THE little thread of land, so puny, and yet so obstinate that it has almost the look of an intentional provocation, which has kept the two great oceans of the world asunder, is on the point of being severed, and the twin Americas clipped apart. With that event there will open for California an era of development as striking as that which followed upon the great awakening in the middle of the last century. With increase of commerce and population there will come important physical changes and the obliteration of much of what is distinctively Western in life and manners. Especially for that reason the writer hopes that this volume of impressions and experiences gained during a leisurely horseback-journey recently made through the coast regions of the State may be found timely, and not without interest and value.

The matters of principal concern to him in making his trip were not, it is true, the practical ones of commerce and its prospects and possibilities. Rather, the facts and beauties in nature and the humane and historic elements in life were his points of special attraction. Thus it occurs that neither the cities passed on his route nor the industries of the coast region are treated in particular detail. If apology be needed for any dearth of what may be called practical information in the volume, he feels that the lack has been, is being, and increasingly will be supplied by the many capable pens always at work on the categorical and statistical side.

In describing the features of the scenery no attempt has been made to paint in high colors. Indeed, on a re-reading of the manuscript the impression is that, in the desire to avoid the flamboyant at all hazards, the balance may have been weighted a trifle on the conservative side. But if a mistake has been made, it is in the right direction; and the writer states here his plain belief that California, with her magnificent mountain range of the Sierra Nevada, her generally diversified configuration, a shore-line extending through nearly ten degrees of latitude (with the variety in climate and in animal and vegetable life which that fact implies), and a history tinged first with the half-pathetic romance of Spain and then by the brief but lurid Epic of Gold, is by much the most beautiful, interesting, and attractive of all the States of the Union.

It may fairly be pointed out, further, that there is only one region of the United States, and indeed there can be but few parts of the world, where one may travel with enjoyment for half a year continuously, secure from climatic vagaries, and carrying on the animal one rides everything needful for comfort by day and night. There might well be organized a Society of California Rovers, whose annual programme it would be to take to the road, trail, or shore at, say, the first appearance of apple blossom, and allow no roof, unless one of canvas, to interpose between them and these kindly skies until the last Late Pippin has fallen from the tree.

N.B. — For the convenience of the general, and especially the non-Californian, reader, the pronunciation, and also the meaning where it is to the point, of the Spanish words which occur in the text are given in a Glossary, placed at the end of the volume, preceding the Index. These words are numerous, but they are unavoidable in the nature of the case, since most of the place-names throughout the coast region of California are Spanish. Beyond these place-names, however, the Spanish words introduced are those only that have passed into common speech in the one-time Spanish and Mexican territories.

Los Angeles, California.