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Darwin Correspondence Project

To James Torbitt   12 March [1880]1


March 12,

My dear Sir

Your MS. just received.2 I have had a couple of sentences copied just for the sake of asking you whether the figure “75’s.” (scored with red) is not an erratum for 77’s., for on the next and last page you describe how much more luxuriantly the 77’s appeared than the 75’s. When you speak of the 75’s having undergone 4 years selection and the 77’s only 2 years selection, I suppose that you refer to selection of the tubers and not to successive generations by seeds.

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The copyist wrote the date as ‘March 12, 1880’, but someone, probably Francis Darwin, bracketed ‘1880’ in pencil; this probably means that 1880 was not in the original text but is nevertheless correct.
Torbitt was preparing a report on his potato-breeding experiments in response to CD’s queries (see letter from James Torbitt, 12 March 1880). Torbitt evidently sent part of the report before completing it; see letter to James Torbitt, 17 March [1880]. For CD’s queries, see the letter to James Torbitt, 6 March [1880], and the postcard to James Torbitt, 11 March [1880]. Torbitt had been carrying out his experiments since 1873 and corresponding with CD about them from 1876 (see Torbitt 1876 and Correspondence vol. 24). Torbitt’s manuscript was returned to him; see letter to James Torbitt, 28 March 1880.


Torbitt, James. 1876. Cras credemus. A treatise on the cultivation of the potato from the seed, having for proposed results the extinction of the disease, and a yield of thirty, forty or more tons of tubers per statute acre. (Sent, accompanied by a packet of seed, to each member of the House of Lords; each member of the House of Commons; and the principal landlords of Ulster.) Belfast: printed by Alexander Mayne.


Asks about possible erratum in JT’s account of experiments.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Torbitt
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 148: 115
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12535,” accessed on 9 June 2023,