For The Tempest I'm using another family library edition. This one was edited by A.W. Verity, M.A. Sometime Scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge (AWV), (Cambridge University Press, 1897). The edition has an Introduction, Notes, Appendix A on Gonzalo's Commonwealth, Appendix B on Was The Tempest written for the court-performance in 1613?, a section on The English Masque, a section on Metrical Tests (which help to fix the dates of Shakespeare's plays) a section 'Hints on Shakespeare's English' and a Glossary. I've also used the Web Renascence edition (text only). AWV divided his 26 page Introduction into 12 parts. Here is part 1 complete:


The Tempest was first published, so far as we know, in 1623, in the 1st Folio edition of Shakespeare's plays. It was written probably towards the end of 1610 or at the beginning of 1611. The style, metre and general tone of the play prove, independently of other evidence, that it belongs to the close of Shakespeare's dramatic career and forms one of the group of plays to which the title of "Romances" is commonly given. Most modern critics accept the date 1610 (late) or 1611 (early), and associate The Tempest with an incident which filled the thoughts of the nation at that time.

This incident was the disaster which befell the fleet sent out to Virginia in 1609. The first permanent settlement of the English in America was made by the Virginia Company in 1608. (One of the chief promoters of this Company was Shakespeare's early patron, the Earl of Southampton, to whom Venus and Adonis and Lucrece were dedicated. Shakespeare therefore may have felt some personal interest in the Company). In May of the following year a fleet of nine vessels, bearing settlers and provisions for the new colony, was despatched under the command of Sir George Somers. On July 25 a storm overtook and scattered the fleet in mid-Atlantic, and Sir George Somer's vessel, the "Sea-Adventure," was driven ashore on the Bermudas. The crew were saved, remained on one of the islands for some months, built two new ships, and in May 1610 continued their voyage to Virginia. The other vessels (save one) had arrived there safely.

News of the disaster came to England at the end of 1609, and it was supposed that the "Sea-Adventure" had been lost, until late in the summer of 1610 some of the survivors returned home with tidings of the ship's safety. The incident excited great interest-the idea of colonial expansion being in men's thoughts- and a narrative of the shipwreck and of the adventures which the crew experienced on the island was published in the autumn of 1610. This was a tract entitled A Discovery of the Bermudas, otherwise called the Isle of Devils, written by one Silvester Jourdain, who had been on board the "Sea-Adventure." It is thought that Shakespeare read this narrative and wrote The Tempest while the impression made by the incident was still fresh in the public mind. The title of the play, the description of the storm and ship's stranding and of the desert island, and the allusion (1.2.229) to the "still-vexed Bermoothes," i.e. Bermudas, tend to confirm this view, which now finds general acceptance.

My comments.

I have provided AWV's Part 1 in its entirety because there we have what the dating of Antony and Cleopatra, Pericles, Timon of Athens, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, and The Winter's Tale hang on, - the dating of The Tempest. Part 2 by AWV has 'further evidence as to date' which we'll look at later. But here we have just read the primary evidence for the dating of these 7 plays (including The Tempest itself).

The first known publication date being 1623 means that dates of printing are of no use in searching for the date of composition of The Tempest. Therefore the whole dating of the 'late' plays attributed to Shakespeare depends on the relationship between the Somers incident and the internal evidence in the play itself, as there are no known external factors to definitely date the year of composition of The Tempest.

This brings us directly to face one of the most contentious problems in determining the identity of Shakespeare the poet/dramatist. Let's begin by knowing more about where the Somers incident took place. We'll define the place as Bermuda. You may not find it on an atlas, as it's way out in the North Atlantic. If you have a globe, it should be shown on it, and should be shown on a poster-size world map, say not less than 3ft. x 4 ft. To triangulate its position, it's about 784 miles south east from New York, 1,011 miles north east from Miami, and about 580 miles south east from Cape Hatteras, all these being on the US eastern seaboard. You'll find Bermuda in a World Almanac, probably under United Kingdom (British) dependencies. One such almanac says " from 1620... it is a group of 360 small islands of coral formation, 20 inhabited, comprising 21 square miles in the Western Atlantic." Another World Almanac says "Isolated archipelago, comprising about 150 islands, in southern North Atlantic, total land area 21 square miles, coastline 64 miles. Land use: 0% arable, 0% permanent crops, 0% meadows and pastures, 20% forest and woodland, 80% other,....Exports..semi-tropical produce..." A third World Almanac tells us " was settled by Virginia-bound British colonists under Sir George Somers who were wrecked in the islands, 1609...." An encyclopedia tells us "...discovered early in 16th century by Juan Bermudez, a Spaniard." From various Web sites we find that the first permanent settlers came 3 years after the Somers incident. Present January temperatures are about 21 degrees C. or 70 degrees F, with early summer temperatures in the mid 70s F.

As Somers' ship (literally) hit Bermuda, he was blown off course some 250-300 miles to the south, depending on his projected landfall at Virginia. The settlement at Virginia was probably to the British in the early 1600s what the Moon landings by astronauts were to 20th century Americans. We must, I believe, accept its importance. But AWV also mentions the 'Bermoothes' reference in the play. I think we can fairly quickly clear up this often disputed point. Here's the quotation in context:

... in the deep nook, where once

Thou call'dst me up at midnight to fetch dew

From the still-vex'd Bermoothes, ...

AWV points out that "some have supposed one of the Bermudas to be the scene of the play - a notion due to misunderstanding of what Ariel says - FROM the Bermoothes showing clearly that he had to go to them."

As this very short phrase we've quoted is of importance in dating the play, let's quote AWV's note on this quotation:

'still-vex'd, constantly vexed by storms, for still = constantly, ever, c.f. III.3..64 'still-closing.'

My comment:

In the Act 3 quotation cited by AWV, Ariel is telling humans who have drawn their swords against him

...You fools, I and my fellows

Are ministers of Fate; the elements

Of whom your swords are temper'd, may as well

Wound the loud winds, or with bemock'd at stabs

Kill the still-closing waters, ...

Personally I don't regard this 2nd quotation as proving the meaning of the word 'still' in the first. I could say to you 'I still don't believe you' and two sentences later say 'still waters run deep.' The usage of the word 'still' is quite different in each sentence. But there's much more involved in the Bermoothes reference. Let's grant AWV his interpretation and assume the phrase in the play meant something like 'always troubled' waters around Bermuda. That's close to the more recent talk of the mysterious unsolved losses of ships and aircraft in the 'Bermuda Triangle.' This gives us one interpretation, the one that until now has been traditionally used by scholars for over 300 years. Beyond this interpretation there can be another entirely different meaning to those words, and it's this other meaning that I believe to be the correct one.

Ariel is telling Prospero that once at midnight he called him up to go to the Bermoothes to get dew. The 'still-vex'd' has nothing to do with that instruction. Ariel is a spirit of air and weather makes no difference to him (it?). But now we've found out that in Hamlet 'hoist with his own petard' is not just what scholars have always said it was, it's also a somewhat vulgar colloquial expression and the play has a 'pun' or 'double entendre' on the two meanings. Next, we found in The Winter's Tale 'advocate's the court-word for a pheasant' was not just what scholars have lamely explained it as for so many centuries, bribery of magistrates, but it's a court-legal in-joke about the law-practising Pheasant family. Now I think we have come across another one of these subtle, or perhaps not so subtle, puns. Consider this evidence:

1. The 'Bermoothes' was in the late 1500s a rather less than salubrious part of London known for its alcohol production and consumption: taverns, drunkards, seedy characters, and distilleries.

2. A still is a distilling apparatus for making spiritous liquors. This meaning goes back past Elizabethan times to the Middle Ages.

3. 'Mountain dew' is a term that was still in use in the 20th century in some more remote areas of the US where illicit whiskey was (is?) being made in illegal stills.

4. Elizabethan/early Stuart Englanders were colonizing the New World. Some colonists were Puritans or other political or religious dissidents. Their language and speech has in some ways survived in the US whereas it has changed differently in the UK in subsequent centuries. That's why the US spell 'honour' honor, and so on.

Putting all this together, and I'm by no means the first to suggest it, what Ariel the air spirit is reminding Prospero the human magician is, that once in the middle of the night Prospero called on Ariel to bring him 'dew' or whiskey from the Bermoothes part of London, an area vexed or troubled by so many alcohol stills, or distilleries.

That I believe is the correct interpretation of the phrase and was another in-joke, this one for London audiences who would find the pun on AWV's explanation amusing as a sly reference to a part of their city and the goings on there.

As a result of this interpretation I think we can set aside any claims that 'Bermoothes' in the play goes to show that the Somers incident is imbedded in The Tempest. That leaves us with the question: is Jourdain's 1610 narrative of the Somers' incident an integral part of The Tempest? If it is, then either de Vere is not Shakespeare, or the play is not by Shakespeare, or if de Vere was Shakespeare he must have left an unfinished play and someone else updated it for topicality when the Somers incident arose. One of these three explanations, I would suppose, has to be the truth.


Fortunately for us the present day independent scholar we referred to in chapter 28 (near the end) as A1 has provided on the Web an article 'Dating The Tempest' which he has done in his usual thorough way. I suggest we accept his scholarship without tracing his referencing and quotations back to Jourdain, and call him A.

Before we even think of looking at AWV's supplementary evidence in his Introduction Part II we had better examine A's work in some detail.

A introduces his sources by saying:

"Several accounts of the wreck and survival of the "Sea-Venture" were rushed into print in the fall of 1610. The first of these. A Discovery of the Bermudas, came out in October; it was written by Sylvester Jourdain, who had been aboard the "Sea-Venture" and had returned to England with Gates. (A tells us earlier that Sir Thomas Gates was the newly appointed Governor of the colony and Sir George Somers was the Admiral of the Virginia Company). A continues "A month later A True Declaration of the Estate of the Colonie in Virginia was published. This was edited together from various documents as a piece of pro-Virginia propaganda..."(later A tells us it was anonymous). "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. As I will show, this letter saturates The Tempest, providing the basic scenario, many themes and images, and many details of plot and language. The first recorded performance of The Tempest was at Court on November 1, 1611, allowing us to date the play's composition with remarkable accuracy to the roughly one-year period between the fall of 1610 and the fall of 1611. "

Later A tells us that 'Strachey himself was heavily involved in the London theater...a sharer in the Children of the Queen's Revels. In his capacity as sharer, Strachey worked with the playwrights who wrote for the company, including Jonson, Marston, Chapman, and Day...' A provided all this information to show that the man from Stratford could have read the unpublished letter in 1610. This would also apply to William Stanley, Earl of Derby, who himself had a company of players.

