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taken by them to ascertain the truth, and experience the pontifical architect and that their general knowledge and San Gallo. The latter, however, seems candour appear to have better quali- to have felt a jealousy of what he looked fied them to arrive at a just conclusion on as interference; and at a consultaupon the subject.
tion which the Pope held respecting the
fortifications of the Borgo, in which CHAPTER X.
Michael Angelo differed from him in
opinion, San Gallo told him angrily Michael Angelo assumes the Din tion that his arts were sculpture and paintof St. Peter's.
ing — not fortification! To this the No one could be more aware of his venerable artist replied, that he cerdeclining powers as a painter than the tainly knew somewhat of the arts he aged and noble artist himself, offering, had mentioned; but that with respect to in this respect, a striking contrast to the fortification, his study of that science old age of Titian. In a conversation and his long experience in its practice with his friend and biographer, as al- made him believe that he knew more of ready observed, he said that his work it than he or any of his class. in the Pauline Chapel had cost him But the death of San Gallo, which great fatigue, and that painting, and occurred not long after, not only freed especially fresco-painting, was not an Michael Angelo from the effects of his employment adapted for old men. With envy, but induced the Pontiff to select the strong good sense which, as well as him as the only person fitted to congenius, he possessed, he made no at tinue the building of Saint Peter's. The tempt to combat with difficulties which artist, who was contentedly employing he every day felt himself less able to himself in executing a work of sculpovercome; and the paintings in the ture,--a Christ taken from the cross, Pauline Chapel were the last he exe- at first rejected the Pope's proposal, cuted. The designs he had made for and for some time succeeded in avoidthe remaining portion of the decora- ing the burden which it was intended to tions, he entrusted to Perino del Vaga, impose upon him. The Pope at length in whose favour he petitioned the Pope, changed the expression of his wishes and obtained for him the honourable into a command, and Michael Angelo office of completing the task which his finding himself constrained to accept infirmities prevented him from pursuing. the appointment, soon entered on his
But it is gratifying to find that this duties with his accustomed energy and great man continued to feel the same alacrity. delight in those occupations which had It is not the least remarkable circumformed the glory of his youth, to the stance the history of this great man, extreme verge of his existence. He as it is certainly one most highly hohad lived in honour and respect, and nourable to his character, that the first followed his profession with the ardour stipulation he made in yielding to the of an elevated mind, intent on the ac- commands of his patron was, that he quisition of excellence; and on the should be allowed to accept the appointtermination of his career he retained ment without any salary, and that it the inspiriting glow of honest ambition, should be stated in the brief that he making none of those complaints by undertook the work from a principle of which old age sometimes disheartens religious devotion. The other condithe aspirations of youth ;-increasing tions which he insisted upon were as in dignity, but not bartering the cheer- strikingly illustrative of his firmness, fulness and industry of former years for and of the caution with which he set its enjoyment.
about so important an undertaking, as Circumstances, indeed, now occurred, the one just mentioned was of his dis. which, instead of contributing towards interestedness and piety. Among these his leisure, tended to introduce him into were a permission to discharge all the a sphere of wider exertion than he had officers or workmen employed about the hitherto occupied. If his taste as an building who were neglectful of their architect had been amply proved by his proper business; and, above all, that works at Florence, it was now about to he should have authority to change as appear on that splendid scale in which much as he chose, or even entirely put his gigantic genius always shone unri- aside the plans of San Gallo. valled. The Pope had of late frequently When Michael Angelo entered upon called upon him to assist with his advice his new and important office, the cathe
dral of St. Peter's had been commenced agreeably undeceived by the courleous more than forty years, and had already manner in which he was received by engaged the great talents of Bramante, the new pontiff Julius III., who refused and ihe subtle mind and exquisite ge- to listen to any of the insinuations made nius of Raphael. The uncle also of against him by his enemies, and fully San Gallo and Giocondo da Verona established him in the privileges he had had both had a share in the direction of possessed under the late pope. Yet, notthe work; but notwithstanding this withstanding the favourable disposition union of men of extraordinary ability, manifested by Julius, the detractors of the structure was still in a very indif- Michael Angelo pursued their measures ferent state, and had the complicated with the most determined hostility, and model by which San Gallo intended to even contrived to obtain the pontiff's proceed been followed, it would have consent to a committee of architects been one of the edifices least creditable being held respecting the progress of 10 modern taste. The contrary was the the cathedral. The principal persons case with the plan drawn out by Bra- engaged in this business were the Carmante; and Michael Angelo always ex- dinals Salviati, nephew to Leo X., and pressed his high opinion of that archi- Marcello Cervino, afterwards Pope Martect's ability, and of the system which cellus II. he had intended to follow in the erec- At the conference, the chief objection tion of the cathedral.
