|Montesquieu (16891755). Persian Letters. 1901.|
|Rica to Ibben, at |
|I FOUND myself recently in a company where I met a man very well satisfied with himself. In a quarter of an hour, he decided three questions in morals, four historical problems, and five points in physics. I have never seen so universal a decider; 1 his mind was not once troubled with the least doubt. We left science and talked of the current news: he decided upon the current news. I wished to catch him, so I said to myself, I must get to my strong point; I will betake me to my own country. I spoke to him of Persia; but hardly had I opened my mouth, when he contradicted me twice, basing his objections upon the authority of Tavernier and Chardin. 2 Ah! good heavens! said I to myself, what kind of man is this? He will know next all the streets in Ispahan better than I do! I soon knew what part to playto be silent, and let him talk; and he is still laying down the law.|
PARIS, the 8th of the moon of Zilcade, 1715.
|Note 1. Decisionnaire in the original, a word invented by Montesquieu to describe a man who lays down the law upon everything. [back]|
|Note 2. Tavernier (160589) and Chardin (16431713), the Persian travelers from whose books Montesquieu derived his knowledge of Persia. [back]|