Fiction > Montesquieu > Persian Letters
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Montesquieu (1689–1755).  Persian Letters.  1901.
 
Letter XXXII
Rica to ——
 
I WENT the other day to look through a house where a meagre provision is made for some three hundred people. 1 I was not long about it; for the church and the buildings do not deserve much attention. Those who live in this establishment were quite cheerful; many of them played at cards, or other games of which I knew nothing. As I left, one of the residents left also; and having heard me ask the way to the Marais, the remotest district of Paris, “I am going there,” said he, “and will conduct you; follow me.” He guided me wonderfully, steered me through the crowds, and protected me dexterously from carriages and coaches. We had almost arrived, when curiosity got the better of me. “My good friend,” I said, “may I not know who you are?” “I am blind, sir,” he answered. “What!” I cried; “blind? Then why did you not ask the good fellow who was playing at cards with you to be our guide”? “He is blind, too,” was the answer: “for four hundred years there have been three hundred blind folks in the house where you met me. But I must leave you. There is the street you want. I am going with the crowd into that church, where, I promise you, people will be less in my way than I will be in theirs.”

  PARIS, the 17th of the moon of Chalval, 1712.
  1
 
Note 1. The almshouse of the “Quinze-Vingts,” founded at Paris, in 1254, by Saint Louis, on his return from Palestine, for three hundred knights whose eyes had been put out by the Saracens. [back]
 
 
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