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Darwin Correspondence Project

To James Torbitt   6 March 1880

Down, [6 Queen Anne Street, London.]

March 6, 1880.

My dear Sir

Your letter of the 5th received.1 I have been doing all that I can in your affair. Mr Farrer met Mr. Caird and Sir J. Hooker yesterday, and they are all convinced that it will be hopeless to apply to the Government.2 Mr. Caird says he will guarantee £75, and Mr. Farrer £25 and this with the enclosed cheque for £50 will permit you to go on in your experiments on a limited scale, to the amount of £150.3 The gentlemen above named are strongly of opinion, that you ought next autumn to get some one or two agriculturists of independent position and character to examine your experimental ground and the tubers when dug up and make a brief Report on the state and result of your experiments. They think if this were published and it were favourable, you might obtain further assistance. Otherwise I doubt whether you will be able. You know my firm conviction is that you are on the right road whether or not you are as yet fully successful.

On further reflexion I should not like to apply to Ld. Derby,4 and as far as my advice is worth anything I would recommend you to do the best with £150.

I wish I could have helped you more and remain | My dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | Ch. Darwin.


Letters from James Torbitt, 5 March 1880.
Thomas Henry Farrer, James Caird, and Joseph Dalton Hooker; see letter from T. H. Farrer, 6 March 1880. CD had been trying to help Torbitt obtain a government grant for his blight-resistant potato breeding scheme; see letter to James Torbitt, 4 March 1880.
Under the heading ‘Gifts and annual subscriptions’, CD recorded a payment of £50 to Torbitt on 6 March 1880 (CD’s Classed account books (Down House MS)).


Encloses check [cheque!?] for £50. James Caird will guarantee £75 and T. H. Farrer £25. Above gentlemen think JT should get report on his experiments from independent agriculturists.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Torbitt
Sent from
London, Queen Anne St, 6 Down letterhead
Source of text
DAR 148: 112
Physical description
C 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12520,” accessed on 2 October 2023,