Antonio Magliabechi wrote Letter L-272 of 1695-10-12 to thank Leeuwenhoek for dedicating Arcana Natura Detecta to him and to report on several recent books written in Latin and Italian by Italians that he thought might be of interest

October 12, 1695

No manuscript is known.

In this excerpt from his letter, Magliabechi expresses his thanks to L. for dedicating Arcana Natura Detecta to him. He showed Leeuwenhoek’s letter of 16 August 1695 to Duke Cosimo III and his sons. Magliabechi adds reports of several recent books that he thought might be of interest to Leeuwenhoek written in Latin and Italian by Italians Gaetano Fontana, Gaetano Moretti, Domenico Guglielmini, and Angelo Marchetti.

The text as printed here is that of editor Pieter Rabus’s translation of part of the letter in De Boekzaal van Europe, which regularly published “Italiaansch Boeknieuws”, excerpts from letters by Magliabechi. Here, Rabus puts Magliabechi’s words in quotation marks and provides his own loose translations of the Latin and Italian titles. This letter is the second of the eleven letters with book news published in ten Boekzaal articles from March 1693 to October 1699.

Leeuwenhoek referred to this letter in Letter L-276 of 31 October 1695 to Magliabechi:

Your very welcome Letter of 12 October 1695 was delivered to me on the 28th of this month by the Rev. Father Daniel van Papenbroek of Antwerp. After noting the content of your letter, I was astonished about all the tokens of goodwill contained therein, and also when I learned that my letter to you [of 16 August] was appreciated so greatly by you that you communicated it the next day to the eminent duke and the princes, which I was very pleased to hear. But I must say that my speculations do not deserve even one thousandth part of the appreciation you bestow upon them.

Leeuwenhoek referred to this letter again in Letter L-282 of 22 December 1695 to Magliabechi:

To your very welcome letter, which you wrote to me on the 12th of October, I wrote an answer on the 31st of October.


“Italiaansch Boeknieuws”, De Boekzaal van Europe, November and December 1695, pp. 538-43. – Dutch translation of part of the original Latin and Italian letter.

Copied and pasted from Collected Letters, vol. 20, "this volume" in the footnotes.


Italian Book News, drawn from the letter of the famous Mr. Antonio Magliabechi[1], librarian of his Regal Serenity, the Grand Duke of Tuscany[2], written to Mr. Antoni van Leeuwenhoek from Florence.

The letter reads in Italian.

Illmo. e dottissino. Sigre., mio Sigre., e pad. como.  Oggi appunto ricevo la sua umanissima ed elegantissima lettera &c.

That is,


“I just received Your Honor’s very kind and polite letter, also with the first printed page of the book that Your Honor truly with an abundance of goodness and kindness graciously dedicates to me[3]. I assure you that my eyes hardly believed the sight of such a great honor, with good reason doubting to misunderstand. To tell the truth, when have I ever deserved that the very famous Mr. Leeuwenhoek would deem me worthy for one of his so glorious and critically acclaimed works? It’s true, I have had the greatest honor for you, but never the good fortune to serve you in any matter, even in the least. So is your goodness and kindness the greater, etc. value, for I with the pen, and even more with the heart, say the greatest thanks to you that I know and can; the honor being so great that, knowing it not deserved by me, I would not have dared, not even with thoughts, to harbor ambition for it.

“Tomorrow I will show your letter, as well as the printed page, not only to the illustrious grand prince, my lord, but also all of the serene princes[4] who are here, because the honor that you have pleased to grant to me, redounds to the glory of the whole court.

“Your Honor’s letter will be more pleasant to the above-mentioned princes, for so much is mentioned in it that the Serene Paltzer Electoress[5] in the last week has been on [in?] your renowned [konstvertrek][6]. I will, by the occasion of the ship which comes from Livorno, expect some prints of the book to offer myself to the serene princes. My request is that on top of the pack of the printed copy, please write my name, and seal it yourself, so that it is safe to come, and straightforward, to the recommendation of the consul at Livorno[7].

“To fill the sheet, I will write to you about some learned news from Italy, without much order, as it comes into my mind, now hindered by great pursuits.

“Father Fontana[8] has sent me his next book, dedicated to Mr. Kassini[9].”

