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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/851

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THE CAUSE OF CHARACTER.

to two successive brothers extremely like one another in build and feature, and evidently modeled in mind and character on the self-same mold. It is only a small incident, but as I can vouch for the correctness of the minute details, it has a certain psychological interest of its own. They met a lady dressed in blue, whom they had never seen before, at a military dance. Each of them asked at once to be introduced to her at first sight; each asked the same officer for an introduction (though they had several friends in common present); each described her in the same way, not as "the lady in blue" (the most obvious point of appearance about her), but as "the lady with the beautiful ears"; each fell desperately in love with her offhand; and each asked her for a particular flower out of a little bouquet containing four or five more conspicuous blossoms. Finally, each came up at the end of the evening to confide in the same married lady of their acquaintance their desire to see more of the beautiful stranger. Now, small as are all these little coincidences, they nevertheless show, to my mind, a more profound identity of mental fiber than far larger and more important matters of life could do. For, on great emergencies, or in the great affairs of one's conduct, it is only natural that somewhat similar characters, being governed by the same general emotions, should act on the whole very much alike; while often, on the other hand, a particular difference will make the action of similar characters at a special crisis extremely divergent. Thus the two Newmans, essentially the same in fiber, both re-examining their creed at a certain epoch of life, follow out their own logical conclusions with rigorous precision, one to Free Thought, the other to the Cardinalate—so that outsiders would be apt to say at first sight, "What a striking difference between two brothers!" But the exact identity of tastes and preferences shown in these minute touches of feeling—the choice of an introducer, the phrase about the ears, the selection of a particular flower (it wasn't even a violet, which might occur to anybody, but a spray of plumbago, in itself quite without sentimental interest), and the unburdening of mind to a particular confidante—all these things abundantly testify to an underlying similarity of mental structure, down to the merest sidetracks and by-ways of the brain, which could hardly happen under any other conceivable circumstances than those of actual family identity.

Still, even twins do distinctly differ in some things from one another. However much they may look alike to strangers, they are always discriminable by those who know them well, and even in early childhood by mothers and nurses. The babies who have to be distinguished by red and blue ribbons tied round their wrists, and who finally get mixed up at wash, so that the rightful heir is hopelessly muddled with the wrongful, and the junior by ten minutes preferred to his senior, belong only to the realm of the novelist; and even there we have always the well-known mark on the left shoulder to fall back upon, which inva-