Montesquieu

Zelis to Usbek in Paris


Soliman whom you love is deso­late over an affront he just recei­ved. A young idiot named Suphis had for three months been peti­tio­ning for his daugh­ter in mar­riage ; he see­med satis­fied with the girl’s looks based on the report and the por­trait made to him by the women who had seen her in her youth ; they had agreed on the dowry, and eve­ry­thing had gone without inci­dent. Yesterday, after the ini­tial cere­mo­nies, the girl went out on hor­se­back accom­pa­nied by her eunuch, and cove­red accor­ding to cus­tom from head to foot ; but as soon as she had arri­ved at the house of her groom, he had her tur­ned away, and swore he would never let her in unless the dowry was increa­sed. The parents on both sides came run­ning to reconcile the mat­ter, and after much resis­tance, they got Soliman to agree to make a lit­tle pre­sent to his son-in-law. Finally, the mar­riage cere­mo­nies being over, the daugh­ter was taken rather vio­lently to the bed ; but an hour later, this idiot arose in a rage, sla­shed her face in seve­ral pla­ces, main­tai­ning that she was not a vir­gin, and sent her home to her father. One can­not be more struck than he is by this offense ; there are some who main­tain that the girl is inno­cent. Fathers are most unfor­tu­nate to be expo­sed to such affronts ; if such a treat­ment befell my daugh­ter, I think I would die of grief. Adieu.

From the Fatmé sera­glio this 9th day of the moon of Gemmadi I, 1714