BLTC Press Titles

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Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh

Memoirs of Benvenuto Cellini, a Florentine artist, written by himself ...

by Benvenuto Cellini


How far I have contributed to the honour of my family, which, considering our present condition, arising from well-known causes, and considering my profession, cannot be in any very great degree, I shall relate in a proper place; thinking it much more honourable to have sprung from an humble origin, and laid a foundation of honour for my descendants, than to have been descended from a noble lineage, and to have disgraced or extinguished it by my own base degeneracy. I shall therefore now proceed to inform the reader how it pleased God that I should come into the world.

My ancestors lived in retirement in the valley of Ambra,

* Such is the opinion of Lionardo A'etino and Poggio.


where they were lords of considerable domains : they were all trained to arms, and distinguished for military prowess. One of the family, a youth named Cristofano, had a fierce dispute with some of their neighbours and friends; and because the chief relations on both sides had engaged in the dispute, and it seemed likely that the flames of discord would end in the destruction of the two families, the eldest people, having maturely considered the matter, unanimously agreed to remove the two young men who began the quarrel out of the way. • The opposite party obliged their kinsman to withdraw to Siena, and Cristofano's parents sent him to Florence, where they purchased a small house for him in the Via Chiara, from the monastery of St. Ursula, with a pretty good estate near the bridge of Rifredi. This Cristofano married in Florence, and had several sons and daughters: the daughters were portioned off; and the sons divided the remainder of their father's substance between them. After his decease, the house of Via Chiara, with some other property of no great amount, fell to one of the above-mentioned sons, whose name was Andrea. He took a wife, by whom he had four male children : the name of the first was Girolamo, that 01 the second Bartolomeo; the third was Giovanni, my father; the fourth was Francesco.

Andrea Cellini, my grandfather, was tolerably well versed in the architecture of those days, and made it his profession. Giovanni, my father, cultivated it more than any of his brothers; and since, according to the opinion of Vitruvius, those who are desirous of succeeding in this art, should, amongst other things, know something of music and drawing, Giovanni, having acquired great proficiency in the art of designing, began to apply himself to music. He learned to play admirably well upon the viol and flute; and being of a very studious disposition, he hardly ever went abroad.

His next-door neighbour was Stefano Granacci, who had several (laughters of extraordinary beauty. Giovanni soon became sensible to the charms of one of them, named Lisabetta; and at length grew so deeply enamoured that he asked her in marriage. Their fathers being intimate, and next-door neighbours, it was no difficult matter to

bring about the match, as both parties thought they found their account in it. First of all, the two old men concluded the marriage, and then began to talk of the portion; but they could not rightly agree on that point, for Andrea said to Stefano, "My son Giovanni is the best youth in Florence, and even in all Italy; and if I had thought of procuring him a wife before, I might have obtained for him the best portion in Florence amongst persons of our rank." Stefano answered, "You have a thousand reasons on your side, but I have five daughters and several sons; so that, all things duly considered, it is as much as I can afford." Giovanni had stood some time listening to their conversation unperceived by them, but on hearing this he suddenly interrupted them, saying, "Ah! father, it is the girl that I love and desire, and not her money. Wretched is he who marries to repair his fortune by means of his wife's dowry. You boast that I am possessed of some talents: is it then to be supposed that I am unable to maintain my wife, and supply her necessities? I want nothing of you but your consent; and I must give you to understand that the girl shall be mine; as to the portion you may take it yourself." Andrea Cellini, who was somewhat eccentric, was not a little displeased at this; but in a few days Giovanni took his wife home, and never afterwards required any portion of her father.

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