October 1676


Leeuwenhoek wrote his longest letter yet to Oldenburg on October 9, 1676 (AB 26). It would not be until the following spring that this letter was read to the members of the Society and extracts published in volume 12 of Philosophical Transactions later that year. It begins, repeating almost exactly words from his unpublished letter of January 22, 1676:

In the year 1675, I discovered living creatures in rainwater.

Three weeks later on October 30 (AB 27), Leeuwenhoek sent a letter to Oldenburg thanking Grew and Boyle for paying attention to him. He added:

Sir, please be assured that I like to hear of objections on any matter I believe to be true, for objections are nothing but a reason to observe more accurately and to state most rigorously nothing but the base facts, but I don't like discourse on matters I doubt, therefore you and the Philosophers will oblige me by pointing out my errors.

Where did this attitude or posture come from? He had not been trained to it. In the context of his time, his empiricism was rare.

After this point, Birch's History records that the Royal Society's meetings began to spend considerable time on Leeuwenhoek's claims, specifically his long letter of October 9, 1676.