Margot (midnight_birth) wrote in margot_quotes,

Oroonoko: or, the Royal Slave by Aphra Behn.


Title: Oroonoko: or, the Royal Slave.
Author: Aphra Behn.
Genre: Literature, fiction, race, slavery.
Country: England.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1688.
Summary: Interweaving the marvelous and the realistic, Behn tells the story of the courageous, high-minded, and great-hearted Oroonoko, a black man who begins life as a beloved prince of the Golden Coast (modern Ghana), is tricked, and ends it as a slave in the slave colony Surinam in the West Indies.

My rating: 7.5/10
My review:

♥ And though I shall omit, for brevity's sake, a thousand little Accidents of his life, which, however pleasant to us, where History was scarce, and Adventures very rare, yet might prove tedious and heavy to my Reader, in a World where he finds Diversions for every Minute, new and strange. But we who were perfectly charm'd with the Character of this great Man, were curious to gather every Circumstance of his Life.

♥ ..Natives of [Suriname], for those we live with in perfect Amity, without daring to command 'em; but, on the contrary, caress 'em with all the brotherly and friendly Affection in the world; trading with them for their Fish, Venison, Buffalo's Skins, and little Rarities; as Marmosets, a sort of Monkey, as big as a Rat or Weasel, but of a marvellous and delicate shape, having Face and Hands like a Human Creature; and Cousheries, a little Beast in the form and fashion of a Lion, as big as a Kitten, but so exactly made in all parts like that Noble Beast, that it is in in Miniature. Then for little Paraketoes, great Parrots, Muckaws, and a thousand other Birds and Beasts of wonderful and surprizing Forms, Shapes, and Colours. For Skins of prodigious Snakes, of which there are some threescore Yards in length; as is the Skin of one that may be seen at his Majesty's Antiquary's; where are also some rare Flies, of amazing Forms and Colours, presented to 'em by my self; some as big as my Fist, some less; and all of various Excellencies, such as Art cannot imitate. Then we trade for Feathers, which they order into all Shapes, make themselves little short Habits of 'em, and glorious Wreaths for their Heads, Necks, Arms and Legs, whose Tinctures are unconceivable. I had a Set of those presented to me, and I gave 'em to the King's Theatre, and it was the Dress of the Indian Queen, infinitely admir'd by Persons of Quality; and was unimitable. Besides these, a thousand little Knacks, and Rarities in Nature; and some of Art, as their Baskets, Weapons, Aprons, &c.

..With these People, as I said, we live in perfect Tranquillity, and good Understanding, as it behoves us to do; they knowing all the places where to seek the best Food of the Country, and the means of getting it; and for very small and unvaluable Trifles, supply us with that 'tis impossible for us to get: for they do not only in the Woods, and over the Sevana's, in Hunting, supply the parts of Hounds, by swiftly scouring through those almost impassable Places, and by the mere Activity of their Feet run down the nimblest Deer, and other eatable Beasts; but in the Water, one would think they were Gods of the Rivers, or Fellow-Citizens of the deep; so rare an Art they have in swimming, diving, and almost living in Water; by which they command the less swift Inhabitants of the Floods. And then for shooting, what they cannot take, or reach with their Hands, they do with Arrows; and have so admirable an Aim, that they will split almost an Hair, and at any distance that an Arrow can reach: they will shoot down Oranges, and other Fruit, and only touch the Stalk with the Dart's Point, that they may not hurt the Fruit. So that they being on all occasions very useful to us, we find it absolutely necessary to caress 'em as Friends, and not to treat 'em as Slaves, nor dare we do other, their numbers so far surpassing ours in that Continent.

Those then whom we make use of to work in our Plantations of Sugar, are Negroes, Black-Slaves all together, who are transported thither..

