Montesquieu

Usbek to his wives in the sera­glio in Isfahan


I have lear­ned that the sera­glio is in disor­der, and that it is filled with quar­rels and inter­nal divi­sions. What did I pres­cribe for you when I left but peace and har­mony ? That is what you pro­mi­sed me ; was it to fool me ?

It is you who would be foo­led if I wished to fol­low the advice which the great eunuch is giving me, if I wished to invoke my autho­rity to make you live as my exhor­ta­tions requi­red of you.

I am una­ble to make use of those vio­lent means before I have tried all the others ; do the­re­fore for your own sake what you have not wished to do for mine.

The prin­ci­pal eunuch has very good rea­son to com­plain : he says you have no regard for him. How can you reconcile such conduct with the modesty of your sta­tion ? Is it not to him that your vir­tue is entrus­ted during my absence ? It is a sacred trea­sure, of which he is the depo­si­tary ; but the contempt you show him is a sign that those whose duty it is to make you live accor­ding to the laws of honor are one­rous to you.

Therefore change your ways, I beg you, so that I may the next time reject the pro­po­sals that are put to me against your liberty and tran­quillity.

For I would like to make you for­get that I am your mas­ter, so I can remem­ber only that I am your hus­band.

Paris this 5th day of the moon of Chahban 1714