Translated by Robert J. King, October 2013
Señor :‎ ‬el capitan Pedro Fernandez de Quiròs : despues q́́ puse en pratica el descubrimiento de las tierras incognitas del Sur
[Madrid] : s. n., [1608] 
4 leaves ([8] p.) ; 32 cm. 
Catalogue reference:
Digitised copy:


Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quirós.

After having put into effect the discovery of the unknown lands of the South and especially after having sought to colonize them, being both very appropriate and so very necessary and owed to the service of God and Your Grace and the good of the souls of all the natives, I have been forever hearing certain things in opposition to it, particularly the five following, which are such that it well appears that Satan found them so misleading and fit for his purpose for making furious and deadly war with them that they continue to be made.

The first, Sire, is that Your Grace’s realm is already greatly extended, and that it is not possible, its dependence on the Court being essential, that it could be governed well, and therefore it would be more appropriate to enlarge some part of what is already possessed in the Indies so as to preserve what remains, which will not be so if new lands are discovered to imperil all of it.

To this I say, Sire, that if the limited area of our Spain is measured, it will be found that in respect to the whole Earth she measures the same as the little finger in comparison to the whole human body, and therefore it is remarkable how a small number of people born of such a small country can have done so many wonderful things in so many very distant lands. And it is to be wondered at that now there is hesitation or can be hesitation in the government, supported by all it possesses, for it seems the Lord Our God desires to show how much can be done with so little and desires to make Your Grace govern and sustain more than two thirds of the world, including that great part of it that was hidden [the Terra Australis Incognita], for once again it will be revealed and I will plead for it, and therefore the obligation to accept this enterprise, in which so much has been lost by delay and so much might be won with prompt action, is increased.

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Take, Your Grace, what God is giving you through my industry and fidelity, recalling the many benefits, and that even earthly princes may be offended if the rewards they give are ignored and if the favours they do, however small they may be, are not willingly received. Because of this and because of so much that still could be said, I beseech you efficaciously, forgiving my great boldness and accepting my good will, if it serves that it be ordered that not even the smallest part of the lands previously won in the Indies be let go, nor even in the imagination, for the mere utterance of such a thought is shocking and offensive, considering that all Your Grace’s subjects must give their property and lives to defend and preserve such a gift from God, who could have given it to others; and at the same time that the lands I discovered be valued as much as their excellence deserves, and merit what I have suffered and for faith that they not be forsaken, and merit the strength of all my persecutions born from knowing for certain how important it is to settle them before others settle them, by the help of which it is known that the injuries and losses would be so incalculable and without remedy as I have represented at other times, how much more as well the great love with which I have offered myself for free in their service, even unto death, warning and recalling that if Columbus’ proposals and others of a similar nature had not been accepted or acted upon then all that has been done were still to be done, including the service to God, and Your Grace would not be King of so many parts of the world, and now without adding the land referred to with all it promises both for heaven and earth, and without giving reason to the pen to sing of those grandeurs that make Spain so illustrious and envied.

I also recall how little the thousands of frustrations and difficulties that I experienced and overcame so many times could affect me, being as I always was so isolated and opposed, and lacking parts and means, much less money, and though only one of them would overcome me I could not overcome so many, nor could I say what I had done, which I reckoned more than if the two richest provinces of Asia, China and Persia, were mine. 

In short, Sire, I hastened ahead trusting in God and so defeated those ill-disposed toward me. Your Grace is urged to attempt so great an enterprise, since all the realms you possess are so much less than you merit, and in my opinion that portion of the world that is yet unknown is not so great, to discover and disentangle and give to Your Grace for you to give to God, from whom is all, and for God it is very possible to rule a million worlds, if they were created, from a much smaller part than Spain or even further, as could be, with the recollection than to leave those lands desert, because of the disquiet which is voiced, is what is most to be feared, and it must be believed that Your Grace’s monarchy will not come to an end by doing such an extraordinary and singular service to God, but it is to be expected that it will be doubled this time and redoubled later, and all will be preserved together until the end of the world, for God can do much more.