What I have done first is to list the reference A gives for each remark or statement by Jourdain, the True Declaration, and Strachey, which A finds repeated in close or identical language in The Tempest. The results are in Note 1.

Next, I summarized by act or scene the references given by A. These are tabulated in Note 2.

From this we see that 42.6% of the references are in the first Act (which has scenes 1 and 2); 25% in the second Act (which has scenes 1 and 2); little in the 3rd Act (5.9%), 14.7% in the 4th Act and 11.8% in the 5th Act.

Here are A's first two examples, as illustrations of his method:

The Storm

Strachey describes the storm as 'roaring' and 'beat[ing] all light from heaven; which like an hell of darkness turned blacke upon us...The sea swelled above the clouds, which gave battel unto heaven' (6-7). 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. 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! To prayers!' (1.1.51).

It could be argued that much of this kind of material is common to all small sailing ships in distress, but I propose to accept these comparisons as genuine without trying to pick them apart.

After providing the numerous parallels A found between the pamphlets relating to the Somers incident and lines in The Tempest, he mentions broader issues of comparison which we need to consider.

The first is A's statement "it is well known that Shakespeare got the wording for Gonzalo's speeches from Florio's English translation of Montaigne's De Cannibales, published in 1603..." This was also mentioned by AWV as the first of his four points "Further Evidence as to Date" as follows:

Gonzalo's description of an ideal commonwealth (II.1.147-164) was inspired, we can scarcely doubt, by a passage in Florio's translation of Montaigne's Essays. This translation was published in 1603.

The difference in title is because Essay 4 (of 21) was entitled De Cannibales. The essays are somewhat long and rambling, although Montaigne seems always to come back to his argument precisely where he left it. He was very reasonable in his judgements. For example, in the Cannibales essay he says, speaking of the New World indigenous peoples:

"... I find that there is nothing barbarous and savage in this nation, by anything that I can gather, excepting that every one gives the title of barbarism to everything that is not in use in his own country."

Both A and AWV are of course assuming without doubt that Shaxper from Stratford on Avon was Shakespeare and therefore he relied on the translation from the French. But if de Vere was Shakespeare he would presumably have read Montaigne's 'Essais' published in French in 1575 and de Vere might have brought a copy back to England as he was in France that year and returning home through France in 1576. I suggest that if de Vere was Shakespeare he would also have read Hakluyt's Principal Navigations (1598-1600) which contained an account of a 1593 shipwreck in Bermuda, and the vessel that de Vere was once interested in purchasing, the Edward Bonaventure, is said to have been one of the ships involved in that wreck.

For these reasons I don't think we can accept the date of 1603, Florio's translation date, as concrete evidence for dating The Tempest.

Another general comment by A is that Strachey at one point cites "Gonzales Ferdinandus Oviedus the Spaniard who had written the first description of the Bermudas ninety years earlier (14); this suggests the names of Gonzalo and Ferdinand (in the play)." This may seem a reasonable assumption, although Ralegh in his Discovery of ...Guiana (1596) mentions in association a Gonzalo, Alonso, Ferdinand and Antonio. In his case the Ferdinand was a son of the Antonio. Ralegh also mentions the Bermudas as "a hellish sea for thunder, lightning and storms."

A later says:

This is not to say that Shakespeare used no sources from before 1604 - Cawley's article, cited in note 3, lists many possible or probable ones - but these were mostly used for specific details, such as the name Setebos (taken from Eden's Historie of Travayle).

Earlier A had said:

For completeness' sake I have tried to include all the significant parallels I could find, even though not all of them are of equal importance. Many of these are quite striking, involving similar wording in similar or identical context. 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. 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.

A continues:

As the above list shows, Strachey's True Repertory (and to a lesser extent the other two narratives) pervades the entire play. It provides the basic premise and background of the shipwreck, many details of the storm, the general characteristics of the island along with many details, the basic elements and many details of the conspiracies, many verbal parallels (most of them involving similar or identical contexts), and direct suggestions of the magic, love-story, wood-carrying, and Prospero vs. Caliban elements of the play. Moreover it is obvious that Shakespeare could only have borrowed from Strachey, Jourdain, and A True Declaration rather than the other way around; this was not another work of fiction Shakespeare was basing his play on, but three independent accounts of actual events which did not happen until 1609-10.

I don't agree with A in extrapolating his many line by line references to say that the basic premise, the magic, love-story, and Prospero vs. Caliban are derived from the Somers incident 1609-1610 literature. It seems to me unfortunate that he mars his good work by such a generalization. The 2nd half of the 20th century was replete with books on Spacemen on earth, Gods from Space, the Velikovsky series, the TV series Startrek and Startrek: the Next Generation, plus many spin-offs and films on space travel. All this began with V2 rockets at the end of WW2. In Elizabethan England Magellan and Drake's voyages around the world, the discovery of the American continent, the fascination with other previously unknown races and customs, strange fruits, vegetables, and so on, the dangers and adventures of mariners in sailing ships, were subjects of great interest. For us, the last 50 years have been inundated with space travel. For Elizabethans, exploration, discovery and colonization were the topics of interest. I conclude from all this that The Tempest basic premise and plot reflected the general ongoing interest in fantastic stories about new discoveries, and not any one in particular.

A's conclusion is:

I hope the above has been convincing in showing that the writer of The Tempest was heavily influenced by the Bermuda narratives of 1610, especially Strachey's letter, and thus that the Earl of Oxford (who died in 1604) was not the author.

I think A has provided us with evidence that shows beyond a reasonable doubt that The Tempest in the form that we have it in the First Folio of 1623 shows numerous parallels with the 1610 pamphlets and letter, that it is pointless to try to argue that Strachey's letter was not published until 1625 and therefore not a source. As a consequence of A's work it seems apparent that de Vere could not have written the play as we now have it.


One last quotation from A: J. Thomas Looney, the originator of the Oxford theory, accepting this dating... (1610-11) ... in the writing of 'Shakespeare Identified' ...denigrated the play mercilessly in an attempt to show that it was not written by 'Shakespeare' (i.e. Oxford).

Looney's book was published (in England) in 1920. I suggest we'd better look at his arguments as to why he thought The Tempest was not a Shakespearean work, although not necessarily accepting his conclusion, unless it is inescapable. We'll refer to him as JTL.

His "Shakespeare Identified" pages 503-530, Appendix 1, is about The Tempest.

That's where he states his conclusion that this play was not written by the Shakespeare who was the author of the other plays. Here are his main points:

1. The only authoritative fact seems to be that a play of this name was amongst those performed to celebrate the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth to the Elector Frederick in 1613. There existed, however, a forged reference to it connecting it with the year 1611.

2. There is no record of its having been registered and no indication of its having been in print before 1623,

3. Facts like these ... in connection with a stage favourite like The Tempest... are not what we should have expected, whoever the author of the play may have been... it is very improbable that such a play should have been written and allowed to remain unstaged for many years, seeing that the staging element in it is more pronounced than in any other play attributed to 'Shakespeare.

4. It is held to contain traces of contemporary events of the early years of James 1st's reign and even to be in part indebted to a pamphlet published in 1610. This fact by itself presents no insurmountable difficulty, seeing that the interpolation of other men's work is quite a recognized feature of the later Shakespearean plays but taken along with its non modern character and, what seems to be the less Elizabethan quality of its diction, it appears to justify the assumption that the work as a whole belongs to the date to which it has been assigned.

5. Some authorities (give the play) an earlier date of composition: Hunter 1596; Knight 1602-3, Dyce and Staunton after 1603, Karl Elze 1604. JTL is not convinced as to an earlier date or 'the intervention of a strange hand.'

6. JTL asks his readers to read Love's Labour's Lost, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and As You Like It,... to get a sense, as it were, of Shakespeare's force of intellect and wit, the packed significance of his lines, his teeming imagery, the fecundity of his ideas... his incised glances into human motives,... the precision and refinement of his distinctions, the easy flow of his diction, the vocal qualities of his word combinations, (then) read The Tempest... and he will probably experience a much greater disappointment than he anticipated.

7. JTL cites Act 1, Scene 2, where Prospero is relating his misfortunes to Miranda and comments on the prosy character of the narration, broken by Prospero's harping on... whether Miranda was (paying attention) or not, makes one wonder what there is in it to justify the attempt at blank verse.

My comments

On recent reading of The Tempest my written comment on Act 1 Scene 2 was 'very pedestrian and repetitive, not WS. ' Now that I've reread the whole play I would say this tedious explanation of how and why Prospero and Miranda came to be where they are, taking 186 lines, ending with Miranda appropriately falling asleep would have been dealt with by Shakespeare in a few gifted lines while moving the plot forward. But at its end it does tell us something about de Vere's life after he left the Court (if de Vere is Shakespeare):

Knowing I love my books he furnish'd me,

From my own library, with volumes that

I prize above my dukedom.

That's just prose cut into strips, and not I think by de Vere, though it could well have been by Stanley, writing about their common experience, after both left Court life.

But, back to JTL:

8. He quotes from the play judging... not by its worst, but what is accepted as its best passages..the one singled out for special notice by others:

...These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits, and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep -...

This is from 4.1.123-133. JTL comments that it is simple cosmic philosophy... the most dreary negativism that was ever put into high sounding words. Shakespeare's soul was much too large for mere negation. I don't agree with him but do note the repetition of 'into thin air,' the use of the word 'gorgeous,' with 'and' at the end of a line. This seems to me unlike Shakespeare's more pungent vocabulary. It may be that someone padded this out from Shakespeare's notes.

9. JTL pulls apart the last sentence in the quotation. He contrasts its vagueness with the incisiveness of

all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players,

I suggest JTL is mistaken here. I think the last sentence is by a mature writer who sees life with a beginning and an end. The 'stage' quotation is from a younger writer with more sparkle in his expression but less wisdom. Both seem to me to be by Shakespeare.

