Montesquieu

Narsit to Usbek in Paris


The great eunuch has just died,1 magni­fi­cent Lord. As I am the oldest of your sla­ves, I have repla­ced him until you have made known on whom you wish to cast your eyes.

Two days after his death one of your let­ters addres­sed to him was brought to me. I had no thought of ope­ning it : I res­pect­fully wrap­ped it up, and put it away until you have made your sacred inten­tions known.

Yesterday a slave came in the middle of the night to tell me that he had found a young man in the sera­glio.2 I arose, I exa­mi­ned the situa­tion, and I conclu­ded that it was an illu­sion.

I kiss your feet, sublime lord, and beg you to rely upon my zeal, my expe­rience, and my old age.

The Isfahan sera­glio this 5th day of the moon of Gemmadi I, 17183

“I am old,” the first eunuch had said in letter 9.

See letters 139 and 149.

This letter has taken five months and six days to reply to letter 140. Similarly, letter 140, which is surely an immediate reply to letter 139, follow it by five months and six days. Usbek says in letter 147 : “I sometimes wait six full months… ” ; but in fact there are but a few instances where the interval exceeds five months, and but one where it exceeds six (see letter 41, note 2).