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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Farrer   3 April 1875

Abinger Hall, | Wotton. Surrey

3 April/75

My dear Mr Darwin

Payne says that it is now too late to strike new cuttings of the vine.1 But he has already three or four which will in three weeks time be rooted & hardened off. & be fit for sending   If therefore he (or I) does not hear from you again the little plants shall be packed in a box in about 3 weeks & sent to Dunskeith.2 I suppose the address does for parcels as well as for the post

We have had Belt here to meet Huxley—3 a very pleasant modest man & interesting to talk to. He is much moved about the denudation of the Weald—and writes to me at length on the difficulty of knowing what has become of all the flints if the chalk has been removed from our valley by mere rain water.4

Our party of wise men was very pleasant and Mrs Grote says Effie is fit to manage a Theatre from the tact she shewed in getting a pretty girl Miss Ritchie for the philosophers to talk to5

Sincerely yours | T H Farrer

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Vines Ready’ pencil


George Payne was the gardener at Abinger Hall in Surrey.
George John Romanes was undertaking grafting experiments for CD (see letter from G. J. Romanes, 14 January 1875). Romanes spent his summers at Dunskaith House, Nigg, Scotland (E. D. Romanes 1896, p. 14).
In support of his argument that there had been enough time to allow for change through natural selection, CD, in Origin, p. 287, estimated the denudation of the Weald of south-eastern England to have occurred over 300 million years. Criticisms led him to halve the time period in the second edition (p. 287) and remove the entire discussion from the third edition. CD later remarked on the gradual decomposition of flints by atmospheric agencies in Earthworms, p. 245 n. See also letter from Thomas Belt, 3 April 1875.
Harriet Grote was the widow of the historian George Grote, and edited his collected works. Effie: Katherine Euphemia Farrer, Farrer’s wife. ‘Miss Ritchie’ was probably Emily Marion Ritchie.


Earthworms: The formation of vegetable mould through the action of worms: with observations on their habits. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1881.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Romanes, Ethel Duncan. 1896. The life and letters of George John Romanes M.A., LL.D., F.R.S. London, New York, and Bombay: Longmans, Green, and Co.


Payne will send vine cuttings.

Thomas Belt has been visiting; they are to meet Huxley.

He is moved by denudation of the Weald.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st baronet and 1st Baron Farrer
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Abinger Hall
Source of text
DAR 164: 78
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9913,” accessed on 17 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23