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[73] a machine. So of human beings: to a raw officer of colored troops, for instance, in the Civil War, his men looked hopelessly alike as they stood uniformed in line; but he soon found that every face had its individuality. I have even heard teachers say the same of a new class, black or white, on its entering school. Living in a college town, I find the young men looking so much the same, so long as I do not know them, as to suggest the wish expressed by Humpty Dumpty to Alice, that some human beings could be constructed with their features differently combined—the noses, for instance, being sometimes put above the eyebrows—in order to distinguish them more conspicuously. Yet each one becomes on acquaintance a perfectly defined personality; and it is complained by their professors that there is sometimes rather an excess of individuality, when it comes to discipline.

It turns out, then, that individuality depends largely on the observer. Thoreau points out that no two oak-leaves are precisely alike; and Scudder says the same of the markings on butterflies' wings. Alexander von Humboldt

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H. D. Thoreau (1)
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