Fiction > Montesquieu > Persian Letters
Montesquieu (1689–1755).  Persian Letters.  1901.
Letter XCIII
Usbek to Rhedi, at Venice
THE MONARCH who reigned so long is no more. 1 He made people talk much about him during his life; everybody is silent at his death. Firm and courageous at the last moment, he seemed to yield only to destiny. Thus died the great Shah Abbas after filling the whole earth with his name.  1
  Do not imagine that this great event has given rise to none but moral reflections. Every one considered his own affairs and how to take advantage of the change. The king, great-grandson of the late monarch, being only five years old, a prince, his uncle, has been declared regent of the kingdom. 2  2
  The late king left a will which limits the power of the regent. This clever prince went to the Parliament, and having laid before them all the rights he has by birth, made them break the arrangements of the late monarch, who, wishing to survive himself, seemed to lay claim to govern after his death.  3
  Parliaments are like those ruins which are trampled under foot, but which always recall the idea of some temple famous on account of the ancient religion of the people. They hardly interfere now except in matters of law; and their authority will continue to decrease unless some unforeseen event restores them to life and strength. The common fate has overtaken these great bodies; they have yielded to time which destroys everything, to moral corruption which weakens everything, and to absolute power which overbears everything.  4
  But the regent, anxious to secure the favor of the people, appeared at first to respect this shadow of public freedom; and, as if he had intended to lift from the ground the temple and the idol, he was willing that the parliament should be regarded as the prop of the monarchy, and the foundation of all legitimate authority. 3

  PARIS, the 4th of the moon of Rhegeb, 1715.
Note 1. Louis XIV. died at Versailles on the 1st of September, 1715, in the seventy-seventh year of his age and the sixty-third of his reign. [back]
Note 2. The Duke of Orleans. [back]
Note 3. By an edict of 16th of September, 1715, ratified in Parliament, the Regent revoked those articles of the decrees of 1667 and 1673 which took from Parliament the right of remonstrance. [back]

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