Candide, by Voltaire

Chapter X.

Candide and pangloss arrive at the propontis — what they saw there — what became of them.

O Candide!” said Pangloss, “why were you tired of cultivating your garden? Why did we not still continue to eat citrons and pistachio nuts? Why were you weary of your happiness? Because everything is necessary in the best of worlds, there was a necessity that you should undergo the bastinado in the presence of the king of Persia; have your leg cut off, in order to make Chusistan happy, to experience the ingratitude of men, and draw down upon the heads of some atrocious villains the punishment which they had deserved.” With such talk as this they arrived at their old habitation. The first objects that presented themselves were Martin and Pacquette in the habit of slaves. “Whence,” said Candide to them, “is this metamorphosis?” after embracing them tenderly. “Alas!” answered they, sobbing, “you have no more a habitation; another has undertaken the labor of cultivating your garden; he eats your preserved citrons, and pistachios, and we are treated like negroes.” “Who,” said Candide, “is this other?” “The high admiral,” answered they, “a mortal the least humane of all mortals. The sultan, willing to recompense his services without putting himself to any expense, has confiscated all your goods under pretext that you had gone over to his enemies, and condemned us to slavery.” “Be advised by me, Candide,” added Martin, “and continue your journey. I always told you everything is for the worst; the sum of evil exceeds by much that of good. Begone, and I do not despair but you may become a Manichæan, if you are not so already.” Pangloss would have begun an argument in form, but Candide interrupted him to ask about Miss Cunegund, the old woman, Brother Giroflée, and Cacambo. “Cacambo,” answered Martin, “is here; he is at present employed in emptying slops. The old woman is dead from a kick given her by a eunuch in the breast. Brother Giroflée has entered among the janissaries. Miss Cunegund has recovered her plumpness and former beauty; she is in our master’s seraglio.” “What a chain of misfortunes,” said Candide. “Was there a necessity for Miss Cunegund to become handsome only to make me a cuckold?” “It matters little,” said Pangloss, “whether Miss Cunegund be beautiful or ugly, in your arms or those of another; that is nothing to the general system. For my part, I wish her a numerous progeny. Philosophers do not perplex themselves by whom women have children, provided they have them. Population —” “Alas!” exclaimed Martin, “philosophers might much better employ themselves in rendering a few individuals happy, than engaging them to multiply the number of sufferers.” While they were thus arguing, a great noise was heard on a sudden; it was the admiral diverting himself by causing a dozen slaves to be whipped. Pangloss and Candide, both frightened, with tears in their eyes, parted from their friends, and in all haste took the road to Constantinople.

There they found all the people in a great stir. A fire had broken out in the suburb of Pera; five or six hundred houses were already consumed, and two or three thousand persons perished in the flames. “What a horrible disaster,” cried Candide! “All is well,” said Pangloss, “these little accidents happen every year. It is entirely natural for the fire to catch houses built of wood, and for those who are in them to be burned. Besides, this procures some resources to honest people, who languish in misery.” “What is this I hear?” said an officer of the sublime porte. “How, wretch, darest thou say that all is well when half Constantinople is in flames. Dog, be cursed of our prophet, receive the punishment due to thy impudence!” And as he uttered these words he took Pangloss by the middle and flung him headlong into the flames. Candide, half dead with fright, crept on all fours as well as he could to a neighboring quarter, where all was more quiet; and we shall see what became of him in the next chapter.

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