1680: Fellow of the Royal Society

Detail of Verkolje's portrait of Leeuwenhoek. Click for the full portrait.The most important event in this period was Leeuwenhoek's election as a fellow of the Royal Society in 1680. After Hooke's success the previous fall replicating Leeuwenhoek's claims, there was no opposition to his election. According to Birch's History, the Society went to the effort of sending Leeuwenhoek an official declaration and seal. Several the letters that he wrote then were thank-you's.

Leeuwenhoek was so proud of being a fellow that the declaration and seal are on the table in front of him in the Verkolje portrait (right; click for full portrait).

January

January 12, 1680
Leeuwenhoek wrote Letter 29 (AB 54) to Robert Hooke.

Leeuwenhoek examined vessels for the circulation of fluids in trees: oak, elm, beech, willow, elder, ebony, and boxwood.

He then calculated the quantity of water that a tree could absorb.

Finally, he reported briefly on his observations of sperm in fish: perch, bream, roach and tench. 

January 16, 1680
Leeuwenhoek wrote a letter (AB 55) to Robert Hooke

The previous year, Leeuwenhoek had been concerned about the lack of correspondence from the Royal Society. Where he could publish if Philosophical Transactions ceased publication, as it almost did after the unexpected death of its owner, editor, and publisher Henry Oldenburg?

As it turned out, Hooke was beginning a new journal, Philosophical Collections. On November 1, he had published Leeuwenhoek's Letter 28 (AB 43) of April 25, 1679 to Nehemiah Grew, along with the one figure of the dog's testicle.

To thank him, Leeuwenhoek wrote this short letter, first, to acknowledge receipt of the first number of Philosophical Collections. It had finally reached Leeuwenhoek in mid-January. Second, he enclosed with this letter an autographic copy of his letter to Constantijn Huygens, dated 20 May 1679. Finally, he gave Hooke a quick follow-up to his observations of in pepper-water and ginger-water.

I saw very distinctly little animals (dierkens) that I judged to be a hundred million times smaller than a grain of sand

Even if his standard of comparison was a very large grain of sand, these animals were so little that they must have been bacteria.

January 25, 1680
At their weekly meeting in London on January 15 (O.S.), the Royal Society discussed Leeuwenhoek's Letter 29 of January 12, 1680 (AB 54) to Robert Hooke.

Birch's History (vol. IV, p. 3) notes:

Mr. Hooke produced the translation of a long letter, which he had received from Mr. Leeuwenhoeck, written in Low Dutch; together with several curious draughts of small pieces of wood observed in the microscope; as also the letter itself. A part of this translation was read, and the delineations examined, wherein were explained the several vessels and curious contexture of the parts of wood. The remaining part was referred to the next meeting.

February

February 1, 1680
Robert Hooke read the letter

Two weeks after Leeuwenhoek wrote this acknowledgement, Robert Hooke read the letter at the January 22 /  (O.S./N.S.) meeting (Birch's History, vol. IV p. 5):

Mr. Hooke read a letter, which he had received from Mr. Leeuwenhoeck, giving account of some further discoveries of an exceeding small sort of worms found in ginger-water; as also the reasons, why he conceived, that the parts of water cannot be made visible by a microscope.

One week after that, Robert Hooke read the letter at the January 29 / February 8, 1680 (O.S./N.S.) meeting (Birch's History, vol. IV p. 5):

The minutes of the 22nd instant were read; and upon discoursing about the small creatures discovered by Mr. Leeuwenhoeck in ginger-water mixed with pepper-water, it was ordered, that some should be prepared against the next meeting.

Later at that same meeting, Leeuwenhoek was elected to membership in the Royal Society.

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According to Birch's The History of the Royal Society of London, (vol. IV pp. 3, 5, 11) Hooke read out his translation of Leeuwenhoek's January 12, 1680, letter at the meeting of January 15/25, 1680. The following week, January 22 / February 1, he read the letter dated May 20, 1679.

