The Project Gutenberg eBook of Terra Australis Incognita; Or, A New Southern Discovery, containing A Fifth Part of the World

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Title: Terra Australis Incognita; Or, A New Southern Discovery, containing A Fifth Part of the World

Author: Pedro Fernandes de Queirós

Release date: June 4, 2018 [eBook #57269]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Chris Pinfield and The Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)


Transcriber's Note.

Apparent typographical errors have been corrected. Ligatures have been removed. A phrase in blackletter font is bolded.

Terra Australis Incognita


A New Southern
A Fifth Part of the WORLD;

Lately found out by

Ferdinand de Quir.

A Spanish Captain.

Printed in the Year 1617; And now Re-printed.


Gemino facit commercia Mundo

Printed for William Bray in Exeter-Court, near Exeter-Change in the Strand.


Copy of a Petition
Presented to the
KING of Spain,


Capt. Peter Ferdinand de Quir, touching the Discovery of the Fifth part of the World, called Terra Australis Incognita, and of the great Riches and Fertility of the same.


I am called Captain Peter Ferdinand De Quir, a most humble Servant and Subject of your Majesty's, who in all Submission do shew unto you, that this is the Eighth Petition, which by me hath been presented to your Majesty's View, to perswade the Conduction of some Colonies, unto the Land which your Majesty hath commanded to be discovered in the Country {6} of Terra Australis incognita: And yet to this Hour no Resolution is taken in this Affair, neither have I received any Answer or Hope, whereby I might rest assured to obtain my Dispatch, although I have attended Fourteen Months in your Court, and have employ'd Fourteen Years in this Discovery, unto the which I have been induced by the meer Goodness of the Cause, and in the Assuredness of the same have obdurated my self against all Difficulties and Contradictions whatsoever. I have desperately exposed my self to a thousand Perils both by Sea and Land, I have diminished and sunk my Estate, I have been travailed with many Afflictions in my Person, and suffered such strange and extraordinary Crosses, that they seem almost incredible to my self; and all, that so Religious an Undertake should not unworthily be abandoned. In regard whereof, I do most humbly beseech your Majesty in the Bowels of the Divine Charity, that you would be pleased to take Order, that I be not deprived of the Fruits of this Design, which with such Instance I do desire, and which with so much Justice are due unto my {7} continual Pains and Travel: Nor that I be debarr'd from the Effects of so considerable and well-grounded a Request, whose principal Scope is the Glory of God, and of your Majesty, and from whence infinite Benefits are likely to issue forth, which will live as long as the Fabrick of the World shall subsist, and after the Dissolution thereof, will remain to all Eternity.

Touching the Extent of these Regions newly discovered, grounding my Judgment on that which I have seen with mine own Eyes, and upon that which Captain Lewes Paez de Terres Admiral of my Fleet, hath represented unto your Majesty, the Length thereof is as great as all Europe and Asia the Less, unto the Sea of Bachu, Persia, and all the Isles, as well of the Ocean, as of the Medeterranean Sea, taking England and Island into this Account.

This unknown Country is the Fifth part of the Terrestrial Globe, and extendeth it self to such Length, that in probability it is twice greater in Kingdoms and Seignories, than all that which at this Day doth acknowledge {8} Subjection and Obedience unto your Majesty.

These Regions know no Neighbourhood either of Turks or Moors, or of any other Nation which attempteth War upon confining Countries. The Land which we have discovered is all seated within the Torrid Zone, and a great Tract thereof reacheth unto the Equinoctial Circle, which is elevated unto them to 90 Degrees above the Horizon, and in some Places a little less. And if the Success prove answerable unto the Hopes, there will be found Antipodes unto the better part of Africk, unto all Europe, and to the greater Portion of Asia. But you must observe, that as the Countries which we have discover'd in 15 Degrees of Latitude, are better than Spain, so the other which are opposed to their Elevation, must by Proportion and Analogy prove some Terrestrial Paradise.

