Wrote letter of 1676-01-22 (AB 20) to Henry Oldenburg

Date: 
January 22, 1676
Standard reference information
Cole's number: 
13a
AB/CL number: 
20
AB/CL volume: 
1

Text of the letter in the original Dutch and in English translation from Alle de Brieven. The Collected Letters at the DBNL - De Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren


Leeuwenhoek wrote this letterĀ  to Henry Oldenburg about forwarding his mail and about sending his observations of little animals in water.

Leeuwenhoek wrote in yet another letter unpublished during his lifetime about his difficulties finding someone in Delft to translate Oldenburg's letters and Philosophical Transactions articles into Dutch.

Your letter of the 28th was received by me in good order, from which I learned that you do not doubt my knowledge of French, but I must tell you that I regret I do not understand any language but Dutch and when you write to me in French or Latin I can help myself allright, since I have enough friends who will translate it for me; but I cannot help myself with the English language since the death of a certain gentleman who was proficient in this language.

I admit that usually Englishmen can be found everywhere, but not all are able to translate the Transactions from English into Dutch; for inquiring after a proficient person I was sent to the precentor of the English church (who also undertakes to teach the English language). This man presuming to be able to do this and having translated something regarding my speculations, it was so badly put that I could not make sense of it.

He added: (My translation tries to preserve Leeuwenhoek's syntax.)

De levende schepselen int water bij mij ontdeckt is ordinair Hemelwater dat vande pannedacken in steene backen onder de aerde ofte in tonnen gevangen wort, alsmede in het put off bornwater dat uijt het wel-sant opcomt, jtem in het gracht water dat door dese stadt en door het lant loopt, hier van heb ick verscheijde aenteijckeningen gedaen, soo van haer courluer, gedaente, de delen waer uijt haer lichaem is te samen gestelt, bewegingh, en schielijcke verbrijselingh van haer gantsche lichaem.

The living creatures in water discovered by me in ordinary rainwater that was collected from the tile roofs in stone cisterns below the ground or in barrels, as well as in well water that rises out of the sand, also in the canal water that runs through this city and through the country, hereof have I made various notes, so of their color, shape, the parts of their bodies is composed, the movements, and the sudden shattering of their whole body.

He promises to send a copy of his notes.

At the end of this letter, Leeuwenhoek gave instructions to have packets of Philosophical Transactions issues sent via his sister "Catatarina" (Catharina) in Rotterdam.