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The share which worms have taken in the formation of the layer of vegetable mould, which covers the whole surface of the land in every moderately humid country, is the subject of the present volume. This mould is generally of a blackish colour and a few inches in thickness. In different districts it differs but little in appearance, although it may rest on various subsoils. The uniform fineness of the particles of which it is composed is one of its chief characteristic features; and this may be well observed in any gravelly country, where a recently-ploughed field immediately adjoins one which has long remained undisturbed for pasture, and where the vegetable mould is exposed on the sides of a ditch or hole. The subject may appear an insignificant one, but we shall see that it possesses some interest; and the maxim “de minimis non curat lex, ” does not apply to science. Even Elie de Beaumont, who generally undervalues small agencies and their accumulated effects, remarks: {1} “La couche tres-mince de la terre vegetale est un monument d'une haute antiquite, et, par le fait de sa permanence, un objet digne d'occuper le geologue, et capable de lui fournir des remarques interessantes

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