All those Quarters swarm with an incredible Multitude of inhabitants, whereof some are white, others black, and in Colour like unto those which the Spaniards call Mulatos, or half Moors, and {9} others of a mingled Complexion. Some! wear their Hair long, black, and scatter'd, others have their Hair crisped and thick, and others very yellow and bright. Which Diversity is an apparent Argument, that there is Commerce and Communication amongst them. And this Consideration, together with the Bounty which Nature hath bestowed on the Soil, their Inexperience of Artillery and Guns, and their Unskilfulness in labouring in Mines, with other semblable Circumstances, doth induce me to infer, that all the Country is rich and well-peopled. It seemeth they know little what belongeth to Artificial Trades; for they have neither Fortifications nor Walls, and live without the Awe of Kings or Laws. They are a simple People, canton'd into' several Sects, and Factions, and exercise much Disagreement amongst themselves. The Arms which they use are Bows and Arrows, which are not poisoned or steeped in the Juice of venomous Herbs, as the Custom is of many other Countries: They do also carry Clubs, Truncheons, Pikes, Darts, to hurl with the Arm, all which ate framed only of Wood. They {10} do cover themselves from the Waste of Girdling-place down to the half of their Thighs; they are very studious of Cleanliness, tractable, gleeful, and wonderously addicted to be grateful unto those that do them a Courtesie, as I have experienced many times. The which doth build in me a belief, that, with the Assistance of God, if they may be gently and amiably intreated, they will be found very docible and easie of Manage, and that we shall without much Work accommodate our selves unto them. And it is most necessary to observe this way of Sweetness, especially in the Beginning, that the Inhabitants may be drawn along to this so holy and saving an End, whereof we ought to take a particular Care and Zeal, as well in small things, as in Matters of more Importance. Their Houses are built of Wood, covered and tiled with Palm-tree Leaves; they have Pitchers and Vessels made of Earth, they are not without the Mystery of Weaving, and other Curiosities of that kind. They work on Marble, they have Flutes, Drums and Wooden-Spoons, they set apart certain Places for Oratories and {11} Prayers, and for Church-yards. Their Gardens are artificially severed into Beds, bordered and fashioned with distinct Limits; Mother of Pearl, and the Shells which contain Pearl, they have in much use and Estimation, of which they make Wedges, Razors, Saws, Cutters, and such like instruments; They also do make thereof Pearls and great Beads to wear about their Necks; they that do dwell in the Islands have Boats very artificially made, and exceedingly commodious for Sailing, which is a certain Argument that they confine upon other Nations that are of a more polished and elegant Behaviour. And this also they have of our Husbandry, that they cut Cocks and geld Boars.

Their Bread is usually made of three Sorts of Roots, which grow there in great abundance. Neither do they employ much Labour in making this Bread, for they do only roast the Roots until they are soft and tender. They are very pleasant to the Taste, wholsome and nourishing, they are of a good Length, there being of them of an Ell long, and the half of that in Bigness.

