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A new charter having been granted in May 1609, to the Company for making a plantation and settlement in Virginia, it was resolved by the Treasurer and Council of that Company to send thither immediately a large supply of men and provisions. Of the disaster which befell the fleet employed on that occasion, the following clear and succinct ac
9. A true Declaration of the Estate of the Colonie in Virginia, with a confutation of such scandalous reports as have tended to the disgrace of so worthy an enterprise. Published by advise and direction of the Councel of Virginia, 4to. 1610. Entered in the Stationers' Register, Nov. 8, 1610.
10. The Relation of the Right Honourable the Lord De-la-Ware, Lord Governour and Captaine Generall of the colonie planted in Virginea, 4to. 1612. Entered in the Stationers' Registers, by W. Welby, 1611, under the following title:
The Relac'on of the Right Hon'ble the Lord Delaware, Lord Gove'nour of the Colony planted in Virginia, made to the LL. and others of the Counsell of Virginia, touchinge his unexpected returne home, &c. and afterwards delivered in the gen'rall assembly of the sayd Councell át a Courte holden the 25th of June, 1611; published by order of the sayd Councell.
11. A Ballad, called THE LAST NEWS FROM VIRGINIA, being an Encouragement to all others to follow that noble Enterprise, &c. Entered in the Stationers' Register by John Wright, August 16, 1611.
12. The New Life of Virginea, declaring the former Success and present Estate of that Plantation.
13. The Proceedings of the English Colonie in Virginia, from 1606 to the present Year 1612. By W. S. [W. Strachey.] 4to. 1612.
This list, I believe, is far from being complete.
In a letter written to the Earl of Shrewsbury, June 8, 1609, Dr. Tobias Mathew, Archbishop of York, says," Of Virginia there be so many tractates, divine, humane, historicall, politicall, or call them as you please, as no further intelligence I dare desire." Lodge's Illustrations, &c. iii. 371.
count has been given by a very sensible modern historian. To his narrative I shall subjoin the more minute and particular relation of one engaged in this adventure, as well as that printed by authority of the Council; which will fully shew that the incidents attending it suggested to Shakspeare the leading circumstance of this comedy:
"The New Charter," says the Reverend Mr. Stith, was granted to the Earls of Salisbury, Suffolk, SOUTHAMPTON, Pembroke, and other peers, to the number of twenty-one; to the Honourable George Percy and Francis West, Esquires; to Sir Humphrey Weld, Lord Mayor of London, and ninety-eight other knights; and to Dr. Mathew Sutcliff, with a great multitude more of doctors, esquires, gentlemen, officers, merchants and citizens, together with many corporations and companies of London. So many persons of great power, interest, and fortune, engaging in the enterprise, and the Lord Delaware with the other gentlemen of distinction being appointed to the several offices [of Captain General, &c.] soon drew in such large sums of money, that they dispatched away Sir Thomas Gates, [who had been constituted by the Council for Virginia, Lieutenant-General,] Sir George Somers, [Admiral,] and Captain Newport, [Vice-Admiral,] with nine ships and five hundred people. These three gentlemen had each of them a commission,-who first arrived to call in the old. But because they could not agree for place, it was concluded that they should all go in one ship, called
the SEA-VENTURE. They sailed from England the latter end of May *, 1609; but the 25th of July the ADMIRAL-SHIP WAS PARTED FROM THE REST OF THE FLEET by the tail of a hurricane, having. on board the three commanders, an hundred and fifty men, their new commission and bills of lading, together with all manner of instructions and directions, and the best part of their provisions. She arrived not, but was foundered at Bermudas, as shall be hereafter related. A small catch likewise perished in the hurricane; but the seven other ships came safe" [to Virginia.]†.
"It hath been before said (continues the historian) that the Admiral-ship, with Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Somers, and Captain Newport, on board was separated from the rest of the fleet in a storm. She was so racked and torn by the violent working of the sea, and became so shattered and leaky, that the water rose in the hold above two tire of hogsheads; and they were obliged to stand up to their middles, with kettles, buckets, and other vessels to bail it out. And thus they bailed and pumped three days and nights, without intermission; and yet the water seemed rather to gain upon them than decrease. At last, all being utterly spent with labour, and seeing no hope, in
*This is not quite correct. They sailed in fact, as will be seen hereafter, on the 8th of June.
↑ History of the first discovery and settlement of Virginia, by William Stith, A. M. 8vo. 1747, pp. 101, 102.
man's apprehension, but of presently sinking, THEY RESOLVED TO SHUT UP THE HATCHES, and to commit themselves to the mercy of the sea, and GOD'S good providence. In this dangerous and desperate state, some who had good and comfortable waters, fetched them, and drank to one another, as TAKING THEIR LAST LEAVES, till a more happy and joyful meeting in the other world. But it pleased GOD in his most gracious providence, so to guide their ship to her best advantage, that they were all preserved and came safe to shore.
"For Sir George Somers had sat all this time upon the poop, scarce allowing himself leisure either to eat or sleep, cunning the ship*, and keeping her upright, or she must otherwise, long before this, have foundered. As he there sat looking wishfully about, he most happily and unexpectedly descried land. This welcome news, as if it had been a voice from heaven, hurried them all above hatches, to see what they could scarce believe. But thereby improvdiently forsaking their work, they gave such an advantage to their greedy enemy, the sea, that they were very nigh being swallowed up. But none were now to be urged to do his best. Although they knew it to be BERMUDAS, a place then dreaded and shunned by all men, yet they spread all the sail, and did every thing else, in their power, to reach the land. It was not long before the ship STRUCK UPON A ROCK, but a surge of the sea cast
* To cunn a ship is to direct the person at the helm how to steer her. KERSEY.
her from thence, and so from one to another, till she was MOST LUCKILY THROWN UP BETWEEN TWO, AS UPRIGHT AS IF SHE HAD BEEN ON THE STOCKS. And now the danger was, lest the billows overtaking her, should in an instant have dashed and shivered her to pieces. But all on a sudden the wind lay, and gave place to a calm, and the sea became so peaceable and still, that with the greatest conveniency and ease they unshipped all their goods, victuals, and people, and in their boats, with extreme joy, almost to amazement, ARRIVED IN SAFETY WITHOUT THE LOSS OF A MAN, although more than a league from the shore *.
"How these islands came by the name of BERMUDAS is not certainly agreed. Some say, that they were so named after John Bermudaz, a Spaniard, who first discovered them about the year 1522. Others report, that a Spanish ship called THE BERMUDAS was cast away upon them, as she was carrying hogs to the West-Indies; which swam ashore and increased to incredible numbers. But they had been in all times before infamous and terrible to mariners, for the wreck of many Spanish, Dutch, and French vessels. They were therefore, with the usual elegance of the sea style, by many called THE ISLE OF DEVILS, and were esteemed the hell or purgatory of seamen, the most dangerous, unfortunate, and forlorn place in the world.
* One of the persons on board, whose narrative will be hereafter quoted, says, "only half a mile."