Drafts of Letters to the Superintendent of Canals and to Fr. Melzi.

Magnificent President, I am sending thither Salai, my pupil, who is the bearer of this, and from him you will hear by word of mouth the cause of my...

Magnificent President, I...

Magnificent President:—Having ofttimes remembered the proposals made many times to me by your Excellency, I take the liberty of writing to remind your Lordship of the promise made to me at my last departure, that is the possession of the twelve inches of water granted to me by the most Christian King. Your Lordship knows that I did not enter into possession, because at that time when it was given to me there was a dearth of water in the canal, as well by reason of the great drought as also because the outlets were not regulated; but your Excellency promised me that as soon as this was done, I should have my rights. Afterwards hearing that the canal was complete I wrote several times to your Lordship and to Messer Girolamo da Cusano,who has in his keeping the deed of this gift; and so also I wrote to Corigero and never had a reply. I now send thither Salai, my pupil, the bearer of this, to whom your Lordship may tell by word of mouth all that happened in the matter about which I petition your Excellency. I expect to go thither this Easter since I am nearly at the end of my lawsuit, and I will take with me two pictures of our Lady which I have begun, and at the present time have brought them on to a very good end; nothing else occurs to me.

My Lord the love which your Excellency has always shown me and the benefits that I have constantly received from you I have hitherto...

I am fearful lest the small return I have made for the great benefits I have received from your Excellency may not have made you somewhat annoyed with me. And this is why, to many letters which I have written to your Excellency I have never had an answer. I now send to you Salai to explain to your Excellency that I am almost at the end of my litigation with my brothers, and that I hope to be with you this Easter and carry with me two pictures on which are two Madonnas of different sizes which I began for the most Christian King, or for whomsoever you please. I should be very glad to know where, on my return from this place, I shall have to reside, because I do not wish to give more trouble to your Lordship; and then, having worked for the most Christian King, whether my salary is to be continued or not. I write to the President as to the water that the king granted me of which I had not been put in possession by reason of the dearth in the canal, caused by the great drought and because its outlets were not regulated; but he promised me certainly that as soon as the regulation was made, I should be put in possession of it; I therefore pray you that, if you should meet the said President, you would be good enough, now that the outlets are regulated, to remind the said President to cause me to be put in possession of that water, since I understand it is in great measure in his power. Nothing else occurs to me; always yours to command.

Good day to you Messer Francesco. Why, in God’s name, of all the letters I have written to you, have you never answered one. Now wait till I come, by God, and I shall make you write so much that perhaps you will become sick of it.

Dear Messer Francesco. I am sending thither Salai to learn from His Magnificence the President to what end the regulation of the water has come since, at my departure this regulation of the outlets of the canal had been ordered, because His Magnificence the President promised me that as soon as this was done I should be satisfied. It is now some time since I heard that the canal was in order, as also its outlets, and I immediately wrote to the President and to you, and then I repeated it, and never had an answer. So you will have the goodness to answer me as to that which happened, and as I am not to hurry the matter, would you take the trouble, for the love of me, to urge the President a little, and also Messer Girolamo Cusano, to whom you will commend me and offer my duty to his Magnificence.

[Footnote: 1350. 28-36. Draft of a letter to Francesco Melzi, born l493—a youth therefore of about 17 in 1510. Leonardo addresses his young friend as “Messer”, as being the son of a noble house. Melzi practised art under Leonardo as a dilettante and not as a pupil, like Cesare da Sesto and others (See LERMOLIEFF, Die Galerien &c., p. 476).]

Taken from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci edited by Jean Paul Richter, 1880.

Notebooks of Leonoardo da Vinci
XXI: Letters. Personal Records. Dated Notes.
. . .
Drafts of Letters and Reports referring to Armenia.
Notes about events observed abroad.
Drafts of Letters to Lodovico il Moro.
Draft of letter to be sent to Piacenza.
Letter to the Cardinal Ippolito d’ Este.
Draft of Letter to the Governor of Milan.
Drafts of Letters to the Superintendent of Canals and to Fr. Melzi.
Drafts of a letter to Giuliano de’ Medici.
Draft of letter written at Rome.
Miscellaneous Records.
Miscellaneous drafts of letters and personal records.
Notes bearing Dates.
. . .