A wealthy Scottish cloth merchant, William Davidson settled in Amsterdam and married a Dutch woman. Through espionage, he actively supported the exiled Charles II. After being restored to the throne, Charles II knighted Davidson and appointed him Conservator of the Staple at Veere to protect Scottish trading privileges. The Dutchman Anton van Leeuwenhoek was apprenticed to him from age sixteen to age twenty-two.
Van Leeuwenhoek looked at drops of water with home-made lenses. He looked at hundreds of things with hundreds of hand-made microscopes. He lived in exciting times when much was underfoot. Later he looked at rabbit spermatozoa. He sold cloth to pay his bills and freely shared the fruits of his inquiries into the physical world via letters to the Royal Society. I'd wager that the men who farted through silk across the Channel got much mileage out of Anton's studies. He sent information for close to fifty years.
At first he wasn't believed. He had proven the existence of one celled creatures that reproduced rather than occurred spontaneously as was believed by the experts of his day. Much tweaking would now have to be done so that the proper people got the proper credit for the new sciences opening up. Also the spiritual guides would have to decide how to fit in the new knowledge to the old paradigm.
Constantijn Huygens wrote to Robert Hooke on August 8, 1673 that van Leeuwenhoek was “... a modest man, unlearned both in sciences and languages, but of his own nature exceedingly curious and industrious ... always modestly submitting his experiences and conceits about them to the censure and correction of the learned.”
It was some years before Anton's letters about his findings made their way to the Society. He was recommended to a Mr. Heinrich Oldenburg who was the first Secretary in charge of foreign correspondence along with John Wilkins. These two men maintained an extensive network of scientific contacts through Europe. Oldenburg was a German theologian, a natural philosopher and a diplomat while in England. His patron was Robert Boyle and he hung out with John Milton. He tutored Boyle's nephew.
He also became the founding editor of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Oldenburg began the practice of sending submitted manuscripts to experts who would judge their quality before publication. This was the beginning of the modern scientific journal and the practice of peer review. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society continues today and is the longest running scientific journal in the world.
Heinrich Oldenburg was briefly imprisoned as a suspected spy, in 1667, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, seven years after being made a fellow of the Society. Oldenburg's correspondence was supported by politician Sir Joseph Williamson who Oldenburg supplied with intelligence information. Oldenburg solicited van Leeuwenhoek's letters. Until his death in 1677, he encouraged van Leeuwenhoek and suggested further topics for his microscopic investigations.
Francis Bacon taught the radical philosophers of the Royal Society to insist upon the repeatability of experiments. Robert Hooke (1635 - 1703) was the curator of experiments when van Leeuwenhoek started sending his letters to the Royal Society. Hooke tried to repeat van Leeuwenhoek's experiment in front of the other Fellows of the Society in London. The first attempt did not meet their standards, so a week later on November 15, 1677, he tried again. Everyone was able to see "great numbers of exceedingly small animals swimming to and fro."
The man who brought Anton to the attention of Heinrich was a Mr. De Graaf. De Graaf was a fellow Dutchman who had done his Doctoral thesis on the study of the pancreas. He went to Angers, France and continued his studies and earned a medical degree. While in Paris, he branched off into the study of male genitalia. He invented the syringe, was the first to describe the reproductive function of the Fallopian tubes, first to describe female ejaculation, first to describe the G-Spot and to describe the anatomy of the testicles.
A mud-puddle is difficult to explore due to its opacity when compared to a pool of clear water. A pool of clear water is difficult to explore due to its clarity. One is easily trapped into gazing at their reflection on the smooth surface. However a single drop taken from the muddy water is easily diffused and may thus be studied. The findings may be then, in some respects, applied to the puddle as a whole. The entire history of our species is a mud-puddle. The foregoing will serve as our drop.
History is very difficult to perceive. Why is this? Because we weren't there in person. We must rely on three components: what is spoken or written, what our own eyes see and finally our own reasoning faculties. As to the first component, let us remember the motto of the Royal Society, “ Nullius in verba” or “Take nobody's word for it.” As to the second component, remember that looks can be deceiving. As to the third component, reasoning is best done passively, that is letting the mind process the data at a natural rate without forcing it. It is the same with food, digestion cannot be consciously hurried. Let us examine the drop before us. We will use the low-level lens of Wikipedia to examine the “wigglers.” Whew! That drop of the mud-puddle contained a lot of wigglers. I've italicized and highlighted some of them for closer scrutiny. Now we may begin to examine them.
Wiggler: The Royal Society
Wikipedia tells us:
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London". The Society today acts as a scientific adviser to the British government, receiving a parliamentary grant-in-aid. The Society acts as the UK's Academy of Sciences and funds research fellowships and scientific start-up companies.
