Usbek to Ibben in Smyrna
There is no country on earth where fortune is as inconstant as in this one. Every ten years there occur revolutions that plunge the rich man into misery and raise the poor man on swift wings  to the height of riches. The former is astonished at his poverty, the latter at his abundance. The nouveau riche  admires the wisdom of Providence ; the poor man, the blind fatality of destiny.
Those who collect the tributes  swim in the midst of treasures ; there are few Tantaluses among them.  Yet they begin this profession in the worst poverty. They are as disdained as mud while they are poor ; when they are rich, they are rather esteemed, and so they neglect nothing in order to acquire esteem.
They are presently in a most terrible situation. A chamber has just been established called the chamber of justice,  because it is going to steal all their wealth away. They can neither divert nor hide their holdings, for they are being required to declarer them precisely on penalty of their lives ; thus they are being made to file through a very narrow strait, I mean between life and their money. To cap off their bad luck, there is a minister known for his wit who honors them with his jokes and banters about all the deliberations of the Council.  It is not every day one finds ministers disposed to make the people laugh, and this one has to be thanked for giving it a try.
The corps of manservants is more respectable in France than elsewhere ; it is a school for great lords ; it fills the vacancies in the other estates.  Those who compose it replace unfortunate grandees, ruined magistrates, and gentlemen killed in the furies of war ; and when they cannot themselves compensate, they raise up all the great houses back up by means of their daughters, who are like a sort of manure  that fertilizes rocky and arid lands.
I find Providence wonderful, Ibben, in the manner in which it has distributed riches. If they had been given only to good people, they would not have been sufficiently distinguished from virtue, and all of their vanity would not have been appreciated. But when one examines who are the people who have the most of them, by dint of disdaining the rich one ultimately comes to disdain riches.
Paris this 26th day of the moon of Maharram 1717