Montesquieu
 

Supplementary Letter II

Jaron to the prin­ci­pal eunuch1


The far­ther Usbek tra­vels from the sera­glio, the more he turns his head toward his sacred wives. He sighs, he sheds tears ; his grief beco­mes bit­ter and his sus­pi­cions are rein­for­ced. He wants to increase the num­ber of their guards. He is going to send me back, with all the blacks who accom­pany him. He no lon­ger fears for him­self : he fears for what is a thou­sand times dea­rer to him than him­self.

I am the­re­fore to live under your rule, and share your duties. Ye gods, how much the content­ment of a sin­gle man requi­res !

Nature see­med to have pla­ced women in depen­dency, and freed them from it. Disorder used to arise bet­ween the two sexes, because their rights were reci­pro­cal. We have ente­red the level of a new har­mony : we have put loa­thing bet­ween the wives and us ; and love bet­ween men and their wives.

My brow is about to become stern. I shall let fall dark gazes. Joy shall flee my lips. The out­side will be tran­quil, and the spi­rit uneasy. I shall not await the wrink­les of age to mani­fest its anxie­ties.2

I would enjoyed fol­lo­wing my mas­ter to the Occident : but my will belongs to him. He wants me to guard his wives : I shall guard them fai­th­fully. I know how I am to behave with that sex, who, when we do not allo­wed them to be vain, begin to grow arro­gant ; and I know it is less easy to humi­liate than to obli­te­rate. I fall under your gaze.

Smyrna this 12th day of the moon of Zilcadé 1711

Letter 21

Letter first published in 1758.

One of the effects of the addition of this letter, which responds to Supplementary Letter I, is to reinforce not only the awareness of antipathy between wives and eunuchs, but of the intrinsic unhappiness in the very condition of the eunuchs.