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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/148

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No doubt, to the many, who love more to gaze and marvel than to question and reflect, all this will seem miserably inadequate as a clue to one of the greatest mysteries of life. But enough, if I have indicated my view of how the most inexplicable of instincts may have had their origin; or rather, if I have shown how our utter inability to trace them back to their origin tells nothing against the probability that they all came into existence in accordance with those laws of acquisition and heredity that we now see operating before our eyes. We cannot tell how the pupa of the dragon-fly came by the instinct that prompts it to leave the water and hang itself up to dry. But we may be able to explain this quite as soon as to unveil the origin of the hooks by which it hangs itself up. And if ever human intelligence should so trace the evolution of living forms as to be able to say, "Thus was developed the bill-scale wherewith birds now break their way out of the shells," it will probably be able to add, "and these were the experiences to which we must trace the instinct that makes every little bird its own skilful accoucheur."