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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   18 June 1880

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

June 18th 1880.

My dear William

As the Printers have not sent me proof-sheets, I have been arranging my notes about worms, & I want your help on one point.— Possibly before the autumn you may wish to take some one to Beaulieu Abbey, or if not wd you be so good as to go there in the early autumn, when the worms work most.1

What I want is a packet of castings from above the tiles in the square cleared hole; for I find in my notes the clearest statement that the minute fragments of brick in the castings were rounded, as if by attrition in the muscular gizzard of the worms.2 Now I very much wish to examine under the microscope more of such particles of brick, tile, slate or any other artificial object, which could hardly have been worn except in the worm’s gizzard. Will you help me & keep this in mind.

Love to Sara3 | Your affect. Father | C. Darwin


CD was awaiting the proof-sheets of Movement in plants; see letter to J. V. Carus, 28 April 1880. William had examined the buried pavement at Beaulieu Abbey in Hampshire on 5 January 1872 and CD had visited on 22 June 1877 (Earthworms, pp. 193–7); see also Correspondence vol. 24, Supplement, letter from W. E. Darwin, [4 January 1872], and Correspondence vol. 25, letter to Francis Darwin, [10 June 1877]. William’s notes on furrows on a slope at Beaulieu, made in January 1872, are in DAR 63: 77–8.
CD’s notes on the concretions in castings from Beaulieu, dated 20 January 1881, are in DAR 64.1: 81.


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

Movement in plants: The power of movement in plants. By Charles Darwin. Assisted by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1880.


Wants WED to collect some worm-castings from Beaulieu Abbey.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 160
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12639,” accessed on 16 April 2024,