Friday, July 25, 2014

Settlment (for Settlement)

On July 25, 1607, the merchant ship Sea Venture encountered a storm while leading a fleet of nine ships from England on the way to Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.  The fleet’s mission was to bring cargo and colonists to the settlement, but a large storm arose and the Sea Venture was separated from the group.  After four days at storm, they sighted land and Captain Newport grounded the ship at The Devil’s Islands – what we know as Bermuda.

The crew survived and, over months, built new ships from the wrecked hull.  They eventually sailed on to Jamestown to find the struggling colony, and then back to England. William Strachey documented the shipwreck in a letter to a woman in England.  From there, it’s believe that the Sea Venture’s story inspired William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.

In Strachey’s words,
For four-and-twenty hours the storm in a restless tumult had blown so exceedingly as we could not apprehend in our imaginations any possibility of greater violence; yet did we still find it not only more terrible but more constant, fury added to fury…
With a description so vivid, it’s no wonder the Bard envisioned his dramatic, magical play from this tale.

Leanne Olson

(Image of Waterhouse’s painting Miranda and the Tempest courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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