have to be withdrawn from my account in Florence, for I have none here to send, as I am receiving but a low price for the work I am doing ; moreover, it is very uncertain, and something might easily happen to throw me upon my beam ends. For these reasons I exhort you all to be patient and to wait these few months until I return.
As to Giovansimone's coming here, I do not advise him to come yet, for I live here in a poor room and have bought only one bed, in which four persons have to sleep, so that I have not the means to receive him as he asks. But if he still wishes to come here, let him wait until I have cast the figure I am modelling, when I will send off Lapo and Lodovico, who are helping me, and will despatch a horse for him, so that he may not arrive here like a beast of burden. No more. Pray to God for me that my affairs may go well.
Sculptor, in Bolognia.
Buonarroto, — I learn from thy letters how matters have gone with regard to the small farm : it has given me the greatest satisfaction and I am well pleased, provided it is a sure thing.
I have made careful enquiries about this Baronciello business, and from what I have heard it is a far more serious thing than ye make it out to be : and for my part, seeing that it is unfair, I would not ask it of him. We are all of us under considerable obligation to Baronciello, and we will do our best to fulfil those obligations, especially such as lie in our power. Thou must know that on Friday evening, at the twenty-first hour. Pope Julius came to my house where I am at work, and remained for about half an hour while I was working. Then he gave me his blessing p33 and went away, showing himself well satisfied with what I am doing. For all this it seems to me we ought to thank God very heartily ; and so I beg you to do, and to pray for me.
I have to inform thee further that on Friday morning I sent away Lapo and Lodovico, who were with me. I turned Lapo away because he was conspiringagainst me and is a rogue, and would not do as he was bid. Lodovico is better, and I would have kept him on for another two months ; but Lapo, in order not to be the only one blamed, corrupted him in such a way that both have been sent off. I tell thee this not because I am troubled by them — for they are not worth three quattrini the two together — but so that, if they come to talk to Lodovico, he should not be surprised. Tell him on no account to listen to them: if thou desirest to know more go to Messer Agniolo, Herald of the Signoria, for I have sent him a full account of the matter, and he of his kindness will give thee all information.
I note what thou sayest about Giovansimone. It pleases me that he should enter thy master's shop and endeavour to make progress : encourage him to do his best, for if this matter turns out well I have hopes of placing you in a good position, if ye are prudent. With reference to that other land beside Mona Zanobia's, if Lodovico likes it tell him to enquire into the matter and let me know. I believe, and it is said here, that the Pope will go hence about Carnival.
On the first day of February, 1506 (1507).
MICHELAGNIOLO DI LODOVICO DI BUONARROTA SIMONI, Sculptor, in Bolognia.
BUONARROTO, — I send this as cover to two letters one is to go to Piero Aldobrandini, and the other to Giovanni Balducci in Rome. The latter I wish thee to hand to Bonifazio Fazi so that he may send it on, the other give to the aforesaid Piero. p38 Concerning those two scoundrels, I have no time to tell the whole story of their knavery, and I beg all of you — and tell Lodovico the same — not to refer to their behaviour in any way, for we have not to deal with them in this matter. Let this suffice.
The thirteenth day of February, 1506.
MICHELAGNIOLO, in Bolognia.
BUONARROTO, — It is already fifteen days since I sent certain moneys to Lodovico in Florence with certain instructions, and I have never had a reply. I am much surprised at it. Tell Lodovico, therefore, to let me know if he has received them, and if he has done as I asked ; tell him to let me know without fail, because I am annoyed about it and marvel at his want of perception. He is the sort of man that one would entrust with important business again ! I should have expected him to write a hundred letters, to make sure that at least one should reach me. See to it that he informs me without fail as to what steps he has taken and that the letter is sent in such a way as to reach me.
Yesterday I sent to see if Piero's dagger was finished and found that it had still to be gilt. The man has kept me waiting for a month, but the truth is that he was not able to do otherwise, for owing to the departure of the Court he has had to supply weapons to all the courtiers and has had a very great deal to do. It p39 is for this reason he has kept me waiting. Tell Piero not to be anxious, for in any case he shall have it in a few days. The Pope went away on Monday morning at the sixteenth hour, and if thou desirest to learn in what state he has left my affairs, go to the Herald and he will tell thee. I have no time to write.
The twenty-fourth day of February.