{12} There is great store of excellent Fruits in these Countries. There are six kinds of Maple-trees, Almond-trees of four sorts, and other Trees called Obi, resembling almost in Fruit and Greatness our Quince-trees. Innumerable Walnut-trees are found there, and of Citron-trees the Barbarians have no Dearth, nor of other great and excellent Fruits, which we have seen and tasted. They have moreover Sugar-Canes, large in Size, and in great Plenty; they have Knowledge of our ordinary Apples; they have Palm-trees without Number, out of which there may easily be drawn a Juice, which will make a Liquor alluding much to Wine, as also Whey, Vinegar, and Honey, the Kernels thereof are exceeding sweet. And they have Fruits which the Indians call Cocos, which being green do make a kind of Twine, and the Pith is almost like in Taste unto the Cream of Milk: When they are ripe they serve for Meat and Drink both by Land and Sea; And when they wither and fall from the Tree, there sweateth out an Oil from them, which is very good to burn in Lamps, and is medicinable for Wounds, and not {13} unpleasant to be eaten. Of their Rinds or Barks there are made Bottles, and other like Vessels, and the inner Skin doth serve for Tow or Moss to stop and close up the Leakes in Ships. Men do make Cables and other Cordage of them, which are of sufficient Strength to draw a Cannon, and are fit for other domestick Uses. But that which is more special, they do there use the Leaves of Palm-trees, which they amass together, to make Sails of them for Vessels of small Bulk and Burthen. They make likewise fine thin Matts of them, and they do serve for Tiles to cover the House without, and for Hangings to cloath the House within. And these Houses are built of the Branches of Trees that are strait and long, of which they do likewise make Pikes, and other sorts of Weapons, as also Oars to row with, and Utensils for the House. You are to note, that these Palm-trees resemble Vines, from whence they gather their Materials for Wine all the Year long, which they make without much Cost, or Labour. Amongst their Herbage and Garden-Fruits; we have seen Melons, Pears great and little, and sundry sorts {14} of Pot-Herbs. And they have also Beans For Flesh, they are stored with a great Number of Hogs, which are like unto ours. They have Hens, Capons, Partridges, Ducks, Turtles, Pigeons, Stock-Doves, and Goats, as one of my Captains doth relate. And the Indians themselves have assured us that there are Cows and Oxen. There are also sundry sorts of Fish, Harghi, Persereyes, Lize, Soles, Trouts, Shads, Macabises, Casanes, Pampani, Pilchards, Thorn-backs or Skate-fish, Cuculi, Congers, Porposes, Rochets, Muskles, Lobsters, and many other, the Names whereof I cannot now remember. But it is probable that there are divers other kinds, since those which I have recounted were taken hard by our Ships. And upon ripe and serious Consideration of that which I have represented unto you, a Man may easily collect, that such plentiful and different Varieties of all things, may yield large means to inhabit there, with great and singular Delights. There is Stuff for Marchpanes and sweet Confections of all sorts, without borrowing any Spice for the Composition of them elsewhere. And {15} for my Mates the Mariners, besides those Particulars which I have before set down, there will be no want of Gammons, Sausages, and other salt Meats which Hogs do yield; neither of Vinegar, Spiceries, and other Sauces that serve for Delicacy, and to awake the Appetite. And you must observe, that many of these things are the same with those which we have in our Parts, and possibly they are there in greater abundance; by all which it is easily to be conjectured, that this Country is fit for the production of all that which groweth in Europe.

The Riches which I have seen in those parts is Silver and Pearl. Another Captain in his Relation doth report, that he hath seen Gold, which are the three most precious Darlings that lie and are cherished in the Bosom of Nature. We have also both of us seen many Nutmegs, much Mastick, Ginger, and Pepper. There is also Cinamon; and it is likely that Cloves may be found in those parts, since so many other sorts of Spiceries and Aromatical Drugs do prosper there; and that the rather, because these Countries lie very near the parallel of the Isles of Terre-natte, {16} Bachian, and the Moluccos. There are likewise Materials for all sorts of Silk, and we have seen Anise-seed and excellent good Ebony, as also other kind? of Wood proper for the Building of as many Ships as one will desire, and Stuff to make Sails for the same. Three sorts of Materials there are wherewithal to make Cordage, and one of them is very like unto our Hemp. Moreover, out of the Oil of Cocos, whereof I have already made mention, there is a kind of bituminous Stuff extracted, called Galagala, which may be well used for Pitch. They make also a kind of Rosen, with which the Indians pitch their Boats, which they call Piraques. And since there are Goats and Cows in those parts, without question we shall have Goat-Skins, Leather, Tallow, and Flesh in full abundance. The Bees which we have seen there do make proof, that there will be no Scarcity of Honey and Wax. And there is good Appearance to discover many other things which are not yet known, to say nothing touching the Form and Site of the Country. Unto all which, if that be adjoined, which the Industry of Man {17} may contribute to those Parts, since there is such abundance of Commodities, which the Country itself doth yield, and such Hope to transport thither those things which grow with us, the best and choicest whereof that Peru and New Spain bring forth, I have resolved to transfer thither; it is to be hoped that this will so enrich that Country, that it will be able to nourish and furnish not only the Inhabitants of the same, and those of America, but give an Accession unto Spain itself both of Riches and Extent of Command: And this may be accomplished after the manner which I have projected, and will unfold unto those which shall lend an assisting Hand for the Guiding and Consummation of this Work.

