Popular Science Monthly/Volume 32/April 1888/The Cause of Character
|←The Chemistry of Underground Waters||Popular Science Monthly Volume 32 April 1888 (1888)
The Cause of Character
|Sketch of David Ames Wells→|
IT may be taken for granted that almost everybody has a character, be the same more or less, good, bad, or indifferent, as the case may be. The exception, in fact, need only be made in favor of imbecile persons and idiots, who usually possess no character at all to speak of, or whose character is, at least, of a decidedly negative and uninteresting variety. Even those good people whom the uncompromising Scotch law describes with charming conciseness as "furious or fatuous," and delivers over to the cognizance of their "proximate agnate," must needs possess at least so much of character as is implied in the mere fact of their furiousness or their fatuity, as circumstances may determine. And furthermore, roughly speaking, no two of these characters are ever absolutely identical. The range of idiosyncrasy is practically infinite. Just as out of two eyes, one nose, a single mouth, and a chin with the appendages thereof, hirsute or otherwise, the whole vast variety of human faces can be built up, with no two exactly alike; so, out of a few main mental traits variously combined in diverse fashions, the whole vast variety of human character can be mixed and compounded to an almost infinite extent. To be sure, there are some large classes of mankind so utterly commonplace and similar that from a casual acquaintance it is hard to distinguish the individuality of one of them from that of the other: just as there are large classes of typical faces, such as the Hodge, the 'Arry, the Jemimer Ann, and the Mrs. Brown, which appear at first sight absolutely identical. But, when you come to know the Hodges and the 'Arries personally, you find that as one Hodge differs slightly from another in countenance, so do even they differ slightly from one another in traits of character and intellectual faculty. No two human beings on this earth — not even twins — are ever so utterly and absolutely alike that those who have known them familiarly for years fail to distinguish one from the other. The problem of this difference of idiosyncrasy, indeed, is one so intimately bound up with all our ideas of our own origin and nature that it well deserves a few minutes' consideration at the hands of the impartial psychological philosopher. It has for each of us a personal interest and importance as well; for each of us wishes naturally to know how and why he happened to come by his own charming and admirable character. Yet, unhappily, while there is no subject on earth so interesting as ourselves (the one theme on which "all men are fluent and none agreeable"), there is none upon which the views and opinions of other people appear to us all so lamentably shallow and lacking in msight. They talk about us, forsooth, exactly as if— well, exactly as if we were other people. They bluntly ignore those delicate and subtile distinctions of idiosyncrasy which raise each of us, viewed with his own introspective eyeglass, into a class by himself, infinitely superior to the rest of creation.
Let us see how far we can gain any light from the doctrine of he- redity on this curious question of the origin of character.
If a white man marries a negro, their children, boys and girls alike, are all mulattoes. Let us make to ourselves no illusions or mistakes upon this score: each one is simply and solely a pure mulatto, exactly half-way in color, feature, hair, and stature, between his father's race and his mother's. People who have not lived in a mixed community of blacks and whites often ignore or misunderstand this fundamental fact of hereditary philosophy; they imagine that one of the children of such a marriage may be light brown, and another dark brown; one almost white, and one almost black; that the resulting strains may to a great extent be mingled indefinitely and in varying proportions. Not a bit of it. A mulatto is a mulatto, and a quadroon is a quadroon, with just one half and one fourth of negro blood respectively; and anybody who has once lived in an ex-slave-owning country can pick out the proportion of black or white elements in any particular brown person he meets with as much accuracy as the stud-book shows in recording the pedigree of famous race-horses. Black and white pro- duce mulattoes—all mulattoes alike, to a shade of identity; mulatto and white produce quadroon—all quadroon, and no mistake about it; mulatto and black produce sambo; quadroon and white give us octo- roon; and so forth ad infinitum. After the third cross persistently in either direction, the strain of which less than one eighth persists becomes at last practically indistinguishable, and the child is "white by law," or "black by law," as the case may be, without the faintest mark of its slight opposite intermixture. I speak here of facts which I have carefully examined at first hand; all the nonsensical talk about finger-nails and knuckles, and persistence of the negro type forever, is pure unmitigated slave-owning prejudice. The child of an octoroon by a white man is simply white; and no acuteness on earth, no scrutiny conceivable, would ever discover the one- sixteenth share of black blood by any possible test save documentary evidence.