Institutio Physico-Astronomica, adjecta in fine appendice Geographica, auctore, D. Cajetano Fontana etc.

That is,

The principles of physics and astronomy, to which is added a geographical appendix by Father Kajetano Fontana. In Modena by A. Kapponi and H. Pontiroli.

“Father Moretti[10] has ordered the following for me.”

Firmamentum novissime denudatum, in quo supputantur omnia sydera fixa usque adhuc observata, cum sua cujuscunque longitudine abeclyptica, Declinatione, Ascensione recta, Mediatione coeli, Magnitudine, & Natura Planetarum. Nec non differentia ascensionali, Arcu semidiurno, Arcu seminocturno, Ascensione, Descensione obliqua, Amplitudine ortiva. Una cum Zodiaci gradibus, cum quibus oriuntur, & occidunt. A gradu primo usque ad sexagesimum elevationis utriusque Poli. Opus nunquam ab aliis editum, non solum Astronomis & Astrologis, sed etiam Medicis, Nautis, & Agricolis utilissimum, fere ad totum terrarum orbem accommodatum, & ab anno 1680 calculatum, inserviensque ad annum 1750, quibue annis transactis aquari potest perpetuo per tabulas Logarithmicas hic appositas. Ubi stelle de novo antiquis additae hoc signo + erunt signate. Auctore Cajetano de Moretti &.

That is,

The cope of heaven, newly uncovered: where in are enumerated all of the fixed stars, up until now observes, with one of each, etc. (that is for the learned, who undertand the course of the heavens) a work, never before published by others, very useful not alone for astonomers, but also for doctors, seafaring men, and husbandsmen, applied almost to around the whole world, computed from the year 1680, and serving until the year 1750, after which years it can be continually adjusted by calculation tables, furnished here. The stars, the new added to the old, will be marked with such a tick +. By Kajetano de Moretti from Bologna. In Bologna 1695, in 4, by P. M. de Montibus. A thick book.

“I have from Mr. Guiljelmini[11], on command of Mr. Kassini, received his book, thus titled.”

La meridiana det Tempio di S. Petronio, tirate & preparata per le offervazzioni astronomiche l’anno 1655 di Gio. Dominico Cassini astronomo primario dello studio di Bologna, Matematico Pontifecio, e dell’ Accademia regia delle scienze. Rirista dal medisimo, e restaurata l’anno 1695.

That is,

The meridian drawn from the Temple of S. Peter[12], and prepared through astronomical observations in the year 1655 by Joh. Dominikus Kassini, first astronomer in Bologna, papal mathematician, and member of the Royal Academy of Sciences [in Paris], overseen by himself, and renewed in the year 1695, in Bologna, “it is believed by Vittorio Benacci[13] in fol. with prints.

“The dedication is to Mr. Guilielmini, who has added an appendix to it.

“Mr. Angelo Marchetti, son of Mr. Alexandfer Marchetti, famous for various books of philosophy and mathematics[14], that he has published and that you will have seen, has presented me with this, his new little book.”

La natura della proporzione, e della proporzionalita, con nuovo, facile, e sicuro metodo spiegata da Angelo Marchetti Accademico dell’ Arcadia di Roma, & dal medesimo dedicata al Ser. mo Cosmo III Gran Duca di Toscano.

That is,

The nature of proportion and making proportional, with a new, easy, and safe[15] teaching explained by Angelo Marchetti, academist of the academic assembly in Rome, and the same offered up to serene Cosmo III Great Duke of Tuscany. In Pistoia in the new print shop of Stefano Gatti. 1695. in 8.

“Apollonius Pergeus[16] of Komandijn[17] is being reprinted in this city Pistoia, and I believe that it will be printed in two months. From some pages sent to me, I have seen that they will print it quite well; so that I do not believe that this new printing will be to any degree less than that of Komandijn himself. With this sheet here being full, I’ll put an end to bothering you longer; remaining, after renewed thanksgiving [the rest are courteous words] Your Honor, etc.”

all of the highest obligation, etc.

         Antonio Magliabechi.

Florence, the 12th
of Wine month[18]

Below that was.

