Antonio Magliabechi wrote Letter L-310 to Leeuwenhoek with reports on several recent books that he thought might be of interest written in Latin by Italians

December 18, 1696

No manuscript is known.

In this excerpt from his letter, Magliabechi reported on several recent books that he thought might be of interest to Leeuwenhoek written in Latin by Italians Filippo Bonanni, Celestyn Sfondrati, Jacob de Sandris, Domenico Guglielmini, Giovanni Battista Tolomei, Gulj. Bonjour, and Giovanni Battista Scaramucci. Rabus ended the article by noting a letter from Herman Lufneu to be published in an upcoming issue of Boekzaal.

The text here is that of editor Pieter Rabus’s article in De Boekzaal van Europe, which regularly published “Italiaansch Boeknieuws”, excerpts from letters by Magliabechi. This letter was the sixth of the eleven letters with book news published in ten Boekzaal articles from March 1693 to October 1699. Here, Rabus put Magliabechi’s words in quotation marks and provided his own sometime loose translations of the Latin titles.

In one of his published letters, Leeuwenhoek referred to this letter from Magliabechi and reveals parts of the letter that Pieter Rabus had not included in the Boekzaal.


Letter L-323 of 6 June 1697 to Magliabechi

Recently I received your very welcome letter, with the printed letter addressed to you by the excellent medical doctor Scaramucci, which letter speaks, inter alia, about the petrified skeleton of an elephant, found in Saxony.

However this may be, I agree with those who believe that neither bones, nor shells, nor fishes are formed under ground, but that the earth has been subject to many mutations, as a result of which mountains and whole regions have been converted into sea and conversely high mountains have arisen from the sea, and thus we do not have to wonder that the bowels of mountains, viz. fishes, shells, etc., have been converted into stones.

“Italiaansch Boeknieuws”, De Boekzaal van Europe, January and February 1697, pp. 183-86. Copied and pasted from Collected Letters, vol. 20, which is "this volume" in the references.

The letter of Mr. Antoni Magliabechi[1], of the 18th of Wintermonth[2] 1696 written from Florence to Mr. Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, presents us with the following book news.

In Rome is printed by Cefarerti and Parimbani.

Numismata summorum Pontificum, Templi Vaticani fabricamindicantia, Chronologia ejusdem Febricae narratione ac multiplici eruditione explicata, atque uberiori Numismatum omnium Pontificiorum lucubrationi veluti prodromus praemissa a patre Philippo Bonanni Societatis Jesu.

That is,

Papal commemorative medals, signifying the building of the Vatican Temple, with a chronology of the same, unfolded in extensive scholarship; and with a copious edition of all the commemorative medals of the Popes, as a forerunner sent from Father Filips Bonanni[3], Jezuit 1696.

This forerunner of the great expected work gives a sketch of the contents of the 86 plates that illuminate the above-mentioned history of medals.


Printed in Rome by Jakob Komark.

Nodus praedestinationis ex sacris litteris Doctrinaque S. S. Augustini & Thomae, quantum homini licet, dissolutus, auctore Coelestino S. R. E. Presbytere Cardinali Sfrondato &c. &c.

That is,

The knot of predestination, from the holy scriptures and the teachings of Augustine and Thomas, as far as a man is free, released by Celestyn Sfondrati[4], Cardinal, etc., etc.

It was published after his death by the Franciscan Damascene[5], who, in the preface of it himself, thus makes himself heard among others.

“But alas, what great goods has death torn from the untimely blow of that one Sfondrati! A most eloquent treatise was now ready from him, concerning the probable opinions, two very learned discourses against the heretics on infant baptism; he prepared a very clear history of the Renunciation; another discourse, with powerful remedies, against Heidegger’s vile book of Zurich, titled The Whore in Revelations[6]; likewise his notes on spiritual law, during the five years that he declared it at Zaltzburg, edited into three parts; all which, in conjunction with the other manuscripts of well-reported authors, have been given for safekeeping to Cardinal Albano[7] by order of his Holiness Innocent XII, etc.”


De naturali & praeternaturalis Sanguinis statu medica specimina Jacobi de Sandris, Philosophiae & Medicinae Doctoris in Bononiensi Universitate Anatomes & Chirurg, Professoris. Quibus accedit Dissertatio de Ventriculo, Glandulis, & Emeticis.

