Candide, by Voltaire

Chapter IX.

Candide’s disgraces, travels, and adventures.

No sooner had the abbé got access to court than he employed all his skill in order to ingratiate himself with the minister, and ruin his benefactor. He spread a report that Candide was a traitor, and that he had spoken disrespectfully of the hallowed whiskers of the king of kings. All the courtiers condemned him to be burned in a slow fire; but the sophi, more favorable, only sentenced him to perpetual banishment, after having previously kissed the sole of his accuser’s foot, according to the usage among the Persians. The abbé went in person to put the sentence in execution: he found our philosopher in pretty good health, and disposed to become happy again. “My friend,” said the English ambassador to him, “I come with regret to let you know that you must quit this kingdom with all expedition, and kiss my feet, with a true repentance for your horrid crimes.” “Kiss your feet, Mr. Abbé! certainly you are not in earnest, and I do not understand joking.” Upon which some mutes, who had attended the abbé, entered and took off his shoes, letting poor Candide know, by signs, that he must submit to this piece of humiliation, or else expect to be empaled. Candide, by virtue of his free will, kissed the abbé’s feet. They put on him a sorry linen robe, and the executioner drove him out of the town, crying all the time, “Behold a traitor! who has spoken irreverently of the sophi’s whiskers! irreverently of the imperial whiskers!”

What did the officious monk, while his friend, whom he protected, was treated thus? I know nothing of that. It is probable that he was tired of protecting Candide. Who can depend on the favor of kings, and especially that of monks?

In the meantime our hero went sadly on. “I never spoke,” said he to himself, “about the king of Persia’s whiskers. I am cast in an instant from the pinnacle of happiness into the abyss of misery; because a wretch, who has violated all laws, accuses me of a pretended crime which I have never committed; and this wretch, this monster, this persecuter of virtue — he is happy.”

Candide, after travelling for some days, found himself upon the frontiers of Turkey. He directed his course towards the Propontis, with a design to settle there again, and pass the rest of his days in the cultivation of his garden. He saw, as he entered a little village, a great multitude of people tumultuously assembled; he inquired into the cause of it. “This,” said an old man to him, “is a singular affair. It is some time ago since the wealthy Mahomet demanded in marriage the daughter of the janissary Zamoud; he found her not to be a virgin; and in pursuance of a principle quite natural and authorized by the laws, he sent her home to her father, after having branded her in the face. Zamoud, exasperated at the disgrace brought on his family, in the first transports of a fury that is very natural, with one stroke of his scimitar clove the disfigured visage of his daughter. His eldest son, who loved his sister passionately, which is very frequent in nature, flew upon his father and plunged a sharp poniard to his heart. Afterwards, like a lion who grows more enraged at seeing his own blood flow, the furious Zamoud ran to Mahomet’s house; and, after striking to the ground some slaves who opposed his passage, murdered Mahomet, his wives, and two children then in the cradle; all of which was very natural, considering the violent passion he then was in. At last, to crown all, he killed himself with the same poniard, reeking with the blood of his father and his enemies, which is also very natural.” “What a scene of horrors!” cried Candide. “What would you have said, Master Pangloss, had you found such barbarities in nature? Would not you acknowledge that nature is corrupted, that all is not —” “No,” said the old man, “for the pre-established harmony —” “O heavens! do ye not deceive me? Is this Pangloss?” cried Candide, “whom I again see?” “The very same,” answered the old man. “I knew you, but I was willing to find out your sentiments before I would discover myself. Come, let us discourse a little on contingent effects, and see if you have made any progress in the art of wisdom.” “Alas!” said Candide, “you choose your time ungenerously; rather let me know what has become of Miss Cunegund; tell me where are Brother Giroflée, Pacquette, and Pope Urban’s daughter.” “I know nothing of them,” replied Pangloss; “it is now two years since I left our habitation in order to find you out. I have travelled over almost all Turkey; I was upon the point of setting out for the court of Persia, where I heard you made a great figure, and I only tarried in this little village, among these good people, till I should gather strength to continue my journey.” “What is this I see?” answered Candide, quite surprised. “You want an arm, my dear doctor.” “That is nothing,” replied the one-handed and the one-eyed doctor; “nothing is more common in the best of worlds than to see persons who want one eye and one arm. This accident befell me in a journey from Mecca. Our caravan was attacked by a troop of Arabs; our guard attempted to make resistance, and, according to the rules of war, the Arabs, who found themselves to be the strongest side, massacred us all without mercy. There perished about five hundred persons in this attack, among whom were about a dozen pregnant women. For my part I had only my skull split and an arm cut off; I did not die, for all this, and I still found that everything went for the best. But as to yourself, my dear Candide, why is it that you have a wooden leg?” Upon this Candide began and gave an account of his adventures. Our philosophers turned together towards the Propontis and enlivened their journey by discoursing on physical and moral evil, free will and predestination, monads and pre-established harmony.

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