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Title: Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave
Author: Aphra Behn
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0700151.txt
Language:  English
Date first posted: January 2007
Date most recently updated: January 2007

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Title: Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave
Author: Aphra Behn

I do not pretend, in giving you the history of this Royal Slave,
to entertain my reader with adventures of a feigned hero, whose life
and fortunes fancy may manage at the poet's pleasure; nor in
relating the truth, design to adorn it with any accidents but such
as arrived in earnest to him: and it shall come simply into the world,
recommended by its own proper merits and natural intrigues; there
being enough of reality to support it, and to render it diverting,
without the addition of invention.

I was myself an eye-witness to a great part of what you will find
here set down; and what I could not be witness of, I received from the
mouth of the chief actor in this history, the hero himself, who gave
us the whole transactions of his youth: 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 charmed with the character of this great man were curious to
gather every circumstance of his life.

The scene of the last part of his adventures lies in a colony in
America, called Surinam, in the West Indies.

But before I give you the story of this gallant slave, 'tis fit I
tell you the manner of bringing them to these new colonies; those they
make use of there not being natives of the place: 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 marvelous 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 it in miniature. Then for
little paraketoes, great parrots, mackaws, and a thousand other
birds and beasts of wonderful and surprising forms, shapes, and
colors. 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 colors, presented to 'em by myself; 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 these presented to me, and I gave 'em to
the King's Theater, and it was the dress of the Indian Queen,
infinitely admired 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, etc. We dealt with 'em
with beads of all colors, knives, axes, pins, and needles; which
they used only as tools to drill holes with in their ears, noses,
and lips, where they hang a great many little things; as long beads,
bits of tin, brass or silver beat thin, and any shining trinket. The
beads they weave into aprons about a quarter of an ell long, and of
the same breadth; working them very prettily in flowers of several
colors; which apron they wear just before 'em, as Adam and Eve did the
fig-leaves; the men wearing a long stripe of linen, which they deal
with us for. They thread these beads also on long cotton threads,
and make girdles to tie their aprons to, which come twenty times, or
more, about the waist, and then cross, like a shoulder-belt, both
ways, and round their necks, arms, and legs. This adornment, with
their long black hair, and the face painted in little specks or
flowers here and there, makes 'em a wonderful figure to behold. Some
of the beauties, which indeed are finely shaped, as almost all are,
and who have pretty features, are charming and novel; for they have
all that is called beauty, except the color, which is a reddish
yellow; or after a new oiling, which they often use to themselves,
they are of the color of a new brick, but smooth, soft, and sleek.
They are extreme modest and bashful, very shy, and nice of being
touched. And though they are all thus naked, if one lives forever
among 'em there is not to be seen an undecent action, or glance: and
being continually used to see one another so unadorned, so like our
first parents before the Fall, it seems as if they had no wishes,
there being nothing to heighten curiosity; but all you can see, you
see at once, and every moment see; and where there is no novelty,
there can be no curiosity. Not but I have seen a handsome young Indian
dying for love of a very beautiful young Indian maid; but all his
courtship was to fold his arms, pursue her with his eyes, and sighs
were all his language: while she, as if no such lover were present, or
rather as if she desired none such, carefully guarded her eyes from
beholding him; and never approached him but she looked down with all
the blushing modesty I have seen in the most severe and cautious of
our world. And these people represented to me an absolute idea of
the first state of innocence, before man knew how to sin. And 'tis
most evident and plain that simple Nature is the most harmless,
inoffensive, and virtuous mistress. 'Tis she alone, if she were
permitted, that better instructs the world than all the inventions
of man. Religion would here but destroy that tranquillity they possess
by ignorance; and laws would but teach 'em to know offense, of which
now they have no notion. They once made mourning and fasting for the
death of the English Governor, who had given his hand to come on
such a day to 'em, and neither came nor sent; believing, when a
man's word was past, nothing but death could or should prevent his
keeping it: and when they saw he was not dead, they asked him what
name they had for a man who promised a thing he did not do. The
Governor told them, such a man was a liar, which was a word of
infamy to a gentleman. Then one of 'em replied, "Governor, you are a
liar, and guilty of that infamy." They have a native justice, which
knows no fraud; and they understand no vice, or cunning, but when they
are taught by the white men. They have plurality of wives; which, when
they grow old, serve those that succeed 'em, who are young, but with a
servitude easy and respected; and unless they take slaves in war, they
have no other attendants.

Those on that continent where I was had no king; but the oldest
war-captain was obeyed with great resignation.

A war-captain is a man who has led them on to battle with conduct
and success; of whom I shall have occasion to speak more hereafter,
and of some other of their customs and manners, as they fall in my

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 savannahs, 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 altogether, who are transported thither in
this manner.

Those who want slaves make a bargain with a master or a captain of a
ship, and contract to pay him so much apiece, a matter of twenty pound
a head, for as many as he agrees for, and to pay for 'em when they
shall be delivered on such a plantation: so that when there arrives
a ship laden with slaves, they who have so contracted go aboard, and
receive their number by lot; and perhaps in one lot that may be for
ten, there may happen to be three or four men, the rest women and
children. Or be there more or less of either sex, you are obliged to
be contented with your lot.

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 merchandise
traffic; for that nation is very warlike and brave: and having a
continual campaign, being always in hostility with one neighboring
prince or other, they had the fortune to take a great many captives:
for all they took in battle were sold as slaves; at least those common
men who could 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, though he had many beautiful black wives:
for most certainly there are beauties that can charm of that color. 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 grandchild, 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 trained 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
adored as the wonder of all that world, and the darling of the
soldiers. Besides, he was adorned 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 surprise and wonder, when afterwards he
arrived in our world.

He had scarce arrived at his seventeenth year, when, fighting by his
side, the general was killed with an arrow in his eye, which the
Prince Oroonoko (for so was this gallant Moor called) very narrowly
avoided; nor had he, if the general who saw the arrow shot, and
perceiving it aimed at the prince, had not bowed his head between,
on purpose to receive it in his own body, rather than it should
touch that of the prince, and so saved him.

'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 continued 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 learned 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 honor, 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
beloved and valued by him. Another reason was, he loved 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 judgment 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 would 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 addressed himself as if his education had been in some
European court.

This great and just character of Oroonoko gave me an extreme
curiosity to see him, especially when I knew he spoke French and
English, and that I could talk with him. But though I had heard so
much of him, I was as greatly surprised when I saw him as if I had
heard nothing of him; so beyond all report I found him. He came into
the room, and addressed himself to me and some other women with the
best grace in the world. He was pretty tall, but of a shape the most
exact that can be fancied: the most famous statuary could not form the
figure of a man more admirably turned from head to foot. His face
was not of that brown rusty black which most of that nation are, but
of perfect ebony, or polished jet. His eyes were the most awful that
could be seen, and very piercing; the white of 'em being like snow, as
were his teeth. His nose was rising and Roman, instead of African
and flat. His mouth the finest shaped that could be seen; far from
those great turned lips which are so natural to the rest of the
negroes. The whole proportion and air of his face was so nobly and
exactly formed that, bating his color, there could be nothing in
nature more beautiful, agreeable, and handsome. There was no one grace
wanting that bears the standard of true beauty. His hair came down
to his shoulders, by the aids of art, which was by pulling it out with
a quill, and keeping it combed; of which he took particular care.
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 would have been convinced of their errors, that
all fine wit is confined to the white men, especially to those of
Christendom; and would have confessed that Oroonoko was as capable
even of reigning well, and of governing as wisely, had as great a
soul, as politic maxims, and was as sensible of power, as any prince
civilized in the most refined schools of humanity and learning, or the
most illustrious courts.

This prince, such as I have described him, whose soul and body
were so admirably adorned, was (while yet he was in the court of his
grandfather, as I said) as capable of love as 'twas possible for a
brave and gallant man to be; and in saying that, I have named the
highest degree of love: for sure great souls are most capable of
that passion.

I have already said, the old general was killed by the shot of an
arrow by the side of this prince in battle; and that Oroonoko was made
general. This old dead hero had one only daughter left of his race,
a beauty, that to describe her truly, one need say only, she was
female to the noble male; the beautiful black Venus to our young Mars;
as charming in her person as he, and of delicate virtues. I have
seen a hundred white men sighing after her, and making a thousand vows
at her feet, all in vain, and unsuccessful. And she was indeed too
great for any but a prince of her own nation to adore.

Oroonoko coming from the wars (which were now ended), after he had
made his court to his grandfather he thought in honor he ought to make
a visit to Imoinda, the daughter of his foster-father, the dead
general; and to make some excuses to her, because his preservation was
the occasion of her father's death; and to present her with those
slaves that had been taken in this last battle, as the trophies of her
father's victories. When he came, attended by all the young soldiers
of any merit, he was infinitely surprised 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 received him, that softness
in her look and sighs, upon the melancholy occasion of this honor 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 received him,
and the sweetness of her words and behavior while he staid, gained a
perfect conquest over his fierce heart, and made him feel the victor
could be subdued. So that having made his first compliments, and
presented her an hundred and fifty slaves in fetters, he told her with
his eyes that he was not insensible of her charms; while Imoinda,
who wished for nothing more than so glorious a conquest, was pleased
to believe she understood that silent language of new-born love;
and, from that moment, put on all her additions to beauty.

The prince returned to court with quite another humor than before;
and though he did not speak much of the fair Imoinda, he had the
pleasure to hear all his followers speak of nothing but the charms
of that maid, insomuch that, even in the presence of the old king,
they were extolling her, and heightening, if possible, the beauties
they had found in her: so that nothing else was talked of, no other
sound was heard in every corner where there were whisperers, but
Imoinda! Imoinda!

'Twill be imagined Oroonoko staid not long before he made his second
visit; nor, considering his quality, not much longer before he told
her he adored her. I have often heard him say that he admired by
what strange inspiration he came to talk things so soft, and so
passionate, who never knew love, nor was used to the conversation of
women; but (to use his own words) he said, most happily, some new and,
till then, unknown power instructed his heart and tongue in the
language of love, and at the same time, in favor of him, inspired
Imoinda with a sense of his passion. She was touched with what he
said, and returned it all in such answers as went to his very heart,
with a pleasure unknown before. Nor did he use those obligations
ill, that love had done him, but turned all his happy moments to the
best advantage; and as he knew no vice, his flame aimed at nothing but
honor, 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 practised in Christian countries, where they prefer the bare name
of religion; and, without virtue or morality, think that sufficient.
But Oroonoko was none of those professors; but as he had right notions
of honor, so he made her such propositions as were not only and barely
such; but, contrary to the custom of his country, he made her vows she
should be the only woman he would possess while he lived; that no
age or wrinkles should incline him to change; for her soul would be
always fine, and always young; and he should have an eternal idea in
his mind of the charms she now bore; and should look into his heart
for that idea, when he could 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, received him as the greatest honor the gods could do her.

There is a certain ceremony in these cases to be observed, which I
forgot to ask how 'twas performed; but 'twas concluded on both sides
that, in obedience to him, the grandfather was to be first made
acquainted with the design: for they pay a most absolute resignation
to the monarch, especially when he is a parent also.

On the other side, the old king, who had many wives and many
concubines, wanted not court-flatterers to insinuate into his heart
a thousand tender thoughts for this young beauty; and who
represented her to his fancy as the most charming he had ever
possessed in all the long race of his numerous years. At this
character, his old heart, like an extinguished brand, most apt to take
fire, felt new sparks of love, and began to kindle; and now grown to
his second childhood, longed with impatience to behold this gay thing,
with whom, alas! he could but innocently play. But how he should be
confirmed she was this wonder, before he used his power to call her to
court (where maidens never came, unless for the king's private use) he
was next to consider; and while he was so doing, he had intelligence
brought him that Imoinda was most certainly mistress to the Prince
Oroonoko. This gave him some chagrin: however, it gave him also an
opportunity, one day, when the prince was a-hunting, to wait on a
man of quality, as his slave and attendant, who should go and make a
present to Imoinda, as from the prince; he should then, unknown, see
this fair maid, and have an opportunity to hear what message she would
return the prince for his present, and from thence gather the state of
her heart, and degree of her inclination. This was put in execution,
and the old monarch saw, and burned: 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 expressed 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 could not be dissembled,
insomuch that 'twas past doubt whether she loved Oroonoko entirely.
This gave the old king some affliction; but he salved 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 would not oblige Imoinda
to do, duty would compel her to.

He was therefore no sooner got to his apartment but he sent the
royal veil to Imoinda; that is the ceremony of invitation: he sends
the lady he has a mind to honor with his bed, a veil, with which she
is covered, and secured for the king's use; and 'tis death to disobey;
besides, held a most impious disobedience.

'Tis not to be imagined the surprise and grief that seized the
lovely maid at this news and sight. However, as delays in these
cases are dangerous, and pleading worse than treason; trembling, and
almost fainting, she was obliged to suffer herself to be covered and
led away.

They brought her thus to court; and the king, who had caused a
very rich bath to be prepared, was led into it, where he sat under a
canopy, in state, to receive this longed-for virgin; whom he having
commanded should be brought to him, they (after disrobing her) led her
to the bath, and making fast the doors, left her to descend. The king,
without more courtship, bade her throw off her mantle, and come to his
arms. But Imoinda, all in tears, threw herself on the marble, on the
brink of the bath, and besought him to hear her. She told him, as
she was a maid, how proud of the divine glory she should have been, of
having it in her power to oblige her king; but as by the laws he could
not, and from his royal goodness would not, take from any man his
wedded wife; so she believed she should be the occasion of making
him commit a great sin if she did not reveal her state and
condition, and tell him she was another's, and could not be so happy
to be his.

