As we are now about to take our final leave of the Sandwich Islands, it will not be improper to introduce here some general account of their situation and natural history, and of the manners and customs of the inhabitants.
This subject has indeed been, in some measure, preoccupied by persons far more capable of doing it justice than I can pretend to be. Had Captain Cook and Mr Anderson lived to avail themselves of the advantages which we enjoyed by a return to these islands, it cannot be questioned, that the public would have derived much additional information from the skill and diligence of two such accurate observers. The reader will therefore lament with me our common misfortune, which hath deprived him of the labours of such superior abilities, and imposed on me the task of presenting him with the best supplementary account the various duties of my station permitted me to furnish.
This group consists of eleven islands, extending in latitude from 18 deg. 54’ to 22 deg. 15’ N., and in longitude from 199 deg. 36’ to 205 deg. 06’ E. They are called by the natives, 1. Owhyhee. 2. Mowee. 3. Ranai, or Oranai. 4. Morotinnee, or Morokinnee. 5. Kahowrowee, or Tahoorowa. 6. Morotoi, or Morokoi. 7. Woahoo, or Oahoo. 8. Atooi, Atowi, or Towi, and sometimes Kowi. 9. Neeheehow, or Oneeheow. 10. Oreehona, or Reehoua; and, 11. Tahoora; and are all inhabited, excepting Morotinnee and Tahoora. Besides the islands above enumerated, we were told by the Indians, that there is another called Modoopapapa, or Komodoopapapa, lying to the W.S.W. of Tahoora, which is low and sandy, and visited only for the purpose of catching turtle and sea-fowl; and, as I could never learn that they knew of any others, it is probable that none exist in their neighbourhood.
They were named by Captain Cook the Sandwich Islands, in honour of the Earl of Sandwich, under whose administration he had enriched geography with so many splendid and important discoveries; a tribute justly due to that noble person for the liberal support these voyages derived from his power, in whatever could extend their utility, or promote their success; for the zeal with which he seconded the views of that great navigator; and, if I may be allowed to add the voice of private gratitude, for the generous protection, which, since the death of their unfortunate commander, he has afforded all the officers that served under him.
Owhyhee, the easternmost, and by much the largest of these islands, is of a triangular shape, and nearly equilateral. The angular points make the north, east, and south extremities, of which the northern is in latitude 20 deg. 17’ N., longitude 204 deg. 02’ E.; the eastern in latitude 19 deg. 34’ N., longitude 205 deg. 06’ E.; and the southern extremity in latitude 18 deg. 54’ N., longitude 204 deg. 15’ E. Its greatest length, which lies in a direction nearly north and south, is 23-1/2 leagues; its breadth is 24 leagues; and it is about 255 geographical, or 293 English miles in circumference. The whole island is divided into six large districts; Amakooa and Aheedoo, which lie on the north-east side; Apoona and Kaoo on the south-east; Akona and Koaarra on the west.