Thomas Gale wrote a letter to Leeuwenhoek reviewing his recent "ingenious and curious communications"

March 12, 1686

The newly chosen secretary of the Royal Society, Thomas Gale, wrote a friendly, encouraging letter to Leeuwenhoek, dated 2 March 1686 O.S., reviewing some of his recent observations.


Transcribed here verbatim from the Letter Book Original. This letter is not in Alle de Brieven / Collected Letters.

March 2

Yrs. of the 12 of Octob. to Mr. Aston, was by him safely delivered to the Royal Society, who have so great a value for so constant, and so communicative a Correspondent to let your letters goe unanswered so long; but so it is, that the Society being unexpectedly deprived of the Service of Mr. Aston by whom the whole charge of the Correspondence was undertaken, their affairs were very much retarded thereby, and it is but lately that they have reassumed their meetings upon a new model which they conceive may be less subject to the like inconveniences, so that for this time they beg your excuse, and promise you for the future a more ready returne of their thanks, for your ingenious and curious communications.

Your letter contains in it a great many particulars, in all which you fail not to add some new discovery or to confirm the old, and especially where you tell them that the Cotton seed contains in it a perfect plant capable to shift for itself without any Oleaging pabulum, as is ordinary in the seed of most other plants, to maintain its deriving its infancy, if I may so say, however they think it worth the considering whether those plants you examined might not be somewhat too old, that so the substance designed for nutriment might be dried up and extenuated so, as to pass for leaves or else whether there might not be contained within the stem which in your figures you design large, a substance analogous to the yolk of an Egg as it is in the bellies of Chickens and undoubtedly in those insects you mention to have found without a pabulum in their shells, but this only by way of inquiry, and to know your opinion thereon: you likewise advance an opinion that the hitherto supposed pores of the skin are rather the most compact parts thereof, and that the cuticula is in those little cavities more firmly than ordinary affixt by some ligatures to the cutis, which tho it be strange is not without great shew of probability, especially if upon view the sweat be found to flow less freely through those pores than elsewhere.

Another of your discoveries, it is to be feard, will pass for paradoxicall in the judgment of most men, to wit, that whereby you find the slime of Eels, and other fish not an Excrement but a real necessary part of their bodies, and likewise have scales of its one, this is what the Society wonders at, and would be glad they had glasses capable to shew them those miracles, which tho upon your credit they dare not disbelieve, yet their satisfaction would be more entire, could they but see them themselves. Lastly your speculations upon mixtures of several Chymicall liquours with the blood, are in the opinion of the Society highly worth the prosecuteing, there being hopes that by this means some light may be drawn towards the discovery of the abstruse and mysterious ... of some medicines in the body, those effects, tho never so surprizing are not otherwise known then by their symptoms this therefore they recommend to your further examination with hearty wishes of success, there being scarce anything more beneficial to man-kind than would be the advancement of the most Emperial art of Medicine into a scientificall knowledg.

They have yet one further request to you, that since at this time the Eggs of silk-worms, and the things that happen to them could be reason of the foregoing hard winters be observed by you, they desire you thing spring to view the spawn of frogs, and to note ye method yt nature takes in ye production of those animals, for it is reasonable to suppose yt ye generation of most if not all oviparous fishes is after ye same manner.