Spanish Exploration (Orellana; Mendana; Sarmiento; Quiros; Torres). Portuguese Explorers.
The exploring enterprise of the Spanish nation did not wane after the conquest of Peru and Mexico, and the acquisition of the vast empire of the Indies. In was rather spurred into renewed activity by the audacity of Sir John Hawkins in the West Indies, and by the appearance of Drake, Cavendish, and Richard Hawkins in the Pacific.
In the interior of South America the Spanish conquerors had explored the region of the Andes from the isthmus of Panama to Chili; and in 1541 Francisco de Oreallana discovered the whole course of the Amazon from its source in the Quitenian Andres to the Atlantic. A second voyage down the great river was made in 1561 by the mad pirate Lope de Aguirre; but it was not until 1639 that a full account was written of the mighty stream by Father Cristoval de Acuña, who ascended it from its mouth to the city of Quito. The voyage of Drake across the Pacific was preceded from Peru in 1567 to discoverer the Australian land which was believed to exist in the South Sea. After a voyage of eighty days across the Pacific, Mendaña discovered the Salomon Islands; and the expedition returned in safely to Callao. The appearance of Drake on the Peruvian coast led to an expedition being fitted out at Callao, to go in chase of him, under the command of Pedro Sarmiento. He sailed form Callao in October 1579, and made a careful survey of the Straits of Magellan, with the object of fortifying that entrance to the South Sea. The colony which he afterwards took out from Spain was a complete failure, and is only remembered now from the name of "Port Famine" which Cavendish gave to the site at which he found the starving remnant of Sarmientos settlers. In June 1595 Mendaña sailed from the coast of Peru in command of a second expedition to colonize the Salomon Islands. After discovering the Marquesas, he reached the island of Santa Cruz of evil memory, where he and many of the settlers died. His young widow took command of the survivors and brought them safely to Manila. The viceroys of Peru still preserved in their attempts to plant a colony in Australia. Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, who was pilot under Mendaña and Luis Vaez de Torres were sent in command of two ships to continue the work of exploration. They sailed from Callao on December 21, 1605, and discovered several islands of the New Hebrides group. They anchored in a bay of a large island which Quiros named "Australia del Espiritu Santo." From this place Quiros returned to America, but Torres continued the voyage, passed through the strait between Australia and New Quines which bears his name, and explored and mapped the southern and (as has recently been proved) also the eastern coast of New Guinea.
The Portuguese, in the early part of the 17th century (1578-1640), were under the dominion of Spain, an their enterprise was to some extent damped; but their missionaries extended geographical knowledge in Africa. Father Francisco Paez acquired great influence in Abyssinia, and explored its highlands from 1600 to 1622. Fathers Mendez and Lobo traversed the deserts between the coast of the Red Sea and the mountains, became acquainted with the shores of Lake Tsana, and discovered the sources of the Abai or Blue Nile in 1624-1633.
But the attention of the Portuguese was mainly devoted to vain attempts to maintain their monopoly of the trade of India against the powerful rivalry of the English and Dutch.
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