Page:Origin of Species 1859 facsimile.djvu/261

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Chap. VIII.

that close interbreeding lessens fertility, and, on the other hand, that an occasional cross with a distinct individual or variety increases fertility, that I cannot doubt the correctness of this almost universal belief amongst breeders. Hybrids are seldom raised by experimentalists in great numbers; and as the parent-species, or other allied hybrids, generally grow in the same garden, the visits of insects must be carefully prevented during the flowering season: hence hybrids will generally be fertilised during each generation by their own individual pollen; and I am convinced that this would be injurious to their fertility, already lessened by their hybrid origin. I am strengthened in this conviction by a remarkable statement repeatedly made by Gärtner, namely, that if even the less fertile hybrids be artificially fertilised with hybrid pollen of the same kind, their fertility, notwithstanding the frequent ill effects of manipulation, sometimes decidedly increases, and goes on increasing. Now, in artificial fertilisation pollen is as often taken by chance (as I know from my own experience) from the anthers of another flower, as from the anthers of the flower itself which is to be fertilised; so that a cross between two flowers, though probably on the same plant, would be thus effected. Moreover, whenever complicated experiments are in progress, so careful an observer as Gärtner would have castrated his hybrids, and this would have insured in each generation a cross with the pollen from a distinct flower, either from the same plant or from another plant of the same hybrid nature. And thus, the strange fact of the increase of fertility in the successive generations of artificially fertilised hybrids may, I believe, be accounted for by close interbreeding having been avoided.

Now let us turn to the results arrived at by the third most experienced hybridiser, namely, the Hon. and