The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0282. Thursday, 27 February 1997.
Date: Wednesday, 26 Feb 1997 09:32:41 -0500
Subject: Shakespeare on the Great Lakes
This may be of interest to someone on the list:
I happened to be reading the 1840 journal of Charles W. Penny, written
during his expedition from the outpost of Detroit into the wilderness of
Lake Superior. (The journal was published in 1970, under the title
_North to Lake Superior_). Penny was apparently a "young gentleman" and
proto-entrepreneur who accompanied some geologist friends (led by
Douglass Houghton) while they surveyed the shores of Lake Superior,
seeking copper and iron deposits. They traveled by small boat, propelled
by voyageur-type paddlers (he refers to them affectionately and
admiringly as "our sea dogs").
Early in the journal, he reports on a typical sabbath day of rest: "We
read the Bible I dare say much more than we would have done had we been
in Detroit. Shakespeare was duly honored, as he is every day when we
travel. When on the water, some one of the party usually reads his plays
to the others."
Throughout the journal, he frequently alludes to Shakespeare, often
quoting or paraphrasing. For example: "Night before last we caught three
whitefish and one trout; last night two large whitefish. One can never
get tired of them in this latitude. The meat is so fine, hard, and
white, and so sweet, that all other fish seem 'flat, stale and
unprofitable' when compared to them."
The familiarity with Shakespeare was interesting, particularly because
Penny was not college educated (he began his first business in Detroit
at the age of 19) and the whole company was made up of geologists,
draftsmen, and other technical types.