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Darwin Correspondence Project

From James Torbitt   12 April 1876


12 April | 1876

Charles Darwin Esqr. | Down

My dear Sir

With the very greatest respect, I must beg leave to be permitted to differ from you regarding the matter of the publication of your reply to my question what is an individual? and for this reason, it leaves the matter an open question, upon which therefore, no man need be afraid to exercise his own intellect.1

Again, if your opinion “that the principle I am acting on is right”,2 will not suffice to convince people, clearly no other means can or will; for notwithstanding the thick darkness in which they (the people) are enveloped, there is, even with them, no name in the world so weighty as your own.

And if it pleases them to laugh at me, well and good, only they might as well sit down before a statue of Voltaire and laugh at that.

I am sure you will like to see enclosed from Professor Ansted, and have pleasure in sending it.3

I may say that I have succeeded in interesting, among others, The Lord Lieutenant the Duke of Sutherland [etc] and from the former’s A.D.C. I have letter of thanks for sending your letter (Copy I mean)   I have not yet got at the House of Commons, but expect to do so in a few days.4

I am ashamed to trespass so far, but I shall be pardoned I know. | I am my dear Sir | with profound respect | faithfully yours | James Torbitt


CD’s letter has not been found, but see the letter from James Torbitt, 7 April 1876 and n. 4. Torbitt wanted to publish CD’s letter to him of 26 January 1876.
This is a paraphrase from the letter to James Torbitt, 4 April 1876, which CD had permitted Torbitt to publish (see telegram to James Torbitt, 6 April 1876).
The letter from David Thomas Ansted has not been found, but CD returned it to Torbitt with his letter of 14 April 1876.
Torbitt refers to James Hamilton, lord lieutenant of Ireland, and George Granville William Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, third duke of Sutherland. Hamilton’s aide-de-camp has not been identified. Torbitt probably sent a copy of CD’s letter to him of 4 April 1876. The title page of Torbitt 1876 records that Torbitt sent this ‘Treatise on the cultivation of the potato’ to members of the House of Lords, House of Commons, and the principal landlords of Ulster.


Torbitt, James. 1876. Cras credemus. A treatise on the cultivation of the potato from the seed, having for proposed results the extinction of the disease, and a yield of thirty, forty or more tons of tubers per statute acre. (Sent, accompanied by a packet of seed, to each member of the House of Lords; each member of the House of Commons; and the principal landlords of Ulster.) Belfast: printed by Alexander Mayne.


JT still thinks CD’s opinions on "what is an individual?" should be published.

Seeking financial backing for his research.

Letter details

Letter no.
James Torbitt
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 178: 132
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10448,” accessed on 8 August 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24