The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Miller, Cincinnatus Heine

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

MILLER, Cincinnatus Heine (better known as Joaquin Miller), American poet, whose pseudonym was due to his defense of Joaquin Murietta, a Mexican bandit: b. Wabash district, Ind., 10 Nov. 1841; d. San Francisco, Cal., 17 Feb. 1913. His father took him to Oregon in 1854. He got a little schooling but soon ran away from home; went to the California gold mines; accompanied Walker on the Nicaragua filibustering expeditions; lived familiarly among the Indians and the Spaniards of the Pacific slope; studied law for a few years, having graduated at Columbia College Oregon, in 1858; practised law unsuccessfully in Idaho, where he soon turned express messenger, and in 1863 settled in Oregon for a short time, becoming editor of the Eugene City Democratic Register, which was suppressed in the same year because of its treasonable character. In 1864 he began to practise law in Cañon City, Ore., made himself popular by his services against the war-like Snake Indians and from 1866 to 1870 was judge of Grant County. His writings collected under the title ‘Songs of the Sierras’ he could not sell in the East, and so took them to London, where they were published and brought him fame. He visited London again in 1873; lived in Washington, D. C.; and in 1887 returned to California, settling near Oakland. His life sums up the adventure of the Pacific slope, and his verse and fiction are to be prized especially on this account as being real “documents” of certain phases of American life. They are, moreover, fresh, vigorous and original in style; his metre is free and powerful and his narrative forcible. He excels, perhaps, in his pictures of Nature. In a few short lyrics there is a quiet melancholy, bred of communion with solitary wood and mountain. But on the whole he is not a great artist, although his work has a distinct value as descriptive of various American types. Hence his fame has been much greater in England, where he was even styled “the American Byron,” than in America. Miller's verse includes ‘Songs of the Sunlands’ (1873); ‘Songs of the Desert’ (1875); ‘Songs of Italy’ (1878); ‘Collected Poems’ (1882); and ‘Songs of Mexican Seas’ (1887); ‘Building of the City Beautiful’ (1893). His prose works are ‘The Baroness of New York’ (1877); ‘The Danites in the Sierras’ (1881; later in the form of a play); and ‘'49, or the Gold-Seekers of the Sierras’ (1884). An introduction and an autobiography appear in the definitive edition of his ‘Poems’ (6 vols., San Francisco, 1909-10).