Now by that Land which we have already discovered outwardly and along the Shores, without Entrance into the inward Parts, we do conceive a certain Argument, that as much Riches, Commodities, and Greatness, may be hoped for from thence, as we have already in these Countries. And you may be pleased to understand that my principal Aim was to take a View only of those ample Regions {18} which we have discovered; for by reason of many Sicknesses which have weakened me, and some other Chances, whereof I will at this time make no mention, I was not able to survey all which I desired, neither could I in a full Month have seen all that, which I was of my self inclinable to view.

You are not to make your Judgment of the Indians that inhabit these Countries according to the Honour of the People here, or conceive them to be affected with the same Desires, Pleasures, Necessities, or Estimation of things that we are: But you are to make account that they are a People whose Care is studiously placed upon this, that they may live easily in this World, and pass their Days with the least Pain and Perturbation they can. And this is indeed their Practice, for they do not bestow themselves on those things, which with such Vexation and Torment we here labour to obtain.

There are found in this Country as many Commodities, both for the Support and Delectation of the Life of Man, as may be expected from a Soil that is manurable, pleasant and very temperate. {19} It is a fat and a fertile Land, where in many places Clay is found, which will prove of excellent Use to build Houses, and to make Tiles and Bricks, and will serve for whatsoever is usually made of Earth. There is no Dearth of Marble and other good Stones, wherewith, if there be Occasion, there may be built Structures of greater State and Magnificence.

The Country aboundeth in Wood, fit for all Works and Uses, whereunto the same is commonly put. There are spacious and goodly Plains, and Fields that are divided and interlaced with Brooks, Trenches and Rivers. There are great and high Rocks, sundry Torrents, Rivers great and little, on Which Water-mills for Corn may, with much Commodiousness, be built and placed, as also Engines to make Sugar, Tucking mills, Forges, and all other Instruments which in their Use do require Water.

We have found Salt-pits there, and, which is a Note of the Fertility of the Soil, there are in many places Canes, whereof some are five of six Handfuls thick, with Fruit answerable to that Proportion. {20} The Top of that Fruit is very small and hard, and the Skin thereof is exceeding sweet. There are also Flints for Fire, equal in Goodness to those of Madrid. The Bay of St. James and St. Philip hath twenty Leagues of Bank, and is without Mud, into which there is a sure and safe Entrance both by Day and Night. It is sheltered and covered with many Houses, which in the Day-time we have seen a far off to send forth Smoak, and in the Night to shew forth Fire.

The Haven, called The true Cross, is of that spacious Capacity, that it is able to contain a Thousand Ships. The Bottom, as I have said, is without Mud, and hath a blackish colour'd Sand wherewithal it is covered. There are no Gulfs or deep Pits, but an assured and easie Anchorage in what part soever you will, from forty to half a Fathom; and it is between the Mouths of two Rivers, the one whereof is as great as that of Quadalguiver, and hath Mud of a Fathom deep, over which our Shalops and Boats did pass.

For the other River, when our Skiffs went to water there, they found the Entrance safe and easie. And a Man may {21} from the very Mouth of the River take in as much fresh Water as he will. The place where Ships may be unloaded hath three Leagues of Gravel, mingled with little Flints, blackish and very heavy, which will serve for Balast for Ships. The Bank is straight and united, on which much green Grass doth grow and prosper, and that makes me to conceive that the Sea doth not beat or rage thereupon: I observe that the Trees are strait, and the Branches not dismembred, which is a Token that there are no Tempests there. Touching the Port, besides the Commodities which I have already discoursed of, there is one of marvellous Pleasure and Contentation. And that is, at the Dawning of the Day you shall hear from a Wood, which is near at hand, a sweet and various Harmony of a thousand Birds of all sorts, amongst which we could distinguish the Nightingales, Black-birds, Quails, Goldfinches, Swallows almost without Number, Parrochito's, and one Parrot we marked there, and Creatures of sundry other kinds, even down to Grass-hoppers and Field-Crickets.

