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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   6 March 1880

M. T. Hotel

6 March/80

My dear Mr Darwin

I saw both Caird and Hooker yesterday—1 Both think it useless to approach the Govt—especially as they are buying at great expense “Champion” potatoes to send as seed to Ireland, which Caird says—have proved good.2

Both too think that Mr Torbitt, should now make—or still better—get some one else to make some precise report on what he has done shewing what progress he has made— Further they think that £100 would be enough to give at present— This there would be no difficulty in procuring; for Caird says he will make himself responsible for £75 and I will gladly add £25. Will this enable you to say anything encouraging to Mr Torbitt.— Would not a careful report of what he has done and its success in the form of a letter to Nature or to one of the Agricultural papers be useful. If accompanied by a few lines from you it would be sure to attract attention: and if he has any good potatoes to sell as seed, it would bring them forward.

Ever yrs sincerely | T H Farrer


James Caird and Joseph Dalton Hooker. CD was trying to help James Torbitt obtain funding for his blight-resistant potato breeding scheme; see letter to James Torbitt, 4 March 1880.
Torbitt remarked that the Champion variety was increasingly susceptible to disease (see letter from James Torbitt, 12 February 1880). Champion’s blight resistance did decline after a few decades (Salaman 1926, pp. 117 and 231–2).


Salaman, Redcliffe Nathan. 1926. Potato varieties. Cambridge: University Press.


Suggests Torbitt make a report on his progress so far.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
M arshall T hompson’s Hotel
Source of text
DAR 164: 97
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12522,” accessed on 29 January 2023,