Thus we took leave of the Friendly Islands and their inhabitants, after a stay of between two and three months, during which time, we lived together in the most cordial friendship. Some accidental differences, it is true, now and then happened, owing to their great propensity to thieving; but too often encouraged by the negligence of our own people. But these differences were never attended with any fatal consequences, to prevent which, all my measures were directed; and I believe few on board our ships left our friends here without some regret. The time employed amongst them was not thrown away. We expended very little of our sea provisions, subsisting, in general, upon the produce of the islands, while we staid, and carrying away with us a quantity of refreshments sufficient to last till our arrival at another station, where we could depend upon a fresh supply. I was not sorry, besides, to have had an opportunity of bettering the condition of these good people, by leaving the useful animals before-mentioned among them; and, at the same time, those designed for Otaheite, received fresh strength in the pastures of Tongataboo. Upon the whole, therefore, the advantages we received by touching here were very great; and I had the additional satisfaction to reflect, that they were received, without retarding one moment, the prosecution of the great object of our voyage; the season for proceeding to the north, being, as has been already observed, lost, before I took the resolution of bearing away for these islands.
But besides the immediate advantages, which both the natives of the Friendly Islands and ourselves received by this visit, future navigators from Europe, if any such should ever tread our steps, will profit by the knowledge I acquired of the geography of this part of the Pacific Ocean; and the more philosophical reader, who loves to view human nature in new situations, and to speculate on singular, but faithful representations of the persons, the customs, the arts, the religion, the government, and the language of uncultivated man, in remote and fresh-discovered quarters of the globe, will perhaps find matter of amusement, if not of instruction, in the information which I have been enabled to convey to him, concerning the inhabitants of this Archipelago. I shall suspend my narrative of the progress of the voyage, while I faithfully relate what I had opportunities of collecting on these several topics.
We found by our experience, that the best articles for traffic at these islands, are iron tools in general. Axes and hatchets, nails, from the largest spike down to tenpenny ones, rasps, files, and knives, are much sought after. Red cloth, and linen, both white and coloured, looking-glasses and beads are also in estimation; but of the latter those that are blue are preferred to all others, and white ones are thought the least valuable. A string of large blue beads would at any time purchase a hog. But it must be observed, that such articles as are merely ornaments, may be highly esteemed at one time, and not so at another. When we first arrived at Annamooka, the people there would hardly take them in exchange even for fruit; but when Feenou came, this great man set the fashion, and brought them into vogue, till they rose in their value to what I have just mentioned.