10. Turn over the great Shakespearean dramas noticing the stage directions. For the most part these are little more than... enter, exit, aside, sleeps, rises and advances, trumpets, noise within, and such like... Turn to the stage directions in The Tempest:

'A tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning heard'

'Enter Prospero, alone, invisible. Enter several strange shapes, bringing in a banquet, they dance about it with gentle actions and salutations; and, inviting the king, etc. to eat, they depart.

JTL quotes 3 more lengthy examples. And there is still more of this kind of thing.

11. JTL continues

In the First Folio only 6 out of all Shakespeare's plays are prefaced with lists of dramatis personae. Of these The Tempest is one and Timon of Athens, an admittedly 'collaborated' work, is another... Turning to the list in The Tempest we find that one character is described as 'drunken, another as 'honest' and a third as 'savage' ... alien to the spirit of Shakespeare, whose method is naturally to reveal the character of his personae in the working of the plays.

12. Coming now to the question of general workmanship... take any other of the great Shakespeare comedies--- the constant clash of wit and the subtle teasing that takes place whenever young men and women meet--- playful cross-purposes in which Shakespeare's lovers invariably indulge... in (The Tempest) we get the milk and water sentimentality of Miranda and Ferdinand unillumined by a single flash of intellect. They... arranged their first tryst 'half an hour hence' ... How interminable that half-hour must have seemed to the young people...but when... they are at last alone together, for the first time ... they pour out their mutual affection in a rapturous game of chess.

My comment. I partly disagree here. As the poet grew older we would expect the flashes of youthful exchanges to be replaced by something more mellow and mature, but I do agree that there should still be some spark of intellect in the conversation, which in this play there is not. I further agree that if the lovers were to play a game together they could not have picked a more ruthless mental exercise than chess to muffle and subdue their passion. It's not a game, it's an intellectual fight to the death. It seems to me the whole concept of this lovers' meeting is not Shakespeare's.

To continue with JTL:

13. It is the only play ... with a background of the sea and seafaring life; the nearest approach to it... being Pericles... It is the only one that has the practice of magic as a dominant element the... Midsummer Night's Dream not being under human control and direction... It is the only play attributed to Shakespeare which makes any attempt at conforming to the Greek unities....It is contrary to the free spirit of his genius, and it is an illustration of that 'tongue tying of art by authority' which he explicitly repudiates.

14. Although it contains a king and a duke no one can feel in reading it that he is in touch with the social structure of a mediaeval feudalism. Prospero, the Duke of Milan, represents in no way a ducal dignity, or the functions of a dukedom. He is, first and last, a magician, and it would have mattered little to his part in the play if he had been originally a patriarchal deacon.

King Alonso can hardly be regarded as a personage belonging to the play. In certain important scenes he is only required to stand and ejaculate such expressions as 'Prithee peace' or 'Prithee be stil.'... Prospero's brother, Antonio, the usurping duke, is a very ordinary stage villain... his only part in the final act involving disaster to his fortunes is to make a single remark - about fish.

15. JTL tells us Shakespeare had a very great deal to say on the subject (of women) - not in The Tempest, though. The Tempest also lacks the usual prominence given horses and horsemanship. JTL quotes these awkward lines:

Like unback'd colts they prick'd their ears,

Advanced their eyelids, lifted up their noses,

As they smelt music...

JTL refers to lack of reference to falconry or game - no deer, stag or pricket, hare or hound, greyhound, game, slips, or trumpet, once appears.

16. Scansion: JTL refers to the large proportion of bad metre to be found... There is nothing to be gained by rating the work below its true value, but ... we suspect the writer of building up his pentameters by mechanically counting syllables on his fingers: and counting badly.

JTL refers again to the 1.2 scene dialogue between Prospero and Miranda...much of it is not verse at all in the true sense, but merely prose, artificially cut up into short strips: precisely as, in an earlier chapter, we saw was actually done in Coriolanus. Versification... always implies that... the pause formed by the end of the line corresponds to a pause, however slight, in the spoken utterance...

JTL quotes an example of cut up strips

If by your art, my dearest father, you have

Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.

JTL continues:

Now, it is hardly possible to get two words more closely connected to spoken utterances than a Principal and an Auxiliary Verb when no adverb comes between them, as in the case of this verb, 'have put.' JTL quotes 6 examples from The Tempest, none can be found in Hamlet.

17. Conjunctions: This 'and' at the end of lines in The Tempest is quite a feature of its author's style... not once does this defect appear in Hamlet. We have also instances of the conjunction 'but' placed at the end of lines (not) once... in Hamlet. JTL gives similar instances for conjunctive Pronouns and conjunctive Adverbs, and Prepositions (upon, at, of, with, on).

JTL goes on to say that when... we turn to the plays which 'others were called upon at a later date to finish'... we have the same non-Shakespearean situation - for example- Cymbeline... if... The Tempest terminations are still in mind, we recognize at once that in Cymbeline 'and' 'but' and conjunctive pronouns (to end lines) are met with frequently; and in versification... there is a general...similarity... If then the substance of the play of Cymbeline is Shakespearean, everything is suggestive of its having been versified by the writer who composed The Tempest... the later works having to receive their versification from strange hands...In the case of The Tempest we believe... the entire drama must be given over to those who were engaged in finishing off 'Shakespeare's plays.

My comments. As you know by now, I partly agree with this. I am adding that the 'strange hands' was in fact no stranger, but a son-in-law. Stanley. JTL's comments also bring to light the fact that the last few plays which scholars point out have these differences in versification from Shakespeare's earlier work indicate that a competent writer but someone less skilled as a poet was doing the finishing of the plays. My point here is that there is a deterioration in style of this later work characterized by less poetic versifying, less clarity of comprehension, and a shift in patterns of imagery. This suggests a different, though kindred spirit behind the finished work, of a somewhat lesser order than Shakespeare, unless one wants to argue that Shakespeare's mental faculties deteriorated with age. To create effects this other writer if there was one relies more on spectacle, less on substance.

JTL concludes: We are prepared to maintain, then, on the strength of the various points indicated, that The Tempest is no play of Shakespeare's. It is not the absence of an odd Shakespearean characteristic, but the absence of so many dominant marks of his work, along with the presence of several features which are quite contrary to his style, that compels us to reject it. If... it was... 'put forward' during (Shaxper's) lifetime as a genuine Shakespearean play this is additional testimony to the previous death of the dramatist.

My comments:

I do not believe it's wholly by 'a strange hand' as JTL asserts, because I respect the First Folio editors sufficiently to assume it would not have been included if that were the case. They omitted Pericles, which has since been thought by scholars to have been partly written by a 'strange hand,' but partly by Shakespeare.

I think we have to grant JTL his point that the last group of plays, including The Tempest, are in a style that is relatively consistent among themselves, but does not seem to be a natural development for Shakespeare, is rather the work of 'other hands.' My only contribution here is to say that the evidence seems to point to this other hand being Stanley. Fenner's letter we quoted previously said that Stanley was busy 'penning' comedies for the common players. Penning is not necessarily the same as writing. Writing implies authorship, penning may imply an amanuensis. If de Vere was Shakespeare, then I suggest Stanley's role before 1604 was more as an amanuensis, but after de Vere's death, he found he had the additional responsibility of actually composing the completion of the plays. He was by far in the best position to do this, being married to a de Vere daughter, having, I believe, worked with de Vere on some of the plays for a number of years, being a literate man himself, a musician, and having his own company of players. If I am right, he did a very commendable job, pulling together into a coherent whole the ideas of the plays, the scattered notes, outlines, a speech here and there, or just a few lines or phrases. His work was good enough to have fooled Shakespearean editors and scholars who for centuries have protested at the anomalies in this last group of plays, but have never realized they were mistaking Stanley for Shakespeare. It's a facade, and not real Shakespeare. That's my conclusion from the evidence.


Now that we've reviewed the dating by A, and JTL's conclusions about The Tempest, we should look at AJV's Part II Further Evidence as to Date. There are four points:

1. The Florio translation of Montaigne as source for Gonzalo's speech. This was discussed and dismissed above.

2. The 'cloud capp'd towers' quotation. This was discussed in chapter 33 and found too remote to be evidence.

3. A reference to the Court performance in 1613 of a play of that name. This tells us nothing about date of composition.

4. The Ben Jonson reference in the Induction (Introduction) to his Bartholomew Fair. This was discussed in chapter 33 with the possibility that it implied plural authorship of the late plays, to which Jonson may have been referring . It does not date the composition of the plays.

None of all the evidence so far considered dates the origin of The Tempest, though it probably dates its completion. There remains one test to try.


I went through the downloaded Renascence edition and deleted all the references given by A, except those few I questioned as explained in (*) to (****) attached to the table in Note 1.

The final step was to re-read the play, taking into account only those lines that were left after the removal of the Jourdain, True Declaration and Strachey material, as listed by A. It is this 'expunged' edition that I propose to use now to provide my summary of the play. We'll be able to see for ourselves how much the Somer's incident deletions affect the whole play, and whether we still have a viable play. If we do, that is plausible evidence that the play existed before the Somer's incident was tacked on to make it topical.


(With gratuitous comments)

(Note - words in these brackets [ ] are stage directions

- direct quotations are in italics).


Alonso, King of Naples

Ferdinand, his son

Sebastian, brother to Alonso

Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan

Antonio, his brother, the usurping Duke of Milan

Gonzalo, an honest old counsellor

Adrian, Francisco, lords

Trinculo, a jester

Stephano, a drunken butler

Master of a ship, Boatswain, and Mariners

Caliban, a savage and deformed slave

Miranda, daughter to Prospero

Ariel, an airy spirit

Iris, Ceres, Juno, Nymphs, Reapers, presented by Spirits

Other Spirits attending on Prospero

Scene - On board a ship at sea; afterwards various parts of an island.

Act 1 Scene 1 (1.1)

[On a ship at sea; a tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning heard.

Enter a Shipmaster and Boatswain]

Master: Boatswain!

Boatswain: Here, master; what cheer?

Master: Good! Speak to th' mariners; fall to't yarely, or we run ourselves aground: bestir, bestir. [Exit.

