Otaheite, though not comprehended in the number of what we have called the Society Islands, being inhabited by the same race of men, agreeing in the same leading features of character and manners, it was fortunate, that we happened to discover this principal island before the others; as the friendly and hospitable reception we there met with, of course, led us to make it the principal place of resort, in our successive visits to this part of the Pacific Ocean. By the frequency of this intercourse, we have had better opportunities of knowing something about it and its inhabitants, than about the other similar but less considerable islands in its vicinity. Of these, however, we have seen enough to satisfy us, that all that we observed and have related of Otaheite, may, with trifling variations, be applied to them.
Too much seems to have been already known and published in our former relations, about some of the modes of life that made Otaheite so agreeable an abode to many on board our ships; and, if I could now add any finishing strokes to a picture, the outlines of which have been already drawn with sufficient accuracy, I should still have hesitated to make this journal the place for exhibiting a view of licentious manners, which could only serve to disgust those for whose information I write. There are, however, many parts of the domestic, political, and religious institutions of these people, which, after all our visits to them, are but imperfectly understood. The foregoing narrative of the incidents that happened during our stay, will probably be thought to throw some additional light; and, for farther satisfaction, I refer to Mr Anderson’s remarks.
Amidst our various subordinate employments, while at these islands, the great objects of our duty were always attended to. No opportunity was lost of making astronomical and nautical observations; from which the following table was drawn up:
Longitude. Variation of Dip of the
South. East. the Compass. Needle.
Otaheite, 17 deg. 24-1/4’ 210 deg. 22’ 28” 5 deg. 34’ East 29 deg. 12’
Owharre Harbour 16 deg. 42-3/4’
208 deg. 52’ 24” 5 deg. 13-1/2”
East 28 deg. 28’
Ohamaneno Harbour 16 deg. 45-1/2’
208 deg. 25’ 22” 6 deg. 19’ East
29 deg. 5’
[Transcriber’s Note: It is possible that the compass variation at Owharre Harbour should read 5 deg. 13-1/2’ not 5 deg. 13-1/2” (minutes not seconds)]
The longitude of the three several places is deduced from the mean of 145 sets of observations made on shore; some at one place, and some at another; and carried on to each of the stations by the time-keeper. As the situation of these places was very accurately settled, during my former voyages, the above observations were now made chiefly with a view of determining how far a number of lunar observations might be depended