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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0005-0011-0011

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1783-10-31

Friday Octr. 31st.

Dined at Mr. Vaughan's:1 in the evening we went to the Drury Lane Theatre, where Isabella, or the Fatal marriage and the Irish Widow, 2 were represented. Mrs. Siddons;3 supposed to be the first Tragick performer in Europe, play'd the part of Isabella. A young Lady, in the next Box to where we were, was so much affected by it as to be near fainting and was carried out. I am told that every Night Mrs. Siddons performs; this happens, to some persons. I never heard of anything like it, in France: Whether this proves there is more Sensibility here, that the Tragedies are deeper, or that they are better performed, is a problem. Perhaps all those Reason's may be given.
1. Probably William or Benjamin Vaughan, sons of Samuel Vaughan, a London merchant, and Sarah, daughter of Benjamin Hallowell of Boston. The younger Vaughans were sympathetic to the American cause, and several later resettled in America; Benjamin, as secretary to Lord Shelburne, was instrumental in obtaining concessions for the American commissioners in 1782 (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:54; Early Recollections of Robert Hallowell Gardiner, 1782–1864, Hallowell, Maine, 1936, p. 118; entries for 6 Nov. 1783, 2 Oct. 1788, below).
2. David Garrick, Isabella; or, The Fatal Marriage, London, 1757; and The Irish Widow, London, 1772, also by Garrick ( Biographia Dramatica ).
3. Mrs. Sarah Siddons had made her triumphal return to the London stage the previous year in this role ( DNB ).