State Library of NSW
Memorial 14 - Señor : el capitan Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, a V.M. pido licencia para quexarme ...
Fourteenth (and apparently previously unrecorded) in the series of known Quiros' presentation memorials. Quirós wrote about fifty memorials addressed to the King Philip III of Spain describing the wonders of the lands he had discovered and requesting Royal support to organize a new expedition to the Southern hemisphere. The majority of them were manuscripts, but fourteen were printed between 1607 and 1614 at Quirós' expense for presentation at the Council of the Indies. These so-called "presentation memorials" - to be distinguished from later derivative printings which appeared throughout Europe after the leaking of one of the original Memorials - are among the most valuable of all printed Australiana. In this fourteenth presentation memorial Quirós begs Phillip III to respond to his repeated requests to back a missionary expedition to the lands he had earlier discovered. He expresses his frustration with the Crown for ignoring him and notes that the king has even refused to see him in person.
My Lord I, Captain Pedro Fernández de Quiróz, ask permission of Your Majesty to complain at least a bit about all the years that I have suffered, attempting to establish that in the unknown Austral part there could be lands inhabited by people, and of how hard it is for me now to convince others that I have seen them, and that they exist, and how much they mean to me, having gone there and seen them on my own, and how worthy they are of being populated, and how convenient it is for the good of both not to be uncaring with them, nor to waste my life in vain, a life I also wish to invest in such a venture. Please, Your Majesty, allow me to say that such a loyal vassal to the King, who is a soldier of the truth and who has also been at its service, who offers you such great things and who has been so little taken into consideration and given such little help, so that he can only breathe, I do not need to utter such grievances and make such pernicious attempts, nor have I been affected by the memories of such painful words, for I am being called to God's tribunal to be held accountable. I would wish those who deserve so to be present, so that they can bear witness to my loyalty – without prejudice to Yourself – as well as to others to whom I proved my submission, my humility and my gratitude. It would not mean much, according to what is known, and to those others with whom I spoke little and plenty, and keep hurriedly silent.
In such events I harden myself up, as well as in others that with all justification I present myself, and for whom I apply and work as much as they are worth, and having given so much and asking for nothing, being unable to find – as much as I tried – whatever pleases or displeases you, to measure myself at your level, I do not know if someone like this has ever lived in the past or in the present. And this is true; it is neither a fable, nor a dream, nor does it overrate how much such level of patience and such perseverance are worth and deserve, having undergone such torment only for having wished to do good by force. Is it not an honest price – that of seeing so many expected glories for the principle of the common good – that costs less purgatory, for considering their lesser price, it seems to be twice as crazy, not being able to leave hell with so many false testimonies, so many reckless judgements, so much injustice, injury and uneasiness, in short, with as many tribulations as some men force upon me without having seen, or asked me, or attempted to become capable of, no matter how much I persist – being the present torment such an enormous stoppage – without letting me know about the state of such cause, or where the doubts and objections lie, so that I may satisfy them; and together with those who want to demolish me and to deprive me of the sweat of my brow in order to base their attempts – as well as those of others – without fearing the retribution that awaits them from the heavens, for there are only a few that fear what may come their way on earth.
Your Majesty, please grant me the licence I am beseeching, since time is running for many different reasons, and because I have not found anyone who wants to pursue such a deed, and also because I have become the target that so many and such diverse shooters have aimed and shot at, and all of them say that they have hit the mark, or when they barely think about it with what is left over to wage war unreasonably against us, and against me in particular without any consideration on whether I am hurt or not – honour, life and soul –without forgiving me for their whims, or whatever else. Nor do I know how to say how many lords I have bowed to and still bow to as a serf, or in any other capacity. Considering that I am a man of pious deeds, being such deeds so few and far between, and for that reason how well the title of Captain of Advantageous Work befits me, as well as that of enemy of myself because it was voluntarily that I wanted to subject myself to such travails, forced to ten years in galleys and stripped of my civil rights, without having found neither here nor there someone to protect me. Protect me, Your Majesty, and listen to my rightful complaints, for you are my King and Natural Lord, with the truth that so many times, in absence, and with such effort and risk I have defended, and aspired to the highest levels at your service. Thus I state that that there would be no person who would dare pass a death sentence against God's honour, and against the salvation of millions of souls and of other infinite good involved in this case that I argue for, and against Your Majesty’s becoming the protector of so much and perhaps of more Kingdoms and riches than Your Majesty is currently the lord of, with the fame and glory of finishing such high and Christian work, and against my part and my justice, both for what I have done and for what I intend to do.
To sum up, considering this cause were not what it is, as well as my pure love of you, will not concede me the licence to stop defending it against anything that opposes it as much as I can; leaving it as it is, and only aspiring to find myself free from men for all my earthly happiness, because it seems that the payment for such constancy on my part is to stone me, to cast the cause aside as well as my person, erase it from the memory of so many people, while I have it engraved on mine in big gilded letters. But I have asked and ask for justice, and of justice I must die, and that I would not say a single word in my benefit or in its benefit; I would rather be laughing at the whole world and its rewards, which are not for me, and crying for its confusion and its scourge, and proclaiming that I have escaped not only one but several deceptions that I have lived in so far, and I wish to make it known about me. May God defend such great cause and our enemies, those small men, who are not aware of why they are so, or who they are, all of whom I would like to see in my current plight, and ask them whether it is against all reason or justice, with the supreme authorities' permission, won by the truth, hard work, that I discovered the lands that discovered, and to aspire with all due justification to populate them, to convert their peoples, and to reap the benefits of what they sow, and to take from this land until their world ends.