which these dignitaries started was, that But the structure which Bramante not sufficient light was admitted into the proposed to raise could only have been church, a defect principally caused by paid for out of funds to be obtained the improper erection of a wall in front from the contributions of a world; and of a recess intended for three chapels, even Leo X. found himself compelled to and in which the architect had placed submit to having the plans of Bramante only three windows; and these, it was somewhat abridged of their magnifi- agreed, were quite insufficient, whether
The reasons which occasioned in size or number. The Pope having this necessity for economizing were still desired Michael Angelo to explain this more numerous in the pontificate of apparently strong objection to his proPaul III., and he therefore prudently ceedings, he observed that he wished to resolved upon having such a plan drawn hear the deputies before making any out as might offer a chance of being reply. To this remark the cardinals speedily executed.
“ That they were themThe good taste of Michael Angelo selves the deputies !" Then," said fortunately concurred with these ideas the architect, in respect to the parts of economy:
Putting wholly aside of the church to which your objection the model of San Gallo, which alone, it refers, over the three windows already is said, cost a thousand pounds, he there, are to be placed three others." substituted his own design ;-a simple “ You never mentioned that before," Grecian cross, which, though occupying was the answer. • No," said the ara much less space ihan San Gallo's, chitect, indignantly, “ I neither am, nor offered greater advantages in point of will be obliged to tell your Eminence, securing fine architectural results. nor any one else, either what I ought
Under the constant superintendence or what I intend to do. It is your part of Michael Angelo the building pro- to see that money be provided, to guard ceeded with all the expedition possible, against thieves, and to leave to me the and the Pope was so well satisfied with building of St. Peter's." Then turning the labours of his architect that he em- to the Pope-" Holy father," said he, ployed him in other quarters of the you see what I gain. If the machicity, and particularly in completing the nations to which I am exposed be not Farnese palace, and in erecting another for my spiritual welfare, I am losing on the Capitoline Hill, which he also both my time and my labour." allowed him to enrich with the nume- Julius, who had sufficient good sense rous antiques which had been dug up to discern on which side the truth lay, in the city or the adjacent parts. put his hand on Michael Angelo's On the decease of Paul III., which shoulder, and said,
“ Be in no fear; took place before the end of the year you will profit by it
, both now and here549, Michael Angelo apprehended that after;", adding to these encouraging his plans, in the execution of which he expressions fresh assurances of his had begun to take the deepest interest, friendship, and uniformly consulting would be interrupted. If so, he was him in all his future undertakings. One
of these was the erection of a bridge am not surprised, as you are a resusover that part of the Tiber which was citator of dead men*, that you should formerly crossed by the Pons Palatinus. lengthen out the life of living men, or For this work he not only made the ne- deliver over the badly living to eternal cessary designs, but had proceeded a death." considerable way with the structure, There was one circumstance in the when his adversaries, pretending that situation of the celebrated painters and such an occupation was too laborious other artists of Rome which in a consifor a person of his age, got his place derable degree counterbalanced the adsupplied by Nanni di Baccio Bigio, a vantages they otherwise enjoyed. Those man ignorant of his profession, and great patrons the popes were almost whose only recommendation was that always men far advanced in life before he could be made more obedient to the they ascended the pontifical throne. The cardinals and their associates than his consequence was, that the painters were great contemporary. The latter, how- repeatedly exposed not merely to indiviever, had little ambition to continue dual caprice, but to the caprice of several superintendent of this work, and wil. who appeared successively as the supreme lingly yielded to the suggestions of his arbiters of their fate. Michael Angelo pretended friends; though he prophe- himself had already lived through the sied, on seeing how Messer Nanni di reigns of six popes; and great as he Baccio Bigio was proceeding, that the was-possessing all the advantages of bridge would tumble in before many indisputable popularity, he had experi years were over, and be washed away; enced not a few annoyances from the
prediction fulfilled about five years different dispositions and rival pretenafter it was uttered, and the Ponte sions of his masters. Rotto, or broken bridge, as it has been Neither the enlightened Leo X., nor ever since called, still remains as an any of his successors, as we have shown, evidence of Michael Angelo's know- would allow the artist quietly to fulfil ledge, and the ignorance of his rival the promise he had made to his deand of the men who supported him. ceased benefactor Julius 11., but would
Among other designs to which his all readily have granted him a disattention was next directed were monu- pensation for it. In the reign of Leo, ments which Julius proposed to erect in moreover, it is seen how he was nego honour of his uncle and grandfather; lected and left almost unemployed, and a new chapel in S. Pietro Montorio and in those of Paul and Julius III. for their reception. The execution of he was several times on the point of the designs was entrusted to Vasari, being sacrificed to the ignorance and who thereby became a constant and jealousy of vulgar pretenders to know. intimate associate of the great artist. ledge. He had hitherto triumphed over The very Boswell of painters, he lost all the difficulties with which he had to no advantage which this circumstance contend, and it was reserved for his old afforded him to learn the habits, or age to bear the positive and openly exlisten to the remarks of his hero, and pressed ill will of a Roman pontiff
. his narrative from this period assumes Julius died in March, 1555, at which the tone of a man speaking in the com- time Michael Angelo was in his eightypany of one whose friendship he is sure first year. The new pope was the Carof enjoying, but for which he can only dinal Marcello, who had long been his be sufficiently grateful by constant and declared opponent, and as the artist glowing praise. Evidence of this ap- knew that his engagement with respect pears in the letters which passed be. to the cathedral was now terminated, tween them, and the manner in which he formed the intention of leaving Michael Angelo appears to have received Rome, and once more taking up his the compliments thus liberally bestowed abode at Florence. To this he was upon him was marked with equal good principally led by the numerous invita: sense and kind feeling.
