Candide, by Voltaire. The Garden




At the bottom of his heart Candide had no wish to marry Cunegonde. But the extreme impertinence of the Baron determined him to conclude the match, and Cunegonde pressed him so strongly that he could not go from his word. He consulted Pangloss, Martin, and the faithful Cacambo. Pangloss drew up an excellent memorial, wherein he proved that the Baron had no right over his sister, and that according to all the laws of the empire, she might marry Candide with her left hand. Martin was for throwing the Baron into the sea; Cacambo decided that it would be better to deliver him up again to the captain of the galley, after which they thought to send him back to the General Father of the Order at Rome by the first ship. This advice was well received, the old woman approved it; they said not a word to his sister; the thing was executed for a little money, and they had the double pleasure of entrapping a Jesuit, and punishing the pride of a German baron.

It is natural to imagine that after so many disasters Candide married, and living with the philosopher Pangloss, the philosopher Martin, the prudent Cacambo, and the old woman, having besides brought so many diamonds from the country of the ancient Incas, must have led a very happy life. But he was so much imposed upon by the Jews that he had nothing left except his small farm; his wife became uglier every day, more peevish and unsupportable; the old woman was infirm and even more fretful than Cunegonde. Cacambo, who worked in the garden, and took vegetables for sale to Constantinople, was fatigued with hard work, and cursed his destiny. Pangloss was in despair at not shining in some German university. For Martin, he was firmly persuaded that he would be as badly off elsewhere, and therefore bore things patiently. Candide, Martin, and Pangloss sometimes disputed about morals and metaphysics. They often saw passing under the windows of their farm boats full of Effendis, Pashas, and Cadis, who were going into banishment to Lemnos, Mitylene, or Erzeroum. And they saw other Cadis, Pashas, and Effendis coming to supply the place of the exiles, and afterwards exiled in their turn. They saw heads decently impaled for presentation to the Sublime Porte. Such spectacles as these increased the number of their dissertations; and when they did not dispute time hung so heavily upon their hands, that one day the old woman ventured to say to them:

“I want to know which is worse, to be ravished a hundred times by negro pirates, to have a buttock cut off, to run the gauntlet among the Bulgarians, to be whipped and hanged at an auto-da-fé, to be dissected, to row in the galleys—in short, to go through all the miseries we have undergone, or to stay here and have nothing to do?”

“It is a great question,” said Candide.

This discourse gave rise to new reflections, and Martin especially concluded that man was born to live either in a state of distracting inquietude or of lethargic disgust. Candide did not quite agree to that, but he affirmed nothing. Pangloss owned that he had always suffered horribly, but as he had once asserted that everything went wonderfully well, he asserted it still, though he no longer believed it.

What helped to confirm Martin in his detestable principles, to stagger Candide more than ever, and to puzzle Pangloss, was that one day they saw Paquette and Friar Giroflée land at the farm in extreme misery. They had soon squandered their three thousand piastres, parted, were reconciled, quarrelled again, were thrown into gaol, had escaped, and Friar Giroflée had at length become Turk. Paquette continued her trade wherever she went, but made nothing of it.

“I foresaw,” said Martin to Candide, “that your presents would soon be dissipated, and only make them the more miserable. You have rolled in millions of money, you and Cacambo; and yet you are not happier than Friar Giroflée and Paquette.”

“Ha!” said Pangloss to Paquette, “Providence has then brought you amongst us again, my poor child! Do you know that you cost me the tip of my nose, an eye, and an ear, as you may see? What a world is this!”

And now this new adventure set them philosophising more than ever.

In the neighbourhood there lived a very famous Dervish who was esteemed the best philosopher in all Turkey, and they went to consult him. Pangloss was the speaker.

“Master,” said he, “we come to beg you to tell why so strange an animal as man was made.”

“With what meddlest thou?” said the Dervish; “is it thy business?”

“But, reverend father,” said Candide, “there is horrible evil in this world.”

“What signifies it,” said the Dervish, “whether there be evil or good? When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the mice on board are at their ease or not?”

“What, then, must we do?” said Pangloss.

“Hold your tongue,” answered the Dervish.

“I was in hopes,” said Pangloss, “that I should reason with you a little about causes and effects, about the best of possible worlds, the origin of evil, the nature of the soul, and the pre-established harmony.”

At these words, the Dervish shut the door in their faces.

During this conversation, the news was spread that two Viziers and the Mufti had been strangled at Constantinople, and that several of their friends had been impaled. This catastrophe made a great noise for some hours. Pangloss, Candide, and Martin, returning to the little farm, saw a good old man taking the fresh air at his door under an orange bower. Pangloss, who was as inquisitive as he was argumentative, asked the old man what was the name of the strangled Mufti.

