- O R O O N O K O
R o y a l S l a v e.
H i s t o r y.
Oroonoko and Imoinda
- I do not pretend, in giving you the History of this Royal Slave, to entertain my Reader with Adventures of a feign'd Hero, whose Life and Fortunes Fancy may manage at the Poets Pleasure; not in relating the Truth, design to adorn it with any Accidents, but such as arriv'd 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 my self an Eye-Witness to a great part, of what you will find here set down; and what I cou'd not be Witness of, I receiv'd 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 charm'd 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; for those they make use of there, are not 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 'em for their Fish, Venison, Buffilo's, Skins, and little Rarities; as Marmosets, a sort of Monkey as big as a Rat or Weesel, but of marvelous and delicate shape, and has Face and Hands like a Humane Creature; and Cousheries, a little Beast in the form and fashion of a Lion, as big as Kitten; but so exactly made in all parts like that noble Beast, that it is it in Minature. Then for little Parakeetoes, great Parrots, Muckaws, and a thousand other Birds and Beasts of wonderful and surprizing Forms, Shapes, and Colours. For Skins of prodigious Snakes, of which there are some threescore Yards in length; as is the Skin of one that may be seen at His Majesty's Antiquaries: Where are also some rare Flies, of amazing Forms and Colours, presented to 'em by my self; some as big as my Fist, some less; and all of various Excellencies, such as Art cannot imitate. Then we trade for Feathers, which they order into all Shapes, make themselves little short Habits of 'em, and glorious Wreaths for their Heads, Necks, Arms, and Legs, whose Tinctures are unconceivable. I had a Set of 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 were unimitable. Besides these, a thousand little Knacks, and Rarities in Nature; and some of Art, as their Baskets, Weapons, Aprons, &c. We dealt with 'em with Beads of all Colours, Knives, Axes, Pins, and Needles; which they us'd 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 Trincket. 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 Colours of Beads; 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 Waste; 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 shap'd, as almost all are, and who have pretty Features, are charming and novel; for they have all that is called Beauty, except the Colour, which is a reddish Yellow; or after a new Oiling, which they often use to themselves, they are of the Colour of a new Brick, but smooth, soft and sleek. They are extream modest and bashful, very shy, and nice of being touch'd. And though they are all thus naked, if one lives for ever among 'em there is not to be seen an indecent Action, or Glance; and being continually us'd to see one another so unadorn'd, 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 approach'd him, but she look'd 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 vertuous Mistress. 'Tis she alone, if she were permitted, that better instructs the World, than all the Inventions of Man: Religion wou'd here but destroy that Tranquillity, they possess by Ignorance; and Laws wou'd but teach 'em to know, Offence, 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 once a Man's Word was past, nothing but Death cou'd or shou'd prevent his keeping it: And when they saw he was not dead, they ask'd him what Name they had for a Man who promis'd a thing he did not do? The Governor told them, Such a man was a Lyar, which was a Word of Infamy to a Gentleman. Then one of 'em reply'd, Governor, you are a Lyar, 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 easie 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 obey'd with great Resignation.
A War Captain is a Man who has led them on to Battel 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 way.
With these People, as I said, we live in perfect Tranquillity, and good Understanding, as it behooves 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 Wood, and over the Sevana's, in Hunting, supply the parts of Hounds, by swiftly scouring through those almost impassable places, and by the meer Activity of their Feet run down the nimblest Deer, and other eatable Beasts: but in the water, one wou'd 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 Darts 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 Negro's, Black-Slaves altogether; which 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 a-piece, a matter of twenty Pound a Head for as many as he agrees for, and to pay for 'em when they shall be deliver'd 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 Merchandice traffick'd; for that Nation is very war-like and brave; and having a continual Campaign, being always in Hostility with one neighbouring Prince or other, they had the fortune to take a great many Captives; for all they took in Battel; were sold as Slaves; at least, those common Men who cou'd not ransom themselves. Of these Slaves so taken, the Generals 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 Colour. In his younger Years he had had many gallant Men to his Sons, thirteen of which died in Battel, conquering when they fell; and he had only left him for his Successor, one Grand-Child, Son to one of these dead Victors; who, as soon as he cou'd 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 ador'd as the Wonder of all that World, and the Darling of the Soldiers. Besides, he was adorn'd with a native Beauty so transcending all those of his gloomy Race, that he strook an Awe and Reverence, even into those that knew not his Quality; as he did into me, who beheld him with Surprize and Wonder, when afterwards he arriv'd in our World.
