This is not a work of fiction, as the scarcity of old American manuscripts may induce some to imagine; but it is a faithful copy from a diary in the author's own handwriting, compiled soon after her return home, as it appears, from notes recorded daily, while on the road. She was a resident of Boston, and a lady of uncommon literary attainments, as well as of great taste and strength of mind. She was called Madam Knight, out of respect to her character, according to a custom once common in New-England; but what was her family name the publishers have not been able to discover.

The object proposed in printing this little work is not only to please those who have particularly studied the progressive history of our country, but to direct the attention of others to subjects of that description, unfashionable as they still are; and also to remind the public that documents, even as unpretending as the following, may possess a real value, if they contain facts which will be hereafter sought for to illustrate interesting periods in our history.

It is to be regretted that the brevity of the work should have allowed the author so little room for the display of the cultivated mind and the brilliant fancy which frequently betray themselves in the course of the narrative; and no one can rise from the perusal without wishing some happy chance might yet discover more full delineations of life and character from the same practised hand. Subjects so closely connected with ourselves ought to excite a degree of curiosity and interest, while we are generally so ready to open our minds and our libraries to the most minute details of foreign governments, and the modes and men of distant countries, with which we can have only a collateral connection.

In copying the following work for the press, the original orthography has been carefully preserved, in some cases, it may be, so far as to retain the errors of the pen, for fear of introducing any unwarrantable modernism. The punctuation was very hasty, and therefore has not been regarded. Two interruptions occur in the original near the commencement, which could not be supplied; and in a few instances it has been thought proper to make short omissions, but none of them materially affect the narrative.

The reader will find frequent occasion to compare the state of things in the time of our author with that of the present period, particularly with regard to the number of the inhabitants, and the facilities and accommodations prepared for travellers. Over that tract of country where she travelled about a fortnight, on horseback, under the direction of a hired guide, with frequent risks of life and limb, and sometimes without food or shelter for many miles, we proceed at our ease, without exposure and almost without fatigue, in a day and half, through a well peopled land, supplied with good stage-coaches and public houses, or the still greater luxuries of the elegant steam boats which daily traverse our waters.

Source: Transcription by Bryan Wright

Related Links:

Colonial Sense: Census: Sarah Kemble Knight

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