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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Farrer   23 October 1879

Down | Beckenham Kent

Oct 23— 1879.

My dear Farrer.

I should like you to read the 2 letters in Newspapers sent, which will not take more than 5 minutes & they need not be returned.1 I do so because you were so kind as formerly to aid me on the subject— The letters are written by men who do not understand Mr. Torbitt’s main Principle of Selection but they show fairly favourable results considering what a dreadful season this has been for the Potato.2

I heard from Mr. Torbitt about 2 months ago in much distress as his wife had just been operated on for cancer. He says trade was so bad he feared he should be ruined, but he would go on as long as he could with his experiments—3 Unless he is aided I fear all his work will be thrown away but he asks for nothing— What a pity there cannot be 2 sets of men in our Government,— one to do all the miserable squabbling & the other to attend to the real interests of the country.

Ever yours sincerely, | Ch. Darwin.


The two letters have not been identified.
Torbitt and CD had corresponded since 1876 about Torbitt’s efforts to produce a blight-resistant potato by crossing the most successful varieties (see Correspondence vols. 24–6). In 1878, CD had sought Farrer’s support to secure a government grant for the work (see Correspondence vol. 26).


Forwards newspaper reports by growers of Torbitt’s potatoes. Torbitt is in much distress and CD fears all his work will be thrown away unless he is aided.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 144: 97
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12268,” accessed on 6 February 2023,