When one observes attentively the maps of
South and North America, no feature appears
more striking than the provision which Nature
seems to have made, in both continents, for water-communication
across the breadth of each.
In the Northern continent, this channel of communication
is formed by the Missouri and Columbia
Rivers, which stretch over an extent of
three thousand miles, interrupted only by the
ridge of the Rocky Mountains. In the Southern
continent, the River Amazon, in its path from
the Andes to the sea, traverses a course of thirty-three
hundred miles. In both cases, a few
hundred miles of land-carriage will complete the
transit from ocean to ocean. The analogy presented
in the length and direction of these magnificent
water-pathways is preserved in their
history. A series of romantic adventures attaches
to each. I indulge the hope, that young readers
who have so favorably received my former attempts
to amuse and instruct them, in my several
works reviving the fabulous legends of remote
ages, will find equally attractive these true narratives
of bold adventure, whose date is comparatively
recent. Moreover, their scenes are laid, in
the one instance, in our own country; and, in the
other, in that great and rising empire of Brazil
to which our distinguished naturalist, Prof. Agassiz,
has gone on a pilgrimage of science. It will
enable us better to appreciate the discoveries and
observations which the professor will lay before
us on his return, to know something beforehand
of the history and peculiarities of the region which
is the scene of his labors; and, on the other hand,
the route across the North-American continent,
to which the first part of the volume relates, deprives
increased interest, at this time, from the
fact that it nearly corresponds to the route of
the contemplated Northern Pacific Railroad.
Boston, June 1866.T. B.
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