Fiction > Montesquieu > Persian Letters
Montesquieu (1689–1755).  Persian Letters.  1901.
Letter XLIX
Rica to Usbek, at ——
AS I was in my room the other day, there came to me a dervish amazingly dressed. His beard descended to his rope girdle; his feet were naked; his gown gray, coarse and peaked in places. The whole appeared to me so odd that my first idea was to send for a painter to make a sketch of it.  1
  First of all he paid me a prolonged compliment, in which he informed me that he was a man of merit, and a Capuchin to boot. “They tell me, sir,” continued he, “that you return soon to the court of Persia, where you hold high rank. I have come to ask your protection, and to beg you to obtain for us from the king a small establishment in the neighborhood of Casbin for two or three friars.” “Father,” said I, “do you then wish to go to Persia?” “Me, sir,” cried he; “I shall take better care of myself. I am Provincial here, and I would not exchange my place for that of all the Capuchins in the world.” “Then why the devil do you make this request?” “Because,” said he, “if we had this monastery, our Italian fathers would send out two or three friars.” “You know those friars, of course,” said I. “No, sir, I do not.” “’Sdeath!” cried I, “of what consequence is it to you that they should go to Persia then? A charming project, indeed, to send two Capuchins to take the air in Casbin! How useful that will be to Europe and to Asia! and how important it is to interest monarchs in it! So, this is what is meant by your admirable colonies! Begone; you and your fellows were not made to be transplanted; and you had best continue to crawl about the places in which you were engendered.”

  PARIS, the 15th of the moon of Rhamazan, 1713.

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