Secondly, it is said, Sire, that Your Grace is very poor, and because of that cannot undertake the small expense that settling those great, good and wealthy lands that I discovered requires and that they must thus remain as they are, in darkness, which is something to be considered a great pity if it came to be, and for my sins may God forbid it to happen.

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To this I say that Our Lord God made Your Grace the wealthiest King and Lord in the whole world, which I prove because in the provinces of America Your Grace has more than two thousand leagues of mining land from whence come and will come so many fleets of ships and galleons freighted with gold, silver, pearls, emeralds and other kinds of valuables, and from the lands of the East so many great ships laden with the most precious things that nature has created in them, and many others of very great price. And as well, Africa, Brazil and the islands of the Ocean contribute all the wealth they contain. 

I leave aside what the Kingdoms of Spain, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia and the provinces of Lombardy and Flanders yield, with all the others of which Your Grace is Lord, to whom I plead to consider what such a rich and powerful King and Lord such as Your Grace truly is, and to order that with the surpluses from such riches as those that God has given just in Peru, a little silver be spent to justify your cause, for which I promise returns, from what I saw, of one hundred for one, and for the news two hundred, and doubly that for that which I surmise, not so as to seek to persuade or obligate Your Grace with this, but only by recalling Our Lord the King who is in Heaven, for when it was said that the Philippines ought to be let go because their lordship was more expense than profit, you replied that when there was a shortfall in Mexico the most well off in Spain would cover it so that the conversion of those peoples would not be halted or fail. 

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And as well, I seek to obligate Your Grace with such lively and obvious charity that  at the cost of so much wealth you have the Gospel and doctrine preached to the copious number of peoples discovered, and that all those others for whom I ask that the doctrine be taught to and the many more that live in all that unknown part of the world also fall under the protection of Your Grace; and Your Grace sent me to discover them and they have been discovered, and all of them are without either ministers of God or the knowledge of who their Divine Majesty is, given that the remedy is so distant and may be too late if this occasion is missed, and with the obligation that Your Grace has of not abandoning them, for if God has revealed them to us it is not without a reason, nor reason that could be so powerful that it obliges and forces Your Grace to let go of them, nor without reason that my will is so strong after having been so ill-used. 

In short, Sire, God’s providence has no limit and has never failed those who trust in His Divine Majesty and not in human measures. Aid, Your Grace, those innumerable nations as you can and must, for what you are and for what is appropriate for Your Royal Greatness, and mainly for the honor and glory of God, because of who you are and for your lands, and for me the briefer and more lasting, and clearer and firmer this favour may be, which I ask for only once, the greater, more prompt and more certain the benefits that can be expected from it, both in those parts and here. And when Your Grace becomes as poor as is said, I say that in the manner referred to Your Grace will become very rich and that the sun will never set on Your Grace’s lands, and it is not fair  that only resources are lacking for acquiring kingdoms and to assist what I wish to be done. 

It is said that winning the Indies did not cost a single royal peso: I say that this is the greatest injury that they have suffered, suffer and will continue to suffer, the reason why the government from the beginning directed its intentions with eyes set on its own interest, without consideration; for gold and silver are earth and those men are mortal who, if they had known that, would have been certain to have settled their three due accounts: with God, with themselves and with their neighbour, and so would have avoided the violent and disorderly beginning that sufficed to bring the Indies and the Indians to the pitiful state they are in today. From whose example, I strictly caution this time, in settling those great and important lands, not to spend from a small purse nor, Your Grace, trust to other’s spending, so that for these Austral Indies it may not be that their end will be that of those of the West. 

The third, Sire, is the sentiment that has arisen from Your Grace having already spent 184,000 ducats in sending me there. 

To this I say that great as this small amount of money which Your Grace ordered with such willingness to be spent on so general and illustrious a work may appear, what was spent must appear little for the two-thirds more that I could spend without going beyond the order that Your Grace gave me, as may be seen therein. It is to be noted that the money spent was supposed to arrive in Spain in the galleons that were lost with Don Luis Fernandez de Cordova. And it must be pointed out that it should not be called “spent” but loaned, made to vassals so that with it they would be of service in the same way as they have been of service to Your Grace. I say “loan” because when soldiers and sailors receive their pay, they take the money to merchants, and merchants to the customs [taxation], and after two rounds it goes back to the coffers. And it remains to be known how much of the Royal finances were spent vainly in the Indies, so regrettable, more than that small amount, because it bought the great amount that I discovered. And together with it how many thousands of men and millions in gold were lost at sea, and how many millions and men were spent in attempting or winning small outposts? How much silver and gold is spent on so many things that are not of the same value as these? How much is the riches that go out of these kingdoms and never return to them? 