Coramantien, a Country of Blacks so called, was one of those Places in which they found the most advantageous Trading for these Slaves, and thither most of our great Traders in that Merchandize traffick; for that Nation is very warlike and brave: and having a continual Campaign, being always in hostility with one neighbouring Prince or other, they had the fortune to take a great many Captives: for all they took in Battle were sold for Slaves; at least those common Men who cou'd not ransom themselves. Of these Slaves so taken, the General only has all the Profit: and of these Generals our Captains and Masters of Ships buy all their Freights.

The King of Coramantien was himself a Man of an hundred and odd Years old, and had no Son, tho he had many beautiful Black Wives: for most certainly there are Beauties that can charm of that Colour. In his younger Years he had had many gallant Men to his Sons, thirteen of whom died in Battle, conquering when they fell; and he had only left him for his Successor, one Grand-child, Son to one of these dead Victors, who, as soon as he could bear a Bow in his Hand, and a Quiver at his Back, was sent into the Field to be train'd up by one of the oldest Generals to War; where, from his natural Inclination to Arms, and the Occasions given him, with the good Conduct of the old General, he became, at the Age of seventeen, one of the most expert Captains, and bravest Soldiers that ever saw the Field of Mars: so that he was ador'd as the wonder of all that World, and the Darling of the Soldiers. Besides he was adorn'd with a native Beauty, so transcending all those of his gloomy Race, that he struck an Awe and Reverence, even into those that knew not his Quality; as he did into me, who beheld him with surprize and wonder, when afterwards he arrived in our World.

♥ 'Twas then, afflicted as Oroonoko was, that he was proclaimed General in the old Man's place: and then it was, at the finishing of that War, which had continu'd for two Years, that the Prince came to Court, where he had hardly been a Month together, from the time of his fifth Year to that of seventeen; and 'twas amazing to imagine where it was he learn'd so much Humanity: or, to give his Accomplishments a juster Name, where 'twas he got that real Greatness of Soul, those refined Notions of true Honour, that absolute Generosity, and that Softness that was capable of the highest Passions of Love and Gallantry, whose Objects were almost continually fighting Men, or those mangled or dead, who heard no Sounds but those of War and Groans. Some part of it we may attribute to the care of a Frenchman of Wit and Learning, who finding it turn to very good account to be a sort of Royal Tutor to this young Black, and perceiving him very ready, apt, and quick of Apprehension, took a great pleasure to teach him Morals, Language and Science; and was for it extremely belov'd and valu'd by him. Another Reason was, he lov'd when he came from War, to see all the English Gentlemen that traded thither; and did not only learn their Language, but that of the Spaniard also, with whom he traded afterwards for Slaves.

I have often seen and conversed with this Great Man, and been a Witness to many of his mighty Actions; and do assure my Reader, the most illustrious Courts could not have produced a braver Man, both for Greatness of Courage and Mind, a Judgement more solid, a Wit more quick, and a Conversation more sweet and diverting. He knew almost as much as if he had read much: He had heard of and admired the Romans: He had heard of the late Civil Wars in England, and the deplorable Death of our great Monarch; and wou'd discourse of it with all the Sense and Abhorrence of the Injustice imaginable. He had an extreme good and graceful Mien, and all the Civility of a well-bred great Man. He had nothing of Barbarity in his Nature, but in all Points address'd himself as if his Education had been in some European court.

♥ Nor did the Perfections of his Mind come short of those of his Person; for his Discourse was admirable upon almost any Subject: and whoever had heard him speak, wou'd have been convinced of their Errors, that all fine Wit is confined to the white Men, especially to those of Christendom; and wou'd have confess'd that Oroonoko was as capable even of reigning well, and of governing as wisely, had as great a Soul, as politick Maxims, and was as sensible of Power, as any Prince civiliz'd in the most refined Schools of Humanity and Learning, or the most illustrious Courts.

♥ When he came, attended by all the young Soldiers of any Merit, he was infinitely supriz'd at the Beauty of this fair Queen of Night, whose Face and Person was so exceeding all he had ever beheld, that lovely Modesty with which she receiv'd him, that Softness in her Look and Sighs, upon the melancholy Occasion of this Honour that was done by so great a Man as Oroonoko, and a Prince of whom she had heard such admirable things; the Awfulness wherewith she receiv'd him, and the Sweetness of her Words and Behaviour while he stay'd, gain'd a perfect Conquest over his fierce Heart, and made him feel, the Victor cou'd be subdu'd.

