Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Tempest authorship - part 7

The Tempest,  (7)

3.4 Dating The Tempest  cont.

When the spirit Ariel reports to his master Prospero:

Ariel. I boorded the King’s ship: now on the Beake, Now in the Waste,
the Decke, in euery Cabyn, I flam’d amazement, sometime I’d diuide and
burne in many places; on the Top-mast, The Yardes and Bore-Spritt,
would I flame distinctly, Then meete and ioyne …
(1610-11 The Tempest, 1.2.196-201)

we are reminded of the following section in the TR:

“Sir George Somers … had an apparition of a little round light, like a faint star, trembling, and streaming along with a sparkling blaze, half the height upon the Maine Mast, and shooting sometimes from shroud to shroud, tempting to settle as it were upon any of the four Shrouds … The superstitious seamen make many constructions of this sea fire”.

We note that Eden’s The Decades of the New Worlde Or West India (1555) might also have been its inspiration:

“For there appeared in theyr shyppes certeyne flames of fyre burnynge very cleare, which they caul Saynt Helen and Saynt Nicholas. These appeared as thoughe they had byn uppon the masts of the shyppes, in such clearnesse that they tooke away theyr sight … I have here thought good to saye sumewhat of these straunge fyers which sum ignorant folks thynke to bee spirites or such other phantasies wheras they are but natural thunges proceadynge of naturall causes … Of the kynde of trewe fyer, is the fyer baul or starre commonly called Saynt Helen which is sumetyme seene abowte the mastes of shyppes … and is a token of drowning”.

While there might be alternative shipwreck sources to the TR, there are also non-shipwreck parallels between the TR and The Tempest connected with events on Bermuda and at Jamestown. Some of these are listed below.

Strachey Letter
“Berries, whereof our men seething, straining, and letting stand some three or four days, made a kind of pleasant drink” (p.18)

The Tempest
Caliban is reminiscing about how kind Prospero had been to him.
Caliban: ” … would’st giue me water
with berries in’t …” (1.2.333-4)
Strachey Letter
Animals mentioned are “Toade” (p.23), “black beetle” (p.23), “owls, and bats in great store” (p.30)

The Tempest
Caliban: “Toades, Beetles, Battes light on you …” (1.2.340)
Ariel (singing): “ … There I cowch when Owles do crie, On the battes back I doe fly…” (5.1.90-1)

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