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Art. XLV.

The Virgin of the Sun; a Play in
five Acts, from the German of Au-
gustus Von Kotzebue; with Notes,
marking the variations from the
Original. By
William Dunlap.
New-York. George F. Hopkins.
1800. 8vo. pp. 80.

The Virgin of the Sun; a Play in
five Acts. Translated from the
German of Kotzebue by
Charles
Smith. New-York. 1800. 8vo.
pp.
96.

IN the dedication of this play, we
are informed that it owes its
origin to the “commands” of a fe-
male friend of the author, who was
present with him at the representa-
tion of Nauman's opera of Cora,
and suggested it as a subject for a
drama. The author, obedient to the
gentle mandate of the fair critic,
soon after introduced to her “The
Virgin of the Sun.”

The conquests of Mexico and
Peru have afforded many excellent
subjects for the drama, but the pe-
culiar genius and taste of Kotzebue
have led him to the construction of
a play very different from others
taken from the same events. The
materials of his performance are to
be found in the romance of Mar-
montel, rather than in the narrations
of the historians of Peru.

The scene is laid in Quito, the
residence of Ataliba, or Athualpa,
the monarch of Peru, who, at the
time of the arrival of Pizarro, was
at war with his brother Huascar.
Alonzo, one of the companions of
Pizarro, had abandoned his leader,
and espoused the cause and the in-
terests of the Peruvian King, and
aided him in subduing his rebellious
brother. He is the friend of Atali-
ba, and the admiration of the court
of Quito. A dreadful earthquake
shook the city, and, while the af-
frighted priestesses were flying for
safety from the tottering Temple,
Alonzo boldly enters through the

ruins and bears off Cora, a virgin
of the Sun, surrounded with danger,
to a place of security. She, in re-
turn for this signal service, yields
the full possession of her heart to the
young and valiant Spaniard.

The play opens with the appear-
ance of the High Priest, and of Rol-
la, a Peruvian hero, a descendant
of the Sun, who, enamoured of
Cora, becomes weary of society,
and, in despair, seeks to hide his
passion and sooth his feelings in
the midst of woods and solitude.
The High Priest in vain endeavours
to persuade him to renounce his
purpose, and return again to society
and the service of his country.

Alonzo appears, leading Cora
over the broken wall of the Temple.
Filled with anxiety and alarm for her
fate, he cannot forbear to express
his apprehension of the conse-
quences of the breach of her reli-
gious vow. Unconscious of wrong,
but desirous to remove the fears of
her lover, she leads him to the
summit of a hill to behold the rising
sun, with the belief that if she has
erred, her divinity will manifest his
displeasure by veiling his beams, or
annibilating her by the first dart of
his rays. Alonzo yields to the art-
less simplicity and superstition of
his mistress, and they kneel toge-
ther to catch the first beams of the
heavenly luminary. The sun rises
in full splendour, and Cora is con-
vinced that she has not incurred the
displeasure of her divinity. While
they are paying their adorations,
Rolla comes forth from his cave,
and, discovering Cora on the hill,
calls her by name. Alonzo, alarm-
ed at the discovery, descends the
hill and desperately rushes on Rolla.
His friend, Velasquez, who was in
waiting, interposes and prevents
his killing his unarmed rival. Cora
flies to Rolla and tells him the story
of her love for Alonzo. He em-
braces her, and, aware of the horri-
ble consequences of her intercourse