{22} Every Morning and Evening we received a most odoriferous sweet Smell, sent unto our Nostrils from the infinite Diversity of Flowers and Herbs which grow there, amongst which we observed the Blossoms of Oranges and Basil. All which (with a Number of other Varieties) doth make us think that the Air is clear and healthy, and that the Nature of the place is of a good Temperature, The Haven and Bay are therefore of the greater Estimation, because they have the Neighbourhood of so many goodly Islands that are there, and especially of those Seven which are said to have 200 Leagues of Extent: And surely one of them (which is some twelve Leagues distant from the Haven) is fifty Leagues in Circuit. In brief, Sir, I do affirm unto your Majesty, that you may give Command to have a goodly and great City built in this Port and Bay, which are in fifteen Degrees and forty Minutes of the Southern Elevation, and those that shall inhabit there shall have plenty of Riches, and all other Conveniences which they can desire. Time will shew and discover all these Commodities, and {23} in this place there may be made the Discharge and Unloading of all the Wares and Merchandizes of the Countries of Chilly, Peru, Panania, Macaraqua, Guttimala, New-Spain, Terre-natte, and the Philippines, all which Countries are under the Command of your Majesty. And if you shall acquire unto your self the Dominion of these Seigniories which I do now present, I do make so great an Esteem of them, that besides their being the Key of all the rest, they will (in my Opinion) prove another China or Japan, and equalize the other rich Islands which are on this side of Asia in Traffick of curious and precious Merchandizes, to speak nothing of the Augmentation and Extent of your Power, and the Establishment which you may make unto your self of your Dominions by the Accession of so great a Country. That which I have given unto your View in my Discourse is of much Slenderness, in regard of that which I do probably conceive of this Land, the which I am ready to make appear in the Presence of Mathematicians. Neither will I vex this Paper to demonstrate unto you, that these Countries {24} will be able at the first Aboord to nourish 20000 Spaniards. In Sum this is, Sir, the World whereof Spain is the Center, and that which I have related, is the Nail by which you may judge of the whole Body, which I pray you to take into your Observation.

You may judge by that which I have already represented, what the Goodness and Temperature of the Air is; whereunto this may be added for a further Testimony, that although all our Company were Strangers, yet never a one of them was sick, albeit they were in continual Travel and Labour, and did sometimes sweat, and sometimes take Wet. They drank Water fasting, and fed many times on that which the Earth did there bring forth. Neither had they any regard to keep themselves from the Serenes, nor from the Moon or Sun, which indeed in those Parts is not over-vehement. Only about Mid-night, they covered themselves with Wool, and did lie and repose themselves thereupon. And for the Inhabitants, they are commonly healthy, and many of them very aged, although they have nothing but the bare Earth for their Pallet, {25} which is an Argument of the Wholesomeness and Pureness of the Soil. For if it were a wet and weeping Ground, or had any Viciousness in the Mould, they would raise their Lodgings higher from the Earth, as they do that live in the Philippines, and other Countries which I have viewed. And this is further confirmed by their Flesh and Fish, which although it be unsalted, yet will it keep sweet, and without Corruption two Days. And the Fruits which are brought from thence are exceeding good, as we had Proof by two that I took care to bring along with me, altho' they had not their full Maturity and Growth when I gathered them from the Tree. We have not seen any barren and sandy Ground, nor any Thistles, or Trees that are thorny, of whose Roots do shew themselves, no Marshes or Fenns, no Snow upon the Mountains, no Snakes or Serpents, no Crocodiles in the Rivers, no Worms that use with us to hurt and consume our Grain, and to work us so much Displeasure in our Houses, no Fleas, Catterpillers, or Gnats. This is a Prerogative that hath the Advantage of all the {26} Privileges that Nature hath bestowed on other Places, and is worthy to be compared, or rather preferred before any Delicacy of the Countries of India, some of which are abandoned and uninhabited, meerly by reason of these Incommodities, and of sundry others that are distastful unto the Inhabitants, as my self have oftentimes been Witness.

These (Sir) are the Vertues and Excellences of the Countries which I have discovered, of which I have already taken the Possession in the Name of your Majesty and under your Royal Banner, as appeareth by the Acts which I keep safely in my Power, whereunto I proceeded after this ensuing manner.

