Gravesend Harbor, at the mouth of the Thames River, was the departure point for the ships of The Royal African Company of England. From that home port the company ship, Arthur, a restoration fifth rate vessel, sailed on thirty six voyages to Africa and around the Atlantic trade route known as “The Triangle,” between the years 1665 and 1708.
Sailors who survived to know the route best and, who best knew the trade it carried, referred to it as “The Devil’s Triangle.” On a frigid December morning in the year 1700, at eleven years of age, Collin Aldworth was poised to make that trip for the first time, a voyage that would alter the entire direction of his life, forging his future in the crucible of the “Triangle”.
A Departure Memoir, June, 1719
It was difficult for me, as a boy in Gravesend, to see the “opportunity of the New World”, as my father and his associates were fond to call it. I have never shared his vision and I suppose that, to this day, my own vision of the future has been poor, at best.
The colonyzation of the New World has been an enormous undertakeing whiche none of the crowns of Europe, though driven by their own greed, were prepared to shouldre alone. Thus, the great jointe stock monopolies were chartred. They were given sweeping powers to control trayde and development in the region of each chartre. It was thought that these monstrosities would stir the nation’s economy, creayte employment, growth and opportunity for the masses. And they did to some degree, but the competition for goodes and markets was fierce and, for most, the resulting misuse of land and people amounted to plundre. Still, the plundre created a small, but powerful middle class in Europe, along with the opportunity for enterpriseing individuals to find enrichment. Those who sought plundre justifyed themselves with the excuse that all such activity opened a way for the gospel to be spread in new lands.
Such is the rationale of our tyme. In my lyfe and experience it is not growth, nor opportunity, nor the gospel that dryves these enormous machines, but these are all difficult concepts for a lad of ten or eleven years to understand. I could not see the reality of it then, through the eyes of my boyish excitement at the opportunity for adventure, nor the dense fog that obstructed my view from the rayle of a fifth rayte merchant ship.
In early December of 1700, at my father’s whim, I sayled from the middle class comfort of my boyhood home in Gravesend toward the “opportunity of the New World”. It was my father’s wish that I learn the trayde, from the bottom up. And so I began, in the bottom of the goode ship ‘Arthur’, named in honor of the owner’s sniveling son, Arthur Hill.
It was Hill who took it upon himself, in 1701, my eleventh year, to force feed me the truth of what dryves the great and diabolical machine of our economy. Quite simply, it is raw and unabashed greede. Lyke the building of the great pyramids in Egypt, the way of all progress is greased with the blood, sweat and tears of slayves.