She and all of the same litter, however, were "remarkably deficient in stoutness, though fast as well as clever." I believe clever refers to skill in turning. Hysterics was put to a son of Bedlamite, "but the result of the fifth cross is not as yet, I believe, more satisfactory than that of the fourth." On the other hand, with sheep, Fleischmann (15/13. As quoted in the 'True Principles of Breeding' by C.H. Macknight and Dr. H. Madden 1865 page 11.) shows how persistent the effects of a single cross may be: he says "that the original coarse sheep (of Germany) have 5500 fibres of wool on a square inch; grades of the third or fourth Merino cross produced about 8000, the twentieth cross 27,000, the perfect pure Merino blood 40,000 to 48,000." So that common German sheep crossed twenty times successively with Merino did not by any means acquire wool as fine as that of the pure breed. But in all cases, the rate of absorption will depend largely on the conditions of life being favourable to any particular character; and we may suspect that there would be a constant tendency to degeneration in the wool of Merinos under the climate of Germany, unless prevented by careful selection; and thus perhaps the foregoing remarkable case may be explained. The rate of absorption must also depend on the amount of distinguishable difference between the two forms which are crossed, and especially, as Gartner insists, on prepotency of transmission in the one form over the other. We have seen in the last chapter that one of two French breeds of sheep yielded up its character, when crossed with Merinos, very much more slowly than the other; and the common German sheep referred to by Fleischmann may be in this respect analogous. In all cases there will be more or less liability to reversion during many subsequent generations, and it is this fact which has probably led authors to maintain that a score or more of generations are requisite for one race to absorb another. In considering the final result of the commingling of two or more breeds, we must not forget that the act of crossing in itself tends to bring back long-lost characters not proper to the immediate parent-forms.

With respect to the influence of the conditions of life on any two breeds which are allowed to cross freely, unless both are indigenous and have long been accustomed to the country where they live, they will, in all probability, be unequally affected by the conditions, and this will modify the result. Even with indigenous breeds, it will rarely or never occur that both are equally well adapted to the surrounding circumstances; more especially when permitted to roam freely, and not carefully tended, as is generally the case with breeds allowed to cross. As a consequence of this, natural selection will to a certain extent come into action, and the best fitted will survive, and this will aid in determining the ultimate character of the commingled body.

How long a time it would require before such a crossed body of animals would assume a uniform character within a limited area, no one can say; that they would ultimately become uniform from free intercrossing, and from the survival of the fittest, we may feel assured; but the characters thus acquired would rarely or never, as may be inferred from the previous considerations, be exactly intermediate between those of the two parent-breeds. With respect to the very slight differences by which the individuals of the same sub-variety, or even of allied varieties, are characterised, it is obvious that free crossing would soon obliterate such small distinctions. The formation of new varieties, independently of selection, would also thus be prevented; except when the same variation continually recurred from the action of some strongly predisposing cause. We may therefore conclude that free crossing has in all cases played an important part in giving uniformity of character to all the members of the same domestic race and of the same natural species, though largely governed by natural selection and by the direct action of the surrounding conditions.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V2 Page 45

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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