“Character is shown by susceptibility to motive,” says a modern American, turning with true American instinct to the practical side in which he has made experiences, and it is evidently one of the readiest ways of approaching the study of any individual character, to make sure of the motives which awaken response. But the result of habit and temperament working together shows itself in every form of spontaneous activity as well as in response to external stimulus. Character may be studied in tastes and sympathies, in the manner of treating with one’s fellow creatures, of confronting various “situations” in life, in the ideals aimed at, in the estimate of success or failure, in the relative importance attached to things, in the choice of friends and the ultimate fate of friendships, in what is expected and taken for granted, as in what is habitually ignored, in the instinctive attitude towards law and authority, towards custom and tradition, towards order and progress.
Character, then, may stand for the sum of the qualities which go to make one to be thus, and not otherwise; but the basis which underlies and constantly reasserts itself is temperament. It makes people angry to say this, if they are determined to be so completely masters of their way in life that nothing but reason, in the natural order, shall be their guide; but though heroism of soul has overcome the greatest drawbacks of an unfortunate physical organization, these cases are rare, and in general it must be taken into account to such an extent that the battle against difficulties of temperament is the battle of a lifetime. There are certain broad divisions which although they cannot pretend to rest upon scientific principles yet appeal constantly to experience, and often serve as practical guides to forecast the lines on which particular characters may be developed. There is a very striking division into assenting and dissenting temperaments, children of yes and children of no; a division which declares itself very early and is maintained all along the lines of early development, in mind and will and taste and manner, in every phase of activity. And though time and training and the schooling of life may modify its expression, yet below the surface it would seem only to accentuate itself, as the features of character become more marked with advancing years. Where it touches the religious disposition one would say that some were born with the minds of Catholics and, others of Nonconformists, representing respectively centripetal and centrifugal tendencies of mind; the first apt to see harmony and order, to realize the tenth of things that must be as they are, the second born to be in opposition and with great labour subduing themselves into conformity. They are precious aids in the service of the Church as controversialists when enlisted on the right side, for controversy is their element. But for positive doctrine, for keen appreciation, for persuasive action on the wills