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The Microscope Made Easy by Henry Baker (1769) and Pocket Microscopes by James Wilson(1706)

These impressive works review the state-of-the-art in eighteenth century microscopes. Baker wrote to those who “desire to search into the wonders of the Minute Creation, tho’ they are not acquainted with optics.” He includes complete directions on “how to prepare, apply, examine and preserve all sorts of objects: and proper cautions to be observed in viewing them.” In first presenting he book to the Royal Society of London on October 28, 1742, Baker wrote that his goal was to “attempt to excite in mankind a general desire of searching into the wonders of Nature.” Baker’s descriptions of many microscopic objects must certainly have left some readers of the time in disbelief.

For example, he description of "Animalcules in the Teeth": "Though no Animalcules can be found in Saliva or Spittle, great Numbers of different Kinds may be discovered in the whitish Matter sticking between the Teeth; if it be picked out with a Pin or Needle, mixt with a little Rain-Water and Spittle without bubbles, and applied before the Microscope. And sometimes they are so incredibly numerous, and so full of Motion, that the whole Mass appears alive."

Baker also demonstrates his precise and clearly understood "how to" explanation of an instrument. His description of the form and use of the Wilson Single pocket microscope is clearly written and easy to follow. It is interesting to compare his writing about this instrument with that of the inventor, Wilson, which is also included in this volume. Baker also gives equally exact descriptions and instructions for the use of the double reflecting microscopes by Culpeper, Scarlet and Marshal; the Solar or Camera Obscura microscope; and Lieberkuhn's Opake hand microscope.

Baker even provides instructions as to the proper state of mind when using the microscope. "when employing the microscope, shake off all Prejudice, nor harbour any favorite opinions; for, if you do, it is not unlikely Fancy will betray you into Error, and make you think you see what you would wish to see."

"Remember, that truth also is the matter that you are in search after; and if you have been mistaken, let no Vanity seduce you to persist in your mistake."
Baker closes with "Some Reasonable Reflections on Discoveries made by the Microscope." He concludes that the "progress in Nature is so very gradual, that the whole chasm, from a Plant to a Man, is filled up with divers kinds of Creature, rising one over another by such a gentle and easy ascent, that the little transitions and Deviations from on Species to another are almost insensible. And the intermediate Space is so well husbanded and managed, that there is scarce a Degree of Perception which does not appear in some one Part of the World of Life."

Bound into this volume is the short descriptive essay and illustrated instructions for the use of the simple Pocket Microscope. Titled Pocket Microscopes this rare brochure by James Wilson was first published in 1706. Baker also speaks clearly on the use of this early popular instrument.

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