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).To Table of Contents The "Sea-Venture" was one of a fleet of nine ships which set out in 1609 to strengthen the English colony in Virginia; it carried Gates, the newly appointed Governor of Virginia, and his entourage. both by his speech and authoritie heartening every man unto his labour" (10); as soon as he appears, King Alonso says, "Good boatswain, have care. Strachey tells how the sailors "threw over-boord much luggage . Stephano says that "I escap'd upon a butt of sack which the sailors heav'd o'erboard" (2.2.121-22), and later tells Caliban to "bear this away where my hogshead of wine is" (4.1.250-51); both Caliban (4.1.231) and Alonso (5.1.299) call the stolen apparel "luggage." Strachey says that "death is accompanied at no time, nor place with circumstances so uncapable of particularities of goodnesse and inward comforts, as at Sea" (6); Gonzalo says, "Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren ground, long heath, brown furze, any thing. Ariel in The Tempest, after confirming for Prospero that the ship was "nigh shore" (1.2.216) says, "Safely in harbor / Is the King's ship, in the deep nook" (1.2.226-27).This was edited together from various documents as a piece of pro-Virginia propaganda on behalf of the Virginia Company, the consortium of investors who had underwritten the trip; the subtitle indicated that it included "a confutation of such scandalous reports as have tended to the disgrace of so worthy an enterprise." [note2] Shakespeare almost certainly read the two above pamphlets and used them in writing The Tempest, but more important than either was William Strachey's True Reportory of the Wrack, and Redemption of Sir Thomas Gates Knight.Though it was not published until 1625, Strachey's account is dated July 15, 1610, and circulated among those in the know; it is addressed to an unidentified "Excellent Lady," who was obviously familiar with the doings of the Virginia Company.
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?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.