♥ Nor did he use those Obligations ill, that Love had done him, but turn'd all his happy moments to the best advantage; and as he knew no Vice, his Flame aim'd at nothing but Honour, if such a distinction may be made in Love; and especially in that Country, where Men take to themselves as many as they can maintain; and where the only Crime and Sin with Woman, is, to turn her off, to abandon her to want, shame and misery: such ill Morals are only practis's in Christian Countries, where they prefer the bare Name of Religion; and, without Vertue or Morality think that sufficient.

♥ ..he made her Vows, she shou'd be the only Woman he wou'd possess while he liv'd; that no Age or Wrinkles shou'd encline him to change; for her Soul wou'd be always fine, and always young; and he shou'd have an eternal Idea in his Mind of the Charms she now bore; and shou'd look into his Heart for that Idea, when he cou'd find it no longer in her Face.

After a thousand Assurances of his lasting Flame, and her eternal Empire over him, she condescended to receive him for her Husband; or rather, receiv'd him, as the greatest Honour the Gods cou'd do her.

♥ He found her all he had heard, and would not delay his Happiness, but found he should have some Obstacle to overcome her Heart; for she express'd her sense of the Present the Prince had sent her, in terms so sweet, so soft and pretty, with an Air of Love and Joy that cou'd not be dissembled, insomuch that 'twas past doubt whether she lov'd Oroonoko entirely. This gave the old King some affliction; but he salv'd it with this, that the Obedience the People pay their King, was not at all inferior to what they paid their Gods; and what Love wou'd not oblige Imoinda to do, Duty wou'd compel her to.

♥ ..what Rage! what wild Frenzies seiz'd his Heart! which forcing to keep within bounds, and to suffer without noise, it became the more insupportable, and rent his Soul with ten thousand Pains.

♥ This Onahal, as I said, was one of the Cast-Mistresses of the old King; and 'twas these (now past their Beauty) that were made Guardians or Governantees to the new and the young ones, and whose business it was to teach them all those wanton Arts of Love, with which they prevail'd and charmed heretofore in their turn; and who now treated the triumphing Happy-ones with all the Severity as to Liberty and Freedom, that was possible, in revenge of their Honours they rob them of; envying them those Satisfactions, those Gallantries and Presents, that were once made to themselves, while Youth and Beauty lasted, and which they now saw pass, as it were regardless by, and paid only to the Bloomings. And certainly, nothing is more afflicting to a decay'd Beauty, than to behold in it self declining Charms that were once ador'd; and to find those Caresses paid to new Beauties, to which once she laid claim; to hear them whisper, as she passes by, that once was a delicate Woman. Those abandon'd Ladies therefore endeavour to revenge all the despights and decays of time, on these flourishing Happy-ones. And 'twas this Severity that gave Oroonoko a thousand Fears he should never prevail with Onahal to see Imoinda.

♥ The Prince softly waken'd Imoinda, who was not a little surpriz'd with Joy to find him there; and yet she trembled with a thousand Fears. I believe he omitted saying nothing to this young Maid, that might persuade her to suffer him to seize his own, and take the Rights of Love. And I believe she was not long resisting those Arms where she so long'd to be; and having Opportunity, Night, and Silence, Youth, Love and Desire, he soon prevail'd, and ravished in a moment what his old Grandfather had been endeavouring for so many Months.

♥ Then he told him the Affliction the old King was in, for the Rashness he had committed in his Cruelty to Imoinda; and how he deign'd to ask pardon for his Offence, and to implore the Prince would not suffer that Loss to touch his Heart too sensibly, which now all the Gods cou'd not restore him, but might recompense him in Glory, which he begged he would pursue; and that Death, that common Revenger of all Injuries, would soon even the Account between him and a feeble old Man.