tions he had received from the Grand In one of his replies, he says, " As to Duke Cosmo I., and which, the three letters I have received from death of Julius, were repeated, with the you, I have not a pen to reply to such strongest assurances of esteem and lofty things; but if I had the good for- friendship. tune to be in any way what you would While Michael Angelo was
preparing make it out I am, I should chiefly re- for his departure, the new pontiff joice at it, because you would then have a friend of some value to you. But I
• See note (6) page 67.
suddenly removed by death, and Paul The effect of these events was still IV., who was next elected to the vacant felt. The Inquisition was yet in full dignity, having manifested the most de- operation, while the authority of the cided disposition in his favour, he saw Church itself was shaken to its foundasufficient reason to change his intention. tions by the zeal and prosperous situaThe letter he wrote on the occasion to tion of the Protestani princes, and by Vasari, who anxiously looked for his the threatening aspect of Spain. To arrival in Florence, is strongly expres- add to the confusion which prevailed sive of his feelings in respect to his from these circumstances, Paul IV.was present situation. He had some diffi- bigoted, haughty, and revengeful, and culty, at first, in reconciling the grand his mind was wholly occupied by the duke to the change in his intentions ; desire of exterminating the party who but the plain statement of the circum- had incurred his enmity. stances in which he found himself It is easy to conceive that a man of convinced Cosmo that he could scarcely this character could possess few feelings avoid acting as he had done, and he in common either with the cultivators or was accordingly allowed to proceed with with the real patrons of the liberal arts. the cathedral without any material in- Michael Angelo had early proofs of this. terruption.
Notwithstanding his being continued
chief architect of St. Peter's, Paul deCHAPTER XI.
prived him, without giving a reason for Dificulties Michael Angelo had to mini, and seriously proposed to white
so doing, of the chancellorship of Ricontend with.
wash the walls of the Sistine Chapel. At this period the princes of the Church When Michal Angelo heard of the latter were exerting their utmost power to intention, he bade the persons who told crush the spirit of reformation which him inform the pope that his wish to was daily manifesting itself in the dif- amend the picture of the Last Judgment ferent states of Italy. The means which might be easily accomplished, for if his they employed for that purpose were as holiness would only reform the opinions contrary to the laws of humanity, as of mankind, the picture would be rethe doctrines which they resisted were formed of itself. Fortunately for the agreeable to those of truth. Every go- admirers of Michael Angelo's genius, vernment was excited to direct its most the pope only persisted in his resolution severe punishments to the destruction to reform, not wholly to destroy, the of the unfortunate Lutherans, and picture, and a painter of the name of scarcely a city was left free from the Daniello da Volterra* was accordingly stain of innocent blood. Divided as the employed to modify such parts of the reformers were from each other by the picture as were deemed by the holy political disunion of the country, they pontiff and his cardinals objectionable. had not been able to make a single The warlike rumours which every stand against their oppressors; and had day grew louder at Rome, and the unthe latter been disengaged from every settled state of the public mind, added other care except that of uprooting the to the above causes of complaint, scattered seeds of the reformation in rendered the situation of the artist, Italy, a very short period would have at this time, extremely disagreeable; re-established them in their former se- and he resolved upon retiring to the curity. But all Europe had been thrown monastery of Spoleto till affairs should into agitation by the changes which had have resumed a more tranquil aspect. taken place in Germany; the minds of His temporary residence in this secluded men were prepared for conflict; and retreat afforded him leisure for study when that time arrives with the multi- and contemplation; and one of the tude, it seldom happens that contests strongest arguments which can be adof another description do not speedily vanced in justification of monastic estafollow. So marked an influence, in this blishments is, that they have bee the respect, had the unsettled state of the frequent asylum of men of genius, when public mind on the operations of the either their own troubles, the disturbed European potentates, that more than state of their country, or their over-exone of them had contrived to lead cited feelings, rendered repose and solihosts of men who believed in the infallibility of the pope to attack him in • An artist who, from having been employed in his own dominions, and even in his
this and other instances in clothing the tigures of palace.
