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30   NATURAL INHERITANCE.

[CHHAP.

of them. the polygon may stand, its principal tendency on being seriously disturbed will be to fall back towards the first position ; yet each position is stable within certain limits.

Consequently the model illustrates how the following conditions may co-exist : (1) Variability within narrow limits without prejudice to the purity of the breed. (2) Partly stable sub-types. (3) Tendency, when much disturbed, to revert from a sub-type to an earlier form. (4) Occasional sports which may give rise to new types.


Stability of Sports.-Experience does not show that those wide varieties which are called " sports " are unstable. On the contrary, they are often transmitted to successive generations with curious persistence. Neither is there any reason for expecting otherwise. While we can well understand that a strained modification of a type would not be so stable as one that approximates more nearly to the typical centre, the variety may be so wide that it falls into different conditions of stability, and ceases to be a strained modification of the original type.

The hansom cab was originally a marvellous novelty. In the language of breeders it was a sudden and remarkable " sport," yet the suddenness of its appearance has been no bar to its unchanging hold on popular favour. It is not a monstrous anomaly of incongruous parts, and therefore unstable, but quite the contrary. Many other instances of very novel and yet stable inventions could be quoted. One of the earliest