The king, enraged at this delay, hastily demanded the name of the
bold man that had married a woman of her degree without his consent.
Imoinda, seeing his eyes fierce, and his hands tremble (whether with
age or anger, I know not, but she fancied the last), almost repented
she had said so much, for now she feared the storm would fall on the
prince; she therefore said a thousand things to appease the raging
of his flame, and to prepare him to hear who it was with calmness: but
before she spoke, he imagined who she meant, but would not seem to
do so, but commanded her to lay aside her mantle, and suffer herself
to receive his caresses, or, by his gods he swore, that happy man whom
she was going to name should die, though it were even Oroonoko
himself. "Therefore," said he, "deny this marriage, and swear
thyself a maid." "That," replied Imoinda, "by all our powers I do; for
I am not yet known to my husband." "'Tis enough," said the king, "'tis
enough both to satisfy my conscience and my heart." And rising from
his seat, he went and led her into the bath; it being in vain for
her to resist.

In this time, the prince, who was returned from hunting, went to
visit his Imoinda, but found her gone; and not only so, but heard
she had received the royal veil. This raised him to a storm; and in
his madness, they had much ado to save him from laying violent hands
on himself. Force first prevailed, and then reason: they urged all
to him that might oppose his rage; but nothing weighed so greatly with
him as the king's old age, uncapable of injuring him with Imoinda.
He would give way to that hope, because it pleased him most, and
flattered best his heart. Yet this served not altogether to make him
cease his different passions, which sometimes raged within him, and
softened into showers. 'Twas not enough to appease him, to tell him
his grandfather was old, and could not that way injure him, while he
retained that awful duty which the young men are used there to pay
to their grave relations. He could not be convinced he had no cause to
sigh and mourn for the loss of a mistress he could not with all his
strength and courage retrieve. And he would often cry, "O, my friends!
were she in walled cities, or confined from me in fortifications of
the greatest strength; did enchantments or monsters detain her from
me; I would venture through any hazard to free her: but here, in the
arms of a feeble old man, my youth, my violent love, my trade in arms,
and all my vast desire of glory, avail me nothing. Imoinda is as
irrecoverably lost to me as if she were snatched by the cold arms of
death. Oh! she is never to be retrieved. If I would wait tedious
years, till fate should bow the old king to his grave, even that would
not leave me Imoinda free; but still that custom that makes it so vile
a crime for a son to marry his father's wives or mistresses would
hinder my happiness; unless I would either ignobly set an ill
precedent to my successors, or abandon my country, and fly with her to
some unknown world who never heard our story."

But it was objected to him that his case was not the same; for
Imoinda being his lawful wife by solemn contract, 'twas he was the
injured man, and might, if he so pleased take Imoinda back, the breach
of the law being on his grandfather's side; and that if he could
circumvent him, and redeem her from the otan, which is the palace of
the king's women, a sort of seraglio, it was both just and lawful
for him so to do.

This reasoning had some force upon him, and he should have been
entirely comforted, but for the thought that she was possessed by
his grandfather. However, he loved so well that he was resolved to
believe what most favored his hope, and to endeavor to learn from
Imoinda's own mouth, what only she could satisfy him in, whether she
was robbed of that blessing which was only due to his faith and
love. But as it was very hard to get a sight of the women (for no
men ever entered into the otan but when the king went to entertain
himself with some one of his wives or mistresses; and 'twas death,
at any other time, for any other to go in), so he knew not how to
contrive to get a sight of her.

While Oroonoko felt all the agonies of love, and suffered under a
torment the most painful in the world, the old king was not exempted
from his share of affliction. He was troubled for having been
forced, by an irresistible passion, to rob his son of a treasure, he
knew, could not but be extremely dear to him; since she was the most
beautiful that ever had been seen, and had besides all the sweetness
and innocence of youth and modesty, with a charm of wit surpassing
all. He found that, however she was forced to expose her lovely person
to his withered arms, she could only sigh and weep there, and think of
Oroonoko; and oftentimes could not forbear speaking of him, though her
life were, by custom, forfeited by owning her passion. But she spoke
not of a lover only, but of a prince dear to him to whom she spoke;
and of the praises of a man who, till now, filled the old man's soul
with joy at every recital of his bravery, or even his name. And
'twas this dotage on our young hero that gave Imoinda a thousand
privileges to speak of him, without offending; and this
condescension in the old king, that made her take the satisfaction
of speaking of him so very often.

Besides, he many times inquired how the prince bore himself: and
those of whom he asked, being entirely slaves to the merits and
virtues of the prince, still answered what they thought conduced
best to his service; which was, to make the old king fancy that the
prince had no more interest in Imoinda, and had resigned her willingly
to the pleasure of the king; that he diverted himself with his
mathematicians, his fortifications, his officers, and his hunting.

This pleased the old lover, who failed not to report these things
again to Imoinda, that she might, by the example of her young lover,
withdraw her heart, and rest better contented in his arms. But,
however she was forced to receive this unwelcome news, in all
appearance with unconcern and content, her heart was bursting
within, and she was only happy when she could get alone, to vent her
griefs and moans with sighs and tears.

What reports of the prince's conduct were made to the king, he
thought good to justify as far as possibly he could by his actions;
and when he appeared in the presence of the king, he showed a face not
at all betraying his heart: so that in a little time, the old man,
being entirely convinced that he was no longer a lover of Imoinda,
he carried him with him, in his train, to the otan, often to banquet
with his mistresses. But as soon as he entered, one day, into the
apartment of Imoinda, with the king, at the first glance from her
eyes, notwithstanding all his determined resolution, he was ready to
sink in the place where he stood; and had certainly done so but for
the support of Aboan, a young man who was next to him; which, with his
change of countenance, had betrayed him, had the king chanced to
look that way. And I have observed, 'tis a very great error in those
who laugh when one says, "A negro can change color": for I have seen
'em as frequently blush, and look pale, and that as visibly as ever
I saw in the most beautiful white. And 'tis certain that both these
changes were evident, this day, in both these lovers. And Imoinda, who
saw with some joy the change in the prince's face, and found it in her
own, strove to divert the king from beholding either, by a forced
caress, with which she met him; which was a new wound in the heart
of the poor dying prince. But as soon as the king was busied in
looking on some fine thing of Imoinda's making, she had time to tell
the prince, with her angry, but love-darting eyes, that she resented
his coldness, and bemoaned her own miserable captivity. Nor were his
eyes silent, but answered hers again, as much as eyes could do,
instructed by the most tender and most passionate heart that ever
loved: and they spoke so well, and so effectually, as Imoinda no
longer doubted but she was the only delight and darling of that soul
she found pleading in 'em its right of love, which none was more
willing to resign than she. And 'twas this powerful language alone
that in an instant conveyed all the thoughts of their souls to each
other; that they both found there wanted but opportunity to make
them both entirely happy. But when he saw another door opened by
Onahal (a former old wife of the king's, who now had charge of
Imoinda), and saw the prospect of a bed of state made ready, with
sweets and flowers for the dalliance of the king, who immediately
led the trembling victim from his sight, into that prepared repose;
what rage! what wild frenzies seized 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. He was
forced to retire to vent his groans, where he fell down on a carpet,
and lay struggling a long time, and only breathing now and then, "O
Imoinda!" When Onahal had finished her necessary affair within,
shutting the door, she came forth, to wait till the king called; and
hearing someone sighing in the other room, she passed on, and found
the prince in that deplorable condition, which she thought needed
her aid. She gave him cordials, but all in vain; till finding the
nature of his disease, by his sighs, and naming Imoinda, she told
him he had not so much cause as he imagined to afflict himself: for if
he knew the king so well as she did, he would not lose a moment in
jealousy; and that she was confident that Imoinda bore, at this
moment, part in his affliction. Aboan was of the same opinion, and
both together persuaded him to reassume his courage; and all sitting
down on the carpet, the prince said so many obliging things to
Onahal that he half-persuaded her to be of his party: and she promised
him she would thus far comply with his just desires, that she would
let Imoinda know how faithful he was, what he suffered, and what he

This discourse lasted till the king called, which gave Oroonoko a
certain satisfaction; and with the hope Onahal had made him
conceive, he assumed a look as gay as 'twas possible a man in his
circumstances could do: and presently after, he was called in with the
rest who waited without. The king commanded music to be brought, and
several of his young wives and mistresses came all together by his
command, to dance before him; where Imoinda performed her part with an
air and grace so surpassing all the rest as her beauty was above
'em, and received the present ordained as a prize. The prince was
every moment more charmed with the new beauties and graces he beheld
in this fair one; and while he gazed, and she danced, Onahal was
retired to a window with Aboan.

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 governantes to the new and the young ones, and whose business it
was to teach them all those wanton arts of love with which they
prevailed 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 honors 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 decayed beauty than to behold in itself declining charms that
were once adored; 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 abandoned ladies therefore
endeavor to revenge all the despites 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. But
as I said, she was now retired to a window with Aboan.

This young man was not only one of the best quality, but a man
extremely well made, and beautiful; and coming often to attend the
king to the otan, he had subdued the heart of the antiquated Onahal,
which had not forgot how pleasant it was to be in love. And though she
had some decays in her face, she had none in her sense and wit; she
was there agreeable still, even to Aboan's youth: so that he took
pleasure in entertaining her with discourses of love. He knew also
that to make his court to these she-favorites was the way to be great;
these being the persons that do all affairs and business at court.
He had also observed that she had given him glances more tender and
inviting than she had done to others of his quality. And now, when
he saw that her favor could so absolutely oblige the prince, he failed
not to sigh in her ear, and to look with eyes all soft upon her, and
gave her hope that she had made some impressions on his heart. He
found her pleased at this, and making a thousand advances to him:
but the ceremony ending, and the king departing, broke up the
company for that day, and his conversation.

Aboan failed not that night to tell the prince of his success, and
how advantageous the service of Onahal might be to his amour with
Imoinda. The prince was overjoyed with this good news, and besought
him if it were possible to caress her so as to engage her entirely,
which he could not fail to do, if he complied with her desires: "For
then," said the prince, "her life lying at your mercy, she must
grant you the request you make in my behalf." Aboan understood him,
and assured him he would make love so effectually that he would defy
the most expert mistress of the art to find out whether he
dissembled it, or had it really. And 'twas with impatience they waited
the next opportunity of going to the otan.

The wars came on, the time of taking the field approached; and 'twas
impossible for the prince to delay his going at the head of his army
to encounter the enemy; so that every day seemed a tedious year,
till he saw his Imoinda: for he believed he could not live if he
were forced away without being so happy. 'Twas with impatience,
therefore, that he expected the next visit the king would make; and
according to his wish it was not long.

The parley of the eyes of these two lovers had not passed so
secretly but an old jealous lover could spy it; or rather, he wanted
not flatterers who told him they observed it: so that the prince was
hastened to the camp, and this was the last visit he found he should
make to the otan; he therefore urged Aboan to make the best of this
last effort, and to explain himself so to Onahal that she, deferring
her enjoyment of her young lover no longer, might make way for the
prince to speak to Imoinda.

The whole affair being agreed on between the prince and Aboan,
they attended the king, as the custom was, to the otan; where, while
the whole company was taken up in beholding the dancing, and antic
postures the woman-royal made, to divert the kind, Onahal singled
out Aboan, whom she found most pliable to her wish. When she had him
where she believed she could not be heard, she sighed to him, and
softly cried, "Ah, Aboan! when will you be sensible of my passion? I
confess it with my mouth, because I would not give my eyes the lie;
and you have but too much already perceived they have confessed my
flame: nor would I have you believe that, because I am the abandoned
mistress of a king, I esteem myself altogether divested of charms. No,
Aboan, I have still a rest of beauty enough engaging, and have learned
to please too well, not to be desirable. I can have lovers still,
but will have none but Aboan." "Madam," replied the half-feigning
youth, "you have already, by my eyes, found you can still conquer; and
I believe 'tis in pity of me you condescend to this kind confession.
But, Madam, words are used to be so small a part of our
country-courtship that 'tis rare one can get so happy an opportunity
as to tell one's heart; and those few minutes we have are forced to be
snatched for more certain proofs of love than speaking and sighing;
and such I languish for."

He spoke this with such a tone that she hoped it true, and could not
forbear believing it; and being wholly transported with joy for having
subdued the finest of all the king's subjects to her desires, she took
from her ears two large pearls, and commanded him to wear 'em in
his. He would have refused 'em, crying, "Madam, these are not the
proofs of your love that I expect; 'tis opportunity, 'tis a lone
hour only, that can make me happy." But forcing the pearls into his
hand, she whispered softly to him; "Oh! do not fear a woman's
invention, when love sets her a-thinking." And pressing his hand,
she cried, "This night you shall be happy. Come to the gate of the
orange-grove, behind the otan, and I will be ready about midnight to
receive you." 'Twas thus agreed, and she left him, that no notice
might be taken of their speaking together.