Here, then, we have a clear, physical, and almost mathematically demonstrable case, showing that, so far as regards bodily peculiarities at least, the child is on the average just equally compounded of traits derived from both its parents. Among hundreds and hundreds of mulatto and quadroon children whom I have observed, I have never known a single genuine instance to the contrary. Heredity comes out exactly true; you get just as much of each color in every case as you would naturally expect to do from a mixture of given proportions. In other words, all mulattoes are recognizably different from all quad- roons, and all quadroons from all octoroons or all sambos.
This simple fact, I venture to think, gives us at once the real key to the whole complex problem of idiosyncrasy and character. Every child on the average represents one half its father and one half its mother. It is a Jones in this, and in that a Robinson. Here it takes after its grandfather the earl, and there it resembles its grandmother the washerwoman. These traits it derives from the distinguished De Montmorencies, and those from the family of the late lamented Mr. Peace the burglar. But, on the whole, however diversely and curi- ously the various individual peculiarities may be compounded, it is at bottom a Robinson-Jones, a complex of all its converging strains, its diverse noble and ignoble ancestors. It represents a cumulative effect of antecedent causes, all of which it shares equally on the average with every one of its brothers and sisters.
How does it happen, then, suggests the easy objector, that two brothers or two sisters, born of the same father and mother, twins it may even be, "are often more unlike each other in character and men- tal qualities than any two ordinary strangers"? Well, the answer simply is, it doesn't happen. Make sure of your facts before you begin to philosophize upon them. Children of the same parents are always very much like one another in all essential fundamentals; they may differ a good deal among themselves, but their differences are really and truly as nothing compared with the vast complexity of their re- semblances. The case of twins, in fact, is a peculiarly unfortunate one to allege in this respect, for Mr. Galton has collected an immense mass of evidence tending to show that just as twins usually resemble one another, almost indistinguishably, in face and feature, so do they resemble one another almost as narrowly in character and intellect. I know an instance myself of two twin sisters, one of whom has lived all her life in India, and the other in England, but who, in spite of this difference in circumstances, preserve so entirely their original identity of form and nature that I do not myself in the least discriminate be- tween them in any way, mentally or physically, though they happen to be members of my own family. It does not at all matter to me whether it was Polly who said a thing or Lucy. I regard it in either case as a simple expression of the Polly-Lucian shade of character. This is the rule in nine cases out of ten; twins are all but absolutely identical.
Still, there is such a thing as idiosyncrasy, and the reason for its ex- istence is a veiy simple one. Each separate human being, it is true, is on the average an equal compound of his father and his mother, his grandfathers and grandmothers; but not necessarily or even probably the same compound. Suppose you take a lot of red and white ivory billiard-balls, say a thousand, and cast them down upon the surface of the billiard-board. Let five hundred be red and five hundred white; then every time the total result will be in one sense the same, while in another sense it will be quite different. For there will always be five hundred of each, but the arrangement will never be exactly identical; each throw will give you a new combination of the balls—a combina- tion which will often put a totally different aspect upon the entire picture. Xow^, in the case of a human being you deal with infinitely more subtile factors, combined in infinitely more subtile fashions. Fa- ther and mother have each in their being myriads of traits, both men- tal and physical, any one of which may equally happen to be handed down to any of their children. And the traits handed down from each may not happen to be by any means always the same in the same family. Though each child resembles equally on the average both father and mother, yet this child may resemble the father in this, and that child in that; each may combine in any possible complexity of inter- mixture traits derived from either at random.
