How shall we account for this nation’s having spread itself, in so many detached islands, so widely disjoined from each other, in every quarter of the Pacific Ocean! We find it, from New Zealand, in the south, as far as the Sandwich Islands to the north! And, in another direction, from Easter Island to the Hebrides! that is, over an extent of sixty degrees of latitude, or twelve hundred leagues, north and south! and eighty-three degrees of longitude, or sixteen hundred and sixty leagues east and west! How much farther, in either direction, its colonies reach is not known; but what we know already, in consequence of this and our former voyage, warrants us in pronouncing it to be, though perhaps not the most numerous, certainly, by far, the most extensive nation upon the earth.
[Footnote 4: See more about the great extent of the colonies of this nation in the Introductory Preface.]
Had the Sandwich Islands been discovered at an early period by the Spaniards, there is little doubt that they would have taken advantage of so excellent a situation, and have made use of Atooi, or some other of the islands, as a refreshing place to the ships that sail annually from Acapulco for Manilla. They lie almost midway between the first place and Guam, one of the Ladrones, which is at present their only port in traversing this vast ocean; and it would not have been a week’s sail out of their common route to have touched at them; which could have been done without running the least hazard of losing the passage, as they are sufficiently within the verge of the easterly trade-wind. An acquaintance with the Sandwich Islands would have been equally favourable to our Buccaneers, who used sometimes to pass from the coast of America to the Ladrones, with a stock of food and water scarcely sufficient to preserve life. Here they might always have found plenty, and have been within a month’s sure sail of the very part of California, which the Manilla ship is obliged to make, or else have returned to the coast of America, thoroughly refitted, after an absence of two months. How happy would Lord Anson have been, and what hardships would he have avoided, if he had known that there was a group of islands half way between America and Tinian, where all his wants could have been effectually supplied; and in describing which, the elegant historian of that voyage would have presented his reader with a more agreeable picture than I have been able to draw in this chapter!
[Footnote 5: We defer considering the curious subject of the identity and origin of the people that inhabit the South Sea, till other relations shall have put the reader in possession of the facts requisite for the discussion. Of the Sandwich Islands, we shall hereafter probably have mere complete information than is now given.—E.]