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62 HER JOURNEY
as possible. But, of course, if Your Highness thinks differently, I will set out to-morrow, even if I have to travel alone and in my chemise. If, however, you are agreeable, I will write to Signor Lodovico and accept his invitation, and will let him know the date of my departure later on."
The proud young princess had certainly no intention of appearing at the splendid court of Milan "in her chemise," as she described it. During the next few days letters were written and couriers were sent flying in all directions to order new clothes and jewels, not only for herself, but for the members of her suite. "Since we have to go to Milan in the middle of this month," the Marchioness wrote to her old servant, Brandelisio Trotti, at Ferrara, "I am anxious that the necklace of a hundred links should be finished by then, and I beg and implore you by the love you bear me to see it is ready in time. And since I am anxious that the few persons who accompany me should be honourably adorned with chains, I should be very glad if you would kindly lend your son Negro one of your own, as you did at my wedding." At length all the final preparations were made, and Isabella set out on her journey on the 10th of August. But half-way to Pavia she suddenly found that her best hat and jewelled plume had been forgotten, and sent back the key of her black chest with orders to one of her servants to send it post haste.1
The visit proved a great success, and Isabella's letters to her husband dwell with delight on the brilliant round of entertainments, hunting parties, and theatricals provided for her amusement, on the affectionate kindness of Lodovico and Beatrice, and THE COURT OF MILAN 63
1 Luzio e Renier, op. at., pp. 348-350.
the enthusiastic welcome given her by the people of Milan and Pavia. Political events also occupy a prominent place in her correspondence at this time. Alexander Borgia had just been elected Pope in great measure owing to the powerful support of Lodovico's brother, Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, and Isabella faithfully reports the latest news from Rome and the satisfaction of the Moro at the elevation of this Pontiff, who was to become ere long his most bitter enemy. But, in the midst of all these pleasures and distractions, Isabella often sighed for her husband's presence. "I will not deny," she wrote affectionately to him, "that I am enjoying the greatest pleasures; but, when I think how far off I am from Your Excellency, I feel they are not half as delightful as they would be if you were here." The Marquis, however, was engaged in attending the public races at Brescia, Siena, Lucca, and other cities, and gladly gave his wife leave to visit Genoa before her return home. New and warmer clothes were necessary for this expedition now the summer was over, and Isabella wrote to her chamberlain, Alberto da Bologna, desiring him to have a new grey satin camora, with black velvet sleeves, made for her without delay.1 Some misunderstanding, however, arose on the subject, for a week afterwards Isabella wrote again, this time in very imperious fashion, telling Alberto that he must have lost, not only his memory, but his brain and eyesight by the fall of which he complained, and repeating her orders with greater minuteness than before. But no sooner had she sent this letter than she repented of her hasty temper, and with her usual 64 ISABELLA AT GENOA
1 Luzio e Renier, Nuova Antologia, I&96, p. 451.
kindness she wrote another note, assuring her old servant that she had only been joking! On the 1st of October, the Marchioness went to Genoa, attended by two of Lodovico's favourite courtiers, Girolamo Tuttavilla and the Marchesino Stanga, and was received by the governor, Adomo, who rode out to meet her with an escort of Genoese nobles, mounted on richly draped mules, "which made a fine show." But, as Isabella herself tells us, the splendour of her reception was marred by a curious incident which is highly characteristic of the times. "At six o'clock," she writes, "we entered Genoa, amid the noise of guns and trumpets, and I was conducted to the house of Messer Cristoforo Spinola, where the governor's wife and sister-in-law and other noble ladies were waiting to receive me. Before I had time to dismount, a crowd of workmen gathered round me, and seized my mule, according to their custom here. They snatched the bridle and tore the trappings to pieces, although the governor interfered, and I willingly gave it up to them. I was never so much frightened in my life, and was really afraid of some accident, but fortunately I did not lose my head. At length I was released from their hands, leaving my steed, a mule which Signor Lodovico had lent me, to be their prey. I must redeem it at a fair price, and shall have to buy a new set of trappings !"' Isabella was summoned back to Milan by her sister's sudden illness, and as soon as she could leave Beatrice hastened home. Francesco was growing impatient at her prolonged absence, and wrote urgent letters desiring her to return, as his presence was required in another part of his dominions, and he had sent ISABELLA'S CLASSICAL STUDIES 65
1 Luzio e Renier, op. cit., p. 359.
Giovanni to Rome to congratulate the new Pope on his accession. Unluckily, Beatrice dei Contrari fell dangerously ill on the return journey, and during some weeks Isabella was very anxious about this favourite companion. When she went to Ferrara in the end of November, she begged Beatrice to send her daily reports of her condition, "for, loving you as I do," she wrote, "I long to hear every hour how you are." Happily the lively maid-of-honour's high spirits did not desert her, and she wrote amusing letters to Isabella, telling her how the Marquis had paid her a visit and spent two hours in her company, lamenting his wife's absence. "After discussing all manner of subjects," adds the writer, "he ended by saying that he should have to take me for his wife in your absence, to which I replied that I feared he would have a bad bargain, since Your Illustrious Highness is young and beautiful, and I am old and ugly and nothing but a bag of bones !"*
The Marchesa however could not leave her mother, who had been in bad health all the summer, and remained at Ferrara until the end of the year, when Leonora set out for Milan and Isabella accompanied her to the borders of the Mantuan territory. Here the mother and daughter parted. The Duchess went on to Milan, where she was present at the birth of Beatrice's first-born son, while Isabella returned home to devote herself to her studies, and make up for lost time, as she told her mother, by fresh, zeal and assiduity.
In spite of the manifold occupations and distractions of the last two years, the young Marchesa had by no means given up her classical studies. 66 HER TUTORS
1 Luzio e Renier, of), cit., p. S60. VOL. I. E
In a Latin letter which she addressed to her old teacher Guarino, in January 1492, she deplores the cares of state which interfere with her good intentions, and at the same time tells him that it is quite unnecessary to commend his daughter to her notice, since she already loves the girl both for her own sake and that of her father. A few months later she began to read Latin again with a new tutor, and in another letter Guarino exhorts her to persevere in the acquisition of that learning which cannot fail to bring her fame, since a truly cultured woman is as rare as a phcenix. For a time the Mantuan scholar Sigismondo Golfo helped the Marchesa in her studies, and sent her long letters retailing the court gossip, when she was at Milan or Ferrara. Since, however, she was no longer as familiar with Latin as she had been in her girlhood, she begged him to write to her in Italian for the present, in spite of the humanist's protests at this unworthy practice. By the end of the year, however, Golfo left Mantua, and in his stead Guarino sent Isabella one of his best scholars, Niccolo Panizzato, whom Leonora had chosen to accompany her son Ferrante on a journey to Hungary, and who was now a public lecturer in the University of Ferrara. The Marchioness agreed to give him the modest salary of three ducats a month and to provide for his family, and desired Niccolo to come to Mantua by the first boat that was available after the carnival fetes were over, in order that she might lose no time in setting to work. But hardly had the new teacher set foot in Mantua, than Isabella sent him back to resume his work at Ferrara, saying that her time was too fully occupied for her to resume her studies. Both the youth himself and Isabella's old master were bitterly