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And how much more could I say, that would be fair to say, for I can only weep to see such a small sum of money, that was better spent than others, which if it came to Spain would also be consumed, and that which I am asking for is coming from the Indies. In short, I say that in order to reap, one must sow and profit, and in order to win, one must spend and venture. Venture, Your Grace, such a small sum of money to win so many millions of honourable, profitable and glorious things. And it would not be much after dealing with this matter if, though trying to acquire and possess riches in the same manner that others have profited from the Philippines trade, the profits of which I have seen, tried and let go at the time, that I know well that he who lacks money will overcome all such deficiencies and perhaps more, so that I persuade Your Grace to spend it on this work of mine. 

The fourth, Sire, and that in which the Devil is most insistent to gain his principal aim, is that with respect to the winning of nations to conversion, there are already many discovered throughout Peru, New Spain and elsewhere having much stronger claims be set on the road to heaven than others that have been discovered recently or are yet to be discovered.

I say, Sire, to all those persons that have said the aforementioned, that because I am someone who  knows where those lost souls are and whose love is such that he is pained for their perdition, who takes upon himself responsibility for remedying them, acting as their guardian angel, that I assure you it will not weigh upon me, nor will I abandon them, nor will it appear ill to world and be left to me those many more and so much farther away that I saw there, and they are all running into peril and falling into the same harm until they are given the news of the Law of Christ, in which their wellbeing is involved. Because I, with doubled and redoubled joy, always accept to undertake the search for all of them, however far away and lost in the ocean they may be. And in this and other ways, in rivalry, every one of us will show as much as possible the piety we preach, and we will make the Most High Lord known to all the nations of the Earth in its rotundity, believed in, adored and served, as He commands and wishes and as He should be. I beg so much that it will cause sorrow to know that those who are all of the same price will be lost, and it should be remembered that it is the work of charity not to be content with little, and that so long as there is material it will always desire to be worked, for I confess that with all the opposition I find, and my own faults, that if I gave up on defending my cause or did not follow it, or if I delayed it for one day, that I should understand that on the morrow I could expect a very bitter requital both in body and soul. 

The Predicants [Dominicans, or Blackfriars] who are to convert those peoples will not become (as I have heard) lambs thrown to the wolves to be killed, but with mature counsel and great trust in God they will be shepherds with greyhounds and faithful wolfhounds to guide and defend so many tame sheep from the wolves of hell, for they all have souls, watching them well, so that there it will not come to pass what I have seen elsewhere: the sheep dead, their keepers left with none to care for, and the shepherds without a trace of punishment for this. 

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The fifth, Sire, is that many say that it would please God that the Indies had never been discovered, as it is just because of the love of them that Spain lacks people and has become very poor and expensive,  and that in former times the great were content to dress in simple cloth, and that  now a private individual dresses in silk fabrics and brocades, wears costly jewellery and is  served with gold and silver plate, and that with the money they [the Indies] provide many men are raised up and made that yesterday were not so, and they who weep for their misfortunes could so easily go back to coarse sackcloth. 

To this I say that it is not without a cause that many foreigners say that all the Spanish Indies are painful for them to look upon, which is evident in their actions. There are those who say that they [the Indies] should rather be used well and treated as they deserve, for there is no reason to feel badly to have discovered such a great multitude of peoples and riches, and of the infinite riches of both kinds found and obtained in such remote and extensive provinces, for the worst evil has been that Your Grace has not resided in one of their two centres [Mexico or Perú] to put them all in the good order in which they now are not, whose past and present ruin, as well as what awaits so many of their natives, is what deserves to have been wept over; and the others can well avoid that and now such a great part of the world can be secured, so as not to miss out. And if the deliveries of silver fail to arrive for two years, as they have already failed for one, then it may be judged whether Spain can live without the Indies or the Indies without Spain. Or whether, if all the bars of silver and gold that they have contributed for so many years were counted, it would be found to be such a quantity that Your Majesty’s palaces could be made all of silver and gold, and their patios and plazas paved in those metals and filled with them as well. The lands in question, which are all there for the cream of their riches to be skimmed off, do not promise us less, nor do I see others besides them that could redeem and relieve Spain. 

