Henry Oldenburg wrote Letter L-041 to Leeuwenhoek; sent Philosophical Transactions no. 127

October 18, 1676

Oldenburg wrote this letter on October 8 in London, when it was October 18 in Delft. It wasn't until the following day that Oldenburg received Letter 18 of 1676-10-09.

This letter is known only by Leeuwenhoek's reference to it in his reply, Letter L-043 of 1676-10-30 (AB 27). Leeuwenhoek thanked him for Philosophical Transactions no. 127, which had an excerpt from his Letter L-036 of 21 April 1676.

In this letter, Henry Oldenburg writes to Leeuwenhoek that his observations about the anatomy of trees in his Letter L-035 of 21 April 1676 were well received by Nehemiah Grew. Leeuwenhoek’s observations about the influence of air on ammonia and copper in his letter of 28 July 1676 were well received by Robert Boyle, to whom Leeuwenhoek had addressed that letter. Oldenburg also enclosed a copy of Philosophical Transactions, no. 127, which contained the letter of 21 April.

This letter is calendared as Letter 2986 in Hall and Hall, The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg, vol. XIII, July 1676 – July 1681, p. 97.

In Letter L-035 of 21 April 1676, Collected Letters, vol. 2, L. wrote:

Monsieur Constantijn Huygens of Zulichem was pleased to show me the Anatomy of trees written by Doctor Grew, and told me, that he had very ingeniously and learnedly discoursed upon that subject; though I, by reason of my unskillfulness in the English tongue, could have little more than the contentment of viewing the elegant cuts.

Because none of Grew’s publications have the title “Anatomy of trees” and his Anatomy of Plants was not published until 1682, it is not clear to which publication L. refers.


Letter L-043 of 30 October 1676 to Henry Oldenburg:

My previous letter was of the 9th inst. Since then I received your esteemed letter of the 8th, together with Transaction Nr. 127, in which was inserted my letter of April 21st. I received both through a German friend, but neither from your letter nor from the Transaction could I learn whether you received my letter of May 29th. If the same has been lost I will send you a copy.

I was very pleased with Mr. Grew’s remarks on my letter (albeit I do not understand it) and when I succeed in having it translated, I most certainly will answer him. Be so good as to give the gentleman aforesaid my best regards. I am not afraid that Mr. Grew will take it ill if I should have made some remarks that disagree with his observations, especially since I am not acquainted with his writings on the subject.

I was also pleased to learn that Mr. Boyle agreed with my observations which I sent him with some misgiving. Please give this gentleman my humblest regards.