Fiction > Montesquieu > Persian Letters
Montesquieu (1689–1755).  Persian Letters.  1901.
Letter CLVII
Zachi to Usbek, at Paris
OH 1 Heaven! a savage has outraged me even in the very manner of punishing me! He has inflicted upon me that chastisement, the first effect of which is to shock one’s modesty; that most humiliating of chastisements, which takes one back to one’s childhood.  1
  My soul, at first overpowered by shame, recovered consciousness and began to be exasperated, when my cries resounded through the vaults of my apartments. They heard me asking mercy from the vilest of human beings, and trying to excite his pity, in proportion as he became inexorable.  2
  Since that time his insolent and slavish mind dominates mine. His presence, his looks, his words, all horrible things, overwhelm me. When I am alone, I have at least the consolation of weeping; but when he appears before me, frenzy seizes me: I find myself impotent, and I sink into despair.  3
  The tiger dares to tell me that you are the author of all these barbarities. He wishes to deprive me of my love, and even to desecrate the feelings of my heart. When he utters the name of him whom I love, I am unable to complain; I can only die.  4
  I have endured your absence, and my love has been preserved by its own strength. The nights, the days, the moments were all dedicated to you. I was even proud of my love, and yours made me respected here. But now.… No, I can no longer bear the humiliation which has overtaken me. If I am innocent, return to love me; return, if I am guilty, that I may die at your feet.

  THE SERAGLIO AT ISPAHAN, the 2d of the moon of Maharram, 1720.
Note 1. The ninth letter added in 1754. [back]

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