He had scarce arriv'd at his Seventeenth Year, when fighting by his Side, the General was kill'd with an Arrow in his Eye, which the Prince Oroonoko (for so was this gallant Moor call'd) very narrowly avoided; nor had he, if the General who saw the arrow shot, and perceiving it aim'd at the Prince, had not bow'd his Head between, on purpose to receive it in his own Body rather than it shou'd touch that of the Prince, and so saved him.
'Twas then, afflicted as Oroonoko was, that he was proclaim'd General in the Old Man's place; and then it was, at the finishing of that War, which had continu'd for two Years, that the Prince came to Court; where he had hardly been a Month together, from the time of his fifth Year, to that of Seventeen; and 'twas amazing to imagine where it was he learn'd so much Humanity; or, to give his Accomplishments a juster Name, where 'twas he got that real Greatness of Soul, those refin'd Notions of true Honour, that absolute Generosity, and that Softness that was capable of the highest Passions of Love and Gallantry, whose Objects were almost continually fighting Men, or those mangl'd or dead; who heard no Sounds, but those of War and Groans: Some part of it we may attribute to the Care of a French-Man of Wit and Learning; who finding it turn to very good Account to be a sort of Royal Tutor to this young Black, & perceiving him very ready, apt, and quick of Apprehension, took a great pleasure to teach him Morals, Language, and Science; and was for it extreamly belov'd and valu'd by him. Another Reason was, He lov'd, when he came from War, to see all the English Gentlemen that traded thither; and did not only learn their Language, but that of the Spaniards also, with whom he traded afterwards for Slaves.
I have often seen and convers'd with this great Man, and been a Witness to many of his mighty Actions; and do assure my Reader, the most Illustrious Courts cou'd not have produc'd 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 admir'd the Romans; he had heard of the late Civil Wars in England, and the deplorable Death of our great Monarch; and wou'd discourse of it with all the Sense, and Abhorrence of the Injustice imaginable. He had an extream good and graceful Mien, and all the Civility of a well-bred great Man. He had nothing of Barbarity in his Nature, but in all Points address'd himself, as if his Education had been in some European Court.
This great and just Character of Oroonoko gave me an extream Curiosity to see him, especially when I knew he spoke French and English, and that I cou'd talk with him. But though I had heard so much of him, I was as greatly surpriz'd 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 address'd 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 fansy'd: the most famous Statuary cou'd not form the Figure of a Man more admirably turn'd from Head to Foot. His Face was not of that brown, rusty Black which most of that Nation are, but of perfect Ebony, or polish'd Jett. His Eyes were the most awful that cou'd 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 shap'd that cou'd be seen; far from those great turn'd Lips, which are so natural to the rest of the Negroes. The whole Proportion and Air of his Face was so noble, and exactly form'd, that, bating his Colour, there cou'd 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 comb'd; 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 who-ever had heard him speak, wou'd have been convinc'd of their Errors, that all fine Wit is confined to the White men, especially to those of Christendom; and wou'd have confess'd that Oroonoko was as capable even of reigning well, and of governing as wisely, had as great a Soul, as politick Maxims, and was as sensible of Power as any Prince civiliz'd in the most refin'd Schools of Humanity and Learning, or the most Illustrious Courts.
This Prince, such as I have describ'd him, whose Soul and Body were so admirably adorn'd, 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 kill'd by the shot of an Arrow, by the Side of this Prince, in Battel; 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 Vertues. I have seen an hundred White Men sighing after her, and making a thousand Vows at her Feet, all 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 Honour 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 Battel, as the Trophies of her Father's Victories. When he came, attended by all the young Soldiers of any Merit, he was infinitely surpriz'd at the Beauty of this fair Queen of Night, whose Face and Person was so exceeding all he had ever beheld, that lovely Modesty with which she receiv'd him, that Softness in her Look, and Sighs, upon the melancholy Occasion of this Honour that was done by so great a Man as Oroonoko, and a Prince of whom she had heard such admirable things; the Awfulness wherewith she receiv'd him, and the Sweetness of her Words and Behavior while he stay'd, gain'd a perfect Conquest over his fierce Heart, and made him feel, the Victor cou'd be subdu'd. 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 wish'd for nothing more than so glorious a Conquest, was pleas'd to believe, she understood that silent Language of new-born Love; and from that Moment, put on all her Additions to Beauty.
