This 10-stanza ballad is believed to have been written in 1719 by a young Benjamin Franklin when he was around thirteen. It was printed in the newspaper that he published with his older brother James, and young Ben would have sold the paper on the streets of Boston. When he was older, his opinion of this earliest work was that it was, "wretched stuff".
'The Downfall of Piracy'
This is a sailor's song believed to be written by Benjamin Franklin
Will you hear of a bloody Battle, Lately fought upon the Seas, It will make your Ears to rattle, And your Admiration cease; Have you heard of Teach the Rover, And his Knavery on the Main; How of Gold he was a Lover, How he lov'd all ill got Gain.
When the Act of Grace appeared, Captain Teach with all his Men, Unto Carolina steered, Where they kindly us'd him then; There he marry'd to a Lady, And gave her five hundred Pound, But to her he prov'd unsteady, For he soon march'd of[f] the Ground.
And returned, as I tell you, To his Robbery as before, Burning, sinking Ships of value, Filling them with Purple Gore; When he was at Carolina, There the Governor did send, To the Governor of Virginia, That he might assistance lend.
Then the Man of War's Commander, ` Two small Sloops he fitted out, Fifty Men he put on board, Sir, Who resolv'd to stand it out: The Lieutenant he commanded both the Sloops, and you shall hear, How before he landed, He suppress'd them without Fear.
Valiant Maynard as he sailed, Soon the Pirate did espy, With his Trumpet he then hailed, And to him they did reply: Captain Teach is our Commander, Maynard said, he is the Man, Whom I am resolv'd to hang Sir, Let him do the best he can.
Teach reply'd unto Maynard, You no Quarters here shall see, But be hang'd on the Main-yard, You and all your Company; Maynard said, I none desire, Of such Knaves as thee and thine, None I'll give, Teach then replyed, My Boys, give me a Glass of Wine.
He took the Glass, and drank Damnation, Unto Maynard and his Crew; To himself and Generation, Then the Glass away he threw; Brave Maynard was resolv'd to have him, Tho' he'd Cannons nine or ten: Teach a broadside quickly gave him, Killing sixteen valiant Men.
Maynard boarded him, and to it They fell with Sword and Pistol too; They had Courage, and did show it, Killing the Pirate's Crew. Teach and Maynard on the Quarter, Fought it out most manfully, Maynard's Sword did cut him shorter, Losing his Head, he there did die.
Every Sailor fought while he Sir, Power had to weild [sic] the Sword, Not a Coward could you see Sir, Fear was driven from aboard: Wounded Men on both Sides fell Sir, 'Twas a doleful Sight to see, Nothing could their Courage quell Sir, O, they fought courageously.
When the bloody Fight was over, We're inform'd by a Letter writ, Teach's Head was made a Cover, To the Jack Staff of the Ship: Thus they sailed to Virginia, And when they the Story told, How they kill'd the Pirates many, They'd Applause from young and old.