A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 705 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 14.

Before I finish this account of these islands, it is necessary to mention all I know concerning the government of Ulietea and Otaha.  Oree, so often mentioned, is a native of Bolabola; but is possessed of Whenooas or lands at Ulietea; which I suppose he, as well as many of his countrymen, got at the conquest.  He resides here as Opoony’s lieutenant; seeming to be vested with regal authority, and to be the supreme magistrate in the island.  Oo-oo-rou, who is the Earee by hereditary right, seems to have little more left him than the bare title, and his own Whenooa or district, in which I think he is sovereign.  I have always seen Oree pay him the respect due to his rank; and he was pleased when he saw me distinguish him from others.

Otaha, so far as I can find, is upon the very same footing.  Boba and Ota are the two chiefs; the latter I have not seen; Boba is a stout, well-made young man; and we were told is, after Opoony’s death, to marry his daughter, by which marriage he will be vested with the same regal authority as Opoony has now; so that it should seem, though a woman may be vested with regal dignity, she cannot have regal power.  I cannot find that Opoony has got any thing to himself by the conquest of these isles, any farther than providing for his nobles, who have seized on best part of the lands.  He seems to have no demand on them for any of the many articles they have had from us.  Oedidee has several times enumerated to me all the axes, nails, &c. which Opoony is possessed of, which hardly amount to as many as he had from me when I saw him in 1769.  Old as this famous man is, he seems not to spend his last days in indolence.  When we first arrived here, he was at Maurana; soon after he returned to Bolabola; and we were now told, he was gone to Tubi.

I shall conclude this account of these islands, with some observations on the watch which Mr Wales hath communicated to me.  At our arrival in Matavai Bay in Otaheite, the longitude pointed out by the watch was 2 deg. 8’ 38” 1/2 too far to the west; that is, it had gained, since our leaving Queen Charlotte’s Sound, of its then rate of going, 8’ 34” 1/2.  This was in about five months, or rather more, during which time it had passed through the extremes of cold and heat.  It was judged that half this error arose after we left Easter Island; by which it appeared that it went better in the cold than in the hot climates.

[1] “The man who acted the part of the woman in labour went through the gestures which the Greeks were wont to admire in the groves of Venus-Ariadne, near Amathus, where the same ceremony was acted on the second day of the month Gorpioeus, in memory of Ariadne, who died in child-bed.  Thus it appears that there is scarcely a practice, though ever so ridiculous, existing in any corner of the world, that has not been hit upon by the extravagant fancy of men in some other region.  A tall, stout fellow, dressed in cloth, personated
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