The Tempest, (4)
3.3 True Reportory Secrecy cont.
The causal evidence that the TD followed the TR as a reinterpretation is as follows. The TD claims:
“Our mutinous loiterers would not sow with providence … An incredible example of their idleness is the report of Sir Thomas Gates, who affirmeth that after coming thither he hath seen some of them eat their fish raw rather than they would go a stone’s cast to fetch wood and dress it”.
If the author of the TD had relied on the TR then he would have been aware that:
“Viewing the Fort, we found the Pallisadoes torne downe, the Ports open, the Gates from off the hinges, and emptie houses (which Owners death had taken from them) rent vp and burnt, rather then the dwellers would step into the Woods a stones cast off from them, to fetch other fire-wood: and it is true, the Indian killed as fast without, if our men stirred but beyond the bounds of their Blockhouse, as Famine and Pestilence did within”.
The common use of “stone's cast”, which appears neither in De La Warre nor Jourdain, suggests that he had. He would also have been aware from the TR that when the men gathered strawberries or fetched fresh water, the Indians:
“would assault and charge with their bows and arrows, in which manner they killed many of our men”.
Nevertheless, the author of the TD blames the settlers:
“They created the Indians our implacable enemies by some violence they had offered”.
The TD reports the slaughter of some 30 settlers and although admitting that “they were cruelly murdered and massacred” it is framed as the response of a provoked tribe of Indians who were “boiling with desire of revenge”. To account for why the settlers caught no fish before Gates' arrival from Bermuda the TR reports (without judgment) the absence of nets:
“nor was there at the Fort, as they whom we found related vnto vs, any meanes to take fish, neither sufficient Seine, nor other conuenient Net, and yet if there had, there was not one eye of Sturgeon yet come into the Riuer”.
This passage is almost identical to one sent in the De La Warre letter to the Virginia Council in England, dated 7 July 1610. The TR also informs us:
“Besides that the Indian thus euill intreated vs, the Riuer (which were wont before this time of the yeare to be plentifull of Sturgeon) had not now a Fish to be seene in it, and albeit we laboured, and hold our Net twenty times day and night, yet we tooke not so much as would content halfe the Fishermen”.
It is unclear whether or not the first eight words are introducing the next evil that the Indians had performed or are referring to the previous one, but if it is the former then the TR is suggesting that the Indians had taken all the fish from the river. Being loathe to dissuade potential investors by portraying the natives as a threat, the TD again blames the settlers:
“there is great store of Fish in the Riuer, especially of Sturgeon; but our men prouided no more of them then for present necessitie, not barreling vp any store against that season the Sturgeon returned to the Sea. And not to dissemble their folly, they suffered fourteene nets (which was all they had) to rot and spoyle, which by orderly drying and mending might haue beene preserued: but being lost, all helpe of fishing perished”.
These “fourteene nets” are mentioned neither in Strachey's letter nor in De La Warre's.
The TD now ventures into fantasy by implying that the sturgeon are in such good supply as to be a profitable commodity:
“The merchant knows that ... sturgeon, which is brought from the east countries, can come but twice a year, and that not before the end of April or the beginning of May, which many times, in regard of the heat of those months, is tainted in the transportation, when from Virginia they may be brought to us in four and twenty days, and in all the cold seasons of the Year”.