The ladies were still dancing, and the king, laid on a carpet,
with a great deal of pleasure was beholding them, especially
Imoinda, who that day appeared more lovely than ever, being
enlivened with the good tidings Onahal had brought her, of the
constant passion the prince had for her. The prince was laid on
another carpet at the other end of the room, with his eyes fixed on
the object of his soul; and as she turned or moved, so did they: and
she alone gave his eyes and soul their motions. Nor did Imoinda employ
her eyes to any other use than in beholding with infinite pleasure the
joy she produced in those of the prince. But while she was more
regarding him than the steps she took, she chanced to fall; and so
near him, as that leaping with extreme force from the carpet, he
caught her in his arms as she fell: and 'twas visible to the whole
presence, the joy wherewith he received her. He clasped her close to
his bosom, and quite forgot that reverence that was due to the
mistress of a king, and that punishment that is the reward of a
boldness of this nature. And had not the presence of mind of Imoinda
(fonder of his safety than her own) befriended him, in making her
spring from his arms, and fall into her dance again, he had at that
instant met his death; for the old king, jealous to the last degree,
rose up in rage, broke all the diversion, and led Imoinda to her
apartment, and sent out word to the prince to go immediately to the
camp; and that if he were found another night in court, he should
suffer the death ordained for disobedient offenders.

You may imagine how welcome this news was to Oroonoko, whose
unseasonable transport and caress of Imoinda was blamed by all men
that loved him: and now he perceived his fault, yet cried that for
such another moment he would be content to die.

All the otan was in disorder about this accident; and Onahal was
particularly concerned because on the prince's stay depended her
happiness; for she could no longer expect that of Aboan: so that ere
they departed, they contrived it so that the prince and he should both
come that night to the grove of the otan, which was all of oranges and
citrons, and that there they would wait her orders.

They parted thus with grief enough till night, leaving the king in
possession of the lovely maid. But nothing could appease the
jealousy of the old lover; he would not be imposed on, but would
have it that Imoinda made a false step on purpose to fall into
Oroonoko's bosom, and that all things looked like a design on both
sides; and 'twas in vain she protested her innocence: he was old and
obstinate, and left her more than half assured that his fear was true.

The king, going to his apartment, sent to know where the prince was,
and if be intended to obey his command. The messenger returned, and
told him, he found the prince pensive, and altogether unprepared for
the campaign; that he lay negligently on the ground, and answered very
little. This confirmed the jealousy of the king, and he commanded that
they should very narrowly and privately watch his motions; and that he
should not stir from his apartment but one spy or other should be
employed to watch him: so that the hour approaching wherein he was
to go to the citron-grove and taking only Aboan along with him, he
leaves his apartment, and was watched to the very gate of the otan;
where he was seen to enter, and where they left him, to carry back the
tidings to the king.

Oroonoko and Aboan were no sooner entered but Onahal led the
prince to the apartment of Imoinda; who, not knowing anything of her
happiness, was laid in bed. But Onahal only left him in her chamber,
to make the best of his opportunity, and took her dear Aboan to her
own; where he showed the height of complaisance for his prince,
when, to give him an opportunity, he suffered himself to be caressed
in bed by Onahal.

The prince softly wakened Imoinda, who was not a little surprised
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 longed to be; and having opportunity, night, and silence, youth,
love, and desire, he soon prevailed, and ravished in a moment what his
old grandfather had been endeavoring for so many months.

'Tis not to be imagined the satisfaction of these two young
lovers; nor the vows she made him, that she remained a spotless maid
till that night, and that what she did with his grandfather had robbed
him of no part of her virgin-honor; the gods, in mercy and justice,
having reserved that for her plighted lord, to whom of right it
belonged. And 'tis impossible to express the transports he suffered,
while he listened to a discourse so charming from her loved lips;
and clasped that body in his arms, for whom he had so long languished:
and nothing now afflicted him but his sudden departure from her; for
he told her the necessity, and his commands, but should depart
satisfied in this, that since the old king had hitherto not been
able to deprive him of those enjoyments which only belonged to him, he
believed for the future he would be less able to injure him: so
that, abating the scandal of the veil, which was no otherwise so
than that she was wife to another, he believed her safe, even in the
arms of the king, and innocent; yet would he have ventured at the
conquest of the world, and have given it all, to have had her
avoided that honor of receiving the royal veil. 'Twas thus, between
a thousand caresses, that both bemoaned the hard fate of youth and
beauty, so liable to that cruel promotion: 'twas a glory that could
well have been spared here, though desired and aimed at by all the
young females of that kingdom.

But while they were thus fondly employed, forgetting how time ran
on, and that the dawn must conduct him far away from his only
happiness, they heard a great noise in the otan, and unusual voices of
men; at which the prince, starting from the arms of the frighted
Imoinda, ran to a little battle-ax he used to wear by his side; and
having not so much leisure as to put on his habit, he opposed
himself against some who were already opening the door: which they did
with so much violence that Oroonoko was not able to defend it; but was
forced to cry out with a commanding voice, "Whoever ye are that have
the boldness to attempt to approach this apartment thus rudely, know
that I, the Prince Oroonoko, will revenge it with the certain death of
him that first enters. Therefore, stand back, and know, this place
is sacred to love and me this night; to-morrow 'tis the king's."

This he spoke with a voice so resolved and assured that they soon
retired from the door; but cried, "'Tis by the king's command we are
come; and being satisfied by thy voice, O Prince, as much as if we had
entered, we can report to the king the truth of all his fears, and
leave thee to provide for thy own safety, as thou art advised by thy

At these words they departed, and left the prince to take a short
and sad leave of his Imoinda; who, trusting in the strength of her
charms, believed she should appease the fury of a jealous king, by
saying she was surprised, and that it was by force of arms he got into
her apartment. All her concern now was for his life, and therefore she
hastened him to the camp, and with much ado prevailed on him to go.
Nor was it she alone that prevailed; Aboan and Onahal both pleaded,
and both assured him of a lie that should be well enough contrived
to secure Imoinda. So that at last, with a heart sad as death, dying
eyes, and sighing soul, Oroonoko departed, and took his way to the

It was not long after, the king in person came to the otan; where
beholding Imoinda, with rage in his eyes, he upbraided her
wickedness and perfidy; and threatening her royal lover, she fell on
her face at his feet, bedewing the floor with her tears, and imploring
his pardon for a fault which she had not with her will committed; as
Onahal, who was also prostrate with her, could testify: that,
unknown to her, he had broke into her apartment, and ravished her. She
spoke this much against her conscience; but to save her own life,
'twas absolutely necessary she should feign this falsity. She knew
it could not injure the prince, he being fled to an army that would
stand by him against any injuries that should assault him. However,
this last thought, of Imoinda's being ravished, changed the measures
of his revenge; and whereas before he designed to be himself her
executioner, he now resolved she should not die. But as it is the
greatest crime in nature amongst 'em to touch a woman after having
been possessed by a son, a father, or a brother, so now he looked on
Imoinda as a polluted thing, wholly unfit for his embrace; nor would
he resign her to his grandson, because she had received the royal
veil: he therefore removes her from the otan, with Onahal; whom he put
into safe hands, with order they should be both sold off as slaves
to another country, either Christian or heathen, 'twas no matter

This cruel sentence, worse than death, they implored might be
reversed; but their prayers were vain, and it was put in execution
accordingly, and that with so much secrecy that none, either without
or within the otan, knew anything of their absence or their destiny.

The old king nevertheless executed this with a great deal of
reluctancy; but he believed he had made a very great conquest over
himself when he had once resolved, and had performed what he resolved.
He believed now that his love had been unjust; and that he could not
expect the gods, or Captain of the Clouds (as they call the unknown
Power), would suffer a better consequence from so ill a cause. He
now begins to hold Oroonoko excused; and to say, he had reason for
what he did: and now everybody could assure the king how
passionately Imoinda was beloved by the prince; even those confessed
it now who said the contrary before his flame was not abated. So
that the king being old, and not able to defend himself in war, and
having no sons of all his race remaining alive, but only this, to
maintain him on his throne; and looking on this as a man disobliged,
first by the rape of his mistress, or rather wife, and now by
depriving him wholly of her, he feared, might make him desperate,
and do some cruel thing, either to himself or his old grandfather
the offender, he began to repent him extremely of the contempt he had,
in his rage, put on Imoinda. Besides, he considered he ought in
honor to have killed her for this offense, if it had been one. He
ought to have had so much value and consideration for a maid of her
quality as to have nobly put her to death, and not to have sold her
like a common slave; the greatest revenge, and the most disgraceful of
any, and to which they a thousand times prefer death, and implore
it; as Imoinda did, but could not obtain that honor. Seeing
therefore it was certain that Oroonoko would highly resent this
affront, he thought good to make some excuse for his rashness to
him; and to that end, he sent a messenger to the camp, with orders
to treat with him about the matter, to gain his pardon, and to
endeavor to mitigate his grief; but that by no means he should tell
him she was sold, but secretly put to death: for he knew he should
never obtain his pardon for the other.

When the messenger came, he found the prince upon the point of
engaging with the enemy; but as soon as he heard of the arrival of the
messenger, he commanded him to his tent, where he embraced him, and
received him with joy: which was soon abated by the downcast looks
of the messenger, who was instantly demanded the cause by Oroonoko;
who, impatient of delay, asked a thousand questions in a breath, and
all concerning Imoinda. But there needed little return; for he could
almost answer himself of all he demanded from his sighs and eyes. At
last the messenger, casting himself at the prince's feet, and
kissing them with all the submission of a man that had something to
implore which he dreaded to utter, he besought him to hear with
calmness what he had to deliver to him, and to call up all his noble
and heroic courage, to encounter with his words, and defend himself
against the ungrateful things he must relate. Oroonoko replied, with a
deep sigh, and a languishing voice, "I am armed against their worst
efforts- for I know they will tell me Imoinda is no more- and after
that, you may spare the rest." Then, commanding him to rise, he laid
himself on a carpet, under a rich pavilion, and remained a good
while silent, and was hardly heard to sigh. When he was come a
little to himself, the messenger asked him leave to deliver that
part of his embassy which the prince had not yet divined, and the
prince cried, "I permit thee." 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 deigned to ask pardon for his offense, and to
implore the prince would not suffer that loss to touch his heart too
sensibly, which now all the gods could 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 bade 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, would see him righted; and he
was contented to leave his share of glory to youths more fortunate and
worthy of that favor 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 spoken this, whatever his greatest officers and men
of the best rank could do, they could not raise him from the carpet,
or persuade him to action and resolutions of life; but commanding
all to retire, he shut himself into his pavilion all that day, while
the enemy was ready to engage: and wondering at the delay, the whole
body of the chief of the army then addressed themselves to him, and to
whom they had much ado to get admittance. They fell on their faces
at the foot of his carpet, where they lay, and besought him with
earnest prayers and tears to lead them forth to battle and not let the
enemy take advantages of them; and implored him to have regard to
his glory, and to the world, that depended on his courage and conduct.
But he made no other reply to all their supplications but this, that
he had now no more business for glory; and for the world, it was a
trifle not worth his care: "Go," continued he, sighing, "and divide it
amongst you, and reap with joy what you so vainly prize, and leave
me to my more welcome destiny."

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 replied, he
would not give himself the trouble- but wished 'em to choose the
bravest man amongst 'em, let his quality or birth be what it would:
"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." So turning
himself about, he would make no more reply to all they could urge or

The army, beholding their officers return unsuccessful, with sad
faces and ominous looks, that presaged no good luck, suffered a
thousand fears to take possession of their hearts, and the enemy to
come even upon them, before they would provide for their safety, by
any defense: and though they were assured by some, who had a mind to
animate them, that they should be immediately headed by the prince,
and that in the mean time Aboan had orders to command as general;
yet they were so dismayed for want of that great example of bravery
that they could make but a very feeble resistance; and at last,
downright fled before the enemy, who pursued 'em to the very tents,
killing 'em. Nor could all Aboan's courage, which that day gained
him immortal glory, shame 'em into a manly defense of themselves.
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 outcries as roused the prince
from his amorous slumber, in which he had remained buried for two
days, without permitting any sustenance to approach him. But, in spite
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 cried, "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 lingering
pleasure, and die every moment by a thousand racking thoughts; or be
tamely taken by an enemy, and led a whining lovesick slave to adorn
the triumphs of Jamoan, that young victor, who already is entered
beyond the limits I have prescribed him."

While he was speaking, he suffered his people to dress him for the
field; and sallying out of his pavilion, with more life and vigor in
his countenance than ever he showed, he appeared like some divine
power descended to save his country from destruction: and his people
had purposely put on him all things that might make him shine with
most splendor, 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 inspired 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 adored hero; who turning
the tide of the victory, changing absolutely the fate of the day,
gained an entire conquest: and Oroonoko having the good fortune to
single out Jamoan, he took him prisoner with his own hand, having
wounded him almost to death.

This Jamoan afterwards became very dear to him, being a man very
gallant, and of excellent graces, and fine parts; so that he never put
him amongst the rank of captives, as they used to do, without
distinction, for the common sale, or market, but kept him in his own
court, where he retained nothing of the prisoner but the name, and
returned no more into his own country; so great an affection he took
for Oroonoko, and by a thousand tales and adventures of love and
gallantry flattered his disease of melancholy and languishment:
which I have often heard him say, had certainly killed him but for the
conversation of this prince and Aboan, and the French governor he
had from his childhood, of whom I have spoken before, and who was a
man of admirable wit, great ingenuity, and learning; all which he
had infused into his young pupil. This Frenchman was banished out of
his own country, for some heretical notions he held: and though he was
a man of very little religion, he had admirable morals and a brave

After the total defeat of Jamoan's army, which all fled, or were
left dead upon the place, they spent some time in the camp; Oroonoko
choosing rather to remain a while there in his tents than to enter
into a palace or live in a court where he had so lately suffered so
great a loss. The officers therefore, who saw and knew his cause of
discontent, invented all sorts of diversions and sports to entertain
their prince: so that what with those amusements abroad, and others at
home, that is, within their tents, with the persuasions, arguments,
and care of his friends and servants that he more peculiarly prized,
he wore off in time a great part of that chagrin, and torture of death
of despair, which the first effects of Imoinda's death had given
him; insomuch as having received a thousand kind embassies from the
king, and invitation to return to court, he obeyed, though with no
little reluctancy: and when he did so, there was a visible change in
him, and for a long time he was much more melancholy than before.
But time lessens all extremes, and reduces 'em to mediums and
unconcern: but no motives of beauties, though all endeavored it, could
engage him in any sort of amour, though he had all the invitations
to it, both from his own youth and others' ambitions and designs.