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with her lover, unmindful of his
own passion, and actuated only by
a generous and disinterested regard
for her happiness, he resolves to ex-
tricate her from the dangers to which
she was every moment exposed by
the breach of her vows. From the
lover, he becomes the ardent and
active friend, and proposes to lead
the unfortunate pair to a place of
safety in some sequestered spot be-
yond the mountains. Idali and
Amazilli, the companions of Cora,
are sent by the High Priestess in
search of her. Valasquez and Diego
take advantage of their simplicity
to draw them into conversation;
thus to share, in some degree, the
guilt of Cora, with whom they re-
turn to the Temple. The High
Priestess learns from these simple and
credulous girls, that they and Cora
have been conversing with Spani-
ards; and, by her threats and ad-
monition, extorts from Cora a full
confession of her love for Alonzo,
and of the consequence of their inter-
course. Telasco and Zorai, the
father and brother of Cora, arrive
at the court of Ataliba, and are re-
ceived by him with hospitality and
friendship. The Priestesses com-
plain to the king of the seduction
of Cora, and demand vengeance on
the seducer. The venerable Te-
lasco, and the young Zorai, with
anguish, hear the accusation of Cora,
and submit to the law, which con-
demns her and her family to be
buried alive. While the Priests
are digging the grave of Cora, Rolla
enters and exclaims with agony and
indignation, at their barbarity and
injustice. The High Priest, affect-
ed by the violent passion which tor-
tures the breast of Rolla, makes
known to him the story of his birth,
of which he was before ignorant,
and embraces him as his son, the
offspring of a youthful passion for
Zulma, one of the loveliest of the
virgins in the Temple of their di-
vinity. Rolla entreats his father to

use the influence of his character
and office to save Cora. Cora and
Alonzo are brought before the as-
sembled Priests in chains, and, after
a struggle of affection in each, by
self-accusation to save the other,
they are ordered to be led away and
to prepare for death. The fifth
act exhibits the Temple of the Sun,
and all the magnificence of the Pe-
ruvian worship. The High Priest
in vain attempts to turn the hearts
of his brethren to mercy. They
all pronounce the rigid sentence of
death, except the father of Rolla,
who declares for mercy. Alonzo
and Cora, with Telasco and Zorai,
are then brought in, guarded and in
chains. Cora discovers her father
and brother, and supplicates them
for reconciliation and forgiveness,
and, after a scene of tenderness, af-
fection, and distress, they embrace
each other. The unhappy victim
entreats them also to forgive Alonzo.
The father consents, but the son
cannot subdue his resentment so far
as to follow his example. The Inca,
to whom it belongs to pronounce
the final sentence of the laws, enters,
and, after declaring Telasco and
Zorai free, pays his adorations to
the image of the sun, and bids the
High Priest do his office in regard
to Cora and Alonzo. He declines,
and Zorai declares their sentence to
be death. The king is invested
with the ensigns of justice and mer-
cy, invokes the aid of the divinity,
and is about to utter the awful sen-
tence, when a messenger announces
an insurrection among the people,
and that Rolla is at their head.
Rolla enters in his war dress, ac-
companied by his armed followers;
he kneels to the king and entreats
him to spare Cora; the king rejects
his petition, and refuses to listen to
a rebel in arms. He orders the
soldiers to seize him; but, awed by
the eloquent expostulation of Rolla,
they refuse to obey. Cora goes to
Rolia, embraces him, and, by gen-

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tleness, subdues the storm of his
passion, and persuades him to sur-
render to her his arms. She leads
him to the king, and, laying the
arms at his feet, they both kneel;
and Ataliba, prompted by his own
feelings, and swayed by the opinion
of the High Priest, abolishes the
law, and gives life and freedom to
Cora and Alonzo.

Such is the plot of this drama,
which, like most others from the
pen of the same writer, is romantic,
and, in the execution, unequal.
Scenes of exquisite tenderness and
feeling, or of high wrought passion,
are succeeded by dull and stale sen-
timent, or declamations extravagant
and bombastic. The wit of Diego
is flat and tiresome, though the
translator has endeavoured to help
the author by giving it some point
and turn. Diego is of so little use
in the play, that we are at a loss to
know why he was introduced. Nor
does the reader take much interest
in the character, or feel greatly edi-
fied by the moral reflections, how-
ever just, of Velasquez.

Rolla is a character possessed of
noble qualities and most exalted
virtues. All his conduct inspires
sympathy, love, and admiration.
The language of passion, which he
utters, sometimes borders, perhaps,
on extravagance; but this is less
discernible in the play of Mr. D.
than in the original.

