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Back to Chapter 21: Candide and Martin, While Thus Reasoning with Each Other, Draw Near to the Coast of France
French version: Ce Qui Arriva en France à Candide et à Martin
stayed no longer at Bordeaux
than was necessary to dispose
of a few of the pebbles he had brought from El Dorado
, and to
provide himself with a post-chaise for two persons, for he could no
longer stir a step without his philosopher Martin
. The only thing that
give him concern was being obliged to leave his sheep behind him,
which he intrusted to the care of the Academy of Sciences at Bordeaux,
who proposed, as a prize subject for the year, to prove why the wool
of this sheep was red; and the prize was adjudged to a northern
sage, who demonstrated by A plus B, minus C, divided by Z, that the
sheep must necessarily be red, and die of the mange.
In the meantime, all travelers whom Candide met with in the inns, or
on the road, told him to a man, that they were going to Paris. This
general eagerness gave him likewise a great desire to see this
capital; and it was not much out of his way to Venice.
He entered the city by the suburbs of Saint-Marceau, and thought
himself in one of the vilest hamlets in all Westphalia.
Candide had not been long at his inn, before he was seized with a
slight disorder, owing to the fatigue he had undergone. As he wore a
diamond of an enormous size on his finger and had among the rest of
his equipage a strong box that seemed very weighty, he soon found
himself between two physicians, whom he had not sent for, a number
of intimate friends whom he had never seen, and who would not quit his
bedside, and two women devotees, who were very careful in providing
him hot broths.
"I remember," said Martin to him, "that the first time I came to
Paris I was likewise taken ill. I was very poor, and accordingly I had
neither friends, nurses, nor physicians, and yet I did very well."
However, by dint of purging and bleeding, Candide's disorder
became very serious. The priest of the parish came with all imaginable
politeness to desire a note of him, payable to the bearer in the other
world. Candide refused to comply with his request; but the two
devotees assured him that it was a new fashion. Candide replied,
that he was not one that followed the fashion. Martin was for throwing
the priest out of the window. The clerk swore Candide should not
have Christian burial. Martin swore in his turn that he would bury the
clerk alive if he continued to plague them any longer. The dispute
grew warm; Martin took him by the shoulders and turned him out of
the room, which gave great scandal, and occasioned a proces-verbal.
Candide recovered, and till he was in a condition to go abroad had a
great deal of good company to pass the evenings with him in his
chamber. They played deep. Candide was surprised to find he could
never turn a trick; and Martin was not at all surprised at the matter.
Among those who did him the honors of the place was a little
spruce abbe of Perigord, one of those insinuating, busy, fawning,
impudent, necessary fellows, that lay wait for strangers on their
arrival, tell them all the scandal of the town, and offer to
minister to their pleasures at various prices. This man conducted
Candide and Martin to the playhouse; they were acting a new tragedy.
Candide found himself placed near a cluster of wits: this, however,
did not prevent him from shedding tears at some parts of the piece
which were most affecting, and best acted.
One of these talkers said to him between acts, "You are greatly to
blame to shed tears; that actress plays horribly, and the man that
plays with her still worse, and the piece itself is still more
execrable than the representation. The author does not understand a
word of Arabic, and yet he has laid his scene in Arabia, and what is
more, he is a fellow who does not believe in innate ideas. Tomorrow
I will bring you a score of pamphlets that have been written against
"Pray, sir," said Candide to the abbe, "how many theatrical pieces
have you in France?"
"Five or six thousand," replied the abbe.
"Indeed! that is a great number," said Candide, "but how many good
ones may there be?"
"About fifteen or sixteen."
"Oh! that is a great number," said Martin.
Candide was greatly taken with an actress, who performed the part of
Queen Elizabeth in a dull kind of tragedy that is played sometimes.
"That actress," said he to Martin, "pleases me greatly; she has some
sort of resemblance to Miss Cunegund. I should be very glad to pay
my respects to her."