Oroonoko was no sooner returned from this last conquest, and
received at court with all the joy and magnificence that could be
expressed to a young victor, who was not only returned triumphant, but
beloved like a deity, than there arrived in the port an English ship.

The master of it had often before been in these countries, and was
very well known to Oroonoko, with whom he had trafficked for slaves,
and had used to do the same with his predecessors.

This commander was a man of a finer sort of address and
conversation, better bred, and more engaging, than most of that sort
of men are; so that he seemed rather never to have been bred out of
a court than almost all his life at sea. This captain therefore was
always better received at court than most of the traders to those
countries were; and especially by Oroonoko, who was more civilized,
according to the European mode, than any other had been, and took more
delight in the white nations, and, above all, men of parts and wit. To
this captain he sold abundance of his slaves; and for the favor and
esteem he had for him, made him many presents, and obliged him to stay
at court as long as possibly he could. Which the captain seemed to
take as a very great honor done him, entertaining the prince every day
with globes and maps, and mathematical discourses and instruments;
eating, drinking, hunting, and living with him with so much
familiarity that it was not to be doubted but he had gained very
greatly upon the heart of this gallant young man. And the captain in
return of all these mighty favors, besought the prince to honor his
vessel with his presence, some day or other at dinner, before he
should set sail: which he condescended to accept, and appointed his
day. The captain, on his part, failed not to have all things in a
readiness, in the most magnificent order he could possibly: and the
day being come, the captain, in his boat, richly adorned with
carpets and velvet cushions, rowed to the shore to receive the prince;
with another long-boat, where was placed all his music and trumpets,
with which Oroonoko was extremely delighted; who met him on the shore,
attended by his French governor, Jamoan, Aboan, and about an hundred
of the noblest of the youths of the court. And after they had first
carried the prince on board, the boats fetched the rest off; where
they found a very splendid treat, with all sorts of fine wines; and
were as well entertained as 'twas possible in such a place to be.

The prince, having drunk hard of punch and several sorts of wine, as
did all the rest (for great care was taken they should want nothing of
that part of the entertainment), was very merry, and in great
admiration of the ship, for he had never been in one before; so that
he was curious of beholding every place where he decently might
descend. The rest, no less curious, who were not quite overcome with
drinking, rambled at their pleasure fore and aft, as their fancies
guided 'em: so that the captain, who had well laid his design
before, gave the word, and seized on all his guests; they clapping
great irons suddenly on the prince, when he was leaped down into the
hold to view that part of the vessel; and locking him fast down,
secured him. The same treachery was used to all the rest; and all in
one instant, in several places of the ship, were lashed fast in irons,
and betrayed to slavery. That great design over, they set all hands to
work to hoist sail; and with as treacherous as fair a wind they made
from the shore with this innocent and glorious prize, who thought of
nothing less than such an entertainment.

Some have commended this act, as brave in the captain; but I will
spare my sense of it, and leave it to my reader to judge as he
pleases. It may be easily guessed in what manner the prince resented
this indignity, who may be best resembled to a lion taken in a toil;
so he raged, so he struggled for liberty, but all in vain: and they
had so wisely managed his fetters that he could not use a hand in
his defense to quit himself of a life that would by no means endure
slavery; nor could he move from the place where he was tied to any
solid part of the ship against which he might have beat his head,
and have finished his disgrace that way. So that being deprived of all
other means, he resolved to perish for want of food; and pleased at
last with that thought, and toiled and tired by rage and
indignation, he laid himself down, and sullenly resolved upon dying,
and refused all things that were brought him.

This did not a little vex the captain, and the more so because he
found almost all of 'em of the same humor; so that the loss of so many
brave slaves, so tall and goodly to behold, would have been very
considerable. He therefore ordered one to go from him (for he would
not be seen himself) to Oroonoko, and to assure him, he was
afflicted for having rashly done so unhospitable a deed, and which
could not be now remedied, since they were far from shore; but since
he resented it in so high a nature, he assured him he would revoke his
resolution, and set both him and his friends ashore on the next land
they should touch at; and of this the messenger gave him his oath,
provided he would resolve to live. And Oroonoko, whose honor was
such as he never had violated a word in his life himself, much less
a solemn asseveration, believed in an instant what this man said;
but replied, he expected, for a confirmation of this, to have his
shameful fetters dismissed. This demand was carried to the captain;
who returned him answer that the offense had been so great which he
had put upon the prince that he durst not trust him with liberty while
he remained in the ship, for fear lest by a valor natural to him,
and a revenge that would animate that valor, he might commit some
outrage fatal to himself and the king his master, to whom this
vessel did belong. To this Oroonoko replied, he would engage his honor
to behave himself in all friendly order and manner, and obey the
command of the captain, as he was lord of the king's vessel and
general of those men under his command.

This was delivered 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 worshiped. Oroonoko then
replied, 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 occasioned 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?" replied Oroonoko. "Let
him know, I swear by my honor; which to violate would not only
render me contemptible and despised by all brave and honest men, and
so give myself perpetual pain, but it would be eternally offending and
displeasing all mankind; harming, betraying, circumventing, and
outraging all men. But punishments hereafter are suffered by one's
self; and the world takes no cognizance whether this God have revenged
'em, or not, 'tis done so secretly, and deferred so long: while the
man of no honor 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
show you how you mistake, when you imagine that he who will violate
his honor will keep his word with his gods." So, turning from him with
a disdainful smile, he refused to answer him, when he urged him to
know what answer he should carry back to his captain; so that he
departed without saying any more.

The captain pondering and consulting what to do, it was concluded
that nothing but Oroonoko's liberty would encourage any of the rest to
eat, except the Frenchman, whom the captain could not pretend to
keep prisoner, but only told him he was secured because he might act
something in favor of the prince, but that he should be freed as
soon as they came to land. So that they concluded it wholly
necessary to free the prince from his irons, that he might show
himself to the rest; that they might have an eye upon him, and that
they could not fear a single man.

This being resolved, to make the obligation the greater, the captain
himself went to Oroonoko; where, after many compliments and assurances
of what he had already promised, he receiving from the prince his
parole, and his hand, for his good behavior, dismissed his irons,
and brought him to his own cabin; where, after having treated and
reposed him a while (for he had neither eat nor slept in four days
before), he besought him to visit those obstinate people in chains,
who refused all manner of sustenance; and entreated him to oblige
'em to eat, and assure 'em of that liberty on the first opportunity.

Oroonoko, who was too generous not to give credit to his words,
showed himself to his people, who were transported with excess of
joy at the sight of their darling prince; falling at his feet, and
kissing and embracing him; believing, as some divine oracle, all he
assured 'em. But he besought 'em to bear their chains with that
bravery that became those whom he had seen act so nobly in arms; and
that they could not give him greater proofs of their love and
friendship, since 'twas all the security the captain (his friend)
could have, against the revenge, he said, they might possibly justly
take, for the injuries sustained by him. And they all, with one
accord, assured him, they could not suffer enough, when it was for his
repose and safety.

After this, they no longer refused to eat, but took what was brought
'em, and were pleased with their captivity, since by it they hoped
to redeem the prince, who, all the rest of the voyage, was treated
with all the respect due to his birth, though nothing could divert his
melancholy; and he would often sigh for Imoinda, and think this a
punishment due to his misfortune, in having left that noble maid
behind him, that fatal night, in the otan, when he fled to the camp.

Possessed with a thousand thoughts of past joys with this fair young
person, and a thousand griefs for her eternal loss, he endured a
tedious voyage, and at last arrived at the mouth of the river of
Surinam, a colony belonging to the King of England, and where they
were to deliver some part of their slaves. There the merchants and
gentlemen of the country going on board, to demand those lots of
slaves they had already agreed on; and, amongst those, the overseers
of those plantations where I then chanced to be: the captain, who
had given the word, ordered 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
pickaninnies) 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; nor daring to trust 'em together, lest rage
and courage should put 'em upon contriving some great action, to the
ruin of the colony.

Oroonoko was first seized on, and sold to our overseer, who had
the first lot, with seventeen more of all sorts and sizes, but not one
of quality with him. When he saw this, he found what they meant;
for, as I said, he understood English pretty well; and being wholly
unarmed and defenseless, so as it was in vain to make any
resistance, he only beheld the captain with a look all fierce and
disdainful, upbraiding him with eyes that forced blushes on his guilty
cheeks, he only cried in passing over the side of the ship, "Farewell,
Sir, 'tis worth my sufferings to gain so true a knowledge both of
you and of your gods by whom you swear." And desiring those that
held him to forbear their pains, and telling 'em he would make no
resistance, he cried, "Come, my fellow-slaves, let us descend, and see
if we can meet with more honor and honesty in the next world we
shall touch upon." So he nimbly leaped into the boat, and showing no
more concern, suffered himself to be rowed up the river, with his
seventeen companions.

The gentleman that bought him was a young Cornish gentleman whose
name was Trefry; a man of great wit and fine learning, and was carried
into those parts by the Lord-Governor, to manage all his affairs.
He, reflecting on the last words of Oroonoko to the captain, and
beholding the richness of his vest, no sooner came into the boat but
he fixed his eyes on him; and finding something so extraordinary in
his face, his shape and mien, a greatness of look, and haughtiness
in his air, and finding he spoke English, had a great mind to be
inquiring into his quality and fortune: which, though Oroonoko
endeavored to hide, by only confessing he was above the rank of common
slaves, Trefry soon found he was yet something greater than he
confessed; and from that moment began to conceive so vast an esteem
for him that he ever after loved him as his dearest brother, and
showed him all the civilities due to so great a man.

Trefry was a very good mathematician and a linguist; could speak
French and Spanish; and in the three days they remained in the boat
(for so long were they going from the ship to the plantation) he
entertained Oroonoko so agreeably with his art and discourse that he
was no less pleased with Trefry than he was with the prince; and he
thought himself, at least, fortunate in this, that since he was a
slave, as long as he would suffer himself to remain so he had a man of
so excellent wit and parts for a master. So that before they had
finished their voyage up the river, he made no scruple of declaring to
Trefry all his fortunes, and most part of what I have here related,
and put himself wholly into the hands of his new friend, whom he found
resenting all the injuries were done him, and was charmed with all the
greatnesses of his actions; which were recited with that modesty,
and delicate sense, as wholly vanquished him, and subdued him to his
interest. And he promised him on his word and honor he would find
the means to re-conduct him to his own country again; assuring him, he
had a perfect abhorrence of so dishonorable an action, and that he
would sooner have died than have been the author of such a perfidy. He
found the prince was very much concerned to know what became of his
friends, and how they took their slavery; and Trefry promised to
take care about the inquiring after their condition, and that he
should have an account of 'em.

Though, as Oroonoko afterwards said, he had little reason to
credit the words of a Backearay, yet he knew not why, but he saw a
kind of sincerity and awful truth in the face of Trefry; he saw an
honesty in his eyes, and he found him wise and witty enough to
understand honor: for it was one of his maxims, A man of wit could not
be a knave or villain.

In their passage up the river they put in at several houses for
refreshment; and ever when they landed, numbers of people would
flock to behold this man: not but their eyes were daily entertained
with the sight of slaves, but the fame of Oroonoko was gone before
him, and all people were in admiration of his beauty. Besides, he
had a rich habit on, in which he was taken, so different from the
rest, and which the captain could not strip him of, because he was
forced to surprise his person in the minute he sold him. When he found
his habit made him liable, as he thought, to be gazed at the more,
he begged Trefry to give him something more befitting a slave, which
he did, and took off his robes: nevertheless he shone through all, and
his osenbrigs (a sort of brown Holland suit he had on) could not
conceal the graces of his looks and mien; and he had no less
admirers than when he had his dazzling habit on: the royal youth
appeared in spite of the slave, and people could not help treating him
after a different manner, without designing it. As soon as they
approached him, they venerated and esteemed him; his eyes insensibly
commanded respect, and his behavior insinuated it into every soul.
So that there was nothing talked of but this young and gallant
slave, even by those who yet knew not that he was a prince.

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 Caesar; 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 Caesar,
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' endeavors if the Dutch, 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. And Mr.
Trefry, who designed it, died before he began it, and bemoaned himself
for not having undertook it in time.

For the future, therefore, I must call Oroonoko Caesar; since by
that name only he was known in our Western World, and by that name
he was received on shore at Parham-House, where he was destined a
slave. But if the King himself (God bless him) had come ashore,
there could not have been greater expectation by all the whole
plantation, and those neighboring ones, than was on ours at that time;
and he was received more like a governor than a slave:
notwithstanding, as the custom was, they assigned him his portion of
land, his house, and his business up in the plantation. But as it
was more for form than any design to put him to his task, he endured
no more of the slave but the name, and remained some days in the
house, receiving all visits that were made him, without stirring
towards that part of the plantation where the negroes were.

At last, he would needs go view his land, his house, and the
business assigned him. But he no sooner came to the houses of the
slaves, which are like a little town by itself, the negroes all having
left work, but they all came forth to behold him, and found he was
that prince who had, at several times, sold most of 'em to these
parts; and from a veneration they pay to great men, especially if they
know 'em, and from the surprise and awe they had at the sight of
him, they all cast themselves at his feet, crying out, in their
language, "Live, O King! Long live, O King!" and kissing his feet,
paid him even divine homage.

