skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Farrer   [4 March 1878]1

4. Bryanston St.


My dear Farrer.

As you have been so very kind, I should like to report Progress on Potato Question—2 Mr Caird called yesterday, and I was very glad to see him   nobody could be more energetic & obliging. I quite forgot to return to him the enclosed documents, & this is one reason why I now write to you—3

The Agricult. Soc. will not do, as Mr Caird will explain— I am sure there is very little weight in Mr. Carruther’s objections.4

Mr. Torbitt telegraphs. that now he has got my £100, seeds shall be sown tomorrow.5 He says that to continue work with the tubers also. he ought to have another £100— He adds that he hopes he may be able to go on next year without money aid— I have written advising him to moderate the extent of his trials.6 Mr Caird took away the long letter which I had written to you when we thought of the Agricult Soc— He asked whether he might show it to anyone & I agreed but I could have improved it greatly. so far as relates to shewing anyone that it is the most hopeful scheme.—7

I daresay if I had strength to get up a memorial with a few good signatures we might have got a small grant from Government; but I have not the strength.

Hooker writes strongly that he believes the plan to be the right one; & has given analogous advice to coffee growers in India—8 Mr Caird did not seem to think it hopeless to get aid somehow; but I doubt greatly.

I shall ever feel obliged for your kindness and wisdom of your advice. | Yours very truly. | Ch. Darwin.


The date is established by the reference to James Caird’s visit (see n. 3, below). In 1878, 4 March fell on Monday.
Farrer supported James Torbitt’s project for breeding blight-resistant potatoes (see letter from T. H. Farrer, 28 February 1878).
James Caird had visited CD in London on 3 March 1878 (see letter to James Torbitt, 4 March 1878). The enclosed documents have not been identified.
William Carruthers was botanist to the Royal Agricultural Society of England; on his objections to Torbitt’s project, see the letter from James Caird to T. H. Farrer, 2 March 1878.
The telegram has not been found. CD had pledged £100 to enable Torbitt to continue his experiments for another season (see letter to James Torbitt, 1 March 1878).


Agricultural Society will not do potato experiments. Torbitt telegraphs that seeds to be sown tomorrow. Memorial with a few signatures might get grant from Government. Hooker believes plan the right one.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Sent from
London, Bryanston St, 4
Source of text
DAR 144: 89
Physical description
C 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11397,” accessed on 12 August 2022,