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Darwin Correspondence Project

From V. O. Kovalevsky   12 December [1870]1

Berlin 7. Georgienstrasse.—

12 Dec.—

Dear Sir

Excuse me for not writing You immediately to thank for the large parcel of clean sheets You had the kindness to send me, I am busy translating them, the first are already in the press, so that I hope to be not very much behind the original;2 the reason why I did not write immediately lay in the hope I had to have a letter from You, but either You did not send it (and in this case it is all right) or it is lost in transmission which will be a pity. Mr. Murray sent the casts directly to Russia and made a very moderate charge 14£; though I do not know what quantity of copper cast there is for the 2 volumes.—3 I wrote You in my last that my brother is gone to the Red Sea, I have letters from him weekly, Suez did not satisfy him much so he is gone a little farther to Tor, a place wher Ehrenberg has been in 1827.—4 I hope he will return about the 25 of February, when I’ll go to meet him at Naples and we shall try together to procure ourselves scalpellums for the verification of Your old discovery.5 I hope Your health got better from Your autumnal visits.6

Pray remember me and Mrs. Kovalevksy to Mrs. Darwin and the ladies.—7

Your very truly | W. Kowalevsky

P.S. Have You seen the new book of Häckel “Biologische Studien” it is very interesting, especially his discovery that the Radiolaria contain in their body 40[percent] amylum; such a fact may overtrow much of our prejudices about the dependence of animal life from vegetation an explain the economy of the deep sea inhabitants.—8

W. K.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 22 November 1870.
Kovalevsky was preparing a Russian translation of Descent. See letter to John Murray, 26 September 1870 and n. 1.
John Murray charged £14 for electrotypes of the illustrations to Descent, not including the ones from Brehm et al. 1864–9 (letter from John Murray, 10 October [1870]).
Kovalevsky refers to Alexander Onufrievich Kovalevsky and Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg. See letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 22 November 1870. Ehrenberg took part in an expedition to Egypt between 1820 and 1825 (DSB).
CD had visited Leith Hill Place, Surrey, and Ightham Mote, a fourteenth-century moated manor house in Kent, in October 1870 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Kovalevsky refers to Sofia Vasilyevna Kovalevskaya, and Emma, Henrietta Emma, and Elizabeth Darwin. Vladimir and Sofia had visited Down in late August and early October 1870 (see Correspondence vol. 18, Appendix II).
The first part of Ernst Haeckel’s Biologische Studien (Haeckel 1870–7) was a collection of earlier works. Kovalevsky refers to Haeckel 1870–7, 1: 119–27; amylum is starch.


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.

DSB: Dictionary of scientific biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie and Frederic L. Holmes. 18 vols. including index and supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1970–90.

Haeckel, Ernst. 1870–7. Biologische Studien. 2 vols. Vol. 1: Studien über Moneren und andere Protisten. Vol. 2: Studien zur Gastraea-theorie. Leipzig: Engelmann. Jena: H. Dufft.


Progress on his Russian translation of Descent.

Alexander Kovalevsky is at Tor in Sinai, where C. G. Ehrenberg was in 1827.

Has CD seen Ernst Haeckel’s new book [Biologische Studien (1870–7)]?

Letter details

Letter no.
Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky (Владимир Онуфриевич Ковалевский)
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 169: 68
Physical description
SLS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7389,” accessed on 22 April 2021,

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