Leeuwenhoek’s Legacy to the Royal Society V

In this final entry on Leeuwenhoek’s legacy to the Royal Society, as found in The Philosophical Transactions and Collections, to the End of the Year 1700 By Royal Society (Great Britain), Mr Folkes discusses the skill and tenacity required to repeat the same observations as recorded by Leeuwenhoek:

But however excellent these Glasses may be judg’d, ‘Mr. Leeuwenhoek’s Discoveries are not entirely to be imputed to their Goodness only: His own great Judgment, and Experience in the Manner of using them, together with the continual Application he gave to that Business, and the indefatigable Industry with which he contemplated often and long upon the same Subject, viewing it under many and different Circumstances, cannot but have enabled him to form better Judgments of the Nature of his Objects, and see farther into their Constitution, than it can be imagined any other Person can do, that neither has the Experience, nor has taken the Pains this curious Author had so long done.

Nor ought we to forget a Piece of Skill, in which he very particularly excell’d, which was that of preparing his Objects in the best Manner, to be view’d by the Microscope -, and of this I am persuaded, any one will be satisfied, who shall apply himself to the Examination of some of the same Objects as do yet remain before these Glass; at least, I have my self found so much Difficulty in this Particular, as to observe a very sensible Difference between the Appearances of the same Object, when apply’d by my self, and when view’d with Glasses of the very same Goodness. I have the rather insisted upon this, as it may be a Caution to us, that we do not rashly condemn any of this Gentleman’s Observations, tho’ even with his own Glasses, if we Could not immediately be able to verify them our selves. We are under very great Disadvantages for want of the Experience he had, and he has himself put us in Mind, more than once, that those who are the best skill’d in the Use of magnifying Glasses, may be misled, if they give too sudden a Judgment upon what they see, or till they have been assured from repeated Experiment?. But we have seen so many, and those of his most surprizing Discoveries, so perfectly confirmed, by great numbers of the most curious and judicious Observers, that there can surely be no reason to distrust his accuracy in those others, which have not yet been so frequently or carefully examined.


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