skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To James Torbitt   4 March 1880


Thursday, | March 4, 1880


My dear Sir

Telegram received last night.1 I am starting for London immediately, and will see Mr Farrer this afternoon. Mr. F. was here the other day and told me he could not get Ld. Sandon to do anything.2 He always promises that he will at once attend to the subject and then does nothing! Mr. Farrer spoke of subscription and discussing the subject with Mr. Caird.3 I will now tell Farrer that something must be done at once if ever. As soon as ever I can get anything settled definitely, you shall hear. I suppose you would not plant for a month. I have told Farrer I would subscribe £50.4 Possibly I could influence Ld. Derby.5 But I have not strength for much exertion. Unless Farrer & Caird will take up the subject in earnest the whole affair will be a failure and in my opinion a disgrace to the country. Farrer suspects that Ld. Sandon has lost all my long letters on the subject!6 My address, if you have anything to communicate (it is no use telegraphing) will be till early on next Monday morning “6 Queen Anne St. Cavendish Sq.

In Haste | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin.


CD stayed at his brother Erasmus Alvey Darwin’s house at 6 Queen Anne Street, London, from 4 to 8 March 1880; he called on Thomas Henry Farrer on 4 March (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). An earlier meeting with Farrer is not recorded. Farrer had been communicating with Dudley Francis Stuart Ryder (Viscount Sandon), minister for the Board of Trade, about securing government aid for Torbitt to continue his experiments to breed blight-resistant potatoes (see Correspondence vol. 27, letter to James Torbitt, 17 November 1879, and this volume, letter to T. H. Farrer, 14 February 1880).
CD had written several drafts of a long letter of support for Torbitt (see Correspondence vol. 26, letter to T. H. Farrer, 7 March 1878, enclosure. Further materials were communicated to Viscount Sandon through Farrer in November and December 1879; see Correspondence vol. 27, letter from T. H. Farrer, 2 November 1879, and letter to James Torbitt, 17 November 1879.


Going to London today to speak to T. H. Farrer about funds for potato breeding experiments. "I have told Farrer I would subscribe £50."

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Torbitt
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 148: 111
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12511,” accessed on 29 September 2023,