skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From L. C. Wedgwood   [8 February 1872]1

Leith Hill Place, | Dorking.

Xperimt. 1. Measurement of depth of furrows at top and bottom of slope— Old ploughed land has been pasture at least 24 years. Field sloping in 2 directions, but much most along furrows. Measured by laying a straight rod across from ridge to ridge, and measuring distance from furrow to rod.2

Furrow No 1:— (Jan 15th 1872)
Top. (before there is much slope) 4 in
middle of slope—————334
Bottom of slope (on flat) 314
Furrow No 2:—
Top (nearly flat) about 334
near top of slope " 4
Middle " 334
Bottom " 4
Furrow No 3:—
Top.— about 312
Nr. top of slope " 3
Bottom nearly 3
Furrow No 4:—
Top abt. 4
Top of slope " 3
Bottom " 3

It was impossible in above experiment to obtain very accurate results,— any little irregularities in the surface making all the difference. There were marks of draining-pipes running across furrows nr. top & bottom

Experimt. 2— Trenches dug one on ridge, one in trough of furrow side by side in same field on slope. Jan. 11th. Line of worm-mould very ill-defined— No apparent difference

Beginning of Feb. Two more trenches dug in same field on nearly flat ground along line of furrow.

Worm-line very ill-defined only to be seen by an occasional bit of charcoal. These are very rare, but form a sufficiently straight line I think to preclude chance

worm-mould 234—4 inches
No 2 (furrow) —  — 312—5

Experimt. 3. A sod dug out near top of steep slope in garden and at bottom. (Feb 6th.)

Top worm-mould 4 inches
Bottom—— 534

Expt. 4 Worm mould on common near sqre. yard 3–4 in.

On terrace near sq yd. 3343

CD annotations

6.1 Experimt. 3.... 534 6.4] ‘But brushing with besom may have interfered’ added ink
7.1 Expt. 4 … 3–4 in.] ‘so that *for endless centuries [interl] here in 30–40 years the whole wd be brought to surface; is little added from below, & this little washed away?’ added ink
7.1 Worm mould on common] ‘space almost level’ interl after ‘on’ ink
8.1 On …terrace] ‘Level’ added ink
Top of letter: ‘Given to me at Down. Feb. 8th 1872 | Lucy Wedgwood’ ink


The date is established by CD’s annotation.
CD was gathering data for his research on the action of worms. In Earthworms, pp. 292–7, CD discussed the gradual disappearance of ridges and furrows on inclined land.
CD described the location of the two sections or square yards and the weight of the castings produced in each section in Earthworms, pp. 165–8. In this account, he referred to Wedgwood as ‘a lady’.


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


Describes earthworm experiments. She has measured depth of mould in various locales, e.g., on ridges and furrows of an old ploughed field.

Letter details

Letter no.
Lucy Caroline Wedgwood/Lucy Caroline Harrison
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Leith Hill Place
Source of text
DAR 63: 79–80
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8203,” accessed on 29 November 2021,

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