Oroonoko bad him return his Duty to his Lord and Master; and to assure him, there was no Account of Revenge to be adjusted between them: if there were, 'twas he was the Aggressor, and that Death would be just, and, maugre his Age, wou'd see him righted; and he was contented to leave his Share of Glory to Youths more fortunate and worthy of that Favour from the Gods: That henceforth he would never lift a Weapon, or draw a Bow, but abandon the small Remains of his Life to Sighs and Tears, and the continual Thoughts of what his Lord and Grandfather had thought good to send out of the World, with all that Youth, that Innocence and Beauty.

After having done this, whatever his greatest Officers and Men of the best Rank cou'd do, they could not raise him from the Carpet, or persuade him to Action, and Resolutions of Life..

♥ They then demanded what they should do, and whom he would constitute in his room, that the Confusion of ambitious Youth and Power might not ruin their Order, and make them a Prey to the Enemy. He reply'd, he would not give himself the trouble—but wished 'em to chuse the bravest Man amongst 'em, let his Quality or Birth be what it wou'd: For, O my Friends! (said he) it is not Titles make Men brave or good; or Birth that bestows Courage and Generosity, or makes the Owner happy. Believe this, when you behold Oroonoko the most wretched, and abandoned by Fortune, of all the Creation of the Gods.

♥ The Guards that were left behind about the Prince's Tent, seeing the Soldiers flee before the Enemy, and scatter themselves all over the Plain, in great disorder, made such out-cries and rouz'd the Prince from his amorous Slumber, in which he had remain'd bury'd for two days, without permitting any Sustenance to approach him. Butm in spight of all his Resolutions, he had not the Constancy of Grief to that degree, as to make him insensible of the Danger of his Army; and in that instant he leaped from his Couch, and cry'd—Come, if we must die, let us meet Death the noblest way; and 'twill be more like Oroonoko to encounter him at an Army's Head, opposing the Torrent of a conquering Foe, than lazily on a Couch, to wait his lingring Pleasure, and die every moment by a thousand racking Thoughts; or be tamely taken by an Enemy, and led a whining love-sick Slave to adorn the Triumphs of Jamoan, that young Victor, who already is enter'd beyond the Limits I have prescrib'd him.

While he was speaking, he suffer'd his People to dress him for the Field; and sallying out of his Pavilion, with more Life and Vigour in his Countenance than ever he shew'd, he appear'd like some Divine Power descended to save his Country from Destruction: and his People had purposely put him on all things that might make him shine with most Splendour, to strike a reverend Awe into the Beholders. He flew into the thickest of those that were pursuing his Men; and being animated with Despair, he fought as if he came on purpose to die, and did such things as will not be believed that Human Strength could perform; and such as soon inspir'd all the rest with new Courage, and new Order. And now it was that they began to fight indeed; and so, as if they would not be outdone even by their ador'd Hero; who turning the Tide of the Victory, changing absolutely the Fate of the Day, gain'd an entire Conquest: and Oroonoko having the good Fortune so single out Jamoan, he took him prisoner with his own Hand, having wounded him almost to death.

♥ But time lessens all Extremes, and reduces 'em to Mediums, and Unconcern..

♥ ..and of this the Messenger gave him his Oath, provided he would resolve to live. And Oroonoko, whose Honour was such as he never had violated a Word in his Life himself, much less a solemn Asseveration, believ'd in an instant what this Man said..

