Montesquieu

Solim to Usbek in Paris


I pity myself, magni­fi­cent lord, and I pity you ; never did a loyal ser­vant des­cend into the ter­ri­ble des­pair I am in. Here are your woes and mine ; I write them to you only in trem­bling.

I swear by all the pro­phets in hea­ven that since you entrus­ted your wives to me, I have wat­ched over them day and night ; I have never sus­pen­ded for a moment the flow of my wor­ries. I have begun my minis­try with punish­ments, and I have sus­pen­ded them without losing my natu­ral aus­te­rity.

But what am I tel­ling you ? Why boast to you of a loyalty that has done you no good ? Forget all my past ser­vi­ces ; look on me as a trai­tor, and punish me for all the cri­mes that I have been una­ble to pre­vent.

Roxane, the pri­de­ful Roxane, oh my God ! Who can anyone trust now ? You sus­pec­ted Zachi, and had com­plete assu­rance for Roxane. But her shy vir­tue was a cruel impos­ture ; it was the veil of her per­fidy : I have caught her in the arms of a young man who, when he saw he was dis­co­ve­red, fell on me ; he stab­bed me twice with a dag­ger ; the eunuchs who came run­ning at the noise sur­roun­ded him. He put up a long strug­gle, and woun­ded seve­ral of them. He even tried to go back into the bedroom to die, he said, before Roxane’s eyes ; but finally he yiel­ded to the num­ber, and fell at our feet.

I do not know, sublime lord, whe­ther I shall await your stern orders ; you have pla­ced ven­geance in my hands ; I must not keep it wai­ting.

The Isfahan sera­glio this 8th day of the moon of Rebiab I, 1720

[Supplementary Letter XI of the 1758 edi­tion would be pla­ced here.]

Supplementary Letter XI