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Darwin Correspondence Project

From James Torbitt   28 February 1878

58. North Street. | Belfast.

28 Feby. 1878

Ch. Darwin Esqre. | 4 Bryanston St. | London.

Dear Sir.

Confirming my telegram of today—“No money wanted for past labours, Grant in aid requisite if experiments are to be continued this season”. I beg leave to acknowledge receipt of your valued letter of 26th. inst and to tender my best thanks for liberty to publish your opinion1

I have sent copies of my letter to Mr. Farrer and Sir. J. Hooker marked as directed—2

I am prepared to continue the experiments if aided no matter how slightly— Anything from a hundred pounds up would do.3 I was prepared to spend £500 a year myself on the subject but the present state of trade disables me, In fact I have had to ask for some assistance from my friends which has been freely accorded, but on this condition that I spend no more money on the potato. I have been thinking of distributing the new varieties through Carter4 or others but they weigh only a ton or two as yet, and it would only be a drop of water to the ocean.

My clear belief is that each particular cross-fertilized seed which I possess should be utilized this Spring.— Should be grown each seed in a pot by itself, and I think they would repay the cost ten thousand fold— but in any case I shall only be too happy to be governed by your advice in every way—

My motives in prosecuting the subject seem to me to have been mixed partly selfish partly patriotic—

I am very sorry indeed to learn that you are so unwell and very gratified by your suggested offer of private assistance—5

Believe me dear Sir. | With the greatest respect. | Very faithfully yours. | James Torbitt.


The telegram has not been found but CD must have received it by the time he wrote to Joseph Dalton Hooker on 28 [February 1878], since he told Hooker that Torbitt did not want money for past labours. For CD’s questions about Torbitt’s potato-cultivation scheme and his permission to publish extracts from his letters, see the letter to James Torbitt, 26 February 1878.
Thomas Henry Farrer and Joseph Dalton Hooker; see letter to James Torbitt, 26 February 1878 and n. 2.
In his letter of 26 February 1878, CD had asked whether Torbitt would continue his potato experiments if aided by a grant of money.
James Carter & Company; see letter to James Torbitt, 26 February 1878 and n. 4.
CD had mentioned his illness and suggested a subscription of friends of the cause to further the potato work (letter to James Torbitt, 26 February 1878).


Thanks for letter. Prepared to continue experiments if aided. Thinks of distributing new [potato] varieties. Believes seeds should be planted this spring.

Letter details

Letter no.
James Torbitt
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 144: 484
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11382,” accessed on 3 March 2021,