Knowledge of the Sea


In the play "Henry VIII" we find the following:

"Such a noise arose as the shrouds make at sea in a stiff tempest, as loud, and as many tunes."
-Act 4, Scene 1

The man who wrote the above must have at some time or other have been on a ship in a storm and heard the wind whistling through the shrouds; this is not the kind of information that one can pick up in casual conversation.

In "The Tempest" we find directions as to the management of a ship that no sailor can take exception to, and Lord Mulgrave states :

"Shakespeare's technical knowledge of seamanship must have been the result of the most personal observation."

Dr.Johnson declared that

"His naval dialogue is, perhaps, the first example of sailors' language exhibited on the stage."

There is no evidence that Will Shaksper ever saw the sea, and it is impossible for him to have realized the life and language of a sailor by force of his imagination alone.

Francis Bacon, on the other hand, crossed the English Channel a number of times when visiting France and other European countries.

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