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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [3 or 4 March 1878]1

4. Bryanston St.

(Return home early on Tuesday M.2

My dear Hooker

Many thanks for your kind note, which answers perfectly for my purpose.—3 I have had interview with Mr Caird, who has been most energetic & kind.— Agricultural Soc. is no good for several reasons, amongst others that Mr. Carruthers thinks any such attempt hopeless.— Mr Caird will see with Farrer whether any small grant can be obtained, but for all that I can hear it is almost hopeless.4 If I had thought to get up a memorial with 4 or 5 good signatures it could, I believe, be done, but I have not strength. With my 100£ Mr Torbitt says he will go on for another year & then he hopes to have money himself to go on.—5 He instantly telegraphed seeds shall be sown tomorrow!6 I will advise him how to proceed.— I daresay he made a fool of himself at Belfast.7 I have often called him “that enthusiastic old fool”—not that I know whether he is old— & now that I am joined people may speak of “that pair of old enthusiastic fools”.—

I have been suffering from constant attacks of swimming of the head which makes life an intolerable burthen & stops all work— Dr. Clark8 has put me on a dry diet & I would have given a guinea yesterday for a wine-glass of water

My dear old friend | Ever yours | C. Darwin


The date is established by the reference to Caird’s visit (see n. 4, below), and by CD’s return to Down on 5 March (see n. 2, below).
CD stayed with his daughter and son-in-law, Henrietta Emma and Richard Buckley Litchfield, from 27 February to 5 March 1878 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 2 March 1878. CD was trying to raise support for James Torbitt’s breeding experiments on blight-resistant potatoes (see letters to J. D. Hooker, 28 [February 1878] and [1 March 1878]).
CD met with James Caird on 3 March 1878 (letter to James Torbitt, 4 March 1878). Caird was a member of the Royal Agricultural Society of England and William Carruthers was botanist to the society. CD had also sought support for Torbitt’s experiments from Thomas Henry Farrer (see letters to T. H. Farrer, [28 February 1878] and 2 March 1878).
On financial support for the potato experiments, see the letter from James Torbitt, 28 February 1878 and the letter to James Torbitt, 1 March 1878.
Torbitt’s telegram has not been found; see, however, the letter from James Torbitt, 6 March 1878.
CD saw his physician Andrew Clark during his stay in London (letter to Sara Darwin, [1 March 1878]).


His attempts to obtain a Government grant for Torbitt seem hopeless.

CD is suffering from constant swimming of the head.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
London, Bryanston St, 4
Source of text
DAR 95: 453–4
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11390,” accessed on 9 February 2023,