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[328] and that John Smith of Virginia had examined and
Chap. IX.} 1614. 1620.
extolled the deep waters of the Piscataqud. Sir Ferdinand Gorges, the most energetic member of the council of Plymouth, always ready to encounter risks in the cause of colonizing America, had not allowed repeated ill success to chill his confidence and decision; and now he found in John Mason, ‘who had been governor of a plantation in Newfoundland, a man of action,’ like himself. It was not difficult for Mason,
1621. Mar. 9.
who had been elected an associate and secretary of the council, to obtain a grant of the lands between Salem River and the farthest head of the Merrimac; but he did no more with his vast estate than give it a name. The passion for land increased; and Gorges
1622. Aug. 10.
and Mason next took a patent for Laconia, the whole country between the sea, the St. Lawrence, the Merrimac, and the Kennebec; a company of English merchants was formed; and under its auspices permanent plantations were established on the banks of
the Piscataqua.1 Portsmouth and Dover are among the oldest towns in New England. Splendid as were the anticipations of the proprietaries, and lavish as was their enthusiasm in liberal expenditures, the immediate progress of the plantations was inconsiderable, and, even as fishing stations, they do not seem to have prospered.

When the country on Massachusetts Bay was

granted to a company, of which the zeal and success were soon to overshadow all the efforts of proprietaries merchants, it became expedient for Mason to
1629 Nov. 7.
procure a new patent; and he now received a fresh

1 Gorges' Narrative, c. XXIV. Hubbard, 614-16. Prince, 215. Adams's Annals of Portsmouth, 9, 10. Williamson's Maine, i. 222, and ff. Belknap's New Hampshire, c.;—a truly valuable work, highly creditable to American literature.

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