I have been informed by Mr. B.P. Brent, that he crossed a white Aylesbury drake and a black so-called Labrador duck, both of which are true breeds, and he obtained a young drake closely like the mallard (A. boschas). Of the musk- duck (Cairina moschata, Linn.) there are two sub-breeds, namely, white and slate-coloured; and these I am informed breed true, or nearly true. But the Rev. W.D. Fox tells me that, by putting a white drake to a slate-coloured duck, black birds, pied with white, like the wild musk-duck, were always produced. I hear from Mr. Blyth that hybrids from the canary and gold-finch almost always have streaked feathers on their backs; and this streaking must be derived from the original wild canary.
We have seen in the fourth chapter, that the so-called Himalayan rabbit, with its snow-white body, black ears, nose, tail, and feet, breeds perfectly true. This race is known to have been formed by the union of two varieties of silver-grey rabbits. Now, when a Himalayan doe was crossed by a sandy-coloured buck, a silver-grey rabbit was produced; and this is evidently a case of reversion to one of the parent varieties. The young of the Himalayan rabbit are born snow-white, and the dark marks do not appear until some time subsequently; but occasionally young Himalayan rabbits are born of a light silver-grey, which colour soon disappears; so that here we have a trace of reversion, during an early period of life, to the parent varieties, independently of any recent cross.
In the third chapter it was shown that at an ancient period some breeds of cattle in the wilder parts of Britain were white with dark ears, and that the cattle now kept half wild in certain parks, and those which have run quite wild in two distant parts of the world, are likewise thus coloured. Now, an experienced breeder, Mr. J. Beasley, of Northamptonshire (13/28. 'Gardener's Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette' 1866 page 528.), crossed some carefully selected West Highland cows with purely-bred shorthorn bulls. The bulls were red, red and white, or dark roan; and the Highland cows were all of a red colour, inclining to a light or yellow shade. But a considerable number of the offspring--and Mr. Beasley calls attention to this as a remarkable fact--were white, or white with red ears. Bearing in mind that none of the parents were white, and that they were purely-bred animals, it is highly probable that here the offspring reverted, in consequence of the cross, to the colour of some ancient and half-wild parent-breed. The following case, perhaps, comes under the same head: cows in their natural state have their udders but little developed, and do not yield nearly so much milk as our domesticated animals. Now there is some reason to believe (13/29. Ibid 1860 page 343. I am glad to find that so experienced a breeder of cattle as Mr. Willoughby Wood, 'Gardener's Chronicle' 1869 page 1216, admits my principle of a cross giving a tendency to reversion.) that cross-bred animals between two kinds, both of which are good milkers, such as Alderneys and Shorthorns, often turn out worthless in this respect.
In the chapter on the Horse reasons were assigned for believing that the primitive stock was striped and dun-coloured; and details were given, showing that in all parts of the world stripes of a dark colour frequently appear along the spine, across the legs, and on the shoulders, where they are occasionally double or treble, and even sometimes on the face and body of horses of all breeds and of all colours. But the stripes appear most frequently on the various kinds of duns. In foals they are sometimes plainly seen, and subsequently disappear. The dun-colour and the stripes are strongly transmitted when a horse thus characterised is crossed with any other; but I was not able to prove that striped duns are generally produced from the crossing of two distinct breeds, neither of which are duns, though this does sometimes occur.
The legs of the ass are often striped, and this may be considered as a reversion to the wild parent form, the Equus taeniopus of Abyssinia (13/30. Sclater in 'Proc.