First (Sir) we erected a Cross, and built a Church in Honour of our Lady of Loretto. Then we caused Twenty Masses to be celebrated there, and our Troops made haste thither to gain some Indulgences. We also made a solemn Procession, and observed the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, the which was carry'd in Procession, your Banner being ever displayed, and marching before it thro' a great Circuit of Countries, which were honour'd with the Presence of the same.

{27} In three several Places we set up your Titles, in every one of which we prepared and erected two Columns, with the Arms of your Majesty tricked and garnished thereupon: so that I may with good Right affirm, that since this will challenge to be one of the Parts of the World, the Impress of Plus ultra is accomplished, and because it stretcheth unto the Continent, whether it be forward or behind it skills not, the Bounds of your Dominions are with much Spaciousness enlarged. Now all this which I have performed receiveth its Root from this the faithful Zeal which I bear unto your Majesty, that to all the Titles which you already do possess, you may adjoin this which I represent, and that the Name of Terra Australis Incognita may be blazoned and spread over the Face of the whole World to the Glory of God, who hath revealed this Country, and hath given me the Grace to guide my Course thither, and to return to the Presence of your Majesty, before whom I do present and prostrate my self with the same Affection and Zeal unto this Work which I had before, and which hath grown up {28} with me as it were from my Cradle, and for the Nobleness and Worth thereof, I do still tender and cherish the same with the greatest Love that can be.

I do confidently believe, that your Majesty doth use so much Prudence in your Councils, and are so magnanimous and full of Christian Piety, that you will (with your best Care) embrace all the Conducements which may further the Habitation of these new discovered Countries. And the principal Reason to put a Tye and Obligation upon us not to leave them abandoned, is, in regard that this is the sole ordinary way to establish the Knowledge of God, and Faith among them, and to bring to pass that his Name may be adored and called upon, where the Devil usurpeth so much Reverence and Invocation. And this ought to be embraced with the more Readiness, because it is the Channel to convey and disperse all abundance of Commodities amongst your Subjects. And hereby you shall be eased of many Disturbances and Vexations, which will assuredly be put upon you, in case the Hereticks should enter and nestle there, and should vent {29} their erroneous Doctrines amongst them, whereby they would convert all the Blessings which I have hitherto recounted unto you, into assured Incommodities and Mischiefs, and would arrogate unto themselves the Name of the Lords of the Indies, to the utter Ruin and Desolation of those Countries. I make no question but your Majesty well weigheth of what Importance this Danger of which I speak may prove, and what evil Consequence some other Hazards may carry with them, which are either at this time imminent, or may succeed hereafter. And if this should happen, it would cost you innumerable Thousands of Gold and Men, before you shall be able to give a Remedy unto the same. Acquire therefore, Sir, while that Occasion is offered you (that one Day you may purchase Heaven unto yourself:) Acquire (I say) with a little Money, which you misplace upon Peru, a never-dying Reputation, and this New World with all the Benefits which it reacheth out unto you. And since there is none that craveth a Reward for these good Tidings that is brought you concerning so great and singular a Blessing, {30} which God hath been pleased to lock up until your happy time, I am he, Sir, that do demand it, and my humble Request unto you is only this, That you would be of that Graciousness unto me, as to dispatch and give me mine Answer; for the Galleons are ready to hoise Sail, and I have much way to go, and many things must be fitted and disposed for the Voyage. There is no Hour passes, which carrieth not with it an assured Loss both in regard of spiritual and temporal Blessings, the Damage whereof can never be made up or repaired.

If upon a bare Suspicion Christophorus Columbus did pursue his Design with so much Obstinacy, you are not to account it strange in me if the Things which I have beheld with mine Eyes, and touch'd with mine Hands, do put some kind of Constraint upon me to be importunate.

Let it therefore please your Majesty, amongst so many Expedients which you have at hand, to lever and put apart some one for the Accomplishment of this Work, that after all these Languishments, I may at length meet with the Success of my Desires. I do assure you that you will {31} find my Propositions most just, and that I shall be of Sufficiency to give you Satisfaction in all things. This, Sir, is a great Work, against which the Devil doth bandy himself with all the Puissance he may; and it is not consonant to Reason, to abandon these Countries to his Tyranny and Power, which do know your Majesty for their Patron and Defender.