Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ines (for that was the girl's name) was the daughter of a shoe maker in Veyros; a man of very good account, and wealthy Hearing how his daughter had been sent for to the young gov ernor's house, and that it was her own light behavior that subjected her to what he was assured she willingly consented to, he took it so to heart, that at her return home, she was driven by him from the house, with every species of contumely and spurning. After this he never saw her more. And to prove to the world and to himself, that his severity was a matter of principle, and not a mere indulgence of his own passions, he never afterwards lay in a bed, nor ate at a table, nor changed his linen, nor cut his hair, nails, or beard; which latter grew to such a length, reaching below his knees, that the people used to call him Barbadon, or Old Beardy.

In the meantime, his grandson, called Don Alphonso, not only grew to be a man, but was created Duke of Braganza, his father Don John having been elected to the crown of Portugal; which he wore after such noble fashion, to the great good of his country, as to be surnamed the Memorable. Now the town of Veyros stood in the middle of seven or eight others, all belonging to the young Duke, from whose palace at Villa Viciosa it was but four leagues distant. He therefore had good intelligence of the shoemaker his grandfather; and being of a humane and truly generous spirit, the accounts he received of the old man's way of life made him extremely desirous of paying him a visit. He accordingly went with a retinue to Veyros; and meeting Barbadon in the streets, he alighted from his horse, bareheaded, and in the presence of that stately company and the people, asked the old man his blessing. The shoemaker, astonished at this sudden spectacle, and at the strange contrast which it furnished to his humble rank, stared in a bewildered manner upon the unknown personage, who thus knelt to him in the public way; and said, "Sir, do you mock me ?" "No," answered the Duke; may God so help me, as I do not: but in earnest I crave I may kiss your hand and receive your blessing, for I am your grandson, and son to Ines your daughter, conceived by the king, my lord and father." No sooner had the shoemaker heard these words, than he clapped his hands before his eyes, and said, “God

66

bless me from ever beholding the son of so wicked a daughter as mine was! And yet, forasmuch as you are not guilty of her offence, hold; take my hand and my blessing, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." So saying, he laid one of his old hands upon the young man's head, blessing him; but neither the Duke nor his followers could persuade him to take the other away from his eyes; neither would he talk with him a word more. In this spirit, shortly after, he died; and just before his death he directed a tomb to be made for him, on which were sculptured the tools belonging to his trade, with this epitaph :

"This sepulchre Barbadon caused to be made
(Being of Veyros, a shoemaker by his trade),
For himself and the rest of his race,
Excepting his daughter Ines in any case."

The author says, that he has "heard it reported by the ancientest persons, that the fourth Duke of Braganza, Don James, son to Donna Isabel, sister to the King Don Emanuel, caused that tomb to be defaced, being the sepulchre of his fourth grandfather."*

As for the daughter, the conclusion of whose story comes lagging in like a penitent, "she continued," says the writer, "after she was delivered of that son, a very chaste and virtuous woman; and the king made her commandress of Santos, a most honorable place, and very plentiful; to the which none but princesses were admitted, living, as it were, abbesses and princesses of a monastery built without the walls of Lisbon, called Santos, founded by reason of some martyrs that were martyred there. And the religious women of that place have liberty to marry with the knights of their order, before they enter into that holy profession."

The rest of our author's remarks are in too curious a spirit to be omitted. "In this monastery," he says, "the same Donna

*It appears by this, that the Don John of the tradition is John the First, who was elected king of Portugal, and became famous for his great qualities; and that his son by the alleged shoemaker's daughter was his successor, Alphonso the Fifth.

