Your Lordship’s most faithful and obedient servant,
The favourable reception my two former volumes of voyages and descriptions have already met with in the world gives me reason to hope that, notwithstanding the objections which have been raised against me by prejudiced persons, this third volume likewise may in some measure be acceptable to candid and impartial readers who are curious to know the nature of the inhabitants, animals, plants, soil, etc. in those distant countries, which have either seldom or not at all been visited by any Europeans.
It has almost always been the fate of those who have made new discoveries to be disesteemed and slightly spoken of by such as either have had no true relish and value for the things themselves that are discovered, or have had some prejudice against the persons by whom the discoveries were made. It would be vain therefore and unreasonable in me to expect to escape the censure of all, or to hope for better treatment than far worthier persons have met with before me. But this satisfaction I am sure of having, that the things themselves in the discovery of which I have been employed are most worthy of our diligentest search and inquiry; being the various and wonderful works of God in different parts of the world: and however unfit a person I may be in other respects to have undertaken this task, yet at least I have given a faithful account, and have found some things undiscovered by any before, and which may at least be some assistance and direction to better qualified persons who shall come after me.
It has been objected against me by some that my accounts and descriptions of things are dry and jejune, not filled with variety of pleasant matter to divert and gratify the curious reader. How far this is true I must leave to the world to judge. But if I have been exactly and strictly careful to give only true relations and descriptions of things (as I am sure I have) and if my descriptions be such as may be of use not only to myself (which I have already in good measure experienced) but also to others in future voyages; and likewise to such readers at home as are more desirous of a plain and just account of the true nature and state of the things described than of a polite and rhetorical narrative: I hope all the defects in my style will meet with an easy and ready pardon.
Others have taxed me with borrowing from other men’s journals; and with insufficiency, as if I was not myself the author of what I write but published things digested and drawn up by others. As to the first part of this objection I assure the reader I have taken nothing from any man without mentioning his name, except some very few relations and particular observations received from credible persons who desired not to be named; and these I have always expressly distinguished in my books from what I relate as of my own observing. And as to the latter I think it so far from being a diminution to one of my education and employment to have what I write revised and corrected by friends that, on the contrary, the best and most eminent authors are not ashamed to own the same thing, and look upon it as an advantage.