The Tempest, (10)
3.4 Dating The Tempest cont.
This apparent topical allusion in The Tempest has not, to my knowledge, been pointed out hitherto. Within the space of two years we have this possible allusion (Stephano Janiculo), Strachey's TR letter, and the first known performance of The Tempest, so this weighs in favour of a 1610-11 dating.
With the letter arriving in England in September 1610, there was ample time to write a play. The first known performance was at Court on Hallowmas night, 1 November 1611, by the King’s Men, although it is unlikely that William Shakespeare was still acting with them at this time — he appeared with the King’s Men in neither The Foxe (1605), The Alchemist (1610), nor Cataline (1611). After The Comedy of Errors, The Tempest is the shortest of the Shake-speare plays, and since theatre plays were usually two hours long, it was an unsuitable length for these outdoor arenas.
The Goddess Ceres' promise of a life untouched by winter appears both in the masque in Act 4 of The Tempest and the St Valentine’s Day (14 February 1613) wedding of Princess Elizabeth and it has been suggested that on this basis The Tempest was performed there. Sir William Dugdale reports that Inns of Court actors were present at these festivities:
“In the 10th [year] of king James, the gentlemen of this house [Gray’s Inn] were (together with those of the other innes of court) actors in that great mask at Whitehall at the marriage of the king’s eldest daughter unto Frederick count palatine of the Rhene …”
This “great mask” involved horses, chariots, and an impressive light show all set on Thames barges, and Sir Francis Bacon produced it. We shall now examine the thesis that the TD was written by Sir Francis Bacon and we list some metaphorical parallels between the TD, Bacon's work, and the Shake-speare work.