What I formerly Presented you in Writing, having in pursuance of your Commands now somewhat dressd by the help of the Printer and Graver, I a second time humbly tender to you. ’Tis I confess at best too mean a Return for your great Kindness to me. Yet I hope you will not deny it a favourable Acceptance, since ’tis the whole Return I made from the Indies after Twenty years stay there; having brought home nothing else but
(who is also wholly at your Service and Command)
London 1st. of August, 1681.
How much of the present Knowledge of the Parts of the World is owing to late Discoveries, may be judged by comparing the Modern with the Ancient’s Accounts thereof; though possibly many such Histories may have been written in former Ages, yet few have scaped the Injury of Time, so as to be handed safe to us. ’Twas many Ages possibly before Writing was known, then known to a few, and made use of by fewer, and fewest employed it to this purpose. Add to this, that such as were written, remain’d for the most part Imprison’d in the Cells of some Library or Study, accessible to a small number of Mankind, and regarded by a less, which after perished with the Place or the Decay of their own Substance. This we may judge from the loss of those many Writings mentioned by Pliny and other of the Ancients. And we had yet found fewer, if the Art of Printing, first Invented about 240 years since, had not secured most that lasted to that time. Since which, that Loss has been repaired by a vast number of new Accessions, which besides the Satisfaction they have given to Curious and Inquisitive Men by increasing their Knowledge, have excited many more to the like Attempts, not only of Making but of Publishing also their Discoveries. But I am not ignorant still; that as Discoveries have been this way preserved, so many others nave been lost, to the great Detriment of the Publick. It were very desirable therefore that the Causes of these and other Defects being known, some Remedies might be found to prevent the like Losses for the future. The principal Causes I conceive may be these;
First, The want of sufficient Instructions (to Seamen and Travellers,) to shew them what is pertinent and considerable, to be observ’d in their Voyages and Abodes, and how to make their Observations and keep Registers or Accounts of them.
Next, The want of some Publick Incouragement for such as shall perform such Instructions.
Thirdly, The want of fit Persons both to Promote and Disperse such Instructions to Persons fitted to engage, and careful to Collect Returns; and Compose them into Histories; by examining the Persons more at large upon those and other Particulars. And by separating what is pertinent from what is not so, and to be Rejected; who should have also wherewith to gratifie every one according to his Performances.