Fiction > Montesquieu > Persian Letters
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Montesquieu (1689–1755).  Persian Letters.  1901.
 
Letter CXXVII
Rica to Usbek, at ——
 
I EXPECT you here to-morrow: meantime I send you your letters from Ispahan. Mine bring word that the ambassador of the Great Mogul 1 has received orders to quit the kingdom. They add that the prince, the uncle of the king, 2 who has charge of his education, has been arrested, conducted to a castle, where he is closely guarded, and deprived of all his honors. The fate of this prince moves me, and I pity him.  1
  I own, Usbek, that I have never beheld the tears fall from the eyes of any one without deep sympathy: my humanity feels for the unhappy, as if they only were human; and great people even, toward whom my heart is hardened when they are prosperous, gain my affection in adversity.  2
  Indeed, in the time of their prosperity what need have they of useless affection? It comes too near equality. They prefer respect, which requires no return. As soon, however, as they have fallen from their greatness, there is nothing left to recall it to them but our lamentation.  3
  I find an admirable simplicity, and an equally admirable greatness, in the words of a prince, who, being in great danger of falling into the hands of his enemies, said to his courtiers, who stood weeping round him, “I see by your tears that I am still your king.”

  PARIS, the 3d of the moon of Chalval, 1718.
  4
 
Note 1. By the Great Mogul is here meant the King of Spain. His ambassador is the Prince of Cellamare, who was arrested and sent across the frontier for conspiring against the Regent with the Duke and Duchess of Maine. [back]
Note 2. The Duke of Maine. [back]
 
 
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