Joseph Atkinson


Life
1743-1818 [fam. Joe]; educ. at TCD, where he was a friend of Thomas Moore, who wrote “Lines on the Death of Joseph Atkinson, Esq.”; joined the army and held the rank of captain; he wrote operas which were mostly derived from earlier plays in French and English such as Mutual Deception (1785) after Marivaux and A Match for a Widow (1788) after Patrat, as well as Love in a Blaze (1800), a comic opera after Lafont with music by John Stevenson - later Moore’s collaborator;
 
he wrote a prologue for Richard Daly at the reopening of Crow St. in 1788, another for Lady Morgan’s first play, The First Attempt (1807), produced with music by T. S. Carter, and another for the Kilkenny Private Theatricals (1828) in association with Thomas Moore, whom he had known at college and introduced to the Moira’s circle in London in 1799; also issued A Poetic Excursion (1818), which incls. “Mount Merrion”, ded. to Lord Fitzwilliam, Viceroy;
 
Moore’s verses are on Atkinson’s gravestone in Cheadle, Staffs.; he addressed several verse ’epistles’ to him and dedicated his juvenile poems to Atkinson in the 1841 edition of his works; there is a plaque to Atkinson in Semple’s church [Protestant] at Monkstown, Co. Dublin; he is mentioned in W. J. Fitzpatrick’s biography of Lady Morgan and Moore’s Diary. RR ODNB PI RAF OCIL DIL

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Works
Congratulatory Ode to Sir William Howe, on his Return from America
(Dublin: James Hoey 1778); The Mutual Deception (London: Dilly 1785); A Match for a Widow, or the Frolics of Fancy (London: Dilly 1788); Killarny (Dublin: Thomas Ewing [1790]); Killarney (Dublin: William Porter 1798); Love in A Blaze (Dublin: William Porter 1799); A Poetic Excursion (Dublin: R. Milliken 1818).

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Quotations
Crow St. - Prologue for Richard Daly at the reopening of Crow St. in 1788: ‘Behold once more, this fam’d dramatic spot / Too long neglected, and too long forgot. ... / Like some old monument of Roman taste / Devour’d by age or Gothic rage defac’d.’ (See under Sir John Gilbert, infra.)

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Theatre Royal - Epilogue to Lady Morgan’s The First Attempt (1807): ‘Then an old favourite of the Thespian art / Appears this night to take a daughter’s part / That all her powers of filial love engage / To prove the comfort of a Father’s age; / Hearts formed as yours can such endearments boast / And those who feel them can applaud the most.’ Further, ‘Snakes in the grass may hiss and critics hector, / But she’s a woman and you’ll all protect her.’ (Quoted in Mary Campbell, Lady Morgan: Life and Times of Sydney Owenson, Pandora 1988, p.75.) The chief ‘snake’ and ‘critic’ alluded to is J. W. Croker.

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References
Sir John Gilbert, History of Dublin, Vol. II [1972 facs. rep.], p.222: Atkinson wrote a prologue for Richard Daly at the reopening of Crow St. in 1788, ‘Behold once more, this fam’d dramatic spot / Too long neglected, and too long forgot. ... Like some old monument of Roman taste / Devour’d by age or Gothic rage defac’d.’ Atkinson was one of those attacked in J. W. Croker’s Familiar Epistle (1803).

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Peter Kavanagh, The Irish Theatre: A History of Drama in Ireland from the Earliest Period to the Present Day (Tralee: The Kerryman 1946), lists The Mutual Deception, com. (Smock Alley, 2 March 1785) pub. 1785, from Marivaux, Le Jeu de l’Amour et du Hasard, altered by Colman and produced at as Tit for Tat (Hay 1786); A Match for a Widow or The Frolics of Fancy, com. opera (Smock Alley 17 Apr. 1786) printed 1788, music by Charles Dibdin, plot from Patrat’s L’Heureux Erreur; Love in A Blaze, com. opera (Crow St., 29 May 1799) printed 1800, mus. Sir John Stevenson, plot same as that of Gallic Gratitude by Dr. James Solas Dodd which was later acted as The Funeral Pile, equally borrowed from La Font’s Le Naufrage. See also D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis 1912).

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day Co. 1991), Vol. 1, p.1278: Thomas Davis’s lecture ‘The Young Irishman of the Middle Classes’, delivered to the TCD Historical Society of 1839 reprinted in three instalments in The Nation, 1848, contains an adaptation of Thomas Moore’s verse, ‘that ye like him may live, like him may die’ from “Lines on the Death of Joseph Atkinson, Esq., of Dublin”, in Poetical Works (London 1840-41), viz., ‘swear like them to live, like them to die’.

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