Relation of a Memorial [Captain de Quiros reports on Australia Incognita, ca.1607-1614, reprinted 1770]

[Editor: This is a presentation made to King Phillip II of Spain by Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quiros (a Portugese explorer working for the Spanish monarchy). It mentions “Australia del Espiritu Santo”, although Captain de Quiros was actually referring to the New Hebrides, which he had discovered and had assumed was the great southern land which was believed to exist. This text is from a translation by Alexander Dalrymple (1737-1808) in An Historical Collection of the Several Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean. Reprinted here are two relevant extracts. Dalrymple published his book in 1770, the year that James Cook discovered the east coast of Australia, although the volume been compiled prior to that event (the introduction to Dalrymple’s book was dated 7 October 1769). Captain de Quiros named his discovery “Austrialis del Espiritu Santo”, which Dalrymple translated as “Australia del Espiritu Santo”, being an early usage of the word “Australia”.]

Relation of a Memorial Presented by Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quiros to His Majesty, about the Settling and Discovery of the Fourth Part of the World, Australia Incognita. Its great Riches and Fertility discovered by the said Captain.


I Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quiros say, That with this I have presented to your Majesty eight Memorials, relative to the settlement, which ought to be made in the country which your Majesty commanded to be discovered in Australia Incognita, without, to this time, any resolution being taken with me, nor any reply made me, nor hope given to assure me, that I shall be dispatched ; having now been fourteen months in this court, and having been fourteen years engaged in this cause, without pay, or any other advantage in view, but the success of it alone; wherewith, and through infinite contradictions, I have gone by land and sea 20,000 leagues, spending all my estate, and incommoding my person, suffering so many, and such terrible things, that even to myself they appear incredible ; and all this has come to pass, that this work of so much goodness and benevolence * [1] should not be abandoned. In whose name, and all for the love of God, I most humbly supplicate your Majesty, that you will be pleased not to permit, of so many and such continual labours and watchings, and of so noble and determinate a perseverance, that I should fail to reap those fruits which I so much desire and solicit, being, as it is, so much to the honour and glory of God, and to the service of your Majesty, and productive of innumerable benefits, which shall last as long as the world subsists, and then be eternal.

1. The magnitude of these countries newly discovered, is judged of, by what I saw, and by what Captain Baez [de Torres] my admiral, informed your Majesty on good grounds : its longitude is as much as that of all Europe, Asia-Minor, and to the Caspian Sea, and Persia, with all the islands of the Mediterranean and Ocean, which are in its limits embraced, including England and Ireland. That unknown part is a quarter of the whole globe, and so capacious, that it may contain in it double the kingdoms and provinces of all those your Majesty is at present Lord : and that without adjoining to Turks, or Moors, or others of the nations which are accustomed to disquiet and disturb their neighbours. All the countries seen fall within the torrid zone, and there is part of them which toucheth the equinoctial, whose latitude † [2] may, perhaps, be of 90 deg. and others of somewhat less, and if it comes to pass as it promises, there will be countries, which will be antipodes to the better part of Africa, and all Europe, and the rest of all Asia Major [and will not be inferior to them *.] [3]

It is to be observed, that since the countries which I saw in 15 deg. S. are better than Spain, as presently will be seen ; that opposed to it in latitude, ought to be in itself quite a terrestrial paradise.

The people of these countries are many; their colours white, negroes, mulattoes, Indians, and mixed of one and the other. The hair of some is black, long, and lank, the others curled and woolly, and of others very † [4] red and fine, which variety is an indication of great commerce and intercourse. For which reason, and for the goodness of the countries, and because they have no artillery, or other fire arms for destruction ‡, [5] and because they do not work mines of silver, and for many other reasons, it is to be believed, these people are extremely numerous. They have not the arts, great or small, walls or forts, king nor law, nor are they but the most simple gentiles, divided into clans §, [6] and are little friends amongst themselves. Their arms are lances and darts of wood, [clubs, and bows and arrows without poison]. They cover their [obscene] parts. They are clean, chearful [Editor: cheerful], sensible, and very grateful, as I have experienced. For all which it ought to be expected, with the assistance of Divine Providence, and gentle means, that it will be extremely easy to settle ||,[7] instruct, and satisfy them ; which are three things very necessary in the beginning, that afterwards all may be led to such holy ends.

