Solim to Usbek, at Paris
MAGNIFICENT lord, I lament
for myself, and I lament for you: never did faithful servant sink into
such an abyss of despair. Behold your misfortunes and mine; I write
them with a trembling hand.
I swear, by all the prophets of heaven, that since you confided your wives to me, I have watched them night and day; that my anxiety has never left me for a single moment. When I assumed office I commenced with chastisement, which I have discontinued without relaxing my accustomed austerity.
But what am I saying? Why do I boast of fidelity which has been useless to you? Forget all my past services: look upon me as a traitor, and punish me for all the crimes which I have been unable to prevent. Roxana, the haughty Roxana – Oh, Heaven! In whom can we trust henceforth? You suspected Zelis, and never for a moment doubted Roxana; but her fierce virtue was a cruel imposture: it was the veil of her treachery. I surprised her in the arms of a young man, who, when he saw himself discovered, ran at me, and struck me twice with his dagger: the eunuchs came at the noise and surrounded him: he made a long defence, and wounded several of them; he wished even to re-enter the room to die, he said, in the presence of Roxana. But at last he yielded to numbers, and fell at our feet.
I know now, sublime lord, if I shall wait for your stern commands. You have placed your vengeance in my hands; and I ought not to defer it.
Seraglio at Ispahan, the 8th of the first moon of Rebiab, 1720.