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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   23 [November 1880]1

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

23rd (Nov. 1880.).

My dear old W.

Your note has pleased me much.2 I write in hurry to catch post, as I have just remembered that you have an Acacia (Robinia pseudo-acacia) in your garden, and probably there are others in Rogers’ garden.3 I hear that worms draw the petiole of the leaves into the mouth of their borrows, thus


I want much to know whether they draw them in by blunt base or by apex—and whichever end is drawn in, whether this is uniformly done. It is rather late for this work, but I daresay you could find old tufts, and if pulled carefully up you could soon see which end has been drawn in.

In a very few days I shall know better whether it would be important to me to have castings from Beaulieu.4

Have had very buttery letters from Hooker and Dyer about Book. The publication will not cost me quite so much as I expected. Murray has sold 800 copies. The Times ought to help.5

Good bye my dear old fellow | C. Darwin.

Read only last Chapt. of my book.6


The year and month are established by the references to the publication of Movement in plants (see n. 5, below).
William Henry Rogers ran Red Lodge nursery in Southampton. For the observations made in February 1881 of petioles of Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust or false acacia) extracted from worm burrows, see Earthworms, pp. 81–2. In 1877, CD and William had made observations of the movements of the leaves of this tree in William’s garden; see Correspondence vol. 25, letter from W. E. Darwin, [24 August 1877].
CD had written that he might need William to acquire more worm-castings from Beaulieu Abbey, Hampshire; see letter to W. E. Darwin, 10 September [1880].
For Joseph Dalton Hooker’s receiving of Movement in plants, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 22 November 1880; William Turner Thiselton-Dyer’s letter has not been found, but see the letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 23 November [1880]. CD had agreed to cover any losses from the sale of Movement in plants and was expecting to lose £50 if all 1000 copies sold; see letters from R. F. Cooke, 4 November 1880 and 10 November 1880. John Murray was CD’s publisher. A review of Movement in plants appeared in The Times, 20 November 1880, p. 9.
The last chapter of Movement in plants, pp. 546–73, was titled ‘Summary and concluding remarks’.


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.


Asks WED to observe whether worms consistently draw acacia leaves into their burrows with a particular end first.

Will soon know whether he will need worm-castings from Beaulieu.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 153: 137
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12848,” accessed on 18 September 2023,