Enter Mariners]

The bosun (boatswain) gives orders,

[Enter Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Ferdinand, Gonzalo, and others]


Where is the Master, boson?

The bosun:

you mar our labour: keep your cabins: you do assist the storm.

Some of the royal party question the bosun, he repeats his orders to them and what cares these roarers for the name of king?

He exits, Gonzalo says he has confidence in the bosun. The passengers exit.

The bosun returns, gives the crew more orders.

Sebastian, Antonio and Gonzalo return,

The Bosun: 'Yet again! What do you here? Shall we give o'er, and drown? Have you a mind to sink?'

They call him a 'whoreson, insolent noisemaker'

The bosun gives more orders to the crew.

Near the end of the scene, cries of 'farewell my wife and children' 'farewell my brother' and from the royal party 'let's all sink with the king.'

The bosun exits, as do Antonio and Sebastian, ending the scene.

My comments

The original scene had about 72 lines apparently in prose. After removing A's listings of 24 lines and half-lines, the remaining scene is unimpaired as to sense and meaning as quoted here. AWV's Victorian edition eliminated the 'whoreson' reference, also a reference to the ship being as 'leaky as an unstaunched wench', also omitted here because it's one of A's quotations from Strachey.

The nautical language of the bosun and master in the scene includes 'yare' or 'yarely,' variously translated by glossaries as nimbly. briskly, ready, sharp and quick. The bosun's sailing orders are:

Take in the topsail

Bring her to try wi' th' main course

Lay her a-hold

Set her two courses; Off to sea again.

Lay her off.

Dropping the fore topmast, a procedure of doubtful use, intended to increase stability, but mentioned in the scene and by A as in Strachey, is therefore excluded here.

AWV has an Appendix on Shakespeare's seamanship. He quotes from Malone a commentary by a naval officer (Lord Mulgrave 1744-1792) who says:

The first scene of the Tempest is a very striking instance of the great accuracy of Shakespeare's knowledge in a professional science, the most difficult to attain without the help of experience. He must have acquired it by conversation with some of the most skilful seamen of that time. The succession of events is strictly observed in the natural progress of the distress described; the expedients adopted are the most proper that could have been devised for a chance of safety, ... the words of command are... strictly proper... no superfluous ones of detail...

My comments

These remarks are by a naval officer who knew only ships driven by wind as a means of voyaging. In my days as a naval officer, specializing in navigation, I knew only ships driven by fuel oil, but we both dealt with high seas, high winds, currents, tides, shoals, headlands, reefs, and harbours.

Many sailing ships ended piled up on rocks. This was not in most cases through negligence. In bad or 'heavy' weather visibility may be at a minimum, with driving rain squalls. On the bridge of a ship about 50 ft. above the waterline you may only see intermittently over the top of the next wave. Shakespeare's time was before the days of loran, radar, echo sounding and now GPS (global positioning system) and before the days of even the sextant, by which, using an accurate chronometer and spherical trigonometry after taking 2 or 3 'sights' of celestial bodies, where they crossed on the chart would locate your position. John Hodley invented the sextant in 1731. By its use at sea given a clear sky by day or twilight I could always locate the ship's position within about 300 yards. Today, with GPS it's a few yards, day or night.

Without these refinements, in bad weather an Elizabethan sailing ship lookout might not spot land ahead until it was very close or the sound of breakers on shore or rocks was heard. Possibly a sailing ship would be running before the wind, on one tack or another, perhaps with minimum sails set to maintain steerage way and avoid pooping (water coming on board over the stern), There would be very little time to change course and reset the sails.

The basic principles of sailing were that the more sail you could crowd on the faster you would go. A keel at the base of the ship would be knife-like and heavy, to keep the ship steady in the water and so reduce drift downwind. Otherwise the wind would tend to blow on the 'topside' of the hull (above water) pushing it downwind. If the wind were blowing to shore, it would blow a ship in that direction. The rudder, controlled by a wheel (helm) would steer the ship. Set in conjunction with the effect of the keel it would tend to keep the ship on the desired course despite the drift effect caused by the wind on the body of the ship. But there could also be an incoming tide towards the shore, and then around headlands and near river mouths there can be other currents as well. These are indicated on navigational charts and in tide tables of the area, if you have them. Sails come in many different shapes and sizes requiring a mass of rigging to control them. A fully rigged 3 masted ship (3 vertical masts: fore, main and mizzen, front to back) with a bowsprit and jib boom forward (near-horizontal masts at the front) and a boom at the stern (or back) could carry 29 sails.

In the case of The Tempest shipwreck what apparently happened was that the ship's lookout spotted land on the lee side (downwind). They lowered the fore top sail (highest on the front mast) for better stability, tried to shift tack to a course at least parallel to or away from the land, if they had room enough to make the maneuvre. Then, being perilously close to shore, they hoisted the mainsail and foresail setting course on the windward tack to try to clear the land that way. But although they sailed as close to the wind as possible the ship could not quite clear the point or headland and ran aground, possibly through wind effect on the hull and possibly adverse tide and/or current.

Shakespeare uses 'course' instead of sail. So his 'set her two courses, off to sea again' was setting the mainsail and foresail, the ship set for an offshore tack.

My conclusion from all this is that Shakespeare probably drafted this opening scene, and someone else later tacked on a few phrases to make it topical as a result of the Somers incident. If de Vere was Shakespeare, he had crossed the Channel to the Continent and back at least three times, apparently sailed from Italy to Sicily and back, and was in Venice for some months, a major seaport and shipbuilding centre. He was a personal friend of the maritime explorer Sir Martin Frobisher; he would also have known and talked with Ralegh and Drake at Court. And if de Vere was Shakespeare, we know who the writer was who updated the play for topicality: his son-in-law Will Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby.

Back to the play:


[The Island: before Prospero's cell.

Enter Prospero and Miranda.]

Miranda says:

O, I have suffered

With those that I saw suffer! A brave vessel,

Who no doubt some noble creature in her,

Dash'd all to pieces. O, the cry did knock

Against my very heart! Poor souls, they perish'd.

The AWV edition has Prospero's reply begin

Be collected;

The Renascence edition:

Be conected;

both continue

No more amazement: tell your piteous heart

There's no harm done.

Cutting out all the verbiage of their speeches, the essence of it is :


...'Tis time

I should inform thee further...

Twelve years since, Miranda,...

Thy father was the Duke of Milan, and

A prince of power....

My brother and thy uncle, call'd Antonio

...He, whom next thy self

Of all the world I lov'd, and to him put

The manage of my state...

...and for the liberal arts...

...these being all my study

The government I cast upon my brother

And to my state grew stranger, being transported

And rapt in secret studies...

... he did believe

He was indeed the Duke...

...he needs will be

Absolute Milan. Me, poor man- my library

Was dukedom large enough-...

He thinks me now incapable; confederates, ...

...wi' th' King of Naples,

To give him annual tribute...

This King of Naples, being an enemy

To me inveterate, hearkens my brother's suit:

Which was, that he...

Should presently extirpate me and mine

Out of the dukedom, and confer...

...on my brother... whereon

... one midnight ...did Antonio open

The gates of Milan; and...

The ministers for th' purpose hurried thence

Me and thy crying self...

...aboard a bark;

Bore us some leagues to sea, where they prepared

A rotten carcass of a butt, not rigg'd

Nor tackle, sail nor mast,...

A noble Neopolitan, Gonzago,...

...did give us, with

Rich garments, linens, stuffs and necessaries,

...from mine own library ...volumes...

...By accident most strange bountiful Fortune

...hath mine enemies

Brought to this shore...

[Enter Ariel.] Prospero asks has he done as ordered: yes. Ariel says the king's son Ferdinand was first overboard. They're all safe. The rest of the fleet are on their way home to Naples, thinking the king and his ship and son are lost.

Ariel reminds Prospero of his promise of liberty.

Prospero reminds Ariel he had been trapped in a tree by the foul witch Sycorax for 12 painful years. Caliban, her son, 'not honour'd with a human shape' Prospero says now 'I keep in service.' If Ariel 'murmurs' he'll be locked up again for another 12 years, but if he obeys, he'll be free in 2 days.

Ariel thanks him, asks 'What shall I do?'

Prospero says become invisible except to Prospero and Ariel. [Exit Ariel]

Prospero calls Caliban: Fetch in our wood...

...What ho! slave! Caliban!

Thou earth, thou! Speak...

Thou poisonous slave,...come forth [Enter Caliban]

Caliban: A south-west blow on ye

and blister you all o'er.


For this, be sure, tonight thou shall have cramps,...


'This island's mine, by Sycorax my mother,

which thou tak'st from me. When thou cam'st first

Thou ... made much of me...

...and teach me...

Curs'd be I that did so!

For I am all the subject that you have,

Which first was mine own king: ...


...Thou most lying slave,...

... I have used thee

Filth as thou art, with human care, and lodg'd thee

In mine own cell, till thou didst seek to violate

The honour of my child...


O ho, O ho! Would'st it had been done.

...I had peopl'd else

This isle with Calibans.


...abhorred slave...

...I pitied thee,

...taught thee each hour

One thing or other...


You taught me language, and my profit on't

is, I know how to curse....

[Re-enter Ariel, invisible, playing and singing, Ferdinand following]

My comments

The first stanza of the song is in my view poor stuff, here are three lines:

And, sweet sprites, the burden bear.

Hark, hark!

(Burden dispersedly: Bow-wow.)

Ferdinand: Where should this music be?

He's been drawn here by it.

Ariel sings another stanza, beginning

Full fathom five thy father lies;

Of his bones are coral made;

Those are pearls that were his eyes...

This I suggest is genuine Shakespeare.

Miranda sees Ferdinand and marvels at his 'brave form.'

'A thing divine'...

Ferdinand speaks to her

Their conversation shows us it's mutual love at first sight.

Prospero in an aside tells us this is going according to his plan, but

...this swift


I must uneasy make, lest too light winning

Make the prize light.'

He calls Ferdinand a spy, then a traitor. Miranda defends him, apologizes to Ferdinand for her father's unusual behaviour. Prospero tells her to be silent and orders Ferdinand to follow him. Prospero again promises Ariel he shall be free. They all leave.

