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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/146

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of the chicken. The prison wall is not burst in pieces by spontaneous, random struggles. By a regular series of strokes the shell is cut in two—chipped right round in a perfect circle, some distance from the great end. Moreover, the bird has a special instrument for this work, a hard, sharp horn on the top of the upper mandible, which being required for no other purpose disappears in a few days. Obviously each individual bird no more acquires the art of breaking its way out than it furnishes itself with the little pick-hammer used in the operation; and it is equally clear that a bird could have never escaped from the egg without this instinct. Again, how were eggs hatched before birds had acquired the instinct to sit upon them? Or who will throw light on the process of such an acquisition? Nor are the subsequent phenomena easier of explanation. A fowl that never before willingly shared a crumb with a companion, will now starve herself to feed her chickens, which she calls by a language she never before used—may have never even heard—but which they are born to understand. Once more, it is clearly because she cannot do otherwise that a she-rabbit, when with her first young, digs a hole in the earth away from her ordinary habitation, and there builds a nest of soft grass, lined with fur stripped from her own body. But how as to the origin of this habit?

We need not accumulate examples of seemingly unfathomable instincts. And it may be confessed at once that in the present state of our knowledge it would be hopeless to attempt to guess at the kinds of experiences that may have originally, when the creatures wore different shapes and lived different lives, wrought changes in their nervous systems that, enduring and being modified through many changes of form, have given to the living races the physical organizations of which these wonderful instincts are the corresponding mental facts. Nor, perhaps, can it be confidently asserted that in experience and heredity we have all the terms of the problem. The little we can say is that though in the dark we need not consider ourselves more in the dark as to the origin of those strange instincts than we are concerning the origin of those wonderful organs of astonishing and exquisite mechanism that, especially among the insects, are the instruments of those instincts. Nay, more, if the view we have put forward concerning the connection between mental manifestations and bodily organization be correct, the question of the origin of these mysterious instincts is not more difficult than, or different from, but is the same with, the problem of the origin of the physical structure of the creatures; for, however they may have come by their bodies, they cannot fail to have the minds that correspond thereto. When, as by a miracle, the lovely butterfly bursts from the chrysalis full-winged and perfect, and flutters off a thing of soft and gorgeous beauty, it but wakes to a higher life, to a new mode of existence, in which, strange though it may sound, it