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Darwin Correspondence Project

To George King   6 July 1873

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

July 6/73

Dear Sir

I thank you sincerely for another very valuable letter.1 You put everything so clearly that I have nothing to ask about. No doubt I shall receive in a few days (for parcels take some time in getting here) the specimens which you have so kindly sent me.2 I am at present & shall be for some time, hard at work on some points in vegetable physiology; & my work is such that it would be bad to interrupt it. I shall not therefore at once examine your specimens, but they will be very useful to me, whenever I have time to take up the subject of worms, & arrange my copious notes.3 I am particularly obliged for your P. S.; for M. d’Archiac formerly attacked me & maintained, without, I suppose, even having looked, that there were no worm-castings in woods and forests!!4

With cordial thanks, & my wishes that your health may be good in India and your scientific work prosperous, I remain | Dear Sir | Yours truly obliged | Charles Darwin


The letter from King has not been found. CD had asked King about worm-castings in his letter of 18 February 1873.
The parcel probably contained worm-castings or worms from Nice, where King was on medical leave (see letter to George King, 18 February 1873 and n. 1). See also Earthworms, pp. 106–8 and n.
Earthworms was published in 1881.
CD refers to Adolphe, Vicomte d’Archiac, and Archiac 1847–60, 1: 223–4. CD discussed the criticism and mentioned King’s evidence on the subject in Earthworms, pp. 4–5.


Archiac, Etienne Jules Adolphe Desmier de Saint-Simon, Vicomte d’. 1847–60. Histoire des progrès de la géologie de 1834 à 1845. 8 vols. Paris.

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 specimens and information about worm-castings.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George King
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 146: 15
Physical description
C 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8966,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21