Their houses are of wood, covered with palm-leaves ; they use earthern pots: have looms ¶, [8] and other nets; they work stones, marble, flutes, drums, and spoons of wood varnished : they have oratories and burying places, and plantations very well laid out in divisions, and palisaded. They benefit much by the mother-of-pearl shells, of which they make googes, chizels, formers, saws, hooks, [hatchets *], [9] and plates, large and small, which they hang in strings about their necks. The islanders have their embarkations well wrought, and sufficient to navigate from one country to another, all which is a certain indication of their vicinity to people more civilized, and it is no small confirmation of this, that they castrate their hogs, and make capons.

[Editor: Extract from page 172:]

7. These, Sir, are the greatness and goodness of the countries which I have discovered, and of which I took possession in your Majesty’s name, under your royal standard, and so the acts declare which I have here, &c. [Giving an account of the ceremony of taking possession ; and concludes] All this, and more I have done as a loyal vassal to your Majesty, and that your Majesty may soon add, for the greatness of it sounds well**, [10] the title Of The Australia del Espiritu Santo, for the greater glory of the same Divinity, who carried me, and who pointed it out to me, and who has brought me to the presence of your Majesty, where I am, with the same willingness †† [11] which I have always had for this cause, to which I gave birth ‡‡ [12] and for its nobleness do love it, and long after it with infinite solicitude.

[Editor: Footnotes:]
[1] [p.163 footnote] * Piedad y misericordia — Piety and compassion.
[2] p.163 footnote] † Puede fer, it may be.

[3] [p.164 footnote] * Latin Memorial.
[4] [p.164 footnote] † Bien.
[5] [p.164 footnote] ‡ Con que matarse.
[6] [p.164 footnote] § Parcialidades.
[7] [p.164 footnote] || Latin Memorial.
[8] [p.164 footnote] ¶ Trasmallos.

[9] [p.165 footnote] * Latin Memorial.
[10] [p.172 footnote] ** Porqu suene esta grandeza.
[11] [p.172 footnote] †† Voluntad.
[12] [p.172 footnote] ‡‡ A esta causa q. crie.

Alexander Dalrymple, An Historical Collection of the Several Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean. Vol. I. Being chiefly a literal translation from the Spanish writers., London: J. Nourse, 1770, pages 162 to 165 and 172 [Dalrymple’s notes on his sources for Captain de Quiros’ writings are placed after the chapter “Of the Salomon Islands”]

Editor’s notes:
1) Long S: In those instances where a long “s” (which looks like the letter “f”) has been used, they have been transcribed as a normal letter “s” (for example, “diftinguifhing” has been changed to “distinguishing” and “poffeffion” to “possession”).

2) Footnotes: References to footnotes have been made in square brackets for the purpose of clarity.

3) Square brackets: References to footnotes have been numbered inside square brackets; two notations have been placed in the text, in square brackets, clearly marked as being from the site Editor; all other usages of square brackets within the text are those of Alexander Dalrymple.

4) Notes on determining the usage of F or S in foreign words in footnotes:

mifericordia = misericordia: Latin translation of the Hebrew word “hesed” (loving-kindness in English)

matarfe = matarse: Spanish for to be killed, to meet one’s death (from matar, to kill, to slaughter)

trafmallos = trasmallos: trasmallo is a trammel-net, drag-net, a coarse-meshed net, having a smaller one behind it

porqu fuene efta grandeza (the greatness of it sounds well) = porqu suene esta grandeza: porque (because), suena (sound, sounds, alarm, ring), esta (it is), grandeza (magnificence, grandeur)

efta caufa q. crie (to which I gave birth) = esta causa q. crie: esta (it is), causa (cause), crie (crier = to raise, bring up, rear)

Old spelling retained as in the original text:
chearful (cheerful)

Further reading:
Quiros, Pedro Fernandez de (1563–1615)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University (accessed 10 May 2012)

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