It was in 1664, when John Milton's "chief of men," who had wielded the power of England with a firm and vigorous hand, strongly contrasted with the royal but feeble fingers which previously and subsequently endeavored to direct it, had gone to his account, and just after the rupture of the close union which had endured, almost without interruption, for nearly seventy years, between England and Holland, that a Dutch youth of eighteen, holding a glass thread in the flame of a candle, perceived that the melted extremity assumed a spherical form. The intelligent lad instantly seized on the happy accident. He had seen Leuwenhoeck manufacture lenses, such as they were, and went on burning his glass threads, and attempted to place his little spheres between two pieces of lead, through which he made an aperture with a pin's point. Placing a hair before this simply-constructed instrument, he found to his great joy that he was the maker and possessor of a capital microscope for those times, and he secured to the micrographers of the day what they had so Jlong sought.—American Druggists* Circular.
This article was originally published with the title "Invention of the Microscope" in Scientific American 13, 41, 321 (June 1858)