De Boekzaal van Europe

Rabus, P. ed.
Rotterdam: P. van der Slaart
1692 - 1702

Among many distinctions in the Golden Age, the Netherlands was known as Europe's bookstore. Dutch publishers, printers, and bookbinders produced, mostly for export, the majority of the books printed in Europe, from Bibles to emblem books. They produced almost all of the controversial books, both traditional philosophy and natural philosopy, what we now call science.

Yet it wasn't until late in the century, 1692, that they got their first Dutch-language learned journal, the De Boekzaal van Europe (bookroom of Europe). Yes, learned people knew Latin, French, and English. But enough people knew only Dutch yet were literate and interested in ideas that De Boekzaal found a market that has been served ever since.

The first editor, who did much of the writing, especially book reviews, was Peter Rabus. Rabus reviewed several of Leeuwenhoek's publications.

  • January and February 1693, pp. 6-13, a long review of Leeuwenhoek's Derde Vervolg der Brieven.
  • May and June 1694, p. 403-427, a long review of Leeuwenhoek's Vierde Vervolg der Brieven.
  • September and October 1695, p. 262, a short review of Arcana Natura Detecta.
  • November and December 1695, p. 472, a longer review of Arcana Natura Detecta.
  • January and February 1696, p. 104, a long review of Vijfde Vervolg.
  • May and June 1696, p. 451, a long review of Vijfde Vervolg.
  • July and August 1696, pp. 136-144, a long review of Leeuwenhoek's Letter 67 in Tweede Vervolg and Arcana Natura Detecta.
  • November and December 1696, pp. 478-486, a long review of letters 86 through 96 in Vijfde Vervolg.
  • March and April 1697, pp. 236-243, a long review of the first five letters in Zesde Vervolg.
  • July and August 1697, pp. 119-127, a long review of the last six letters in Zesde Vervolg.

Rabus published parts or all of eight letters that Leeuwenhoek wrote in the mid-1690's when he was not being published in Philosophical Transactions. As soon as Halley was replaced as editor and Leeuwenhoek's letters again began to be published in Philosophical Transactions, he no longer sent them to Rabus.

Rabus dedicated the issue of March and April 1695 to Leeuwenhoek (right): "To Mr Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, artful researcher and discoverer of the deepest secrets of nature, this 17th piece of the Boekzaal is dedicated to the maintenance of familiarity of his friend and servant P. Rabus."

In the issue of November and December 1695, p. 538-543, Rabus published a letter from Antonio Magliabechi to Leeuwenhoek of 12 October 1695 under the title Italiaansch Boeknieuws.

Letter L-246 and Letter L-318 were also excerpted in Philosophical Transactions and Leeuwenhoek's Vijfde Vervolg and Sevende Vervolg and their Latin equivalents. Only Letter L-318 had any figures; Rabus's paraphrase/excerpt did not include them. The other six letters appeared only in De Boekzaal van Europe. None of them included any figures.

Letter date L-# Boekzaal
1693-10-27 L-229 November en December 1693, pp. 554-555
1694-11-30 L-246 November en December 1694, pp. 511-520
1695-05-21 L-254 Mey en Juny 1695, pp. 532-536
1695-07-21 L-263 Julius en Augustus 1695, pp. 96-99
1695-09-10 L-270 September en October 1695, pp. 258-261
1696-06-01 L-289 Mey en Juny 1696, pp. 522-525
1696-07-23 L-297 Julius en Augustus 1696, pp. 144-151
1697-04-05 L-318 May and June 1697, pp. 495-506

The best discussion of the relationship between Rabus and Leeuwenhoek is found in Bert van der Slaag's chapter in the Sources section below.

Rotterdam was one of the cities of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces and in those days already a major seaport and trading centre. From July 1692 till the end of 1704 this city witnessed the birth of a Dutch-language periodical that played a major and invaluable role in spreading scientific news among a new readership. The pages of this periodical were teeming with the ideas of the greatest minds of those days – John Locke, Robert Boyle, Christiaan Huygens, Fénelon, Balthasar Bekker, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Richard Simon – and their innovative way of thinking. The intention was not only to promote these ideas among an intellectual elite, but also to disseminate them among a much wider circle of interested people that had hitherto been denied access to the cultural and spiritual life in Europe. The periodical in question was designed as a non-specialist medium, but was nevertheless of sufficient scientific caliber to be properly considered as a variant of the then already existing scientific press pur sang.

source: Early Enlightenment in a Rotterdam Periodical 1692-1704

During its lifetime, De Boekzaal went through changes in editorial direction.

1692 - 1700 - De Boekzaal van Europe
All of the Leeuwenhoek letters were published in this period.

Editor: Pieter Rabus
Publisher: Pieter van der Slaart

1700 - 1701 - De Boekzaal van Europe

Editor: Pieter van der Slaart and anonymous contributors
Publisher: Pieter van der Slaart

1701 - 1702 - Twee-maandelyke Uittreksels

Editor: Pieter Rabus
Publisher: Barend Bos

 1702 - 1704 - Twee-maandelijke uyttreksels van alle eerst uytkomende boeken door W. Sewel