Ines died, leaving behind her a glorious reputation for her virtue and holiness. Observe, gentle reader, the constancy that this Portuguese, a shoemaker, continued in, loathing to behold the honorable estate of his grandchild, nor would any more acknowledge his daughter, having been a lewd woman, for purchasing advancement with dishonor. This considered, you will not wonder at the Count Julian, that plagued Spain, and executed the king Roderigo for forcing his daughter La Cava. The example of this shoemaker is especially worthy the noting, and deeply to be considered: for, besides, that it makes good our assertion, it teaches the higher not to disdain the lower, as long as they be virtuous and lovers of honor. It may be that this old man, for his integrity, rising from a virtuous zeal, merited that a daughter coming by descent from his grandchild, should be made Queen of Castile, and the mother of great Isabel, grandmother to the Emperor Charles the Fifth, and Ferdinando."

Alas! a pretty posterity our shoemaker had, in Philip II. and his successors,- —a race more suitable to his severity against his child, than his blessing upon his grandchild. Old Barbadon was a fine fellow too, after his fashion. We do not know how he reconciled his unforgiving conduct with his Christianity; but he had enough precedents on that point. What we admire in him. is, his showing that he acted out of principle, and did not mistake passion for it. His crepidarian sculptures indeed are not so well; but a little vanity may be allowed to mingle with and soften such edge-tools of self-denial, as he chose to handle. His treatment of his daughter was ignorant, and in wiser times would have been brutal; especially when it is considered how much the conduct of children is modified by education and other circumstances: but then a brutal man would not have accompanied it with such voluntary suffering of his own. Neither did Barbadon leave his daughter to take her chance in the wide world, thinking of the evils she might be enduring, only to give a greater zest of fancied pity to the contentedness of his cruelty. He knew she was well taken care of; and if she was not to have the enjoy. ment of his society, he was determined that it should be a very uncomfortable one to himself. He knew that she lay on a princely bed, while he would have none at all. He knew that

she was served upon gold and silver, while he renounced his old chestnut table,-the table at which she used to sit. He knew while he sat looking at his old beard, and the wilful sordid ness of his hands, that her locks and her fair limbs were objects of worship to the gallant and the great. And so he set off his destitutions against her over-possession; and took out the punishment he gave her, in revenge upon himself. This was the instinct of a man who loved a principle, but hated nobody :-of a man who, in a wiser time, would have felt the wisdom of kindness. Thus his blessing upon his grandchild becomes consistent with his cruelty to his child: and his living stock was a fine one in spite of him. His daughter showed a sense of the wound she had given such a father, by relinquishing the sympathies she loved, because they had hurt him and her son, worthy of such a grandfather and such a daughter, and refined into a gracefulness of knowledge by education, thought it no mean thing or vulgar to kneel to the grey-headed artisan in the street, and beg the blessing of his honest hand.

CHAPTER XVII.

More News of Ulysses.

TALKING the other day with a friend* about Dante, he observed, that whenever so great a poet told anything in addition or continuation of an ancient story, he had a right to be regarded as classical authority. For instance, said he, when he tells us of that characteristic death of Ulysses in one of the books of his Inferno, we ought to receive the information as authentic, and be glad that we have more news of Ulysses than we looked for.

We thought this a happy remark, and instantly turned with him to the passage in question. The last account of Ulysses in the ancient poets, is his sudden re-appearance before the suitors at Ithaca. There is something more told of him, it is true, before the Odyssey concludes; but with the exception of his visit to his aged father, our memory scarcely wishes to retain it ; nor does it controvert the general impression left upon us, that the wandering hero is victorious over his domestic enemies; and reposes at last, and for life, in the bosom of his family.

The lesser poets, however, could not let him alone. Homer leaves the general impression upon one's mind, as to the close of his life; but there are plenty of obscurer fables about it still. We have specimens in modern times of this propensity never to have done with a good story; which is natural enough, though not very wise; nor are the best writers likely to meddle with it. Thus Cervantes was plagued with a spurious Quixote; and our circulating libraries have the adventures of Tom Jones in his Married State. The ancient writers on the present subject, availing themselves of an obscure prophecy of Tiresias, who tells Ulysses on his visit to hell, that his old enemy the sea would be the death of him at last, bring over the sea Telegonus, his

*The late Mr. Keats.

« PreviousContinue »