Page:The Life of Michael Angelo.djvu/98

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THE LIFE OF MICHAEL ANGELO

not promised too much? Had he not been rash in undertaking this great architectural work? This was not his profession. Where could he have learnt it? And now he could neither advance nor recede.

So much labour did not result even in the safe transport of the marble. Out of six monolithic columns sent to Florence four were broken on the way and one even in Florence. He was the victim of his workmen.

In the end the Pope and Cardinal de' Medici lost all patience over the precious time which had been uselessly lost in the midst of quarries and on muddy roads. On March 10, 1520, a papal brief released Michael Angelo from the contract of 1518 for the façade of San Lorenzo. Michael Angelo did not receive notice of this until the squads of workmen sent to replace him arrived at Pietrasanta. He felt cruelly hurt.

"I do not blame the Cardinal," he said, "for the three years I have lost here. I do not blame him because I am ruined over this San Lorenzo work. I do not blame him for the very great affront which I have received in them giving me this commission and then in taking it away. I do not even know why. I do not blame him for all I have lost and spent . . . And now the matter may be summed up as follows: the Pope Leo takes over again the quarry with the cut blocks; the money I have in hand—500 ducats—remains mine; and they give me my liberty."[1]

It was not his protectors whom Michael Angelo ought to have accused—it was himself, and he well knew it. That was the sad part of it. He strove against himself. What had he accomplished between 1515 and 1520, when in the fulness of his strength and overflowing with

  1. "Letters," 1520. (Milanesi's edition, p. 415.)