Several English gentlemen were with him, and what Mr. Trefry had
told 'em was here confirmed; of which he himself before had no other
witness than Caesar himself: but he was infinitely glad to find his
grandeur confirmed by the adoration of all the slaves.

Caesar, troubled with their over-joy and over-ceremony, besought 'em
to rise, and to receive him as their fellow-slave; assuring them he
was no better. At which they set up with one accord a most terrible
and hideous mourning and condoling, which he and the English had
much ado to appease: but at last they prevailed with 'em, and they
prepared all their barbarous music, and everyone killed and dressed
something of his own stock (for every family has their land apart,
on which, at their leisure times, they breed all eatable things),
and clubbing it together, made a most magnificent supper, inviting
their Grandee Captain, their Prince, to honor it with his presence;
which he did, and several English with him, where they all waited on
him, some playing, others dancing before him all the time, according
to the manners of their several nations, and with unwearied industry
endeavoring to please and delight him.

While they sat at meat, Mr. Trefry told Caesar that most of these
young slaves were undone in love with a fine she-slave, whom they
had had about six months on their land; the prince, who never heard
the name of love without a sigh, nor any mention of it without the
curiosity of examining further into that tale, which of all discourses
was most agreeable to him, asked how they came to be so unhappy as
to be all undone for one fair slave. Trefry, who was naturally
amorous, and loved to talk of love as well as anybody, proceeded to
tell him they had the most charming black that ever was beheld on
their plantation, about fifteen or sixteen years old, as he guessed;
that for his part he had done nothing but sigh for her ever since
she came; and that all the white beauties he had seen never charmed
him so absolutely as this fine creature had done; and that no man,
of any nation, ever beheld her that did not fall in love with her; and
that she had all the slaves perpetually at her feet; and the whole
country resounded with the fame of Clemene. "For so," said he, "we
have christened her: but she denies us all with such a noble disdain
that 'tis a miracle to see that she who can give such eternal
desires should herself be all ice and unconcern. She is adorned with
the most graceful modesty that ever beautified youth; the softest
sigher- that, if she were capable of love, one would swear she
languished for some absent happy man; and so retired as if she
feared a rape even from the god of day, or that the breezes would
steal kisses from her delicate mouth. Her task of work, some sighing
lover every day makes it his petition to perform for her; which she
accepts blushing, and with reluctancy, for fear he will ask her a look
for a recompense, which he dares not presume to hope; so great an
awe she strikes into the hearts of her admirers. "I do not wonder,"
replied the prince, "that Clemene should refuse slaves, being, as
you say, so beautiful; but wonder how she escapes those that can
entertain her as you can do: or why, being your slave, you do not
oblige her to yield." "I confess," said Trefry, "when I have,
against her will, entertained her with love so long as to be
transported with my passion even above decency, I have been ready to
make use of those advantages of strength and force nature has given
me: but oh! she disarms me with that modesty and weeping, so tender
and so moving that I retire, and thank my stars she overcame me."
The company laughed at his civility to a slave, and Caesar only
applauded the nobleness of his passion and nature, since that slave
might be noble, or, what was better, have true notions of honor and
virtue in her. Thus passed they this night. after having received from
the slaves all imaginable respect and obedience.

The next day, Trefry asked Caesar to walk when the heat was allayed,
and designedly carried him by the cottage of the fair slave; and
told him, she whom he spoke of last night lived there retired.
"But," says he, "I would not wish you to approach; for I am sure you
will be in love as soon as you behold her." Caesar assured him he
was proof against all the charms of that sex; and that if he
imagined his heart could be so perfidious to love again, after
Imoinda, he believed he should tear it from his bosom. They had no
sooner spoke but a little shock-dog, that Clemene had presented her,
which she took great delight in, ran out; and she, not knowing anybody
was there, ran to get it in again, and bolted out on those who were
just speaking of her: when seeing them, she would have run in again,
but Trefry caught her by the hand, and cried, "Clemene, however you
fly a lover, you ought to pay some respect to this stranger" (pointing
to Caesar). But she, as if she had resolved never to raise her eyes to
the face of a man again, bent 'em the more to the earth, when he
spoke, and gave the prince the leisure to look the more at her.
There needed no long gazing, or consideration, to examine who this
fair creature was; he soon saw Imoinda all over her; in a minute he
saw her face, her shape, her air, her modesty, and all that called
forth his soul with joy at his eyes, and left his body destitute of
almost life: it stood without motion, and for a minute knew not that
it had a being; and, I believe, he had never come to himself, so
oppressed he was with over-joy, if he had not met with this allay,
that he perceived Imoinda fall dead in the hands of Trefry. This
awakened him, and he ran to her aid, and caught her in his arms, where
by degrees she came to herself; and 'tis needless to tell with what
transports, what ecstasies of joy, they both a while beheld each
other, without speaking; then snatched each other to their arms;
then gazed again, as if they still doubted whether they possessed
the blessing they grasped: but when they recovered their speech,
'tis not to be imagined what tender things they expressed to each
other; wondering what strange fate had brought them again together.
They soon informed each other of their fortunes, and equally
bewailed their fate; but at the same time they mutually protested that
even fetters and slavery were soft and easy, and would be supported
with joy and pleasure while they could be so happy to possess each
other, and be able to make good their vows. Caesar swore he
disdained the empire of the world, while he could behold his
Imoinda; and she despised grandeur and pomp, those vanities of her
sex, when she could gaze on Oroonoko. He adored the very cottage where
she resided, and said, that little inch of the world would give him
more happiness than all the universe could do; and she vowed, it was a
palace while adorned with the presence of Oroonoko.

Trefry was infinitely pleased with this novel, and found this
Clemene was the fair mistress of whom Caesar had before spoke; and was
not a little satisfied that Heaven was so kind to the prince as to
sweeten his misfortunes by so lucky an accident; and leaving the
lovers to themselves, was impatient to come down to Parham-House
(which was on the same plantation) to give me an account of what had
happened. I was as impatient to make these lovers a visit, having
already made a friendship with Caesar, and from his own mouth
learned what I have related; which was confirmed by his Frenchman, who
was set on shore to seek his fortune, and of whom they could not
make a slave, because a Christian; and he came daily to Parham-Hill to
see and pay his respects to his pupil prince. So that concerning and
interesting myself in all that related to Caesar, whom I had assured
of liberty as soon as the Governor arrived, I hasted presently to
the place where these lovers were, and was infinitely glad to find
this beautiful young slave (who had already gained all our esteems,
for her modesty and her extraordinary prettiness) to be the same I had
heard Caesar speak so much of. One may imagine then we paid her a
treble respect; and though from her being carved in fine flowers and
birds all over her body, we took her to be of quality before, yet when
we knew Clemene was Imoinda, we could not enough admire her.

I had forgot to tell you that those who are nobly born of that
country are so delicately cut and raised all over the fore-part of the
trunk of their bodies that it looks as if it were japanned, the
works being raised like high point round the edges of the flowers.
Some are only carved with a little flower, or bird, at the sides of
the temples, as was Caesar; and those who are so carved over the
body resemble our ancient Picts that are figured in the chronicles,
but these carvings are more delicate.

From that happy day Caesar took Clemene for his wife, to the general
joy of all people; and there was as much magnificence as the country
would afford at the celebration of this wedding: and in a very short
time after she conceived with child, which made Caesar even adore her,
knowing he was the last of his great race. This new accident made
him more impatient of liberty, and he was every day treating with
Trefry for his and Clemene's liberty, and offered 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
delayed him till the Lord-Governor should come; so that he began to
suspect them of falsehood, 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. This thought made him very
uneasy, and his sullenness gave them some jealousies of him; so that I
was obliged, by some persons who feared a mutiny (which is very
fatal sometimes in those colonies that abound so with slaves, that
they exceed the whites in vast numbers), to discourse with Caesar, and
to give him all the satisfaction I possibly could. They knew he and
Clemene were scarce an hour in a day from my lodgings; that they eat
with me, and that I obliged 'em in all things I was capable of. I
entertained them with the loves of the Romans, and great me, which
charmed him to my company; and her, with teaching her all the pretty
works that I was mistress of, and telling her stories of nuns, and
endeavoring to bring her to the knowledge of the true God: but of
all discourses, Caesar liked that the worst, and would never be
reconciled to our notions of the Trinity, of which he ever made a
jest; it was a riddle, he said, would turn his brain to conceive,
and one could not make him understand what faith was. However, these
conversations failed not altogether so well to divert him that he
liked the company of us women much above the men, for he could not
drink, and he is but an ill companion in that country that cannot.
So that obliging him to love us very well, we had all the liberty of
speech with him, especially myself, whom he called his Great Mistress;
and indeed my word would go a great way with him. For these reasons
I had opportunity to take notice to him that he was not well pleased
of late, as he used to be; was more retired and thoughtful; and told
him, I took it ill he should suspect we would break our words with
him, and not permit both him and Clemene to return to his own kingdom,
which was not so long a way but when he was once on his voyage he
would quickly arrive there. He made me some answers that showed a
doubt in him, which made me ask what advantage it would be to doubt.
It would but give us a fear of him, and possibly compel us to treat
him so as I should be very loth to behold: that is, it might
occasion his confinement. Perhaps this was not so luckily spoke of me,
for I perceived he resented that word, which I strove to soften
again in vain. However, he assured me that, whatsoever resolutions
he should take, he would act nothing upon the white people; and as for
myself, and those upon that plantation where he was, he would sooner
forfeit his eternal liberty, and life itself, than lift his hand
against his greatest enemy on that place. He besought me to suffer
no fears upon his account, for he could do nothing that honor should
not dictate; but he accused himself for having suffered slavery so
long: yet he charged that weakness on love alone, who was capable of
making him neglect even glory itself; and, for which, now he
reproaches himself every moment of the day. Much more to this effect
he spoke, with an air impatient enough to make me know he would not be
long in bondage; and though he suffered only the name of a slave,
and had nothing of the toil and labor of one, yet that was
sufficient to render him uneasy; and he had been too long idle, who
used to be always in action, and in arms. He had a spirit all rough
and fierce, and that could not be tamed to lazy rest; and though all
endeavors were used to exercise himself in such actions and sports
as this world afforded, as running, wrestling, pitching the bar,
hunting and fishing, chasing and killing tigers of a monstrous size,
which this continent affords in abundance, and wonderful snakes,
such as Alexander is reported to have encountered at the River of
Amazons, and which Caesar took great delight to overcome; yet these
were not actions great enough for his large soul, which was still
panting after more renowned actions.

Before I parted that day with him, I got, with much ado, a promise
from him to rest yet a little longer with patience, and wait the
coming of the Lord-Governor, who was every day expected on our
shore: he assured me he would, and this promise he desired me to
know was given perfectly in complaisance to me, in whom he had an
entire confidence.

After this, I neither thought it convenient to trust him much out of
our view, nor did the country, who feared him; but with one accord
it was advised to treat him fairly, and oblige him to remain within
such a compass, and that he should be permitted, as seldom as could
be, to go up to the plantations of the negroes; or, if he did, to be
accompanied by some that should be rather in appearance attendants
than spies. This care was for some time taken, and Caesar looked
upon it as a mark of extraordinary respect, and was glad his
discontent had obliged 'em to be more observant to him; he received
new assurance from the overseer, which was confirmed to him by the
opinion of all the gentlemen of the country, who made their court to
him. During this time that we had his company more frequently than
hitherto we had had, it may not be unpleasant to relate to you the
diversions we entertained him with, or rather he us.

My stay was to be short in that country; because my father died at
sea, and never arrived to possess the honor designed him (which was
Lieutenant-General of six and thirty islands, besides the Continent of
Surinam) nor the advantages he hoped to reap by them: so that though
we were obliged to continue on our voyage, we did not intend to stay
upon the place. Though, in a word, I must say thus much of it; that
certainly had his late Majesty, of sacred memory, but seen and known
what a vast and charming world he had been master of in that
continent, he would never have parted so easily with it to the
Dutch. 'Tis a continent whose vast extent was never yet known, and may
contain more noble earth than all the universe beside; for, they
say, it reaches from east to west one way as far as China, and another
to Peru: it affords all things both for beauty and use; 'tis there
eternal spring, always the very months of April, May, and June; the
shades are perpetual, the trees bearing at once all degrees of
leaves and fruit, from blooming buds to ripe autumn: groves of
oranges, lemons, citrons, figs, nutmegs, and noble aromatics
continually bearing their fragrancies. The trees appearing all like
nosegays adorned with flowers of different kinds; some are all
white, some purple, some scarlet, some blue, some yellow; bearing at
the same time ripe fruit, and blooming young, or producing every day
new. The very wood of all these trees has an intrinsic value above
common timber; for they are, when cut, of different colors, glorious
to behold, and bear a price considerable, to inlay withal. Besides
this, they yield rich balm and gums; so that we make our candles of
such an aromatic substance as does not only give a sufficient light,
but, as they burn, they cast their perfumes all about. Cedar is the
common firing, and all the houses are built with it. The very meat
we eat, when set on the table, if it be native, I mean of the country,
perfumes the whole room; especially a little beast called an
armadillo, a thing which I can liken to nothing so well as a
rhinoceros; 'tis all in white armor, so jointed that it moves as
well in it as if it had nothing on: this beast is about the bigness of
a pig of six weeks old. But it were endless to give an account of
all the divers wonderful and strange things that country affords,
and which we took a very great delight to go in search of; though
those adventures are oftentimes fatal, and at least dangerous: but
while we had Caesar in our company on these designs, we feared no
harm, nor suffered any.

