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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
How Benvenuto Lost his Brother
By Benvenuto Cellini (1500–1571)
 
From the ‘Memoirs’: Translation of John Addington Symonds

MY brother at this period was also in Rome, serving Duke Alessandro, on whom the Pope had recently conferred the duchy of Penna. This prince kept in his service a multitude of soldiers, worthy fellows, brought up to valor in the school of that famous general Giovanni de’ Medici; and among these was my brother, whom the Duke esteemed as highly as the bravest of them. One day my brother went after dinner to the shop of a man called Baccino della Croce, in the Banchi, which all those men-at-arms frequented. He had flung himself upon a settee and was sleeping. Just then the guard of the Bargello passed by; they were taking to prison a certain Captain Cisti, a Lombard, who had also been a member of Giovanni’s troop, but was not in the service of the Duke. The captain, Cattivanza degli Strozzi, chanced to be in the same shop; and when Cisti caught sight of him he whispered, “I was bringing you those crowns I owed; if you want them, come for them before they go with me to prison.” Now Cattivanza had a way of putting his neighbors to the push, not caring to hazard his own person. So, finding there around him several young fellows of the highest daring, more eager than apt for so serious an enterprise, he bade them catch up Captain Cisti and get the money from him, and if the guard resisted, overpower the men, provided they had pluck enough to do so.  1
  The young men were but four, and all four of them without a beard. The first was called Bertino Aldobrandi, another Anguillotto of Lucca; I cannot recall the names of the rest. Bertino had been trained like a pupil by my brother, and my brother felt the most unbounded love for him. So then off dashed the four brave lads and came up with the guard of the Bargello,—upwards of fifty constables, counting pikes, arquebuses, and two-handed swords. After a few words they drew their weapons, and the four boys so harried the guard that if Captain Cattivanza had but shown his face, without so much as drawing, they would certainly have put the whole pack to flight. But delay spoiled all: for Bertino received some ugly wounds and fell; at the same time Anguillotto was also hit in the right arm, and being unable to use his sword, got out of the fray as well as he was able. The others did the same. Bertino Aldobrandi was lifted from the ground seriously injured.  2
  While these things were happening we were all at table; for that morning we had dined more than an hour later than usual. On hearing the commotion one of the old man’s sons, the elder, rose from table to go and look at the scuffle. He was called Giovanni; and I said to him, “For Heaven’s sake, don’t go! In such matters one is always certain to lose, while there is nothing to be gained.” His father spoke to like purpose, “Pray, my son, don’t go!” But the lad, without heeding any one, ran down the stairs. Reaching the Banchi, where the great scrimmage was, and seeing Bertino lifted from the ground, he ran towards home, and met my brother Cecchino on the way, who asked what was the matter. Though some of the bystanders signed to Giovanni not to tell Cecchino, he cried out like a madman how it was that Bertino Aldobrandi had been killed by the guard. My poor brother gave vent to a bellow which might have been heard ten miles away. Then he turned to Giovanni: “Ah me! but could you tell me which of those men killed him for me?” Giovanni said yes, that it was a man who had a big two-handed sword, with a blue feather in his bonnet. My poor brother rushed ahead, and having recognized the homicide by those signs, he threw himself with all his dash and spirit into the middle of the band, and before his man could turn on guard, ran him right through the guts, and with the sword’s hilt thrust him to the ground. Then he turned upon the rest with such energy and daring that his one arm was on the point of putting the whole band to flight, had it not been that while wheeling round to strike an arquebusier, this man fired in self-defense and hit the brave unfortunate young fellow above the knee of his right leg. While he lay stretched upon the ground the constables scrambled off in disorder as fast as they were able, lest a pair to my brother should arrive upon the scene.  3
  Noticing that the tumult was not subsiding, I too rose from table, and girding on my sword—for everybody wore one then—I went to the bridge of Sant’ Agnolo, where I saw a group of several men assembled. On my coming up and being recognized by some of them, they gave way before me and showed me what I least of all things wished to see, albeit I made mighty haste to view the sight. On the instant I did not know Cecchino, since he was wearing a different suit of clothes from that in which I had lately seen him. Accordingly he recognized me first and said, “Dearest brother, do not be upset by my grave accident: it is only what might be expected in my profession; get me removed from here at once, for I have but few hours to live.” They had acquainted me with the whole event while he was speaking, in brief words befitting such occasion. So I answered, “Brother, this is the greatest sorrow and the greatest trial that could happen to me in the whole course of my life. But be of good cheer; for before you lose sight of him who did the mischief, you shall see yourself revenged by my hand.” Our words on both sides were to the purport, but of the shortest.  4
  The guard was now about fifty paces from us; for Maffio, their officer, had made some of them turn back to take up the corporal my brother killed. Accordingly, I quickly traversed that short space, wrapped in my cape, which I had tightened round me, and came up with Maffio, whom I should most certainly have murdered; for there were plenty of people round, and I had wound my way among them. With the rapidity of lightning I had half drawn my sword from the sheath, when Berlinghier Berlinghieri, a young man of the greatest daring and my good friend, threw himself from behind upon my arms; he had four other fellows of like kidney with him, who cried out to Maffio, “Away with you, for this man here alone was killing you!” He asked, “Who is he?” and they answered, “Own brother to the man you see there.” Without waiting to hear more, he made haste for Torre di Nona; and they said, “Benvenuto, we prevented you against your will, but did it for your good; now let us go to succor him who must die shortly.” Accordingly we turned and went back to my brother, whom I had at once conveyed into a house. The doctors who were called in consultation treated him with medicaments, but could not decide to amputate the leg, which might perhaps have saved him.  5
  As soon as his wound had been dressed, Duke Alessandro appeared and most affectionately greeted him. My brother had not as yet lost consciousness; so he said to the Duke, “My lord, this only grieves me, that your Excellency is losing a servant than whom you may perchance find men more valiant in the profession of arms, but none more lovingly and loyally devoted to your service than I have been.” The Duke bade him do all he could to keep alive; for the rest, he well knew him to be a man of worth and courage. He then turned to his attendants, ordering them to see that the brave young fellow wanted for nothing.  6
  When he was gone, my brother lost blood so copiously—for nothing could be done to stop it—that he went off his head and kept raving all the following night, with the exception that once, when they wanted to give him the communion, he said, “You would have done well to confess me before; now it is impossible that I should receive the divine sacrament in this already ruined frame; it will be enough if I partake of it by the divine virtue of the eyesight, whereby it shall be transmitted into my immortal soul, which only prays to Him for mercy and forgiveness.” Having spoken thus, the Host was elevated; but he straightway relapsed into the same delirious ravings as before, pouring forth a torrent of the most terrible frenzies and horrible imprecations that the mind of man could imagine; nor did he cease once all that night until the day broke.  7
  When the sun appeared above our horizon he turned to me and said, “Brother, I do not wish to stay here longer, for these fellows will end by making me do something tremendous, which may cause them to repent of the annoyance they have given me.” Then he kicked out both his legs—the injured limb we had inclosed in a very heavy box—and made as though he would fling it across a horse’s back. Turning his face round to me, he called out thrice, “Farewell, farewell!” and with the last word that most valiant spirit passed away.  8
  At the proper hour, toward nightfall, I had him buried with due ceremony in the Church of the Florentines; and afterwards I erected to his memory a very handsome monument of marble, upon which I caused trophies and banners to be carved. I must not omit to mention that one of his friends had asked him who the man was that had killed him, and if he could recognize him; to which he answered that he could, and gave his description. My brother indeed attempted to prevent this coming to my ears; but I got it very well impressed upon my mind, as will appear in the sequel.  9
 
 
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