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Letter 13547

Tanner, M. W. to Darwin, C. R.

12 Dec 1881


Earthworms appear on surface after a heavy storm.


Providence Villa | Ventnor   I. of Wight

12th. Decbr. 1881

Dear Sir,

I have just read, with very great pleasure, your book on “VegetableMould & Earth-Worms”. In connection with the large quantity of wormsthat live in a given space I think the following incident may interestyou.

Late in the summer of 1872, towards dusk, after a very violent storm ofrain, I noticed a peculiar appearance in my Garden, at Blackheath; and ongoing out I found the ground covered with earthworms. I may say withoutexaggeration that a net-work of these creatures covered the lawn, gravelpaths & flower-beds, over an area of 80 feet by 30. It was impossibleto walk without treading on a great many, and all were lying motionless, withthe posterior ends in their burrows, with the exception of those thatquickly retreated on perceiving the vibration of our footsteps.The garden sloped slightly from the house, and the worms were morenumerous at the higher part, diminishing towards the lower level. Theyremained till it was too dark for us to see them: by the morning allhad disappeared. The same thing was repeated after another storm, afew weeks later, only on a smaller scale; and never occurred againduring the three years I remained at Blackheath.

I worked constantly in my garden, so that had there been evidenceof a large quantity of worms I must have noticed it; on the contrary,I should say that the castings were under the average, and thenumber of buried leaves small.

Believe me, dear Sir, | faithfully yrs. | Mary W. Tanner

DAR 178: 51


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