By Washington Irving
In 1832, Washington Irving, lately back from seventeen years’ place of abode in a foreign country and wanting to discover his personal kingdom, launched into an day trip to the rustic west of Arkansas put aside for the Indians. A travel at the Prairies is his soaking up account of that trip, which prolonged from citadel Gibson to the move Timbers in what's now Oklahoma. First released in 1835, it has remained a perennial favourite, conserving its unique freshness, vigour, and vividness to today.
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Additional info for A Tour on the Prairies (Western Frontier Library)
Any intelligent traveler may collect information: only an artist of true skill can capture in sketches the living world about him. The "occurrences that happen to every man who travels the prairies" are set down in the Tour with an intimate detail, a sense of values, an understanding of behavior, a pictorial vividness seldom found in the journals of men concerned with scientific or military or commercial purposes. Traveling with Irving, we learn the difficulty of fording deep streams on horseback, of working through mile after mile of tangled undergrowth ("forests of cast iron") like the Cross Timbers.
I have always had a repugnance, amounting almost to disability, to write in the face of expectation; and, in the present instance, I was expected to write about a region fruitful of wonders and adventures, and which had already been made the theme of spirit-stirring narratives from able pens; yet about which I had nothing wonderful or adventurous to offer. Since such, however, seems to be the desire of the public, and that they take sufficient interest in my wanderings to deem them worthy of recital, I have hastened, as promptly as possible, to meet in some degree, the expectation which others have excited.
Such are the main reasons that unexpectedly beguiled me into a long protracted absence. How and why that absence was thus protracted, would involve a story of baffled plans and deferred hopes, which led me on from month to month, and year to year, and left me where they found me; would involve, in short, the checquered story of my humble concerns and precarious feelingsand I have a shrinking repugnance to such an exposure. Suffice it to say, that my path, which many are apt to think was a flowery one, was too often beset by thorns; and that at times when I was supposed beguiled by the pleasures and splendours of Europe, and "treading the primrose path of dalliance," I was in fact shut up from society, battling with cares and perplexities, and almost struggling for subsistence.
A Tour on the Prairies (Western Frontier Library) by Washington Irving