Adams Papers
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Friday Octr. 31st.

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.

1Probably 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 description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:54; Early Recollections of Robert Hallowell Gardiner, 1782–1864, Hallowell, Maine, 1936, p. 118; entries for 6 Nov. 1783, 2 Oct. 1788, below).

2David Garrick, Isabella; or, The Fatal Marriage, London, 1757; and The Irish Widow, London, 1772, also by Garrick (Biographia Dramatica description begins David Erskine Baker and others, eds., Biographia Dramatica; Or, A Companion to the Play House ..., London, 1764-1812; 3 vols, in 4. description ends ).

3Mrs. Sarah Siddons had made her triumphal return to the London stage the previous year in this role (DNB description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, New York and London, 1885-1900; 63 vols, plus supplements. description ends ).

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