♥ This was deliver'd to the still doubting Captain, who could not resolve to trust a Heathen, he said, upon his Parole, a Man that had no sense or notion of the God that he worshipp'd. Oroonoko then reply'd, He was very sorry to hear that the Captain pretended to the knowledge and worship of any Gods, who had taught him no better Principles, than not to credit as he would be credited. But they told him, the difference of their Faith occasion'd that distrust: For the Captain had protested to him upon the word of a Christian, and sworn in the name of a great God; which if he should violate, he would expect eternal Torment in the World to come. Is that all the Obligation he has to be just to his Oath? (reply'd Oroonoko) Let him know, I swear by my Honour; which to violate, would not only render me contemptible and despised by all brave and honest Men, and so give my self perpetual Pain, but it would be eternally offending and displeasing all Mankind; harming, betraying, circumventing and outraging all Men. But Punishments hereafter are suffr'd by one's self; and the World takes no Cognizance whether this GOD have reveng'd 'em, or not, 'tis done so secretly, and deferr'd so long: while the Man of no Honour suffers every moment the Scorn and Contempt of the honester World, and dies every day ignominiously in his Fame, which is more valuable than Life. I speak not this to move Belief, but to shew you how you mistake, when you imagine, That he who will violate his Honour, will keep his Word with his Gods.

♥ ..the Captain, who had given the Word, order'd his Men to bring up those noble Slaves in Fetters, whom I have spoken of; and having put 'em, some in one, and some in other Lots, with Women and Children (which they call Pickaninies) they sold 'em off, as Slaves, to several Merchants and Gentlemen; not putting any two in one Lot, because they would separate 'em far from each other; not daring to trust 'em together, lest Rage and Courage should put 'em upon contriving some great Action, to the ruin of the Colony.

♥ I ought to tell you, that the Christians never buy any Slaves but they give 'em some Name of their own, their native ones being likely very barbarous, and hard to pronounce; so that Mr. Trefry gave Oroonoko that of Cæsar; which Name will live in that Country as long as that (scarce more) glorious one of the great Roman: for 'tis most evident he wanted no part of the personal Courage of that Cæsar, and acted things as memorable, had they been done in some part of the World replenished with People and Historians, that might have given him his due. But his Misfortune was, to fall in an obscure World, that afforded only a Female Pen to celebrate his Fame; though I doubt not but it had lived from others Endeavours, if the Dutch</i>, who immediately after his time took that Country, had not killed, banished and dispersed all those that were capable of giving the World this great Man's Life, much better than I have done.

♥ This new Accident made him more impatient of Liberty, and he was every day treating with Trefry for his and Clemene's Liberty, and offer'd either Gold, or a vast quantity of Slaves, which should be paid before they let him go, provided he could have any Security that he should go when his Ransom was paid. They fed him from day to day with Promises, and delay'd him till the Lord-Governor should come; so that he began to suspect them of Falshood, and that they would delay him till the time of his Wife's Delivery, and make a Slave of that too: for all the Breed is theirs to whom the Parents belong.

♥ However, these Conversations fail'd not altogether so well to divert him, that he liked the Company of us Women much above the Men, for he could not drunk, and he is but an ill Companion in that Country that cannot.

♥ It stood on a vast Rock of white Marble, at the foot of which the River ran a vast depth down, and not to be descended on that side; the little Waves still dashing and washing the foot of this Rock, made the softest Murmurs and Purlings in the World; and the opposite Bank was adorn'd with such vast quantities of different Flowers eternally blowing, and every Day and Hour new, fenc'd behind 'em with lofty Trees of a thousand rare Forms and Colours, that the Prospect was the most ravishing that Sands can create. On the edge of this white Rock, towards the River, was a Walk or Grove of Orange and Lemon-Trees, about half the length of the Mall here, flowery and fruit-bearing Branches met at the top, and hinder'd the Sun, whose Rays are very fierce there, from entering a Beam into the Grove; and the cool Air that came from the River, made it not only fit to entertain People in, at all the hottest hours of the day, but refresh'd the sweet Blossoms, and made it always sweet and charming; and sure, the whole Globe of the World cannot shew so delightful a Place as this Grove was: Not all the Gardens of Boasted Italy can produce a Shade to out-vie this, which Nature had join'd with Art to render so exceeding fine; and 'tis a marvel to see how such vast Trees, as big as English Oaks, could take footing on so solid a Rock, and in so little Earth as cover'd that Rock: But all things by Nature there are rare, delightful and wonderful. But to our Sports.

