The wind continued constantly between the N. and W. and confined us in the harbour till eight o’clock in the morning of the 7th of December, when we took the advantage of a light breeze which then sprung up at N.E., and, with the assistance of all the boats, got out to sea, with the Discovery in company.
During the last week we had been visited by people from all parts of the island, who furnished us with a large stock of hogs and green plantains. So that the time we lay wind-bound in the harbour was not entirely lost; green plantains being an excellent substitute for bread, as they will keep good a fortnight or three weeks. Besides this supply of provisions, we also completed our wood and water.
The inhabitants of Ulietea seemed, in general, smaller and blacker than those of the other neighbouring islands, and appeared also less orderly, which, perhaps, may be considered as the consequence of their having become subject to the natives of Bolabola. Oreo, their chief, is only a sort of deputy of the sovereign of that island; and the conquest seems to have lessened the number of subordinate chiefs resident among them; so that they are less immediately under the inspection of those whose interest it is to enforce due obedience to authority. Ulietea, though now reduced to this humiliating state, was formerly, as we were told, the most eminent of this cluster of islands, and, probably, the first seat of government; for, they say, that the present royal family of Otaheite is descended from that which reigned here before the late revolution. Ooroo, the dethroned monarch of Ulietea, was still alive when we were at Huaheine, where he resides, a royal wanderer, furnishing, in his person, an instance of the instability of power; but, what is more remarkable, of the respect paid by these people to particular families, and to the customs which have once conferred sovereignty; for they suffer Ooroo to preserve all the ensigns which they appropriate to majesty, though he has lost his dominions.
We saw a similar instance of this while we were at Ulietea. One of the occasional visitors I now had was my old friend Oree, the late chief of Huaheine. He still preserved his consequence; came always at the head of a numerous body of attendants, and was always provided with such presents as were very acceptable. This chief looked much better now than I had ever seen him during either of my former voyages. I could account for his improving in health as he grew older, only from his drinking less copiously of ava in his present station as a private gentleman, than he had been accustomed to do when he was regent.