Cora is depicted as gentle, affec-
tionate, innocent, and pious, and
appears intended by the author as a
contrast to the female brought up
amidst the follies and refinements of
artificial society. This difference
is also in some degree exemplified
in the opposite effect produced by
the same cause on her artless and
unconscious mind, and that of her
lover, possessed of the feelings and
habits of an European. One pur-
pose of the writer is to attack mo-
nastic institutions, and that absurd
superstition which in vain seeks to

counteract the strongest impulse of
the human heart, and to please the
Creator by confining beings fitted
for a life of social activity, virtue,
and happiness, to a state of solitary
seclusion, indolence, and discon-
tent, and thereby defeating the end
of their creation. On the whole,
the reader, though he may find
some things to censure, will feel
considerable interest and pleasure
in the perusal of this play.

The alterations made by Mr. D.
are so great that his performance
can hardly be considered as a trans-
lation. It is almost a new play,
in which will be found but few of
those faults in style and sentiment
which occur in the more literal and
faithful translations of the original.
For the sake of those who wish to
see the whole of Kotzebue, most of
the omitted passages are restored,
and the alterations pointed out in
the notes subjoined to the play.
But the minuter differences of ex-
pression, by which the original is
softened and chastized, are too
many to be particularized, and
render the production of Mr. D. to
an English reader, superior to other
translations. Those whose admira-
tion for Kotzebue is so strong that
they cannot tolerate this freedom,
will prefer the literal versions, in
which the author is represented in
his own colours of beauty and de-
formity.

The following passage will, in
some degree, mark the liberties
taken by Mr. D. with his author:

'Enter High Priest.

'Rol. Speak!—Is it true?—True
or false?

'H. P. I understand not your
words, but the wildness of your
looks, too well. It is true.

'Rol. (Pointing to the grave.)
And here?—

'H. P. (Turning from him.)Alas!

'Rol. And Rolla live? No, ye
eternal gods!—Sooner shall the

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temple become a desert, and the
holy lamp be extinguished! Soon-
er, much sooner shall yon pit be
the grave of Rolla!—Rise, ye
terrors of nature, ye storms and
whirlwinds, that I may breathe
more freely!—that my voice may
contend with your roarings, and
my arm emulate your lightnings in
destruction! O! while this hand
can wield a sword, who shall dare
touch Cora!

'H. P. Madman, rage on! Thy
frenzy would contend with the
gods.

'Rol. With the gods? O, no!
The gods side with me; their light-
ning is in my hand, their shield
covers my breast. Short sighted
mortals! Love is the holiest, the
brightest, the warmest ray of our
divinity! it alike unfolds the bud
of the rose, and the heart of man!
Woe, then, to the wretch who re-
tires to cold and cloistered solitude,
when he should open his breast to
receive this genial ray! But double
woe to the greater wretch who
spreads the cloud of superstition
between man and his God, to inter-
cept this heavenly emanation! But
to whom am I talking? You can-
not understand me.

'H. P. You do me injustice,
Rolla.

'Rol. Injustice? Have you a
sense of the heavenly feeling, the
godlike quality of love? You, whose
lips have condemned Cora?

'H. P. My lips condemned
Cora.

'Rol. Not your heart?

'H. P. Not my heart.

'Rol. Come, then, to my arms!
The blessing of heaven be on you!
You are a man!—But why stand
you there so cold and inactive?
Save her!



'H. P. I cannot.

'Rol. Courage, dear uncle, cou-
rage! Your grey hairs, your mild
eloquence, my sword, and the arm
of God! Yes, we shall save her!

'H. P. Alas, young man! Your
zeal makes you blind to the steep
rocks which lie in our way.

'Rol. I feel strength to surmount
them.

'H. P. Ancient popular opini-
ons—the custom of centuries—

'Rol. Nature is older than these.

'H. P. But not more powerful.

'Rol. Mere evasion.

'H. P. Could I, by the sacrifice
of my remaining years, purchase
the life of Cora, with eager steps
would I descend into this grave—

Rol. Away, away! Do not talk;
act.—
In the translation of Mr. S. the
same dialogue stands thus:

Enter the High Priest.

'Rol. Ha! here he is!—Oh tell
me instantly! is this true or false?

'H. P. Though I can scarcely
understand thy words, I understand
those wild looks but too well!—
Alas! it is true!

'Rol. (Pointing to the grave) And
here?