My comments

This scene runs to just over 500 lines, which we have reduced to about 120 without I think any significant adverse effect on the storyline or sense of the play. There seems to be much writing in it which is not Shakespearean. The writer is an educated man, and I would suppose had read Montaigne. His dialogue between Prospero and Caliban reflects the attitude of many new colonists towards the indigenous peoples they found. Caliban's statements seem a fair representation of the indigenous response: this was my place, I was king here, you made much of me at first then enslaved me and taught me things of little benefit such as language to curse by. Shakespeare tackled some difficult social problems in his day: business relations between Gentiles and Jews in a Catholic state (Merchant of Venice); black and white mixed marriages (Othello: e.g. 1.1.88

Iago: Even now, now, very now, an old black ram

Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, Arise.)

and here possibly colonization and indigenous peoples. In each case he seemed to say what he had to and let the chips fall as they might. What appears lacking in this play is the power of Shakespeare's intellect in the dialogues. Either Shakespeare's mental abilities had deteriorated or a lesser writer has taken over completing the work from notes and jottings.

This problem becomes even more pronounced in the next scene.


[Another part of the island.

Enter Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Gonzalo, Adrian, Francisco and others.]

Gonzalo opens the scene by telling Alonso he should be merry, they have escaped the shipwreck with their lives.

Alonso: Prithee, peace.

Sebastian: He receives comfort like cold porridge,

Antonio: The visitor will not give him o'er so.

Sebastian: Look, he's winding up the watch of his wit;

by and by it will strike.

Gonzalo: Sir, -

Sebastian: One-Tell

Gonzalo: When every grief is entertain'd that's offer'd,

Comes to th' entertainer-

Sebastian: A dollar.

My comment

This rather worthless writing goes on for 3 pages. If it's meant to be 'comic relief' I find it of very poor quality. I cannot even raise a smile at it.

Much later:

Gonzalo: Methinks our garments are now as fresh as when we put them on first in Afric, at the marriage of the King's fair daughter Claribel to the King of Tunis...

half a page later

Alonso: Would I had never

Married my daughter there, for coming thence

My son is lost;...

Francisco: Sir, he may live;

I saw him beat the surges under him ...

half a page later

Gonzalo: Had I plantation of this isle, my lord,

Antonio: He'd sow 't with nettle-seed

Sebastian: or docks, or mallows,

Gonzalo: And were the king on't. what would I do?

Sebastian: Scape being drunk for want of wine.

Gonzalo: I' th' commonwealth I would by contraries

Execute all things; for no kind of traffic

Would I admit; no name of magistrate;

Letters should not be known; riches, poverty,

And use of service, none; contract, succession,

Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;

No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil;

No occupation; all men idle, all;

And women too, but innocent and pure;

No sovereignty-

Sebastian: Yet he would be king on't

and so on...

My comments

Here's more of Montaigne's philosophy finding its way into the play. But what is dropped in is quite impractical. For example, farming is a very hard life, and where the population is more than about one in a few acres there has to be some serious effort to mass produce foodstuffs. Mere idleness does not of itself generate moral probity. But Gonzalo continues:

All things in common nature should produce

Without sweat or endeavour. Treason, felony,

Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine

Would I not have: but nature should bring forth,

Of its own kind...

To feed my innocent people.

after another half-page of 'merry fooling' by Sebastian and Antonio

[Enter Ariel, invisible, playing solemn music]

Soon all sleep except Sebastian and Antonio

and Ariel leaves.

Antonio: ...worthy Sebastian...

My strong imagination sees a crown

Dropping upon thy head...

Sebastian: Prithee, say on ...

Antonio: ...Will you grant with me

That Ferdinand is drown'd?

Sebastian: he's gone.

Antonio... Who's the next heir of Naples?

Sebastian: Claribel

Antonio: She that is Queen of Tunis: she that dwells

Ten leagues beyond man's life...

...Do you understand me?

Sebastian: Methinks I do ...

...I remember

You did supplant your brother Prospero

Antonio: True.

And look how well my garments set upon me...

My brother's servants... they are my men.

Sebastian: But, for your conscience-

Antonio talks him into the plot

Sebastian: Thy case, dear friend,

Shall be my precedent....

[Re-enter Ariel, invisible, with music and song.]

He tells us his master sees the danger his friend (Gonzalo) is in and has sent Ariel to prevent it.

Just as Antonio and Sebastian with swords drawn are about to kill Gonzalo and the King, Ariel wakes them up. Then Sebastian and Antonio say

even now we heard a hollow burst of bellowing

Like bulls, or rather lions;

and drew their swords to protect the king.

The danger of the murder is over, they all leave, and Ariel tells us

Prospero my lord shall know what I have done

So, King, go safely on to seek thy son.

My comments

This scene occupies another 330 or so lines in the play, but less than a quarter of that have any substance and move the plot forward. Most of it is, I suggest, of a quality inferior to that of Shakespeare. We have now looked at over 900 lines, almost half the entire play. But we have found less than one third of these have Shakespearean merit and move the play forward. This is after eliminating references cited by A to prove the play depends on the Somers incident.


[Another part of the island

Enter Caliban with a burden of wood. A noise of thunder heard.]


All the infections that the sun sucks up

...on Prospero fall, and make him

By inch-meal a disease!

[enter Trinculo]

Caliban thinks it's another of Prospero's spirits come to torment him

...I'll fall flat;

Perchance he will not mind me.


Here's neither bush nor shrub to bear off any weather at all.... I know not where to hide my head. Yond same cloud cannot choose but fall by pailfuls. What have we here? A man or a fish? ... he smells like a fish... Were I in England now, as once I was, and had but this fish painted, not a holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver,...Alas the storm is come again! My best way is to creep under his gaberdine; Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows. I will here shroud till the storm be past...

[Enter Stephano singing, a bottle in his hand.]

My comment

He sings an unmemorable song, and himself ends it saying 'This is a scurvy tune too"... He takes another swig at the bottle


Do not torment me, O!


...Ha! I have not scap'd drowning to be afeard now of your four legs;....

..where the devil should he learn our language? I will give him some relief if it be but for that. If I can recover him, and keep him tame, I will not take too much for your mouth; here is that which will give language to you...

Trinculo ...I should know that voice ... but he is drown'd; and these are devils. O, defend me!

Stephano: Four legs and two voices; a most delicate monster.

Caliban: (aside) ...That's a brave god, and bears celestial liquor. I will kneel to him ... I'll swear upon that bottle to be thy true subject, for the liquor is not earthly... I'll show thee every fertile inch of th' island; and will kiss thy foot. I prithee be my god...

Trinculo: A most ridiculous monster, to make a wonder of a poor drunkard...

Caliban (sings drunkenly) Farewell, master;...

'Ban 'Ban, Ca-Caliban,

Has a new master - Get a new man.

Freedom, high-day! High-day, freedom! ...

My comment

The general level of writing and humour here is 'slapstick' and seems below the standard of Shakespeare. The writer is expanding his social commentary on the treatment of indigenous peoples by settlers from Europe. The idea of a 4-legged being is good, and satirizes the tall tales and strange creatures brought back to England. The scene has about 192 lines. It contains two very bad and so un-Shakespearean songs. It seems to me less than half of this scene is Shakespearean dialogue although the concept of the scene is probably his.


[Before Prospero's cell

Enter Ferdinand, bearing a log]


... This my mean task

Would be as heavy to me as odious, but

The mistress which I serve quickens what's dead,

And makes my labours pleasures. ...

[Enter Miranda: and Prospero at a distance, unseen]

Miranda: Alas, now: pray you,

Work not so hard ...

... My father

Is hard at study; pray you now, rest yourself;...

Ferdinand: O most dear mistress,

The sun will set before I shall discharge

What I must strive to do.

Miranda: If you'll sit down,

I'll bear your logs the while; ...

Prospero: (aside) Poor worm, thou art infected!

Ferdinand asks her name, she tells him Miranda, realizing she's broken her promise to her father. He tells her he's a prince, she says she loves him.

Miranda: I am your wife if you will marry me. ...

Ferdinand: My mistress, dearest;

And I thus humble ever.

Miranda: My husband then?

Ferdinand: Ay, with a heart as willing

As bondage e'er of freedom. Here's my hand.

Miranda: And mine, with my heart in't.

All leave.

My comments

The language is educated and in its contemporary style, but the banter that so distinguished Queen Elizabeth and her Court - calling people a Sheep, a Monkey, a Turk, all this and its lively repartee is gone. Instead we have factual pragmatic language with a wrapping of social conscience. This writer's method is to have Miranda say directly I am your wife, if you will marry me.

Shakespeare's women were not so easily won. Miranda comes on very strongly and in fact gets a promise of marriage from Ferdinand the prince in one short scene. Perhaps we have here how Elizabeth Vere at Court got young William Stanley to marry her.

The scene has only about 96 lines. Somehow Shakespeare the poet who tells us he's writing 'ever the same" (Sonnet 76; see chapter 18) doesn't seem to be present here, but the plot and intent are, I believe, his. It's just the workmanship that seems different. I can only sense it. I cannot prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet I suspect not more than 20 lines are real Shakespeare here. To show you what I mean, here's the opening of Act 1, Scene 1 of Antony and Cleopatra, a "late" play:


[Alexandria. A room in Cleopatra's palace.

Enter Demetrius and Philo]


Nay, but this dotage of our general's

O'erflows the measure: those his goodly eyes,

That o'er the files and musters of the war

Have glow'd like plated Mars, now bend, now turn,

The office and devotion of their view

Upon a tawny front: his captain's heart,

Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst

The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper,

And is become the bellows and the fan

To cool a gipsy's lust.

[Flourish. Enter Antony, Cleopatra, her Ladies, the Train, with Eunuchs fanning her]

Look where they come

Take but good note, and you shall see in him

The triple pillar of the world transform'd

Into a strumpet's fool: behold and see.


If it be love indeed, tell me how much.

Mark Antony

There's beggary in the love that can be reckon'd.


I'll set a bourn how far to be beloved.

Mark Antony

Then must thou needs find out new heaven, new earth.

My Comment

Surely you can see the metre, language, vocabulary, the power of mind behind it, is totally different. Even Philo's first speech is but one sentence. This Antony and Cleopatra opening is real Shakespeare.

