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Candide Or, Optimism (05 Edition)by Voltaire
How Candide was raised in a fine castle,
and how he was chased from it
In Westphalia, in the castle of Baron Thunder-Ten-Tronckh, there lived a young boy whom nature had endowed with the sweetest disposition. His face was a reflection of his soul. His judgment was fairly straightforward and his mind of the simplest. It is for this reason, I believe, that he was named Candide. The old servants of the castle suspected that he was the son of the baron’s sister and a good and honest gentleman of those parts whom the young lady did not wish to marry, as he could claim only seventy-one heraldic quarterings of noble lineage, the rest of his family tree having been lost to the ravages of time.* The baron was one of the most powerful lords of Westphalia, for his castle had windows and a door. His great hall was even adorned with a tapestry. All the dogs from his farmyards were rounded up into a hunting pack whenever the need arose, and his grooms acted as his hunting whips. The vicar of the village served as his private almoner. Everyone called the baron “Your Grace” and laughed at his stories.
* Heraldic quarterings are the noble arms of other families that an individual acquires in his or her coat of arms through marriages. Voltaire is satirizing the German nobility’s pride in its lineages: seventy-one quarterings of noble lineage is extraordinarily high.
The baroness, whose weight of some three hundred and fifty pounds had made her a figure of considerable importance, carried out the honors of the household with a dignity that made her even more respectable. Her daughter, Cunégonde, seventeen years of age, had a flushed complexion and was fresh, fat, and piquant. The baron’s son seemed in every respect worthy of his father. Pangloss, the tutor, was the oracle of the house, and young Candide followed his lessons with all the good faith of his age and character.*
Pangloss taught metaphysico-theologo-cosmo-idiotology. He could demonstrate quite admirably that there is no effect without a cause, and that in this best of all possible worlds, His Grace the Baron’s castle was the finest of castles and Her Grace the Baroness the best of all possible baronesses.
“It has been demonstrated,” Pangloss used to say, “that things cannot be otherwise: for as everything has been made for a purpose, everything is necessarily made for the best purpose. Note that noses were made to bear spectacles, and hence we have spectacles. Legs were obviously instituted in order to wear breeches, and hence we have breeches. Stones were formed to be quarried and used to build castles, and hence His Grace has a very fine castle. The greatest baron of the province must also be the best housed. And as pigs have been made to be eaten, we eat pork all year round. Consequently, those who propose that all is well are talking nonsense: They should say that all is best.”†
* The word pangloss is Greek for “all language.”
† Voltaire is satirizing the doctrines of the German philosopher and mathematician Leibniz, 1646—1716, who argued that God created the best of all possible worlds. Throughout Candide, Voltaire also satirizes Leibniz’s view that nothing happens without sufficient reason.
Candide listened attentively and believed innocently, for he found Mademoiselle Cunégonde extremely beautiful, even if he had never summoned up the courage to tell her so. He concluded that after the good fortune of being born Baron Thunder-Ten-Tronckh, the second degree of good fortune was to be Mademoiselle Cunégonde, the third to see her every day, and the fourth to hear Doctor Pangloss, the greatest philosopher in all the province and, consequently, the world. One day Cunégonde was walking near the castle in a small wood that was called “the park,” when she saw Doctor Pangloss in the underbrush giving a lesson in experimental physics to her mother’s chambermaid, a pretty and obedient brunette.
As Mademoiselle Cunégonde had a great aptitude for science, she watched with bated breath the repeated experiments to which she was witness. She perceived with great clarity the doctor’s sufficient reason, the effects and their causes, and returned to the castle quite excited, deep in thought, and filled with the desire to be learned, reflecting that she could well be young Candide’s sufficient reason, and that he could also be hers. As she was returning to the castle, she happened upon Candide and blushed. Candide blushed too. She greeted him in a faltering voice, and Candide spoke to her without knowing what he was saying. The following day, after dinner, as everyone left the table, Cunégonde and Candide encountered each other behind a screen.
Cunégonde dropped her handkerchief, Candide picked it up, she innocently took his hand, and the young man innocently kissed hers with exceptional vivacity, feeling, and grace. Their lips met, their eyes flashed, their knees trembled, and their hands strayed. Baron Thunder-Ten-Tronckh walked past the screen and, observing this cause and effect, chased Candide from the castle with hard kicks to his backside. Cunégonde fainted, and the baroness slapped her the instant she came to. And all was consternation in this finest and most charming of all possible castles.
