A certain gentleman, Angelus van Wijkhuysen, wrote Letter L-269 before September 1695 to inform Leeuwenhoek about mussel gatherers and a minister who believed that mussels are formed by spontaneous generation

September 1, 1695

This letter is known only by reference in another letter.

A "certain gentleman" writes to inform Leeuwenhoek about mussel gatherers and a minister who believe that mussels are formed by spontaneous generation from marine vapors and exhalations and from decaying bodies and how they hang on apple trees.


Letter L-271 of 18 September 1695 to Johann Wilhelm von Pfalz-Neuburg

I cannot help adding a passage from a letter written to me by a certain gentleman who lives in a place where there are many mussels and who not only pays attention to, but also agrees with my thesis concerning generation. This gentleman states, amongst other things, the opinion of the mussel gatherers and the public about the generation of the mussels as follows:

“I have found not only the mussel gatherers, but others as well, to believe that the mussels drop from the air and are made from vapours of the sea, exhalations, etc. Nay, when I tried to convince a certain minister of this town, who had lived for some years in a certain part of this island where there grow many mussels, of his mistake concerning the generation of animals, he adhered so firmly to his above-mentioned opinion on the generation of mussels that it was impossible to make him see reason, in spite of the fact that I added your observations to my above-mentioned reasons, etc.”

I would add here more passages from the letter, on the other ridiculous theses of the minister and of a distinguished gentleman concerning the generation of many animals from exhalations or from decaying or putrefied bodies, and how the mussels hang on the apple trees, but I feel ashamed to quote further excerpts from the gentleman’s letter, and we must be sorry that today there are still found among us so many people - some of whom are considered scholars and ought to oppose the old errors and to embrace the truth - who are so stupid.