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Bibliothèque universelle et historique
Amsterdam: Wolfgang, Waesberge, Boom and van Someren
1686 - 1718
In Leeuwenhoek's time, English was not common on the continent of Europe. Those interested in English-language scholarship, Philosophical Transactions notwithstanding, relied on translations and journals like the Bibliothèque universelle et historique. This journal of book notices and reviews was published in French in Amsterdam in two dozen volumes (image on right; click to enlarge) from 1686 to 1693. It was written and edited by Jean Le Clerc and Jean Cornand de Lacroze and, later, Jacques Bernard.
Le Clerc was a champion of the English language and culture, especially their philosophical achievements. As a result, Bibliothèque universelle et historique has more articles about theology, philosophy, history, and even philology than about science. Nevertheless, in the late 1680's, Le Clerc and Cornand published summaries and comments on 16 of Leeuwenhoek's letters from 1679 to 1688.
On the table below, the first of the letters, in volumes 1 and 2, was addressed to Nehemiah Grew and the five after that to Robert Hooke. The other ten, in volumes 5 and 9, were addressed to the members of the Royal Society. The page numbers show that they published summaries of and excerpts from Leeuwenhoek's letters, usually without figures, in four batches: six letters consecutively in volumes 1 and 2, one letter in volume 5, and five letters consecutively and then four letters consecutively in volume 9. The information about the figures comes from Alle de Brieven / Collected Letters, which indicates that only a quarter of the 136 figures in these 16 letters were included. However, examination of the volumes shows that these figures were discussed, but the Bibliothèque universelle had no plates other than the frontispiece of some volumes.
Letter 30 of April 5, 1680, and Letter 48 of January 22, 1686, were printed here before they were printed in Philosophical Transactions but after they were published by Leeuwenhoek in Levende Dierkens and Cinnaber Naturalis in 1686 and perhaps even after Anatomia Seu Interiora Rerum in 1687. Did Le Clerk have access to the copies lying unpublished in London? The unpublished English translations that were read at meeting of the Royal Society in April 1680 (Letter 30) and again in April 1686 (Letter 48)? Or did he use the Dutch or more likely the Latin edition printed in Leiden?
At the meeting of the Royal Society on April 6/16, 1687, the Royal Society read Leeuwenhoek's Letter 53 of April 4, 1687 about the structure of teeth. Just before that, according to Birch's History, vol. IV p. 530:
It was ordered, that Mr. Hunt provide some oisters, to see, whether in a microscope there could be found any such animalcula, as are reported to be in the liquor of oisters from a letter of Mr. Leeuwenhoeck printed in the Bibliotheque Universale.
They were referring to Letter 35 of March 3, 1682, which had been excerpted in Bibliothèque universelle in 1686, but had also been published by Robert Hooke in Philosophical Collections and was available in their own archives.
|Letter date||AB/CL #||AvL/Cole #||Bibliothèque universelle|
|1679-04-25||43||28||Vol. 1, 1687, pp. 469-474, none of 1 figure|
|1680-01-12||54||29||Vol. 1, 1687, pp. 474-481, 26 of 25 figures|
|1680-04-05||57||30||Vol. 2, 1686, pp. 460-462, neither of 2 figures|
|1681-11-04||66||34||Vol. 2, 1686, pp. 462-466, none of 4 figures|
|1682-03-03||67||35||Vol. 2, 1686, pp. 466-469, none of 7 figures|
|1682-04-04||68||36||Vol. 2, 1686, pp. 469, no figures|
|1686-01-22||89||48||Vol. 5, 1687, pp. 372-383, none of 3 figures|
|1687-04-04||98||53||Vol. 9, 1688, pp. 292-294, none of 5 figures|
|1687-05-09||99||54||Vol. 9, 1688, pp. 294-297, none of 7 figures|
|1687-06-13||100||55||Vol. 9, 1688, pp. 297-301, none of 28 figures|
|1687-07-11||101||56||Vol. 9, 1688, pp. 301-311, neither of 2 figures|
|1687-08-06||102||57||Vol. 9, 1688, pp. 148-152, 2 of 10 figures|
|1687-09-09||103||58||Vol. 9, 1688, pp. 152-157, 4 of 8 figures|
|1687-10-17||104||59||Vol. 9, 1688, pp. 158-163, none of 11 figures|
|1687-11-28||105||60||Vol. 9, 1688, pp. 163-164, none of 5 figures|
|1688-09-07||110||65||Vol. 9, 1688, pp. 164-168, 4 of 15 figures|