Page:The Life of Michael Angelo.djvu/208

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say that it was he himself who advanced you what you gave him. If you give him work, in order to show your interest in him, he will pretend that you were obliged to entrust him with it, because you knew nothing about it. In the case of all the benefits which he receives he will say that the benefactor was obliged to grant them. And if the favours received are so evident that it is impossible to deny them, then the ungrateful fellow waits until he from whom he has received good falls into manifest error; then he has a pretext for saying ill of him and liberating himself from any acknowledgment. Thus have I ever been treated, and yet not an artist has applied to me without my having aided him, and with all my heart. And then they seize upon my odd humour or the madness with which they allege I am affected, and which harms no one but myself, as a pretext for speaking ill of me; and they insult me. This is the fate of all who do good."[1]

In his own house he had fairly devoted but generally mediocre assistants. He was suspected of choosing mediocre workers designedly, in order that they would be but docile instruments and not collaborators, which, besides, would have been legitimate. But, says Condivi, "it was not true, as many reproachfully said, that he would not give instruction. On the contrary, he did so willingly. Unfortunately, Fate ordained that he should place his hands either on men who showed little capacity or on others who were capable but lacking in perseverance—assistants who, after a few weeks of his teaching, considered that they were already masters."

It is certain, moreover, that the first quality which he required his assistants to show was absolute submission.

  1. To Piero Gondi, January 26, 1524.