Montesquieu

Usbek1 to his friend Rustan in Isfahan2


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

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

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

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

An 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.

Tabriz

See qualifications of these motives in letter 8.