So again, when the offspring of hybrids or mongrels, which are themselves nearly intermediate in character, revert either wholly or by segments to their ancestors, the principle of the affinity of similar, or the repulsion of dissimilar atoms, must come into action. To this principle, which seems to be extremely general, we shall recur in the chapter on pangenesis.

It is remarkable, as has been strongly insisted upon by Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire in regard to animals, that the transmission of characters without fusion occurs very rarely when species are crossed; I know of one exception alone, namely, with the hybrids naturally produced between the common and hooded crow (Corvus corone and cornix), which, however, are closely allied species, differing in nothing except colour. Nor have I met with any well- ascertained cases of transmission of this kind, even when one form is strongly prepotent over another, when two races are crossed which have been slowly formed by man's selection, and therefore resemble to a certain extent natural species. Such cases as puppies in the same litter closely resembling two distinct breeds, are probably due to superfoetation,--that is, to the influence of two fathers. All the characters above enumerated, which are transmitted in a perfect state to some of the offspring and not to others,-- such as distinct colours, nakedness of skin, smoothness of leaves, absence of horns or tail, additional toes, pelorism, dwarfed structure, etc.,--have all been known to appear suddenly in individual animals and plants. From this fact, and from the several slight, aggregated differences which distinguish domestic races and species from one another, not being liable to this peculiar form of transmission, we may conclude that it is in some way connected with the sudden appearance of the characters in question.]


We have hitherto chiefly considered the effects of crossing in giving uniformity of character; we must now look to an opposite result. There can be no doubt that crossing, with the aid of rigorous selection during several generations, has been a potent means in modifying old races, and in forming new ones. Lord Orford crossed his famous stud of greyhounds once with the bulldog, in order to give them courage and perseverance. Certain pointers have been crossed, as I hear from the Rev. W.D. Fox, with the foxhound, to give them dash and speed. Certain strains of Dorking fowls have had a slight infusion of Game blood; and I have known a great fancier who on a single occasion crossed his turbit-pigeons with barbs, for the sake of gaining greater breadth of beak.

In the foregoing cases breeds have been crossed once, for the sake of modifying some particular character; but with most of the improved races of the pig, which now breed true, there have been repeated crosses,--for instance, the improved Essex owes its excellence to repeated crosses with the Neapolitan, together probably with some infusion of Chinese blood. (15/22. Richardson 'Pigs' 1847 pages 37, 42; S. Sidney's edition of 'Youatt on the Pig' 1860 page 3.) So with our British sheep: almost all the races, except the Southdown, have been largely crossed; "this, in fact, has been the history of our principal breeds." (15/23. See Mr. W.C. Spooner's excellent paper on Cross-Breeding 'Journal Royal Agricult. Soc.' volume 20 part 2: see also an equally good article by Mr. Ch. Howard in 'Gardener's Chronicle' 1860 page 320.) To give an example, the "Oxfordshire Downs" now rank as an established breed. (15/24. 'Gardener's Chronicle' 1857 pages 649, 652.) They were produced about the year 1830 by crossing "Hampshire and in some instances Southdown ewes with Cotswold rams:" now the Hampshire ram was itself produced by repeated crosses between the native Hampshire sheep and Southdowns; and the long-woolled Cotswold were improved by crosses with the Leicester, which latter again is believed to have been a cross between several long-woolled sheep.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V2 Page 49

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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