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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Horace Darwin   1 November [1877]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Nov. 1

My dear Horace

I have had a very civil letter from the son of Ld Eldon’s agent, but it is clear he has got no information worth anything, but says he will observe again.—

He tells me that at Cirencester there is a Roman pavement, exposed 50 years ago, & that this is not level, & this is a point about which I am curious.—2 Thinking over whole case, it seems to me that it wd be very desirable for my work, that you shd. inspect Chedworth in the big woods & Cirencester.3 You wd have to go to the latter to visit Chedworth.— Will it interfere seriously with your Cambridge plans, for if so I shd. not at all like you to go?— Frank says he shd. like to go with you. I cd afterwards tell you the several points— A whole day at Chedworth or rather at Foss Bridge4 would suffice, & 12 day at Cirencester. I have asked Mr Hall to give me letter of introduction for you to person in charge. The job wd be to get a labourer, & I shd like one hole dug beneath foundations of one of the old walls to a depth of 1 foot or 18 inches.—

I hope that your water-works progress well.—5

Pick the surgeon was here yesterday & say Lennys knee is going on as well as possible6 —No inflammation.— & that in a fortnights time he is with knee-caps on to try a kind of walking first with 2 crutches & then with one.— By next summer he thinks knee will be quite strong.—

Fairly good account today of Litchfield—7

Your affect Father | C. Darwin


The year is established from a reference in Earthworms, p. 198, to Horace and Francis Darwin’s visit to the Roman villa at Chedworth, Gloucestershire, in November 1877.
The agent of John Scott (Lord Eldon) and his son have not been identified, although their surname was presumably Hall (see below in the letter). The letter from the agent’s son has not been found. CD did not mention the pavement at Cirencester, Gloucestershire, in Earthworms, but it may have been the one at Barton Farm, Cirencester (see Sewell and Powell 1910). See also letter from T. H. Farrer, 5 September 1877 and n. 1.
CD gave an account of Horace and Francis’s findings at Chedworth in Earthworms, pp. 197–9.
Fossebridge is the location of an inn near Chedworth.
Earlier in the year, Horace had been working on the waterworks at Brighton (letter from Horace Darwin to Emma Darwin, [February 1877?] (DAR 258: 817)).
Leonard Darwin had hurt his knee playing lawn tennis (letter from Emma Darwin to H. E. Litchfield, [23 September 1877] (DAR 219.9: 159)). Pick the surgeon: Thomas Pickering Pick, assistant surgeon at St George’s Hospital, London.
The letter has not been found. Richard Buckley Litchfield, CD’s son-in-law, had been taken ill with appendicitis in Switzerland in September; he and CD’s daughter Henrietta Emma Litchfield returned to England on 8 November (letter from Emma Darwin to H. E. Litchfield, [13 September 1877] (DAR 219.9: 155), postcard from H. E. Litchfield to G. H. Darwin, [8 November 1877] (DAR 245: 314), Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 227).


Earthworms: The formation of vegetable mould through the action of worms: with observations on their habits. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1881.

Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.


Wants HD to observe earthworm activity at Roman antiquities of Chedworth and Cirencester.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Horace Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 185: 4
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11221,” accessed on 4 June 2023,