Leeuwenhoek’s Legacy to the Royal Society IV

Continuing the series, this passage opens with the visit of Queen Mary (1662-1694), wife of the Dutch William of Orange and together joint rulers of England:

Queen Mary II

Another Particular, to the same Purpose, I would not omit, and that is, That upon the late Queen Mary’s doing Mr. Leeuwenhoek the Honour of a Visit at Delft, and viewing his Curiosities with great Satisfaction, he presented her with a Couple of his Microscopes, which, as I have been inform’d by one who had them considerable Time in his Hands, were of the same Sort as these, and did not any ways differ from one of the 13 Cases contain’d in the Drawers of this Cabinet. The Glasses are all exceedingly clear and shew the Object very bright and distinct which must be owing to the great Care this Gentleman took, in the Choice of his Glass, his Exactness in giving it the true Figure; and afterwards, amongst many, reserving such only for his Use, as he, upon Tryal, found to be most excellent.

Their Powers of magnifying are different, as different Sorts of Objects may require, and, as on the one Hand, being all ground Glasses, none of them are so small, and consequently magnify tо so great a Degree, as some of those Drops, frequently us’d in other Microscopes -, yet, on the other, the Distinctness of these very much exceeds what I have met with in the Glasses of that Sort ; and this was what Mr. Leeuwenboek ever principally propos’d to himself, rejecting all those Degrees of magnifying in which he could not so well obtain that End; for he informs us in one of his Letters, where he is speaking of the excessive Praise some give to their Glasses on this Account, that although he had above Forty Years had Glasses by him of an extraordinary Smallness, he had made but very Little use of them; as having found, in a long Course of Experience, that the most considerable Discoveries were to be made with such Glasses as, magnifying but moderately, exhibited the Object with the most perfect Brightness and Distinction.


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