The Prince return'd to Court with quite another Humour 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 talk'd of, no other Sound was heard in every Corner where there were Whisperers, but Imoinda! Imoinda!
'Twill be imagin'd Oroonoko stay'd not long before he made his second Visit; nor, considering his Quality, not much longer before he told her, he ador'd her. I have often heard him say, that he admir'd by what strange Inspiration he came to talk things so soft, and so passionate, who never knew Love, nor was us'd 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 favour of him, inspir'd Imoinda with a Sense of his Passion. She was touch'd with what he said, and return'd 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 turn'd all his happy Moments to the best advantage; and as he knew no Vice, his Flame aim'd at nothing but Honour, if such a distinction may be made in Love; and especially in that Country, where Men take to themselves as many as they can maintain; and where the only Crime and Sin with Woman is, to turn her off, to abandon her to Want, Shame and Misery: Such ill Morals are only practis'd in Christian-countries, where they prefer the bare Name of Religion; and, without Vertue or Morality, think that's sufficient. But Oroonoko was none of those Professors; but as he had right Notions of Honour, 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 shou'd be the only woman he wou'd possess while he liv'd; that no Age or Wrinkles shou'd incline him to change; for her Soul wou'd be always fine, and always young; and he shou'd have an eternal Idea in his Mind of the Charms she now bore, and shou'd look into his Heart for that Idea, when he cou'd find it no longer in her Face.
After a thousand Assurances of his lasting Flame, and her eternal Empire over him, she condescended to receive him for her Husband; or rather, receiv'd him, as the greatest Honour the Gods cou'd do her.
There is a certain Ceremony in these Cases to be observ'd, which I forgot to ask how perform'd; but 'twas concluded on both sides, that, in Obedience to him, the Grand-father 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 possess'd in all the long Race of his numerous Years. At this Character, his old Heart, like an extinguish'd Brand, most apt to take Fire, felt new Sparks of Love, and began to kindle; and now grown to his second Childhood, long'd with Impatience to behold this gay thing, with whom, alas! he cou'd but innocently play. But how he shou'd be confirm'd she was this Wonder, before he us'd 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 Shagrien; 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 shou'd go and make a Present to Imoinda, as from the Prince; he shou'd then, unknown, see this fair Maid, and have an Opportunity to hear what Message she wou'd 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 burnt: He found her all he had heard, and wou'd not delay his Happiness, but found he shou'd have some Obstacle to overcome her Heart; for she express'd her Sense of the Present the Prince had sent her, in terms so sweet, so soft and pretty, with an Air of Love and Joy that cou'd not be dissembl'd; insomuch that 'twas past doubt whether she lov'd Oroonoko entirely. This gave the old King some Affliction; but he salv'd it with this, that the Obedience the People pay their King, was not at all inferior to what they pay'd their Gods: And what Love wou'd not oblige Imoinda to do, Duty wou'd 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 honour with his Bed, a Veil, with which she is cover'd, and secur'd for the King's Use; and 'tis Death to disobey; besides, held a most impious Disobedience.
'Tis not to be imagin'd the Surprize and Grief that seiz'd 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 oblig'd to suffer her self to be cover'd and led away.
They brought her thus to Court; and the King, who had caus'd a very rich Bath to be prepar'd, was led into it, where he sate under a Canopy, in State, to receive this long'd for Virgin; whom he having commanded shou'd be brought to him, they (after dis-robing 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 her self 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 cou'd not; and from his Royal Goodness, wou'd not take from any Man his wedded Wife: So she believ'd she shou'd be the Occasion of making him commit a great Sin, if she did not reveal her State and Condition, and tell him, she was anothers, and cou'd not be so happy to be his.
