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give an account and a reason for every good and impious work. Consequently, I recognise now how full of errors was the passionate illusion which made me turn art into an idol and a monarch; and I see clearly what every man desires for his hurt. What are amorous, vain and joyous thoughts now that I approach two deaths? Of one I am certain, and the other threatens me. Neither painting nor sculpture are any longer capable of calming the soul, turned towards that divine love which opens, to take us, its arms upon the cross."
But the purest flower which faith and suffering sent forth in the old sorrowful heart of Michael Angelo was divine charity.
This man, whom enemies accused of avarice, never
- Appendix, xxv ("Poems," cxlvii).
This sonnet, which Fray rightly considers the finest that Michael Angelo ever wrote, dates from 1555-1556.
A large number of other poems express, in a form that is less beautiful but with equal emotion and faith, a similar sentiment (see Appendix, xxvi).
- These rumours were circulated by Aretino and Bandinelli. The Duke of Urbino's Ambassador related, in 1542, to any one who would listen to him that Michael Angelo had become immensely rich by lending upon usury the money he had received from Julius II. for the monument he had not executed. Michael Angelo had, to a certain extent, shown that there was ground for these accusations by the hardness which he sometimes showed in business—for instance, in the case of Signorelli senior, against whom he proceeded in 1518 for a loan made in 1513—and by a peasant-like instinct for hoarding, a rapacity which was united with his natural generosity. He amassed money and property, but, so to say, in a manner that was mechanical and hereditary. In reality, he was extremely negligent in business. He did not keep accounts. He did not know what he possessed, and he gave freely. His family drew ceaselessly on his capital. He made royal presents to his friends and servants. The majority of his works were given, not sold;