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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. C. Ramsay   3 January 1872


3 Jany 1872

My dear Mr Darwin

There are 4 stones down the midle 16 inches square.

3 at the sides 18 in x 8, 1, 12 x 8 in

1, 17 x 2 in, 1, 18 x 14 in 2 24 x 14 in

besides the 2 sides & top & bottom of the paved space, each 7 ft 2 by 3 ft 2.

But perhaps the best mode of estimate is as follows. I measured all the lines of the junction of the stones with the walls that bound the pavement, & of the stones with each other. The result is 39 feet 2 inches of narrow interspaces through which worms could come to the surface taking the whole 7 ft 2 in by 3 ft 2 in into account.1

I am sorry I have delayed a little & hope I am not too late for you. Daylight at this time of the year is rather scarce with me at home except on Sundays & Sir John Lubbocks holidays.2

Yours very sincerely | Andw C Ramsay


Ramsay describes a pavement running from his house to his garden; the pavement had subsided apparently as a result of the action of earthworms (see Earthworms, pp. 192–3, and Correspondence vol. 19, letter to A. C. Ramsay, 21 December [1871], and letter from A. C. Ramsay, 27 December 1871). Ramsay lived at 29 Upper Phillimore Place, Kensington (Post Office London directory 1871).
John Lubbock had drafted the Bank Holiday Bill, which was passed in 1871 (ODNB).


Further details and measurements of the stones in the courtyard pavement for CD’s investigation of earthworm action.

Letter details

Letter no.
Andrew Crombie Ramsay
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 18
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8141,” accessed on 19 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20