RECORD: Anon. 1882. [Review of Earthworms]. Darwin's latest work. Literary News (New York), vol. 3: 39. [from the Congregationalist]

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe. 6.2021. RN1

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[page] 39

Darwin's Latest Work. From the Congregationalist.

The unscientific reader hardly would expect to be interested specially in worms and their doings, but whoever begins Mr. Darwin's latest book, "The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms," will be likely to read it through. It is a record of minute, extended, and careful observations with some inferences which naturally suggest themselves. It will surprise most people to learn how important is the work of worms in overturning and sifting the soil and burying objects, even large stones and whole pavements, underneath it, and in preparing it properly for the growth of plants. The chapters upon the habits of worms show these creatures to be much more active and methodical than one would think; and their great number and the amount of work which they do are indicated by the fact that there is reason to believe that each acre of garden soil contains over 50,000 and each acre of old pasture land about half as many, and that each worm casts up to the surface as much as twenty ounces of soil a year, which must amount to an annual layer of earth nearly or quite a fifth of an inch deep. Given years enough, and no wonder that stone is covered out of sight and a Roman pavement is buried several feet under ground, especially as they also sink of their own weight as the worm burrows beneath it render the ground yielding. Mr. Darwin has written in a cautious spirit, and his conclusions seem eminently reasonable.

(Appleton. 12mo. $1.50.)


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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)

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