The following day, January 23 / February 2, 1679 (MS. Sloane 1039, f. 172, British Museum, London), Hooke wrote to Leeuwenhoek:

I doe much wonder that your name is not in the list of the Royall Society. especially since I find Mr. Oldenburgh Received the favour of soe many excellent communications from you. If I thought it would be gratefull to you I would propound you at the meeting as a candidate, If you please to let me know your thoughts of it by your next I shall regulate my self accordingly and give you a speedy account there of. there will be nothing of charge to you upon that account and I doubt not of effecting it if you desire it.

Leeuwenhoek replied in the affirmative. Nine days after it was written, his reply had been received in London and read at the February 12/22, 1680 (O.S./N.S.) meeting:

A letter from Mr. Leeuwenhoeck to Mr. Hooke, translated by Mr. Aston. and dated at Delft 13 February, 1680, N. S. was read, acknowledging the receit of the last letters and books sent him, and expressing his desire to be chosen a member of the Society; and mentioning, that he was busy in making two observations, which he promised to transmit to the Society.

This letter came after Leeuwenhoek had already been elected to membership in the Society.

Dr. Gale was called upon for the diploma directed at the meeting of January 29 to be fent to Mr. Leeuwenhoeck and it was ordered, that the Society's seal thould be affixed to it, and that a silver box should be provided for it.

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February 2, 1680
Hooke inquired whether Leeuwenhoek would accept election to the Royal Society

In a letter dated January 23, 1680 (O.S), Hooke asked whether Leeuwenhoek would be interested in become a fellow of the Royal Society.

I doe much wonder that your name is not in the list of the Royall Society. especially since I find Mr. Oldenburgh Received the favour of soe many excellent communications from you. If I thought it would be gratefull to you I would propound you at the meeting as a candidate, If you please to let me know your thoughts of it by your next I shall regulate my self accordingly and give you a speedy account there of. there will be nothing of charge to you upon that account and I doubt not of effecting it if you desire it.

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February 7, 1680     microscopist Jan Swammerdam died

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February 8, 1680

Elected a Fellow by Royal Society

The election took place on January 29 / February 8

The notice of it in Birch's History, vol. IV, p. 6, was perfunctory.

Dr. Heusch, Mr. Firmin and Mr. Houghton were elected; as was also Mr. Leeuwenhoeck upon the motion of Dr. Croune, and Dr. Gale was desired to draw up a diploma to be sent to him.

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February 13, 1680     Wrote letter of 1680-02-13 (AB 56) to Robert Hooke

Leeuwenhoek wrote this short but formal letter to reply to Hooke's inquiry dated January 23 asking Leeuwenhoek whether he would appreciate being proposed for election as a fellow of the Royal Society.

 

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February 18, 1680     cousin Margaretha (Grietjen) Huijchs Leeuwenhoek married Gijsbert Pieterse Cruijt

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February 22, 1680

Gale authorized by Royal Society to send diploma with seal to Leeuwenhoek

According to Birch's The History of the Royal Society of London, (vol. IV p. 11), Hooke read Leeuwenhoek's letter of February 13 at the February 12/22, 1680 (O.S./N.S.) meeting:

A letter from Mr. Leeuwenhoeck to Mr. Hooke, translated by Mr. Aston. and dated at Delft 13 February, 1680, N. S. was read, acknowledging the receit of the last letters and books sent him, and expressing his desire to be chosen a member of the Society; and mentioning, that he was busy in making two observations, which he promised to transmit to the Society.

This letter came after Leeuwenhoek had already been elected to membership in the Society on January 29 / February 8.

Dr. Gale was called upon for the diploma directed at the meeting of January 29 to be sent to Mr. Leeuwenhoeck and it was ordered, that the Society's seal thould be affixed to it, and that a silver box should be provided for it.

At the end of Birch's record of that meeting (p. 13):

Dr. Gale produced his draught of a diploma for Mr. Leeuwenhoeck.

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March 1, 1680

Royal Society discussed Leeuwenhoek's diploma

According to Birch's The History of the Royal Society of London, (vol. IV p. 13), at the February 19 / March 1, 1680 (O.S./N.S.) meeting:

Upon mention of Mr. Leeuwenhoeck's diploma, it was ordered, that the arms of the society be engraved on the silver box to be provided for the diploma.

