Fiction > Montesquieu > Persian Letters
Montesquieu (1689–1755).  Persian Letters.  1901.
Letter XXXI
Rhedi to Usbek, at Paris
I AM at present, my dear Usbek, at Venice. Although one had seen all the cities of the world, there would still be a surprise in store for him here. The sight of a town whose towers and mosques rise out of the water, and of an innumerable throng of people where one would expect to find only fish, will always excite astonishment.  1
  But this heathenish city lacks the most precious treasure the world holds, pure water, to wit; it is impossible to accomplish a single lawful ablution. The place is held in abomination by our holy Prophet; he never beholds it from on high but with indignation. With that exception, my dear Usbek, I would be delighted to live in a town where my mind is developed every day. I am gaining an understanding of the secrets of commerce, of the affairs of princes, and of their form of government. Nor do I neglect European superstitions; I apply myself to medicine, physics, and astronomy; I study the arts: in short, I am couching my eyes of the film which covered them in my native land.

  VENICE, the 16th of the moon of Chalval, 1712.

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