Fiction > Montesquieu > Persian Letters
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Montesquieu (1689–1755).  Persian Letters.  1901.
 
Letter XLII
Pharan to Usbek, his Sovereign Lord
 
IF you were here, magnificent lord, I would appear to you clad from head to foot in white paper; 1 and even that would not be enough to contain a description of all the insults which your first black eunuch, the most malignant of men, has heaped upon me since your departure.  1
  Under pretext of some sarcasms which he pretends I aimed at his unfortunate lot, he makes me the victim of an insatiable vengeance. He has stirred up against me the cruel superintendent of your gardens, who, ever since you left, has laid upon me impossible tasks, in attempting which I have a thousand times taken leave of life, although I never for an instant lost my ardor in your service. Many a time have I said to myself, “I who have the gentlest of masters, am yet the most miserable slave on the face of the earth!”  2
  I confess, most generous lord, that I did not believe myself destined to still greater miseries; but this felonious eunuch had yet to fill up the measure of his wickedness. Some days ago, on his unsupported authority, he destined me to the guardianship of your sacred wives; that is to say, to a punishment which to me would be a thousand times more cruel than death. Those who, at their birth, have had the misfortune to undergo such treatment at the hands of their cruel parents, may perhaps comfort themselves with the thought that they have never known any other condition; but were I to lose my place among men, and be deprived of that which makes me human, I should die of grief, if I survived the barbarous knife.  3
  I kiss your feet, sublime lord, in the deepest humility. Grant that I may feel the effects of your revered virtue. Let it not be said that, at your command, there is upon the earth one more unhappy being.

  THE GARDENS OF FATME, the 7th of the moon of Maharram, 1713.
  4
 
Note 1. A “sublime expression” which the reader is NOT spared. (See Introduction.) [back]
 
 
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