The Tempest, (3)
3.3 True Reportory Secrecy cont.
Gates had evidently been informed by De La Warre that he was required to report to the Virginia Council back in England.
According to Jourdain: “They [the Council] resolued to send for Sir Thomas Gates, who being come, they adiured him to deale plainely with them, and to make a true relation of those things which were presently to be had, or hereafter to be hoped for in Virginia”.
The TR, as its full title suggests, was a report about “Sir Thomas Gates Knight”, so the probability lies with William Strachey having prepared the report specifically for Gates' presentation to the Council.
The TD (registered 8 November 1610) states that it was intended to confute “such scandalous reports as have tended to the disgrace of so worthy an enterprise” and was intended to “wash away those spots, which foul mouths (to justify their own disloyalty) have cast upon so fruitful, so fertile, and so excellent a country”. In order to reassure potential settlers and investors who might have met with the unfavourable accounts of those accompanying Sir Thomas Gates back to England, it appears to re-frame certain events given in the TR. It opens by declaring its material to have been borrowed from the “secrets of the judicial council of Virginia, from the letters of the Lord La Ware, [and] from the mouth of Sir Thomas Gates”. Either the TR provided material for the TD or vice versa. For example, regarding the secret trading between certain mariners and the natives, the TR informs us:
“And I may truely say beside, so had our men abased, and to such a contempt, had they brought the value of our Copper, that a peece which would haue bought a bushell of their Corne in former time, would not now buy a little Cade or Basket of a Pottle”.
whereas the TD gives:
“whereby the Virginians [natives] were glutted with our trifles and enhanced the prices for their corn and victual. That Copper which before would have prouided a bushel, would not now obtaine so much as a Pottle”.
There is a passage that appears in both the TR and TD without mention in either De La Warre's letter or Jourdain's publication. Discussing the detriment to health of being situated on low marsh ground by a river rather than on a hill, the TR states:
“and some experience we haue to perswade our selues that it may be so; for of foure hundred and odde men, which were seated at the Fals the last yeere when the Fleete came in with fresh and yong able spirits, vnder the gouernment of Captain Francis West, and of one hundred to the Seawards (on the South side of our Riuer), in the Country of the Nansamundes, vnder the charge of Captaine Iohn Martin, there did not so much as one man miscarry, and but very few or none fall sicke, whereas at Iames Towne, the same time, and the same moneths, one hundred sickened, & halfe the number died”.
This story is repeated in the TD:
“we have an infallible proof of the temper of the country, for of an hundred and odd which were seated at the Falls under the government of Captain Francis West, and of an hundred to the seaward on the south side of the river, (in the country of Nansemonds) under the charge of Captain John Martin, of all these two hundred there did not so much as one man miscarry. When in Jamestown at the same time and in the same months, one hundred sickened, and half the number died”.