As soon as I came into the country, the best house in it was
presented me, called St. John's Hill. 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 adorned with such
vast quantities of different flowers eternally blowing, and every
day and hour new, fenced behind 'em with lofty trees of a thousand
rare forms and colors, 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 hindered 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 refreshed the sweet blossoms, and made
it always sweet and charming; and sure, the whole globe of the world
cannot show so delightful a place as this grove was. Not all the
gardens of boasted Italy can produce a shade to outvie this, which
nature had joined 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 covered
that rock: but all things by nature there are rare, delightful, and
wonderful. But to our sports.

Sometimes we would go surprising, and in search of young tigers in
their dens, watching when the old ones went forth to forage for
prey; and oftentimes we have been in great danger, and have fled apace
for our lives, when surprised by the dams. But once, above all other
times, we went on this design, and Caesar was with us; who had no
sooner stolen a young tiger from her nest, but going off, we
encountered the dam, bearing a buttock of a cow, which she had torn
off with her mighty paw, and going with it towards her den: we had
only four women, Caesar, and an English gentleman, brother to Harry
Martin, the great Oliverian; we found there was no escaping this
enraged and ravenous beast. However, we women fled as fast as we could
from it; but our heels had not saved our lives if Caesar had not
laid down his club, when he found the tiger quit her prey to make more
speed towards him; and taking Mr. Martin's sword, desired to stand
aside, or follow the ladies. He obeyed him; and Caesar met this
monstrous beast of mighty size and vast limbs, who came with open jaws
upon him; and fixing his awful stern eyes full upon those of the
beast, and putting himself into a very steady and good aiming
posture of defense, ran his sword quite through her breast down to her
very heart, home to the hilt of the sword: the dying beast stretched
forth her paw, and going to grasp his thigh, surprised with death in
that very moment, did him no other harm than fixing her long nails
in his flesh very deep, feebly wounded him, but could not grasp the
flesh to tear off any. When he had done this, he hollowed to us to
return: which, after some assurance of his victory, we did, and
found him lunging out the sword from the bosom of the tiger, who was
laid in her blood on the ground; he took up the club, and with an
unconcern that had nothing of the joy or gladness of a victory, he
came and laid the whelp at my feet. We all extremely wondered at his
daring, and at the bigness of the beast, which was about the height of
an heifer, but of mighty great and strong limbs.

Another time being in the woods, he killed a tiger which had long
infested that part, and borne away abundance of sheep and oxen, and
other things that were for the support of those to whom they belonged:
abundance of people assailed this beast, some affirming they had
shot her with several bullets quite through the body, at several
times; and some swearing they shot her through the very heart, and
they believed she was a devil rather than a mortal thing. Caesar had
often said he had a mind to encounter this monster, and spoke with
several gentlemen who had attempted her; one crying, "I shot her
with so many poisoned arrows," another with his gun in this part of
her, and another in that; so that he, remarking all these places where
she was shot, fancied still he should overcome her by giving her
another sort of a wound than any had yet done, and one day said (at
the table), "What trophies and garlands, ladies, will you make me,
if I bring you home the heart of this ravenous beast, that eats up all
your lambs and pigs?" We all promised he should be rewarded at all our
hands. So taking a bow, which he chose out of a great many, he went up
into the wood, with two gentlemen, where he imagined this devourer
to be; they had not passed very far in it but they heard her voice,
growling and grumbling, as if she were pleased with something she
was doing. When they came in view, they found her muzzling in the
belly of a new-ravished sheep, which she had torn open; and seeing
herself approached, she took fast hold of her prey with her fore-paws,
and set a very fierce raging look on Caesar, without offering to
approach him, for fear at the same time of losing what she had in
possession. So that Caesar remained a good while, only taking aim, and
getting an opportunity to shoot her where he designed: 'twas some time
before he could accomplish it; and to wound her, and not kill her,
would but have enraged her the more, and endangered him. He had a
quiver of arrows at his side, so that if one failed, he could be
supplied; at last, retiring a little, he gave her opportunity to
eat, for he found she was ravenous, and fell to as soon as she saw him
retire, being more eager of her prey than of doing new mischiefs: when
he going softly to one side of her, and hiding his person behind
certain herbage that grew high and thick, he took so good aim that, as
he intended, he shot her just into the eye, and the arrow was sent
with so good a will, and so sure a hand, that it stuck in her brain,
and made her caper, and become mad for a moment or two; but being
seconded by another arrow, she fell dead upon the prey. Caesar cut her
open with a knife, to see where those wounds were that had been
reported to him, and why she did not die of 'em. But I shall now
relate a thing that, possibly, will find no credit among men;
because 'tis a notion commonly received with us that nothing can
receive a wound in the heart and live: but when the heart of this
courageous animal was taken out, there were seven bullets of lead in
it, the wound seamed up with great scars, and she lived with the
bullets a great while, for it was long since they were shot. This
heart the conqueror brought up to us, and 'twas a very great curiosity
which all the country came to see; and which gave Caesar occasion of
many fine discourses of accidents in war and strange escapes.

At other times he would go a-fishing; and discoursing on that
diversion, he found we had in that country a very strange fish, called
a numb eel (an eel of which I have eaten) that, while it is alive,
it has a quality so cold that those who are angling, though with a
line of ever so great a length, with a rod at the end of it, it shall,
in the same minute the bait is touched by this eel, seize him or her
that holds the rod with a numbness that shall deprive 'em of sense for
a while; and some have fallen into the water, and others dropped as
dead on the banks of the rivers where they stood, as soon as this fish
touches the bait. Caesar used to laugh at this, and believed it
impossible a man could lose his force at the touch of a fish; and
could not understand that philosophy, that a cold quality should be of
that nature; however, he had a great curiosity to try whether it would
have the same effect on him it had on others, and often tried, but
in vain. At last, the sought-for fish came to the bait, as he stood
angling on the bank; and instead of throwing away the rod, or giving
it a sudden twitch out of the water, whereby he might have caught both
the eel and have dismissed the rod before it could have too much power
over him for experiment-sake, he grasped it but the harder, and
fainting fell into the river; and being still possessed of the rod,
the tide carried him, senseless as he was, a great way, till an Indian
boat took him up; and perceived, when they touched him, a numbness
seize them, and by that knew the rod was in his hand; which with a
paddle (that is, a short oar) they struck away, and snatched it into
the boat, eel and all. If Caesar was almost dead, with the effect of
this fish, he was more so with that of the water, where he had
remained the space of going a league, and they found they had much ado
to bring him back to life; but at last they did, and brought him home,
where he was in a few hours well recovered and refreshed, and not a
little ashamed to find he should be overcome by an eel, and that all
the people who heard his defiance would laugh at him. But we cheered
him up; and he being convinced, we had the eel at supper, which was
a quarter of an ell about, and most delicate meat; and was of the more
value, since it cost so dear as almost the life of so gallant a man.

About this time we were in many mortal fears about some disputes the
English had with the Indians; so that we could scarce trust ourselves,
without great numbers, to go to any Indian towns or place where they
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 used 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 nailed him to trees.

This feud began while I was there; so that I lost half the
satisfaction I proposed, in not seeing and visiting the Indian
towns. But one day, bemoaning of our misfortunes upon this account,
Caesar told us we need not fear, for if we had a mind to go, he
would undertake to be our guard. Some would, but most would not
venture: about eighteen of us resolved, and took barge; and after
eight days, arrived near an Indian town: but approaching it, the
hearts of some of our company failed, and they would not venture on
shore; so we polled, who would, and who would not. For my part, I
said, if Caesar would, I would go. He resolved; so did my brother
and my woman, a maid of good courage. Now, none of us speaking the
language of the people, and imagining we should have a half
diversion in gazing only, and not knowing what they said, we took a
fisherman that lived at the mouth of the river, who had been a long
inhabitant there, and obliged him to go with us. But because he was
known to the Indians, as trading among 'em, and being, by long
living there, become a perfect Indian in color, we, who had a mind
to surprise 'em, by making them see something they never had seen
(that is, white people), resolved only myself, my brother, and woman
should go: so Caesar, the fisherman, and the rest, hiding behind
some thick reeds and flowers that grew in the banks, let us pass on
towards the town, which was on the bank of the river all along. A
little distant from the houses, or huts, we saw some dancing, others
busied in fetching and carrying of water from the river. They had no
sooner spied us but they set up a loud cry, that frighted us at first;
we thought it had been for those that should kill us, but it seems
it was of wonder and amazement. They were all naked; and we were
dressed, so as is most commode for the hot countries, very
glittering and rich; so that we appeared extremely fine: my own hair
was cut short, and I had a taffety cap, with black feathers on my
head; my brother was in a stuff-suit, with silver loops and buttons,
and abundance of green ribbon. This was all infinitely surprising to
them; and because we saw them stand still till we approached 'em, we
took heart and advanced, came up to 'em, and offered 'em our hands;
which they took, and looked on us round about, calling still for
more company; who came swarming out, all wondering, and crying out
Tepeeme: taking their hair up in their hands, and spreading it wide to
those they called out to; as if they would say (as indeed it
signified), Numberless wonders, or not to be recounted, no more than
to number the hair of their heads. By degrees they grew more bold, and
from gazing upon us round, they touched us, laying their hands upon
all the features of our faces, feeling our breasts and arms, taking up
one petticoat, then wondering to see another; admiring our shoes and
stockings, but more our garters, which we gave 'em, and they tied
about their legs, being laced with silver lace at the ends; for they
much esteem any shining things. In fine, we suffered 'em to survey
us as they pleased, and we thought they would never have done admiring
us. When Caesar, and the rest, saw we were received with such
wonder, they came up to us; and finding the Indian trader whom they
knew (for 'tis by these fishermen, called Indian traders, we hold a
commerce with 'em; for they love not to go far from home, and we never
go to them), when they saw him, therefore, they set up a new joy,
and cried in their language, Oh! here's our Tiguamy, and we shall
now know whether those things can speak. So advancing to him, some
of 'em gave him their hands, and cried, Amora Tiguamy; which is as
much as, How do you do? or, Welcome, Friend: and all, with one din,
began to gabble to him, and asked if we had sense and wit? If we could
talk of affairs of life and war, as they could do? If we could hunt,
swim, and do a thousand things they use? He answered 'em, we could.
Then they invited us into their houses, and dressed venison and
buffalo for us; and, going out, gathered a leaf of a tree called a
sarumbo leaf, of six yards long, and spread it on the ground for a
table-cloth and cutting another in pieces, instead of plates, set us
on little low Indian stools, which they cut out of one entire piece of
wood, and paint in a sort of Japan-work. They serve every one their
mess on these pieces of leaves; and it was very good, but too
high-seasoned with pepper. When we had eat, my brother and I took
out our flutes, and played to 'em, which gave 'em new wonder; and I
soon perceived, by an admiration that is natural to these people,
and by the extreme ignorance and simplicity of 'em, it were not
difficult to establish any unknown or extravagant religion among them,
and to impose any notions or fictions upon 'em. For seeing a kinsman
of mine set some paper on fire with a burning-glass, a trick they
had never before seen, they were like to have adored him for a god,
and begged he would give 'em the characters or figures of his name,
that they might oppose it against winds and storms: which he did,
and they held it up in those seasons, and fancied it had a charm to
conquer them, and kept it like a holy relic. They are very
superstitious, and called him the great Peeie, that is, Prophet.
They showed us their Indian Peeie, a youth of about sixteen years old,
as handsome as Nature could make a man. They consecrate a beautiful
youth from his infancy, and all arts are used to complete him in the
finest manner, both in beauty and shape. He is bred to all the
little arts and cunning they are capable of; to all the legerdemain
tricks and sleight-of-hand, whereby he imposes upon the rabble; and is
both a doctor in physic and divinity: and by these tricks makes the
sick believe he sometimes eases their pains, by drawing from the
afflicted part little serpents, or odd flies, or worms, or any strange
thing; and though they have besides undoubted good remedies for almost
all their diseases, they cure the patient more by fancy than by
medicines, and make themselves feared, loved, and reverenced. This
young Peeie had a very young wife, who, seeing my brother kiss her,
came running and kissed me. After this they kissed 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 used or known. Caesar had a mind to see and
talk with their war-captains, and we were conducted to one of their
houses; where we beheld several of the great captains, who had been at
council: but so frightful a vision it was to see 'em, no fancy can
create; no sad dreams can represent so dreadful a spectacle. For my
part, I took 'em for hobgoblins, or fiends, rather than men: but
however their shapes appeared, their souls were very humane and noble;
but some wanted their noses, some their lips, some both noses and
lips, some their ears, and others cut through each cheek, with long
slashes, through which their teeth appeared: they had several other
formidable wounds and scars, or rather dismemberings. They had
comitias, or little aprons before 'em; and girdles of cotton, with
their knives naked stuck in it; a bow at their back, and a quiver of
arrows on their thighs; and most had feathers on their heads of divers
colors. They cried Amora Tiguamy to us, at our entrance, and were
pleased we said as much to them: they seated us, and gave us drink
of the best sort, and wondered as much as the others had done
before, to see us. Caesar was marveling as much at their faces,
wondering 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 battle. 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
war, they are asked, What they dare do, to show they are worthy to
lead an army? When he who is first asked, 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 died in this debate. And it's by a passive valor
they show and prove their activity; a sort of courage too brutal to be
applauded by our black hero; nevertheless, he expressed his esteem
of 'em.

