François Marie Arouet de Voltaire (16941778). Candide, or The Optimist. 1884.
CANDIDE had in truth no great inclination to marry Miss Cunegund; but the extreme impertinence of the Baron determined him to conclude the match; and Cunegund pressed him so warmly that he could not recant. He consulted Pangloss, Martin, and the faithful Cacambo. Pangloss composed a fine memorial, by which he proved that the Baron had no right over his sister; and that she might, according to all the laws of the empire, marry Candide with the left hand. Martin concluded to throw the Baron into the sea; Cacambo decided that he must be delivered to the Turkish captain and sent to the galleys; after which he should be conveyed by the first ship to the Father-General at Rome. This advice was found to be very good: the old woman approved of it, and not a syllable was said to his sister. The business was executed for a little money; and they had the pleasure of tricking a Jesuit and punishing the pride of a German baron.
It was altogether natural to imagine that after undergoing so many disasters, Candide married to his mistress, and living with the philosopher Pangloss, the philosopher Martin, the prudent Cacambo, and the old woman, having besides brought home so many diamonds from the country of the ancient Incas, would lead the most agreeable life in the world. But he had been so much choused by the Jews that he had nothing else left but his little farm; his wife, every day growing more and more ugly, became headstrong and insupportable; the old woman was infirm, and more ill-natured yet than Cunegund. Cacambo, who worked in the garden, and carried the produce of it to sell at Constantinople, was past his labour, and cursed his fate. Pangloss despaired of making a figure in any of the German universities. And as to Martin, he was firmly persuaded that a person is equally ill-situated everywhere; he took things with patience. Candide, Martin, and Pangloss disputed sometimes about metaphysics and morality. Boats were often seen passing under the windows of the farm fraught with effendis, bashaws, and cadis, that were going into banishment to Lemnos, Mytilene, and Erzeroum; and other cadis, bashaws, and effendis were seen coming back to succeed the place of the exiles, and were driven out in their turns. They saw several heads very curiously stuck upon poles, and carrying as presents to the Sublime Porte. Such sights gave occasion to frequent dissertations; and when no disputes were carried on, the irksomeness was so excessive, that the old woman ventured one day to tell them, I would be glad to know which is worst: to be ravished a hundred times by negro pirates, to have one buttock cut off, to run the gauntlet among the Bulgarians, to be whipped and hanged at an auto-da-fé, to be dissected, to be chained to an oar in a galley; and, in short, to experience all the miseries through which every one of us has passed, or to remain here doing nothing? This, said Candide, is a grand question.
This discourse gave birth to new reflexions, and Martin especially concluded that man was born to live in the convulsions of disquiet, or in the lethargy of idleness. Though Candide did not absolutely agree to this, yet he did not determine anything on that head. Pangloss avowed that he had undergone dreadful sufferings; but having once maintained that everything went on as well as possible, he still maintained it, and at the same time believed nothing of it.
There was one thing which more than ever confirmed Martin in his detestable principles, made Candide hesitate, and embarrassed Pangloss, which was the arrival of Pacquette and Brother Giroflée one day at their farm. This couple had been in the utmost distress; they had very speedily made away with their three thousand piastres; they had parted, been reconciled; quarrelled again, been thrown into prison; had made their escape, and at last Brother Giroflée turned Turk. Pacquette still continued to follow her trade wherever she came; but she got little or nothing by it. I foresaw very well, says Martin to Candide that your presents would soon be squandered, and only make them more miserable. You and Cacambo have spent millions of piastres, and yet you are not more happy than Brother Giroflée and Pacquette. Ah! says Pangloss to Pacquette, it is heaven who has brought you here among us, my poor child! Do you know that you have cost me the tip of my nose, one eye and one ear? What a handsome shape is here! and what is this world! This new adventure engaged them more deeply than ever in philosophical disputations.
In the neighbourhood lived a very famous dervish who passed for the best philosopher in Turkey; him they went to consult. Pangloss, who was their spokesman, addressed him thus: Master, we come to entreat you to tell us why so strange an animal as man has been formed.