The abbe of Perigord offered his service to introduce him to her
at her own house. Candide, who was brought up in Germany, desired to
know what might be the ceremonial used on those occasions, and how a
queen of England was treated in France.
"There is a necessary distinction to be observed in these
matters," said the abbe. "In a country town we take them to a
tavern; here in Paris, they are treated with great respect during
their lifetime, provided they are handsome, and when they die we throw
their bodies upon a dunghill."
"How?" said Candide, "throw a queen's body upon a dunghill!"
"The gentleman is quite right," said Martin, "he tells you nothing
but the truth. I happened to be at Paris when Miss Monimia made her
exit, as one may say, out of this world into another. She was
refused what they call here the rites of sepulture; that is to say,
she was denied the privilege of rotting in a churchyard by the side of
all the beggars in the parish. They buried her at the corner of
Burgundy Street, which must certainly have shocked her extremely, as
she had very exalted notions of things."
"This is acting very impolitely," said Candide.
"Lord!" said Martin, "what can be said to it? It is the way of these
people. Figure to yourself all the contradictions, all the
inconsistencies possible, and you may meet with them in the
government, the courts of justice, the churches, and the public
spectacles of this odd nation."
"Is it true," said Candide, "that the people of Paris are always
"Yes," replied the abbe, "but it is with anger in their hearts; they
express all their complaints by loud bursts of laughter, and commit
the most detestable crimes with a smile on their faces."
"Who was that great overgrown beast," said Candide, "who spoke so
ill to me of the piece with which I was so much affected, and of the
players who gave me so much pleasure?"
"A very good-for-nothing sort of a man I assure you," answered the
abbe, "one who gets his livelihood by abusing every new book and
play that is written or performed; he dislikes much to see anyone meet
with success, like eunuchs, who detest everyone that possesses those
powers they are deprived of; he is one of those vipers in literature
who nourish themselves with their own venom; a pamphlet-monger."
"A pamphlet-manger!" said Candide, "what is that?"
"Why, a pamphlet-manger," replied the abbe, "is a writer of
Candide, Martin, and the abbe of Perigord argued thus on the
staircase, while they stood to see the people go out of the playhouse.
"Though I am very anxious to see Miss Cunegund again," said Candide,
"yet I have a great inclination to sup with Miss Clairon, for I am
really much taken with her."
The abbe was not a person to show his face at this lady's house,
which was frequented by none but the best company.
"She is engaged this evening," said he, "but I will do myself the
honor to introduce you to a lady of quality of my acquaintance, at
whose house you will see as much of the manners of Paris as if you had
lived here for forty years."
Candide, who was naturally curious, suffered himself to be conducted
to this lady's house, which was in the suburbs of Saint-Honore. The
company was engaged at basser; twelve melancholy punters held each
in his hand a small pack of cards, the corners of which were doubled
down, and were so many registers of their ill fortune. A profound
silence reigned throughout the assembly, a pallid dread had taken
possession of the countenances of the punters, and restless inquietude
stretched every muscle of the face of him who kept the bank; and the
lady of the house, who was seated next to him, observed with lynx's
eyes every play made, and noted those who tallied, and made them
undouble their cards with a severe exactness, though mixed with a
politeness, which she thought necessary not to frighten away her
customers. This lady assumed the title of Marchioness of Parolignac.
Her daughter, a girl of about fifteen years of age, was one of the
punters, and took care to give her mamma a hint, by signs, when any
one of the players attempted to repair the rigor of their ill
fortune by a little innocent deception. The company were thus occupied
when Candide, Martin, and the abbe made their entrance; not a creature
rose to salute them, or indeed took the least notice of them, being
wholly intent upon the business at hand.
"Ah!" said Candide, "My Lady Baroness of Thunder-ten-tronckh would
have behaved more civilly."