That is,

            Medical experiments of the natural state of the blood, by Jacob de Sandris[8] philosopher and physician, and at the university of Bolonga professor of dissection and surgery. Then comes a discourse about the stomach, glands, and emetic. In Bolonga by P. M. de Montibus 1696. in 4.


            In the same city of Bologna now at press the book of Mr. Guilielmini[9] concerning the nature of rivers.


The Jesuit Prolomei[10] has published his philosophy in Rome in fol. This work has not yet been exported.


The Augustiner Father Gulj. Bonjour van Tolouze recently mentioned[11], writes from Roome, that he intends to have this printed soon.

Dynastiae AEgyptiorum, novis observationibus & calculis illustratae, in defensionem Editionis Vulgate, seu Hebraicae Veritatis vindicias a Graecis Codicibus.

That is,

The dynastic ages of the Egyptians, clarified with new observations and accounts, in defense of the common Latin Bible translation[12], or confirmation of the Hebrew truth against the Greek books.


Mr. Scaramucci[13], primary city doctor in Urbino, has some familiar thoughts printed there.


My printer presently assures me that the letter from Mr. Lufneu[14], occurring here on p. 123[15], is refuted in the next issue of Boekzaal[16], and the workings of Mr. Rettwich[17] will be confirmed[18].


[1] Antonio Magliabechi (1633-1714) was librarian to Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici of Tuscany. See the Biog. Reg., Collected Letters, vol. 6, p. 391. His previous letter to L. is Letter L-293 of 8 July 1696, in this volume. L. replied with Letter 173 L-301 of 28 August 1696 and Letter 175 L-303 of 7 September 1696, both in idem, vol. 12.

[2] Wintermaand is the old Dutch name for December.

[3] Filippo Bonanni (1638-1723; also, Buonanni) was an Italian Jesuit scholar who wrote about various topics, from anatomy to music to lacquer. His practical illustrated guide for shell collectors (1681) made him a founder of conchology. In Observationes circa Viventia, quae in Rebus non Viventibus (Observations about living things in non-living things, 1691), he used a microscope to demonstrate the possibility of spontaneous generation. See the Biog. Reg., Collected Letters, vol. 10, p. 311. Magliabechi mentions other books by Bonanni in Letter L-326 of August 1697 and Letter L-359 of 8 September 1699, both in this volume. L. was familiar with Bonanni’s work. He refuted it in two letters to the Royal Society, both in vol. 10.

Letter 134 [80] L-239 of 2 March 1694: “I have had sent to me the summary of a book printed at Rome and edited by Father Philippus Bonnanius S.J., in which the latter maintains that animate beings spring from inanimate beings, such as shellfish from mud, and also little animals from water, flowers, fish, and rotten flesh. I have already put on paper some arguments against this author’s opinion and I thought of sending them to Your Honours. I believe this gentleman lacks correct observations. I am taking the liberty to send Your Honours a copy of the printed sheet.”

Letter 137 [83] L-242 of 30 April 1694: “On the 2nd of March last I sent Your Honours a copy of a summary of a certain book, printed in Rome, the author of which is the very learned Mr. Philippo Bonanni, a priest of the Society of Jesus, who maintains that little animals can spring from inanimate matter without generation, according to Aristotle’s theory.

“The venerable very learned gentleman [Magliabechi] who sent me the printed sheet writes to me that there is no one in Rome who is so anxious to see my observations as Mr. Bonanni. I would say the same with regard to Mr. Bonanni’s observations. In the sheet sent to me the following statement was made amongst other things. Since the author of this book holds to the opinion of the ancients, and in particular of Aristotle, about the generation of shell-fishes, asserting that they are born spontaneously in mud or sandy earth, etc.

“Here it is seen, very noble sirs, how [the opinion of] some of the members of the Royal Society is disputed, who have exerted themselves in studying generation, and the numerous observations made by them as well as myself, and who always found that no creature is produced except by generation. But as for me, I do not bother about this, nor do I doubt but that Mr. Bonanni’s theories will dissolve into thin air.”

Rabus discusses these opposing viewpoints in his review of L.’s Vierde Vervolg der Brieven (Fourth continuation of the letters), De Boekzaal van Europe, May and June 1692, pp. 414-417.

[4] Celestino Sfondrati (1644-1696) was an Italian theologian of the Benedictine order who rose to the office of cardinal only months before his death. His posthumous Nodus praedestinationis controversially refuted the Jansenist theories of predestination.