♥ About this time we were in many mortal Fears, about some Disputes the English had with the Indians; so that we could scarce trust our selves, without great Numbers, to go to any Indian Towns or Place where they abode, for fear they should fall upon us, as they did immediately after my coming away; and the Place being in the Possession of the Dutch, they us'd them not so civilly as the English: so that they cut in pieces all they could take, getting into Houses, and hanging up the Mother, and all her Children about her; and cut a Footman, I left behind me, all in Joints, and nail'd him to Trees.

This Feud began while I was there; so that I lost half the Satisfaction I propos'd, in not seeing and visiting the Indian Towns.

♥ This young Peeie had a very young Wife, who seeing my Brother kiss her, came running and kiss'd me. After this they kiss'd one another, and made it a very great Jest, it being so novel; and new Admiration and Laughing went round the Multitude, that they never will forget that Ceremony, never before us'd or known.

Cæsar was marvelling as much at their Faces, wondring how they should all be so wounded in War; he was impatient to know how they all came by those frightful Marks of Rage or Malice, rather than Wounds got in noble Battel: They told us by our Interpreter, That when any War was waging, two Men, chosen out by some old Captain whose fighting was past, and who could only teach the Theory of War, were to stand in competition for the Generalship, or great War-Captain; and being brought before the old Judges, now past Labour, they are ask'd, What they dare do, to shew they are worthy to lead an Army? When he who is first ask'd, making no reply, cuts off his Nose, and throws it contemptibly on the ground; and the other does something to himself that he thinks surpasses him, and perhaps deprives himself of Lips and an Eye: so they slash on till one gives out, and many have dy'd in this Debate. And it's by a passive Valour they shew and prove their Activity; a sort of Courage too brutal to be applauded by our Black Hero; nevertheless, he express'd his Esteem of 'em.

♥ After this he would have proceeded, but was interrupted by a tall Negroe of some more Quality than the rest, his Name was Tuscan; who bowing at the feet of Cæsar, cry'd, My Lord, we have listen'd with Joy and Attention to what you have said' and, were we only Men, would follow so great a Leader through the World: But Oh! consider we are Husbands, and Parents too, and have things more dear to us than Life; our Wives and Children, unfit for Travel in those unpassable Woods, Mountains and Bogs. We have not only difficult Lands to overcome, but Rivers to wade, and Mountains to encounter; ravenous Beasts of Prey.——To this Cæsar reply'd, That Honour was the first Principle in Nature, that was to be obey'd; but as no Man would pretend to that, without all the Acts of Vertue, Compassion, Charity, Love, Justice, and Reason; he found it not inconsistent with that, to take equal care of their Wives and Children, as they wou'd of themselves; and that he did not design, when he led them to Freedom, and glorious Liberty, that they shou'd leave that better parts of themselves to perish by the hand of the Tyrant's Whip: But if there were a Woman among them so degenerate from Love and Vertue, to chuse Slavery before the pursuit of her Husband, and with the hazard of her Life, to share with him in his Fortunes; that such a one ought to be abandoned, and left as a Prey to the common Enemy.

♥ After this, he spoke of the impassable Woods and Rivers; and convinced them, the more Danger the more Glory. He told them, that he had heard of one Hannibal, a great Captain, had cut his way through Mountains of solid Rocks; and should a few Shrubs oppose them, which they could fire before 'em? No, 'twas a trifling Excuse to Men resolved to die, or overcome. As for Bogs, they are with a little Labour filled and harden'd; and the Rivers could be no Obstacle, since they swam by Nature, at least by Custom, from the first hour of their Birth: That when the Children were weary, they must carry them by turns, and the Woods and their own Industry wou'd afford them Food.

♥ least they should be made free in his Kingdom, and be esteem'd as his Fellow-Sufferers, and Men that had the Courage and the Bravery to attempt, at least, for Liberty; and if they dy'd in the Attempt, it would be more brave, than to live in perpetual Slavery.