However, the abbe whispered in the ear of the Marchioness, who
half raising herself from her seat, honored Candide with a gracious
smile, and gave Martin a nod of her head, with an air of inexpressible
dignity. She then ordered a seat for Candide, and desired him to
make one of their party at play; he did so, and in a few deals lost
near a thousand pieces; after which they supped very elegantly, and
everyone was surprised at seeing Candide lose so much money without
appearing to be the least disturbed at it. The servants in waiting
said to each other, "This is certainly some English lord."
The supper was like most others of its kind in Paris. At first
everyone was silent; then followed a few confused murmurs, and
afterwards several insipid jokes passed and repassed, with false
reports, false reasonings, a little politics, and a great deal of
scandal. The conversation then turned upon the new productions in
"Pray," said the abbe, "good folks, have you seen the romance
written by a certain Gauchat, Doctor of Divinity?"
"Yes," answered one of the company, "but I had not patience to go
through it. The town is pestered with a swarm of impertinent
productions, but this of Dr. Gauchat's outdoes them all. In short, I
was so cursedly tired of reading this vile stuff that I even
resolved to come here, and make a party at basset."
"But what say you to the archdeacon T-'s miscellaneous
collection," said the abbe.
"Oh my God!" cried the Marchioness of Parolignac, "never mention the
tedious creature! Only think what pains he is at to tell one things
that all the world knows; and how he labors an argument that is hardly
worth the slightest consideration! how absurdly he makes use of
other people's wit! how miserably he mangles what he has pilfered from
them! The man makes me quite sick! A few pages of the good
archdeacon are enough in conscience to satisfy anyone."
There was at the table a person of learning and taste, who supported
what the Marchioness had advanced. They next began to talk of
tragedies. The lady desired to know how it came about that there
were several tragedies, which still continued to be played, though
they would not bear reading? The man of taste explained very clearly
how a piece may be in some manner interesting without having a grain
of merit. He showed, in a few words, that it is not sufficient to
throw together a few incidents that are to be met with in every
romance, and that to dazzle the spectator the thoughts should be
new, without being farfetched; frequently sublime, but always natural;
the author should have a thorough knowledge of the human heart and
make it speak properly; he should be a complete poet, without
showing an affectation of it in any of the characters of his piece; he
should be a perfect master of his language, speak it with all its
purity, and with the utmost harmony, and yet so as not to make the
sense a slave to the rhyme.
"Whoever," added he, "neglects any one of these rules, though he may
write two or three tragedies with tolerable success, will never be
reckoned in the number of good authors. There are very few good
tragedies; some are idylls, in very well-written and harmonious
dialogue; and others a chain of political reasonings that set one
asleep, or else pompous and high-flown amplification, that disgust
rather than please. Others again are the ravings of a madman, in an
uncouth style, unmeaning flights, or long apostrophes to the
deities, for want of knowing how to address mankind; in a word a
collection of false maxims and dull commonplace."
Candide listened to this discourse with great attention, and
conceived a high opinion of the person who delivered it; and as the
Marchioness had taken care to place him near her side, he took the
liberty to whisper her softly in the ear and ask who this person was
that spoke so well.
"He is a man of letters," replied Her Ladyship, "who never plays,
and whom the abbe brings with him to my house sometimes to spend an
evening. He is a great judge of writing, especially in tragedy; he has
composed one himself, which was damned, and has written a book that
was never seen out of his bookseller's shop, excepting only one
copy, which he sent me with a dedication, to which he had prefixed
"Oh the great man," cried Candide, "he is a second Pangloss."
Then turning towards him, "Sir," said he, "you are doubtless of
opinion that everything is for the best in the physical and moral
world, and that nothing could be otherwise than it is?"
"I, sir!" replied the man of letters, "I think no such thing, I
assure you; I find that all in this world is set the wrong end
uppermost. No one knows what is his rank, his office, nor what he
does, nor what he should do. With the exception of our evenings, which
we generally pass tolerably merrily, the rest of our time is spent
in idle disputes and quarrels, Jansenists against Molinists, the
Parliament against the Church, and one armed body of men against
another; courtier against courtier, husband against wife, and
relations against relations. In short, this world is nothing but one
continued scene of civil war."
