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title varchar(250) 139 Column Stats
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01 - Variations Under Domestication 01-09 - Principles of Selection anciently followed, and their Effects 40 The same principles are followed by horticulturists; but the variations are here often more abrupt.

No one supposes that our choicest productions have been produced by a single variation from the aboriginal stock.

We have proofs that this has not been so in several cases in which exact records have been kept; thus, to give a very trifling instance, the steadily-increasing size of the common gooseberry may be quoted.

gooseberry
gooseberry


We see an astonishing improvement in many florists' flowers, when the flowers of the present day are compared with drawings made only twenty or thirty years ago.

When a race of plants is once pretty well established, the seed-raisers do not pick out the best plants, but merely go over their seed-beds, and pull up the "rogues," as they call the plants that deviate from the proper standard.

With animals this kind of selection is, in fact, likewise followed; for hardly any one is so careless as to breed from his worst animals.
01 - Variations Under Domestication 01-09 - Principles of Selection anciently followed, and their Effects 50 In regard to plants, there is another means of observing the accumulated effects of selection- namely, by comparing the diversity of flowers in the different varieties of the same species in the flower-garden; the diversity of leaves, pods, or tubers, or whatever part is valued, in the kitchen garden, in comparison with the flowers of the same varieties; and the diversity of fruit of the same species in the orchard, in comparison with the leaves and flowers of the same set of varieties.

leaf
leaf

pod
pod

tuber
tuber

orchard
orchard


See how different the leaves of the cabbage are, and how extremely alike the flowers; how unlike the flowers of the heartsease are, and how alike the leaves; how much the fruit of the different kinds of gooseberries differ in size, colour, shape, and hairiness, and yet the flowers present very slight differences.

cabbage
cabbage

heartsease
heartsease

gooseberry
gooseberry


It is not that the varieties which differ largely in some one point do not differ at all in other points; this is hardly ever,- I speak after careful observation, perhaps never, the case. The law of correlated variation, the importance of which should never be overlooked, will ensure some differences; but, as a general rule, it cannot be doubted that the continued selection of slight variations, either in the leaves, the flowers, or the fruit, will produce races differing from each other chiefly in these characters.
01 - Variations Under Domestication 01-09 - Principles of Selection anciently followed, and their Effects 60 It may be objected that the principle of selection has been reduced to methodical practice for scarcely more than three-quarters of a century; it has certainly been more attended to of late years, and many treatises have been published on the subject; and the result has been, in a corresponding degree, rapid and important.

But it is very far from true that the principle is a modern discovery. I could give several references to works of high antiquity, in which the full importance of the principle is acknowledged. In rude and barbarous periods of English history choice animals were often imported, and laws were passed to prevent their exportation: the destruction of horses under a certain size was ordered, and this may be compared to the "roguing" of plants by nurserymen.

horse
horse


The principle of selection I find distinctly given in an ancient Chinese encyclopaedia.

Explicit rules are laid down by some of the Roman classical writers.

From passages in Genesis, it is clear that the colour of domestic animals was at that early period attended to.

Savages now sometimes cross their dogs with wild canine animals, to improve the breed, and they formerly did so, as is attested by passages in Pliny.

dog
dog


The savages in South Africa match their draught cattle by colour, as do some of the Esquimaux their teams of dogs.

cattle
cattle


Livingstone states that good domestic breeds are highly valued by the negroes in the interior of Africa who have not associated with Europeans.

Some of these facts do not show actual selection, but they show that the breeding of domestic animals was carefully attended to in ancient times, and is now attended to by the lowest savages. It would, indeed, have been a strange fact, had attention not been paid to breeding, for the inheritance of good and bad qualities is so
obvious.
01 - Variations Under Domestication 01-10 - Methodical and Unconscious Selection 10 At the present time, eminent breeders try by methodical selection, with a distinct object in view, to make a new strain or sub-breed, superior to anything of the kind in the country.

But, for our purpose, a form of Selection, which may be called Unconscious, and which results from every one trying to possess and breed from the best individual animals, is more important.

Thus, a man who intends keeping pointers naturally tries to get as good dogs as he can, and afterwards breeds from his own best dogs, but he has no wish or expectation of permanently altering the breed.

dog
dog


Nevertheless we may infer that this process, continued during centuries, would improve and modify any breed, in the same way as Bakewell, Collins, &c., by this very same process, only carried on more methodically, did greatly modify, even during their lifetimes, the forms and qualities of their cattle.

cattle
cattle


Slow and insensible changes of this kind can never be recognised unless actual measurements or careful drawings of the breeds in question have been made long ago, which may serve for comparison. In some cases, however, unchanged, or but little changed individuals of the same breed exist in less civilised districts, where the breed has been less improved.

There is reason to believe that King Charles's spaniel has been unconsciously modified to a large extent since the time of that monarch.

Some highly competent authorities are convinced that the setter is directly derived from the spaniel, and has probably been slowly altered from it.

spaniel
spaniel

Irish Setter
Irish Setter


It is known that the English pointer has been greatly changed within the last century, and in this case the change has, it is believed, been chiefly effected by crosses with the foxhound; but what concerns us is, that the change has been effected unconsciously and gradually, and yet so effectually, that, though the old Spanish pointer certainly came from Spain, Mr. Borrow has not seen, as I am informed by him, any native dog in Spain like our pointer.

English Pointer
English Pointer

foxhound
foxhound