Page:The Life of Michael Angelo.djvu/78

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THE LIFE OF MICHAEL ANGELO

the hero of the Sistine, he whose majestic image is and ought to remain engraved on the memory of humanity.

He suffered terribly. His letters of those days witness to a passionate discouragement, which could not find appeasement in his divine thoughts.

"I am in a state of great mental depression: it is a year now since I received a fixed income from the Pope. I ask him for nothing, because my work does not advance sufficiently to make remuneration appear to me to be merited. This arises from the difficulty of the work and also from the fact that it does not belong to my profession. Thus I lose my time without result. God help me!"[1]

Hardly had he finished painting "The Deluge" than the work became so mouldy that the figures could no longer be distinguished. He refused to continue. But the Pope would hear of no excuse. The artist had to set to work again.

His relatives still further added to his fatigue and anxiety by their odious importunities. All the members of his family lived at his charge, took advantage of him and worried him to death. His father never ceased his moaning and complaining over money affairs. When Michael Angelo himself was crushed under troubles he had to spend his time in raising his father’s courage.

"Do not distress yourself," he wrote to him, “these are not matters in which life is at stake . . . I shall never see you want as long as I myself have anything . . . Even if everything you possess in the world is taken from you, you will lack nothing so long as I exist . . . I would rather be poor and know you were alive than have all the gold in the world and know you were dead . . . If you cannot, like others, have the honours of this world, be

  1. Letter to his father. (January 27, 1509.)