The King, enrag'd at this Delay, hastily demanded the Name of the bold Man that had marry'd 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 fansy'd the last, almost repented she had said so much, for now she fear'd the Storm wou'd 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 imagin'd who she meant, but wou'd not seem to do so, but commanded her to lay aside her Mantle, and suffer her self to receive his Caresses; or, by his Gods, he swore, that happy Man whom she was going to name shou'd die, though it were even Oroonoko himself. Therefore (said he) deny this Marriage, and swear thy self 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 to satisfie both 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 return'd from Hunting, went to visit his Imoinda, but found her gone; and not only so, but heard she had receiv'd the Royal Veil. This rais'd him to a Storm; and in his Madness, they had much ado to save him from laying violent Hands on himself. Force first prevail'd, and then Reason: They urg'd all to him, that might oppose his Rage; but nothing weigh'd so greatly with him as the King's Old Age uncapable of injuring him with Imoinda. He wou'd give way to that Hope, because it pleas'd him most, and flatter'd best his Heart. Yet this serv'd not altogether to make him cease his different Passions, which sometimes rag'd within him, and sometimes soften'd into Showers. 'Twas not enough to appease him, to tell him, his Grand-father was old, and cou'd not that way injure him, while he retain'd that awful Duty which the young Men are us'd there to pay to their grave Relations. He cou'd not be convinc'd he had no Cause to sigh and mourn for the Loss of a Mistress, he cou'd not with all his Strength and Courage retrieve. And he wou'd often cry, O, my Friends! were she in wall'd Cities, or confin'd from me in Fortifications of the greatest Strength; did Inchantments or Monsters detain her from me, I wou'd 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 snatch'd by the cold Arms of Death: Oh! she is never to be retriev'd. If I wou'd wait tedious Years, till Fate shou'd bow the old King to his Grave; even that wou'd 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, wou'd hinder my Happiness; unless I wou'd either ignobly set an ill President 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 injur'd Man, and might, if he so pleas'd take Imoinda back, the Breach of the Law being on his Grand-father's side; and that if he cou'd 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 shou'd have been entirely comforted, but for the Thought that she was possess'd by his Grand-father. However, he lov'd so well that he was resolv'd to believe what most favour'd his Hope, and to endeavour to learn from Imoinda's own Mouth, what only she cou'd satisfy him in; whether she was robb'd 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 enter'd 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 suffer'd under a Torment the most painful in the World, the old King was not exempted from his share of Affliction. He was troubl'd for having been forc'd, by an irresistible Passion, to rob his Son of a Treasure, he knew, cou'd not but be extreamly 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 forc'd to expose her lovely Person to his wither'd Arms, she cou'd only sigh and weep there, and think of Oroonoko; and oftentimes cou'd 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, fill'd 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 Condescention in the old King, that made her take the Satisfaction of speaking of him so very often.
Besides, he many times enquir'd how the Prince bore himself; and those of whom he ask'd, being entirely Slaves to the Merits and Vertues of the Prince, still answer'd what they thought conduc'd best to his Service; which was, to make the old King fansy that the Prince had no more Interest in Imoinda, and had resign'd her willingly to the Pleasure of the King; that he diverted himself with his Mathematicians, his Fortifications, his Officers, and his Hunting.
This pleas'd the old Lover, who fail'd 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 forc'd to receive this unwelcome News, in all Appearance, with Unconcern and Content, her Heart was bursting within, and she was only happy when she cou'd 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 justifie as far as possibly he cou'd by his Actions; and when he appear'd in the Presence of the King, he shew'd a Face not at all betraying his Heart: So that in a little time, the old Man, being entirely convinc'd that he was no longer a Lover of Imoinda, he carry'd him with him, in his Train, to the Otan, often to banquet with his Mistresses. But as soon as he enter'd, 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 betray'd him, had the King chanc'd to look that way. And I have observ'd, 'tis a very great Error in those, who laugh when one says, A negro can change Colour: 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 forc'd 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 busy'd 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 bemoan'd her own miserable Captivity. Nor were his Eyes silent, but answer'd hers again, as much as Eyes cou'd do, instructed by the most tender, and most passionate Heart that ever lov'd: 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 convey'd 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 open'd 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 prepar'd Repose. What Rage! what wild Frenzies seiz'd his Heart! which forcing to keep within Bounds, and to suffer without Noise, it became the more insupportable, and rent his Soul with ten thousand Pains. He was forc'd 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 finish'd her necessary Affair within, shutting the Door, she came forth, to wait, till the King call'd; and hearing someone sighing in the other Room, she pass'd 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 imagin'd, to afflict himself: for if he knew the King so well as she did, he wou'd not lose a Moment in Jealousie; and that she was confident that Imoinda bore, at this Minute, part in his Affliction. Aboan was of the same Opinion; and both together perswaded him to re-assume his Courage; and all sitting down on the Carpet, the Prince said so many obliging things to Onahal that he half-perswaded her to be of his Party. And she promis'd him she wou'd thus far comply with his just Desires, that she wou'd let Imoinda know how faithful he was, what he suffer'd, and what he said.
