Edward "Blackbeard" Teach (1680-1718) was a legend in his own time. Born in England, he plundered ships traveling to and from the American colonies—as well as vessels in the Caribbean Sea. Although his reign of terror lasted only two years, he became one of the best-known sea robbers in all of history.Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the pirate, was probably born somewhere near Bristol, England.
The Island of Trinidad. Landing of the Earl of Derwentwater and his party upon the Isle—Its Enchanted Scenery. Unnatural Sounds. Sudden appearance of the Notorious Pirate Blackbeard.
Situated upon the broad bosom of the vast Atlantic Ocean, about two hundred leagues from the coast of Brazil, is a small but fertile island, which has retained from the period of its first discovery, the familiar name of Trinidad. This beautiful island, although a lovely and sequestered spot, has been for various general reasons, but rarely visited by the hardy mariners of the deep, and never permanently settled or inhabited by man. Its surface is agreeably diversified with high hills and low beautiful valleys, whilst its circumference is almost wholly surrounded by a chain of dark, rocky cliffs, which gives to this remote island a somewhat fantastic appearance to the eye of the beholder, as he approaches it from the sea. On this circumscribed but favored spot of earth, nature seems to have reveled in almost boundless profusion, scattering here and there throughout its valleys her choicest favors, in the shape of delicious tropical fruits, and ever green luxuriant herbage, whose fragrance as it mingled with the pure fresh breeze of the ocean, has proved to be a sweet balsam of health to many a sick and weary mariner as he sailed within reach of its invigorating influence. Although this fair island possessed no convenient harbor for its vessels of any class, still there was upon its southern side, a small piece of white sandy beach, upon which a single boat might easily land, and here upon this same spot, a boat did land about an hour after sunrise, on the thirty-first day of October, 1717.
The boat in question, was occupied by six persons, who, as soon as its keel grazed upon the clear white sand, immediately disembarked and dispersed themselves singly and by twos, in different directions for the purpose of enjoying a short ramble amongst the shady trees and fragrant foliage of the island.
The party to which we have alluded, consisted of the Earl of Derwentwater, a noble looking gentleman, who, apparently had but just spent the prime of life,—his fair niece, Mary Hamilton, a stately and beautiful girl, about twenty-three years of age,—Arthur Huntington and his twin brother, Henry—a huge red headed but fat and good natured son of the 'Emerald Isle,' who acted in the capacity of servant to the earl, and last, though by no means least, a beautiful golden haired, cherry cheerful nymph of fourteen, whom for the sake of a name we shall call Ellen Armstrong.
After having rambled about for a short space of time, the earl and his fair niece suddenly encountered each other on the brow of a rising eminence, when the latter then accosted her companion:
'Dear uncle, this lovely island seems to me, like a miniature paradise, wherein I could always wish to live as long as the precious boon of life should be granted unto me.'
'I declare, Mary,' replied the earl, as a slight smile passed over his noble countenance, 'you appear to be an enthusiast in every thing. I grant, that this is a beautiful spot, yet not to be compared in my estimation, even for a moment, with my lovely park near London, in merry old England.'
'But, you forget, dear uncle,' replied Mary Hamilton, 'that our English parks are not now what they once were.'
'How so, Mary, do not the staunch old oaks, grow to a height as lofty as of yore?'
'Perhaps they do, but still, uncle, there is too much art mixed up with nature, in our English scenery. Here all is nature.'
'And I think you must be a very great lover of it, if you prefer this hilly, iron bound island, to the level green sward of Derwent park,' replied the earl.
'I must still plead guilty of the charge of loving nature as it is, uncle,' responded Mary. 'I have seen it in a great variety of forms. I have viewed its high grandeur amid the forests and mountains of America; but never before this hour, have I ever seen it so pure, so serene, and so calmly beautiful.'
'I must needs own, that this is at present, a quiet place enough,' answered the earl, 'but do you not know, dear Mary, that even here, the face of nature is oft times suddenly changed, by the awful sweep of the howling hurricane, or the thundering shock of the subterraneous earthquake.'
'Why, I really believe, that you are getting to be enthusiastic now, dear uncle,' replied Mary Hamilton, 'but we cannot exactly agree, I move that we drop the subject forthwith.'
'And I second the motion,' laughingly responded the noble earl.—'But look at the ship, Mary, and see, she is almost hull down in the distance.'
The vessel to which the earl alluded, the white sails of which were just visible to his eyes and those of his companion, from the eminence on which they stood, was the honorable East India Company's ship Gladiator, to which belonged the boat that had conveyed the Earl and his party to the shore, in the manner before related. She was bound to Rio Janeiro, from thence to Batavia, and as they had a long passage from the Downs, Captain Rowland was easily persuaded to allow his distinguished passenger the long coveted recreation of visiting the small though beautiful island of Trinidad.
'Rowland is going to make a long tack, this time I guess,' continued the earl, as they both stood watching the still lessening sails of the huge Indiaman.
'Suppose, dear uncle, replied Mary Hamilton, 'that this Captain Rowland should sail away and leave us here upon this remote island.'
'Then you would have a most excellent chance to study nature as it is,' responded the earl playfully. 'But Rowland would never dare to do any such foolish thing as that to which you have alluded.'
'It may be so, uncle, but still I must sincerely confess, that there is something about this Captain Rowland and his general conduct which I by no means like.'
'Oh, you are too fastidious, dear Mary,' replied the earl, 'for I am sure that as far as my observation has gone, Captain Rowland has conducted himself thus far during our voyage, in a very kind and gentlemanly manner.'
'Your observation has not extended as far as mine, uncle, if it had you would have noticed the sardonic and sinister expression of this captain's countenance, as he oft times gazed upon the fair form of sweet Ellen Armstrong.'
