The productions of Washington Irving are deservedly held in high estimation, not so much, perhaps, for their intrinsic merits as literary compositions, although in this respect they hold no mean position, as for the inimitable tracings of adventurous life which they display through all their gradations and variety, and for the interest they keep alive in the reader, without outraging nature.
Several hundred miles beyond the Mississippi extended a vast tract of uninhabited country, where there is neither to be seen the log-house of the white man nor the wigwam of the Indian. It consisted of large grassy plains, interspersed with forests and groves, and watered by the Arkansas, the Grand Canadian, the Red River, and all their tributary streams. Over these fertile and verdant wastes roamed the elk, the buffalo, and the wild horse, in all their native freedom—and these were, in fact, the hunting-grounds of the various inhabitants of the Far West. Thither repaired the Osage, the Creek, the Delaware, and other tribes, that had linked themselves with civilization, and lived within the vicinity of the white settlements; and here resorted also the Pawnees, the Comanches, and a variety of fierce and as yet independent rovers, the nomades of the prairies, or the inhabitants of the skirts of the Rocky Mountains.