previous next


As the journals, on which I chiefly depended, had been kept by men of business, intent upon the main object of the enterprise, and but little versed in science, or curious about matters not immediately bearing upon their interests, and as they were written often in moments of fatigue or hurry, amid the inconveniences of wild encampments, they were often meagre in their details, furnishing hints to provoke rather than narratives to satisfy inquiry. I have, therefore, availed myself occasionally of collateral lights supplied by the published journals of other travellers who have visited the scenes described, such as Messrs. Lewis and Clark, Bradbury, Brackenridge, Long, Franchdre, and Ross Cox, and make a general acknowledgment of aid received from these quarters.

The work I here present to the public, is necessarily of a rambling and somewhat disjointed nature, comprising various expeditions by land and sea. The facts, however, will prove to be linked and banded together by one grand scheme, devised and conducted by a master spirit; one set of characters, also, continues throughout, appearing occasionally, though sometimes at long intervals, and the whole enterprise winds up by a regular catastrophe; so that the work, without any laboured attempt at artificial construction, actually possesses much of that unity so much sought after in works of fiction, and considered so important to the interest of every history.

While engaged upon Astoria, Irving had met at the house of Colonel Astor the picturesque Captain Bonneville, and learning that the Captain possessed a manuscript record of his experiences among the Rocky Mountain hunters, he secured it for a goodly sum, thereupon proceeding to rewrite and amplify it in the customary fashion. From the popular Adventures of Captain Bonneville (1837), one gains an indescribable sense of the buoyancy of spirit in the open prairies, and of high tension in the life of the mountaineers, sanguine and alert in the midst of dangers known or surmised.

The general influence of these travellers and observers upon commerce and immigration is rather the affair of the historian and economist. Unquestionably the effect of innumerable guides for emigrants, and statistical works on agriculture, was augmented by books of travel which in substance were not always distinct from these humbler compilations. The trenchant if malevolent Cobbett, glorying in a life of cheerful industry close to the soil, and representing America as neither

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Astoria, N. Y. (New York, United States) (1)
America (Alabama, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1837 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: