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The Pacific Monthly.
WHERE beautiful scenery abounds, there legends usually cluster. This is true of the Rhine, of the Scottish Highlands, of the Hudson River, and of Oregon. Already every bold peak and smiling glen of the coast and the Columbia has its legend waiting for an artist to give it setting. Like a faint perfume this whole emerald Northwest is redolent of song and story. The earliest comers felt this. Franchere's charming "Narrative" of the Astor expedition gave Washington Irving his best glimpses of "Astoria."
The first considerable body of settlers, aside from fur-hunters and missionaries, crossed the plains in 1842. With then Oregon's first romancer, Sidney Walter Moss, who wrote "The Prairie Flower," upon his journey. The manuscript was sent back by a returning immigrant to Emerson Bennett, who gave it to the world under his own name, prefaced by a fanciful story of the mysterious stranger who placed it in his hand. The book created a sensation in its day, and no wonder, for it was the very first story ever published of that journey, in itself sufficiently wonderful to attract attention without any embellishment of romance. For years all western stories had been imitations of Cooper, but this was another and a newer West, whose capital features w Sioux and buffalo, Fort Laramie, Kit Carson, Great Salt Lake and Oregon. Any information of that trans-Missouri
of the Rockies and the Pacific was welcome, doubly so in the sugar-coated romance of "The Prairie Flower," that in successive editions reached its ninetysecond thousand. The veteran author is living yet at Oregon City.
Oregon was a state of schools from the first. The early missionaries brought colleges with them. Willamette University landed in Oregon with Jason Lee. Whitman College came over the mountains with a hero of the West. Pacific University grew from a little log school house. In the fifties, Columbia College, the germ of the State University at Eugene, counted among its students Joaquin Miller, the Poet of the Sierras.
Cincinnatus Heine Miller came with his parents and brothers and sister with the old ox-team across the plains in 1852, and grew up in Oregon. Immediately from college he went, as he himself says, * "into the heart of the then unknown and unnamed Idaho and Montana; gold dust was as wheat in harvest time; I and another, born to the saddle, formed an express line, and carried letters in from the Oregon River, and gold dust out, gold dust by the horseload after horseload, till we earned all the gold we wanted. Such rides! And each alone! Indians holding the plunging horses ready for us at relays. Those matchless night rides under the
*Joaquin Miller's Poems; Whitaker & Ray Edition, San Francisco
stars, dashing into the Orient doors of dawn-this brought my love of song to the surface. And now I travelled, Mexico, South America; I had resolved as I rode to set these unwritten lands with the banner of song."
His first little book, "Joaquin, et al.," printed by George H. Himes in Portland in 1869, was laughed at, derided, and from it he was ever afterward called "Joaquin." He had studied law, made some success, and sought a place on the Supreme Bench of Oregon, only that he might find more time to write. "Better stick to poetry," was the taunting answer. Three months later Joaquin Miller was in Europe at the grave of Robert Burns.
With all the freshness of the western winds upon him, Joaquin Miller went to Europe, a stranger and alone. With a little thin volume of poems in hand, he went boldly to the most aristocratic publisher in London. He says, "The songs my heart had sung as I galloped alone under the stars of Idaho-make up about half of my first book in London.'
England looked upon Joaquin Miller as a young barbarian come out of the West, with a new harp and a new song. The Oregon boy became the lion of London. After his first poems were out, various great people wrote to him. The Archbishop of London invited him to take breakfast with him, and meet Browning, Dean Stanley, Lord Houghton, and others. The poor poet actually had not fit clothes to wear among the great folks, so he went to an old Jew to hire a dress suit. While he was fitting the clothes on, "Hurry," said Joaquin, "I am in haste to go to a great breakfast." The Jew looked at him sharply. "No," he said, "you must not wear that, you must have a suit of velvet." The good Jew never stopped until he had Miller in great state, with cane, silk hat, gloves and all. And after that, at all the great dinners, the good Jew fixed him up, and never would take a cent of pay. "I have a son of my own at college," that was all he said, but he went on fixing up Miller as if he had been that beloved son.
Lord Houghton, who was first to discover and encourage Keats, became
Joaquin's friend. George Eliot, Rosetti, Anthony Trollope, Dean Stanley, Prince Napoleon, became his associates. His triumphs were borne across the seas, and America discovered for the first time that she had a new poet in one of those homespun lads who had followed the immigrant trail to Oregon. Jean Ingelow gave him a letter of introduction to a Boston publisher. So our Poet of the Pacific reached America through foreign introductions. In Boston, Longfellow, John Boyle O'Riley, and other great singers of our time, were his friends.
