Candide, by Voltaire

Chapter XI.

Candide continues his travels.

“I have nothing left,” said our philosopher, “but to make myself either a slave or a Turk. Happiness has forsaken me forever. A turban would corrupt all my pleasures. I shall be incapable of tasting tranquillity of soul in a religion full of imposture, into which I enter merely from a motive of vile interest. No, I shall never be content if I cease to be an honest man; let me make myself then a slave.” Candide had no sooner taken this resolution than he set about putting it into execution. He chose an Armenian merchant for his master, who was a man of a very good character, and passed for virtuous, as much as an Armenian can be. He gave Candide two hundred sequins as the price of his liberty. The Armenian was upon the point of departing for Norway; he took Candide with him, in the hope that a philosopher would be of use to him in his traffic. They embarked, and the wind was so favorable for them that they were not above half the usual time in their passage. They even had no occasion for buying a wind from the Lapland witches, and contented themselves with giving them some stock-fish, that they might not disturb their good fortune with their enchantments; which sometimes happens, if we may believe Moréri’s dictionary on this head.

The Armenian no sooner landed than he provided a stock of whale-blubber and ordered our philosopher to go over all the country to buy him some dried salt fish; Candide acquitted himself of his commission in the best manner possible, returned with several reindeer loaded with this merchandise, and made profound reflections on the astonishing difference which is to be found between the Laplanders and other men. A very diminutive female Laplander, whose head was a little bigger than her body, her eyes red and full of fire, a flat nose and very wide mouth, wished him a good day with an infinite grace. “My little lord,” said this being (a foot and ten inches high) to him, “I think you very handsome; do me the favor to love me a little.” So saying, she flew to him and caught him round the neck. Candide pushed her away with horror. She cried out, when her husband came in with several other Laplanders. “What is the meaning of all this uproar?” said they. “It is,” answered the little thing, “that this stranger — Alas! I am choked with grief; he despises me.” “So, then,” said the Lapland husband, “thou impolite, dishonest, brutal, infamous, cowardly rascal, thou bringest disgrace upon my house; thou dost me the most sensible injury; thou refusest to embrace my wife.” “Lo! here’s a strange custom,” cried our hero; “what would you have said, then, if I had embraced her?” “I would have wished thee all sort of prosperity,” said the Laplander to him in wrath; “but thou only deservest my indignation.” At uttering this he discharged on Candide’s back a volley of blows with a cudgel. The reindeer were seized by the relatives of the offended husband, and Candide, for fear of worse, was forced to betake himself to flight and renounce forever his good master; for how dared he present himself before him without money, whaleblubber, or reindeer?

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