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Darwin Correspondence Project

To V. O. Kovalevsky   24 January [1874]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Jan. 24th

My dear Sir

I have ordered my bookseller to send Clerk Maxwells’ book to you published by Macmillan & Co & I suppose it will reach you in a few days.— Please present it from me to M. Kowalevsky.2

Maxwell says M. Hirn has lately published on same subject;3 “but the dynamics are at best, moderate”—

Yours sincerely | Ch. Darwin

But I enclose the Card


On the Stability of the Motion of Saturns Rings Macmillan & Co 1859

M Hirn, of thermodynamics fame has also published a memoir lately at Mühlhausen or somewhere5   The dynamics thereof are moderate at best.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 20 January 1874.
See letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 20 January 1874 and nn. 11 and 12. CD refers to James Clerk Maxwell and Maxwell 1859. Sofia Vasilyevna Kovalevskaya was investigating the form of the rings of Saturn. CD’s bookseller was Williams & Norgate.
Gustave-Adolphe Hirn had published a memoir on the equilibrium conditions and probable nature of the rings of Saturn (Hirn 1872).
The enclosure was a postcard from Maxwell addressed to George Howard Darwin. It was postmarked 23 January 1874.
Hirn was best known for work on the mechanical equivalent of heat. Some of his work had been published in the Bulletin de la Société industrielle de Mulhouse, but Hirn 1872 was published in Paris. Mulhouse or Mühlhausen is a city in the Alsace region, now a part of France, but in 1874 part of the German Empire.


Hirn, Gustave-Adolphe. 1872. Mémoire sur les conditions d’équilibre et sur la nature probable des anneaux de Saturne. Paris: Gaulthier-Villars.

Maxwell, James Clerk. 1859. On the stability of the motion of Saturn’s rings. Cambridge: Macmillan and Co.


Has ordered James Clerk Maxwell’s book [On the stability of the motion of Saturn’s rings (1859)] as a present for Sofya Kovalevsky.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky (Владимир Онуфриевич Ковалевский)
Sent from
Source of text
Institut Mittag-Leffler
Physical description
ALS 1p encl pc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9253,” accessed on 4 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22