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Darwin Correspondence Project

To V. O. Kovalevsky   3 May 1871

Down.| Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

May 3 1871

My dear Sir

I want to beg a favour of you—viz to copy, or much better to translate, a short passage from a German book which I cannot see in England. It is “Franz. Körte. Die Strich-Zug—oder Wanderheuschrecke &c Berlin 1829”—S. 33.—1

The passage relates, as stated by Köppen, to a case of sexual selection with the Locusts or grasshoppers about which I am very curious.2

I fear that you have heard no news yet about your Russian translation of my book— I still most sincerely regret all the loss & trouble this has caused you—3

Whenever you write, pray tell us some news about yourself & Mme. Kowalewsky4

My dear Sir | yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S. 6500 copies have been printed off & I do not know that the type is yet broken up.— I have been as yet very little abused.—5 I daresay the Book wd. have sold fairly well in Russia: it is a fearful piece of Tyranny.—


The reference is to Körte 1829.
Körte had observed two male locusts trying to mate with a female, and the female showing preference for one of the males (Körte 1829, p. 33). In his work on the migratory locust of Russia, Friedrich Theodor Köppen included a report of Körte 1829, but he did not give the details of the case (Köppen 1865, pp. 115–16). In Descent 2d ed., p. 283 n. 28, CD cited Köppen 1865 for the information, adding that he had not been able to obtain Körte’s work. See letter from F. T. Köppen, 25 April 1871 and n. 3.
Kovalevsky had begun a Russian translation of Descent (see letter from V. O. Kovalevsky, 14 March 1871 and n. 4).
Sofia Vasilyevna Kovalevskaya.
CD refers to the publication of Descent. A third printing of the book had been ordered by CD’s publisher, John Murray, in April (Freeman 1977). CD had remarked on the generally favourable reviews of Descent in his letter to John Murray, 20 March 1871.


Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.

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

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Köppen, Friedrich Theodor. 1865. Ueber die Heuschrecken in Südrussland; nebst einem Anhänge über einige andere daselbst vorkommende schädliche Insekten. Horae Societatis Entomologici Rossicae 3: 81–294.

Körte, Franz Friedrich Ernst. 1829. Strich-, Zug- oder Wander-Heuschrecke vom Eie an beobachtet und beschrieben. Berlin: August Rücker.


Asks VOK to translate a passage from Franz Körte, Die Streich-, Zug- oder Wander-Heuschrecke [1828], p. 33.

Deplores the "fearful piece of tyranny" that is obstructing publication of Descent in Russia.

Letter details

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

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7735,” accessed on 14 July 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19