some of the great artists, was usually knowa by the name of Daniel the breeches-maker,
tude a sort of necessity to restore their were disinterested and free from envy exhausted spirits.
were looking with equal wonder and deAmong the mountains of Spoleto, light at the gradual developement of the Michael Angelo found the tranquillity noble_plan on which the painter of the he desired; he was constantly sur- Last Judgment had founded the strucrounded by objects which at once ele- ture, and which he was now rapidly, vated and soothed his expansive and and without any diminution of the subcontemplative mind; his age also tended limity of his conceptions, bringing to its to make the uninterrupted enjoyment of completion. devotional meditation doubly pleasing To the last hour that the mind of a and valuable; and on his return to great man can take an interest in any Rome, he told Vasari in a letter, that he thing earthly, such an object as that had received great delight from his visit which Michael Angelo had now in view to the monks in the mountains of Spo- might surely engage his most anxious leto, and that, though he was returned attention. But in the present case, the to the capital, he had left his better self exercise of his genius, and the interest behind him ;—there being, he says, no which it was natural and right that he happiness in times so unsettled, except should feel in seeing one of the grandest what is to be found in such a retirement. productions of his intellect perfected, had
The influence which this seclusion a degree of sanctity given to them by had upon his thoughts appears to have the principles with which he had combeen still more strongly felt after his menced the undertaking. As if no return to Rome. The contemplation of earthly rewards could be sufficient to death, to a man so naturally serious, repay him at nearly eighty years of age, must have been long habitual, but he for the sacrifice of freedom and repose, now began to look for its rapid ap- he refused, as we have seen, to bear the proach, and his chief employment on burden, except as a matter of piety and returning home was the execution of a devotion. monument for the chapel in which he This feeling, combined with the desire was to be buried. The design consisted of seeing his design secure from the conof a representation of Christ taken from tamination of inferior minds, now made the cross, and supported by the Virgin the completion of St. Peter's the conMary, who is joined in her pious duties stant object of all his thoughts; and he by Mary Magdalen and Nicodemus. was roused to indignation when he beThis work, it is said, occupied his lei- held the unwarrantable liberties which sure hours for a considerable period; Ligorio was preparing to take with his but unfortunately, after expending upon plan. As he found that it would be in it great labour, he found that the marble vain to employ the force of argument was bad: and not willing that what with such a man, he appealed directly to would probably be his last production the Pope, and at once desired him to in his favourite art should appear im- decide whether he or Ligorio should reperfect, he ceased from prosecuting it main the architect of St. Peter's cathein disgust.
dral. Paul IV. had sufficient discriminaSoon after his return also, a circum- tion and justice to decide aright in this stance occurred which put his patience case ; and the presumptuous Ligorio was to a still further trial. The pope, in- dismissed. fluenced, it seems probable, by the Michael Angelo now resumed his ocparty opposed to Michael Angelo, en- cupations with the same steadiness as gaged an architect, Pietro Ligorio, to before ; losing, it appears, none of the assist him in his labours at the cathe- resolution with which he had begun the dral. This person, however, was altoge, undertaking, supported as he was by his ther a theorist, and the vast field opened high principles of piety and professional to him in St. Peter's offered too great enthusiasm. In another letter, written a temptation to a man of his character to Vasari about this time, he remarks, to be resisted. Scarcely had be entered that to leave St. Peter's in the state in upon his office when he began to con- which it now was, would be to ruin the duct himself towards Michael Angelo structure, and thereby be guilty of a with a degree of superciliousness which great sin; that he hoped he should would have been wholly unwarranted shortly see the execution of his plans had the venerable old man been indeed brought to such a point that they could in his dotage, but which was the strong- no longer be interfered with, and that est proof Ligorio could have given of this was the prime object of his wislies, his own utter incapacity, when all who “if he did not,” he sarcastically observes,