Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
Critical and Biographical Notice
Joseph Hutton (1787–1828)
JOSEPH HUTTON was born in Philadelphia on the 25th of February, 1787. He received a common English education in that city, and when taken from school was placed in a store. How long he remained there, we know not, but very early in life he contributed verses to the periodicals of the day. He also wrote prose, and published several romantic stories in a literary paper; their titles were Don Guiscardo, Ardennis, The Castle of Altenheim, and others. It was, we believe, in the year 1808, that he produced at the Chesnut Theatre, his first comedy, entitled The School for Prodigals; this was followed by a musical piece, entitled The Wounded Hussar, which was played at the same theatre, and printed in 1809. Mr Hutton having the cares of a family upon him, established a school in his native city, which he conducted with both credit and profit to himself, but continued to devote his leisure to the muses. He now made a collection of his fugitive poems, which he published under the title of Leisure Hours. In 1812 his comedy of Fashionable Follies was cast at the Olympic theatre in Philadelphia, but never performed, which elicited an angry preface from the author, when he printed his piece in 1815. This performance is modelled upon Colman’s comedy of the Poor Gentleman. The scene is laid on the borders of Lake Champlain. It is not destitute of merit, but the imitation is too palpable. His next publication was a poem entitled The Field of Orleans, written in the style of Walter Scott, and contains several spirited passages. Mr Hutton’s love for the drama now induced him to try the stage as a profession, and he performed at several of the theatres in Philadelphia. In the winter of 1822 he produced a farce entitled Modern Honor, or How to Dodge a Bullet; this was founded on a ludicrous duel between two public characters which was for some time a subject of general comment throughout the country. He also performed at different theatres in the southern and western states, and was considered an actor of respectable talents. In 1823 he removed to Newbern, North Carolina, where he established himself as a preceptor of youth. During his residence there, he wrote a melo-drama entitled The Falls of Niagara, and a tragedy on the murder of Colonel Sharp of Kentucky, both of which are still in manuscript. He also contributed to the poetic department of the Newbern Sentinel.  1
  He died on the 31st of January, 1828, leaving a wife and daughter. His writings seldom rise above mediocrity, but many of his productions are agreeable. His talents were rather imitative than creative.  2
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