THE perennial fame of John Howard Payne is primarily based upon his authorship of the words of that immortal song, "Home, Sweet Home." Although ninety years have passed since it was first sung by Miss Maria Tree at the Covent Garden Theater, London, this song is today perhaps the most universally known and most popular ballad in the English language.
While it is popularly supposed that, except for the writing of "Home, Sweet Home," Payne accomplished little of moment, and while there is a general tendency to brand his life a failure, such a notion is wrong, and such a tendency unjust.
Payne's name is prominently associated with the early American drama. He was the first native American who as an actor or dramatist ever attracted attention in Europe, and whose plays were adopted as stock pieces at their theaters. Of the sixty-three1 plays____________________