Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/843

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THE CAUSE OF CHARACTER.

throughout. Not a feature of the face that is not true at bottom, in one point or another, to both its ancestries; not a shade of expression that does not recall in varying degrees some mingled traits of either parent.

The number of possible traits, then, are so immense, and the modes of their possible combination so infinite, that no two people, not even twins, ever come out exactly similar. Box and Cox are twain, not one; the Corsican Brothers are known as a pair to their intimate cir- cle. Nevertheless, brothers and sisters do, on the whole, closely re- semble one another, and this we all of us instinctively recognize when- ever we talk of a family likeness. These family likenesses are almost always far stronger, both in mind and body, than members of the in- criminated family itself ever care at all to recognize. It often hap- pens, for instance, that Fred and Reginald fail to perceive the faintest resemblance between their sisters Maud and Edith. But a stranger looking through the family album (poor victimized martyr) says to Fred, as he comes upon one of their photographs, "I'm quite sure that's one of your sisters, but which is it. Miss Maud or Miss Edith?" Nay, I have even known a father himself mistake a portrait of Maud for Edith. The photograph obscured some external difference of tint or complexion, and therefore brought out in stronger relief the under- lying similarity of feature and expression. It must have happened to most men to be mistaken for their own brothers by people who had never seen them before, though they themselves, looking complacently in the truth-telling glass, can hardly imagine how any one on earth could take them for such a fellow as Tom or Theodore. Tom's so very much plainer than they are, and Theodore looks so infinitely less gen- tlemanly. All round, in short, families resemble one another, and it is only after a considerable acquaintance with their minuter details that strangers really begin accurately to distinguish certain of their mem- bers. To themselves the differences mask the likeness, to outsiders the likenesses mask the difference.

It is just the same, be sure, in mental matters. There are family characters and family intelligences, as there are family faces and family figures. Each individual member of the brood has his own variety of this typical character, but in all its basis is more or less persistent, though any one particular trait, even the most marked, may be want- ing, or actually replaced by its exact opposite. Still, viewing the family idiosyncrasies as a whole, each member is pretty sure to possess a very considerable number of peculiarities more or less in common with all the remainder. True, Jane may be passionate while Emily is sulky; Dick may be a spendthrift, Avhile Thomas is a miser. But Jane and Dick are both humorous, Emily and Thomas both musical, Thomas and Dick both sensitive, Emily and Jane both sentimental, and all four of them alike vindictive, alike intelligent, alike satirical, and alike fond of pets and animals. Look at the persistent Tennysonian tone in Charles