Impressed by CD's theory [of earthworm action].
23, Moray Place Edinbr
My Dear Sir
Your letter with its interesting accompaniment, having gone round by Kinblethmont, & been detained there, has but just reached me.
Mr Darwin's theory is I think, quite correct. I have observed
much to confirm, and nothing to make it questionable. Independent of the geological
deductions, to be derived from it, the discovery, may do much in an economical sense.
Our farmers are persuaded, (universally) that lime has a tendency to leek
downwards, observing, that in unstirred pasture fields, I suppose, that it did so
apparently, they argued that, à fortiori it would have a still greater
propensity to do so, in their ploughed fields, and they put off applying their lime to
the very last operation previous to laying down, thus, losing much of the advantages to
be derived from a thorough intermixture. When I laid lime on an oatstubble in autumn
some years ago, and ploughed it down, (thus bringing it into immediate contact, for a
considerable time, with the dead vegetable, and securing besides the thorough mixing,
through the means of all the subsequent operations of fallow,) I was considered to have
committed a great fault, in consequence of this prejudice, but the result was eminently
successful—and the practice partially followed; by means of Mr
Darwin's observation I think the prejudice will be entirely
removed— In terring our quarries, I have frequently observed worms in their
holes 7 to 8 feet below the surface where the black earth was about 2.
ft. and the remainder strong tilly clay. in the latter they seldom seemed to proceed
straight to the utmost depth, but by
I think I sent you a second specimen of the Cherubim being a broken bit of the wing, I think we have a third but tho’ very small, still a bit of the turtles neck shield as we have found nothing of the large remaining part of his body, I am afraid on the doctrine of chances Agassiz supposition can hardly be right. Tho’ not inattentive we have got nothing more, but we are going to work on a larger scale & in various localities this summer and I hope to have something of interest to send you— The sections made by our railroad are interesting I hope you will come and inspect them, making Kinblethmont yr headquarters. The line will be partially open in June and entirely so from Forfar to Dundee by September
We are here all well, for the winter, very glad to have escaped the snowing up at home—
Lady Jane begs to be very kindly remembered to
Mrs Lyell & yr
Yrs truly | W F Lindsay Carnegie
- f1 402.f1CD incorporated information from this letter in a note, dated June 1838, which he added to the version of his paper ‘On the formation of mould’ printed in Transactions of the Geological Society (Collected papers 1: 53 n. 3). Lindsay-Carnegie's observations were cited again by CD forty years later, in Earthworms.
- f2 402.f2Kinblethmont, near Abroath, Forfarshire, was the seat of Lindsay-Carnegie.
- f3 402.f3Lady Jane Christian Lindsay-Carnegie, daughter of the 7th Earl of Northesk, wife of Lindsay-Carnegie.