"Yes," said Candide, "and I have seen worse than all that; and yet a
learned man, who had the misfortune to be hanged, taught me that
everything was marvelously well, and that these evils you are speaking
of were only so many shades in a beautiful picture."
"Your hempen sage," said Martin, "laughed at you; these shades, as
you call them, are most horrible blemishes."
"The men make these blemishes," rejoined Candide, "and they cannot
"Then it is not their fault," added Martin.
The greatest part of the gamesters, who did not understand a
syllable of this discourse, amused themselves with drinking, while
Martin reasoned with the learned gentleman and Candide entertained the
lady of the house with a part of his adventures.
After supper the Marchioness conducted Candide into her
dressingroom, and made him sit down under a canopy.
"Well," said she, "are you still so violently fond of Miss
Cunegund of Thunder-ten-tronckh?"
"Yes, madam," replied Candide.
The Marchioness said to him with a tender smile, "You answer me like
a young man born in Westphalia; a Frenchman would have said, 'It is
true, madam, I had a great passion for Miss Cunegund; but since I have
seen you, I fear I can no longer love her as I did.'"
"Alas! madam," replied Candide, "I will make you what answer you
"You fell in love with her, I find, in stooping to pick up her
handkerchief which she had dropped; you shall pick up my garter."
"With all my heart, madam," said Candide, and he picked it up.
"But you must tie it on again," said the lady.
Candide tied it on again.
"Look ye, young man," said the Marchioness, "you are a stranger; I
make some of my lovers here in Paris languish for me a whole
fortnight; but I surrender to you at first sight, because I am willing
to do the honors of my country to a young Westphalian."
The fair one having cast her eye on two very large diamonds that
were upon the young stranger's finger, praised them in so earnest a
manner that they were in an instant transferred from his finger to
As Candide was going home with the abbe he felt some qualms of
conscience for having been guilty of infidelity to Miss Cunegund.
The abbe took part with him in his uneasiness; he had but an
inconsiderable share in the thousand pieces Candide had lost at
play, and the two diamonds which had been in a manner extorted from
him; and therefore very prudently designed to make the most he could
of his new acquaintance, which chance had thrown in his way. He talked
much of Miss Cunegund, and Candide assured him that he would
heartily ask pardon of that fair one for his infidelity to her, when
he saw her at Venice.
The abbe redoubled his civilities and seemed to interest himself
warmly in everything that Candide said, did, or seemed inclined to do.
"And so, sir, you have an engagement at Venice?"
"Yes, Monsieur l'Abbe," answered Candide, "I must absolutely wait
upon Miss Cunegund," and then the pleasure he took in talking about
the object he loved, led him insensibly to relate, according to
custom, part of his adventures with that illustrious Westphalian
"I fancy," said the abbe, "Miss Cunegund has a great deal of wit,
and that her letters must be very entertaining."
"I never received any from her," said Candide; "for you are to
consider that, being expelled from the castle upon her account, I
could not write to her, especially as soon after my departure I
heard she was dead; but thank God I found afterwards she was living. I
left her again after this, and now I have sent a messenger to her near
two thousand leagues from here, and wait here for his return with an
answer from her."
The artful abbe let not a word of all this escape him, though he
seemed to be musing upon something else. He soon took his leave of the
two adventurers, after having embraced them with the greatest
The next morning, almost as soon as his eyes were open, Candide
received the following billet:
"My Dearest Lover- I have been ill in this city these eight days.
I have heard of your arrival, and should fly to your arms were I
able to stir. I was informed of your being on the way hither at
Bordeaux, where I left the faithful Cacambo, and the old woman, who
will soon follow me. The Governor of Buenos Ayres has taken everything
from me but your heart, which I still retain. Come to me immediately
on the receipt of this. Your presence will either give me new life, or
kill me with the pleasure."