Buonarroto, — I did not reply to thy letter or to Piero Aldobrandini's because I had decided not to write until I had received the said Piero's dagger. It is now two months ago that I entrusted this work to a man who has the reputation of being he most skilful master to be found in his particular craft, and although he has kept me waiting until now I did not wish to have it made by anyone else, nor to annul the agreement : wherefore, the aforesaid Piero has some excuse if he considers I have treated him badly, but I could not do otherwise.
Now I have got the dagger back again, or rather, I have got it ; but only this morning, and with much difficulty, for my lad Piero had been obliged to go for it so many times that he was ready to beat the maker over the head with it. Please note that the gold-beater, Chiaro di Bartolomeo, will be the bearer of this and that he will also bring the dagger. See that Chiaro is paid what is due for bringing it, and give it p40 to Piero. If it does not please him, tell him to send me word, and I will have another one made ; and tell him also that since the Court came here every craftsman and all the arts have risen to great dignity and esteem, wherefore he must not marvel if I have so long delayed sending it, for I, too, have had much to think of. This one workman alone has more on his hands since the Court was here than the whole of Bolognia had previously. I have no time for writing. I wrote to Lodovico saying I had received his letters and telling him how I had been deceived, as he will now be able to understand.
On the sixth day of March, 1506.
MICHELAGNIOLO DI LODOVICO BUONARROTI,
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.
Buonarroto,—To-day I have received thy letter of the 17th of April, from which I learn the long journey my letters have to make before reaching Florence. I cannot alter it, because the arrange- ments are bad. I have learnt many things from thy letter, but I do not reply to them because there is no need. I am sorry thou hast behaved to Filippo Strozzi in so miserly a fashion over so small a matter (i.e.^ the dagger), but since it is done it cannot be undone.
With regard to my own affairs, I am writing to Giovansimone and he will tell thee how I prosper : say the same to Lodovico.
I would like thee to go to the Herald and tell him that as I have never received a reply from him with reference to Messer Bernardino I have concluded that the said Messer Bernardino is unwilling to come here for fear of the pestilence ; wherefore I have engaged a Frenchman to take his place, who will serve me well. I did this because I could not wait any longer. Please let this be known, that is to say, tell Messer Agniolo (the Herald). Commend me to him, and tell him to commend me to his lordship the Gonfaloniere (Piero Soderini). Commend me to Giovanni da Ricasoli when thou seest him. The twentieth day of April.
MiCHELAGNIOLO, in Bolognia.
NOTE p47 The Messer Bernardino is Bernardino d'Antonio dal Ponte di Milano, superintendent of artillery to the Florentine Republic from 1504 to 1512. He took Lodovico di GugHelmo del Buono's place with Michelangelo, and cast the figure of Julius.
Giovan Simone, — I have already replied to a letter from thee some days ago. By this time I believe thou wilt have received mine and wilt have learnt my views. If thou hast not received it, thou wilt learn from this letter all that I wrote to thee in the last. I expect Buonarroto will have told thee of my intentions, and thou mayst take it all for settled, for directly I reach Florence, I intend, with God's permission, to set you up in business either by yourselves or in partnership, whichever ye desire, and in whatever manner may appear to us the most secure. Wherefore be of good courage and rely upon what I have told thee as being a certainty. I have no time now for writing ; therefore I will write again more fully later on. I am well and have finished my figure in p45 wax. This coming week I shall begin to make the outer mould, and expect to have it complete in from twenty to twenty-five days. After that I shall prepare for the casting, and if it comes out well I shall be in Florence shortly after.
On the 28th day of April. MICHELAGNIOLO, in Bolognia.
Giovan Simone, — Some days ago I received a letter from thee which gave me much pleasure. Since then I have written thee two letters, and I suppose I have had the same good fortune with respect to them that I usually have, that is to say, I suppose they have not arrived.
I may tell thee that, please God, two months will not pass before I return to Florence : and all that I have promised to do for Buonarroto and for thee I am prepared to carry out. I do not write to thee of my intentions at full length, nor do I say how eager I am to help you, because I am loath that others should get to know of our affairs : be of good cheer, however, for greater — or rather, better — things are in store for thee than thou thinkest. I have no more to tell thee on this head. Thou must know that here everyone is preparing for war, and this is the fourth day that the whole district has been under arms and a prey to rumoured dangers, with which the Church in especial is threatened : the cause of it being the Bentivogli, p46 who have made an attempt to enter the city with a great following of people. The high courage and prudence of his lordship the Legate, however, and the admirable precautions he has taken have, I believe, saved the patrimony from them once more, since at the twenty-third hour this evening we had news from their forces that they were turning back again with small honour to themselves, No more. Pray God for me : and live in happy expectation, because soon I shall be back in Florence.
