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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/708

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

which was carried safely to the ship on the head of Edgar Archer, but unfortunately broken afterward by a clumsy sailor, we started for the yacht. On our way back across the lagoon we pulled to a high clump of mangroves, in which the frigate-birds build every year. There were some scores of them sitting among the branches, but no nests had yet been built; nor could we discover in the clefts of the small rocky island near the landing-place the nest of the "johnny-crow," which breeds there every year.

In due course we wended our way back through the sturdy bracken and the silent woods. The morning-glory had already changed its blue coat for one of deep purple, and the leaves looked thirsting for their nightly draught of dew. We quenched our thirst with the warm juice of the pineapples cut fresh from the trees, and a plunge over-board into the clear cool water soon removed every trace of fatigue.—Nineteenth, Century.

 

CURIOUS FACTS OF INHERITANCE.

THE strength of the law which determines the transmission of character—physical or otherwise—from parents to children is still far from receiving due attention and recognition. A striking instance of inheritance is often hailed as wonderful and inexplicable; yet such cases are merely exaggerated examples of a phenomenon of which every family, nay, every individual, affords proof. We all inherit, in a more or less variable degree, the physical constitution and the mental aptitudes of our parents; but this law of inheritance is liable to so much modification, that frequently its operation becomes entirely lost to view. When two forces act upon a body, the resultant is a mean between the two components. This mean is not merely in all cases different from either component, but it is a variable mean, the variation depending upon the relative strength of the two component forces. Inheritance affords an exact parallel to this elementary law of mechanics. No child is entirely like either parent; and the inheritance of two sets of tendencies which may be allied, opposed, or indifferent to each other, may result in characters possessed by neither parent. This result is no breach of the law of inheritance, but is in strict harmony with its most precise conditions; yet it is not surprising that a law subject to such indefinite variation should gain scanty recognition except from those who have made it a special study, and can, therefore, readily distinguish an explicable exception to a law from an actual breach of it.

That the law of inheritance should be constant in its operation, however variable in its effects, is not a matter for surprise. That like produces like is the law written upon the universal face of Nature. Sir Henry Holland truly observes that the real subject for surprise is