Here, for example, are an English father with light hair and blue eyes; a Spanish mother with black locks, an iris dark as night, and a full olive-colored southern complexion. Clearly, the children may dif- fer indefinitely in appearance, some with darker eyes, some with lighter; some as men may grow dark-brown beards, and some may have black whiskers and hazel eyes, and clear half-Spanish dusky skin. One may have wavy hair like the mother, yet almost as light in hue as the father's; another may have it rather straight, but dark. Similarly, too, with the features. The forehead and chin may resemble the father, the nose and mouth may rather approximate to the maternal pattern. So, at least, we often say in our folly; but in reality, when we come to examine closely, we see that no single feature, even, owes everything absolutely to one parent only. Those dark eyes may in- deed be Spanish in color, with a gleam of bull-fighting in their cruel depths, but they are set in the head after an English pattern, and have an English solidity of Philistine hardness. That pretty little nose may have much of the father in the bridge and the tip, but don't you catch faint hints of the mother, too, in the quivering nostril and the ex- panded wings? The chin recalls an Andalusian type, to be sure, but the tiny fold of flesh beneath foreshadows the fat double crease of later life derived from that old burly Lincolnshire grandfather. And so on 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 and Alfred Tennyson; look at the parodying power of the two Smiths in "Rejected Addresses"; look at the Caracci, the Rossettis, the Her- schels, and then say whether even minute touches of taste and senti- ment do not come out alike in brothers and sisters. Almost every- body who meets brothers or sisters or cousins of his own after a long separation (when use has not dulled his apprehension of the facts) must have noticed, "with mingled amusement and dissatisfaction, in ten thousand little ways and sayings how very closely he and they resem- ble one another. Sometimes the very catchwords and phrases they use, their pet aversions and their pet sympathies, turn out at every twist of life to be absurdly identical. One may even be made aware of one's own unsuspected and unobtrusive failings by observing them, as in a mirror, in the minds of one's relations, like King George's mid- dy in Mr. Gilbert's story, who meets himself on an enchanted island, and considers his double the most disagreeable fellow he ever came across.
Why is it, then, that most people won't admit their own essential unity and identity of character with their brothers and their sisters, their cousins and their aunts? Vanity, vanity, pure human vanity, is at the bottom of all their violent reluctance. Every man flatters him- self at heart that he possesses an immense number of admirable traits not to be found in any other and inferior members of his own family. Those spurious imitations may indeed resemble him somewhat in the rough, as coarse pottery resembles egg-shell porcelain; but they lack that delicacy, that refinement, that native grace and finishing touch of character which distinguish Himself, the cream and flower of his en- tire kindred, from all the rest of a doubtless worthy but very inferior family. I fancy I see you now—you, even you, my excellent critic— with that graceful cynical smile of yours playing lambent upon your intellectual upper lip, while you loll at your ease in your club arm- chair, and murmur to yourself complacently as you read, "The idea of identifying me with my brother Tom, for instance! Me, a cultivated, intelligent university man, with that stolid, stupid Philistine sugar- broker! If only I'd his wealth, how differently I'd use it! The no- tion's simply too ridiculous! Why, I am worth a dozen of him! " My dear sir, believe me, at this very moment your brother Tom, glancing hastily through the pages of the present paper in an interval of relaxa- tion on his way home by Metropolitan Railway from his lair in the city, is observing with a corresponding calm smile of superiority to himself, "Ha, ha, what an absurd idea of this magazine fellow, to tell me I'm no better than my brother Jack, that briefless barrister! Jack, indeed, in the name of all that's ridiculous! If only, now, I'd had his advantages and his education—sent to Rugby and Oxford for the best years of his life, while I was stuck at seventeen into a broker's office to shift for myself and pick up my own living! And yet, what has my na- tive talent and industry enabled me to do? Here am I at barely fifty a wealthy citizen, in spite of all my disadvantages, while he, poor idle dog, has never been able to secure as much as a brief, with all his learning! I'm fifty per cent a better man than he is! " Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, all is vanity.