The Society is governed by its Council, which is chaired by the Society's President according to a set of Statutes and Standing Orders. The members of Council and the President are elected from and by its Fellows, the basic members of the Society, who are themselves elected by existing Fellows. There are currently 1,314 Fellows allowed to use the post nominal title FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society), with 44 new Fellows appointed each year. There are also Royal Fellows, Honorary Fellows and Foreign Fellows, the last of which are allowed to use their post nominal title ForMemRS (Foreign Member of the Royal Society). The current Royal Society President is Sir Paul Nurse, who took up the position on 30 November 2010. Since 1967, the Society has been based at 6–9 Carlton House Terrace.
Wiggler: Royal Charter
Wikipedia tells us:
A Royal Charter is a formal document issued by a monarch as letters patent, granting a right or power to an individual or a body corporate. They were and are still, used to establish significant organizations such as with municipal charters or universities. Charters should be distinguished from warrants and letters of appointment, as they have perpetual effect. Typically, a Royal Charter is produced as a high-quality work of calligraphy on vellum. The British Monarchy has issued over 980 Royal Charters. Of these about 750 remain in existence. The earliest was to the town of Tain in 1066, making it the oldest Royal Burgh in Scotland, followed by the University of Cambridge in 1231. Charters continue to be issued by the British Crown, a recent example being The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity which received its charter on 7 April 2011.
Charters have been used in Europe since Medieval times to create cities (i.e., localities with recognized legal rights and privileges). The date that such a charter was granted is considered to be when a city was "founded", regardless of when the locality originally began to be settled. At one time a Royal Charter was the sole means by which an incorporated body could be formed, but other means such as the registration process for limited companies are generally used nowadays instead.
Among the past and present groups formed by Royal Charter are the British East India Company (1600), the Hudson's Bay Company, the Peninsula and Oriental Steam Company (P&O), the British South Africa Company, some of the former British Colonies of the North American mainland, City Livery Companies, the Bank of England and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC).
Wiggler: Letters Patent
Wikipedia tells us:
Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch or president, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title or status to a person or a corporation. They are so named from the Latin verb pateo; to lie open, exposed and accessible. They are called thus from their Latin name litterae patentes long used by medieval and later scribes when such documents were written in Latin. They are expressed in the plural, in the ancient sense of a collection of letters of the alphabet arranged to be read rather than in the modern sense of the word as an "epistle" or item of correspondence; thus no singular form exists.
Letters patent can be used for the creation of corporations, government offices, the granting of city status or of coats of arms. A particular form of letters patent has evolved into the modern patent granting exclusive rights in an invention. In this case it is essential that the written grant should be in the form of a public document so other inventors can consult it to avoid infringement.
The opposite of letters patent are letters close (Latin: litterae clausae), which are personal in nature and sealed so that only the recipient can read their contents.
Wikipedia tells us:
A monarch is the person at the head of a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and rules for life or until abdication Monarchs may be autocrats as in an absolute monarchy or ceremonial heads of state who exercise little or only reserve power with actual authority vested in a parliament or other body such as in a constitutional monarchy.
Monarchs have various titles. King, Queen, Prince, Princess, Malik, Malika, Emperor, Empress, Shah, Archduke, Duke or Grand Duke. Prince is sometimes used as a generic term to describe any monarch regardless of title, especially in older texts. Many monarchs are distinguished by titles and styles.
Monarchy is associated with political or sociocultural hereditary rule. Most monarchs both historically and in the modern day, have been born and brought up within a royal family (whose rule over a period of time is referred to as a dynasty) and trained for future duties. Different systems of succession have been used such as proximity of blood, primogeniture and agnatic seniority (Salic Law). While traditionally most monarchs have been male, female monarchs have also ruled in history; the term queen regnant refers to a ruling monarch, as distinct from a queen consort or the wife of a reigning king.
Some monarchies are non-hereditary. In an elective monarchy the monarch is elected but otherwise serves as any other monarch. Historical examples of elective monarchy include the Holy Roman Emperors (chosen by prince-electors but often coming from the same dynasty) and the free election of kings of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Modern examples include the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia and the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church who serves as Sovereign of the Vatican City State and is elected to a life term by the College of Cardinals.
Monarchies have existed throughout the world although in recent centuries many states have abolished the monarchy and have become republics Advocacy of republics is called republicanism while advocacy of monarchies is called monarchism. The principal advantage of hereditary monarchy is the immediate continuity of leadership with a usually short interregnum (as illustrated in the classic phrase, "The old King is dead. Long live the new King!") A form of government may in fact be hereditary without being considered monarchy, such as family dictatorship or political families present in some nominally democratic countries.
