Fiction > Montesquieu > Persian Letters
Montesquieu (1689–1755).  Persian Letters.  1901.
Letter CXII
Usbek to ——
THE REIGN 1 of the late king was so long that the end of it had caused the beginning to be forgotten. Now it is the fashion to occupy oneself with the events that happened in his minority; and nothing is read but the memoirs of these times.  1
  Here is the speech which one of the generals of the city of Paris delivered at a council of war: I confess I do not see anything very remarkable in it:  2
  “Gentlemen, although our troops have been repulsed with loss, I think it will be easy to retrieve this misfortune. I have six couplets all ready to publish, which I am certain will restore all matters to a proper balance. I have chosen some admirably clear voices, which issuing from the cavity of certain very powerful chests, will move the people wonderfully. They are set to an air which has hitherto produced quite a peculiar effect.  3
  “If this is not enough, we can bring out a print representing Mazarin hanged.  4
  “Fortunately for us, he does not speak French well; and he mutilates it in such a way, that his importance cannot fail to decline. We take care to make the people observe with what a ridiculous accent he speaks it. 2 Some days ago we made such sport of an absurd mistake in grammar, that it is now a joke in all the streets.  5
  “I hope that before eight days have passed, the people will make the name of Mazarin a generic term to express all the beasts of burden and beasts of draught.  6
  “Since our defeat, our songs about original sin have annoyed him so much, that, to save his party from being reduced to half, he has been forced to send away all his pages.  7
  “Rouse yourselves then; take courage, and be sure that with our hisses we shall send him packing over the mountains.”

  PARIS, the 4th of the moon of Chahban, 1718.
Note 1. The fifth of the letters added in 1754. [back]
Note 2. Cardinal Mazarin, having occasion to use the phrase, l’arrêt d’union, before the parliamentary deputies, pronounced it, l’arrêt d’OGNON, a slip of which the people made great fun.—(M.) [back]

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