♥ But Cæsar told him, there was no Faith in the White Men, or the Gods they ador'd; who instructed them in Principles so false, that honest Men could not live amongst them; though no People profess'd so much, none performed so little: That he knew what he had to do when he dealt with Men of Honour; but with them a Man ought to be eternally on his guard, and never to eat and drink with Christians, without his Weapon of Defence in his hand, and, for his own Security, never to credit one Word they spoke. As for the Rashness and Inconsiderateness of his Action, he would confess the Governour is in the right, and that he was ashamed of what he had done, in endeavouring to make those free, who were by Nature Slaves, poor wretched Rogues, fit to be used as Christians, Tools; Dogs, treacherous and cowardly, fit for such Masters; and they wanted only but to be whipped into the knowledg of the Christian Gods, to be the vilest of all creeping things; to learn to worship such Deities as had not power to make them just, brave, or honest: In fine, after a thousand things of this nature, not fit here to be recited, he told Byam, He had rather die, than live upon the same Earth with such Dogs.

♥ The Governour had no sooner recover'd, and had heard of the Menaces of Cæsar, but he called his Council, who (not to disgrace them, or burlesque the Government there) consisted of such notorious Villains as Newgate never transported; and, possibly, originally were such who understood neither the Laws of God or Man, and had no sort of Principles to make them worthy the Name of Men..

♥ He consider'd, if he should do this Deed, and die either in the Attempt, or after it, he left his lovely Imoinda a Prey, or at best a Slave to the enraged Multitude; his great Heart could not endure that Thought: Perhaps (said he) she may be first ravished by every Brute; expos'd first to their nasty Lusts, and then a shameful Death: No, he could not live a moment under that Apprehension, too insupportable to be borne. These were his Thoughts, and his silent Arguments with his Heart, as he told us afterwards: so that now resolving not only to kill Byam, but all those he thought had enraged him; pleasing his great Heart with the fancy's Slaughter he should make over the whole face of the Plantation; he first resolved on a Deed, that (however horrid it first appear'd to us all) when we had heard his Reasons, we thought it brave and just. Being able to walk, and, as he believed, fit for the execution of his great Design, he begg'd Trefry to trust him into the Air, believing a Walk would do him good; which was granted him: and taking Imoinda with him as he used to do in his more happy and calmer days, he led her up into a Wood, where (after with a thousand Sighs, and long gazing silently on her Face, while Tears gush'd, in spight of him, from his Eyes) he told her his Design, first of killing her, and then his Enemies, and next himself, and the Impossibility of escaping, and therefore he told her the Necessity of dying. He found the heroick Wife faster pleading for Death, than he was to propose it, when she found his fix'd Resolution; and, on her Knees, besought him not to leave her a Prey to his Enemies. He (grieved to death) yet pleased at her Noble Resolution, took her up, and embracing of her with all the Passion and Languishment of a dying Lover, drew his Knife to kill this Treasure of his Soul, this Pleasure of his Eyes; while Tears trickled down his Cheeks, hers were smiling with Joy she would die by so noble a Hand, and be sent into her own Country (for that's their Notion of the next World) by him she so tenderly loved, and so truly ador'd in this: For Wives have a respect for their Husbands equal to what any other People pay a Deity; and when a Man finds any occasion to quit his Wife, if he love her, she dies by his hand; if not, he sells her, or suffers some other to kill her. It being thus, you may believe the Deed was soon resolved on; and 'tis not to be doubted, but the parting, the eternal leave-taking of two such Lovers, so greatly born, so sensible, so beautiful, so young, and so fond, must be very moving, as the Relation of it was to me afterwards.

