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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   2 January [1881]1

11, Bryanston Square. | W.

2 January/80

My dear Mr Darwin

I have forwarded your note and papers to Caird; and have no doubt he will agree with me in thinking that it would be worse than idle to return money to the subscribers which they meant to be devoted to a promising experiment, not yet concluded. If so I hope you will keep the money for Mr Torbitt.2 I should much like to try some of Mr T’s varieties at Abinger. Would he send me some addressed to Payne3—Abinger Hall Gomshall Station at what he thinks a perfectly remunerative price. But why should I trouble you with this. I can write myself & will do so

I have been meaning to write to you about your last book which you were so good as to send me, but delayed doing so till I had finished it—4 And now Bankruptcy & I know not what more has intervened and when it will be finished who knows.5 But I cannot act on your advice and be satisfied with the last chapter. Pemmican will not digest properly.6 It is hardly possible to follow every experiment (how many are there!)—but I find that some must be followed in order to make general results stick in the mind.

I am no judge but these results strike me as most important & most interesting

Sincerely yours | T H Farrer

CD annotations

1.2 Would … price. 1.7] double scored pencil


The year is established by the relationship between this letter, the letter to T. H. Farrer, 30 December 1880 (Correspondence vol. 28), and the letter from James Caird, 3 January 1881. Farrer evidently wrote ‘1880’ in error.
CD had sent Farrer a report of James Torbitt’s experiments in breeding a blight-resistant variety of potato, and a statement of Torbitt’s expenses (see Correspondence vol. 28, letter to T. H. Farrer, 30 December 1880). CD, Farrer, and James Caird had all contributed to a subscription to support Torbitt’s work (see ibid., letter to James Torbitt, 6 March 1880).
George Payne was the gardener at Abinger Hall.
Movement in plants was published in November 1880; Farrer’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for the book (Correspondence vol. 28, Appendix IV).
In 1881, the president of the Board of Trade, Joseph Chamberlain, submitted a bill to the House of Commons to reform bankruptcy law; a new Bankruptcy Act was passed in 1883 (EB).
CD had suggested to others that they read only the introduction and last chapter of Movement in plants (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 28, letter to A. R. Wallace, 3 November 1880). Pemmican: dried lean meat ground into a coarse powder.


EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.

Movement in plants: The power of movement in plants. By Charles Darwin. Assisted by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1880.


Concerning subscriptions raised for Torbitt’s experiments on potato disease.

Comments on CD’s latest book [Movement in plants].

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Bryanston Square, 11
Source of text
DAR 164: 96
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12395,” accessed on 2 March 2024,