[5] At the end of the unpaginated preface: “Fr. Joannes Damascenus Ord. Min. Convent. Sac. Theol. Magister Sancta Romanae, & Universalis Inquisitionis Qualificator, Sacrarum Congregationum Rituum, & Indicis Consultor, & in Archigymnasio Romana Sapientiae Theologiae Dogmaticase Lector.” Damascenus is not further identified.

[6] Neither the author nor the book is identified.

[7] In 1696, Giovanni Francesco Albani (1649-1721) was a cardinal. Three years later, he succeeded Innocent XII to become Pope Clement XI. His publication of Sfondrati’s Nodus praedestinationis is noted in the journal Historia litteraria; or, An exact and early account of the most valuable books published in the several parts of Europe (1731, vol. II, no. VII, p. 444): “Cardinal Albano (while in that capacity) had been a great admirer of Cardinal Sfondrate’s sentiments, and took care of the impression of his works after his death.”

[8] Giovanni Sandri (1649-1718, also Giacomo; Jacob von Sandris).

[9] For Domenico Guglielmini, (1655-1710; ook Guielmini, Guilielmini), see Letter L-219 of 24 June 1692, n. 10. Magliabechi mentions another book by Guglielmini in Letter L-272 of 12 October 1695. See also Letter L-322 of 1 June 1697, n. 5 and Letter L-381 of mid-1701, n. 11. All four letters from Magliabechi to L. are in this volume.

[10] Giovanni Battista Tolomei (1653-1726) was an Italian Jesuit theologian (later cardinal) who held the chair of philosophy at the Roman College in 1696 when his Philosophia mentis et sensuum was published, championing recent discoveries and developments in the natural sciences.

[11] See Letter L-290 of 5 June 1696 and Letter L-293 of 8 July 1696, in this volume.

[12] At the time, the Clementine Vulgate of 1592 was the Catholic Church’s official Latin Bible, and it remained so until 1979.

[13] Magliabechi is referring to Scaramucci’s Theoremata familiaria viros eruditos consulentia de variis physico-medicis lucubrationibus juxta leges mecanicas scribebat (He wrote familiar theorems to consult learned men on various physico-medical investigations according to mechanical laws), which would be published in Urbino in 1697. For Giovanni Battista Scaramucci (c. 1650-c. 1710), see Letter L-275 of 23 October 1695, n. 12, in this volume, and the Biog. Reg., Collected Letters, vol. 12, p. 407.

[14] Herman Lufneu (1657-1744) was a doctor from Rotterdam and a friend of Peter Rabus. He opposed the use of sympathetic powders recently promoted in Rotterdam by the German quack medical doctor Georg Henrik van Rettwich de Rodachbrun. Van Rettwich’s birth date is unknown, but his dissertation at the university in Harderwijk, under the title De Vero Catharticorum Usu (On the truth of cathartic experimentally) and the name Henricus Georgius Reddewitz, is dated 22 September 1697, so he must have been quite young when he visited L. in May of that year, along with Rabus and Lufneu. For a complete list of the known visitors to L.’s house, see Appendix 16, in this volume.

[15]Een Brief, over the onmogelijkheid der zoo genaamde Symathetische werking, geschreven van den Heere Dr. Herman Lufneu, Rotterdammer Stads-Arts, aan ***” (A letter about the impossibility of the so-called sympathetic working, written by Dr. Herman Lufneu, Rotterdam city doctor, to ***). The addressee was Pierre Bayle, the French Huguenot who lived in Rotterdam after 1681 and from 1684-1687 edited Nouvelles de la république des lettres (a forerunner of Rabus’s Boekzaal) where he had published two letters by L. in Latin translation of the excerpts in Philosophical Transactions, Letter 70 [37] L-122 of 22 January 1683 and Letter 72 [38] L-128 of 16 July 1683, both addressed to Christopher Wren, Collected Letters, vol. 4.

[16] There is no further mention of Lufneu or Rettwich in Boekzaal.

[17] For a discussion of the dueling treatises between Lufneu and Rotterdam physician Jan Schilperoort, who supported Rettwich, along with L.’s contribution, see Van den Elsen, “The Rotterdam sympathy case (1696-1697)”. See also L.’s Letter 184 [108] L-318 of 5 April 1697 to the Royal Society, idem, vol. 12, in which he recounts in detail the visit of Rettwich to his home in Delft, concluding, “In short: all that he has told me about the effect he produced and all that others boast about it finds no belief with me.”

[18] Magliabechi’s next letter to L. is Letter L-322 of 1 June 1697, in this volume.