It was nearly three years subsequent to the period at which Beaufort quitted England, that his daughter received the sad intelligence of his death. He had been a miserable wanderer on the continent for that space of time, and he breathed his last in a lazaretto at Naples. It was not till he lay upon his dying bed that he could summon courage to address his deserted child. When all earthly hope was over, and the awful realities of a future state presented themselves to his appalled vision, he thought of the misery he had caused one who had ever been an affectionate and devoted daughter to him; and as this epistle expressed the deepest penitence for the errors of his misspent life, Amy clung to the hope that it was sincere.
Thus Leonard Beaufort, with genius which would have done honour to his profession, died a miserable outcast, through its misuse; whilst his noble-minded daughter, by industry, integrity, and perseverance, rose by slow but sure degrees to competence, and enjoys that peace known only to those who pursue a virtuous course.
A NORMAN TRADITION OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.
At Rouen, in the antique-looking library of a vast and gloomy hotel, sat a venerable old man, seemingly engrossed in meditation and study. He was Laurence Bigot of Thibermesnil, king’s counsel to the parliament of Normandy, a wise magistrate, and a learned and virtuous man. At five in the morning he was wont to commence his daily employment, and after giving sage and just advice to the parliament, the indefatigable old man would devote himself, as now, to other toils, which seemed to him like amusement; namely, laying the foundation of a rich collection of books and manuscripts, which afterwards became celebrated, and, though now dispersed, is not forgotten. Bigot was employed in examining an ancient manuscript which he had lately obtained. His son, Emerie Bigot, and a young companion, Etienne Pasquier, were reading Horace at another part of the library.
The studies of all three were interrupted by the sudden entrance of a magistrate—at least his costume bespoke him so; but at this moment his extreme paleness, changed features, and humiliated manner, made the lieutenant of Rouen appear like one of the criminals that daily trembled before him; for he was a severe and upright judge.
‘I have been foiled, I confess it,’ cried he to Laurence Bigot. ’I am guilty, but do not condemn me unheard.’
The king’s advocate listened calmly, while the young men, with the curiosity of their age, paid eager attention to the lieutenant’s recital, which was as follows: