Letter 8168

Ruck, A. R. (Darwin, Amy Richenda) to Darwin, Horace

[20 Jan 1872]


Describes the occurrence of earthworms and the signs of earthworm activity in the neighbourhood.


Pantlludw, | Machynlleth.

Dear Horace

I am afraid I have nothing worth telling about worms. I have beenrather in despair   this seems such a bad country for them as a “wormcasting” is quite a rare sight   even on our croquet ground where onemight expect to see them, there is very few. Attyf2 declares thereare a dozen moles to every worm here— However on the top of the Hillthere are some steep slopes ploughed about 50 or 60 years ago & we have donesome digging & measuring there with these results— the furrows goingchiefly crossways—


We found that the fine soil at the top of the slope was alwaysshallower, being in the furrows at the top 212 inches, at thebottom 412; & that there was always about half an inch differencein the depth of the soil in the ridge & in the furrow, that in thefurrow being deepest. We tried a good many times & always found thisdifference—

It is rare to find furrows running down a slope, but we came acrossa few in a basin, last ploughed during the Peninsular War—& therethey almost disappeared at the bottom—the depth of the furrow betweenthe ridges being at the top 412in. at the bottom 1in.f3 Papa says, there isa place near his old home Newington called ‘Worm Dale, where they dowonders—f4 Dicky & Lennyf5 might go & look at it.

My thanks to you for wading through this. | ARR.

DAR 176: 221



The date is established by CD’s annotation.
Arthur Ashley Ruck, Amy’s brother.
CD reported these findings in Earthworms, pp. 295–6. ThePeninsular War took place in Portugal and Spain between 1807 and 1814.
Lawrence Ruck referred to Wormdale Hill near Newington in Kent.
Richard Matthews Ruck (Amy’s brother), and Leonard Darwin.
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