Letter I

, par Stewart

Usbek [1] to his friend Rustan in Isfahan [2]

We spent but one day at Com. [3] Once we had performed our devotions on the tomb of the virgin who gave birth to twelve prophets, [4] we set forth again, and yesterday, the twenty-fifth day from our departure from Isfahan, we arrived in Tauris. [5]
Rica and I may be the first Persians who ever left their country for desire of learning, and gave up the ease of a tranquil life to undertake an arduous pursuit of wisdom. [6]
We were born in a flourishing kingdom, but we have not believed that its frontiers were those of our knowledge, and that oriental light alone should light our way.
Tell me what people are saying about our journey. Do not flatter me : I do not expect very many will approve. Send your letter to Erzeron, where I will stay for some while. Adieu, my dear Rustan, be sure that wherever on earth I may be, you have a faithful friend.

Tauris this 15th day of the moon of Saphar 1711


[1The Usbecks are the name of a Tartar people, living to the east of the Caspian Sea.

[2Capital of Persia, lengthily described by Chardin in his volume VIII.

[3Qum, holy city of the Shiites, eight days by foot from Isfahan.

[4An apparent conflation of Mahommed’s daughter Fatmé or Fatéméh, from whom descend the twelve successor califs to Mahommed, and Fatmé the daughter of Musa Kazem, the seventh of said califs, whose tomb was in the grand mosque of Qum, where both of them were honored.


[6See qualifications of these motives in letter 8.