What happened to Candide among the Bulgars*
Chased from the terrestrial paradise, Candide wandered for a long time without knowing where he was going, weeping, raising his eyes to Heaven, but turning them more often back to the most beautiful of castles, which contained the most beautiful of young baronesses. He lay down to sleep without dinner between two furrows in a field. Snow fell in large flakes. Candide, frozen through, dragged himself, penniless and dying of hunger and exhaustion, to the neighboring town of Valdberghoff-Trarbk-Dikdorff. He stopped with heavy heart outside a tavern door. Two men dressed in blue noticed him.
“Comrade,” one said to the other. “Here is a well-built young man of the required height.”
They approached Candide and very civilly asked him to dine with them.
“You do me great honor, gentlemen,” Candide replied with charming modesty. “But I have no money with which to pay my share.”
“Ah, sir,” one of the men in blue replied. “A man of your build and merit need not pay a thing. Aren’t you five feet five inches tall?”
* The name Bulgars is a jibing reference to the Prussian troops under Frederick the Great, 1712—1786. From the medieval Latin bulgarus, meaning heretic, or sodomite.
“Yes, gentlemen, that is my height,” Candide replied with a bow.
“Ah, sir, sit down at the table. Not only will we pay for your meal, but we cannot abide that a man like you lacks money. Men were made to help one another.”
“You are right,” Candide said. “That is what Doctor Pangloss always told me, and I can see that everything is for the best.”
They begged him to accept a few coins. He took them and started to write out a promissory note, but they adamantly refused, and they all sat down to dinner.
“Are you devoted to–?”
“Oh, yes!” Candide immediately replied. “I am devoted to Mademoiselle Cunégonde.”
“No, we meant are you devoted to the King of the Bulgars?” one of the gentlemen said.
“Not in the least. I have never laid eyes on him,” Candide replied.
“How can that be? He is the most charming of kings, we must drink to his health!”
“Oh, gladly, gentlemen!” And he drank.
“That’s enough,” they said. “You are now the support, the prop, the defender, the hero of the Bulgars. Your fortune is made and your glory assured.”
Candide’s feet were immediately put in irons, and he was taken to the regiment. He was ordered to right face, left face, present arms, order arms, take aim, fire, double his pace, and was given thirty strokes of the rod. The following day he did the exercise a little less badly and got only twenty strokes; the day after only ten, and was viewed by his comrades as a prodigy. Candide was astounded. He could not yet understand what made him a hero. One fine spring day he took it into his head to go off, walking straight ahead, believing it to be the privilege of mankind, as of animals, to make use of their legs at will. He had not gone two leagues when four other heroes, six feet tall, caught up with him, tied him up, and threw him into a dungeon. He was asked by the court-martial if he preferred being flogged thirty-six times by the entire regiment or having twelve bullets shot into his brain all at once.
There was no point in his arguing that man’s will is free, and that he wanted neither the one punishment nor the other: he had to choose. He decided, by virtue of the divine gift known as freedom of choice, to run the gauntlet thirty-six times. He endured two runs. The regiment was composed of two thousand men. That came to four thousand strokes of the rod, which exposed every muscle and nerve from the nape of his neck to his bottom. As he was about to begin his third run, Candide, unable to take any more, begged them to show mercy and grant him the favor of riddling his brain instead. The favor was granted.
He was blindfolded and made to kneel. At that moment the King of the Bulgars passed by and inquired what the culprit’s crime had been, and as the king was a man of great genius, he understood from everything he heard about Candide that he was a young metaphysician who was blissfully ignorant of the ways of the world, and pardoned him with a clemency that will be praised in all the newspapers and throughout the ages. A worthy surgeon healed Candide in three weeks with ointments decreed by Dioscorides.* Some of his skin had already grown back, and when the King of the Bulgars declared war on the King of the Avars, Candide could walk again.†
* Pedanius Dioscorides, c. 40—90 c.e., Greek physician and scientist. His five-volume De materia medica had been the most influential pharmacological work in Europe until the end of the fifteenth century. Voltaire is implying that the Prussian medical expertise is behind the times.
† Voltaire is referring to the Seven Years’ War, 1756—1763. The French are represented by the Avars, a mounted nomad people who dominated Central Asia and Eastern Europe from the fourth to the eighth century c.e. Voltaire has Dr. Ralph, who is identified on the title page as the supposed author of Candide, die in the Battle of Minden in 1759.