Now back to the Tempest summary.


[Another part of the island.

Enter Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo.]

Stephano: ...Servant-monster, drink to me.

Trinculo: ...They say there's but five upon this isle; ... if th' other two be brain'd like us, the state totters.

Stephano: Drink, servant-monster, when I bid thee; thine eyes are almost set in thy head...

Caliban: How does thy honour? Let me lick thy shoe,

I'll not serve him; he is not valiant.

Trinculo: Thou liest, most ignorant monster; ... half fish and half a monster.

Caliban: Lo, how he mocks me! Will thou let him, my lord?

Stephano: Trinculo, keep a good tongue in your head...

[Enter Ariel, invisible]

Caliban: As I told thee before, I am subject to a tyrant, sorcerer, that by his cunning hath cheated me of the island.

Ariel: Thou liest.

Caliban: Thou liest, ...I do not lie.

Stephano: Trinculo, if you trouble him any more ... I will supplant some of your teeth

Trinculo: Why, I said nothing.

After half a page of accusation and counter accusations between the 4 of them, Caliban tells Stephano

Caliban:... 'tis a custom with him

I' th' afternoon to sleep; there then mayst brain him,

Having first siez'd his books...

And that most deeply to consider is

The beauty of his daughter...

...she will become thy bed, I warrant,

And bring thee forth brave brood.

Stephano: Monster, I will kill this man; his daughter and I

will be King and Queen ... and Trinculo and thyself shall be viceroys...

Stephano sings

Flout 'em and scout 'em, ...

Caliban: That's not the tune

[Ariel plays the tune on a tabor and pipe]

Trinculo is afraid by the music coming from nowhere. The others are not.

They all leave,

My comments

This is more poor pedestrian stuff. It takes over 160 lines of low grade humour to advance the plot an inch or two.

Perhaps a few lines are by Shakespeare. For example, Caliban's speech beginning

Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,

Sounds; and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not...

But even this is much weaker than the quotation from Antony given earlier.


[Another part of the island

Enter Alonso, Sebastian, Antonio, Gonzalo, Adrian, Francisco and others.]


By'r lakin, I can go no further, sir ...

I need must rest me.

(EF note: by'r lakin = by our ladykin. Ladykin = little lady = Virgin Mary.)

Alonso: Old lord, I cannot blame thee...

...sit down and rest

Even here I will put off my hope...

Antonio and Sebastian in asides say they will go ahead with their plan tonight.

Now comes the extraordinary stage direction of:

[Solemn and strange music; and PROSPERO on the top, invisible. Enter several strange SHAPES, bringing in a banquet; and dance about it with gentle actions of salutations; and inviting the KING etc., to eat, they depart.]

My comments

The writer has introduced Masque-like material here. He must have been woefully short of inspiration for the play to provide this spectacle. It gives him an opportunity to pad the scene because the King and his party next spend about 40 lines discussing it. Then come more stage directions:

[Thunder and lightning. Enter ARIEL, like a harpy: claps his wings upon the table; and, with a quaint device, the banquet vanishes.]


You are three men of sin...

They draw their swords.

Now comes Ariel's speech

You fools! I and my fellows

Are ministers of Fate; ...

This speech was quoted and discussed much earlier in this chapter. The total speech is some 30 lines, during which he tells them 'you three from Milan did supplant good Prospero' and they will suffer lingering perdition, worse than any death unless they have 'heart's sorrow , and a clear life ensuing.' Then another lengthy stage direction:

[He (Ariel) vanishes in thunder; then, to soft music, enter the SHAPES again, and dance, with mocks and mows, and carrying out the table.]

(EF note: mows = grimaces)

Prospero in an aside congratulates Ariel.

Alonso says the thunder pronounc'd the name of Prospero. Sebastian and Antonio say they'll fight the legions 'one fiend at a time.' All three leave.

Gonzalo says

All three of them are desperate; their great guilt

Like poison given to work a great time after,

Now gins to bite...

He and the others leave.

My comments

Nothing here advances the plot. I don't find anything Shakespearean in it. The entire scene could be removed with no detriment to the play. It seems to me the writer, whoever he was, appears more at home with spectacle and masque. Masque involved sometimes spectacular scenery and backdrops, music with mime and dancing, which was probably a precursor of ballet, and a spoken or sung chorus, which probably was a progenitor of opera. Here the writer has used up 109 or so lines to pad out a very short play. We already know the island is magical, and that Prospero controlled the shipwreck, so this demonstration was unnecessary.


[Before Prospero's cell

Enter Prospero, Ferdinand and Miranda.]


If I have too austerely punish'd you,

Your compensation makes amends; for

Have given you here a third of mine own life,

Or that for which I live; who once again

I tender to thy hand. All thy vexations

Were but my trials of thy love, and thou

Hast strangely stood the test...

If thou dost break her virgin-knot before

All sanctimonious ceremonies may

With full and holy rite be minist'red ...

... barren hate, ...

... and discord, shall bestrew

The union....

Ferdinand: ...

With such love as 'tis now,...

The most opportune place... shall never melt

Mine honour into lust,,,

Prospero: Fairly spoke.

Sit, then, and talk with her; she is thine own.

[Enter Ariel:]

What would my potent master? Here I am.


... Go bring the rabble,

O'er whom I gave thee power...

Ariel leaves

My comments

The writer doesn't close off the scene there, but presumably because it's very short, only 34 or so lines, he starts another masque. It begins with 'soft music.'

First Iris enters. She's one of the Oceanides, messengers of the gods, and particularly of Juno (wife of the Roman god Jupiter = the Greek god Zeus). Then Ceres enters. She's the goddess of corn and harvest. After her speech the two immortals converse. All this is with iambic pentameters in rhyming couplets. Next, Juno 'alights' and speaks. This goddess presided over marriage and was patron of female virtue. She and Ceres sing a song, in which 'blessing' rhymes with 'increasing,' and 'shun' with 'on.'

Ferdinand interrupts to tell Prospero:

This is a most majestic vision, and

Harmonious charmingly. ...

Prospero answers, he and Ferdinand exchange a few more words. then Iris says a few lines, calling for Nymphs to come, ending:

Come, temperate Nymphs, and help to celebrate

A contract of true love; be not too late.

[Juno and Ceres whisper and send Iris on employment]

[Enter certain Nymphs

Enter certain Reapers, properly habited; they join with the Nymphs in a graceful dance; towards the end whereof Prospero starts suddenly, and speaks, after which to a strange, hollow, and confused noise, they heavily vanish.]

Prospero (aside) I had forgot that foul conspiracy...

It's not until line 123 or so that Prospero says to Ferdinand:

... be cheerful, sir

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits, and

Are melted into air, into thin air...

We have discussed this speech earlier in this chapter. I suggest that with it we're now back to Shakespeare, or at least glimpses of Shakespeare, but it seems to me the previous 80 or so lines have nothing much to do with the play or Shakespeare. They merely reflect the environment in which their author is most comfortable.

[Ferdinand and Miranda exit.]

[Enter Ariel.] He reports to Prospero on the state of the Caliban conspiracy to kill Prospero...


...they were red-hot with drinking;

So full of valour that they smote the air...

Prospero tells Ariel

... The trumpery in my house, go bring it hither

For stale to catch these thieves.

Ariel leaves.

Prospero (thinking about Caliban)

A devil, a born devil, on whose nature

Nurture can never stick; on whom my pains.

Humanely taken, all, all lost, quite lost;...

My comments

This seems to be the first time his 'cell' is called a house.

[Re-enter Ariel, loaden with glistering apparel]

Prospero: Come, hang them on this line.

[Prospero and Ariel remain invisible]

[Enter Caliban, Stephano and Triculo, all wet]


Pray you, tread softly... we are now near his cell.

Stephano: Monster, your fairy, which you say is a harmless fairy, has done little better than play'd the Jack with us.

(EF note: played the Jack = made a fool of)

Trinculo: Monster, I do smell all horse-piss of which my nose is in great indignation.

Stephano: So is mine...

Trinculo: ...Ay, but to lose our bottles in the pool!

Stephano: I will fetch off my bottle...

Caliban: Prithee, my King, be quiet. Seest thou here,

This is the mouth of the cell; no noise, and enter.

Do that good mischief which may make this island

Thine own for ever, and I, thy Caliban,

For aye thy foot-licker.

They find the 'glistering apparel' and Stephano says

Put off that gown, Trinculo; by this hand, I'll have that gown

(and so on)

Caliban says

Let 't alone,

And do the murder first ...

I will have none on't. We shall lose our time...

But they give him stuff to carry.

[A noise of hunters heard. Enter divers SPIRITS, in shape of dogs and hounds, hunting them about; PROSPERO and ARIAL setting them on]

Prospero: Hey Mountain, hey

Ariel: Silver! There it goes, Silver!

and so on.

[Caliban, Stephano and Triculo are driven out]

Prospero: Go charge my goblins that they grind their joints

With dry convulsions...


Let them be hunted soundly. At this hour

Lies at my mercy all mine enemies.

Shortly shall all my labours end, and thou

Shalt have the air at freedom...

They leave.

My comments

This has gone a long way off from Shakespeare. Here we have more masque-type material introduced. It may be good spectacle, but I submit it's not Shakespeare. I should mention though that JTL's comment there was nothing of the usual horses, horsemanship, the hunt, hounds, falconry etc. in the play, is omitting this episode in 4.1 shown in both editions I'm using. In itself it doesn't tell us much about the writer. Any nobleman of the day would be familiar with the hunt, dogs and hounds.

Now we come to the last act, with but one scene. The dénouement is not suspenseful, it's predictable.


[Before Prospero's cell]

[Enter Prospero in his magic robes, and Ariel.]


Now does my project gather to a head;

My charms crack not, my spirits obey,,,

...How's the day?


On the sixth hour; at which time, my lord,

You said our work should cease.


I did say so,

When first I raised the tempest...

How fares the king and 's followers?


Confin'd together

In the same fashion you gave in charge;...


... Go release them, Ariel;

My charms I'll break, their senses I'll restore,

And they shall be themselves.


I'll fetch them, sir.


