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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. E. Darwin   25 January 1881

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

Jan 25th 1881

My dear W.

I have just despatched your Certificate to Geolog. Soc. signed by self, Prof Hughes of Cambridge, Huxley & Judd.—1 I see on back of Certificate, admission fee £6s6.0— annual Subscription £2.s6.0— Composition (which I imagine does not include admission) 31£"10s"0d.— You will hear in due time of your election, but as far as I remember the Certificate remains suspended for 3 meetings at intervals of a fortnight.—

The castings from Beaulieu proved very useful, as the greater number of particles of brick were plainly rounded; & now I have so many cases that I can hardly doubt that when same particle is often swallowed it undergoes much attrition.—2

Your most laborious observations at St. C. Hill & Teg Down have interested me greatly, & I have given them in abstract.3

George saw a case of ledges in Sussex on a steep slope, in which the ledges were parallel to slope of valley; & he remarked that if they had extended horizontally they would necessarily have been very short; & possibly animals walk & graze parallel to bed of valley so as to make each traverse longer.—4

I have got codicil to my will for Hacon,5 but must wait the chance till I can catch 2 men for witnesses.—

When shall you invest your mother’s 1000£?—6

We heard this morning from George, dated early on Monday from Dartmouth, saying that the steamer wd soon be in;7 & that he shd then start & that it was a calm—

Best love to Sara8 | Ever yours affect | C. Darwin


CD had prepared a certificate for William’s application for membership of the Geological Society of London. The signatories were Thomas Henry Huxley, John Wesley Judd, and Thomas McKenny Hughes.
William had collected worm-castings from Beaulieu Abbey, Hampshire (see Correspondence vol. 28, letter from W. E. Darwin, 1 December [1880]). CD discussed the grinding of small particles of stone in the gizzards of worms, including those from the nave at Beaulieu, in Earthworms, pp. 246–58.
William had sent diagrams and notes on the thickness of the mould at Teg Down and St Catherine’s Hill near Winchester, Hampshire (see Correspondence vol. 28, letter from W. E. Darwin, 31 December [1880] and n. 3, and Earthworms, pp. 298, 302–4.
George Howard Darwin. CD was trying to determine whether worms had played a role in the formation of horizontal ledges on steep grassy slopes; he mentioned the short little embankments observed at Beachy Head, East Sussex, ‘by another of [his] sons’ in Earthworms, pp. 280–1.
William Mackmurdo Hacon was CD’s solicitor; on the codicil to the will, see the letter from W. E. Darwin, 6 January 1881 and n. 12.
George’s letter from Dartmouth has not been found; he was travelling to Madeira (letter to G. H. Darwin, 20 January [1881]).


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


Writes of WED’s certificate for the Geological Society

and discusses various instances of earthworm activity.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Erasmus Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.6: 172
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13027,” accessed on 9 June 2023,