In this voyage Caesar begat so good an understanding between the
Indians and the English that there were no more fears or
heart-burnings during our stay, but we had a perfect, open, and free
trade with 'em. Many things remarkable, and worthy reciting, we met
with in this short voyage; because Caesar made it his business to
search out and provide for our entertainment, especially to please his
dearly adored Imoinda, who was a sharer in all our adventures; we
being resolved to make her chains as easy as we could, and to
compliment the prince in that manner that most obliged him.

As we were coming up again, we met with some Indians of strange
aspects; that is, of a larger size, and other sort of features, than
those of our country. Our Indian slaves that rowed us asked 'em some
questions; but they could not understand us, but showed us a long
cotton string, with several knots on it, and told us they had been
coming from the mountains so many moons as there were knots: they were
habited in skins of a strange beast, and brought along with 'em bags
of gold-dust; which, as well as they could give us to understand, came
streaming in little small channels down the high mountains, when the
rains fell; and offered to be the convoy to anybody or persons that
would go to the mountains. We carried these men up to Parham, where
they were kept till the Lord-Governor came: and because all the
country was made to be going on this golden adventure, the Governor,
by letters, commanded (for they sent some of the gold to him) that a
guard should be set at the mouth of the River of Amazons (a river so
called, almost as broad as the River of Thames) and prohibited all
people from going up that river, it conducting to those mountains of
gold. But we going off for England before the project was further
prosecuted, and the Governor being drowned in a hurricane, either
the design died or the Dutch have the advantage of it: and 'tis to
be bemoaned what his Majesty lost by losing that part of America.

Though this digression is a little from my story, however, since
it contains some proofs of the curiosity and daring of this great man,
I was content to omit nothing of his character.

It was thus for some time we diverted him; but now Imoinda began
to show she was with child, and did nothing but sigh and weep for
the captivity of her lord, herself, and the infant yet unborn; and
believed, if it were so hard to gain the liberty of two, 'twould be
more difficult to get that for three. Her griefs were so many darts in
the great heart of Caesar, and taking his opportunity, one Sunday,
when all the whites were overtaken in drink, as there were abundance
of several trades, and slaves for four years, that inhabited among the
negro houses; and Sunday being their day of debauch (otherwise they
were a sort of spies upon Caesar), he went, pretending out of goodness
to 'em, to feast among 'em, and sent all his music, and ordered a
great treat for the whole gang, about three hundred negroes, and about
an hundred and fifty were able to bear arms, such as they had, which
were sufficient to do execution with spirits accordingly: for the
English had none but rusty swords, that no strength could draw from
a scabbard; except the people of particular quality, who took care
to oil 'em, and keep 'em in good order: the guns also, unless here and
there one, or those newly carried from England, would do no good or
harm; for 'tis the nature of that country to rust and eat up iron,
or any metals but gold and silver. And they are very unexpert at the
bow, which the negroes and the Indians are perfect masters of.

Caesar, having singled out these men from the women and children,
made an harangue to 'em, of the miseries and ignominies of slavery;
counting up all their toils and sufferings, under such loads, burdens,
and drudgeries as were fitter for beasts than men; senseless brutes,
than human souls. He told 'em, it was not for days, months, or
years, but for eternity; there was no end to be of their
misfortunes: they suffered not like men who might find a glory and
fortitude in oppression; but like dogs, that loved the whip and
bell, and fawned the more they were beaten: that they had lost the
divine quality of men, and were become insensible asses, fit only to
bear: nay, worse; an ass, or dog, or horse, having done his duty could
lie down in retreat, and rise to work again, and while he did his
duty, endured no stripes; but men, villainous, senseless men, such
as they, toiled on all the tedious week till Black Friday: and then,
whether they worked or not, whether they were faulty or meriting,
they, promiscuously, the innocent with the guilty, suffered the
infamous whip, the sordid stripes, from their fellow-slaves, till
their blood trickled from all parts of their body; blood, whose
every drop ought to be revenged with a life of some of those tyrants
that impose it. "And why," said he, "my dear friends and
fellow-sufferers, should we be slaves to an unknown people? Have
they vanquished us nobly in fight? Have they won us in honorable
battle? And are we by the chance of war become their slaves? This
would not anger a noble heart; this would not animate a soldiers soul:
no, but we are bought and sold like apes or monkeys, to be the sport
of women, fools, and cowards; and the support of rogues and runagates,
that have abandoned their own countries for rapine, murders, theft,
and villainies. Do you not hear every day how they upbraid each
other with infamy of life, below the wildest savages? And shall we
render obedience to such a degenerate race, who have no one human
virtue left, to distinguish them from the vilest creatures? Will
you, I say, suffer the lash from such hands?" They all replied with
one accord, "No, no, no; Caesar has spoke like a great captain, like a
great king."

After this he would have proceeded, but was interrupted by a tall
negro of some more quality than the rest, his name was Tuscan; who
bowing at the feet of Caesar, cried, "My Lord, we have listened 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 Caesar replied that honor was the first
principle in Nature, that was to be obeyed; but as no man would
pretend to that, without all the acts of virtue, compassion,
charity, love, justice, and reason, he found it not inconsistent
with that to take equal care of their wives and children as they would
of themselves; and that he did not design, when he led them to freedom
and glorious liberty, that they should leave that better part 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 virtue, to
choose 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.

To which they all agreed- and bowed. 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 labor filled and hardened; 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
would afford them food. To this they all assented with joy.

Tuscan then demanded what he would do. He said they would travel
towards the sea, plant a new colony, and defend it by their valor; and
when they could find a ship, either driven by stress of weather, or
guided by Providence that way, they would seize it, and make it a
prize, till it had transported them to their own countries: at least
they should be made free in his kingdom, and be esteemed as his
fellow-sufferers, and men that had the courage and the bravery to
attempt, at least, for liberty; and if they died in the attempt, it
would be more brave than to live in perpetual slavery.

They bowed and kissed his feet at this resolution, and with one
accord vowed to follow him to death; and that night was appointed to
begin their march. They made it known to their wives, and directed
them to tie their hamaca about their shoulders, and under their arm,
like a scarf, and to lead their children that could go, and carry
those that could not. The wives, who pay an entire obedience to
their husbands, obeyed, and staid for 'em where they were appointed:
The men staid but to furnish themselves with what defensive arms
they could get; and all met at the rendezvous, where Caesar made a new
encouraging speech to 'em, and led 'em out.

But as they could not march far that night, on Monday early, when
the overseers went to call 'em all together to go to work, they were
extremely surprised, to find not one upon the place, but all fled with
what baggage they had. You may imagine this news was not only suddenly
spread all over the plantation, but soon reached the neighboring ones;
and we had by noon about 600 men, they call the militia of the
country, that came to assist us in the pursuit of the fugitives: but
never did one see so comical an army march forth to war. The men of
any fashion would not concern themselves, though it were almost the
common cause; for such revoltings are very ill examples, and have very
fatal consequences oftentimes, in many colonies: but they had
respect for Caesar, and all hands were against the Parhamites (as they
called those of Parham Plantation) because they did not in the first
place love the Lord-Governor; and secondly, they would have it that
Caesar was ill used, and baffled with: and 'tis not impossible but
some of the best in the country was of his council in this flight, and
depriving us of all the slaves; so that they of the better sort
would not meddle in the matter. The Deputy-Governor, of whom I have
had no great occasion to speak, and who was the most fawning,
fair-tongued fellow in the world, and one that pretended the most
friendship to Caesar, was now the only violent man against him; and
though he had nothing, and so need fear nothing, yet talked and looked
bigger than any man. He was a fellow whose character is not fit to
be mentioned with the worst of the slaves. This fellow would lead
his army forth to meet Caesar, or rather to pursue him. Most of
their arms were of those sort of cruel whips they call cat with nine
tails; some had rusty useless guns for show; others old
basket-hilts, whose blades had never seen the light in this age; and
others had long staffs and clubs. Mr. Trefry went along, rather to
be a mediator than a conqueror in such a battle; for he foresaw and
knew, if by fighting they put the negroes into despair, they were a
sort of sullen fellows, that would drown or kill themselves before
they would yield: and he advised that fair means was best: but Byam
was one that abounded his own wit, and would take his own measures.

It was not hard to find these fugitives; for as they fled, they were
forced to fire and cut the woods before 'em: so that night or day they
pursued 'em by the light they made, and by the path they had
cleared. But as soon as Caesar found he was pursued, he put himself in
a posture of defense, placing all the women and children in the
rear; and himself, with Tuscan by his side, or next to him, all
promising to die or conquer. Encouraged thus, they never stood to
parley, but fell on pell-mell upon the English, and killed some, and
wounded a great many they having recourse to their whips, as the
best of their weapons. And as they observed no order, they perplexed
the enemy so sorely, with lashing 'em in the eyes; and the women and
children seeing their husbands so treated, being of fearful cowardly
dispositions, and hearing the English cry out, "Yield, and live! Yield
and be pardoned!" they all run in amongst their husbands and
fathers, and hung about them, crying out, "Yield! and leave Caesar
to their revenge"; that by degrees the slaves abandoned Caesar, and
left him only Tuscan and his heroic Imoinda, who, grown big as she
was, did nevertheless press near her lord, having a bow and a quiver
full of poisoned arrows, which she managed with such dexterity that
she wounded several, and shot the Governor into the shoulder; of which
wound he had like to have died, but that an Indian woman, his
mistress, sucked the wound, and cleansed it from the venom: but
however, he stirred not from the place till he had parleyed with
Caesar, who he found was resolved to die fighting, and would not be
taken; no more would Tuscan or Imoinda. But he, more thirsting after
revenge of another sort, than that of depriving him of life, now
made use of all his art of talking and dissembling, and besought
Caesar to yield himself upon terms which he himself should propose,
and should be scarcely assented to, and kept by him. He told him, it
was not that he any longer feared him, or could believe the force of
two men, and a young heroine, could overthrow all them, and with all
the slaves now on their side also; but it was the vast esteem he had
for his person, the desire he had to serve so gallant a man, and to
hinder himself from the reproach hereafter of having been the occasion
of the death of a prince whose valor and magnanimity deserved the
empire of the world. He protested to him, he looked upon this action
as gallant and brave, however tending to the prejudice of his lord and
master, who would by it have lost so considerable a number of
slaves; that this flight of his should be looked on as a heat of youth
and a rashness of a too forward courage, and an unconsidered
impatience of liberty, and no more; and no more; and that he labored
in vain to accomplish that which they would effectually perform as
soon as any ship arrived that would touch on his coast: "So that if
you will be pleased," continued he, "to surrender yourself, all
imaginable respect shall be paid you; and yourself, your wife, and
child, if it be born here, shall depart free out of our land." But
Caesar would hear of no composition; though Byam urged, if he
pursued and went on in his design, he would inevitably perish,
either by great snakes, wild beasts, or hunger; and he ought to have
regard to his wife, whose condition required ease, and not the
fatigues of tedious travel, where she could not be secured from
being devoured. But Caesar told him there was no faith in the white
men, or the gods they adored; who instructed them in principles so
false that honest men could not live amongst them; though no people
professed so much, none performed so little: that he knew what he
had to do when he dealt with men of honor, but with them a man ought
to be eternally on his guard, and never to eat and drink with
Christians, without his weapon of defense 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 Governor
is in the right; and that he was ashamed of what he had done, in
endeavoring to make those free who were by nature slaves, poor
wretched rogues, fit to be used as Christian's tolls; dogs,
treacherous and cowardly, fit for such masters, and they wanted only
but to be whipped into the knowledge 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.
But Trefry and Byam pleaded and protested together so much that
Trefry, believing the Governor to mean what he said, and speaking very
cordially himself, generously put himself into Caesar's hands, and
took him aside, and persuaded him, were with tears, to live, by
surrendering himself, and to name his conditions. Caesar was
overcome by his wit and reasons, and inconsideration of Imoinda: and
demanding what he desired, and that it should be ratified by their
hands in writing, because he had perceived that was the common way
of contract between man and man amongst the whites; all this was
performed, and Tuscan's pardon was put in, and they surrendered to the
Governor, who walked peaceably down into the plantation with them,
after giving order to bury their dead. Caesar was very much toiled
with the bustle of the day, for he had fought like a fury; and what
mischief was done, he and Tuscan performed alone; and gave their
enemies a fatal proof that they durst do anything, and feared no
mortal force.

But they were no sooner arrived at the place where all the slaves
receive their punishments of whipping but they laid hands on Caesar
and Tuscan, faint with heat and toil; and surprising them, bound
them to two several stakes, and whipped them in a most deplorable
and inhuman manner, rending the very flesh from their bones,
especially Caesar, who was not perceived to make any moan, or to alter
his face, only to roll his eyes on the faithless Governor, and those
he believed guilty, with fierceness and indignation; and to complete
his rage, he saw every one of those slaves, who but a few days
before adored him as something more than mortal, now had a whip to
give him some lashes, while he strove not to break his fetters; though
if he had, it were impossible: but he pronounced a woe and revenge
from his eyes, that darted fire, which was at once both awful and
terrible to behold.