... when I have requir'd

Some heavenly music-which even now I do-

To work mine end upon their senses that

This airy charm is for, I'll break my staff,

Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,

And deeper than did ever plummet sound

I'll drown my book.

[solemn music]

[Here enters Ariel before; then Alonso, with frantic gesture, attended by Gonzalo; Sebastian and Antonio in like manner, attended by Adrian and Francisco. They all enter the circle which Prospero had made, and there stand charm'd; which Prospero observing, speaks]

My comment

Prospero launches into a 30 line speech. He reviews what wrongs these men have done, except 'holy Gonzalo',. and ends:


Fetch me the hat and rapier in my cell;

I will discase me, and myself present

As I was sometime Milan...

[Ariel, on returning, sings and helps to attire him]

Where the bee sucks, there suck I;

In a cowslip's bell I lie;

There I couch when owls do cry.

On the bat's back I do fly

After summer merrily.

Merrily, merrily shall I live now

Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.

A picked out 'owls' and 'bats' as borrowed from Strachey. With this I disagree. I suggest the song is pure Shakespeare, and the references are all to the English countryside. The song also has an excellent melody; whether a Shakespeare original or not, I don't know. To continue:

Prospero sends Ariel to the king's ship:

There shalt thou find the master and the boatswain

Being awake, enforce them to this place;...

Gonzalo, and Alonso, later Sebastian, begin to speak.

Prospero tells them 'welcome my friends all.' Each in turn he forgives. To Alonso who thinks he's lost his son Ferdinand, Prospero says he has had a similar loss 'for I have lost my daughter.' and continues

Welcome sir;

This cell's my court, here have I few attendants,

And subjects none abroad, pray you, look in.

My dukedom since you have given me again,

I will requite you with as good a thing;

At least bring forth a wonder, to content ye

As much as me my dukedom.

[Here Prospero discovers Ferdinand and Miranda playing at chess]

Miranda: Sweet lord, you play me false

Ferdinand: No, my dearest love,

I would not for the world....

My comments

There's wonderment all round as the realizations sink in that everyone is safe with Prospero now Milan and Miranda his daughter. Ferdinand tells his father Alonso:

Sir, ...she's mine.

I chose her when I could not ask my father

For his advice...

Alonso (to Ferdinand and Miranda)

Give me your hands.

Let grief and sorrow still embrace his heart

That doth not wish you joy.

[Re-enter Ariel, with the Master and Boatswain amazedly following]


... our ship -

Which but three glasses since we gave out split

Is tight and yare, and bravely rigg'd, as when

We first put out to sea.

Prospero to Ariel:

...Set Caliban and his companions free;

Untie the spell...

[Exit Ariel]

[Re-enter Ariel, driving in Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo, in their stolen apparel]

Much talk ensues. A few excerpts:


Ha, Ha!

What things are these, my lord Antonio?

Will money buy 'em?

Antonio: Very like; one of them

Is a plain fish, and no doubt marketable...

Alonso: Is not this Stephano, my drunken butler?

Sebastian: Why, how now, Stephano...

Stephano: O, touch me not; I am not Stephano, but a cramp.


You'd be king o' the isle, sirrah?

Alonso: [pointing to Caliban]

This is as strange a thing as e'er I look'd on


...Go, sirrah, to my cell;

Take with you your companions; as you look

To have my pardon, trim it handsomely.


Ay, that I will, and I'll be wise hereafter,

And seek for grace. What a thrice-double ass

Was I to take this drunkard for a god,

And worship this dull fool!

Alonso: I long

To hear the story of your life...

Prospero: I'll deliver all;

And promise you calm seas...

[aside to Ariel]... that is thy charge. then to the elements

Be free, and fare thou well! ...

They all leave.

And that is the end of the play ...except...

There's a 20 line epilogue spoken by Prospero. It begins

Now my charms are all o'erthrown,

And what strength I have's mine own...

I suggest this Epilogue is not by Shakespeare. There's probably more of Shakespeare in this last scene of about 318 lines excluding the Epilogue than in previous scenes. Perhaps some of Prospero's lines are original fragments, and the plot is apparently Shakespearean, as is Ariel's little song. To place a suppositious number on it, I would say not over 50 lines are Shakespeare's.

To pursue these estimates of Shakespeare's participation to a conclusion, we have probably not more than about 450 lines in a play of 2014 or so lines. This means the writer who completed the play and made it topical by use of the Somer's incident had only a little over a plot plus about 450 maximum lines and fragments to work with. This substitute dramatist, as I think the Antony and Cleopatra contrast shows us he was, did very well to attenuate those few lines into a play over four times as long. Even then, with all his ingenuity, which was considerable, the play is still about 1000 lines less than the major Shakespearean plays.

It seems to me probable that The Tempest was the last play by Shakespeare: Prospero's breaking his magic staff and disposing of his magic books at the end of the play seem to imply this. I suggest the play was never completed by Shakespeare, nor were the other previous 'last' plays, because there was insufficient material in any of them for a full play. Either that, or Shakespeare's interests had moved on to other things, and he never did return to these plays.


The evidence for the origin of the plot is inconclusive, and is discussed in Note 4.


Now we have to ask ourselves: is the date of composition of the entire play The Tempest secure at late 1610, to early 1611? If it is, then Edward de Vere is not Shakespeare.

Let's look at the factual evidence as we have found it.

1. The dating of composition of all the 'last' plays, Antony and Cleopatra, Pericles, Coriolanus, Timon of Athens, Cymbeline, and the Winter's Tale, depend on the secure dating for complete composition of The Tempest.

2. A play called The Tempest is on record as played at Court in 1611 and 1613, We can reasonably assume this was 'Shakespeare's' play of that name as no other contemporary play called The Tempest has apparently been found.

3. A made his case well, and the First Folio Tempest, our present earliest source for printing, has strong evidence for the writer's knowledge of the Jourdain and Strachey pamphlets which related the Somers incident of 1609. This dates the complete play as we have it to somewhere between 1610 and 1623.

4. Therefore the Tempest as first published in 1623 could not have been written completely by de Vere.

5. I removed all A's references from the play, not including four which I listed and showed were not necessarily Somers related. This took less than 200 lines and partial lines from the play. I then summarized the remaining play in this chapter using the 'expunged' version only. It seems to me the play was not significantly affected by removal of this material.

6. I therefore conclude that the Somers incident material is not integral to the 1623 edition of the play as we have it, which indicates that the Somers material was added on to make the play topical in 1610.

7. Possible source dating is inconclusive. This leaves open the question as to when the original material in the play should be dated.

8. Of far more significance I suggest is that the style of the writer is materially different from Shakespeare's style. This was illustrated by our random quotation from Antony and Cleopatra. We found that the writer of The Tempest used masques and similar artifices liberally, unlike Shakespeare; used detailed and explanatory stage directions, unlike Shakespeare; described some of his characters in a Dramatis Personae in a way unusual for Shakespeare. We found the language, sense of metre, versification, and lack of power of intellect un-Shakespearean.

9. There is an underlying spirit of an age and both Shakespeare and what I'm suggesting is the substitute writer for part of The Tempest, have a similar education, basic vocabulary, sentient world to live in, and so on. But beneath that social façade there are two quite different personalities. This is evident in the writing style of each, The substitute writer was very good, but not a Shakespeare.

It could of course be argued that Shakespeare's own qualities declined seriously with age in his final years. But I think his critical faculties were so finely tuned that he would not have knowingly produced 'late' work that was, for him, sub-standard. If de Vere was Shakespeare the Queen and later King James provided him with a pension that meant he could work with his company of players and write as he wished without undue financial stress driving him. That is, I suggest, part of the reason why we have so many plays not previously known until published in 1623.

. . . . . . . . . .

To summarize this information, I suggest we can conclude that there is a reasonable doubt that the Tempest was wholly written after 1609. Taken in conjunction with stylistic differences there is good evidence that The Tempest was a fragmentary play in existence at an unknown earlier date and that a different writer expanded it into a complete play, utilizing the Somers incident for topicality.

Further, we are able to suggest that de Vere's son-in-law, William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, said to have been penning comedies, finished the play and released it for Court and public performance. This plausible scenario leaves the underlying plot as de Vere's brainchild, in which he was Prospero, manipulating the characters at will. We had earlier found (chapter 7) de Vere was friendly with Dr. Dee the scientist-astrologer and de Vere apparently went through a period in his life when he was interested in magic.

It is not sufficient just to say the Somers incident was tacked on later, without evidence that it was. To verify whether such evidence exists, first, what was referenced as related to Somers was removed and the remainder appeared substantially unaffected. Secondly, it is necessary to find evidence that the original writer's incomplete work was completed by another writer. It seems there is significant evidence to justify the work of a second writer in the play, so much so that one researcher claims another writer composed the whole play. But granting that the core of the play is Shakespearean, we have been able to identify a most likely candidate for the second writer: the man who married de Vere's daughter. We have evidence for some friendliness between him and de Vere. We have evidence the suggested 2nd writer was actually a writer. This evidence shows propinquity and motive for his being a second writer of the play, and that he was apparently experienced in working with Miracle Plays and Masques at Chester. I think we have evidence of this type of presentation in Shakespeare's last four plays: Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale and The Tempest.

It seems that significant evidence exists sufficient to cast reasonable doubt on the statement that the composition of The Tempest is securely dated at late 1610, early 1611. The evidence seems to point to the statement being somewhat less than a half-truth,

I think we have in this investigation shown beyond any reasonable doubt that Shaxper of Stratford on Avon lacked the penmanship to be a writer, and could never have borne the canopy for the Queen. Further, we have shown that to bear the canopy 'Shakespeare' must have been a nobleman in the Queen's inner circle. As a result, since no trace has been found of a nobleman named William Shakespeare, that name is a pseudonym for a nobleman. As this is an independent investigation, I am quite prepared to drop de Vere as a candidate for the anonymous nobleman, but if so, there has to be a replacement. I have found de Vere's candidacy difficult to drop. He turns up at every juncture in the investigation. Even here, when he seems to have lost, we find he's friendly with his son-in-law William Stanley, a man who has his own company of players, Stanley is musically inclined, and there's third party evidence that in 1599 he was busy penning comedies for the common players. No such plays have been found attributed to Stanley. It's a plausible assumption that de Vere, writing letters complaining of ill health, being lame (as does Shakespeare in his sonnet #66), and having a lame hand, had his son-in-law helping him take some unpublished and incomplete manuscripts to completion before his death. After de Vere's death, when his wife Elizabeth Trentham sold and left King's Place (1608-9) it's most probable that she handed any remaining manuscripts to Stanley, who perhaps even changed the name of "Prospero the Magician" to The Tempest and updated it to reflect the Somers incident and make it topical, before arranging to have it performed at Court in 1611.

