1685: Being ignorant of all other men's thoughts

1685 - "Being ignorant of all other men's thoughts, he is wholly trusting to his own"

In early 1685, Thomas Molyneux visited Leeuwenhoek at his home in Delft. A student at the university in Leiden, Monyneux was the 24-year-old brother of Royal Society fellow and Halley ally William Molyneux. The young man reported back to the Royal Society about Leeuwenhoek:

His only secret I believe is in making clearer glasses, and giving them a better polish than others can do.

I found him a very civil complaisant man, and doubtless of great natural abilities; but, contrary to my expectations, quite a stranger to letters, master neither of Latin, French or English, or any other of the modern tongues besides his own, which is a great hindrance to him in his reasonings upon his observations; for being ignorant of all other men's thoughts, he is wholly trusting to his own, which, I observe, now and then lead him into extravagances and suggest very odd accounts of things, nay, sometimes such as are wholly irreconcilable with all truth.

No doubt Leeuwenhoek had a different impression of such a visit from a representative of the Halley camp of mathematics-oriented researchers, a young man half his age who presumably spoke less Dutch than van Leeuwenhoek spoke English. While there is no record of Leeuwenhoek's side of the story, Molyneux also reported:

Such were the microscopes, which I saw, and these are they he shews to the curious that come and visit him; but besides these he told me he had another sort, which no man living had looked through setting aside himself; these he reserves for his own private observations wholly, and he assur'd me they performed far beyond any that he had shewed me yet; but would not allow me a sight of them.

It is from such reports that Leeuwenhoek got the reputation for being secretive and amateurish. Perhaps he just lacked patience with snippy young foreigners.

And what happened next? Molyneux' letter was read to the Royal Society in early 1685. After that, there would not be another letter by Leeuwenhoek published in Philosophical Transactions until early 1693.January 1, 1685
      Published Anatomia et Contemplatio (Anatomy and Contemplation), Letters 43, 42, 38
January 1, 1685     Published Sout-figuren (Salt figures), Letters 44, 45
January 1, 1685     cousin Maerten Huijchs Leeuwenhoek appointed tax farmer
January 1, 1685     Published Onsigtbare Verborgentheden (Invisible Mysteries), Letters 38, 42, 43
January 1, 1685     Published Zaden van Boomen (Seeds of Trees), Letters 46, 47
January 5, 1685     Wrote Letter 43 of 1685-01-05 (AB 82) to Members of the Royal Society
January 23, 1685     Wrote Letter 44 of 1685-01-23 (AB 83) to Members of the Royal Society
February 13, 1685     Visited by Thomas Molyneux on behalf of the Royal Society
March 30, 1685     Wrote Letter 45 of 1685-03-30 (AB 84) to Members of the Royal Society
July 2, 1685     sister Catharina appointed as tax collector for three years
July 11, 1685     cousin Adriaen Lambrechts Leeuwenhoek appointed curator
July 13, 1685     Wrote Letter 46 of 1685-07-13 (AB 85) to Members of the Royal Society
July 22, 1685     At age 52, his 25th publication in Philosophical Transactions
August 10, 1685     Wrote letter of 1685-08-10 (AB 86) to Anthonie Heinsius
August 27, 1685     editor Edmond Halley did not publish any letters by Leeuwenhoek in Philosophical Transactions from 1685 to 1693
September 21, 1685     Wrote letter of 1685-09-21 (AB 87) to Anthonie Heinsius
October 12, 1685     Wrote Letter 47 of 1685-10-12 (AB 88) to Members of the Royal Society
December 25, 1685     cousin Elisabeth Maertens Leeuwenhoek married Dirck van Schie