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Darwin Correspondence Project

From L. C. Wedgwood   [15 June 1872?]1

Chalet de Villars | Montagnes d’Ollon | Aigle, Vaud

Dear Uncle Charles.

The steep grassy hill-sides here are very distinctly scored with ridges. They run parallel to each other with great regularity, about 3 or 4 ft apart and about 1 ft wide or nearly. They very seldom run into each other. There are worm-casts—but not abundant. I cannot help thinking they are made by the cows—(there are very few sheep)— they are undoubtedly used by them, being very often cross-ridged into those peculiar furrows cows always make in soft places by stepping in each others footsteps. I thought it wd. be useless to draw them as it wd. be merely a no. of parallel lines.2

We stay here another 4t. night (till 29th) in case you (and the post takes 4 or 5 days) should wish to know anything more about them; If not, I need hardly say of course do not answer this.

We are enjoying ourselves exceedingly in this most beautiful place, with splendid weather

Yr. afft niece | Lucy Wedgwood

Would some one kindly direct enclosed to Bessy3 if not at home as I dont kno’ where she may be.?

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘(Worms)’ pencil, square brackets in MS


The date is conjectured from the subject matter of the letter (see n. 2, below), and from a pencilled annotation, ‘Saturday 15th’. The only month in 1872 when 15th fell on a Saturday was June.
CD cited ‘a friend’ for this information on cow-trodden parallel ridges in Earthworms, pp. 278–9; he had asked Wedgwood to make observations on the angle of wormholes earlier in the year (letters to L. C. Wedgwood, 5 January [1872] and 21 January [1872], and letter from L. C. Wedgwood, 20 January [1872]), and she had also sent information on parallel ridges (letter from L. C. Wedgwood to Elizabeth Darwin, [7 March 1872 or later]). CD had first sent out enquiries concerning furrows and other forms of ridges in 1871, but most of his requests were made early in 1872 as part of his investigation into the transformation of landscape through the action of earthworms (see for example Correspondence vol. 19, letter from Francis Wedgwood, 4 January 1871, and letter to Archibald Geikie, 27 December [1871], and this volume, letter from W. E. Darwin, [1 January 1872], and letter from Amy Ruck to Horace Darwin, [20 January 1872]).
Elizabeth Darwin. The enclosure has not been found.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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


Worm-casts on a ridged hill.

Letter details

Letter no.
Lucy Caroline Wedgwood/Lucy Caroline Harrison
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 181: 61
Physical description
2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7345,” accessed on 21 April 2021,

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