Mr. Spooner, after considering the various cases which have been carefully recorded, concludes, "that from a judicious pairing of cross-bred animals it is practicable to establish a new breed." On the continent the history of several crossed races of cattle and of other animals has been well ascertained. To give one instance: the King of Wurtemburg, after twenty-five years' careful breeding, that is, after six or seven generations, made a new breed of cattle from a cross between a Dutch and a Swiss breed, combined with other breeds. (15/25. 'Bulletin de La Soc. d'Acclimat.' 1862 tome 9 page 463. See also for other cases MM. Moll and Gayot 'Du Boeuf' 1860 page 32.) The Sebright bantam, which breeds as true as any other kind of fowl, was formed about sixty years ago by a complicated cross. (15/26. 'Poultry Chronicle' volume 2 1854 page 36.) Dark Brahmas, which are believed by some fanciers to constitute a distinct species, were undoubtedly formed (15/27. 'The Poultry Book' by W.B. Tegetmeier 1866 page 58.) in the United States, within a recent period, by a cross between Chittagongs and Cochins. With plants there is little doubt that the Swede-turnip originated from a cross; and the history of a variety of wheat, raised from two very distinct varieties, and which after six years' culture presented an even sample, has been recorded on good authority. (15/28. 'Gardener's Chronicle' 1852 page 765.)

Until lately, cautious and experienced breeders, though not averse to a single infusion of foreign blood, were almost universally convinced that the attempt to establish a new race, intermediate between two widely distinct races, was hopeless "they clung with superstitious tenacity to the doctrine of purity of blood, believing it to be the ark in which alone true safety could be found." (15/29. Spooner in 'Journal Royal Agricult. Soc.' volume 20 part 2) Nor was this conviction unreasonable: when two distinct races are crossed, the offspring of the first generation are generally nearly uniform in character; but even this sometimes fails to be the case, especially with crossed dogs and fowls, the young of which from the first are sometimes much diversified. As cross-bred animals are generally of large size and vigorous, they have been raised in great numbers for immediate consumption. But for breeding they are found utterly useless; for though they may themselves be uniform in character, they yield during many generations astonishingly diversified offspring. The breeder is driven to despair, and concludes that he will never form an intermediate race. But from the cases already given, and from others which have been recorded, it appears that patience alone is necessary; as Mr. Spooner remarks, "nature opposes no barrier to successful admixture; in the course of time, by the aid of selection and careful weeding, it is practicable to establish a new breed." After six or seven generations the hoped-for result will in most cases be obtained; but even then an occasional reversion, or failure to keep true, may be expected. The attempt, however, will assuredly fail if the conditions of life be decidedly unfavourable to the characters of either parent-breed. (15/30. See Colin 'Traite de Phys. Comp. des Animaux Domestiques' tome 2 page 536, where this subject is well treated.)

Although the grandchildren and succeeding generations of cross-bred animals are generally variable in an extreme degree, some curious exceptions to the rule have been observed both with crossed races and species. Thus Boitard and Corbie (15/31. 'Les Pigeons' page 37.) assert that from a Pouter and a Runt "a Cavalier will appear, which we have classed amongst pigeons of pure race, because it transmits all its qualities to its posterity." The editor of the 'Poultry Chronicle' (15/32. Volume 1 1854 page 101.) bred some bluish fowls from a black Spanish cock and a Malay hen; and these remained true to colour "generation after generation." The Himalayan breed of rabbits was certainly formed by crossing two sub-varieties of the silver-grey rabbit; although it suddenly assumed its present character, which differs much from that of either parent-breed, yet it has ever since been easily and truly propagated.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V2 Page 50

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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