Fiction > Montesquieu > Persian Letters
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Montesquieu (1689–1755).  Persian Letters.  1901.
 
Letter X
Mirza to his friend Usbek, at Erzeroum
 
YOU alone could recompense me for the absence of Rica, and it is only Rica who could console me for yours. We miss you, Usbek; you were the very life of our circle. How hard it is to break away from those attachments in which both the heart and the mind are engaged!  1
  We have great debates here; our talk turns principally on morality. We disputed yesterday whether true happiness consists in pleasure and sensual gratification, or in the practice of virtue.  2
  I have heard you often affirm that men were made to be virtuous, and that justice is as indispensable to existence as life itself. I beg you to explain to me what you mean by this.  3
  I have spoken of this to the mollahs, 1 but they exasperate me with their quotations from the Koran; for I do not consult them as a true believer, but as a man, a citizen, and the father of a family. Farewell.

  ISPAHAN, the last day of the moon of Saphar, 1711.
  4
 
Note 1. Montesquieu spells it “Mollaks.” In Persia the mollah is a devotee; in Turkey, a judge. [back]
 
 
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