Page:The Life of Michael Angelo.djvu/198
THE LIFE OF MICHAEL ANGELO
between Beethoven and his nephew, bears witness to the seriousness with which he fulfilled his paternal mission. It was interspersed with frequent fits of anger. Leonardo often sorely tried his uncle's patience; and his patience was far from great. The boy's bad handwriting was sufficient to exasperate Michael Angelo, who considered this to be a lack of respect towards him.
"I never receive a letter from you without being thrown into a fever before I can read it. I am at a loss to know where you learnt how to write! Little love here! . . . I believe that if you had to write to the biggest ass in the world you would take greater care. . . . I threw your last letter into the fire, because I could not read it. I cannot, therefore, reply. I have already told you, and constantly repeated, that every time I get a letter from you fever attacks me before I succeed in reading it. Once for all, write to me no more in the future. If you have anything to say to me, find some one who knows how to write, for I need my head for something else than to exhaust myself in deciphering your incomprehensible nonsense." 
Naturally distrustful, and rendered still more suspicious through the vexations which his brothers caused him, he was not greatly deceived as regards his nephew's humble and fawning affection, which seemed to him to be addressed above all to his money-chest, to which the little boy knew he was to succeed. Michael Angelo did not hesitate to tell him so. On one occasion, being ill and in danger of death, he learnt that Leonardo had hastened
- This correspondence began in 1540.
- ". . . stare a spasimare intorno alle tue lettere" ("Letters," 1536-1548).