Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Tempest authorship - part 2

The Tempest,  (2)

3.3 True Reportory Secrecy

On 15 July 1610, having being relieved by Lord De La Warre, Gates left the colony and in September 1610 arrived back in England. In his possession was a 20,000-word report written by William Strachey, addressed to a noble lady connected with the Virginia Council, revealing the murders and insurrections in the new colony.

It was Henry Howard Furness (1892) who first noticed descriptive correspondences between this letter (TR) and passages in The Tempest suggesting that the letter had been used by Shake-speare as a source for the play. However, the letter was not published by the Virginia Council and was only discovered when Richard Hakluyt, one of the eight names on the First Virginia Charter (1606), died in 1616 and a copy was found among his papers. It was subsequently acquired by Samuel Purchas who published it in 1625 under the title A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight; vpon, and from the Ilands of the Bermudas: his comming to Virginia, and the estate of that Colonie then, and after, vnder the gouernment of the Lord La Warre, Iuly 15. 1610. written by William Strachey, Esquire. Appended to it was a selection of extracts from A True Declaration of the state of the Colony in Virginia with a confutation of such scandalous reports as have tended to the disgrace of so worthy an enterprise, a shorter and more sanitized version of events on the colony prior to July 1610, which had been entered in the Stationers Register by the Virginia Company on 8 November 1610.

Silvester Jourdain, who had been aboard the Sea Venture when it ran aground off Bermuda, also published his own account of the storm in A Discovery of the Bermudas, Otherwise Called the Isle of Devils which appeared on 3 October 1610 and ran to about 12 pages. There is also a short letter which also sourced the TD, signed by Lord De La Warre and dated 7 July 1610 which was sent from Jamestown to the Virginia Council in London.

We now consider the evidence that the TR travelled back to England with Sir Thomas Gates on 15 July 1610.

Our first observation is that Strachey appears to have been writing the letter as events unfolded:

“Here (worthy Lady) let mee haue a little your pardon, for hauing now a better heart, then when I first landed, I will briefely describe vnto you, the situation and forme of our Fort.”  

The last event that it discusses is Sir Thomas Gates' departure for England accompanied by the native chief's son Kainta:

“And the fifteenth day of Iuly, in the Blessing, Captaine Adams brought them to Point Comfort, where at that time (as well to take his leaue of the Lieutenant Generall Sir Thomas Gates, now bound for England, as to dispatch the ships) the Lord Gouernour and Captaine Generall [both Lord De La Warre's titles] had pitched his Tent in Algernoone Fort. The Kings Sonne Kainta the Lord Gouernour and Captaine Generall, hath sent now into England, vntil the ships arriue here againe the next Spring.”

In other words, following instructions from England to kidnap native children, Lord De La Warre had sent the native chief's son Kainta to England. If the TR had missed this voyage, then the next opportunity for it to travel to England was in eight months time. When Gates left Jamestown, Strachey stayed behind and if the letter had stayed with him one might expect events after Gates' farewell to receive attention in the TR but they do not.

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