Montesquieu
 

Supplementary Letter III

Ibben to Usbek in Paris1


My dear Usbek, it seems to me that, for a true Muslin, mis­for­tu­nes are less punish­ments than threats. They are very pre­cious days that incline us to expiate offen­ses. It is times of pros­pe­ri­ties that should be shor­te­ned. What pur­pose does all this impa­tience serve, except to make us aware that we would like to be happy inde­pen­dently of the one who gives feli­ci­ties, because he is feli­city itself ?2

If a being is com­po­sed of two beings,3 and the neces­sity of pre­ser­ving their union is more a sign of sub­mis­sion to the crea­tor’s com­mands, it could be made a reli­gious law. If that neces­sity of pre­ser­ving the union is a bet­ter war­rant of the act of men, it could be made a civil law.

Smyrna, this last day of the moon of Saphar 17154

First published in edition D, 1758.

True happiness is not of this world, according to both Christian and Muslim theology ; felicity is precisely the term which in the religious vocabulary referred to eternal bliss.

Body and soul.

An unusual chronological mistake : this reply to letter 74 from Paris is written from Smyrna a mere fortnight later.