|Montesquieu (16891755). Persian Letters. 1901.|
|Rica to |
|THE OTHER day I visited a great library in a convent of dervishes, to whose care it has been intrusted, and who are obliged to admit all comers at certain hours.|| 1|
| On entering I saw a grave-looking man, who walked up and down in the midst of a prodigious number of volumes which surrounded him. I approached him, and asked him to tell me what books those were which I saw better bound than others. Sir, he replied, I live here in a strange land, where I know no one. Many people ask me similar questions; but you can easily understand how I cannot read all these books to satisfy them; my librarian will tell you all you wish, for he employs himself night and day in deciphering all you see here; he is a good-for-nothing, and is a great expense to us, because he does no work for the convent. But I hear the refectory bell. Those who, like me, are at the head of a community, ought to be foremost in all its exercises. With that, the monk pushed me out, shut the door, and vanished from my sight as if he would have flown.|
PARIS, the 21st of the moon of Rhamazan, 1719.