Joseph Bartlett, an American wit, poet, and adventurer, born in Plymouth, Mass., about 1763, died in Boston, Oct. 27, 1827. He graduated at Harvard college in 1782, and began the study of law at Salem, but soon gave it up for a voyage to England. In London, being at the representation of one of Gen. Bnrgoyne's plays in ridicule of his countrymen, he stood up in the pit and cried out, " Hurrah! Great Britain beaten by barbers, tailors, and tinkers!" with prodigious effect. It was taken in good part, and got him the acquaintance of many of the "bloods" of the day. He gambled, got into prison, wrote a play for his release, and went upon the stage himself. From an actor he became a merchant, and, having sailed for America with a large supply of goods on credit, was shipwrecked on Cape Cod. For a while he figured as captain of volunteers in Shays's war, then opened an office in Woburn, painting it black, and calling it the "Coffin," to attract notoriety. He next removed to Cambridge, and in 1799 delivered a poem on physiognomy before the Phi Beta Kappa society, satirical and clever, and said to touch upon the traits of individuals at the time. To the edition of this poem published in 1823 were appended a number of "Aphorisms on Men, Principles, and Things," the results of his various experience.
The same year he delivered a Fourth of July oration at Boston, and afterward recited a poem entitled "The New Vicar of Bray," which obtained considerable celebrity. He attempted the practice of law and of politics in Maine, was elected to the state legislature, and nearly secured an election to congress. He then practised law at Portsmouth, N. H., and closed his improvident life, a burden to his friends, at Boston.