The fact is, if we want impartially to discuss this question of char- acters we must each leave our own supernaturally beautiful character out of the queston, and think only of the vastly inferior and ordinary characters of other people. We mustn't even allege striking instances from the history of our sisters, our cousins, and our aunts, because there, on the one hand, our calm sense of the excellence of the stock from which we ourselves are the final flower and topmost out- come is apt to prejudice our better judgment, while on the other hand our natural contempt for the gross shortcomings of our near relations under such closely similar circumstances, when compared with our own virtues and strong points, is liable to beget in us too lordly a supercili- ousness toward their obvious failings. It is best entirely to dismiss from consideration all the persons standing to ourselves within the list of prohibited degrees set forth in the Prayer Book, to abstain from too fond an affection for our grandmother, and to concentrate our attention wholly on the persons of that common vulgar herd of outsiders falling as aforesaid under the contemptible category of other people.
Examined from this impartial and objective point of view, then, other families beside our own show us at once how much light may be cast upon the origin of character by the study of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, first and second cousins, and so forth indefinitely. Mr. Galton's exhaustive paper upon the habits and manners of the common twin is an admirable example of the precise results that may be obtained by such minute and accurate objective study of hereditary peculiarities. For it must always be remembered that two brothers ought by nature to resemblp one another far more closely than father and son. People often wonder why such-and-such a great man's son should not be a great man also; they ought, if logical, rather to ask why his brothers and sisters were not all of them equally great men and women. I will not insult the intelligence of the reader by pointing out to him why this should be—why the father's traits in such a case should be di- luted just one half by the equal intermixture derived from the mother. For the same reason, of course, two sisters ought by nature to resem- ble one another far more closely than mother and daughter. Again, a son ought on the average to resemble his father in character somewhat more closely than he resembles his mother, because in the one case the identity of sex will cause certain necessary approximations, and in the other case the diversity of sex will cause certain necessary divergencies. The barber in Leech's picture explains his young customer's defective whiskers on the ground that he probably "took after his ma!" but experience shows that in such matters men usually "take after their pa" instead. Once more, for a similar reason two brothers will tend to resemble one another, time and again, somewhat more closely than a brother and a sister. Furthermore, the two elder children and the two younger will tend to resemble one another more, as a rule, than the eldest resembles the youngest, and for a very sufficient reason, be- cause all the habits and constitution of the two parents are liable to change from time to time, and especially after a long interval of years. Hence it will follow by parity of reasoning that two brothers or two sisters, born twins, will tend to resemble one another on the average far more intimately than do any two other members even of the same family. The rationale of this is clear. They are both the children of the one father and the one mother; they are both of the same sex; and they are both born at the same time, and therefore under exactly the same conditions of age, health, habit, and constitution on the part of both parents.
Here, then, we have a crucial instance by which we may test the physical and psychical correctness of this our general a priori prin- ciple. If character results in the way I say it does—if it is a product of the interaction of two independent sets of factors, derived equally on the whole from father and mother—then it will follow that, men- tally and physically, twins will far more closely resemble one another than ordinary brothers and sisters do. Now, does the case of twins bear out in actual fact this debated deductive conclusion? Common experience tells us that it does, and Mr. Galton has supplemented that fallible and hasty guide by the most rigorous inductive collection of instances. The result of his investigation is simply this, that many twins do actually behave under similar circumstances in almost iden- tical manners, that their characters often come as close to one another as it is possible for the characters of two human beings to come, and that even where the conditions of later life have been extremely differ- ent, the original likeness of type often persists to the very end, in spite of superficial variations in style or habit of living. Some of his stories, carefully verified, are very funny. I will supplement them by two of my own. In one case a couple of twins, men, had a quarrel over a perfectly unimportant matter. They came to very high words, and parted from one another in bad blood. On returning to their rooms— they lived apart—each of them suffered from a fit of remorse, and sat down to write a letter of contrition to the other, to be delivered by the morning post. After writing it one brother read his letter over, and, recalling the cause of quarrel, added at once a long postscript, justifying himself, and reopening the whole question at issue. The other brother posted his note at once, but thinking the matter over quietly, afterward regretted his action again, and supplemented it by a second palinodia, almost unsaying what he had said in the first one. I saw all three letters myself the next morning, and was simply amazed at their absolute sameness of feeling and expression.