The 2nd day of May.
The Bentivogli, sometime lords of Bologna, had been driven out by the Papal forces, and it was as a result of this reoccupation that Julius visited the city, as related in Michelangelo's letters. Shortly after the Pope's departure, however, Annibale Bentivoglio made the attempt to which this letter refers, but was repulsed by the Papal Legate, the Cardinal di Pavia.
Buonarroto, — Learn that we have cast my statue, and that I was not over fortunate with it, the reason being that Maestro Bernardino, either through ignorance or misfortune, failed to melt the metal sufficiently. It would take too long to explain how it happened : enough that my figure has come out up to the waist, the remainder of the metal — half the p. 47 bronze, that is to say — having caked in the furnace, as it had not melted ; and to get it out the furnace must be taken to pieces. I am having this done, and! this week I shall have it built up again. Next week I shall recast the upper portion and finish filling the mould, and I believe it will turn out tolerably well after so bad a beginning, though only as the result of the greatest labour, worry and expense. I was ready to believe that Maestro Bernardino could melt his metal without fire, so great was my confidence in him : but all the same it is not that he is not a skilled master, or that he did not work with a will. But he who tries may fail. His failure has been costly to him as well as to me, for he has disgraced himself to such an extent that he dare not raise his eyes in Bologna.
If thou shouldst meet Baccio d'Agnolo, read this letter to him and beg him to inform San Gallo in Rome, and commend me to him. Commend me also to Giovanni da Ricasoli and to Granaccio. If this turns out satisfactorily I hope to be finished with it in from fifteen to twenty days, when I will return to you. If it is not successful I should perhaps have to do it again, but I will keep you informed.
Let me know how Giovansimone is.
On the 6th day of July.
P.S. With this I shall enclose a letter for Giuliano da San Gallo in Rome. Send it as securely and as quickly as thou canst : if he should be in Florence, give it into his hands.
I have no time to reply to thy last letter as it deserves, but thou mayst learn that I am well and shall soon have finished, and expect to win very great honour ; all of which proceedeth from the grace of God. Directly I have completed my work I shall come to Florence, and then I will deal in such a way with all the matters of which thou writest that ye shall be satisfied, and Lodovico and Giovansimone as well. I pray thee go and seek out the Herald and the Commandant Tommaso (Balducci) : tell them I have not time to write, or rather, to reply to their very welcome letters ; but that by the next post I will assuredly write something to them by way of reply. Also I beg thee to seek out San Gallo, and to tell him that I expect to have finished soon. Find out how he is, and tell him that by the next post I will write and inform him how the work is going on. No more.
The — day of October.
Buonarroto, — I marvel that thou writest to me so seldom. I am sure thou hast more leisure for writing to me than I have for writing to thee, so let me have news from thee frequently.
Thy last letter informed me that thou hadst good 49 reason to wish for my speedy return, with the result that for several days I was uneasy in my mind. Therefore, when thou writest, write boldly and explain matters clearly so that I may understand them. Let this suffice.
Know that I look forward to my early return far more eagerly than ye could possibly do, for I live here in the greatest discomfort, subject to the greatest anxieties, and do nothing but labour day and night. I have undergone and am undergoing so much strain that, if I were obliged to make another figure, I do not believe my life would suffice for it, as the undertaking has been one of enormous difficulty ; had it been entrusted to anyone else it would have turned out a failure. But I believe the intercessions of somebody or other have assisted me and kept me in health, for all Bologna was of opinion that I should never complete it : both since it was cast and before, when there was no one who believed the casting would ever take place. However, it is now well on the way to completion, though it will not be finished by the end of this month as I had expected ; but next month it will certainly be off my hands, and I will return to Florence. So be of good cheer, all of ye, for I will do as I promised, whatever happens. Cheer Lodovico and Giovansimone in my name and let me know how Giovansimone is getting on : strive to learn and acquire a knowledge of the business, so that when the time comes ye may know how to trade for yourselves, which will be before long.
On the tenth day of November.