Wikipedia tells us:
A monarchy is a form of government in which sovereignty is actually or nominally embodied in a single individual (the monarch).
Wikipedia tells us:
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and to make law that rests on a political fact for which no pure legal definition can be provided. In theoretical terms, the idea of sovereignty, historically, from Socrates to Thomas Hobbes has always necessitated a moral imperative on the entity exercising it.
For centuries past, the idea that a state could be sovereign was always connected to its ability to guarantee the best interests of its own citizens. Thus, if a state could not act in the best interests of its own citizens, it could not be thought of as a sovereign state.
The concept of sovereignty has been discussed throughout history from the time of the Romans through to the present day. It has changed in its definition, concept and application throughout, especially during the Age of Enlightenment. The current notion of state sovereignty contains four aspects:
“There exists perhaps no conception the meaning of which is more controversial than that of sovereignty. It is an indisputable fact that this conception, from the moment when it was introduced into political science until the present day, has never had a meaning which was universally agreed upon.”— Lassa Oppenheim (30-03-1858 to 07-10-1919), an authority on international law.
Wiggler: Sovereignty - A Closer Look (We further increase the magnification to find out what possible logic underlies the notion)
Wikipedia tells us:
The divine right of kings or the divine right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority and derives the right to rule directly from the will of God. The king is thus not subject to the will of his people, the aristocracy or any other estate of the realm including the Church. According to this doctrine, only God can judge an unjust king. The doctrine implies that any attempt to depose the king or to restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute a sacrilegious act.
The remote origins of the theory are rooted in the medieval idea that God had bestowed earthly power on the king, just as God had given spiritual power and authority to the Church which centered on the Pope. One author of this theory was Jean Bodin who based it on his interpretation of Roman Law. With the rise of nation-states and the Protestant Reformation, the theory of divine right justified the king's absolute authority in both political and in spiritual matters. The theory came to the fore in England under the reign of James I of England. (1603–1625, also known as James VI of Scotland 1567–1625). The Scots textbooks of the divine right of kings were written in 1597-98 by James VI of Scotland before his accession to the English throne. His Basilikon Doron was a manual on the powers of a king written to edify his four-year-old son Henry Frederick. Louis XIV of France (1643–1715) strongly promoted the theory as well.
Wiggler: Jean Bodin
Wikipedia tells us:
Jean Bodin was born in Angers in 1530 and died in 1596. He was a French jurist, a political philosopher, a member of the Parlement of Paris and a professor of law in Toulouse. He is best known for his theory of sovereignty. He was also an influential writer on demonology.
Bodin lived during the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation and wrote against the background of religious conflict in France. He remained a nominal Catholic throughout his life but was critical of papal authority over governments, favoring the strong central control of a national monarchy as an antidote to factional strife. Toward the end of his life he wrote but did not publish a dialogue among different religions including representatives of Judaism, Islam, and natural theology in which all agreed to coexist in concord.
The Réponse de J. Bodin aux paradoxes de M. de Malestroit (1568) was a tract provoked by theories of Jean de Malestroit in which Bodin offered one of the earliest scholarly analyses of the phenomenon of inflation, unknown prior to the 16th century. The background to discussion in the 1560s was that by 1550 an increase in the money supply in Western Europe had brought general benefits. But there had also been appreciable inflation. Silver arriving via Spain from the South American mine of Potosi, together with other sources of silver and gold was causing monetary change.
Matin de Azpilicueta had alluded to the issue in 1556. He was an early observer that the rise in prices was due in large part to the influx of precious metals. Analyzing the phenomenon, amongst other factors, he pointed to the relationship between the amount of goods and the amount of money in circulation. These debates laid the foundation for the quantity theory of money Bodin mentioned some other factors: population increase, trade, the possibility of economic migration and the consumption that he saw as profligate.
We have had a decent look and we move on to other pursuits. We will look in on van Leeuwenhoek as we put away our tools. Van Leeuwenhoek did not inherit wealth. He preserved his independence and autonomy by controlling access to his time and his knowledge. Van Leeuwenhoek had no known professional affiliations other than the Royal Society in England. He never visited their offices or attended a meeting. He took suggestions but not supervision.
Leibnitz wrote to Christiaan Huygens on 2 March 1691: “I prefer a Leeuwenhoek who tells me what he sees to a Cartesian who tells me what he thinks.”
Copyright © 2019 by Michael A. Hawes. All Rights Reserved.
Michael Hawes was born in Texas, raised in Louisiana and lives in British Columbia.