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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/138

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

He describes them as having "the character of the Arabian breed as decidedly as can be expected where fifteen sixteenths of the blood are Arabian, and they are fine specimens of that breed; but both in their color and in the hair of their manes they have a striking resemblance to the quagga." The description of the stripes visible on their coats is careful and circumstantial, but the evidence of the nature of the mane is less convincing: "Both their manes are black; that of the filly is short, stiff, and stands upright, and Sir Gore Ouseley's stud groom alleged that it never was otherwise. That of the colt is long, but so stiff as to arch upward and to hang clear of the sides of the neck, in which circumstance it resembles that of the hybrid."

This is the classical, we might almost say the test, case of telegony: the offspring resembled not so much the sire as an earlier mate of the dam. The facts related tended to confirm the popular view, and that view is widely spread. Arab breeders act on the belief, and it is so strongly implanted in the minds of certain English breeders that they make a point of mating their mares first with stallions having a good pedigree, so that their subsequent progeny may benefit by its influence, even though poorly bred sires are subsequently resorted to.

The evidence of Lord Morton's mare convinced Darwin of the existence of telegony; after a careful review of the case he says "there can be no doubt that the quagga affected the character of the offspring subsequently got by the black Arabian horse." Darwin, however, latterly came to the conclusion that telegony only occurred rarely, and some years before his death expressed the opinion that it was "a very occasional phenomenon." Agassiz believed in telegony. He was strongly of the opinion "that the act of fecundation is not an act which is limited in its effects, but that it is an act which affects the whole system, the sexual system especially; and in the sexual system the ovary to be impregnated hereafter is so modified by the first act that later impregnations do not efface that first impression."

Romanes also believed that telegony occasionally occurred. He paid a good deal of attention to the matter, commenced experiments in the hope of settling the question, and corresponded at length on this subject with professional and amateur breeders and fanciers. The result of his investigations led him to the conclusion "that the phenomenon is of much less frequent occurrence than is generally supposed. Indeed, it is so rare that I doubt whether it takes place in more than one or two per cent of cases." A recent controversy in the Contemporary Review shows us that Mr. Herbert Spencer is a firm upholder of telegony, and that he has a theory of his own as to the mode in which it is brought about. He suggests that some 'germ-plasm' passes from the embryo into the mother and becomes a permanent part of her body, and that this is diffused throughout her whole structure until it affects, among