'What a suspicious mortal you are, Mary. Why, I would trust Rowland's honor amongst a thousand Ellen Armstrongs, or Mary Hamiltons either.'
'God grant that your trust in his good intentions may be well founded,' replied Mary seriously, then adroitly turning the conversation, she continued, 'see uncle, there is Arthur Huntington and Ellen Armstrong at the bottom of the hill—let us join them.'
Having thus spoken, Mary Hamilton accepted the aid of the earl's proffered arm, and both together leisurely descended the hill, intently gazing upon the sea, they did so as if watching the slow progress of the ship, which was now standing in towards the land.
So very busy was sweet Ellen Armstrong, in catching each enthusiastic word as it fell from the lips of Arthur Huntington, whilst he eloquently descanted on the beauties of the island scenery—she was scarcely aware of the near vicinity of her elder intruders, until Mary Hamilton approached her closely and spoke as follows:
'Oh, Ellen, what a monopolizer you are of the attention of young gentlemen. First, you led Mr. Henry Huntington in a wild goose chase all around the island, and next, we find you holding a very confidential 'tete-a-tete' with young Mr. Arthur. Such proceedings are really too bad, and, as your watchful 'duenna,' I must enter my serious protest against them.'
These words were spoken in a playful bantering kind of manner, which caused the rich red blood to mantle over the face and neck of the beautiful Ellen, whilst she answered in the same tone:
'I humbly crave your pardon, most gracious and prudent 'duenna,' for having been the only one of the party who designed to treat the young gentlemen to whom you have alluded, with ordinary civility.'
'She has you there, Mary,' exclaimed the earl, 'and it is now your turn to blush for not doing the amiable to at least one of the twin brothers.'
Before Mary could find words wherewith to reply to her uncle's bantering speech, a low sweet strain of mournful music, fell suddenly upon the ears of our astonished voyagers, which as it died slowly away, like the departing imagery of a vivid dream, was succeeded instantly by a loud shout of bacchanalian laughter, which echoed wildly for a moment amongst the rocky cliffs of the island, then all was calm and silent as before.
The surprise occasioned by these strange and mysterious sounds, caused the earl and his companions to stand, for some moments after their conclusion in a state of profound and bewildered silence, almost breathlessly listening as if to hear them again repeated. But, they listened in vain, for the strange sounds were no more heard, and the painful silence which had overpowered our singular group of island visitors, was soon after broken by the Earl of Derwentwater, who spoke as follows:
'I really believe, that this place is a sort of mixture, composed of equal portions of fairy land and satan's paradise, judging by the different sounds which we have just heard.'
'The music must have proceeded from a flute,' said Arthur Huntington.
'And it must have been played by a master's hand,' interposed Mary Hamilton.
'I can never believe that those were earthly sounds,' said Ellen Armstrong, 'and I must say for one, I have no wish to remain here longer.'
'You, surely, cannot be already tired of roaming about this lovely spot,' exclaimed Mary Hamilton in a deprecating tone. 'I should have thought, that after complaining as you have of the tediousness and monotony of our sea voyage, you would be the last one to express a wish to leave this beautiful island.'
'I have well appreciated the beauties of this quiet place,' replied Ellen, 'but at the risk of being considered a very weak and simple girl, I must own, that the mysterious sounds which just now fell upon my ears, cannot be accounted for through any natural means, and as I have no particular liking for supernatural adventures, I must persist in my wish to go on board our good ship again, as soon as possible.'
As the fair Ellen finished her speech, light strains of the same mysterious music which they had before heard, again floated through the air above their heads, the same bacchanalian shouts of wild laughter again fell upon their ears, but, as its last strange echo died away, the surprise of our island visitors was greatly augmented by the sudden appearance before them, of a tall and handsomely formed man, effeminately dressed in loose Turkish trousers of crimson silk, which were elegantly matched by a loose tunic of the same color and texture.—This was fastened to his person by a red silken sash, which also confined in its soft but close embrace, a large pair of pistols and a small Spanish stiletto of the most costly workmanship. The head of this strange being was covered with a crimson cap, and his countenance, might have been truely termed handsome, had not the lower part of it been enveloped in a mass of long black hair, which gave to its possessor an air of wild and savage ferocity. (See Engraving.)
'What strange apparition is this,' exclaimed the earl involuntarily, as this singular personage stood erect before him.
'I am no apparition, sir,' exclaimed the stranger, in a voice so finely modulated, that it might have been easily taken for a woman's, 'but a substantial specimen of vigorous life, who kindly bids you welcome to the pirates' palace.'
'And, who, then are you?' exclaimed the undaunted Earl, altering his voice to a deep, rough tone. The stranger smiled sardonically upon the group before him as he answered:
'I am Blackbeard, the far-famed Pirate of the Roanoke!'
Upon hearing these dread words, sweet Ellen Armstrong was obliged to lean tremblingly for support, upon the arm of Arthur Huntington, whilst the stout hearted Earl again addressed the stranger as follows:
'If you are indeed the person whom you have represented yourself to be, learn that I have often heard of your murderous exploits before, and I now call upon you in the name of England's King, to surrender yourself immediately to me, as my prisoner.'
After giving utterance to a loud derisive laugh, whose echo as it reverberated amongst the rocky cliffs, sounded like the fitful mirth of numerous invisible demons, the pirate thus answered the bold summons of the earl.
'You talk boldly for one whose brains I might instantly scatter to the four winds of heaven. Know you not that you and your companions are in my power?'
'I know,' replied the earl, 'that I and my companions by making an easy signal, can soon be supported by an hundred stout hearts from yonder ship, whose—'
'Ha, sayst thou so,' interrupted the stranger, 'I think that they will soon have other business upon their hands. Look yonder.'