skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From V. O. Kovalevsky   8 August [1872]1

British Museum.

8 August.—

Dear Sir

I wished to visit You only to save You the trouble writing long letters, what indeed must be very trying for a man as overworked as You are.2 I have written to my brother3 and after I shall know the price of the Heliotypes (as Mr Murray informed me that he cannot fix it now, not having made final arrangements with the Heliotype company)4   I’ll write or call in the day for an hour on You (at all events I shall write You then and wish for an answer); the best plan will be to go to Orpington by a morning walk over to Down, speak with You about the matter and immediately return, this will save You writing.—

I remain in England perhaps five weeks more, and will go afterwards to France to go once more over the collections at Puy.5 I hope by that time You will be able to send me the greater part of the sheets, if You will be satisfied by the arrangement I could propose to You after having got the date for doing so from Mr Murray.—

I had a very sad news yesterday, the Russian gentleman who got into the interior of New Guinea died there of fever.6 I have myself seen Mr Wallace and he strengthened my Borneo project, but certainly we could not start before two years, as I have at least to this time commenced work on hand.7

Believe me | very truly Yours | W. Kowalevsky

P.S. If You have agreements, with Germany and France, ours could be shaped on them, if not we shall try and frame a new one, acceptable to both parties.8 I should be extremely sorry to make You write letters, so please not to put Yourself to any inconvenience.—

P.P.S.S. I am a little astonished at not finding in Your book any reference to Wündt “Menschen und Thierseele”,9 I dont think very much of it, but still it is a work bearing quite on Your subject, I hope You have seen it as it may furnish You with good materials. There is some mistake about the number of Heliotypes, I did no wish to have 4000 but provisionally only one thousand with a right to increase this till 3000.10| W. K.


The year is established by the reference to the publication of Expression (see n. 4, below).
Kovalevsky had suggested visiting CD in his letter of [before 8 August 1872].
CD’s publisher, John Murray, and Murray’s business partner, Robert Francis Cooke, had been trying to obtain an estimate of the cost of reproducing the photographic illustrations in Expression from the London Heliotype Company (see letter from R. F. Cooke, 6 August 1872).
Kovalevsky left London for Paris between 20 and 29 October 1872 (Gaisinovich ed. 1988, pp. 210, 212). Le Puy-en-Velay is a town in south central France; zoological and palaeontological collections are held in the Crozatier museum (; accessed 26 May 2011). Kovalevsky had been consulting various collections in France for his research on Anchitherium, a member of the horse family (see Correspondence vol. 19, letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 19 August [1871]).
The Russian explorer and naturalist Nikolai Nikolaievich Miklucho-Maclay lived in New Guinea during 1871 and 1872 (GSE). He was reported to have died; however a letter was received from him in March 1873, stating that he had fallen ill (Nature, 22 May 1873, p. 75).
Alfred Russel Wallace had lived in Borneo for about fifteen months during his travels in the Malay archipelago from 1854 to 1862 (Raby 2001, p. 101). Kovalevsky also mentioned his visit to Wallace and their discussion about Borneo in a letter to his brother, Alexander (Gaisinovich ed. 1988, p. 192).
On the German and French translations of Expression, see the letter from R. F. Cooke, 1 August 1872 and nn. 5 and 8.
Kovalevsky refers to Wilhelm Max Wundt’s Vorlesungen ueber die Menschen- und Thierseele (Lectures on human and animal psychology; Wundt 1863).
CD had thought that Kovalevsky intended to print 4000 copies of the Russian translation of Expression (see letter to R. F. Cooke, 4 August 1872). In a letter to his brother in mid-August, Kovalevsky wrote that Murray would charge £75 for 1000 heliotypes (Gaisinovich ed. 1988, p. 194). In a further letter of mid-August, he mentioned that CD would receive twenty-five per cent of the profits (ibid., p. 195).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

GSE: Great Soviet encyclopedia. Edited by Jean Paradise et al. 31 vols. (Translation of the 3d edition of Bol’shaya Sovetskaya entsiklopediya (Большая советская энциклопедия), edited by A. M. Prokhorov.) New York: Macmillan. London: Collier Macmillan. 1973–83.

Raby, Peter. 2001. Alfred Russel Wallace: a life. London: Chatto & Windus.

Wundt, Max Wilhelm. 1863. Vorlesungen ueber die Menschen- und Thierseele. Leipzig: L. Voss.


Wishes to come to Down to make arrangements for Russian translation of Expression.

Letter details

Letter no.
Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky (Владимир Онуфриевич Ковалевский)
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
British Museum
Source of text
DAR 169: 91
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8459,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20