Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. 1829.
Critical and Biographical Notice
John Rudolph Sutermeister
JOHN RUDOLPH SUTERMEISTER was born in the island of Curaçao in the West Indies. He was of a Swiss family. At the age of eight years, he came to New York, and after a short stay in that city, removed with his fathers family to Rhinebeck, in Dutchess county, where he was placed under the care of the Rev. Dr Quitman of the Lutheran church, and began his studies. His father returned with the rest of his family to the West Indies, and he was sent to the seminary at Cooperstown, the birth place of the celebrated American novelist. Here he continued two or three years, and subsequently pursued his studies alternately at Rhinebeck and Hartwick Academy in Otsego county. Upon the return of his father with his family to Rhinebeck, he began the study of law in that village. In the spring of 1824, he was admitted to the bar, and visited New York, where he wrote the poem for the celebration of the birth of Linnæus. He had before written many poetical articles for various newspapers in New York. In June 1824, he began a tour of the western part of the state, with the intent to select a place for the exercise of his profession. He fixed upon Syracuse, in Onondaga county and there entered upon the practice of the law, but did not meet with a success consonant to his wishes. He undertook the editorial management of the Syracuse Gazette for a brief period, but in July 1825, he left that place for New York, where his friends procured him a suitable and lucrative situation, and a flattering prospect opened upon him, but this was speedily closed by his death. He died of the small-pox, January 16th, 1826, at the age of 23.
His writings are all of a pensive, and even melancholy cast, they are nevertheless, such as will be appreciated by every feeling heart. It was not affected misanthropy, but the peculiar circumstances and the loneliness in which his early youth was passed, that imparted this tincture of sadness to his thoughts. He was in a strange land without a relative near him, and of a retiring disposition, which kept him from cultivating the intimacy of many associates. He seemed to have some prophetic vision, which gave token of his early and melancholy death. This appears to have been constantly present to his mind, by the frequent allusion made to it in his poems.