This Discourse lasted till the King call'd, which gave Oroonoko a certain Satisfaction; and with the Hope of Onahal had made him conceive, he assum'd a Look as gay as 'twas possible a Man in his Circumstances cou'd do; and presently after, he was call'd in with the rest who waited without. The King commanded Musick to be brought, and several of his young Wives and Mistresses came all together by his Command, to dance before him; where Imoinda perform'd her Part with an Air and Grace so passing all the rest, as her Beauty was above 'em; and receiv'd the Present ordain'd as a Prize. The Prince was every Moment more charm'd with the new Beauties and Graces he beheld in this fair One; And while he gaz'd, and she danc'd, Onahal was retir'd 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 Governants to the new, and the young Ones, and whose Business it was, to teach them all those wanton Arts of Love, with which they prevail'd and charm'd heretofore in their Turn; and who now treated the triumphing happy Ones with all the Severity, as to Liberty and Freedom, that was possible, in revenge of their Honours they rob them of; envying them those Satisfactions, those Gallantries and Presents, that were once made to themselves, while Youth and Beauty lasted, and which they now saw pass were regardless by, and pay'd only to the Bloomings. And, certainly, nothing is more afflicting to a decay'd Beauty, than to behold in itself declining Charms, that were once ador'd; and to find those Caresses paid to new Beauties, to which once she laid Claim; to hear 'em whisper, as she passes by, That once was a delicate Woman. Those abandon'd Ladies therefore endeavour to revenge all the Despightes, and Decays of Time, on these flourishing happy Ones. And 'twas this Severity that gave Oroonoko a thousand Fears he shou'd never prevail with Onahal to see Imoinda. But, as I said, she was now retir'd to a Window with Aboan.
This young Man was not only one of the best Quality, but a Man extreamly well made, and beautiful; and coming often to attend the King to the Otan, he had subdu'd 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-Favourites, was the way to be great; these being the Persons that do all Affairs and Business at court. He had also observ'd 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 Favour cou'd so absolutely oblige the Prince, he fail'd not to sigh in her Ear, and to look with Eyes all soft upon her, and give her Hope that she had made some Impressions on his Heart. He found her pleas'd 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 fail'd 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 overjoy'd with this good News, and besought him, if it were possible to caress her so, as to engage her entirely; which he cou'd not fail to do, if he comply'd 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 assur'd him, he would make Love so effectually, that he wou'd defie the most expert Mistress of the Art, to find out whether he dissembl'd 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 approach'd, and 'twas impossible for the Prince to delay his going at the Head of his Army to incounter the Enemy: So that every Day seem'd a tedious Year, till he saw his Imoinda; for he believ'd he cou'd not live, if he were forc'd away without being so happy. 'Twas with Impatience, therefore, that he expected the next Visit the King wou'd make; and according to his Wish, it was not long.
The Parley of the Eyes of these two Lovers had not pass'd so secretly, but an old jealous Lover cou'd spy it; or rather, he wanted not Flatterers, who told him, they observ'd it: So that the Prince was hasten'd to the Camp, and this was the last Visit he found he shou'd make to the Otan; he therefore urg'd 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 antick Postures the Woman Royal made, to divert the King Onahal singl'd out Aboan, whom she found most pliable to her Wish. When she had him where she believ'd she cou'd not be heard, she sigh'd to him, and softly cry'd, Ah, Aboan! When will you be sensible of my Passion? I confess it with my Mouth, because I wou'd not give my Eyes the Lye; and you have but too much already perceiv'd they have confess'd my Flame: Nor wou'd I have you believe, that because I am the abandon'd Mistress of a King, I esteem my self altogether divested of Charms. No, Aboan; I have still a Rest of Beauty enough engaging, and have learn'd to please too well, not to be desirable. I can have Lovers still, but will have none but Aboan. Madam (reply'd 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 us'd 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 forc'd to be snatch'd for more certain Proofs of Love, than speaking and sighing; and such I languish for.