'H. P. (With a deep sigh, and
turning away his face)
Yes!

'Rol. Tremble, then, ye mighty
rocks! Groan! groan! ye hills!
thou fire, burst forth in the valleys
and consume the fruits of the soil!
Let the plains be no longer crown-
ed with verdure, but the whole
earth appear as one vast scene of
conflagration! Rise ye terrors of
nature, ye storms and whirlwinds,
that I may breath more freely amid
your conflicts, that the voice of
my agony may contend with your
roarings, that my arm may slay
more rapidly than the lightning it-
self!

'H. P. Rolla, for the sake of all
the gods!——

'Rol. No, she shall not die!—
Sooner shall the sacred lamp be ex-
tinguished, and the temple itself be-
come a desert! Believe me, uncle,
she shall not die. You may tell
me that the grave is already pre-

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pared, that her fate is certain! Yes,
the grave is prepared, but Rolla still
lives!

'H. P. How dreadful are your
words!

'Rol. Sooner shall it be Rolla's
grave!---sooner shall he be stretch-
ed a corpse upon the earth!—Yet
let him not even then be trusted
hastily!—see that every spark of
life be gone; if only one be left, it
will burst into a flame, and con-
sume the persecutors of Cora. Oh,
while this hand can wield a sword,
let no one venture to touch Cora!
—the blood of him who harbours
such a thought, shall answer for
his rashness!—the priests—the king
—even thou thyself——

'H. P. Madman, rage on!—
dare in thy frenzy to raise thine
arm against the gods!——

'Rol. Against the gods!—No,
the gods are on my side, their
lightning is in my hand, their
shield before my breast!—Short-
sighted mortals!---What are the
brightest, warmest rays of our God
but pure effusions of that benign
love, which alike unfolds the rose-
bud, and expands the human heart.
Woe to the miserable wretch who
remains insensible to its genial in-
fluence, and pining in a cold damp
corner of the earth, lives the life
of a senseless oyster!---Cora even
excels her former self, since she
has yielded to the impuls of love
—and how could she fail to do so,
for the gods would never leave their
master-piece unfinished; and what
is the heart without love, but a
lamp without light, an eye without
the power of vision?——These
are things, uncle, which, however,
you cannot understand.

'H. P. You do me injustice,
Rolla.

'Rol. Injustice!---You cannot
have been yourself susceptible of
the exquisite, the heavenly feeling
of love, when your lips condemn-
ed Cora.



'H. P. You are right now---
it was my lips condemned her.

'Rol. But not your heart?

'H. P. Not my heart.

'Rol. Come then to my arms---
I rejoice to find that you are a man!
---But why stand here so cold and
inactive?---fly and save her!

'H. P. That is impossible.

'Rol. Courage, dear uncle, cou-
rage!—Your grey hairs, your mild
eloquence, my sword, and the arm
of God!---all these united---Yes,
yes, we will save her!

'H. P. Alas, young man, zeal
blinds thee to the steep rocks which
lie in our way.

'Rol. I feel sufficient energy to
surmount them.

'H. P. Ancient popular opini-
ons—the customs of whole centu-
ries——

'Rol. Nature is older than these.

'H. P. But not more power-
ful.

'Rol. Mere evasion!

'H. P. Could I, by sacrific-
ing the few short years remain-
ing of my life, redeem the hapless
Cora's, I would instantly, with firm
and resolute step, descend into this
vault.

'Rol. Babble!

'H. P. Are these tears also bab-
ble?

'Rol. Hypocrisy!---do not talk,
but act.’

After what we have said, it is
scarcely necessary to remark on the
publication of Mr. Smith. It is,
with a very few verbal alterations, a
copy of Miss Plumptre's translation,
which has been generally read.
Whether Mr. S. meant that it should
be considered as his own or not, we
cannot determine; but, as he pro-
posed to present the public with
his own translation of all the plays
of Kotzebue,
some of which have
been already noticed, the inference
is natural that he intended that the
present should be regarded as equally
his own. It would have been no

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more than literary justice to have
acknowledged his obligations to
Miss P. for we greatly commend

his preference of that lady's transla-
tions to his own more imperfect at-
tempts.


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