The other story relates to a fact which happened, not to twins, but 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 correct- ness 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 intro- duced to her at first sight; each asked the same officer for an introduc- tion (though they had several friends in common present); each de- scribed 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 contain- ing 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 bea^utif ul 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 side- tracks 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 dis- criminable 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 invariably proves the genuine title-deed to the family estates and the hand of the heroine. But, in real life, Huppim may always be readily dis- tinguished from Muppim by some slight divergence of feature or ex- pression; Huz is always a trifle fatter or thinner than Buz, his brother; the two Dromios and the two Antipholuses may deceive the outer pub- lic by their close resemblance, but not even Shakespeare himself can make us believe that Mrs. Antipholus was really mistaken as to the personal identity of her own husband. I don't want to be too hard on a lady, but I fancy, myself, she was glad of the excuse for a little innocent and easily explicable flirtation with an agreeable stranger.
Yes, everybody has a character and an idiosyncrasy different in many points from everybody else's. Not even twins, who come closest together of all humanity, merge their individuality absolutely into mere replicas one of the other. Such utter identity is quite impossible in the human family. And the reason, I think, is simply this: the infinite number of separate traits possessed by each human being is too im- mensely incalculable ever to admit of any two throws, however near, producing precisely the same resultant. I do not doubt that there may be snails or jelly-fish built absolutely on the same pattern in every particular, mental or physical; though, even there, the man that knows them well is often astonished at the way in which one snail differs from another in aspect, or one jelly-fish differs from another in character and intellect. But while the papa snail and the mamma snail are distin- guishable in a few traits only, discoverable by none but the close ob- server, the papa and mamma among human beings are distinguishable by ten thousand diverse peculiarities, mental and physical, all of them obvious to the veriest outsider. Each child is, as it were, a meeting- place and battle-field for these diverse paternal and maternal tenden- cies. It must resemble one or the other in every fiber of every feature; it can't possibly resemble both exactly in those points in which they con- spicuously differ. Hence the resultant is, so to speak, a compromise or accommodation between the two; and the chances of the compro- mise being ever absolutely equal in any two cases are practically none. You might throw down the letters of the alphabet which compose "Paradise Lost " for ever and ever, but you would never get even one line by accident in the exact order that Milton wrote it. In the strug- gle for life between each unit or cell that goes to make up brain and face and nerve and muscle, here the father conquers, and there the mother, and yonder a truce is struck between them; but that any two among the children should ever represent exactly the same result of the desperate struggle is so infinitely improbable as to be practically impossible.
One last word as to the difficulty which some observers doubtless find in making this theory fit in with the facts as they observe them. While writing this paper, I paused in the midst, laid down my pen, 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 con- ceal 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 do- mestic 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 fam- ily are all as like as two peas; while to others of us there is abso- lutely 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 natu- ral "personal equation."
A single example will make this matter clearer than pages of ab- stract 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 let- ter from one of their acquaintances, saying, in so many words, "James has been staying here for some weeks; we like him very much, in- deed, 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 has a fine literary flavor about it, and suggests either Shelley or the reputed author of Aytoun's "Firmilian," according to the taste and fancy of the reader, had been sent, as the heir of the house, to Cambridge, and having there acquired the habit of literature, took to journalism and other reprehensible pursuits, and sank at last into a confirmed scribbler. The world at large always said that Percy was a very clever fellow, while that man James had absolutely nothing at all in him. His entire interest was absorbed in the tea-trade. We who knew them both well, however, could clearly discern that the mere difference of position and education masked in James the very characteristics that were plainly developed and abnormally nurtured in his brother Percy. And Percy often said to me in confidence, after eleven o'clock at night, as we sat together over our glass of whisky-toddy, "If James had only been sent to Cambridge, he'd have been a deal cleverer fellow than I am." It may have been rude of me, but I always agreed myself with Percy. — Cornhill Magazine.