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March 4, 1680

Royal Society discussed a silver box for Leeuwenhoek's diploma

According to Birch's The History of the Royal Society of London, (vol. IV p. 16), at the February 23 / March 4, 1680 (O.S./N.S.) meeting:

The Mr. Hunt prepare a silver box for the diploma to be sent to Mr. Leewenhoeck

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March 7, 1680

Gale sent Leeuwenhoek official notice of his election as member of the Royal Society
 
Heniger's article on Leeuwenhoek's diploma has a transcription but not a translation of this short letter that Gale wrote in Latin. On the right (click to enlarge) is a screenshot from the article.

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March 14, 1680

Royal Society further discussed Leeuwenhoek's diploma

According to Birch's The History of the Royal Society of London, (vol. IV p. 21), the members further dealt with Leeuwenhoek's diploma at the March 4/14, 1680 (O.S./N.S.) meeting, chaired by Joseph Williamson, the Society's president:

The president took with him the diploma for Mr. Leeuwenhoeck, and presented the Society with a screw-press for sealing such diplomas.

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April 5, 1680     Wrote Letter 30 of 1680-04-05 (AB 57) to Robert Hooke

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Five days after the letter was written, according to Birch's History (vol. IV, p. 32), Letter 30 had been received in London and read at the April 1/10 (O.S./N.S.) meeting:

Mr. Leewenhoeck's letter to Mr. Hooke, who had translated the sense of it into English, was read, giving an account of some farther discoveries of his about the eel-like worms in the seed of a rat; as also of the motion of the gills of muscles, oisters, &c.

It was ordered, that these should be examined at the next meeting, in order to which Mr. Hunt was directed to procure some oisters and muscles.

There is no indication in Birch's History that Mr. Hunt followed up.

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April 22, 1680

Hooke sent Leeuwenhoek official notice of his election as member of the Royal Society

This letter has not survived. Hooke dated it April 12, 1680 Old Style, which was April 22 New Style. It is known only from Leeuwenhoek's acknowledgment of May 13. Leeuwenhoek wrote:

I received your very welcome letter of 12 April O.S., and saw from it that the Honourable members of the Royal Society took great interest in my last observations. Also that you moved my election as a fellow of that Society in its meeting and that I was unanimously elected a fellow. A few days after the receipt of this letter, a box came to hand, enclosing the sealed Diploma, which I beheld affectionately and gratefully.

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May 13, 1680     Wrote Letter 31 of 1680-05-13 (AB 60) to Thomas Gale

At the June 10 meeting of the Royal Society, Birch's History (vol. IV, p. 42, 43) noted that Hooke "produced two letters from Mr. Leeuwenhoeck, which not being yet translated into English were referred to the next meeting." At that next meeting on June 17, "A letter from Mr. Leeuwenhoeck was read," presumably Letter 31 or Letter 32.

According to Birch's History vol. IV p. 37, the members of the Royal Society discussed this letter and two others written on the same day at their meeting of May 8/18, 1680.

Mr. Hooke produced three letters from Mr. Leewenhoeck; one to the president and fellows of the Society, containing his thanks for the honour, which they had done him in choosing him a member.

A second to Mr. Hooke, acknowledging the receipt of the diploma sent, and a profession of the great esteem, which he had of the honor done him, and of his zeal to serve the Society in what he was able, for the future as long as he lived.

A third to Dr. Gale, containing an answer to the doctor's address by the last letter, and an account of some farther discoveries made in the juice of plants, animals, &c. Mr. Austin took this letter, and promised to translate it into English against the next meeting, it being written in Dutch.

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May 13, 1680     Wrote letter of 1680-05-13 (AB 58) to Members of the Royal Society

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May 13, 1680     Wrote letter of 1680-05-13 (AB 59) to Robert Hooke

According to Birch's History vol. IV p. 37, the members of the Royal Society discussed this letter and two others written on the same day at their meeting of May 8/18, 1680.

Mr. Hooke produced three letters from Mr. Leewenhoeck; one to the president and fellows of the Society, containing his thanks for the honour, which they had done him in choosing him a member.

A second to Mr. Hooke, acknowledging the receipt of the diploma sent, and a profession of the great esteem, which he had of the honor done him, and of his zeal to serve the Society in what he was able, for the future as long as he lived.

