RECORD: Darwin, C. R. 1878. [Extracts of letters on potato cultivation.] In Torbitt, James, Cultivation of the Potato. To the Right Hon. Sir Stafford H. Northcote Bart., C.B., Chancellor of the Exchequer, &c., London. [Belfast: privately printed single sheet].

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed and edited by John van Wyhe 11.2007. RN1

NOTE: See record in the Freeman Bibliographical Database, enter its Identifier here. The image is reproduced with the permission of Cambridge University Library.


As to the question of the probability of a continuance of their comparative immunity from disease for some years forward, Mr. Darwin, writing on the 14th April, 1876, does me the high honour to say that "the more I reflect on your scheme the more I believe it is the one plan for succeeding in getting a sound variety;" and again on 30th July, 1877, he permits me to say "that my plan—namely, the preservation during successive generations of those seedling plants, all the tubers of which are sound, and the destruction of all other plants, in conjunction with cross-fertilization—is in his opinion by far the most likely method by which to obtain a sound variety;" and that "I have his best wishes that I may have the satisfaction of conferring a great benefit on the world."1

1 See Darwin to Torbitt 30 July 1877 where this wording was suggested by Darwin, Calendar 11081. Torbitt had this letter printed in the hope of acquiring funding to support his work. Only the passage containing the quotations from Darwin are transcribed here, the remainder of the item can be seen in the image view. See also Darwin 1876 and Darwin 1879.

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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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