Notes on the text
These notes, edited by Alastair Wilson, are largely based (some 50%) on the ORG. The page and, line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Limits and Renewals, as published and reprinted between 1932 and 1950.
The Revels Accounts (give) the precise date of November 1, 1611, for a performance at court. Sylvester Jourdan’s A Discovery of the Bermudas, containing an account of the shipwreck of Sir George Somers in 1609, was published about October 1610, and this, or some other contemporary narrative of the colonisation of Virginia probably furnished the hint of the plot.Ariel’s reference to “the still-vexed Bermoothes” (Act I, Scene i) supports this theory.
“Beware, beware, the Bight of Benin: there’s few come out, though many go in.”[Page 188, line 17] the Bight the Bight of Benin, the large bay in the “elbow” of West Africa, into which the river Niger flows, and which forms the sea-coast of (in Kipling’s time) the Gold Coast, Togo, Dahomey and Nigeria (today, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria): together with the Bight of Biafra immediately to the east they form the Gulf of Guinea.
'ingenious solution, however, failed to counteract the other disabilities under which the Penelope drifted rather than sailed, as a result of the reduction in her draught. On the other hand, she naturally had a higher centre of gravity than was customary in the ironclads, and consequently earned a reputation for steadiness and fighting ability in a seaway which was the envy of her consorts rolling their gun-ports under, and was to have a marked influence on future ship design.'Kipling later came to know her at Simons Town, where she had been the base ship 1888-97, and then a prison-hulk. She receives a brief mention at the beginning of "The Captive" (Traffics and Discoveries), and, although nothing is said specifically, it is quite possible that Laughton O. Zigler might have been incarcerated on board her. All the fore-going detail is irrelevant to this Bermudan tale, but is included here as a means of showing how thoroughly Kipling immersed himself in the mindset of his characters, and as an indication of why his Naval readers have always emphasised that he had the speech of his Naval characters absolutely right – we have elsewhere cited Captain Peter Bethell, Royal Navy in our “Notes on the Pyecroft Stories”:
The remarkable feature of the Pyecroft series has always seemed to me be the absolute verisimilitude of the conversation, whose tiniest details are quite impeccable.[Page 189, line 22] black powder gunpowder in its original form, as used in fireworks. As a propellant it burned so quickly as to amount to an explosion, and it developed its maximum force almost before the projectile had begun to move. (That is one of the reasons why the guns of the period were short and stubby – they had to have a mass of metal at the breech end, to stand up to the enormous pressures generated in the chamber of the gun.)
Gosport Nancy keeps a parlourMind you, Portsmouth ladies, Plymouth girls and Chatham maidens were equally celebrated.
Where the boys can take their ease.
She will wake you, she will shake you,
She will do whatever you please.
All the Gosport ladies, they do the best they can,
But for making a bed for a sailor’s head
There’s none like Gosport Nan.
When the robust and Brass-bound Man commissioned first for SeaPoseidon was, of course, the Greek God of the Sea. The ORG added a comment, similar to that which we have made at page 187, lines 10-11 above, to the effect that presumably the Admiral originally attempted to conceal his identity to avoid inhibiting Mr. Vergil’s imagination.
His fragile raft, Poseidon laughed, and "Mariner", said he,
"Behold, a Law immutable I lay on thee and thine,
That never shall ye act or tell a falsehood at my shrine.