|Montesquieu (16891755). Persian Letters. 1901.|
|The chief black Eunuch to Usbek|
|ISHMAEL, one of your black eunuchs, O magnificent master, has just died; and I tried to avoid any delay in filling up his place. As eunuchs are very scarce at present, I thought of making use of a black slave whom you have in the country; but I have not yet succeeded in persuading him to undergo the sacrifice necessary for his consecration to that office. Knowing that this change would in the end work for his advantage, I wished the other day to employ toward him a little violence; and, in company with the superintendent of your gardens, I commanded that, in spite of himself, he should be put into a fit state to render you those services which most appeal to your heart, and to live with me in those sacred quarters, which, at present, he durst not even look at; but he fell a roaring, as if we wanted to flay him, and made such a to-do that he escaped from our hands, and so avoided the fatal knife. I have only now learned that he intends to write you begging for mercy, and that he will urge in his defense that this design has been conceived by me, only in satisfaction of a relentless desire to be avenged for some cutting sarcasms which he says he vented against me. However, I swear to you by the hundred thousand prophets, that in this matter I have acted entirely for the benefit of your service, the only thing which is dear to me, beyond which I have not a single thought. I prostrate myself at your feet.|
THE SERAGLIO AT FATME, the 7th of the moon of Maharram, 1713.