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ceded it, relating nearly the same facts and events in much better language, it is yet necessary to be briefly noticed; because Shakspeare assuredly would not neglect to peruse this authentick narrative *. It has indeed an additional claim to our attention ; for the writer of this tract, having compared the disastrous tempest which wrecked Sir George Somers and his associates on the island of Bermuda, and their subsequent escape from the immediate destruction which threatened them, to those dramatick compositions in which similar changes of fortune are represented, and sorrow and mirth artfully intermingled, perhaps suggested to Shakspeare the thought of forming these adventures into a play; and to him, in some measure, we may have been indebted for this delightful comedy.
“True it is,” (says this Narrative,) “that when Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Summers, and Cap
* “ A true Declaration of the estate of the Colonie in Virginia, with a confutation of such scandalous reports as have tended to the disgrace of so worthy an enterprise. Published by advice and direction of the Councell of Virginia.” 4to. 1610.
In “ The New Life of Virginia," 4to. 1612, this tract is ascribed to Sir Thomas Gates. Mr. Strachey, in a pamphlet already mentioned (see the note in p. 390, article 13,) speaks of it as the relation of him and those associated with him in command. In a subsequent page, I have called it Gates's narrative, as unquestionably a great part of the materials was furnished by him (the circumstance doubtless which induced the writer of “ The New Life of Virginia ” to be ascribed to him ;) but I suspect that it was written by Sir Edwin Sandys, the well known author of EUROPÆ Speculum, and a zealous promoter of the settlement in Virginia. In 1619 he was Treasurer of the Virginia Company.
taine Newport, were in the height of 27, and the 24th of July, 1609, there arose such a storme, as if Jonas had been flying unto Tarshish : the heavens were obscured, and made an Egyptian night of three daies perpetuall horror; the women lamented; the hearts of the passengers failed ; the experience of the sea-captaines was amased ; the skill of the marriners was confounded; the ship most violently leaked ; and though two thousand tunne of water by pumping from Tuesday noone till Fryday noone was discharged, notwithstanding, the ship was halfe filled with water: and those which laboured to keepe others from drowning, were halfe drowned themselves in labouring. But God, that heard Jonas crying out of the belly of hell, he pittied the distresses of his servants ; for behold, in the last
period of necessitie, Sir George Summers descryed land, which was by so much the more joyfull, by how much their danger was despairefull. The islands on which they fell, were the Bermudos; a place hardly ACCESSABLE, through the invironing rocks and dangers : notwithstanding, they were forced to runne their ship on shoare, which through God's providence fell betwixt two rockes, that caused her to stand firme, and not immediately to be broken; God continuing his mercie unto them, that with their long boats they transported to land before night all their company, men, women, and children, to the number of one hundred and fiftie; they carryed to shoare all the provision of unspent and unspoyled victuals, all their furniture and tackling of the ship, leaving nothing but bared ribs as a pray unto the ocean.
“ These islands of the Bermudos have ever been accounted as an INCHAUNTED 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. Yea, and when Acosta, in his first booke of the hystories of the Indies, averreth, that though in the Continent there were diverse beasts and cat tell, yet in the islands of Hispaniola, Jamaica, Marguarita, and Dominica, there was not one hoofe, it increaseth the wonder how our people in the Bermudos found such abundance of hogs, that for nine moneths' space they plentifully sufficed ; and yet the number seemed not much diminished.--Again; as in the great famine of Israell GOD commanded Elias to flie to the brooke Cedron, and there fed him by ravens, so God provided for our disconsolate people in the midst of the sea by foules; but with an admirable difference: unto Elias the ravens brought meat, unto our men the foules brought themselves for meate; for when they whisteled or made any strange noyse, the foules would come and sit on their shoulders; they would suffer them selves to be taken and weighed by our men, who would make choise of the fattest and fairest, and let flie the leane and lightest : an accident I take it, that cannot be paralleld by any hystorie, except when God sent abundance of quayles to feed his Israel in the barren wildernesse. Lastly, they found
the berries of cedar, the palmeto tree, the prickle peare, sufficient fish, plenty of tortoises, and divers other kinds which sufficed to sustaine nature. They found diversity of woods, which ministred materials for the building of two pinaces, according to the direction of the three provident Governours.
“ Consider all these things together. At the instant of neede they descryed land; halfe an hower more had buried their memorial in the sea.' If they had fel by night, what expectation of light from an uninhabited desart ? They fell betwixt a laberinth of rockes, which they conceive are mouldred into the sea by thunder and lightning. This was not Ariadne's threed, but the direct line of God's providence. If it had not beene so NEERE LAND, their companie or provision had perished by water; if they had not found hogs, and foule, and fish, they had perished by famine : if there had not beene fuell, they had perished by want of fire: if there had not beene timber, they could not have transported them selves to Virginia, but must have beene forgotten for ever. Nimium timet, qui Deo non credit; he is too impiously fearefull, that will not trust in GOD so powerfull.
“ What is there in all this TRAGICALL-COMÆDIE, that should discourage us with impossibilitie of the enterprise ? when of all the fleete, one onely ship by a secret leake was indangered, and yet in the gulfe of despaire was so graciously preserved. Quæ videtur pæna, est medicina; that which we accompt a punishment of evill, is but a medecine against evill *.'
From the preceding statements it appears, that during a great part of the year 1610, it was supposed in England, that the ship containing the Lieutenant-Governor of the settlement in Virginia, and Sir George Somers the Admiral, which had been separated from the rest of the fleet, was lost; but Shakspeare, when he wrote his play, KNEW THAT IT WAS SAFE ; a circumstance ascertained by Jourdan's pamphlet, and that issued out by the Council; and therefore this comedy could not have been written till after their publication, or at least the publication of one of them: unless we suppose that our poet had the very earliest intelligence of the arrival of Sir Thomas Gates in August or September in that year: and even on that supposition the play must have been composed subsequently to that period. However that may have been it is reasonable to suppose that it was not produced on the stage till the winter or spring of 1611, and we may safely ascribe it to the early part of that year. That it was performed before the middle of 1611, we have already seen p.
* "A true Declaration of the estate of the Colonie in Virginia, &c. ut supra, 4to. 1610. This pamphlet was entered in the Stationers' Register by William Barret, Nov. 8, 1610; being licensed by Sir Maurice Berkeley, Sir George Capon, Mr. Ric. Martyn, and the Wardens.
+ See the Essay on the Chronological Order of Shakspeare's Plays, vol. i.