He spoke this with such a Tone, that she hop'd it true, and cou'd not forbear believing it; and being wholly transported with Joy, for having subdu'd 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 wou'd have refus'd '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 whisper'd softly to him, Oh! Do not fear a Woman's Invention, when Love sets her a-thinking. And pressing his Hand, she cry'd, This Night you shall be happy. Come to the Gate of the Orange-Groves, behind the Otan, and I will be ready, about Mid-night, 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 appear'd more lovely than ever, being enliven'd 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 fix'd on the Object of his Soul; and as she turn'd, or mov'd, 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 produc'd in those of the Prince. But while she was more regarding him, than the Steps she took, she chanc'd to fall; and so near him, as that leaping with extream force from the Carpet, he caught her in his Arms as she fell: and 'twas visible to the whole Presence, the Joy wherewith he receiv'd her. He clasp'd 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 shou'd suffer the Death ordain'd for disobedient Offenders.
You may imagine how welcome this News was to Oroonoko, whose unseasonable Transport and Caress of Imoinda was blam'd by all Men that lov'd him; and now he perceiv'd his Fault, yet cry'd That for such another Moment, he wou'd be content to die.
All the Otan was in disorder about this Accident; and Onahal was particularly concern'd, because on the Prince's Stay depended her Happiness; for she cou'd no longer expect that of Aboan. So that, e're they departed, they contriv'd it so, that the Prince and he shou'd come both that Night to the Grove of the Otan, which was all of Oranges and Citrons; and that there they wou'd wait her Orders.
They parted thus, with Grief enough, till Night; leaving the King in possession of the lovely Maid. But nothing cou'd appease the Jealousy of the old Lover: He wou'd not be impos'd on, but wou'd have it, that Imoinda made a false Step on purpose to fall into Oroonoko's Bosom, and that all things look'd 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 assur'd that his Fear was true.
The King going to his Apartment, sent to know where the Prince was, and if he 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 answer'd very little. This confirm'd the Jealousy of the King, and he commanded that they shou'd very narrowly and privately watch his Motions; and that he shou'd not stir from his Apartment, but one Spy or other shou'd be employ'd 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 watch'd to the very Gate of the Otan; while he was seen to enter, and where they left him, to carry back the Tidings to the King.
Oroonoko and Aboan were no sooner enter'd 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 shew'd the heighth of Complaisance for his Prince, when, to give him an Opportunity, he suffer'd himself to be caress'd in Bed by Onahal.
The Prince softly waken'd Imoinda, who was not a little surpriz'd with Joy to find him there; and yet she trembl'd with a thousand Fears. I believe, he omitted saying nothing to this young Maid, that might perswade her to suffer him to seize his own, and take the Rights of Love; and I believe she was not long resisting those Arms, where she so long'd to be; and having Opportunity, Night, and Silence, Youth, Love, and Desire, he soon prevail'd; and ravish'd in a Moment, what his old Grand-father had been endeavouring for so many Months.
'Tis not to be imagin'd the Satisfaction of these two young Lovers; nor the Vows she made him, that she remain'd a spotless Maid, till that Night, and that what she did with his Grand-father, had robb'd him of no part of her Virgin-Honour; the Gods, in Mercy and Justice, having reserv'd that for her plighted Lord, to whom of Right it belong'd. And 'tis impossible to express the Transports he suffer'd, while he listen'd to a Discourse so charming, from her lov'd Lips; and clasp'd that Body in his Arms, for whom he had so long languish'd: and nothing now afflicted him but his suddain Departure from her; for he told her the Necessity, and his Commands, but shou'd depart satisfy'd in this, that since the old King had hitherto not been able to deprive him of those Enjoyments which only belong'd to him, he believ'd for the future he wou'd 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 believ'd her safe, even in the Arms of the King, and innocent; yet wou'd he have ventur'd at the Conquest of the World, and have given it all, to have had her avoided that Honour of receiving the Royal Veil. 'Twas thus, between a thousand Caresses, that both bemoan'd the hard Fate of Youth and Beauty, so liable to that cruel Promotion: 'Twas a Glory that cou'd well have been spar'd here, though desir'd and aim'd at by all the young Females of that Kingdom.