This means that de Vere has narrowly survived another attack on his candidacy, which he can be expected to do if he really was Shakespeare. It's unlikely there would be any other such convenient juxtaposition of an older dramatist and a closely related younger dramatist each having their own company of players, both being noblemen and both with independent evidence they were playwrights. It now remains for us to investigate the First Folio Introduction to attempt to determine whether statements made there point indisputably to William Shaxper of Stratford on Avon as the poet/dramatist Shakespeare. This we will do in the next chapter.


List of wording in Jourdain (J). the True Declaration (T) and Strachey (S) said to be duplicated in The Tempest, referenced by Act, Scene and Line(s):

The Storm
























The Island







































2.2.38 (*)








The Island..

























Misc. .........






















Conspiracies (***)










Events on the Island


3.1.1-7 (****)



Verbal Parallels












Total number of references: 68

(*) "Strachey mentions palm trees of which 'so broad are the leaves, as an Italian Umbrello, a man may well defend his whole body under one of them, from the greatest storm raine that falls' (19). This suggests Trinculo hiding under Caliban's 'gaberdine' (2.2.38) to escape the above rainstorm."

We have to remember this was the age of exploration and colonization. Many reports came to London of different or strange events, customs, flora and fauna.

Ralegh's book on Guiana was published in 1596. I suggest this reference is too general to be the original source for 2.2.38.

(**) "Strachey tells how the ship they built on Bermuda was made of 'cedar' and 'oke.' Prospero, in his speech at 5.33-57 mentions 'oak and 'cedar' within four lines of each other."

What else would you build wooden ships from other than oak for the hull and tall straight coniferous evergreens for the masts? Oak is a deciduous heavy hardwood. Deciduous trees tend to spread at the crown. Cedar and white pine are coniferous, tall, straight and softwood, i.e. they are lighter in weight and a little 'whippy.' I had a white pine close to my house, 96 feet tall and straight as an arrow. Unfortunately I had to take it down as lightning loves to strike evergreens. Cedars around here don't grow as tall, more like 45-80 feet.

I don't agree with this referencing by A as The Tempest is merely citing general practice.

(***) Conspiracies. We in the 21st century can have little idea of the life of a seaman in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Ships were usually overcrewed to start a voyage as up to about 50% would die of scurvy or other diseases. Food was worm ridden and water brackish. Some men would be lost at sea, falling off the rigging, or washed overboard in heavy weather. Some ships, usually government navy ships, had 'press gangs' to seize men at work in the fields and drag them off in chains to be seamen. Punishment included flogging with a cat-o'9-tails or keel-hauling. The latter meant dropping a man overboard at the bow on a rope and hauling him up again at the stern, usually dead. For these reasons as well as the appalling living conditions on board ship there were many mutinies. Ralegh also had mutiny to contend with, although he was an exceptional captain.

I therefore conclude that conspiracy and mutiny were endemic on shipboard in those days and so the references were not derived from Strachey's pamphlet.

(****) This refers to the Governor setting to with the hands and labouring to build the new ship, and citing a parallel with Ferdinand being happy to labour for Prospero because of his love for Miranda in The Tempest. Again, such labour by a senior officer is too common to regard the resemblance as specific. Ralegh also laboured with his men when danger threatened.


Distribution of references in the play per Note 1

No. Of Entries Act No. Percent of Total
29 1


17 2 25.0
04 3 5.9
10 4 14.7
08 5 11.8
68 TOTAL 100.0


In 1594 William Stanley wrote to Lord Burghley the Lord Treasurer regarding Stanley's hoped for marriage to Elizabeth Vere, Burghley's granddaughter and Edward de Vere's eldest daughter. Now that Stanley's elder brother had died in April of that year, Stanley had become an Earl, outranking Burghley who was created a Baron by the Queen. But Stanley was writing to the most powerful man in England and apparently wanted Burghley to expedite confirming Stanley's new title as Earl and the arrangements for the marriage, a delicate thing to ask, as his elder brother's widow was pregnant and they had to wait for the birth, because if a boy, William Stanley would no longer be the Earl of Derby. Fortunately for him, the child was a girl:

My very honourable good Lord, I understand by my servants Ireland and Doughtye, that according to your Lordship's last speech, they have thoroughly acquainted your Lordship with my estate, and that now it pleaseth your Lordship to partly refer the further speeding to my liking, either now or the next term to be consummated. How grateful the message was unto me I leave your Lordship to conjure. In which case I pray your Lordship to consider my affection to that honourable Lady, the taunting of my unfriends, the gladding of my well wishers, and the investing of me in this estate whereunto Almighty God hath called me. In which, by so honourable a patron, with my Lady and mistress to both our contentments, and your Lordship's comfort, God the worker of all goodness may send me a son. Wherefore I wish your Lordship allowance of a present dispatch. Nevertheless, I must and will be wholly directed by your Lordship in this and all other respects, and so humbly take my leave. From my house at Cannon Row this 18th of September 1594. Your Lordship's assured friend to command,



Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote to Lord Burghley commenting on the proposed marriage of de Vere's second daughter Bridget, (then 13 years old) to William Herbert, eldest son of the Earl of Pembroke. Apparently the Pembrokes were promoting the marriage, but it didn't happen, although that was future history when this letter was written:

My very good Lord, i have perused these letters which according to your Lordship's desire I have returned. I do perceive how both my Lord and Lady [of Pembroke] do persevere, which doth greatly content me, for Bridget's sake, whom always I wished a good husband, such as your Lordship and myself may take comfort thereby. And as for the articles which I perceive have been moved between your Lordship and them (referring all to your Lordship's wisdom and good liking) I will freely set down mine own opinion according to your Lordship's desire. My Lord of Pembroke is a man sickly, and therefore it is to be gathered he desireth in his lifetime to see his son bestowed to his liking, to compass methinks his offers very honourable, and his desires very reasonable. Again being a thing agreeable to your Lordship's fatherly care and love to my daughter; a thing which for the honour, friendship, and liking I have to the match, very agreeable to me; so that all parties but the same thing. I know no reason to delay it, but according to their desires to accomplish it with the convenient speed; and I do not doubt but your Lordship and myself shall receive great comfort thereby. For the young gentleman, as I understand, hath been well brought up, fair conditioned, and hath many good parts in him. Thus to satisfy your Lordship I have as shortly as I can set down mine opinion to my Lord's desires; notwithstanding I refer theirs and mine own, which is all one with theirs, to your Lordship's wisdom. I am sorry that I have not an able body which might have served to attend on Her Majesty in the place where she is, being especially there, whither, without any other occasion than to see your Lordship, I would always willingly go.

September 8th, 1597.

Your Lordship's most assured,


EF Note: the Queen was staying at Theobalds, a mansion (palace?) of Lord Burghley.

Both these letters are by gentlemen of the highest rank and breeding in their country writing to the most powerful statesman in the land. All three are university graduates from Oxford or Cambridge, and lawyers. Could you tell from these samples of their writing style which one might have written The Tempest? I suggest there is more clarity, direct thought and purposeful drive in de Vere's letter. Stanley's style seems to me more obfuscating, as scholars complain is a characteristic with some of the writing in the last plays, particularly The Winter's Tale and The Tempest.



AWV has in his introduction part VIII 'Possible Sources of the Plot.' It begins:

It is not known definitely whether the plot of The Tempest was original or based on some older play or tale....

AWV then mentions the poet Collins to say that his reference to an old romance is mistaken, it and the play have nothing in common. Next he says:

Much stress is laid on the likeness between the plot of The Tempest and that of an old German play The Fair Sidea (Die Schöne Sidea), written by Jacob Ayrer, a Nürnberg notary. "In both," says Dr. Dowden, "appear a magician, his only daughter, and an attendant spirit; in both the son of his enemy becomes the magician's prisoner, his sword being rendered powerless by magic, and he is made the bearer of logs for his mistress; in both the story ends with reconciliation and the happiness of the lovers." Many critics consider the resemblance to be too great to be due to mere accident. is contended therefore that either (i) Shakespeare was acquainted with the German piece or (ii) that he and Ayrer independently drew the material of their respective plays from the same source.

For (i) AWV mentions that a company of English actors was touring Germany and played at Ayrer's town in 1604, possibly bringing the story back to tell Shakespeare or, (ii) as Ayrer merely translated some English plays into German, it's possible he took the story from an old English original play or romance, also used by Shakespeare.

My comments:

With 7 principal points of coincidence between the Ayrer play and Shakespeare's The Tempest, I suggest there has to be a connection. Searching the Web in English and German sites I could only find that Jakob Ayrer lived from 1543 to 1605. This bracket's de Vere's life (1550-1604). Neither AWV nor the Web sites tell us the date of any of Ayrer's plays. Perhaps they are unknown. We know de Vere visited Germany during his 1575-6 European visit. There, at Strasbourg he met Johannes Sturmius (Von Sturm), the famous professor of philosophy, (referred to in chapter 6). No source available to me tells us whether they conversed in English, French, or German, or used an interpreter, (unlikely), or whether de Vere spoke German. Strasbourg and Nürnberg are about 150 miles apart.

As Queen Elizabeth is reported to have said she spoke six languages, (but apparently no one tells us which) I suspect de Vere would not be far behind in this, and may well have been able to read German. If this surmise is correct, Ayrer's play would have been available to de Vere. But we don't know when Ayrer wrote it. If we say he wrote it roughly half way through his life, that would be about 1574, or extant when de Vere was in Germany. This is mere supposition, but it does mean the door is not closed on de Vere's having access to a play with the plot of The Tempest by the 1580s. That's a long way before the supposed date of 1604 proposed by Stratfordians on their suppositious scenario.

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