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Darwin Correspondence Project

To James Torbitt   [5] January 18811


Jan. 1, 1881.

My dear Sir

I have now heard from Mr. Farrer and Caird. They both express “great interest” in your Report, and in the extracts from your two last letters, which I sent them. They instruct me to hold the £90 for your use till coming Spring, and you may draw the part or the whole as you may think adviseable.2 This has deeply rejoiced me, for now, you will, I hope, feel easy about your experiments, which I shall always consider of great value, this Spring. I have said £90, but I have not yet heard from Mr.. H. Wedgwood, but as he subscribed only £5, it does not much signify what he may decide.3 You were so kind as to offer some seedlings to the subscribers. Mr. Farrer tells me that he has written or will write to you on this head.4 In a letter just received from Mr. Caird, he says that he would be much obliged if you would send some addressed to his gardener: “Mr. John Murray, Gardener, Cassencary, Creetown, N.B.” Mr. Caird says communication between Belfast and Creetown in Kirkenbrightshire is easy.5 Mr. C. particularly desires that distinct varieties should be labelled and distinguished, as he will have them carefully propagated and reported on

If you could send some to me (addressed to Orpington St) I would do my best with them through my gardener.6

I do sincerely hope that this account of what Mr. Farrer and Caird think and have done about the subscriptions will please you and relieve you of some anxiety.

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin.


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from James Torbitt, 10 March 1881. The letter was evidently misdated by the copyist.
See letter from T. H. Farrer, 2 January [1881], and letter from James Caird, 3 January 1881. CD had sent Thomas Henry Farrer a report of Torbitt’s experiments in breeding a blight-resistant variety of potato, a statement of Torbitt’s expenses, and extracts from two letters (see Correspondence vol. 28, letter to T. H. Farrer, 30 December 1880 and n. 2); Farrer forwarded the documents to James Caird. Farrer and Caird had contributed to a subscription to support Torbitt’s work (see ibid., letter to James Torbitt, 6 March 1880).
Hensleigh Wedgwood had originally agreed to subscribe £10 (see Correspondence vol. 28, letter to James Torbitt, 6 March [1880]).
CD’s head gardener in 1880, William Duguid, was dismissed; CD apparently reinstated his previous gardener, Henry Lettington (F. Darwin 1920a, pp. 57–8).


Darwin, Francis. 1920a. Springtime and other essays. London: John Murray.


T. H. Farrer and James Caird express great interest in JT’s report. Have instructed CD to hold £90 for use by JT in spring. Caird asks that potatoes be sent to his gardener for trials.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Torbitt
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 148: 127
Physical description
C 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12966,” accessed on 27 February 2024,