Adams Papers



Paris in the afternoon. French Theatre. Abdir, and le Roi de Cocagne.1 Abdir is a new piece. This was only the 2d. Representation: ’tis the history of young Asgill,2 brought upon the Stage, under feigned names. G. Britain is Nangés. Vazercan is General Washington. Abdir is Asgill. The King of Persia is the King of France, who at the end of the Piece sends an Ambassador to the new Republic, requesting the pardon of Abdir. The Author has not given so much interest I think to the piece, as the Subject is susceptible of; and it is something so new, that I don’t know by what name to call it. It is not a Tragedy: for the Hero of the piece is a private person, who is known only by that even which was produced merely by chance. It is not a Comedy, for there is not a character in it, that has any thing comic in it, and the drift of the Piece, is entirely tragic. There are however a number of excellent, and very liberal sentiments. The compliments paid to the French king and nation, are not outrés. Much is said in praise of Liberty, and of the People that defended it. Even the British are treated in a very generous manner, as they always are upon the french Stages although the English upon their Theatres take every opportunity they can to ridicule and debase this Nation. Nolé3 in Abdir, and Madame Vestris4 in the mother, made as much of their parts as they could. Le Roi de Cocagne, is one of the most laughable, and most absurd pieces I ever saw; Dugazon,5 delivered the part of the King very well.

1A musical comedy by Marc Antoine Legrand, Paris, 1719, with music by the actor Jean Baptiste Maurice Quinault (Brenner, Bibliographical List description begins Clarence Dietz Brenner, A Bibliographical List of plays in the French Language, 1700-1789, Berkeley, 1947. description ends ); for Abdir, see entry for 21 Jan., note 4 (above).

2Charles Asgill, the British officer captured at Yorktown, who was selected for execution in retaliation for the hanging by American loyalists of Capt. Joshua Huddy of the New Jersey militia. His ultimate release came through the initiative of his mother, who sent an appeal for her son’s life to Vergennes, who, in turn, laid the matter before Louis XVI and his queen. So moved were they by the plea, that they directed Vergennes to write to Washington, who sent the letter to the congress, which voted for Asgill’s release (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 ).

3Not identified.

4Françoise Rose Gourgaud was known on stage by her married name (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale description begins J. C. F. Hoefer, ed., Nouvelle biographie générale depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’à nos jours, Paris, 1852-1866; 46 vols. description ends ).

5Jean Baptiste Henri Gourgaud (or Gourgault), called Dugazon, the brother of Mme. Vestris (Lyonnet, Dict. des comédiens français description begins Henry Lyonnet, Dictionnaire des comediens français (ceux d’hier) biographie, bibliographie, iconographie ..., Paris, 1908-[1911?]; 2 vols. description ends ).

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