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Darwin Correspondence Project

From V. O. Kovalevsky   5 September [1870]1

31 Bloomsbury Str. Bedf. Sq.

Sept. 5.

Dear Sir

I received to day from the Library of the R. Soc. the book my wife wanted and we are both very thankfull for Your kindness.2 As the price charged by Murray for the first set of casts was very reasonable I think it would be better simply to order him a set and he will charge for it no doubt about the same price as he did for the “Domesticated Animals”.—3 My brother will be certainly delighted by Your mentioning his investigation in Your book, at all event I’ll write him today, perhaps he will have something more to communicate to You.4 I ascertained that Dr. Carpenter will dredge between Malta and Gibraltar5

Your very truly | W. Kovalevsky


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from S. V. Kovalevskaya and V. O. Kovalevsky, 1 September 1870.
CD had offered to borrow books from the Royal Society of London’s library for Sofia Vasilyevna Kovalevskaya (see letter from S. V. Kovalevskaya and V. O. Kovalevsky, 1 September 1870). The book was Jacobi 1829.
Kovalevsky was undertaking the Russian translation of Descent. He had previously translated Variation (V. O. Kovalevsky trans. 1868–9), obtaining stereotypes of the illustrations from John Murray (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter to V. O. Kovalevsky, 2 May [1867] and letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, [after 24? May 1867]).
The reference is to Alexander Onufrievich Kovalevsky’s work on the embryology of ascidians, which suggested an ancestral link between invertebrates and vertebrates. Vladimir Kovalevsky had sent CD a paper by his brother on this subject in 1867 (A. O. Kovalevsky 1866; Correspondence vol. 15, letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 15 March 1867). CD cited the paper and described this ‘discovery of extraordinary interest’ in Descent, 1: 205–6.
The reference is to William Benjamin Carpenter (see letter from S. V. Kovalevskaya and V. O. Kovalevsky, 1 September 1870 and n. 5).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Jacobi, Carl Gustav Jakob. 1829. Fundamenta nova theoriae functionum ellipticarum. Königsberg: Borntraeger.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Will order the first set of casts from Murray.

Thanks CD for a book for his wife from the Royal Society Library.

His brother [Alexander] is delighted at being referred to in CD’s work [Descent 1: 205].

Letter details

Letter no.
Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky (Владимир Онуфриевич Ковалевский)
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Bloomsbury St, 31
Source of text
DAR 169: 80
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7317,” accessed on 14 May 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18