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Darwin Correspondence Project

To L. C. Wedgwood   21 January [1872]1


Jan 21st

My dear Lucy

You are worth your weight in Gold.— I looked at a good many holes, but kept no account, & it tires my head stooping. It seems natural they shd come on average more often at right angles than oblique, to surface; but whether I shall be able to form a judgment I know not.—2 I shall be very glad to hear any further observation, & about furrows. It is at present all working in the dark.— I am now getting more inclined to trust the result of trenches cut across old furrows on nearly level surface; or to upper & lower part of grass-slope with no old furrows.

I have had some curious observations from Wroxeter, & William is working at Stonehenge for me.—3 I hope in time to come to some approximately safe conclusion.

If worms would be so good as to come up generally at right angles to slope, it would bring the earth down grandly. By the way I suppose when you say “vertical to the slope” you mean perpendicular or at right angles to the slope. The Mathematician George4 says vertical always relates to the horizon, so you ought to hide your diminished head.

Yours affectionately | C. Darwin

I find after the late heavy wind & rain the soft subsided castings are much ‘blown over to leeward, even on level grass-field; the sections of all the recent castings were thus


Would you visit the common on Leith Hill when you go home, & look at castings; the late storms must have blown there with terrific force.—5


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the postcard from L. C. Wedgwood, 20 January [1872].
See postcard from L. C. Wedgwood, 20 January [1872].
See Correspondence vol. 19, letter to Henry Johnson, 23 December 1871, and Earthworms, pp. 221–8. Johnson, a Shrewsbury schoolfriend of CD’s, was in charge of the excavation of the Roman ruins at Wroxeter, and offered to make observations for CD. CD also refers to William Erasmus Darwin; see letter from W. E. Darwin, [1 January 1872].
Wedgwood lived at Leith Hill Place, near Dorking, Surrey.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 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.


Thanks for observations on angles of worm-holes on slopes. William Darwin is observing at Stonehenge. She is worth her weight in gold.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Lucy Caroline Wedgwood/Lucy Caroline Harrison
Sent from
Source of text
Cambridge University Library (Add 4251: 332)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8171,” accessed on 27 May 2024,

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