RECORD: Anon. 1869. [Review of Variation]. Saint Louis Medical Reporter 3: 254-255. 

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 11.2022. RN1

[page] 254


THE VARIATION OF ANIMALS AND PLANTS UNDER DOMESTICATION. By CHARLES DARWIN. Authorized edition, with a preface by Prof. Asa Gray — in two volumes, with illustrations, New York: Orange Judd & Co.

This last work of Mr. Charles Darwin, whose name has come to be one of world-wide significance in connection with the origin and variation of species, is one of exceeding interest at the present time. Many of our readers are familiar with the work of Mr. Darwin, entitled "The Origin of Species." In that volume Mr. Darwin unfolded the theory with which his name is specially identified, of the origin of different species of plants and animals, not by means of independent creations, but by means of what he terms "Natural Selections." From a variety of facts collected, he deduced the conclusion that, originally, the varieties of species among animals were very few in number, but that in process of time nature herself, by means of various circumstances, influences and conditions, and by the aid of animals themselves, has been developing new species. The object of the present work is, however, more to show the effect of domestication on the various animals and plants that come under the dominion of man, and the facts observed and verified by Mr. Darwin's experiment and observations will be surprising to those who have never given a thought to these subjects. Besides, they have a practical value, for they show to breeders of all descriptions of animals and plants, of horses, cattle, swine, pigeons, fowls, fruit trees and flowers, that to a remarkable extent they have it within their power to modify, change and improve all these breeds.

We cannot do better than to quote Professor Gray, in the preface to this edition, who describes it as "a perfect treasury of facts, relative to domesticated animals, and some of the more

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important cultivated plants; of the principle which govern the production, improvement and preservation of breeds and races; of the laws of inheritance upon which all origination of improved varieties depends; of the ill-effects of breeding in-and- in, necessary though this be to the full development and perpetuation of a choice race or breed, and of the good effects of an occasional cross, by which, rightly managed, a grade may be invigorated or improved." The work is one of rare value and interest, aside from its practical relations, as a compendium of scientific facts,  relating to organic life in animals and plants, which can be found equally instructive and interesting to the professional naturalist or physiologist, the breeder of animals and cultivator of plants, and to the general reader.


The above very interesting work is a brief resume of two lectures delivered to the members of the Edinburgh Philosophical Institute. The author, in a most practical and interesting article, reviews the natural relations of man to other animate beings, and endeavors to show his true place in the scale of animal life as well as his intimate relationship with such animal existence. The work embodies, in a few well chosen words, the principal arguments of the developmental or progressive theory, and in stating the crowning point of this theory that man is the perfection of animal life, and urging, first, as to his present position as an integral part of, and positive relationship to, such animal life, "his present where." Then his origin from, or as a part of, such animal life, "his past whence," and finally that as progress has in all past time been impressed on animated beings, so will it be in the future, thus leaving unlimited all future progress, both mental as well as physical, "his whither." We note the following from the publishers' notice, in which we fully agree: "This very remarkable book is one which is destined to exert a striking influence on the current of human thought, relative to the Natural History of Man. As bold as Darwin, and treating of a kindred subject, Dr. Page is even more interesting, because he writes upon a topic which more intimately concerns the human race.


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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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