Fiction > Voltaire > Candide, or The Optimist
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François Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694–1778).  Candide, or The Optimist.  1884.
 
Chapter XXIII
Candide and Martin touch upon the English Coast: what they see there
 
“AH, Pangloss! Pangloss! Ah, Martin! Martin! Ah, my dear Miss Cunegund! What sort of a world is this?” Thus exclaimed Candide as soon as he got on board the Dutch ship. “Why, something very foolish and very abominable,” said Martin. “You are acquainted with England,” said Candide; “are they as great fools in that country as in France?” “Yes; but in a different manner,” answered Martin. “You know that these two nations are at war about a few acres of barren land in the neighbourhood of Canada, and that they have expended much greater sums in the contest than all Canada is worth. To say exactly whether there are a greater number fit to be inhabitants of a madhouse in the one country than the other, exceeds the limits of my imperfect capacity. I know in general that the people we are going to visit are of a very dark and gloomy disposition.”  1
  As they were chatting thus together they arrived at Portsmouth. The shore on each side the harbour was lined with a multitude of people, whose eyes were stedfastly fixed on a lusty man who was kneeling down on the deck of one of the men-of-war, with something tied over his eyes. Opposite to this personage stood four soldiers, each of whom shot three bullets into his skull with all the composure imaginable; and when it was done, the whole company went away perfectly well satisfied. “What the devil is all this for?” said Candide; “and what demon or foe to mankind lords it thus tyrannically over the world?” He then asked who was that lusty man who had been sent out of the world with so much ceremony, when he received for answer that it was an admiral. “And pray why do you put your admiral to death?” “Because he did not put a sufficient number of his fellow-creatures to death. You must know, he had an engagement with a French admiral, and it has been proved against him that he was not near enough to his antagonist.” “But,” replied Candide, “the French admiral must have been as far from him.” “There is no doubt of that; but in this country it is found requisite, now and then, to put one admiral to death in order to spirit up the others to fight.”  2
  Candide was so shocked at what he saw and heard that he would not set foot on shore, but made a bargain with the Dutch skipper (were he even to rob him like the captain of Surinam) to carry him directly to Venice.  3
  The skipper was ready in two days. They sailed along the coast of France, and passed within sight of Lisbon, at which Candide trembled. From thence they proceeded to the straits, entered the Mediterranean, and at length arrived at Venice. “God be praised,” said Candide, embracing Martin, “this is the place where I am to behold my beloved Cunegund once again. I can confide in Cacambo like another self. All is well—all very well; all as well as possible.”  4
 
 
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