The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.

II. The Early Drama, 1756–1860.

§ 8. J. H. Payne.

Payne, unlike Barker, represents foreign influence. From 1806 when his Julia, or The Wanderer, was acted in New York, his dramatic work consisted largely of adaptation from English, French, and German sources. His complete bibliography 11  record sixty-four plays, of which nineteen were published. His most significant work was done in the field of tragedy, such as his Brutus, first played in London in 1818, or in comedy like Charles II, first performed in London in 1824, while the bulk of his work is composed of melodrama or farce. It was in his opera of Clari (1823) that the song Home Sweet Home was first sung. Payne’s achievement can hardly be properly rated until it is ascertained how much of his work is original, and so far as his treatment of native material goes, he is not so significant as lesser dramatists such as M.M. Noah, who made a brave attempt to dramatize American history in She Would Be a Soldier (1819) and Marion (1821). She Would Be a Soldier was based on the battle of Chippewa in 1812. It proved popular; Forrest acted the Indian Chief in 1826, and it was repeated as late as 1848.   12

Note 11. See Bibliography. [ back ]