Or if this is unworthy of its due price, such an honest deed, and want to work again, and work themselves to death for whatever I mentioned before, and for all my very wishes, that it will be worth to mention those that have been turned into actions, warning you as well that if what I have done does not justify what I demand, I want to be proved wrong, and that any wrongdoing on my part in any circumstance, in short, any small or big amount that I owe – including monies – let me receive four times the punishment, were there anyone to speak to who can boast of at least as much as I have done for their God, their King and their country. Or if they believe that they epitomise perfection and purity, or great self‐satisfaction, and are capable of pleasing all the men that they deal with, or govern, or if their truth is indirectly opposed, even more so if they can manage to be as strong as those who consider me strong, or if they are conceited enough to believe that they are far better than I am and can be, that it would be easier said than done; I give them what remains to be done as many times as they want it. They should understand that this will be at a lower price than I have paid and offered, and in that manner and in many others they will be able to show their fineness, and there will be no lack of writers, nor of great prizes for them in this life and in the afterlife, if they so aspire. And I also warn that for the time being, I cannot give up what I have done, nor will I keep to myself how well I can serve my King without pay.
It is an enormous crime that I have committed, and for that I pay dearly, and I have run and am running the greatest risks that in all honesty I am not afraid of, and that I have advised and I can now show all these witnesses of as proof of what I have endured in the Indies, and in many other places, and if not I will content myself with disclosing how I fare at this Court, where they will not even look at me, and this proves such a step. I only need to know how long will such cruelty be used against such a pious cause, and to such good will as mine, and considering what is worthwhile at the present time, or will be worthwhile in the future, may God be with both of us – He who knows how valuable this case is – and that I am neither made of bronze nor was born sanctified in order to endure so much suffering for no reason. I therefore ask, and since I will not be allowed to transport such great and rich cargoes, of so many divine and human merchandises, rightfully carrying their weight and unloading it at their own homes, without even asking me how heavy that weight is, nor how much it is worth, nor even to find someone who can say how heavy that weight is, so that we may divide it by three, and also into smaller parts.
I reply that immense is the bitterness produced by the toils, the discomforts, the property expenses, and by depriving oneself of one's own assets to the benefit of others', and in short, that wanting and knowing plenty about suffering is not for everybody, not even for those who tell me that they would not want to set foot in my labyrinths but try to save themselves, as if the salvation of many were to deprive them of the salvation they desire, being certain financial expense aid for higher levels of glory. This I say, speaking to those that understand me, and I ask them again: who are those who would take up this challenge, or whose turn is it to command my permission, or release me from my very many burdens, and to see that after having struggled against what is being said and what is being unsaid? Here I am in need of having to argue and to write as a great Theologian, Canonist and Philosopher, being only a mere sailor and soldier.
And I also ask, who are those who shall bear God's justice, so many souls, and so many assets that are lost each day in all those provinces, in whose name, and of its peoples. From the Empire to the centre shall I later submit a tight protest memorial, and speak so clearly that a yes or a no would immediately come my way, so that I will know what I am supposed to do with this Godly cause that I bear on my slim shoulders, with those many orphans left without a guardian or a defender, but I would like to remind you that my lack of opportunity is not just for any reason I know, because financial means are not lacking, being so much available for such minimal causes, even more so in Perú, where the journey will start. So many souls under the care of Your Majesty – both in the present and in the future – will lose their natural right to see and experience the joy of God for the rest of their eternity, not even if there were mistrust worthy of fear, for God can do as much as He wants, and God has discovered the lands, and Your Majesty leads them conveniently, and all and every hundred thousand commanders there would be, you can well sustain them from such a very small Spain. And I would also like to know, sir, the reason why I am not being informed on the state of this cause, so that I can attempt to request and ask, answer, reply and persist, until I receive some meagre help to spread the word of God: twelve Capuchin monks – a petition that cannot be denied, nor contradicted, nor conscientiously halted.
Above all, having done and said as much as has been noted down, and on such a great offer on such a great cause, with as many consequences as a thousand speeches would show, not including those that would not merit writing about, and every one of them lends itself to the defence of its pros and cons, and with more than a thousand strong reasons, I am not aware, sir, of what you will say, nor of the treatment I will receive, but it is all my consideration, loyalty and suffering that has been very necessary for this, and for all the worsening rest, I very humbly beg Your Majesty not to let me die of sadness in front of Your Majesty, to whom I have been and can still be a humble servant, or at least to prevent my career from coming to an end, considering how big a loss it would be for the cause. For Your Majesty and for me if everything comes to an end and Your Majesty allows me to leave this Court feeling so disdained and lost, without the honour that my fists brought in, advising that the height of faith is worthy of love, as well as a labourer deserves his pay, and that for me that pay would mean working my whole life in this very same cause that I love, because I know how much it is worth, and how much pain these delays inflict upon me, and for this reason dots become months, and days thousands of years.
For all of this I beg Your Majesty again and again, as much as I can, to incline Your ears and give all Your support to such a noble cause and to such a stubborn vassal, and to ensure that I would be dispatched – as I have requested so many times – with documents bearing Your Majesty's will clearly and strongly, in all its power, because this will be the means by which the name of their author will become known in such a great part of the world, and that their peoples may attain salvation. It is to be noted that in the fourteen years that I have been arguing for this cause, for seven years I have lacked ink, pens and paper to write my concepts, as well as bread, a warm fire and time to sleep, comforts to heal my ailments – in short, the means to provide for my immediate needs, big and small, as my history shows. Together with what I owe, who and how many persons have lent me money, I am adding this so that it will never be said that I made a living by miracle, having entered this Court without a single maravedí. I shall not continue now, but will briefly say that you can ask Ana Márquez, the owner of the inn where I stay, as well as the caretaker of San Felipe, and to the knowledge of the providence of God, to whom I leave everything.