“Mr. Henrik Kopes[19], council member in ’s Hertogenbosch, truly a very learned and polite gentleman, was detained here for a few days. He has, making me ashamed, presented me with the new printing of Francois Junius’s work about the painting art of the ancients[20], and left last week for Rome[21].”


[1] Magliabechi was librarian to Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici of Tuscany. His previous letter to L. is Letter L-238 of before March 1694, in this volume.

[2] Cosimo III de’ Medici (1642-1723) was the grand duke of Tuscany from 1670 to 1723. In the late 1660s, he twice traveled to the Dutch Republic, where he visited Constantijn Huygens, Nicolaes Heinsius, Isaac Vossius, Jacobus Gronovius, Georgius Graevius, Frederik Ruysch, and Johannes Swammerdam.

[3] Arcana Natura Detecta, printed in Delft by Henrik Krooneveld in 1695. The dedication is Letter 152 L-265, Collected Letters, vol. 11.

[4] Cosimo III had a daughter, Anna Maria, and two sons, Ferdinando (1663-1713) and Gian Gastone (1671-1737), who succeeded his father.

[5] Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici (1667-1743) was the daughter of Cosimo III and the second wife of Johann Wilhelm II, Elector Palatine. Along with her husband and mother-in-law, Anna Maria visited L. in August 1695. See Appendix 16, in this volume, for a complete list of known visitors to L.’s house.

[6] Cabinet pieces? Art room? (that is, pieces worthy of displaying? Could she have brought some specimens from Leeuwenhoek’s house?)

[7] L. must have received this letter quickly because by the end of the month, he followed Magliabechi’s instructions. Livorno was the major port along the Tuscan coast, a duty-free port that attracted merchants from all over the world. The consul managed trade between the Dutch Republic and the Republic of Florence. At the time, Jacob Calckberner was the consul. See L.’s letter to Calckberner, Letter L-277 of 31 October 1695, in this volume.

[8] Gaetano Fontana (1645-1719) was an Italian priest and astronomer.

[9] Giovanni Domenico Cassini (1625-1712) was an Italian/French mathematician, astronomer and engineer.

[10] Paolo Gaetano Moretti ( -1697) was a priest and astronomer from Bologna.

[11] For Domenico Guglielmini, see Letter L-219 of 24 June 1692 from Magliabechi to L., n. 10, in this volume. Magliabechi mentions other books by Guglielmini in Letter L-310 of 18 December 1696, Letter L-322 of 1 June 1697, and Letter L-381 of mid-1701, in this volume.

[12] St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.

[13] After the death of Vittorio Benacci (1571-1629), his printing and bookselling business was run by his brother-in-law Girolamo Donini until 1679.

[14] Angelo Marchetti (1674-1753) was an Italian astronomer from Pistoia and a member of the Accademia Dell’Arcadia of Rome. His father, Allesandro Marchetti (1633-1714), was an Italian philosopher and mathematician. For Accademia Dell’Arcadia (The Academy of Arcadia), see Letter L-350 of the end of 1698, n. 7, in this volume.

[15] The Dutch is veilige, but the Italian is sicuro. In the sense of betrouwbaar, maybe a better translation would be “reliable”?

[16] Apollonius of Perga (late 3rd - early 2nd centuries BC) was a Greek geometer and astronomer who developed the theory of conic sections still used today.

[17] Not identified.

[18] Rabus wrote Wijnmaand, the old Dutch word for October.

[19] Hendrik Copes (-1708) was a geographer and anthropologist from ’s Hertogenbosch. He studied the Texandri, a Germanic people living during the first century C.E. between the Scheldt and Rhine rivers. See Van der Aa, Biog. Woordenboek der Nederlanden, vol. III, pp. 705-06.

[20] Franciscus Junius (1591-1677) was a philologist who was born in Germany and educated in the Dutch Republic, where he lived for the rest of his life. The new printing that Magliabechi refers to here is the 1694 enlarged second edition of De pictura veterum, originally published in 1637, translated into Dutch in 1641 as De Schilder-konst der Oude (The painting art of the ancients), and reprinted in 1659. It was the first comprehensive overview of ancient writings on the visual arts.

[21] Magliabechi’s next letter to L. is Letter L-273 of two days later, 14 October 1695, in this volume.