Nothing in the Tales of the Argonauts proper quite equals in merit “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” and “Tennessee's Partner,” which had appeared in an earlier collection; but “An Iliad of Sandy Bar,” “How Santa Claus Came to Simpson's Bar,” and some others have been deservedly popular.
The Argonauts are of course the gold seekers of 1849 and the years immediately following. These adventurers came from all quarters of the globe and all ranks of society, and they had in common only the possession of the strength and determination necessary to reach the new Colchis. Here they lived, at first, wholly free from the conventional restraints imposed by an organized society, and each man showed himself for what he was. Many of these primitive social conditions still existed when Harte went to California in 1854, and they made a great impression on the observant boy. He did not use them in literature, however, until he was able to look back on them in the light of experience.