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the siege, directing everything in person, and trusting in no one else. “When he did come down into the city it was to work stealthily on the San Lorenzó statues.” This casual word of his biographer depicts the mental perplexities of Michelangelo better than the longest dissertation. He was compelled to fight against a Medici to satisfy his conscience and his judgment, and dared not allow the feelings to be seen which brought upon him an accusation of treason from an excited and suspicious people. So by a sort of compromise and to reassure his heart which protested against his actions, he only gave over the fight with Clement to push on the tombs of Lorenzo and Giuliano in secret.
Then sprung up disunion between the defenders of the city. The condottiere, Malatesta Baglioni, was appointed Commander-in-Chief. Rumours of treason were about among the soldiers. Some officers came to give Michelangelo warning. He went to the Signory, and laid bare the danger of the city ;-Malatesta was a traitor, there was still time to put everything right, but steps must be taken without delay. “Instead of thanks," says Condivi, " he only received insults from the Gonfaloniere Carduccio, who treated him like a man who was afraid and over-suspicious.” He was disgusted at the injustice of Carduccio, and saw that the advice of the perfidious Malatesta was preferred to his own. Under such circumstances he could do nothing for the defence of the city. In the simple discharge of his duties he was exposing himself to the madness of the people, without advantage to any one.
He left Florence with his pupil Mimi and his friend Ridolfo Corsini. He withdrew first to Ferrara and then to Venice, where he stayed for a short time.
The works for the defence of Florence had been carried on with so much skill and energy that the journey of Michel
angelo was nothing but a series of ovations, which, do what he would, he could not check. People saw in him not the artist only but the defender of the independence of the Republic of Florence. It was the manly character which he had displayed, far more than his frescos and his statues, which won for him that swift popularity and enthusiastic admiration which follow upon public services. The Duke of Ferrara, who found him out, despite all his pains to hide himself, carried him off almost by main force to his palace, overwhelmed him with attentions and with presents, showed him his pictures, and, among others, his own portrait by Titian. “Immediately after his arrival," says Varchi, “ Michelangelo withdrew quietly to Giudecca, to escape from visits of ceremony which he detested, and to enjoy his customary solitude." But the presence of such a man in the city could not remain unknown. The Signory sent two of their principal gentlemen to pay him a formal visit, and to entreat his acceptance of everything which either he or his friends might require. “This is a proof,” says the historian, "of Michelangelo's eminence, and of the admiration in which these illustrious men held such virtues."
His precipitate flight has been attributed to an excessive and culpable prudence, without any consideration of his character and circumstances. This accusation will not bear examination ; but, as it has been brought up again of late, it must not be passed over in silence. There is no doubt something unusual in this abrupt decision of Michelangelo; but he acted consistently with that character which is familiar to us. Irritable, impetuous, quick in resolution, he took counsel with no one but himself. His conduct in the midst of the events which succeeded his departure and return, at a moment of supreme peril, leaves no doubt as to the motives of his action. The Signory had declared Buonarroti and his companions
traitors by a decree of September 30; but the people protested,
) and demanded that their Michelangelo should be given them. “ The most earnest entreaties,” Condivi says, “were addressed to him; they begged him to consider his country's interests and not to give up the enterprise upon which he had embarked.” Overcome by consideration for those who wrote to him, but mainly urged on by his love for his country, he asked for a safe conduct, and returned to Florence at the risk of his life.
The march of Clement across Tuscany was rapid. Perugia, Cortona, Arezzo opened their gates to him, and he arrived under the walls of Florence in the month of October. San Miniato commands the city, and the Pope's first object was to secure the position. Besides the bastions Michelangelo had mounted several pieces of cannon on the Campanile, which made great havoc among the besiegers. He conceived the idea of covering the bastions with mattresses and bales of wool. On his return he forthwith resumed his command, and conducted the defence for six months with the utmost energy. Unhappily there was dissension in the city. One part of the people, who had lost all virtues and taste for liberty under the enervating sway of the Medici, longed for them again. “Almost all the wealthy," wrote Busini to Varchi, “demanded their return, some out of ambition or folly, others out of servility.” Francesco Ferrucci performed miracles at the head of a little army devoted to him. That bold and useful diversion, the heroic struggles of the people, whose incessant sorties left the besiegers no rest, were only able to break the fall of the last of the Italian republics which had kept the spirit and the letter of its institutions intact. Famine came to join the array of evils. At last Malatesta threw off the mask, opened the Roman gate, and
brought the Imperialists into the city. It surrendered on the 12th of August, 1530. Although the terms of surrender had stipulated for a wide-extended amnesty, the most illustrious citizens of Florence were put to death, exiled, or robbed of their property. There was no doubt about Michelangelo's fate, had he been taken, for he was excluded from the amnesty along with certain of the defenders of the city. He hid himself, some say at a friend's, but more probably according to the family tradition, in the tower of S. Nicolas, beyond the Arno. There he remained for some time. The Pope's anger subsided. Clement wanted him to finish the San Lorenzo tombs, so he published an announcement that he would spare his life and forget the past.
During one of his visits to Ferrara, Michelangelo under: took to paint a picture for Duke Alfonso, in return for his hospitality, directly he got back to Florence; and during the siege he finished a Leda, which was destined for him. The duke was afraid that some harm might come to the picture during the troubles which followed the surrender of the city, and sent one of his suite to ask for it; but through the stupidity of the messenger, this painting found its way into France, instead of going to Ferrara, Vasari has preserved
. an account of the discussion which decided its fate, and which is another evidence at once of Michelangelo's irritability of temper and excellence of heart. “He received the gentleman graciously, and showed him a large painting, in which he had represented Leda embracing Jupiter, under the form of a swan, This noble personage said to him, “Oh, I don't think much of that !” “ What style do you like, then ?” said Michelangelo. “I am a merchant,” replied the other,” as if to let him see his contempt for Florentine industry. Michelangelo, thoroughly aware of this, replied
promptly, “Well, Mr. Merchant, you will make a bad bargain for your master to-day.” He gave the magnificent painting to his pupil, Antonio Mimi, who had been recommended to him, and who had two marriageable sisters. Mimi carried the work into France, along with some drawings, cartoons, and models which Michelangelo had given him. Most of these treasures perished, like so many other beautiful things which we have not been able to keep. The Leda was bought by Francis I. and placed at Fontainbleau. It was there up to the time of Louis XIV., when the prudish Desnoyers had it defaced, and even gave orders to have it burned. This order does not seem to have been executed, for Mariette saw the picture reappear far on in the eighteenth century, “but so damaged that only the canvas was left in numberless places. The genius of a grand artist, however, shows itself unmistakably, even through these disfigurements. I have seen nothing of Michelangelo's so well painted, according to my judgment. It seemed as if the sight of Titian's works, which he had at Ferrara—the place for which his own picture was destined-stimulated him to adopt a better tone of colouring than that which was peculiar to him. However this may be, I saw this picture restored by an ordinary artist, and it went into England, where, no doubt, it had a great success.
This is another work of Michelangelo which seems to have been irrecoverably lost. Waagen has found no trace in England of that ill-restored canvas of which Mariette speaks, and which, according to Argenville and Piles, was actually destroyed by fire. It is true that we are familiar with the composition from the cartoon in the London Academy, which has also been engraved. But the loss of that painting upon canvas, according to the exact description of the precise