Fiction > Montesquieu > Persian Letters
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Montesquieu (1689–1755).  Persian Letters.  1901.
 
Letter XXIII
Usbek to his friend Ibben, at Smyrna
 
WE have now arrived at Leghorn after a forty days’ voyage. It is a new town and bears witness to the genius of the dukes of Tuscany, who, from a marshy village, have made it the most flourishing town in Italy.  1
  The women here enjoy much liberty: they are allowed to look at men through a species of window called jalousie: they have permission to go out every day in the company of some old women: they wear only one veil. 1 Their brothers-in-law, their uncles, and their nephews, are allowed to visit them, and this hardly ever troubles their husbands.  2
  The first sight of a Christian town is, for a Mohammedan, a wonderful spectacle. I do not mean only those things that strike the eye at once, such as the difference in the buildings, the dresses, and the chief customs: there is, even in the merest trifles, a singularity, which I feel, but cannot describe.  3
  We set out to-morrow for Marseilles, where our sojourn will be brief. Rica’s intention and mine is to get at once to Paris, the capital of the European empire. Travelers are always anxious to visit great cities, because they are a sort of common country to all strangers. Farewell. Rest assured that I shall never cease to love you.

  LEGHORN, the 12th of the moon of Saphar, 1712.
  4
 
Note 1. The Persian women wear four.—(M.) [back]
 
 
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