Wrote Letter L-124 of 1683-03-09 to Francis Aston promising to send observations about generation and colors

March 9, 1683
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Collected Letters volume: 

This letter is known only by reference in Aston’s reply.

In this letter, Leeuwenhoek replies to Francis Aston that he will send the Royal Society his observations about generation and colors, among other things.

Letter L-125 of 27 March 1683 from Francis Aston:

I am to acknowledge the receipt of your last letter dated March 9th and am very glad of your perseverance in making useful observations about natural things, as generation, colours etc which our Society will be very glad to partake of, as soon as you think fit to let them come forth of your hands.

This is Leeuwenhoek’s first letter to Aston, a response to Aston’s Letter L-123 of 26 February 1683, which is lost. In the Royal Society’s Early Letters archive, the first letter from L. to Aston is L1.69, the manuscript of Letter L-135 of 17 September 1683. In no prior letter does L. discuss colours in this way. Further, there is no mention in the records of the meetings of the Royal Society of anything related to Leeuwenhoek between the 7 February 1683 O.S. reading of a translation of Letter L-122 of 22 January 1683 and the 11 July 1683 O.S. reading of a translation of Letter L-128 of 16 July 1683. See Birch, The History of the Royal Society of London, vol. IV, pp. 180, 215.

Finally, in his next letter to Aston, Letter L-135 of 17 September 1683, Leeuwenhoek addresses Aston’s request without any reference to any prior letter discussing colours:

At the end of your letter of 16/26 Febr. 16 82/83 you write: ‘For the present I cannot think of anything that is more worthy of your speculations (if you are not engaged in others) than the brilliancy of various colours, either in powders or in solid bodies, or the various hues of one and the same colour, or whether the colour is present only in one part of the wool which seems to be coloured in all its parts, etc.’

Since then, dear sir, I have given my mind to this and although I fear that I shall not carry this to a succesful end, I shall, however, again apply myself to it.”

See the Remarks to Letter L-130 of 27 August 1683 for the reception of this letter in London.

Again, L. offers a direct translation of Aston’s words. See the Remarks to Letter L-123 of 26 February 1683 and, for a third instance, the Remarks to Letter L-140 of 11 October 1683, both in this volume. For the present letter, however, Aston’s text is not available for comparison to determine the accuracy of L.’s translation.