- de Meij
- de Molijn
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Wrote Letter 18 of 1676-10-09 (AB 26) to Henry Oldenburg
October 9, 1676
Text of the letter in the original Dutch and in English translation from Alle de Brieven / The Collected Letters at the DBNL - De Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren
Leeuwenhoek wrote this letter to Henry Oldenburg about microorganisms in various waters and spice infusions, the relationship of their shape to taste, and whether there were microorganisms in the air.
This is Leeuwenhoek's most famous letter, the one that made his name known world-wide. The bulk of Dobell's "Little Animals" is devoted to a translation and annotation of it.
The heart of the letter is 145 observations of 19 different series of liquids, about half of them infused with various spices.
Other than the observation from the previous September, they were all conducted from mid-April to the end of September, 1676. Some of the observations were one-time only. Many series lasted for a month or two. The longest spanned 18 weeks. A month later, Leeuwenhoek wrote to Constantijn Huygens (AB/CL 28), enclosing a copy of much of this letter of October 9:
I have couched my observations in the form of a journal, merely that they be better credited in England and elsewhere, the more so because the Secretary, Mr. Oldenburg, wrote to tell me some time ago that there actually are learned gentlemen in Paris and elsewhere who do not believe what I saw.
The letter was written in a hand other than his, probably from his notes. The observations are listed here in the order in which Leeuwenhoek discussed them in the letter.
|1||Rain 1||rain standing few days in tub||Sept 15|
|2||Rain 2||rain off slate roof in leaden gutters in glass||May 26|
|3 - 5||Rain 3||May 26||May 31||5 days|
|6 - 12||Rain 4||June 9||June 16||1 week|
|13 - 19||Rain 5||June 9||June 16||1 week|
|20, 21||Rain 6||June 17||June 26||9 days|
What he saw in rain water.
River, Well, and Sea Water
|25 - 30||Sea||July 27||August 8||12 days|
What he saw in these waters.
|31||Pepper 1||3 oz whole pepper in snow water||April 24||3 weeks|
|32 - 50||Pepper 2||½ oz whole pepper in 2 ½ oz snow water in porcelain teacup||April 26||June 1||5 weeks|
|51 - 60||Pepper 3||1/3 oz whole pepper pounded in teacup with 2 ½ oz rainwater, added water from Pepper 2||May 26||June 12||3 weeks|
|61 - 63||Pepper 4||certain quantity of whole pepper in well water||June 14||July 20||5 weeks|
|64 - 93||Pepper 5||a quantity of coarsely ground pepper in well water that already had bacteria in it||August 2||Sept 19||7 weeks|
What he saw in pepper water.
|94, 95||Vinegar||n.d.||2 weeks|
|96 - 106||Ginger||bruised ginger pieces in snow water in tea cup||May 6||June 12||5 weeks|
|107 - 127||Clove||36 cloves in 21 oz rain water with no animals||May 17||Sept 19||18 weeks|
|128 - 145||Nutmeg||pieces of beaten nutmegs in 2? oz well water with only a few extraordinay small creatures||July 13||Sept 7||8 weeks|
What he saw in spiced water.