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[37] without sagacity, yet unwilling to defer to any
chap. II.} 1748. Nov.
one; and not fearing application, he preferred a post of business to a sinecure. To the imagination of the British people the American plantations appeared as boundless and inhospitable deserts, dangerous from savages and dismally wild:—Halifax beheld in them half a hemisphere subjected to his supervision; and, glowing with ambition, he resolved to elevate himself by enlarging the dignity and power of his employment. For this end, unlike his predecessors, he devoted himself eagerly and zealously to the business of the plantations, confiding in his ability to master their affairs almost by intuition; writing his own dispatches; and, with the undoubting self-reliance of a presumptuous novice, ready to advance fixed opinions and propose plans of action.

The condition of the continent, whose affairs he was to superintend, seemed to invite and to urge his immediate and his utmost activity, to secure the possessions of Great Britain against France, and to maintain the authority of the central government against the colonies themselves. As he looked on the map of America, he saw the boundary line along the whole frontier rendered uncertain by the claims of France; both nations desiring unlimited possessions;—France, to bound British enterprise by the Penobscot or the Kennebeck,1 and the Alleghanies; England, to bring the continent under her flag, to supply the farthest wigwam from her workshops, to fill the wilderness with colonies that should trade only with their metropolis.

As he read the papers which had accumulated in

1 Galissoniere to Col. Mascarene, 15 Jan., 1749.

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