National Geographic : 1922 Jan
THE ISLANDS OF BERMUDA fast and from her deck were then safely landed the whole ship's company of 150. Somers was a man of heroic type. Fuller said of him: "This George Som ers was a lamb on the land, so patient that few could anger him, and (as if on entering a ship he had assumed a new nature) a lion at sea, so passionate that few could please him." They remained in the islands nine months. Somers and Gates divided the company into two parties, who lived apart, and there was some friction as to authority. Among Somers' men were lazy recalci trants, who did not wish to do the work and run the risk involved in going on to Virginia. Bermuda was good enough for them, and two of them did hide and re main in the islands. Each party built a pinnace, and finally, under Somers' leadership, they sailed together, all but the two already men tioned, for Virginia. The pinnaces were 40 feet and 29 feet long, respectively, and in these they set out and reached Jamestown, where they found a famine. Fortunately, a day or two after their arrival, Lord Dela Warre, as Governor, arrived with a cargo of provisions and the colony was saved. SOMERS DIES ON THE ISLANDS Somers reported that "the Bermooda is the most plentiful place that I ever came to for ffishe, hogge and fowle." He said further: "These islands have ever been accounted as an enchanted pile of rocks and a desert habitation for devils; but all the fairies of the rocks were but flocks of birds, and all the devils that haunted the woods but heards of swine." His report suggested to the colonists that it would be a great boon to them if a cargo of these hogs could be brought to Virginia. So Somers, good and brave man as he was, volunteered to go back to the islands for the purpose, and set forth in the pinnace which had brought him to Jamestown. He reached the islands, but his labors had undermined his health, and he died in Bermuda shortly afterward. His heart was buried there, but his body was taken by his companions, headed by his nephew, to England. A monument was set up to his memory in Bermuda. The islands were named after him in the charter sub sequently issued, but the name of the original Spanish discoverer has persisted. The two men who had remained on the islands while Somers went to Vir ginia, were able to live there until Somers' return, and when his nephew and the crew took his body home, a third de serted and joined the other two. They soon quarreled and two of them were only prevented from killing each other in a duel by the third's hiding the weapons. Washington Irving, whose travels took him to Bermuda, celebrates this trium virate in a short story he called "The Three Kings of Bermuda." POSSIBLY THE SCENE OE SHAKESPEARE'S "TEMPEST" Somers was accompanied on these trips by two men, Sil Jourdan and William Strachey, who wrote and published ac counts of the storm, the wreck, and of the marvels of the islands. Jourdan's book was published in Eng land in 161o. William Strachey went to England in that year and settled in Blackfriars, where Shakespeare then was living. Shakespeare published his play of "The Tempest" some time not later than 1614, probably as early as 1611. Malone, one of the early commentators, became con vinced that Shakespeare intended to make the Bermudas the scene of his play, and this view has been accepted by many. Thomas Moore, who lived in Bermuda for a time, assumed it, and Kipling is an enthusiastic supporter of Malone's view and finds a beach in Bermuda where one of the scenes might well have been en acted. The theory is that Shakespeare read Jourdan's book and account of the storm and talked it over with Strachey, whom he must have known in 16o1, because they were close neighbors, and Shake speare was wont to draw his knowledge from those whom he met in daily life. Resemblances to the circumstances de tailed in Jourdan's and Strachey's ac counts of the storm and wreck of the Sea Venture are traced in the lines and scenes of the play.