Page:The Life of Michael Angelo.djvu/97

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59
SHATTERED STRENGTH

"What I have promised I will carry out, in spite of everything. With God's assistance I will produce the finest work which Italy has ever seen."


What strength, enthusiasm and genius wasted in vain! At the end of September 1518 he fell ill at Scravezza, through overwork and worry. He was well aware that his health and dreams were being ruined by this workman's life. He was obsessed with the desire to at last begin his work and by the anguish of being prevented. He was pressed by his other engagements which he could not carry out.[1]


I am dying with impatience because my unhappy destiny will not allow me to do what I want. ... I am dying through sorrow. I have the air of being a deceiver, although it is no fault of mine. . . ."[2]


Returning to Florence, he wore himself out with worry whilst awaiting the arrival of the consignments of marble. But the Arno was dry and the boats loaded with blocks could not ascend the river.

At last they arrived. Was he, this time, going to set to work? No. He returned to the quarries. He persisted in not beginning until he had collected, as in the case of the mausoleum of Julius II., a very mountain of marble. Ever did he postpone the day for setting to work. Perhaps he was frightened of doing so. Had he

  1. The "Christ" of the Church of S. Maria Sopra Minerva and the mausoleum of Julius II.
  2. Letter of December 21, 1518, to Cardinal d'Agen. The four shapeless statues (four "Slaves" for the tomb of Julius II.), barely commenced, of the Boboli grottos appear to belong to this period.