He did write in the Scottish Highlands, on his back in a hospital at Rome, at Naples, where he once thought he would settle down. Some of his poems were written in the wilderness of Honduras, at Yosemite, and in the Shasta land where he fought the Modocs. His "Isles of the Amazons" was written at the instance of Dom Pedro, the last Emperor of Brazil, who invited Joaquin to make his home in that land. His magnificent "From Sea to Sea," was written during his first railroad ride from New York to San Francisco, and is full of the sweep and whirr of the flying train and changing scene. Some of his poems were written in the wilds of Washington, on the banks of the Columbia, on De Soto's River, the Misissippi, at the tomb at Mt. Vernon, in Mexico City, Alaska, wherever his roving fortunes led him. He tried all lands and came back to the Pacific. He lives now on the heights above Oakland, overlooking San Francisco and opposite that wonderful harbor entrance that Fremont named the Golden Gate.
Perhaps even nearer to the popular heart is Sam L. Simpson, sometimes called the Burns of Oregon, who crossed the plains, an infant in his mother's arms, in 1845. While yet a youth, wandering on the banks of the river, his "Beautiful "Beautiful Willamette" leaped into deathless melody. As on the banks of "Bonnie Doon”
"Love could wander
Hither poetry would dream."
Sensitive to the charms of the emerald state, his genius blossomed lux
short story." The scenes of Mrs. Higginson's stories are laid in Oregon and Washington.
Mrs. Higginson's sister, Carrie Blake Morgan, of Portland, is also a popular writer of stories and verse for Lippincott's, McClure's, the Overland, and other magazines.
In the same year with Joaquin Miller, Frederick Schwatka came by the immigrant trail from Galena, Illinois, when he was four years old. His life work remains among the permanent records of the nation. His books, "Along Alaska's Great River," "Children of the Cold," "The Nimrod of the North," and "In the Land of the Cave and the Cliff Dwellers," all commemorate land and naval -expeditions led by this noted author and explorer.
In that eventful year for Oregon ietters, 1852, the Scott family left the Elm Tree Farm in Taxewell county, Illinois, on the ox-line journey to the far, far West. It was in the dread cholera time, a scourge that took away the mother in a few brief hours. Harvey W. Scott was then a boy of sixteen. Arriving in Oregon he became the first graduate of Pacific University, and in 1865 took up his life work on the great paper of the Northwest. What Benjamin Franklin was to the Atlantic colonies, that Harvey Scott has been to the Pacific Coasta fearless writer, constantly hammering into the people industry, economy, temperance, pure politics and plain, common sense. No account of the great editors of our time can omit the name of Harvey Scott, of the Oregonian.
Abigail Scott Duniway, a sister of the great editor, enjoys the proud dis
Dipping low o'er rippling streams;
To the home of bright sunbeams.
Tilting slightly, Poising lightly,
Flight of the Birds.
On the slender waving reeds;
tinction of being the pioneer literary woman of the Pacific Coast. In 1852, as a young lady of 19, she embodied her emigration adventures in a tale entitled "Captain Gray's Company," that has delighted two generations of readers. For many years she was editor of "The New Northwest," and for half a century her pen has been wielded in support of every good cause and work.
Mrs. C. A. Coburn, another sister of the same family, is the founder of the Portland Evening Telegram.
Among the native Oregon writers, may be mentioned Louis Albert Banks, whose delightful book, "An Oregon Boyhood," ought to be in every school library. Another of precious memory is Frederick Homer Balch, whose exquisite "Bridge of the Gods," is the high water mark of Oregon letters. This old legend of the Cascades, that a granite briage once extended from Mt. Hood across the Columbia to Mt. Adams, has passages in it worthy of Irving. Balch died in the Portland hospital with a valise full of half-written romances at his bedside.
Edwin Markham was born at Oregon City in 1852. His most noted poem, "The Man with the Hoe," has stirred two continents with its pathos. It is a study in human conditions, depicting the unlettered peasant of Europe rather than the wide-awake American farmer.
Oregon has been rich in delvers. among original documents, and of these Frances Fuller Victor and Harvey K. Hines have attained the most distinction. They have unearthed treasures commemorating the brave deeds of Oregon's early heroes.
Sportive racing, Gleeful facing,
Wild pranks of the merry breeze;
Slowly floating 'mong the trees.
Speed the wand'rers on their way,
Faintly rings their parting lay!