When they thought they were sufficiently revenged on him, they
untied him, almost fainting with loss of blood, from a thousand wounds
all over his body; from which they had rent his clothes, and led him
bleeding and naked as he was, and loaded him all over with irons,
and them rubbed his wounds, to complete their cruelty, with Indian
pepper, which had like to have made him raving mad; and, in this
condition made him so fast to the ground that he could not stir, if
his pains and wounds would have given him leave. They spared
Imoinda, and did not let her see this barbarity committed towards
her lord, but carried her down to Parham, and shut her up; which was
not in kindness to her, but for fear she should die with the sight, or
miscarry, and then they should lose a young slave, and perhaps the

You must know that when the news was brought on Monday morning
that Caesar had betaken himself to the woods, and carried with him all
the negroes, we were possessed with extreme fear, which no persuasions
could dissipate, that he would secure himself till night, and them,
that he would come down and cut all our throats. This apprehension
made all the females of us fly down the river to be secured; and while
we were away, they acted this cruelty; for I suppose I had authority
and interest enough there, had I suspected any such thing, to have
prevented it: but we had not gone many leagues but the news overtook
us, that Caesar was taken and whipped like a common slave. We met on
the river with Colonel Martin, a man of great gallantry, wit, and
goodness, and whom I have celebrated in a character of my new
comedy, by his own name, in memory of so brave a man. He was wise
and eloquent, and, from the fineness of his parts, bore a great sway
over the hearts of all the colony. He was a friend to Caesar, and
resented this false dealing with him very much. We carried him back to
Parham, thinking to have made an accommodation; when he came, the
first news we heard was that the Governor was dead of a wound
Imoinda had given him; but it was not so well. But it seems, he
would have the pleasure of beholding the revenge he took on Caesar;
and before the cruel ceremony was finished, he dropped down; and
then they perceived the wound he had on his shoulder was by a
venomed arrow, which, as I said, his Indian mistress healed, by
sucking the wound.

We were no sooner arrived but we went up to the plantation to see
Caesar; whom we found in a very miserable and unexpressable condition;
and I have a thousand times admired how he lived in so much tormenting
pain. We said all things to him that trouble, pity, and good-nature
could suggest, protesting our innocency of the fact, and our
abhorrence of such cruelties; making a thousand professions and
services to him, and begging as many pardons for the offenders, till
we said so much that he believed we had no hand in his ill
treatment: but told us, he could never pardon Byam; as for Trefry,
he confessed he saw his grief and sorrow for his suffering, which he
could not hinder, but was like to have been beaten down by the very
slaves, for speaking in his defense: but for Byam, who was their
leader, their head- and should, by his justice and honor, have been
and example to 'em- for him he wished to live to take a dire revenge
of him; and said, "It had been well for him if he had sacrificed me
instead of giving me the contemptible whip." He refused to talk
much; but begging us to give him our hands, he took them, and
protested never to lift up his to do us any harm. He had a great
respect for Colonel Martin, and always took his counsel like that of a
parent; and assured him he would obey him in anything but his
revenge on Byam. "Therefore," said he, "for his own safety, let him
speedily dispatch me; for if I could dispatch myself, I would not,
till that justice were done to my injured person, and the contempt
of a soldier. No, I would not kill myself, even after a whipping,
but will be content to live with that infamy, and be pointed at by
every grinning slave, till I have completed my revenge; and then you
shall see that Oroonoko scorns to live with the indignity that was put
on Caesar." All we could do could get no more words from him; and we
took care to have him put immediately into a healing bath, to rid
him of his pepper, and ordered a chirurgeon to anoint him with healing
balm, which he suffered, and in some time he began to be able to
walk and eat. We failed not to visit him every day, and to that end
had him brought to an apartment at Parham.

The Governor had no sooner recovered, and had heard of the menaces
of Caesar, 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; but at the very
council-table would contradict and fight with one another, and swear
so bloodily that 'twas terrible to hear and see 'em. (Some of 'em were
afterwards hanged when the Dutch took possession of the place,
others sent off in chains). But calling these special rulers of the
nation together, and requiring their counsel in this weighty affair,
they all concluded that (damn 'em) it might be their own cases; and
that Caesar ought to be made an example to all the negroes, to
fright 'em from daring to threaten their betters, their lords and
masters: and at this rate no man was safe from his own slaves; and
concluded, nemine contradicente, that Caesar should be hanged.

Trefry then thought it time to use his authority, and told Byam
his command did not extend to his lord's plantation; and that Parham
was as much exempt from the law as Whitehall; and that they ought no
more to touch the servants of the lord (who there represented the
King's person) than they could those about the King himself; and
that Parham was a sanctuary; and though his lord were absent in
person, his power was still in being there, which he had entrusted
with him, as far as the dominions of his particular plantations
reached, and all that belonged to it: the rest of the country, as Byam
was lieutenant to his lord, he might exercise his tyranny upon. Trefry
had others as powerful, or more, that interested themselves in
Caesar's life, and absolutely said he should be defended. So turning
the Governor, and his wise council, out of doors (for they sat at
Parham-House), we set a guard upon our lodging-place, and would
admit none but those we called friends to us and Caesar.

The Governor having remained wounded at Parham till his recovery was
completed, Caesar did not know but he was still there, and indeed, for
the most part, his time was spent there: for he was one that loved
to live at other people's expense, and if he were a day absent, he was
ten present there; and used to play and walk, and hunt and fish with
Caesar, So that Caesar did not at all doubt, if he once recovered
strength, but he should find an opportunity of being revenged on
him; though, after such a revenge, he could not hope to live: for if
he escaped the fury of the English mobile, who perhaps would have been
glad of the occasion to have killed him, he was resolved not to
survive his whipping; yet he had some tender hours, a repenting
softness, which he called his fits of cowardice, wherein he
struggled with love for the victory of his heart, which took part with
his charming Imoinda there: but, for the most part, his time was
passed in melancholy thoughts and black designs. He considered, 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 ravaged by every brute; exposed 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
fancied slaughter he should make over the whole face of the
plantation; he first resolved on a deed that (however horrid it
first appeared 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 begged 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 gushed, in
spite 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 heroic wife faster pleading for death that he
was to propose it, when she found his fixed 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 should 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 adored 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 be afterwards.

All that love could say in such cases being ended, and all the
intermitting irresolutions being adjusted, the lovely, young, and
adored victim lays herself down before the sacrificer; while he,
with a hand resolved, and a 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 concealed 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 swelled up to
rage; he tore, he raved, he roared like some monster of the wood,
calling on the loved 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 sacrificed Imoinda to
my revenge, shall I lose that glory which I have purchased so dear, as
the price of the fairest, dearest, softest creature that ever Nature
made? No, no!" Then 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 adored than

He remained in this deplorable condition for two days, and never
rose from the ground where he had made her sad sacrifice; at last
rousing from her side, and accusing himself of living too long, now
Imoinda was dead, and that the deaths of those barbarous enemies
were deferred too long, he resolved now to finish the great work;
but offering to rise, he found his strength so decayed that he
swayed to and fro, like boughs assailed by contrary winds; so that
he was forced to lie down again, and try to summon all his courage
to his aid. He found his brains turned round, and his eyes were dizzy,
and objects appeared not the same to him they were wont to do; his
breath was short, and all his limbs surprised with a faintness he
had never felt before. He had not eat in two days, which was one
occasion of his feebleness, but excess of grief was the greatest,
yet still he hoped he should never recover vigor to act his design,
and lay expecting it yet six days longer; still mourning over the dead
idol of his heart and striving every day to rise, but could not.

In all this time you may believe we were in no little affliction for
Caesar and his wife: some were of opinion he was escaped, never to
return; others thought some accident had happened to him: but however,
we failed not to send out a hundred people several ways, to search for
him. A party of about forty went that way he took, among whom was
Tuscan, who was perfectly reconciled to Byam. They had not gone very
far into the wood but they smelt an unusual smell, as of a dead
body; for stinks must be very noisome that can be distinguished
among such a quantity of natural sweets as every inch of that land
produces: so that they concluded they should find him dead, or some
body that was so; they passed on towards it, as loathsome as it was,
and made such rustling among the leaves that lie thick on the
ground, by continual falling, that Caesar heard he was approached: and
though he had, during the space of these eight days, endeavored to
rise, but found he wanted strength, yet looking up, and seeing his
pursuers, he rose, and reeled to a neighboring tree, against which
he fixed his back; and being within a dozen yards of those that
advanced and saw him, he called out to them, and bid them approach
no nearer, if they would be safe. So that they stood still, and hardly
believing their eyes, that would persuade them that it was Caesar that
spoke to 'em, so much was he altered; they asked him what he had
done with his wife, for they smelt a stink that almost struck them
dead. He, pointing to the dead body, sighing, cried, "Behold her
there." They put off the flowers that covered her, with their
sticks, and found she was killed, and cried out, "O monster! that hast
murdered thy wife." Then asking him why he did so cruel a deed; he
replied, he had no leisure to answer impertinent questions. "You may
go back," continued he, "and tell the faithless Governor he may
thank Fortune that I am breathing my last; and that my arm is to
feeble to obey my heart, in what it had designed him." But his
tongue faltering, and trembling, he could scarce end what he was
saying. The English, taking advantage of his weakness, cried, "Let
us take him alive by all means." He heard 'em; and, as if he had
revived from a fainting, or a dream, he cried out, "No, Gentlemen, you
are deceived; you will find no more Caesars to be whipped; 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 anew; and he
only shook his head, and beheld them with scorn. Then they cried out
"Who will venture on this single man? Will nobody?" They stood all
silent while Caesar 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 ripped up his own belly, and took his bowels and pulled '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 cried out, "Will none venture on him?" A bold
Englishman cried, "Yes, if he were the Devil" (taking courage when
he saw him almost dead), and swearing a horrid oath for his farewell
to the world, he rushed on him. Caesar with his armed hand met him
so fairly as stuck him to the heart, and he fell dead at his feet.
Tuscan, seeing that, cried out, "I love thee, O Caesar! and
therefore will not let thee die, if possible," and running to him,
took him in his arms: but, at the same time, warding a blow that
Caesar made at his bosom, he received it quite through his arm; and
Caesar having not the strength to pluck the knife forth, though he
attempted it, Tuscan neither pulled it out himself, nor suffered it to
be pulled out, but came down with it sticking in his arm; and the
reason he gave for it was, because the air should not get into the
wound. They put their hands across, and carried Caesar between six
of 'em, fainting as he was, and though they thought dead, or just
dying; and they brought him to Parham, and laid him on a couch, and
had the chirurgeon immediately to him, who dressed his wounds, and
sowed up his belly, and used means to bring him to life, which they
effected. We ran all to see him; and, if before we thought him so
beautiful a sight, he was now so altered that his face was like a
death's-head blacked over, nothing but teeth and eye-holes: for some
days we suffered nobody to speak to him, but caused cordials to be
poured down his throat; which sustained his life, and in six or
seven days he recovered his senses: for you must know that wounds
are almost to a miracle cured in the Indies; unless wounds in the
legs, which they rarely ever cure.

When he was well enough to speak, we talked to him, and asked him
some questions about his wife, and the reasons why he killed her;
and he then told us what I have related of that resolution, and of his
parting, and he besought us we would let him die, and was extremely
afflicted to think it was possible he might live: he assured us, if we
did not dispatch him, he would prove very fatal to a great many. We
said all we could to make him live, and gave him new assurances; but
he begged we would not think so poorly of him, or of his love to
Imoinda, to imagine we could flatter him to life again: but the
chirurgeon assured him he could not live, and therefore he need not
fear. We were all (but Caesar) afflicted at this news, and the sight
was ghastly: his discourse was sad; and the earthy smell about him was
so strong that I was persuaded to leave the place for some time (being
myself very sickly, and very apt to fall into fits of dangerous
illness upon any extraordinary melancholy). The servants, and
Trefry, and the chirurgeons, promised all to take what possible care
they could of the life of Caesar; and I, taking boat, went with
other company to Colonel Martin's, about three days' journey down
the river. But I was no sooner gone than the Governor, taking
Trefry, about some pretended earnest business, a day's journey up
the river, having communicated his design to one Banister, a wild
Irishman, and one of the council, a fellow of absolute barbarity,
and fit to execute any villainy, but rich; he came up to Parham, and
forcibly took Caesar, and had him carried to the same post where he
was whipped; and causing him to be tied to it, and a great fire made
before him, he told him he should die like a dog, as he was. Caesar
replied, this was the first piece of bravery that ever Banister did,
and he never spoke sense till he pronounced that word; and, if he
would keep it, he would declare, in the other world, that he was the
only man, of all the whites, that ever he heard speak truth. And
turning to the men that had bound him, he said, "My friends, am I to
die, or to be whipped?" And they cried, "Whipped! no, you shall not
escape so well." And then he replied, smiling, "A blessing on thee";
and assured them they need not tie him, for he would stand fixed
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."

He had learned to take tobacco; and when he was assured he should
die, he desired they would give him a pipe in his mouth, ready
lighted; which they did. And the executioner came, and first cut off
his members, and threw them into the fire; after that, with an
ill-favored knife, they cut off his ears and his nose and burned them;
he still smoked on, as if nothing had touched him; then they hacked
off one of his arms, and still he bore up, and held his pipe; but at
the cutting off the other arm, his head sunk, and his pipe dropped,
and he gave up the ghost, without a groan or a reproach. My mother and
sister were by him all the while, but not suffered to save him; so
rude and wild were the rabble, and so inhuman were the justices who
stood by to see the execution, who after paid dearly enough for
their insolence. They cut Caesar in quarters, and sent them to several
of the chief plantations: one quarter was sent to Colonel Martin,
who refused it, and swore he had rather see the quarters of
Banister, and the Governor himself, that those of Caesar, on his
plantations; and that he could govern his negroes without terrifying
and grieving them with frightful spectacles of a mangled king.

Thus died this great man, worthy of a better fate, and a more
sublime wit than mine to write his praise: yet, I hope, the reputation
of my pen is considerable enough to make his glorious name to
survive all the ages, with that of the brave, the beautiful, and the
constant Imoinda.


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