Preface to The discovery of New World; or, a Discourse tending to prove, that it is probable there may be another habitable World n the Moon. Discourse concerning of a Passage to the World in the Moon. Printed at London, in quarto, in 1638, and had four editions, the last in 1684.
The author´s name is put to none of the three; but they were so well known to be his, that Langrenius, in his map of the moon, calls one of the spots of his selenographic map after his name.
To the reader
Many ancient philosophers of the better note have formerly defended this assertion which I have here laid down; and it were to be wished, that some of us would more apply our endeavours unto the examination of these old opinions; which though they have for a long time lain neglected by others, yet in them you may find many truths worthy your pains and observation. It is false conceit, for us to think that amongst the ancient variety and search of opinions, the best hath still prevailed. Time (saith the learned Verulam) seems to be of the nature of river or stream; which carrieth down to us that which is light, or blown up, but sinketh that which is weighty and solid.
It is my desire, that by the occasion of this discourse, I may raise up some more active spirit to a search after other hidden and unknown truths: since it must need be a great impediment unto the growth of sciences, for men still to plod on upon principles, as to be afraid of entertaining any thing that may seem to contradict them. An unwillingness to take such things into examination is one of those errors of learning, in these time observed by judicious Verulam. Questionless there are many secrets truths which the ancients have passed over, that are yet left to make some of our age famous for their discovery.
If by this occasion I may provoke any reader to an attempt of this nature, I shall think myself happy, and this Work successful.
Fareweel John Wilkins