At the receipt of this charming, this unexpected letter, Candide
felt the utmost transports of joy; though, on the other hand, the
indisposition of his beloved Miss Cunegund overwhelmed him with grief.
Distracted between these two passions he took his gold and his
diamonds, and procured a person to conduct him and Martin to the house
where Miss Cunegund lodged. Upon entering the room he felt his limbs
tremble, his heart flutter, his tongue falter; he attempted to
undraw the curtain, and called for a light to the bedside.
"Lord sir," cried a maidservant, who was waiting in the room,
"take care what you do, Miss cannot bear the least light," and so
saying she pulled the curtain close again.
"Cunegund! my dear cried Candide, bathed in tears, "how do you do?
If you cannot bear the light, speak to me at least."
"Alas! she cannot speak," said the maid.
The sick lady then put a plump hand out of the bed and Candide first
bathed it with tears, then filled it with diamonds, leaving a purse of
gold upon the easy chair.
In the midst of his transports came an officer into the room,
followed by the abbe, and a file of musketeers.
"There," said he, "are the two suspected foreigners." At the same
time he ordered them to be seized and carried to prison.
"Travelers are not treated in this manner in the country of El
Dorado," said Candide.
"I am more of a Manichaean now than ever," said Martin.
"But pray, good sir, where are you going to carry us?" said Candide.
"To a dungeon, my dear sir," replied the officer.
When Martin had a little recovered himself, so as to form a cool
judgment of what had passed, he plainly perceived that the person
who had acted the part of Miss Cunegund was a cheat; that the abbe
of Perigord was a sharper who had imposed upon the honest simplicity
of Candide, and that the officer was a knave, whom they might easily
get rid of.
Candide following the advice of his friend Martin, and burning
with impatience to see the real Miss Cunegund, rather than be
obliged to appear at a court of justice, proposed to the officer to
make him a present of three small diamonds, each of them worth three
"Ah, sir," said the understrapper of justice, "had you commited ever
so much villainy, this would render you the honestest man living, in
my eyes. Three diamonds worth three thousand pistoles! Why, my dear
sir, so far from carrying you to jail, I would lose my life to serve
you. There are orders for stopping all strangers; but leave it to
me, I have a brother at Dieppe, in Normandy. I myself will conduct you
thither, and if you have a diamond left to give him he will take as
much care of you as I myself should."
"But why," said Candide, "do they stop all strangers?"
The abbe of Perigord made answer that it was because a poor devil of
the country of Atrebata heard somebody tell foolish stories, and
this induced him to commit a parricide; not such a one as that in
the month of May, 1610, but such as that in the month of December in
the year 1594, and such as many that have been perpetrated in other
months and years, by other poor devils who had heard foolish stories.
The officer then explained to them what the abbe meant.
"Horrid monsters," exclaimed Candide, "is it possible that such
scenes should pass among a people who are perpetually singing and
dancing? Is there no flying this abominable country immediately,
this execrable kingdom where monkeys provoke tigers? I have seen bears
in my country, but men I have beheld nowhere but in El Dorado. In
the name of God, sir," said he to the officer, "do me the kindness
to conduct me to Venice, where I am to wait for Miss Cunegund."
"Really, sir," replied the officer, "I cannot possibly wait on you
farther than Lower Normandy."
So saying, he ordered Candide's irons to be struck off, acknowledged
himself mistaken, and sent his followers about their business, after
which he conducted Candide and Martin to Dieppe, and left them to
the care of his brother.
There happened just then to be a small Dutch ship in the harbor. The
Norman, whom the other three diamonds had converted into the most
obliging, serviceable being that ever breathed, took care to see
Candide and his attendants safe on board this vessel, that was just
ready to sail for Portsmouth in England. This was not the nearest
way to Venice, indeed, but Candide thought himself escaped out of
Hell, and did not, in the least, doubt but he should quickly find an
opportunity of resuming his voyage to Venice.
On to Chapter 23: Candide and Martin Touch upon the English Coast -- What They See There