Señor. el Doctor Iuan Luis Arias, dize… [A Memorial in Spanish, addressed to Philip IV of Spain, urging the exploration and colonisation of the Southern Continent]. TORRES, Juan Luis ARIAS, de Loyola.
Señor. el Doctor Iuan Luis Arias, dize… [A Memorial in Spanish, addressed to Philip IV of Spain, urging the exploration and colonisation of the Southern Continent].

Señor… [Memorial urging the discovery of lands in the Southern Hemisphere]…
Señor. el Doctor Iuan Luis Arias, dize… [A Memorial in Spanish, addressed to Philip IV of Spain, urging the exploration and colonisation of the Southern Continent].

Edinburgh: Murray and Cochran, 1773.

Quarto, no title-page as issued, 26 pp. and final leaf with simple colophon recto; attractive modern quarter calf binding, marbled boards.

The Torres Strait, and a vast Franciscan mission for the Coral Sea

Extremely rare: this copy, now handled by us for the second time, is the only one known to have been sold in many decades.

Extremely rare: this copy, now handled by us for the second time, is the only one known to have been sold in many decades.

The Arias Memorial is of signal importance for the history of Torres Strait and for the 1605-1607 voyage of Quirós and Torres, as originally described in the early seventeenth century. Although any early work on Quirós is of obvious significance, the Arias Memorial is the single most important printed work on the enigmatic figure of Torres. Its rediscovery and publication in 1773 have ensured its survival since a first publication in the 1630s, probably clandestine, is even rarer, perhaps "impossibly" so, today.

The Memorial was revived by the great hydrographer Alexander Dalrymple, who had chanced on and acquired an original printing of the work, immediately understanding its significance as providing the crucial first-hand evidence that the Torres Strait was navigable.

Arias, a Franciscan, was appointed as an official "chronicler" of the Indies in 1591 and, after the death of Quirós in 1614, became one of the greatest promoters of Quirós's vision to establish a Spanish empire in the western Pacific. Arias wrote his Memorial at the behest of another fervent supporter of Quirós, Juan de Silva, who had himself written a series of direct appeals to King Philip III on the subject.

Silva was no diplomat; aware of his limitations, he enlisted the more polished Arias to write this text, a grander and more far-reaching Memorial, which detailed the dream of a vast Franciscan mission to be established in the Coral Sea, and returned to the original voyage accounts to describe the itinerary of Quirós, but also to include for the first time a substantial account of the route taken by Torres after he split up from his commander and sailed west for Manila, coasting southern New Guinea en route.

We have identified just four or five copies of the book in the northern hemisphere (two or three of them at the British Library) and in Australia copies at the National Library and in the Dixson collection of the State Library of New South Wales. By way of comparison, the original Spanish printing of the 1630s is considered unattainable, with no copy recorded to have been sold in modern times. Just four copies were identified by Celsus Kelly; three, including the copy discovered by Dalrymple, at the British Library, and one in Madrid.

For more than a century-and-a-half following Torres's voyage the strait was considered by most geographers likely to be a mirage, which was why Dalrymple was so astonished by the evidence laid out by Arias, and why his important monograph An Account of the Discoveries made in the South Pacifick Ocean ("1767", but issued in 1769) included a small chart which roughly sketched the track of Torres. He was so excited that he rushed a pre-publication copy of the work to Joseph Banks before the latter sailed in 1768, and was bitterly upset when he felt his contribution had been overlooked in the official account of the Endeavour voyage written by John Hawkesworth, which finally appeared in mid-1773. He rushed into print immediately after, his A Letter from Mr. Dalrymple to Dr. Hawkesworth (1773) a pamphlet notorious for its intemperate language and sometimes wild accusations.

At exactly the same time, as is confirmed in an advertisement at the start of the Letter, Dalrymple had this Arias Memorial set up and printed in Edinburgh, planning to issue it free to subscribers to his more extensive work An Historical Collection of the several Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean which he had published a few years earlier in 1771-2. More than simply a companion printing, it was to be the centrepiece of his argument, and was meant to reveal Dalrymple as the true re-discoverer of the Torres Strait and the guiding hand that had directed Cook to safety. As is so often the case with Dalrymple, a fierce polemicist, his taste for controversy has tended to obscure the importance of his work. That is, although issued chiefly because he was outraged by Cook and Hawkesworth, the Arias Memorial is a key work in the history of Torres, and a vital piece of the greater history of Quirós and his dream of "Austrialia".

This is of added significance because any edition of Arias is very rare indeed. The Dalrymple scholar Andrew S. Cook points out (in private correspondence) that although Dalrymple offered the work gratis, there is little or no evidence that many took him up on the offer, and that the work seems to have disappeared from notice by 1775. This would certainly explain the remarkably small number of known copies.

On Alexander Dalrymple, see: Andrew Cook, 'Alexander Dalrymple: Research, Writing and Publication of the Account', in the modern facsimile reprint of Dalrymple, An Account of the Discoveries made in the South Pacifick Ocean, (Sydney: 1996), pp. 15-47; Howard T. Fry, 'Alexander Dalrymple and New Guinea,' The Journal of Pacific History, 4 (1969), pp. 83-104; Howard T. Fry, Alexander Dalrymple and the Expansion of British Trade (Toronto: 1970).

See also: J.C. Beaglehole (ed.), The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks, 1768-1771 (Sydney: 1962), and The Journals of Captain James Cook… The Voyage of the Endeavour 1768-1771 (Sydney: 1999 reprint)

Provenance: Imperfectly-inked Australian library stamp; private collection (Melbourne); Leonard Joel auction, 1994; Hordern House; private collection (Sydney).

George Collingridge, Discovery of Australia, (Sydney: 1895), pp. 225-228; Celsus Kelly, Calendar of Documents, Spanish voyages in the South Pacific… (Madrid: 1965), esp. # 833; Celsus Kelly, 'The Franciscan Missionary Plan for the Conversion to Christianity of the Natives of the Austral Lands as proposed in the Memorials of Fray Juan de Silva, O.F.M.,' The Americas, 17:3 (Jan. 1961), pp. 277-288; R.H. Major, Early Voyages to Terra Australis, (London: 1859), pp. 1-30; Sir C. Markham (ed.), in The Voyages of Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, 1595-1606, (London: 1904), see esp. Vol. II, Appendix VIII, pp. 517-36.

Price (AUD): $36,000.00  other currencies     Ref: #4504965

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