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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Farrer   9 March 1880


My dear Farrer—

Once again I thank you heartily & I hope that you will give my true thanks to Mr Caird.1

It seems to me that Hooker & Mr Caird hardly understand the scale on which Mr Torbitt works when they say that 100 wd be sufficient; in which success of his scheme depends on his raising annually many thousand [illeg] seedlings: I have been informed not by Mr T. only that he has 10 acres of land full of varieties, & that he devotes the whole of a greenhouse to propag forward the best seedlings which are first started in flower-pots.— The labour of harvesting separating labelling examining &c [illeg], saving the seed &c & keeping an account of all the varieties must be immense. I ⁠⟨⁠have⁠⟩⁠ now got with your cheque for £85  170£, which I think will be ample.2 Though it appears to me useless to write to the Times,. [nevertheless], as soon as I receive an answer to some queries sent to Mr Torbitt, I will draw up a letter, such as I had thought of writing to the Times, & will send 2 or more copies to you & Mr Caird so that his [generous] coadjutor may understand Mr Torbitts plan & see what he has done & why I think favourably of the scheme.— I can keep the letter to the Times in reserve, if next year it shd still appear to me desirable that Mr T. shd continue his work.3 Anyhow neither you nor Mr Caird shall be again troubled with the subject.—

I am, however, perplexed, as Mr Caird’s writes “I dont think the 100£ shd be given to the experimenter unless he can show good reason.” I will not now not send your cheque of £85 until Mr Caird & you have read what I will write to the Times & you can then decide whether I shall return the cheque to you

I have from yourself brother & Huxley 85 £.—4

Yours sincerely

March 9th 1880 | To T. H. Farrer


See first letter from T. H. Farrer, 8 March 1880, and second letter from T. H. Farrer, 8 March 1880. James Caird had been collecting subscriptions to enable James Torbitt to continue his blight-resistant potato research.
Joseph Dalton Hooker and Caird thought that £100 would be enough for Torbitt’s research and wanted Torbitt to write a precise progress report before he received more; see letter from T. H. Farrer, 6 March 1880. CD had raised an additional £85 making a total of £170 (see letters to James Torbitt, 6 March 1880 and 6 March [1880]).
In his letter to Farrer of 7 [March 1880], CD had suggested writing to The Times to invite further subscriptions to Torbitt’s fund. For CD’s queries to Torbitt, see the letter to James Torbitt, 6 March [1880].


Thanks THF for his contribution; now has £170 to permit Torbitt to carry on his experiments. Describes the scale of the experiments and his belief in their value.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 202: 46
Physical description
ADraft 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12528,” accessed on 20 September 2023,