Montesquieu

Roxane1 to Usbek in Paris


Horror, night, and ter­ror reign in the sera­glio : a dread­ful gloom sur­rounds it ; a tiger at every moment works all his fury. He has put to the tor­ture two white eunuchs who have confes­sed nothing but their inno­cence ; he has sold some of our sla­ves, and obli­ged us to change among us those we could keep. Zachi and Zelis have recei­ved in their room, in the dark­ness of night, an unwor­thy treat­ment : the pro­fa­ner did not fear to lay his abject hands upon them.2 He keeps us locked up in each our own apart­ment ; and although we are alone there, he makes us live under the veil. We are no lon­ger per­mit­ted to speak to each other ; it would be a crime to write ; nothing is free here any lon­ger, except tears. A band of new eunuchs has ente­red the sera­glio, where they besiege us night and day ; our sleep is end­lessly inter­rup­ted by their sus­pi­cions, fei­gned or real. What conso­les me is that all this will not last long, and that these suf­fe­rings will end with my life : it will not be long, cruel Usbek ; I shall not give you time to put an end to all these abu­ses.3 The Isfahan sera­glio this 2nd day of the moon of Maharram 1720

[SUPPLEMENTARY LETTER IX and X of the 1758 edi­tion would be pla­ced here.]

Supplementary Letter IX

Sudden reappearance of Roxane, whose name alone had been encountered in letters 19 and 143, and who was the addressee of letter 24, but has never herself written until now.

A periphrase to designate the what the Supplementary Letter 9 will describe a bit more specifically as a spanking. The eunuch acts in accordance the Qur’anic precept (Chardin, IV, 34) that women suspected of adultery should be beaten.

This letter, which begs no reply, must particularly be read in conjunction with letter 150.