By Frederick Burwick, Manushag N. Powell
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Many of the pirate plays of the period represented the well-known pirates of maritime history. Others recounted the clandestine trade of pirates and smugglers, and a rare few represented the frustrated efforts of the Admiralty, the Revenuers, and the Preventive Service to halt the illegal market. 1. Pirates and Smugglers Based on Allan Cunningham’s tale, “Miles Colvine, the Cumberland Mariner,”11 H. M. Milner’s The Ocean Fiend; or, The Wreck of the Raven (Coburg, 13 November 1826) provided an exaggerated caricature of the wickedness of pirates and smugglers that would be sure to satisfy the principles of the Examiner of Plays.
Abdallah is wounded, and Ismene is conducted back to the pirate’s ship. A heavily manned and armed British ship, the Pearl, under the command of Lieutenant Maynard, sails into the harbor in search of Blackbeard. Feigning weakness from his wounds, Abdallah escapes a second time and meets with Lieutenant Maynard, to whom he betrays the secret anchoring place of Blackbeard’s ship. While Maynard’s ship is stealthily approaching, Blackbeard is totally preoccupied with his endeavor to seduce Ismene. Frustrated at her resistance, he is ready to resort to rape, when he is startled by the apparition of his murdered wife.
Such possibilities were tinged with conversion panic for Protestant England, for pirates might dwell among the Spanish or French or, worse yet, “turn Turk” and join the ranks of the renegados. Or they might even found a new nation all their own, based on principles of liberty or libertinism. It is because of this last faint but fascinating possibility that, as much as pirate action was a huge factor in actual Caribbean politics, the fantasy of pirate empire is much centered, in the eighteenth century, on anxieties and fantasies of Madagascar, its would-be colonies, and related colonial ambitions.