Candide, by Voltaire

Chapter XX.

what befell Candide and Martin on their passage.

The old philosopher, whose name was Martin, took shipping with Candide for Bordeaux. Both had seen and suffered a great deal, and had the ship been going from Surinam to Japan round the Cape of Good Hope, they could have found sufficient entertainment for each other during the whole voyage, in discoursing upon moral and natural evil.

Candide, however, had one advantage over Martin: he lived in the pleasing hopes of seeing Miss Cunegund once more; whereas, the poor philosopher had nothing to hope for; besides, Candide had money and jewels, and, notwithstanding he had lost a hundred red sheep laden with the greatest treasure outside of El Dorado, and though he still smarted from the reflection of the Dutch skipper’s knavery, yet when he considered what he had still left, and repeated the name of Cunegund, especially after meal times, he inclined to Pangloss’ doctrine.

“And pray,” said he to Martin, “what is your opinion of the whole of this system? what notion have you of moral and natural evil?”

“Sir,” replied Martin, “our priest accused me of being a Socinian; but the real truth is, I am a Manichæan.”

“Nay, now you are jesting,” said Candide; “there are no Manichæans existing at present in the world.”

“And yet I am one,” said Martin; “but I cannot help it. I cannot for the soul of me think otherwise.”

“Surely the devil must be in you,” said Candide.

“He concerns himself so much,” replied Martin, “in the affairs of this world that it is very probable he may be in me as well as everywhere else; but I must confess, when I cast my eye on this globe, or rather globule, I cannot help thinking that God has abandoned it to some malignant being. I always except El Dorado. I scarce ever knew a city that did not wish the destruction of its neighboring city; nor a family that did not desire to exterminate some other family. The poor in all parts of the world bear an inveterate hatred to the rich, even while they creep and cringe to them; and the rich treat the poor like sheep, whose wool and flesh they barter for money; a million of regimented assassins traverse Europe from one end to the other, to get their bread by regular depredation and murder, because it is the most gentlemanlike profession. Even in those cities which seem to enjoy the blessings of peace, and where the arts flourish, the inhabitants are devoured with envy, care, and inquietudes, which are greater plagues than any experienced in a town besieged. Private chagrins are still more dreadful than public calamities. In a word,” concluded the philosopher, “I have seen and suffered so much that I am a Manichæan.”

“And yet there is some good in the world,” replied Candide.

“May be so,” said Martin, “but it has escaped my knowledge.”

While they were deeply engaged in this dispute they heard the report of cannon, which redoubled every moment. Each took out his glass, and they spied two ships warmly engaged at the distance of about three miles. The wind brought them both so near the French ship that those on board her had the pleasure of seeing the fight with great ease. After several smart broadsides the one gave the other a shot between wind and water which sunk her outright. Then could Candide and Martin plainly perceive a hundred men on the deck of the vessel which was sinking, who, with hands uplifted to heaven, sent forth piercing cries, and were in a moment swallowed up by the waves.

“Well,” said Martin, “you now see in what manner mankind treat one another.”

“It is certain,” said Candide, “that there is something diabolical in this affair.” As he was speaking thus he spied something of a shining red hue, which swam close to the vessel. The boat was hoisted out to see what it might be, when it proved to be one of his sheep. Candide felt more joy at the recovery of this one animal than he did grief when he lost the other hundred, though laden with the large diamonds of El Dorado.

The French captain quickly perceived that the victorious ship belonged to the crown of Spain; that the other was a Dutch pirate, and the very same captain who had robbed Candide. The immense riches which this villain had amassed, were buried with him in the deep, and only this one sheep saved out of the whole.

“You see,” said Candide to Martin, “that vice is sometimes punished; this villain, the Dutch skipper, has met with the fate he deserved.”

“Very true,” said Martin, “but why should the passengers be doomed also to destruction? God has punished the knave, and the devil has drowned the rest.”

The French and Spanish ships continued their cruise, and Candide and Martin their conversation. They disputed fourteen days successively, at the end of which they were just as far advanced as the first moment they began. However, they had the satisfaction of disputing, of communicating their ideas, and of mutually comforting each other. Candide embraced his sheep with transport.

“Since I have found thee again,” said he, “I may possibly find my Cunegund once more.”

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:24