A third to Dr. Gale, containing an answer to the doctor's address by the last letter, and an account of some farther discoveries made in the juice of plants, animals, &c. Mr. Austin took this letter, and promised to translate it into English against the next meeting, it being written in Dutch.

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According to Birch's History vol. IV p. 37, the members of the Royal Society discussed this letter and two others written on the same day at their meeting of May 8/18, 1680.

Mr. Hooke produced three letters from Mr. Leewenhoeck; one to the president and fellows of the Society, containing his thanks for the honour, which they had done him in choosing him a member.

A second to Mr. Hooke, acknowledging the receipt of the diploma sent, and a profession of the great esteem, which he had of the honor done him, and of his zeal to serve the Society in what he was able, for the future as long as he lived.

A third to Dr. Gale, containing an answer to the doctor's address by the last letter, and an account of some farther discoveries made in the juice of plants, animals, &c. Mr. Austin took this letter, and promised to translate it into English against the next meeting, it being written in Dutch.

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June 14, 1680     Wrote Letter 32 of 1680-06-14 (AB 62) to Thomas Gale

This letter may well have been the one referred to in Birch's History (vol. IV, p. 43) at the meeting on June 17/27, two weeks after it was written:

A letter from Mr. Leeuwenhoeck was read.

Apparantly, no one was favorably impressed. This letter was the only one addressed to Royal Society members or officers between 1679 and 1686 that was not published in Philosophical Transactions.
June 14, 1680     Wrote letter of 1680-06-14 (AB 61) to Robert Hooke
Leeuwenhoek wrote this short cover letter for Letter 32 to Gale, dated the same day, June 14.
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August 9, 1680     Wrote letter of 1680-08-09 (AB 63) to Robert Hooke

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August 13, 1680     Constantijn Huygens, jr., called Leeuwenhoek "the great man of the century".

The summer after Leeuwenhoek was elected to membership in the Royal Society, Constantijn Huygens, the younger, wrote to his brother Christiaan:

    Tout le monde court encore chez Leeuwenhoeck comme le grand homme du siecle. Il y a quelques mois que ceux de la Societé Royale de Londres le receurent parmy leur nombre ce qui luy donna quelque petite vanité, et il demanda serieusement al Signor Padre si estant revestu de cette qualité la il seroit obligé de ceder le pas a un docteur en medicine.

Dobell's translation (p. 50):

Everybody here is still rushing to visit Leeuwenhoek, as the great man of the century. A few months ago the people of the Royal Society in London received him among their number, which gave him some little pride; and he even seriously inquired of Sir Father if, being now invested with this dignity, he would be obliged in future to take a back seat in presence of a doctor of medicine.

"Sir Father" is their father Constantijn, Leeuwenhoek's mentor. Perhaps Dobell's "little pride" does not do justice to the condescension in Constantijn's "petite vanité". "Petty vanity" might capture it better.

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September 28, 1680     Wrote letter of 1680-09-28 (AB 64) to Thomas Gale

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Birch's History has no record that the members of the Royal Society noted these two letters at a meeting.

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November 12, 1680     Wrote Letter 33 of 1680-11-12 (AB 65) to Robert Hooke

In this letter, Leeuwenhoek made no mention of his concern about a lack of reponse to his letters addressed to Hooke and Gale. However, in the previous two letters, he said that he would not send new observations until he received a response. It is reasonable to assume then, that he did so before he sent this letter in mid-November. It would be a year, until November 1681, before he sent another letter with scientific observations.

By the end of November 1680, this letter was read at a meeting of the Royal Society (Birch's History, vol. IV, p. 56, 57):

Mr. Hooke produced a long letter lately received by him from Mr. Leeuwenhoeck. It was written in Low Dutch; but the contents of the several heads were read by Mr. Hooke. It was desired, that the said letter should be translated and answered.

Two weeks later:

Mr. Aston took Mr. Leeuwenhoeck's last letter, and promised to translate it into English.

At the meeting on January 12/22, 1681:

Mr. Aston having translated a long letter of Mr. Leeuwenhoeck from Low Dutch into English, part of it was read, containing divers observations on the Iees of ale and wine; and the remainder was referred to the next meeting.