Persian Letters/Letter 65

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Persian Letters by Montesquieu, translated by John Davidson
Letter 65

Letter 65[edit]

Usbek to his Wives, at the Seraglio at Ispahan

I UNDERSTAND that the seraglio at Ispahan is in disorder, that it is full of quarrels, and intestine divisions. At my departure did I not recommend you to be at peace and maintain a good understanding?

You promised this; was it to deceive me?

It is you who will be deceived, if I choose to follow the counsels of the chief eunuch; if I choose to employ my authority to make you live as I exhorted you to do.

I do not, however, see why I should make use of those violent means until I have tried all others. Do, then, for your own sakes, what you have not cared to do for mine.

The first eunuch has a great subject of complaint: he says that you pay no attention to him. How can you harmonise that behaviour with the modesty which should belong to your condition? Is not your virtue confided to him during my absence? It is a sacred treasure, of which he is the guardian. But the contempt with which you treat him, makes it apparent that those who are charged to lead you in the paths of honour are irksome to you.

Change your behavior then, I beg you; and see to it that I may be able still to reject the proposals which have been made to me against your freedom and your tranquility.

For I wish you to forget that I am your master, and to be remembered only as your husband.

Paris, the 5th of the moon of Chahban, 1714.