But while they were thus fondly employ'd, 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 us'd to wear by his Side; and having not so much leisure as to put on his Habit, he oppos'd 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 forc'd 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 sacr'd to Love, and me this Night; to Morrow 'tis the King's.
This he spoke with a Voice so resolv'd and assur'd, that they soon retir'd from the Door; but cry'd, 'Tis by the King's Command we are come; and being satisfy'd by thy Voice, O Prince, as much as if we had enter'd, we can report to the King the Truth of all his Fears, and leave thee to provide for thy own Safety, as thou art advis'd by thy Friends.
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, believ'd she shou'd appease the Fury of a jealous King, by saying, She was surpriz'd, and that it was by force of Arms he got into her Apartment. All her Concern now was for his Life, and therefore she hasten'd him to the Camp; and with much a do prevail'd on him to go. Nor was it she alone that prevail'd, Aboan and Onahal both pleaded, and both assur'd him of a Lye that shou'd be well enough contriv'd 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 Camp.
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, cou'd testifie: That, unknown to her, he had broke into her Apartment, and ravish'd her. She spoke this much against her Conscience; but to save her own Life, 'twas absolutely necessary she shou'd feign this Falsity. She knew it cou'd not injure the Prince, he being fled to an Army that wou'd stand by him, against any Injuries that shou'd assault him. However, this last Thought of Imoinda's being ravish'd, chang'd the Measures of his Revenge; and whereas before he design'd to be himself her Executioner, he now resolv'd she shou'd not die. But as it is the greatest Crime in Nature amongst 'em to touch a Woman after having been possess'd by a Son, a Father, or a Brother, so now he look'd on Imoinda as a polluted thing, wholly unfit for his Embrace; nor wou'd he resign her to his Grand-son, because she had receiv'd the Royal Veil. He therefore removes her from the Otan, with Onahal; whom he put into safe Hands, with Order they shou'd be both sold off, as Slaves, to another country, either Christian, or Heathen, 'twas no matter where.
This cruel Sentence, worse than Death, they implor'd, might be revers'd; 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 believ'd he had made a very great Conquest over himself, when he had once resolv'd, and had perform'd what he resolv'd. He believ'd now, that his Love had been unjust; and that he cou'd not expect the Gods, or Captain of the Clouds (as they call the unknown Power), shou'd suffer a better Consequence from so ill a Cause. He now begins to hold Oroonoko excus'd; and to say, he had Reason for what he did: And now every Body cou'd assure the King, how passionately Imoinda was belov'd by the Prince; even those confess'd 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 disoblig'd, first by the Rape of his Mistress, or rather, Wife, and now by depriving him wholly of her, he fear'd, might make him desperate, and do some cruel thing, either to himself or his old Grand-father, the Offender, he began to repent him extreamly of the Contempt he had, in his Rage, put on Imoinda. Besides, he consider'd he ought in Honour to have kill'd her, for this Offence, 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 cou'd not obtain that Honour. Seeing therefore it was certain that Oroonoko wou'd highly resent his 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 endeavour to mitigate his Grief; but that by no means he shou'd tell him, she was sold, but secretly put to death; for he knew he shou'd 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 embrac'd him, and receiv'd him with Joy; which was soon abated, by the down-cast Looks of the Messenger, who was instantly demanded the Cause by Oroonoko; who, impatient of Delay, ask'd a thousand Questions in a Breath; and all concerning Imoinda. But there needed little Return, for he cou'd 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 Heroick Courage, to incounter with his Words, and defend himself against the ungrateful things he must relate. Oroonoko reply'd, with a deep Sigh, and a languishing Voice, - I am arm'd 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 remain'd a good while silent, and was hardly heard to sigh. When he was come a little to himself, the Messenger ask'd him leave to deliver that part of his Embassy, which the Prince had not yet divin'd: And the Prince cry'd, 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 daign'd to ask Pardon for his Offence, and to implore the Prince wou'd not suffer that Loss to touch his Heart too sensibly, which now all the Gods cou'd not restore him, but might recompence him in Glory, which he begg'd he wou'd pursue; and that Death, that common Revenger of all Injuries, wou'd 