Page:On the Various Contrivances by Which British and Foreign Orchids are Fertilised by Insects, and on the Good Effects of Intercrossing.djvu/94

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Considering how precious the pollen of Orchids evidently is, and what care has been bestowed on its organisation and on the accessory parts;—considering that the anther always stands close behind or above the stigma, self-fertilisation would have been an incomparably safer process than the transportal of the pollen from flower to flower. It is an astonishing fact that self-fertilisation should not have been an habitual occurrence. It apparently demonstrates to us that there must be something injurious in the process. Nature thus tells us, in the most emphatic manner, that she abhors perpetual self-fertilisation. This conclusion seems to be of high importance, and perhaps justifies the lengthy details given in this volume. For may we not further infer as probable, in accordance with the belief of the vast majority of the breeders of our domestic productions, that marriage between near relatives is likewise in some way injurious,—that some unknown great good is derived from the union of individuals which have been kept distinct for many generations?