Francis Aston wrote Letter L-140 to Leeuwenhoek about the translation of a Dutch phrase concerning egg yolks

October 11, 1683

No manuscript is known. This letter was never published.

In this letter, Francis Aston writes to L. about the translation of a Dutch phrase from his letter of 16 July 1683. He discusses the cicatricula of chicken eggs.

The date is New Style, which was ten days ahead of the Old Style date of 1 October used by Aston in London. The copy of the letter in London, Royal Society, Letter Book Original 9.14, 2 pp. has no salutation or signature. The spelling has been modernized.

Aston’s previous letter to L., Letter L-130 of 27 August 1683, in this volume, is known only by Leeuwenhoek’s reference to it in Letter L-134 of 16 September 1683 to Anthonie Heinsius and in Leeuwenhoek’s response to Aston, Letter L-135 of 17 September 1683.

Leeuwenhoek referenced the present letter in Letter L-144 of 28 December 1683 to Aston:

In your welcome letter of October 1st 1683 you say among other things: ‘I hope you have received the Transactions we last sent to you.’ I have since anxiously looked out for them. I am at a loss, however, for neither before nor after that have I received any Transactions.

Here, L. directly and accurately translated Aston’s words, as he did twice previously, Letter L-123 of 26 February 1683 and Letter L-124 of 9 March 1683.

Leeuwenhoek responded to the present letter with Letter L-143 of 26 October 1683 about the cicatricula on the yolk of an egg. Before Aston could reply, Leeuwenhoek sent Letter L-144 of 28 December 1683 about skin diseases, intestines, and the effects of vinegar. It was read at the Royal Society’s meeting of 13 February 1683/4 O.S. See Birch, The History of the Royal Society of London, vol. IV, p. 254:

An extract of a letter for Mr. Leewenhoeck, dated at Delft December 28, 1683 was read, containing some farther observations of the scales growing upon men as they do on fishes: of the scales on the middle of the lips: of a scaly child: also an examination of the slimy matter or woolly substance within the guts: and an experiment, that water passes through a bladder, when wine will not.

This experiment was not looked upon as new, though the truth of it was not doubted of.

Letter L-144 was published in Philosophical Transactions, vol. 14, no. 160, dated 20 June 1684 and titled, “An abstract of a letter from Mr. Leevvenhoeck of Delst, dated Decemb. 28th, 1683. concerning scales within the mouth, the scaly child that was shewn, the anatomy of the slime within the guts, and the use thereof”.

In Aston’s next letter to L., Letter L-146 of 7 March 1684, in this volume, he acknowledges receipt of Letter 79 [40] L-144 of 28 December 1683 and encourages L. to do more experiments.


Letter Book Original volume 9 pp. 26-27

Mr. Aston to Mr. Leewenhoeck
mentioning the Receipt of his
Letter &c.

I Have received your Letter of the 17th of September, which I will not fail to communicate to the Society as soon as they meet (after their usual Vacation) which I think will be in a weeks time. I forgot to ask you in my last letter whether by the words Het plaetie of Stipie van het doyr, you did not mean the Cicatricula which is a speck like an Eye sticking to the Outside of the coat of the yoalk, this is the principall part without the chicken has its first original. But (you know) the chicken is first nourisht by the white of the Egg, and afterwards when that is consumed by the yoalk. In this Cicatricula, which is in all Eggs, Malpighius has found the Lineaments of the Chicken. And I suppose this is the part where the Animal of the Male seed may be received. I hope the last Transactions I sent are come to your hands, when three or 4 more are publisht I le send them according to your directions. I wish you good Success in all your undertakings, and shall be very glad to serve you in what lyes in my power as &c. London October 1st. 1683. S. V.