The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.

I. Travellers and Observers, 1763–1846

§ 4. The Varities of their Aims

Confining ourselves as far as possible to British and American travellers, we may say that their motives were as various as their callings and station, and ran from the lust of a Daniel Boone for new solitudes, through the desire to promote the fur trade or immigration, and through semi-scientific or scientific curiosity, to the impulses of the literary artist or to the religious aims of the missionary. George Rogers Clark, Logan, and Boone were pioneers. Fearon, Darby, and Faux came to study conditions for emigrants. Bernard, Tyrone Power, and Fanny Kemble were actors. Wilson, Nuttall, and Audubon were professed ornithologists; the Bartrams and Michaux, botanists. Schoolcraft was an ethnologist, Chevalier a student of political economy, Fanny Wright a social reformer. Grund, Combe the phrenologist, and Miss Martineau had a special interest in humanitarian projects. Richard Weston was a bookseller, John M. Peck a Baptist missionary, DeWitt Clinton, who explored the route of the future Erie Canal, a statesman. Many others had eyes trained in surveying. Boone was a surveyor, like Washington himself—and Washington may be classed with the observers and diarists. Buckingham, a traveller by vocation, had journeyed about the world for thirty years before visiting America; nor did he feel his obligation ended when he had published the customary three shout volumes. Crèvecœur actually was a farmer, though he was more, and Richard Parkinson, very definitely, a student of agriculture. The abusive Ashe came to examine the “western” rivers, and to observe the products and actual state of the adjacent country. Among transients from the Continent were Chastellux, the friend of Washington, Chateaubriand, with his youthful plan of helping Washington to discover the North-west Passage, the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, a fair observer, and De Tocqueville, who wrote his classic treatise on America after a brief visit for the purpose of studying prisons. “Charles Sealsfield” (Karl Postl), whose several periods of residence were longer, who wrote in English, yet more in German, and whose tombstone in Switzerland calls him “ein Buerger von Nordamerika,” is hard to classify.