Why do you trouble your head about it? said the dervish; is it any business of yours? But my reverend father, said Candide, there is a horrible deal of evil on the earth. What signifies it, says the dervish, whether there is evil or good? When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the rats in the vessel are at their ease or not? What must then be done? says Pangloss. Be silent, answers the dervish. I flattered myself, replied Pangloss, to have reasoned a little with you on the causes and effects, on the best of possible worlds, the origin of evil, the nature of the soul, and a pre-established harmony. At these words the dervish shut the door in their faces.
During this conversation news was spread abroad that two viziers of the bench and the mufti had been just strangled at Constantinople, and several of their friends impaled. This catastrophe made a great noise for some hours. Pangloss, Candide, and Martin, as they were returning to the little farm, met with a good-looking old man, who was taking the air at his door under an alcove formed of the boughs of orange-trees. Pangloss, who was as inquisitive as he was disputative, asked him what was the name of the mufti who was lately strangled. I cannot tell, answered the good old man; I never knew the name of any mufti or vizier breathing. I am entirely ignorant of the event you speak of; I presume, that in general such as are concerned in public affairs sometimes come to a miserable end, and that they deserve it; but I never inquire what is doing at Constantinople. I am contented with sending thither the produce of my garden, which I cultivate with my own hands. After saying these words, he invited the strangers to come into his house. His two daughters and two sons presented them with divers sorts of sherbet of their own making; besides caymac heightened with the peels of candied citrons, oranges, lemons, pine-apples, pistachio-nuts, and Mocha coffee unadulterated with the bad coffee of Batavia or the American islands. After which the two daughters of this good Mussulman perfumed the beards of Candide, Pangloss, and Martin.
You must certainly have a vast estate, said Candide to the Turk, who replied, I have no more than twenty acres of ground, the whole of which I cultivate myself with the help of my children, and our labour keeps off from us three great evilsidleness, vice, and want.
Candide as he was returning home made profound reflections on the Turks discourse. This good old man, said Martin, appears to me to have chosen for himself a lot much preferable to that of the six kings with whom we had the honour to sup. Human grandeur, said Pangloss, is very dangerous, if we believe the testimonies of almost all philosophers; for we find Eglon, king of Moab, was assassinated by Aod; Absalom was hung by the hair of his head, and run through with three darts; King Nadab, son of Jeroboam, was slain by Baaza; King Ela by Zimri; Ahaziah by Jehu; Athalia by Jehoiada; the kings Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah were led into captivity. I need not tell you what was the fate of Crsus, Astyages, Darius, Dionysius of Syracuse, Pyrrhus, Perseus, Hannibal, Jugurtha, Ariovistus, Cæsar, Pompey, Nero, Otho, Vitellius, Domitian, Richard II. of England, Edward II., Henry VI., Richard III., Mary Stuart, Charles I., the three Henrys of France, and the Emperor Henry IV. Neither need you tell me, said Candide, that we must take care of our garden. You are in the right, said Pangloss; for when man was put into the garden of Eden, it was with an intent to dress it; and this proves that man was not born to be idle. Work, then, without disputing, said Martin. It is the only way to render life supportable.
The little society, one and all, entered into this laudable design, and set themselves to exert their different talents. The little piece of ground yielded them a plentiful crop. Cunegund indeed was very ugly, but she became an excellent hand at pastry-work, Pacquette embroidered, the old woman had the care of the linen. There was none, down to Brother Giroflée, but did some service. He was a very good carpenter, and became an honest man. Pangloss used now and then to say to Candide: There is a concatenation of all events in the best of possible worlds; for, in short, had you not been kicked out of a fine castle for the love of Miss Cunegund, had you not been put into the Inquisition, had you not travelled over America on foot, had you not run the Baron through the body, and had you not lost all your sheep which you brought from the good country of El Dorado, you would not have been here to eat preserved citrons and pistachio-nuts. Excellently observed, answered Candide; but let us take care of our garden.