Wrote Letter 32 of 1680-06-14 (AB 62) to Thomas Gale

June 14, 1680
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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.

The original manuscript on five quarto pages, written and signed by Leeuwenhoek, is preserved along with three figures at the Royal Society (MS. 1886. L 1. 57).


The original drawings are preserved by the Royal Society. The Dutch and Latin editions that Leeuwenhoek published used the same three small plates placed in the text where they were discussed. The figures on the left sidebar came from the 1695 first edition of Arcana Naturae Detecta published by Kronevelt in Delft.

In the text, Leeuwenhoek said that he made all three of these drawings. He drew the two of the yeast cells in red chalk and the tube in ink.

For ocular demonstration of this combination, I took 6 globules of bees' wax and united them as in fig. 1, arranging and drawing them so as to show each of the six globules.

Next I took these six joined globules and rolled them in my hands so as to give them the form of fig. 2, judging that what my hands did in order to compress the globules of wax, the fermentation of the beer will do to compress the globules of yeast in a similar manner, after which globules of yeast will be perfect.

Scans of the original drawing from Alle de Brieven / Collected Letters (right sidebar; click to enlarge) have the lines of shading that Leeuwenhoek added to show the three-dimensionality of the globules and the tube. That was near the limits of his drawing skills. Perhaps he used ink when he drew the tube because he  probably used a ruler to make the lines straight and parallel.

Alle de Brieven / Collected Letters (vol. III, p. 243) noted:

The editions have three drawings under fig. 1; in the manuscript only one has been found. In the printed editions fig. 3 is reproduced hatched and considerably diminished in size. Dobell reproduced the same figure, both from Leeuwenhoeck's original drawing and from the copperplate in van Gaesbeek's edition.