“May I inquire what those would be?”
“Throwing off the yoke, declaring ourselves independent, and putting ourselves under the protection of America, who will gladly receive us, aware that we shall be a source not only of wealth but of security.”
“Would America risk a war to obtain these islands?”
“She would be foolish not to do so; and England would be more than foolish to engage in one. It is true, that if not immediately supported by America, England might create a scene of confusion and bloodshed in the colonies; but the world has too often had the severe lesson, that colonies once detaching themselves are never to be regained. England would therefore be only entailing a useless expense, however gratifying it might be to her feelings of revenge.”
“But do you think that this is likely to occur?”
“I do, most certainly, if those who govern continue to listen to the insidious advice of the party denominated ‘Saints’; and I am afraid that it will not be until these islands are separated from the mother-country, that she will appreciate their value. Our resolution once formed, we white slaves (for slaves we are) will not flinch; and the islands of the Caribbean Sea will be enrolled as another star, and add another stripe to the independent flag, which is their natural protector.”
“I trust that will never come to pass.”
“And so do I, Mr Berecroft; for I am an Englishman, and love my country, and the loss of these colonies would be a blow from which England would never recover.”
“You forget her extensive colonies in the East.”
“I do not; but the West Indies add to her wealth and her commercial prosperity, to her nursery of seamen and her exhausted revenue. They, on the contrary, add only to her grandeur, for they cost the country three millions a year; and I doubt whether at that expense it is worth while to retain any colony, however vast and extensive it may be. I consider, that if the East India ports were open to all the world, and the territory governed by its former princes, England, with all the competition which would take place, would yet be a gainer; and, on the other hand, I know that by the loss of these islands, she would find a decrease of millions in her revenue.”
“Then the philanthropists must pay the national debt?” observed Newton, laughing.
“They be d——d!” replied Kingston, who was warm with his argument; “they would not pay a farthing.”
sea-breach’d vessel can no longer bear
The floods that o’er her burst in dread career.
The labouring hull already seems half fill’d
With water, through an hundred leaks distill’d:
Thus drench’d by every wave, her riven deck,
Stript and defenceless, floats a naked wreck.”
Newton remained at Bridgetown, under the roof of Mr Kingston, for more than three weeks, by which time the brig was laden, and waiting for convoy to proceed to England.