Page:The Life of Michael Angelo.djvu/79

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45
STRENGTH

content with having bread, and live with Christ, good and poor, as I do here. For I am wretched, and yet I torment myself neither over life nor honour—that is to say over the world. I live under very great difficulties and in a state of infinite distrust. For the past fifteen years I have not had a good hour. I have done everything to support you, and never have you either recognised or believed it. God pardon us all! I am ready, in the future and as long as I live, ever to act in the same manner, provided that I am able to do so!”[1]

His three brothers exploited him. They expected him to provide them with money and position; they helped themselves without scruple to the little capital which he had amassed at Florence; they quartered themselves upon him in Rome. Buonarroto and Giovan Simone bought the goodwill of a business, and Sigismondo land near Florence. And yet they showed no gratitude towards him; they acted as though all this was their due. Michael Angelo knew that they were taking advantage of him, but he was too proud to prevent them. The scamps did not limit themselves to this. They conducted themselves badly and, in Michael Angelo's absence, ill-treated the father. Furious threats then came from the artist. He governed his brothers, as though they were vicious boys, with the lash. Had need be, he would have killed them.

“Giovan Simone,[2] it is said that he who does good to

  1. Letters to his father, 1509–1512.
  2. Giovan Simone had just ill-treated his father. Michael Angelo wrote to the latter as follows:

    “I have seen from your last letter how things are and how Giovan Simone is behaving. I have not had worse news for the past ten years . . . Had it been possible, on the day I received your letter, I should have mounted into the saddle and put everything in order. But since I cannot do that, I am