Our Lord God created more lands and peoples than those of Spain, and if for those that I saw there and expect to benefit from the Catholic Church, of which Your Majesty is the defender, God giving so much in men, money, comforts and whatever else is necessary to do such great service, promising such a great return of spiritual and temporal gifts, and having me as a vassal who pleads so much with him who must be pleaded with, there is no desire to rescue them for any of the reasons pointed out or for others, whatever they may be, I say that God, who is the Creator of all those souls that cost the blood, passion and death of Christ, Man and God, Our Lord, to redeem, who knows and can do what He wishes,  it may be that so as not to lose a single one of them He will look for a shepherd to entrust all of them to, who will grieve for them and reliably care for them in any way, and not only gladly spend money to look for them but also guard them from the wolves, as is said in the Gospel. 

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I say finally, Sire, that there are merchants who are content simply to earn ten or twenty percent from their work, and once they recoup their investment they are glorified, and many who consider themselves well served even if they lose all they have. There are also others who even if they see an increase in their gains flee from them, and some others who, for fears, from whims, do not dare to employ their money, and some others who in doubt spend all of it. There are also hungry merchants who are never satisfied with earning thousands upon thousands. Likewise, in the worst of cases there are contractors who are happy with little harm, whereas others would employ all their strength and that of others to do innumerable evils and so much harm, as happens in this case, and what frightens me is not what I said does but what I see not being done, as I have experienced. And even more so, because from long since in this miserable world there have been those who knew much and erred much, and regretted infinitely that others had the benefits of what they themselves did not wish to do. I do not give up hope because of this, Sire, but rather hope increases when I read, hear, see and think that great good deeds have always had powerful enemies who were proud of being so, and I feel reassured that the holier, more courageous and greater the good deeds are, the greater the web and many the snares that the Devil creates and the more means for helping to defeat them, or at least to cut down the greatest part possible. 

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I am also certain that as this work of which I treat is very highly and very much in the royal service of God, the very great miseries I have encountered and always encounter in the parts whither I wish to go or, to put it better, the two terrible and ferocious storms that we have run through, from all of which the Lord has delivered us; and I expect [to receive] from His great power that which is lacking for it, though most of the ports have been seized by the Devil. And for as much as so many battles were won with my little strength, so much greater the proof that God loves this work. And may Your Grace trust in me as one who only wants the greater good, and that if in this work or beyond it I had sought money, I would not have spent what I had, or let pass such good chances as those I let pass, so as not to owe you a single hour nor to risk in the slightest your property, nor tire of persuading and pleading, or asking for the great reward due me, or taking charge of the expedition to which I have already been appointed, or of making in the Indies, as I could have done, great gains from their riches, which I do not seek, because I knew how false they were, and more than that; nor less if much had been done or if much had been undertaken and endured in the prosecution of this great cause with more than enough bars of gold, or with great favours from men, or if I had been so well received and aided by men, or if you wish, weary of hopes that not only by forgetting past and present hardships would all be made easy but also that I would be animated to undertake it and struggle with all those waiting for me, nor less that it was now a great fact that God had given me on the beaches of the lands I discovered so many millions in gold, silver, pearls, and for their profit would spend but one half. 

And what I ask for is only half of what Your Grace has once spent on account of everything that God will give, and of all he has given and is giving in Peru so that this great and signal service may be done for you. And it is all little for a work of such merit which, if I could (cost what it might, including my life) I would only be happy, Sire, to do by myself.

I beg Your Grace that I be formally despatched, and bear in mind that the annual Fleet [to the Indies] is about to depart. 

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