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 wou'd be just, and, maugre his Age, wou'd see him righted; and he was contented to leave his Share of Glory to Youths more fortunate, and worthy of that Favour from the Gods. That henceforth he wou'd 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 Grand-father 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 cou'd do, they cou'd not raise him from the Carpet, or perswade him to Action and Resolutions of Life; but commanding all to retire, he shut himself into his Pavillion 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 address'd themselves to him, and to whom they had much a-do 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 'em forth to Battel, and not let the Enemy take Advantages of them; and implor'd 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, (continu'd 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 shou'd do, and whom he wou'd constitute in his Room, that the Confusion of ambitious Youth and Power might not ruin their Order, and make them a Prey to the Enemy. He reply'd, He wou'd not give himself the Trouble -; but wish'd 'em to choose the bravest Man amongst 'em, let his Quality or Birth be what it wou'd: For, O my Friends! (said he) it is not Titles make Men brave, or good; or Birth that bestows Courage and Generosity, or makes the Owner happy. Believe this, when you behold Oroonoko, the most wretched, and abandon'd by Fortune, of all the Creation of the Gods. So turning himself about, he wou'd make no more Reply to all they cou'd urge or implore.
The Army, beholding their Officers return unsuccessful, with sad Faces, and ominous Looks, that presag'd no good Luck, suffer'd a thousand Fears to take Possession of their Hearts, and the Enemy to come even upon 'em, before they wou'd provide for their Safety, by any Defence; and though they were assur'd by some, who had a mind to animate them, that they shou'd be immediately headed by the Prince, and that in the mean time Aboan had Orders to command as General; yet they were so dismay'd for want of that great Example of Bravery, that they cou'd make but a very feeble Resistance; and at last, down-right, fled before the Enemy, who pursu'd 'em to the very Tents, killing 'em: Nor cou'd all Aboan's Courage, which that day gain'd him immortal Glory, shame 'em into a Manly Defence 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 Out-cries as rouz'd the Prince from his amorous Slumber, in which he had remain'd bury'd for two Days, without permitting any Sustenance to approach him: 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 leap'd from his Couch, and cry'd, - Come, if we must die, let us meet Death the noblest Way and 'twill be more like Oroonoko to incounter 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, Love-sick Slave, to adorn the Triumphs of Jamoan, that young Victor, who already is enter'd beyond the Limits I have prescrib'd him.
While he was speaking, he suffer'd his People to dress him for the Field; and sallying out of his Pavilion, with more Life and Vigour in his Countenance than ever he shew'd, he appear'd like some Divine Power descended to save his Country from Destruction; and his People had purposely put 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 believ'd that Humane Strength cou'd perform; and such as soon inspir'd all the rest with new Courage and new Order: And now it was, that they began to fight indeed; and so, as if they wou'd not be out-done, even by their ador'd Hero; who turning the Tide of the Victory, changing absolutely the Fate of the Day, gain'd an entire Conquest: and Oroonoko having the good Fortune 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 us'd to do, without distinction, for the common Sale, or Market; but kept him in his own Court, where he retain'd nothing of the Prisoner, but the Name, and return'd 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 flatter'd his Disease of Melancholy and Languishment; which I have often heard him say, had certainly kill'd 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 infus'd into his young Pupil. This French-Man was banish'd 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 Soul.
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 Place, or live in a Court where he had so lately suffer'd 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 Amuzements abroad, and others at home, that is, within their Tents, with the Perswasions, Arguments, and Care of his Friends and Servants that he more peculiarly priz'd, he wore off in time a great part of that Shagrien, and Torture of Despair, which the first Efforts of Imoinda's Death had given him: Insomuch as having receiv'd a thousand kind Embassies from the King, and Invitations to return to Court, he obey'd, 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 Extreams, and reduces 'em to Mediums and Unconcern; but no Motives or Beauties, though all endeavour'd it, cou'd 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.