National Geographic : 1922 Jan
THE ISLANDS OF BERMUDA Pantelaria, m the Med iterranean which he thinks much more likely. Furness, our own g r e a t Shakespearian scholar, the editor of the Variorum edition, re jects the suggestion that the poet intended to make Bermuda the scene of the play. He points out that the mention of "still vex't Bermoothes" by Ariel is in reference to a place from which dew was to be brought to Prospero's Isle, and so was different from it. He says: "The islands are called 'still vex't' that is, constantly, al ways vcxt-by tempests, from accounts of them which voyagers brought home and which were so unvarying in their character that, as Hun ter says, the Bermudas became a commonplace Photograph by Emil P. Albrecht "THERE'S NO REST FOR TIIE WEARY" It would seem that the "strength" of the famous Bermuda onion is not sufficient to aid this bored young carrier! in Shakespeare's time, whenever storms and tempests were the theme." Lowell, in his "Among My Books," disposes of the matter in the most satis factory way. He says: "Shakespeare is wont to take some familiar story and to lay his scene in some place, the name of which is at least familiar, well knowing the reserve of power that lies in the familiar as a back ground when things are set in front of it under a new and unexpected light. "But in 'The Tempest' the scene is laid nowhere, or certainly in no country laid down in any map. Nowhere then? At once nowhere and anywhere, for it is in the soul of man that still vexed island, hung between the upper and the nether world and liable to incursions from both." FINDING OF AMBERGRIS QUICKENS INTEREST IN BERMUDA The glowing reports of the historians of the Somers voyages, including Somers himself, in respect to the Bermudas sharpened the interest of the Virginian proprietors in the islands. Their original charter only gave them jurisdiction over all islands within Ioo miles of the mainland, which, of course, excluded the Bermudas. So they soon, in 1612, procured an additional grant, to include all within 300 leagues. Their business instincts were aroused not only by the reported richness of the islands in hogs and fish and tobacco, and in the abundance of whales in the neigh boring waters, but in the finding of a substance called ambergris, which plays a considerable part in the early corre spondence between the English owners and the colonists of Bermuda. Ambergris is literally gray amber. It is a solid fatty, inflammable substance of a dull gray or blackish color, variegated like marble, and possessing a peculiar sweet, earthy odor. It is lighter than water and floats. It accumulates in the liver or intestines of the sperm whale and is thrown off by that animal from time to time in great pieces, which, float ing on the surface of the sea, become lodged in the reefs and shores near the habitat of the sea monster.