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[p. 69]

And now, at last, I reach my special topic; for it was in furtherance of this great colonial enterprise of the fisheries that the first vessels were built on the Mystic, as they were in fact at various places along the coast. They were craft of small size suited to the purposes for which they were designed. Yet I have no doubt that some of them made considerable voyages, as to the West Indies, with which islands New England carried on a considerable trade from the earliest times, taking out salted fish, staves, and lumber, and bringing back the products of the islands; and you must remember that until within a century or two even those vessels intended for ocean navigation were very small. Only one of the vessels that composed the squadron of Columbus was decked, and the ‘Mayflower’ that brought over the Pilgrim Fathers was but 180 tons burden. Hume the historian tells us that in 1582, only 48 years before the settlement of New England, the merchant marine of the kingdom consisted of 1,232 vessels, and of these only 217 were of 80 tons burden-probably not a half dozen of them reached 200 tons.

To Governor Winthrop belongs the honor of building the first vessel whose keel was laid in the colony. It was built on the banks of the Mystic, probably not far from the governor's house, at the Ten Hills. It was a bark of 30 tons, built of locust cut on the governor's farm, and was called the ‘Blessing of the Bay.’ It was launched July 4, 1631. Mr. Brooks finds that it cost 145 pounds, and that the owner said of it, in 1636, ‘I will sell her for 160 pounds.’ Now hear Mr. Brooks: ‘There was something singularly prophetic that the first vessel built “at Mistick” should have increased in price after 5 years service. Our day has seen the prophecy fulfilled; as it is no marvel now for a Medford ship to command a higher price after having had a fair trial at sea.’ Well, I don't know; to me it seems very like the case of a trader who marks up his goods, thinking that thereby he increases the value of his stock.

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