All that Love could say in such cases, being ended, and all the intermitting Irresolutions being adjusted, the lovely, young and ador'd Victim lays her self down before the Sacrificer; while he, with a hand resolved, and heart-breaking within, gave the fatal Stroke, first cutting her Throat, and then severing her yet smiling Face from that delicate Body, pregnant as it was with the fruits of tenderest Love. As soon as he had done, he laid the Body decently on Leaves and Flowers, of which he made a Bed, and conceal'd it under the same Cover-lid of Nature; only her Face he left yet bare to look on: But when he found she was dead, and past all retrieve, never more to bless him with her Eyes, and soft Language, his Grief swell'd up to rage; he tore, he raved, he roar'd like some Monster of the Wood, calling on the lov'd Name of Imoinda. A thousand times he turned the fatal Knife that did the Deed toward his own Heart, with a Resolution to go immediately after her; but dire Revenge, which was now a thousand times more fierce in his Soul, than before, prevents him: and he would cry out, No, since I have sacrific'd Imoinda to my Revenge, shall I lose that Glory which I have purchased so dear, as at the Price of the fairest, dearest, softest Creature that ever Nature made? No, no! Than at her Name Grief would get the ascendant of Rage, and he would lie down by her side, and water her Face with Showers of Tears, which never were wont to fall from those Eyes; and however bent he was on his intended Slaughter, he had not power to stir from the Sight of this dear Object, now more beloved, and more adord' than ever.

You may go back (continued he) and tell the faithless Governour, he may thank Fortune that I am breathing my last; and that my Arm is too feeble to obey my Heart, in what it had design'd him: But his Tongue faltering, and trembling, he could scarce end what he was saying. The English taking advantage by his Weakness, cry'd, Let us take him alive by all means. He heard 'em; and, as if he had reviv'd from a fainting, or a dream, he cry'd out, No, Gentlemen, you are deceiv'd; you will find no more Cæsars to be whipt; no more find a Faith in me: Feeble as you think me, I have Strength yet left to secure me from a second Indignity. They swore all answer; and he only shook his Head, and beheld them with Scorn. Then they cry'd out, Who will venture on this single Man? Will no body? They stood all silent while Cæsar replied, Fatal will be the Attempt to the first Adventurer, let him assure himself, (and, at that word, held up his Knife in a menacing posture:) Look ye, ye Faithless Crew, said he, 'tis not Life I seek, nor am I afraid of dying, (and at that word, cut a piece of Flesh from his own Throat, and threw it at 'em,) yet still I would live if I could, till I had perfected my Revenge: But, oh! it cannot be; I feel Life gliding from my Eyes and Heart; and if I make not haste, I shall fall a Victim to the shameful Whip. At that, he rip'd up his own Belly, and took his Bowels and pull'd 'em out, with what strength he could'; while some, on their Knees imploring, besought him to hold his Hand. But when they saw him tottering , they cry'd out, Will none venture on him? A bold Englishman cry'd out, Yes, if he were the Devil, (taking Courage when he saw him almost dead) and swearing a horrid Oath for his farewel to the World, he rush'd on him. Cæsar with his arm'd Hand, met him so fairly, as stuck him to the heart, and he fell dead at his feet.

♥ For some days we suffer'd no body to speak to him, but caused Cordials to be poured down his Throat; which sustained his Life, and in six or seven days he recover'd his Senses: For, you must know, that Wounds are almost to a miracle cur'd in the Indies; unless Wounds of the Legs, which they rarely ever cure.

♥ And turning to the Men that had bound him, he said, My friends, am I to die, or to be whipt? And they cry'd, Whipt! no, you shall not escape so well. And then he reply'd, smiling, A blessing on thee; and assur'd them, they need not tie him, for he would stand fix'd like a Rock, and endure Death so as should encourage them to die: But if you whip me (said he) be sure you tie me fast.

♥ They cut Cæsar in Quarters, and sent them to several of the chief Plantations: One Quarter was sent to Colonel Martin; who refus'd it, and swore, he had rather see the Quarters if Banister, and the Governour himself, than those of Cæsar, on his Plantations; and that he could govern his Negroes, without terrifying and grieving them with frightful Spectacles of a mangled King.
Tags: 1680s, 17th century - fiction, 1st-person narrative, 3rd-person narrative, african in fiction, british - fiction, fiction, ghanaian in fiction, literature, native american in fiction, political dissent (fiction), politics (fiction), race (fiction), romance, slavery (fiction), social criticism (fiction), suriname in fiction, war lit, west african in fiction

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.