Niccolò Machiavelli as rendered at Gli Uffizi di Firenze
I am living on my farm since my disgrace and have not passed more than twenty days in all in Florence. Until now, I have been catching thrushes with my bare hands. . . . Eventually this diversion, though contemptible and foreign to me, withered away – regretfully. I will tell you of my life: I awake at dawn and go to the little wood where I see what work has been done from the day before and kill some time with the woodcutters, who always have some dispute between themselves or with their neighbors…. Leaving this grove, I go to a spring and thence to my aviary where I string my birdnets. I have a small book in my pocket, either Dante or Petrarch, or one of the lesser poets such as Tibullus, Ovid, or the like. I read of their tender passions and their loves and I remember mine, enjoying myself for a time as if dreaming. I move along the road to the inn and speak with those I pass, inquire of the news of their villages, learn about various matters, and take note of the variety of tastes and differing fancies of men. As this time passes there comes the hour for dinner, and with my family I eat such food as this poor farm and tiny property allows. Having eaten, I return to the inn to converse with the miller, the landlord, the butcher and a couple of kilnworkers. I sink into vulgarity with these boors for the whole day, playing at cricca and trich-trach, which lead to many squabbles and vituperations; we quarrel over farthings, and we can be heard yelling as far away as San Casciano. Involved as I am with these trifles and confined as I am with these lice, I nevertheless keep my brain from growing moldy, and expunge the malice of my fate, content to know that though she runs roughshod over me, I may discover whether she will be ashamed of treating me so.
As evening comes I return to my house and enter my study. On the threshold, first I remove my rough working clothes, covered with mud and dirt. I put on my royal and curial robes and, thus fittingly attired, I enter into the venerable assembly of the ancients. Welcomed by them with affection, I truly nourish myself upon that food which is mine alone, and for which I was born. I am unashamed to speak with them, and ask them the reason for their actions. They in their kindness answer me, and four hours pass without a feeling of boredom. I forget all of my worries; I no longer dread poverty; I no longer fear death. I live entirely through them. And because Dante says that knowledge is not produced when we hear and do not remember, I have noted all of their conversations that have been of profit to me, and from these notes I have composed a little work, De principatibus, where I delve as deeply as I am able into the considerations thereof, debating what is a princedom, and of what varieties, and how they are gained, how they are kept, and why they are lost.