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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Farrer   [28 February 1878] 1

4, Bryanston St.

Thursday Evening.

My dear Farrer.

I was extremely glad to get your note.2 You & Mr Caird will, I think, do a good dead, if you can get the Agricul. Socy, to sow & rear, one good parcel of the cross fertilised seeds from the already partially selected parents, & I cannot doubt that Mr Torbitt will gladly give seeds & tubers to the Agricultl. Soc.—3 This Soc would also be a most excellent channel for the distribution of any variety fungus proof or nearly fungus proof— On the other hand I know how laborious & wearisome the work would be and I cannot avoid the doubt, whether the trial would be energetically carried on without paternal care. It is astonishing how few persons have patience for long continued experimental work— Therefore I still think if it were possible to get a grant of a few hundred pounds it would be money well spent to permit Mr. Torbitt to carry on the work for a year or two longer in addition to the work carried on by the Agricultural Society. But, I shall be able to judge better when I hear from him.— I have asked him expressly what sum he would require—4 If he is half inclined to go on for another year without aid, I will offer him 100£ from myself; so promising do I think the experiment.

With hearty thanks for your excellent assistance.

Yours very sincerely. | Ch. Darwin.


The date is established by the relationship between this letter, the letter from T. H. Farrer, 28 February 1878, and the letter to James Torbitt, 1 March 1878. In 1878, the Thursday before 1 March was 28 February.
James Caird was a prominent member of the Royal Agricultural Society (ONDB). James Torbitt had requested government aid for his experiments on the breeding of disease-resistant potatoes (see letter from James Torbitt, 24 February 1878 and enclosure). The Royal Agricultural Society set up an experimental station at Woburn in 1876, but it did not carry out experiments on potatoes until 1892 (E. J. Russell and Voelcker 1936, p. 80).


THF would do a good deal if he gets Agricultural Society to rear cross-fertilised seeds. Society excellent channel for distribution of fungus-proof variety [of potato]. If James Torbitt will carry on work another year, CD will offer him £100.

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: 87
Physical description
C 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11388,” accessed on 12 September 2023,