Oroonoko, de Aphra Behn

oronokoo “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 nnocence, before man knew how to sin. And ‘tis most evident and plain that simple Nature is the most armless, 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.”

Behn, Aphra (2009), Oroonoko and Other Writings, Paul Salzman (ed.), Oxford, Oxford University Press [1994].

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