"Yes," said Holgrave, "I dig, and hoe, and weed, in this black old
earth, for the sake of refreshing myself with what little nature and
simplicity may be left in it, after men have so long sown and reaped
here. I turn up the earth by way of pastime. My sober occupation, so
far as I have any, is with a lighter material. In short, I make
pictures out of sunshine; and, not to be too much dazzled with my own
trade, I have prevailed with Miss Hepzibah to let me lodge in one of
these dusky gables. It is like a bandage over one's eyes, to come into
it. But would you like to see a specimen of my productions?"
"A daguerreotype likeness, do you mean?" asked Phoebe with less
reserve; for, in spite of prejudice, her own youthfulness sprang
forward to meet his. "I don't much like pictures of that sort,--they
are so hard and stern; besides dodging away from the eye, and trying to
escape altogether. They are conscious of looking very unamiable, I
suppose, and therefore hate to be seen."
"If you would permit me," said the artist, looking at Phoebe, "I should
like to try whether the daguerreotype can bring out disagreeable traits
on a perfectly amiable face. But there certainly is truth in what you
have said. Most of my likenesses do look unamiable; but the very
sufficient reason, I fancy, is, because the originals are so. There is
a wonderful insight in Heaven's broad and simple sunshine. While we
give it credit only for depicting the merest surface, it actually
brings out the secret character with a truth that no painter would ever
venture upon, even could he detect it. There is, at least, no flattery
in my humble line of art. Now, here is a likeness which I have taken
over and over again, and still with no better result. Yet the original
wears, to common eyes, a very different expression. It would gratify
me to have your judgment on this character."
He exhibited a daguerreotype miniature in a morocco case. Phoebe
merely glanced at it, and gave it back.
"I know the face," she replied; "for its stern eye has been following
me about all day. It is my Puritan ancestor, who hangs yonder in the
parlor. To be sure, you have found some way of copying the portrait
without its black velvet cap and gray beard, and have given him a
modern coat and satin cravat, instead of his cloak and band. I don't
think him improved by your alterations."
"You would have seen other differences had you looked a little longer,"
said Holgrave, laughing, yet apparently much struck. "I can assure you
that this is a modern face, and one which you will very probably meet.
Now, the remarkable point is, that the original wears, to the world's
eye,--and, for aught I know, to his most intimate friends,--an
exceedingly pleasant countenance, indicative of benevolence, openness
of heart, sunny good-humor, and other praiseworthy qualities of that
cast. The sun, as you see, tells quite another story, and will not be
coaxed out of it, after half a dozen patient attempts on my part. Here
we have the man, sly, subtle, hard, imperious, and, withal, cold as
ice. Look at that eye! Would you like to be at its mercy? At that
mouth! Could it ever smile? And yet, if you could only see the benign
smile of the original! It is so much the more unfortunate, as he is a
public character of some eminence, and the likeness was intended to be