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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/853

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831
THE CAUSE OF CHARACTER.

and went from my study into the adjoining room for an intercalary cup of five o'clock tea with the members of my family. (After all, we are all vertebrate animals and human beings; why attempt to conceal the fact out of consideration for the dignity of literature?) The talk turned, as it often does turn under such circumstances, on the subject about which I had just been writing. I expounded these my views on the origin of character to the attentive ears of a critical domestic audience. To my utter dismay and discomfiture, I found that they of mine own household were firmly opposed to me. "Why," said the person, who, of all others on earth, ought to back me up most surely in my worst heresies, "look at So-and-so and So-and-so! You know they're twins; and yet how utterly unlike one another they are in character!" Now, will you believe me, as it so happened. So-and so and So-and-so were two of the very cases on which I most relied in my own mind when making some of my present generalizations about twins and their identity! This, of course, conclusively shows that people sometimes differ in opinion. Some of us see differences more acutely, and some of us likenesses. To some of us the So-and-so family are all as like as two peas; while to others of us there is absolutely nothing common to all of them. Depend upon it, neither side is right; the So-and-so's are in some ways very much alike, and yet in other ways very different. The family face and the family character run pretty impartially through them all; but each wears it in his own fashion and with his own special combination of peculiarities. One side has a keen eye for the resemblances; the other has a keen eye for the differences. Mr. Gallon's method, by taking the mean of many observations, effectually gets rid, so far as possible, of this little natural "personal equation."

A single example will make this matter clearer than pages of abstract argument could make it. One of the instances I cited above was that of two brothers so identical in fiber that each did exactly the same thing, at times, with exactly the same minute touches of feeling and expression. They recognized the absolute identity themselves; it was often to them a cause of some laughter, and not infrequently of some confusion and suspicion also. Each knew a trifle too well what the other was likely to do and think of. Yet I have on paper a letter from one of their acquaintances, saying, in so many words, "James has been staying here for some weeks; we like him very much, indeed, but oh, how different he is from our Mr. Trois Etoiles!" Now the fact is, that was probably the judgment of every one everywhere who knew them both only superficially. The younger brother, whom I have ventured here to call James, because James is a good solid Christian name, implying honest industry and business ability, had been put to work at his father's occupation early in life, and was known to most men as a quiet, sober, steady-going man of affairs. The elder brother, whom I will christen Percy, because the name Percy