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Such references certainly could have been the germ which suggested to Shakespeare the magic elements of the play; note that Ariel at 1.2.214-15 quotes Ferdinand as saying, "Hell is empty, / And all the devils are here," and that "devils" are mentioned a dozen times altogether in the play. Fresh water is similarly hard to find on the island of The Tempest: Caliban reminds Prospero how "I lov'd thee / And show'd thee all the qualities o' th' Isle, / The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile" (1.2.336-38); later he offers to show Trinculo "the best springs" (2.2.160), and still later he threatens, "I'll not show him where the quick freshes are" (3.2.66-67).Strachey writes of the "great strokes of thunder, lightning and raine in the extremity of violence" (15). It must needs be of subtle, tender, and delicate temperance" (2.1.35-43). Strachey tells of the "high and sweet smelling Woods" (19), yet also mentions "Fennes, Marishes, Ditches, muddy Pooles" and "places where much filth is daily cast forth" (21); A True Declaration similarly tells of the "temperat aire," but also the "fennes" and the "salt water, the owze of which sendeth forth an unwholsome & contagious vapour" (14).Though Oxfordians consistently try to deny it, one of the biggest problems for their theory is The Tempest, which can be dated with virtual certainty as having been written between late 1610 and mid-to-late 1611, six to seven years after the death of the Earl of Oxford in 1604. Thomas Looney, the originator of the Oxford theory, accepted this dating (one of the few times sense overcame him in the writing of Shakespeare Identified) and thus denigrated the play mercilessly in an attempt to show that it was not written by "Shakespeare" (i.e. Later Oxfordians have looked coolly upon this subtraction from the canon, and have tried to show that the play could have been written earlier than 1604; they have done this to their own satisfaction, and so consider the issue more or less closed.However, the issue is anything but closed; all Oxfordian attempts I am aware of to date the play before 1604 (and I think I've looked at the most elaborate, including those of Charlton Ogburn and Ruth Loyd Miller) are in fact astonishingly flimsy, and fail completely to confront the overwhelming evidence that in writing The Tempest, Shakespeare made extensive use of narratives describing the wreck and redemption of the ship the "Sea-Venture" in Bermuda in 1609, and the events which ensued when the crew made it safely ashore.As I will show, William Shakespeare had multiple connections to both the Virginia Company and William Strachey, and it is not at all surprising that he would have had access to Strachey's letter.As I will also show, this letter saturates The Tempest, providing the basic scenario, many themes and images, and many details of plot and language.The "Sea-Venture" never showed up, and was presumed to be lost; word to that effect made it back to England by the fall and created a public sensation, since interest in the expedition was very high.But unknown to the rest of the world, the battered ship had managed to reach Bermuda before running aground, with all aboard making it safely ashore.

Several accounts of the wreck and survival of the "Sea-Venture" were rushed into print in the fall of 1610.Many of these are quite striking, involving similar wording in similar or identical contexts. Strachey mentions "hatches" four times (10, 10, 13, 25); Shakespeare in Act 5 again mentions "the mariners asleep / Under the hatches" (5.98-99), and the boatswain says, "We were dead of sleep, / And (how we know not) all clapp'd under hatches" (5.230-31).Others are less impressive when looked at in isolation, since they are of a type that might be found in other travel narratives, but their sheer number and breadth (much greater than in other narratives) is significant. Elmo's fire that corresponds in many particulars to Ariel's description of his magical boarding of the King's ship. Jourdain says that the sailors "drunke one to the other, taking their last leave one of the other" (5); in the play the boatswain says, "What, must our mouths be cold?(1.2.232-37)Strachey describes the storm as "roaring" and "beat[ing] all light from heaven; which like an hell of darknesse turned blacke upon us . In The Tempest, Miranda describes the waters as being in a "roar," and says that "The sky it seems would pour down stinking pitch, / But that the Sea, mounting to th' welkins cheek, / Dashes the fire out." (1.2.1-5) Strachey says that "Our clamours dround in the windes, and the windes in thunder. (1.2.26-31)Jourdain tells how they "had time and leasure to save some good part of our goods and provision, which the water had not spoyled" (7-8); Gonzalo mentions how "our garments, being (as they were) drench'd in the sea, hold notwithstanding their freshness and glosses, being rather new dy'd than stain'd with salt water" (2.1.62-65).

Prayers might well be in the heart and lips, but drowned in the outcries of the officers" (7); in the play the boatswain says, "A plague upon this howling; they are louder than the weather, or our office" (1.1.36-7), and a few lines later the mariners cry, "To prayers! Strachey writes about how it had been thought that the Bermudas were "given over to Devils and wicked Spirits" (14); Jourdain calls it "the Ile of Divels" (title page) and "a most prodigious and enchanted place" (8); A True Declaration says that "these Islands of the Bermudos, have ever beene accounted as an enchaunted pile of rockes, and a desert inhabitation for Divels; but all the Fairies of the rocks were but flocks of birds, and all the Divels that haunted the woods, were but heards of swine" (10-11).

Taken as a whole, these parallels constitute very strong evidence -- virtual proof, I would say -- that Shakespeare had read Strachey's account closely and had it in mind when he wrote The Tempest. " (1.1.52), after which Antonio complains, "We are merely cheated of our lives by drunkards" (1.1.56), and Sebastian says "Let's take our leave of him" (1.1.64). and staved many a Butt of Beere, Hogsheads of Oyle, Syder, Wine, and Vinegar, and heaved away all our Ordnance on the Starboord side" (12). Strachey tells how "we were inforced to run [the ship] ashoare, as neere the land as we could, which brought us within three quarters of a mile of shoare" (13); Jourdain adds that the ship "fell in between two rockes, where she was fast lodged and locked, for further budging" (7).



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