How Candide escaped from among the Bulgars,
and what became of him
Nothing was as beautiful, smart, dazzling, or well ordered as the two armies. The trumpets, fifes, oboes, drums, and cannons created a harmony such as never existed in Hell. First of all, the cannons struck down almost six thousand men on each side. Then the muskets removed from the best of worlds between nine and ten thousand rogues infecting its surface. The bayonet was also the sufficient reason for the death of several thousand men. The total might well have come to some thirty thousand souls. Candide, trembling like a philosopher, hid himself as best he could during this heroic butchery.
Finally, while the two kings had the Te Deum sung, each in his camp, Candide decided to go elsewhere to reason over effects and causes. Climbing over heaps of dead and dying men, he arrived at a neighboring village that lay in ashes: it was an Avar village that the Bulgars had burnt down in accordance with the principles of international law. Old men covered in wounds watched their butchered wives die clasping their infants to their bleeding breasts. Girls who had been disemboweled after having sated the natural needs of some of the heroes were breathing their last. Others, covered in burns, were begging to be put out of their misery. Brains were splattered on the ground alongside severed arms and legs.
Candide fled as fast as he could to another village. This one belonged to the Bulgars, and the Avar heroes had treated it the same way. Stepping over palpitating limbs and climbing over ruins, Candide, carrying a few provisions in his bag, finally managed to get out of the theater of war, never forgetting Mademoiselle Cunégonde. His provisions ran out when he reached Holland, but having heard that everyone in that country was rich and Christian, he did not doubt that he would be treated as well as he had been at the castle of His Lordship the Baron before he was driven from it on account of Mademoiselle Cunégonde’s beautiful eyes.
He asked for alms from several grave personages, all of whom replied that if he continued plying this trade he would be locked up in a house of correction, where he would be taught how to work for a living.
Then he approached a man who had just addressed a big crowd for a whole hour on the topic of charity.
The orator eyed him suspiciously and asked, “What are you doing here? Did you come for the Good Cause?”
“There is no effect without a cause,” Candide replied modestly. “Everything is necessarily interconnected and arranged for the best. I had to be driven out of the presence of Mademoiselle Cunégonde, run the gauntlet, and beg for bread until I can earn my own. All this could not be otherwise.”
“My friend,” the orator said, “do you believe that the Pope is the Antichrist?”
“I have never yet heard that he is,” Candide replied. “But whether he is the Antichrist or not, I need bread.”
“You don’t deserve any,” the orator said. “Go away, you rogue, you wretch! Don’t come near me again as long as you live!”
The orator’s wife poked her head out the window and, seeing the man who doubted that the Pope was the Antichrist, poured out on his head a chamber pot full of . . .
Merciful Heaven! To what excess ladies will carry the zeal of religion!
A man who had not been baptized, a good Anabaptist by the name of Jacques, saw the cruel and disgraceful manner in which one of his brothers, a featherless, two-legged being with a soul, was being treated.* He took him to his place, washed him, gave him bread and beer, made him a gift of two florins, and even wanted to teach him to work in his factory, which manufactured Persian fabrics in Holland. Candide almost prostrated himself before him, exclaiming, “Doctor Pangloss had told me that everything is for the best in this world. I am infinitely more moved by your extreme generosity than by the severity of that man in the black cloak and his wife.”
The following day, Candide was out walking when he came across a beggar covered in pustules. He had lifeless eyes, a nose that was rotting away, a mouth that was twisted, black teeth, and a rasping voice. He coughed violently, spitting out a tooth every time.
* The Anabaptists were an extreme Protestant sect that did not believe in infant baptism–in their view only adult baptism was valid. They believed in absolute social and religious equality. “A featherless, two-legged being” is a humorous reference to Plato’s definition of man.
How Candide met his old philosophy tutor
Doctor Pangloss, and what followed
Candide, touched more by compassion than by horror, gave the repugnant beggar the two florins he had been given by his good Anabaptist friend Jacques. The phantom stared at him, burst into tears, and flung himself around his neck. Candide recoiled.
“Alas!” said one wretch to the other. “Do you not recognize your dear Pangloss?”
“What do I hear? Is that you, my dear master, you, in this terrible condition? What misfortune has befallen you? Why are you no longer in the finest of all castles? What has
become of Mademoiselle Cunégonde, that pearl among women, that masterpiece of nature?”
“I am at the end of my strength,” Pangloss said.
