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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [1 March 1878]1

Bryanston Street, | Portman Square. W.


My dear Hooker

Should you think favourably of Mr Torbitt’s efforts after reading his printed letter, will you send me a short note which I may make use of, by shewing it to the D. of Richmond or any other person whom Farrer may advise.2

Please observe I shall not be the least surprized if you think the attempt hopeless. Farrer has shewn the printed letter to Caird who takes it up warmly & hopes to persuade the Agricult. Soc—to continue the trial.3 But I am convinced that paternal care is requisite for such experiments. Mr T— raises each seedling in a separate pot. I have ensured his continuing the experiment for this year by offering £100, which he says will be sufficient, that is unless he can get Govt aid—4

yours affectly | C. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from T. H. Farrer, 28 February 1878. In 1878, the Friday following 28 February was 1 March.
James Torbitt had written to Stafford Northcote, the chancellor of the Exchequer, requesting assistance for his experiments on the breeding of blight-resistant potatoes; he sent a copy of the letter to CD, who suggested that additional copies be sent to Hooker and Thomas Henry Farrer (see letter from James Torbitt, 24 February 1878 and enclosure, letter to James Torbitt, 26 February 1878, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 28 [February 1878]). Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, the duke of Richmond, was president of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (ODNB).


ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


CD again asks JDH to support Torbitt’s project to breed disease-resistant potatoes. He has also sought support of Farrer, Duke of Richmond, and James Caird.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
London, Bryanston St, 4
Source of text
DAR 95: 451–2
Physical description
LS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11386,” accessed on 19 May 2024,