Visited by Sir Francis Child

June 1, 1697

From May to September of 1697, the negotations to end the Nine Years' War took place in the Dutch Republic. The French negotiating team had their headquarters in Den Haag. The team for the Allies -- England, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and the United Provinces -- had theirs in Delft. The negotiations took place halfway between them in Rijswijk.

During that summer, Sir Francis Child, an English banker and politician, toured the area, which he recorded in the unpublished "A journal of my travels through the United Provinces."

He devoted a short passage to his visit to Leeuwenhoek's house. First, he noted that Leeuwenhoek was "a fellow of our Royal Society". Through a microscope that magnified objects “one million times”, he saw “the testicles and eggs of lice, the eggs of oysters and several other dissections of the most minute insects”. He recommended reading of Arcana naturae detecta, Leeuwenhoek's recently published volume of letters translated into Latin.

On September 10 of that year, Leeuwenhoek sent Letter 110 (AB 188) to the Royal Society. In it, he wrote about oysters, perhaps the ones he showed Child.

On May 9 of the following year, Leeuwenhoek sent Letter 111 (AB 193) to the Royal Society, In it, he wrote about "various English gentlemen" who had visited him in the summer of 1697:

I have spoken before of the numerous facets with which the small creatures such as dragon-flies, flies, etc. are furnished, which facets or eyes I often showed to their great satisfaction to various gentlemen who did me the honour to visit me; indeed, in such a way that they could plainly discern the objects through each of the facets, up to some hundreds at a time. And amongst other things last summer I showed various English gentlemen the numerous facets in the cornea, which is called an eye, with which a beetle is furnished.

This sight appeared strange to the said English gentlemen, the more so because, when in England a person is reproached with his blindness or poor eyesight, he is often told: "you are as blind as a beetle", because the beetle is held to be blind.