But you may observe that artists in all ages have sought for higher types of models in painting women who have been violent or criminal, than have sufficed for them in their portraitures of gentleness and virtue. Look at all the Judiths, and the Lucretias, and the Charlotte Cordays; how much finer the women are than the Madonnas and the Saint Cecilias."
Taken in themselves and without regard to their poetical surroundings, no more comprehensive, faithful, concise portraitures of our authors have ever been produced. They unite in the highest degree candor and justice, and there is withal a tone so kindly and a wit so pure, that we almost believe him to be describing a community of brothers affiliated by the close ties of deep mutual appreciation.
It is only the great master who can represent a powerful personality in the purest state, that is, with the maximum of character and the minimum of individual distinction; while small artists, with a feeble hold upon character, habitually resort to extreme quaintnesses and singularities of circumstance, in order to confer upon their weak portraitures some vigor of outline.
She who had never loved with her heart, but only with her mind, then declared it better to be dead than not to love someone. Although her actions and letters were pitiful in the extreme, her epistles are invaluable for their incomparable portraitures and keen reflections upon persons and events of the time.
Various chroniclers have left us pen portraitures of the habitant as they saw him in the olden days. Charlevoix, La Hontan, Hocquart, and Peter Kalm, men of widely different tastes and aptitudes, all bear testimony to his vigor, stamina, and native-born vivacity. He was courteous and polite always, yet there was no flavor of servility in this most benign trait of character.
It had one great advantage, too: it liberated the carman for active service elsewhere. It was entirely his own fault, or his employer's, that he stood bolt upright, raising one hand up and down in time with the movement of the wheels. The miller did not seem to mind; for he only kept on looking out of window, smoking. But the miller and the carman were not the only portraitures this model showed.
So in my youth I knew a family consisting of several children, on all of whom was stamped the physiognomy of their parents, and a single leading form, but under different modifications, as clearly and distinctly as if the children had been portraitures of the same subject drawn by different great masters.
I shrink from the bishop's malicious portraitures of our soldiers, sometimes of their officers, as composing a licentious army, without discipline, without humanity, without even steady courage. Has any man a right to ask our toleration for pictures so romantic as these?
Balzac, it is true, has given us delineations of provincial life; but the delineations of Balzac are often more enigmatical than the problems of real life, and even if we could always accept the portraitures they give us as undistorted, they generally presuppose a knowledge on the part of the reader on those points on which the foreigner is most apt to be ignorant.
She seemed to take infinite pleasure in making portraitures of OLIVER CROMWELL, who had by this time become Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. This went on until the summer of the year 1657, when her father gently put it to her that she had worn the willow long enough, and would have had her ally herself with some gentleman of worth and parts in that part of the country.