Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. 1829.
Critical and Biographical Notice
James N. Barker (17841858)
JAMES N. BARKER was born at Philadelphia; he was a captain in the artillery, and served on the frontiers during the late war with Great Britain. When the war was over, he returned to his native city, where he continues to live at present. He has been an Alderman, and was for one year Mayor of the city of Philadelphia. Mr Barker is better known by his dramatic than by his other productions. As early as 1807, he produced a comedy at the Philadelphia Theatre, entitled Tears and Smiles, and a melo-drama founded on the story of Pocahontas, which he called The Indian Princess, or La Belle Sauvage. These were represented with success. He dramatised Scotts Marmion, which was a very popular play, and still keeps possession of the stage. In 1817, he published a remarkably neat and sprightly comedy, entitled How to try a Lover, which was never performed, and in 1823, he produced a tragedy, entitled Superstition, the scene of which is laid in New England, and one of the principal characters is Goff, the regicide. This is the last of Mr Barkers dramatic efforts, and possesses considerable merit. It was performed but twice at the Chesnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia. Mr Barker is also the author of several occasional pamphlets, the most interesting of which is entitled Sketches of the Primitive Settlements on the River Delaware. He has written also in the Atlantic Souvenir. His writings are characterised by good taste, simplicity of language, and adherence to nature. His fancy is playful, and his images are such as are calculated rather to delight than startle.