skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Charles Voysey   27 July 1869

Healaugh Vicarage | Tadcaster

July 27. 1869


I have been reading with intense interest & pleasure your new work on Variation &c   I little expected to have any fact drawn from my personal observation worthy of your notice, until I came to page 314 (Chap. XXIV), where you remark of the potato that it is probably as “tender in England as when first introduced”.—1

I have a partially sheltered garden, but not sufficiently so to have shielded my early potatoes in the Spring of 1865 & 1866—in which great damage was done to a crop of Lunn Kidneys out of Leicestershire.

The crop of 1865 was remarkably weak & lanky owing to premature budding in the previous autumn. But I had an idea that the plants might be strengthened by invariable selection of the largest & soundest tubers & by richer tillage of the soil. Less & less damage has been done every succeeding year by frost; for the last two years I have not had one plant destroyed, and this year, in sheltered & unsheltered parts of my garden alike, I have not had even a single blistered leaf.

To give further value to this fact, I must add that my potatoes were out of ground a full month before those of my neighbours, and it is the wonder of the district that while repeated severe frosts injured later crops in all directions, mine wholly escaped. The stems were splendid both in thickness & height (2 ft. 3 to 2 ft. 8) & the produce has been magnificent.—

I am perhaps not hasty in inferring that the largest tubers will furnish the least tender plants, provided the land be in rich culture.—

I am Sir | very faithfully Yrs. | Charles Voysey

Charles Darwin Esqre.

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Acclimatisation by selection’ pencil


In Variation 2: 313–14, CD had argued that attempts at acclimatisation would only succeed if plants were propagated by seed and if hardier individuals were preserved.


Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Acclimatisation of potatoes by selection.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Voysey
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 180: 16
Physical description
5pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6843,” accessed on 5 April 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17