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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky   26 February 1868

Febr. 14/26 18681

Dear Sir

I received the sheets of your work in due time, but the printing is not getting as quick as I could wish;2 firstly I was seriously ill about Christmas and now, being a member of the Relief-Committee for the dreadful distress in some of our Agricultural districts I have very much to travel; so, last week, I made more than a thousand miles by impraticable roads, having very often to drag my sledge together with the horse and this in a temperature between 20o and 36o below zero by Reaumur.3 The cold this winter is something quite extraordinary, and I was twice nearly frozen and had a very narrow escape. All this retarded the printing and translation, but still the first volume is nearly finished, and the whole second is ready in translation so that in two months the whole work will be finished. I am very glad of the immense success Your book met in England,4 I hope the same for my translation though a brilliant success in our country is to sell 3000 copies in about three years at least. I have some portraits of Naturalists but will send them when I have more.5 I will be quite certainly in July in London and hope to see you once more.

I beg to remember me to Mrs Darwin and the ladies of Your family6

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | V. Kovalevsky

P.S. I dont think that the errors and corrections of the Second Edition are very substantial, so that I dare not to worry You about sheets, at all events if You should think it indispensable I should beg You to send them sous bande and not in covers.7


Kovalevsky gives both the Julian (14 February) and Gregorian (26 February) calendar dates.
CD had begun sending proof-sheets to Kovalevsky for the Russian translation of Variation in May 1867 (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter to V. O. Kovalevsky, 2 May [1867]).
René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur, devised a temperature scale that registered the freezing point of water as zero degrees and the boiling point as eighty degrees.
All 1500 copies of Variation had been sold shortly after publication, and a second printing was ordered (see letter from John Murray, 6 February [1868]).
The letter from CD conveying information about the sales of Variation and requesting portraits of naturalists has not been found.
Kovalevsky refers to Emma, Henrietta Emma, and Elizabeth Darwin. He had visited CD at Down in August 1867 (Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix II); there is no record that he visited in 1868.
Kovalevsky had previously instructed CD to send printed material ‘sous bande’ or ‘open at two ends’, as otherwise it was shipped as a parcel and was more likely to be lost (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 14 May 1867).


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

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


His translation and printing of Variation will be completed in two months.

His work on a relief committee for Russia’s agricultural distress has forced him to travel 1000 miles in the last week.

Plans to visit CD in July.

Letter details

Letter no.
Vladimir Onufrievich Kovalevsky (Владимир Онуфриевич Ковалевский)
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 169: 76
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5938,” accessed on 14 July 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16