Candide immediately led him to the Anabaptist’s stable, where he gave him a little bread to eat. When Pangloss had recovered, Candide asked him again, “Well, what has become of Cunégonde?”
“She’s dead,” the other replied.
Candide fainted at the word. His friend revived him with some bad vinegar he happened to find in the stable. Candide opened his eyes. “Cunégonde dead? O best of all worlds, where are you? But what illness did she die of? Surely not from having seen me driven out from the fine castle by His Lordship her father with kicks to the backside?”
“No,” Pangloss replied, “she was disemboweled by Bulgar soldiers, after she was raped as much as one can be. His Lordship tried to defend her, but they bashed his head in, and Her Ladyship the Baroness was hacked to pieces. As for my poor pupil, he met the same fate as his sister. And as for the castle, not a stone was left standing, not a barn, not a sheep, not a duck, not a tree. But we were well avenged, for the Avars did exactly the same to a neighboring barony belonging to a Bulgar lord.”
At this account Candide fainted again. But regaining his senses, and having said everything he had to say, he asked about the cause and effect, and the sufficient reason that had reduced Pangloss to such a pitiful state.
“Alas, it was love,” Pangloss replied. “Love, the consoler of mankind, the preserver of the universe, the soul of all sensitive beings, tender love.”
“Alas,” Candide said, “I have known that love, the sovereign of hearts, the soul of our soul. It never brought me more than a kiss and twenty kicks to the backside. How could this fine cause produce in you such an abominable effect?”
Pangloss replied as follows: “Oh, my dear Candide! You knew Paquette, our august baroness’s pretty maid. In her arms I tasted the delights of Paradise, which produced these torments of Hell you see devouring me. She was infected by the disease, and has perhaps died of it. She had received the gift from a very learned Franciscan, who took pains to trace the disease back to its source. He was given it by an old countess, who had it from a cavalry captain, who owed it to a marquise, who got it from a page, who had received it from a Jesuit, who as a novice had it in direct line from one of Christopher Columbus’s companions. As for me, I will not give it to anyone, for I am dying.”
“O Pangloss, what a strange genealogy!” Candide exclaimed. “Isn’t the Devil at the root of it?”
“Not at all,” the great man replied. “It was an indispensable thing in the best of all possible worlds, a necessary ingredient. For if Columbus on an island of the Americas had not caught this illness that poisons the source of generation, often even hindering generation, a disease that is evidently the opposite of the grand purpose of nature, we would have neither chocolate nor cochineal. I must also point out that until today this illness, like controversy, has been limited to our continent.
Turks, Indians, Persians, Chinese, Siamese, and the Japanese do not know it yet. But there is sufficient reason for them to become acquainted with it in their turn over the next few centuries. In the meantime, it has made astonishing progress among us, above all among the great armies of honest, well-brought-up mercenaries who decide the destiny of nations. One can be certain that when thirty thousand men fight in a battle, ranged against the same number of troops, there are on each side about twenty thousand men with the pox.”
“How admirable,” Candide said. “But you have to be cured!”
“How can I be?” Pangloss replied. “I don’t have a sou to my name, my friend, and in the whole expanse of our globe you will neither be bled nor given an enema without paying, or without someone paying for you.”
This last statement decided Candide. He went to throw himself at the feet of his charitable Anabaptist friend Jacques and painted such a touching picture of the state to which Doctor Pangloss had been reduced that the good man did not hesitate to take him in. He had him cured at his expense, and during the treatment Pangloss lost only an eye and an ear. Pangloss could write nicely and was well versed in arithmetic. Jacques the Anabaptist made him his bookkeeper. At the end of two months, having to go to Lisbon Lisbon on business, he took the two philosophers with him on the boat. Pangloss explained to him how everything could not be better, but Jacques was not of that opinion.
“Men must have had a corrupting effect on nature,” the Anabaptist said, “for though they are not born wolves, they have become wolves. God has given them neither twenty-four-pounder cannons nor bayonets, and yet they have made bayonets and cannons to destroy each other. I could also cite the bankrupts, and the law that seizes their goods in order to deprive the creditors of their money.”
“All of that was necessary,” the one-eyed doctor replied. “Individual misfortunes result in the general good, with the consequence that the more individual misfortune there is, the more everything is for the best.”
While he was reasoning thus the sky darkened, the winds blew from the four corners of the earth, and the ship, already within sight of the port of Lisbon, was assailed by the most terrible storm.Copyright © 1984 by Voltaire
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