The Select Works of Antony van Leeuwenhoek

Author: 
Hoole, S.
Volume: 
4°. 2 vols.
Publisher: 
London: Henry Fry
Year: 
1798

Full title

The Select Works of Antony van Leeuwenhoek, containing his Miser oscopical [sic] Discoveries in many of the Works of Nature

full-text facsimile of volume 1 only available online at Google Books

Hoole was an English clergyman who translated and rearranged selected passages from Leeuwenhoek's letters. In 1950, Dobell wrote:

Hoole used only the Dutch and Latin editions, and incorporated none of the material published solely in the Philosophical Transactions. For example, the great letter describing the discovery of the Protozoa and Bacteria (to the Royal Society, 9 October 1676) is not even mentioned by Hoole. And his method of stringing together passages from different letters -- often of widely different date, and with no reference whatsoever to their originals -- while having some obvious advantages, renders it extremely troublesome to trace his patchwork translations to their sources.

Yet apart from these evident shortcomings, from a critical student's standpoint, Hoole's translations are often excellent. This, at least, is my opinion: and I have tried my hand at the same thing with no better success. If anyone now wants to know what Leeuwenhoek wrote and thought on a great variety of subjects, but does not require exact references, dates, and other details, he will find it in Hoole expressed in words which clearly and closely convey the sense of the original Dutch and Latin to a modern English reader. I first read these translations over forty years ago with eager interest and delight, and I can still read them -- after intimate acquaintance with their originals -- without wincing and even with pleasure. To my mind Hoole's eighteenth-century English and mannerisms now add the necessary archaism to his versions of Leeuwenhoek's old-fashioned Dutch, and thus make his translations more acceptable than many another published more recently. I think, too, that anyone who has read the two volumes of the Select Works should have a very just idea of the kind of work Leeuwenhoek did and the sort of man he was. At all events, Hoole -- though he omits much and glosses over all coarseness and impropriety -- is seldom misleading. Within his self-imposed and narrow-minded limits he did his work remarkably well. It has never yet been surpassed by more recent translators.