Aug. 16th. Saturday.
Dined at Mr. Brantsen’s;1 the Dutch Ambassadors, with a great deal of Company. In the evening I went to the French Comedy; the pieces represented were Rhadamiste et Zenobie a Tragedy by Crebillon2 and Le Français a Londres. The author of the Tragedy is regarded as one of the best dramatick poets of France. His Tragedies are all very deep, indeed, they are so much so, that several of them miscarried at their first Representation, on that account. The French in general are not Lovers of Tragedy, and it is but lately, that they can bear any, which finishes with the Death of the Hero. The Denouement of this piece is a King, who discovers he has killed his own Son without knowing him. Rhadamistus is sent to the King of Iberia, as Ambassador from Rome, to complain to him; for his arming his People, and to tell him they suspect him. In the midst of his discourse to the King he says.
Rome de tant d’apprets qui s’indigne et se lasse
N’a point accoutumé les Rois à tant d’audace.3
When the actor pronounced those verses, they rose an universal applause; which lasted for some minutes.
1. Gerard Brantsen, Dutch minister plenipotentiary to Paris, 1782–1787, who was appointed ambassador extraordinary plenipotentiary in 1782 to negotiate the terms of peace with Great Britain (Repertorium der diplomatischen Vertreter aller Länder description begins Repertorium der diplomatischen Vertreter aller Lander seit dent Westfalischen Frieden (1648), ed. Ludwig Bittner and others, Oldenburg, &c, 1936-1965; 3 vols. description ends , p. 263; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 5:665).
2. Rhadamiste et Zénobie, Paris, 1711, was the chief work of Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon (Brenner, Bibliographical List description begins Clarence Dietz Brenner, A Bibliographical List of plays in the French Language, 1700-1789, Berkeley, 1947. description ends ).
3. Act II, scene ii, lines 7–8 (Crébillon, Oeuvres. Nouvelle édition . . ., 3 vols., Paris, 1772, 2:31, in JA’s library at MB).