But we must be careful not to confound these cases of reversion to characters which were gained by a cross, with those under the first class, in which characters originally common to BOTH parents, but lost at some former period, reappear; for such characters may recur after an almost indefinite number of generations.

The law of reversion is as powerful with hybrids, when they are sufficiently fertile to breed together, or when they are repeatedly crossed with either pure parent-form, as in the case of mongrels. It is not necessary to give instances. With plants almost every one who has worked on this subject, from the time of Kolreuter to the present day, has insisted on this tendency. Gartner has recorded some good instances; but no one has given more striking ones than Naudin. (13/19. Kolreuter gives curious cases in his 'Dritte Fortsetzung' 1766 ss. 53, 59; and in his well-known 'Memoirs on Lavatera and Jalapa.' Gartner 'Bastarderzeugung' ss. 437, 441, etc. Naudin in his "Recherches sur l'Hybridite" 'Nouvelles Archives du Museum' tome 1 page 25.) The tendency differs in degree or strength in different groups, and partly depends, as we shall presently see, on whether the parent-plants have been long cultivated. Although the tendency to reversion is extremely general with nearly all mongrels and hybrids, it cannot be considered as invariably characteristic of them; it may also be mastered by long-continued selection; but these subjects will more properly be discussed in a future chapter on Crossing. From what we see of the power and scope of reversion, both in pure races, and when varieties or species are crossed, we may infer that characters of almost every kind are capable of reappearing after having been lost for a great length of time. But it does not follow from this that in each particular case certain characters will reappear; for instance, this will not occur when a race is crossed with another endowed with prepotency of transmission. Sometimes the power of reversion wholly fails, without our being able to assign any cause for the failure: thus it has been stated that in a French family in which 85 out of above 600 members, during six generations, had been subject to night-blindness, "there has not been a single example of this affection in the children of parents who were themselves free from it." (13/20. Quoted by Mr. Sedgwick in 'Med.-Chirurg. Review' April 1861 page 485. Dr. H. Dobell in 'Med.-Chirurg. Transactions' volume 46 gives an analogous case in which, in a large family, fingers with thickened joints were transmitted to several members during five generations; but when the blemish once disappeared it never reappeared.)


In the eleventh chapter many cases of reversion by buds, independently of seminal generation, were given--as when a leaf-bud on a variegated, a curled, or laciniated variety suddenly reassumes its proper character; or as when a Provence-rose appears on a moss-rose, or a peach on a nectarine-tree. In some of these cases only half the flower or fruit, or a smaller segment, or mere stripes, reassume their former character; and here we have reversion by segments. Vilmorin (13/21. Verlot 'Des Varietes' 1865 page 63.) has also recorded several cases with plants derived from seed, of flowers reverting by stripes or blotches to their primitive colours: he states that in all such cases a white or pale-coloured variety must first be formed, and, when this is propagated for a length of time by seed, striped seedlings occasionally make their appearance; and these can afterwards by care be multiplied by seed.

The stripes and segments just referred to are not due, as far as is known, to reversion to characters derived from a cross, but to characters lost by variation. These cases, however, as Naudin (13/22. 'Nouvelles Archives du Museum' tome 1 page 25. Alex. Braun (in his 'Rejuvenescence' Ray Soc.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V2 Page 12

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Charles Darwin

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