“I do not know,” answered the worthy man, “and I have not known the name of any Mufti, nor of any Vizier. I am entirely ignorant of the event you mention; I presume in general that they who meddle with the administration of public affairs die sometimes miserably, and that they deserve it; but I never trouble my head about what is transacting at Constantinople; I content myself with sending there for sale the fruits of the garden which I cultivate.”

Having said these words, he invited the strangers into his house; his two sons and two daughters presented them with several sorts of sherbet, which they made themselves, with Kaimak enriched with the candied-peel of citrons, with oranges, lemons, pine-apples, pistachio-nuts, and Mocha coffee unadulterated with the bad coffee of Batavia or the American islands. After which the two daughters of the honest Mussulman perfumed the strangers’ beards.

“You must have a vast and magnificent estate,” said Candide to the Turk.

“I have only twenty acres,” replied the old man; “I and my children cultivate them; our labour preserves us from three great evils—weariness, vice, and want.”

Candide, on his way home, made profound reflections on the old man’s conversation.

“This honest Turk,” said he to Pangloss and Martin, “seems to be in a situation far preferable to that of the six kings with whom we had the honour of supping.”

“Grandeur,” said Pangloss, “is extremely dangerous according to the testimony of philosophers. For, in short, Eglon, King of Moab, was assassinated by Ehud; Absalom was hung by his hair, and pierced with three darts; King Nadab, the son of Jeroboam, was killed by Baasa; King Ela by Zimri; Ahaziah by Jehu; Athaliah by Jehoiada; the Kings Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah, were led into captivity. You know how perished Crœsus, Astyages, Darius, Dionysius of Syracuse, Pyrrhus, Perseus, Hannibal, Jugurtha, Ariovistus, Cæsar, Pompey, Nero, Otho, Vitellius, Domitian, Richard II. of England, Edward II., Henry VI., Richard III., Mary Stuart, Charles I., the three Henrys of France, the Emperor Henry IV.! You know——”

“I know also,” said Candide, “that we must cultivate our garden.”

“You are right,” said Pangloss, “for when man was first placed in the Garden of Eden, he was put there ut operaretur eum, that he might cultivate it; which shows that man was not born to be idle.”

“Let us work,” said Martin, “without disputing; it is the only way to render life tolerable.”

The whole little society entered into this laudable design, according to their different abilities. Their little plot of land produced plentiful crops. Cunegonde was, indeed, very ugly, but she became an excellent pastry cook; Paquette worked at embroidery; the old woman looked after the linen. They were all, not excepting Friar Giroflée, of some service or other; for he made a good joiner, and became a very honest man.

Pangloss sometimes said to Candide:

“There is a concatenation of events in this best of all possible worlds: for if you had not been kicked out of a magnificent castle for love of Miss Cunegonde: if you had not been put into the Inquisition: if you had not walked over America: if you had not stabbed the Baron: if you had not lost all your sheep from the fine country of El Dorado: you would not be here eating preserved citrons and pistachio-nuts.”

“All that is very well,” answered Candide, “but let us cultivate our garden.”


[1] P. 2. The name Pangloss is derived from two Greek words signifying “all” and “language.”

[2] P. 8. The Abares were a tribe of Tartars settled on the shores of the Danube, who later dwelt in part of Circassia.

[3] P. 15. Venereal disease was said to have been first brought from Hispaniola, in the West Indies, by some followers of Columbus who were later employed in the siege of Naples. From this latter circumstance it was at one time known as the Neapolitan disease.

[4] P. 19. The great earthquake of Lisbon happened on the first of November, 1755.

[5] P. 20. Such was the aversion of the Japanese to the Christian faith that they compelled Europeans trading with their islands to trample on the cross, renounce all marks of Christianity, and swear that it was not their religion. See chap. xi. of the voyage to Laputa in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

[6] P. 23. This auto-da-fé actually took place, some months after the earthquake, on June 20, 1756.

[7] P. 23. The rejection of bacon convicting them, of course, of being Jews, and therefore fitting victims for an auto-da-fé.

[8] P. 24. The San-benito was a kind of loose over-garment painted with flames, figures of devils, the victim’s own portrait, etc., worn by persons condemned to death by the Inquisition when going to the stake on the occasion of an auto-da-fé. Those who expressed repentance for their errors wore a garment of the same kind covered with flames directed downwards, while that worn by Jews, sorcerers, and renegades bore a St. Andrew’s cross before and behind.

[9] P. 26. “This Notre-Dame is of wood; every year she weeps on the day of her fête, and the people weep also. One day the preacher, seeing a carpenter with dry eyes, asked him how it was that he did not dissolve in tears when the Holy Virgin wept. ‘Ah, my reverend father,’ replied he, ‘it is I who refastened her in her niche yesterday. I drove three great nails through her behind; it is then she would have wept if she had been able.'”—Voltaire, Mélanges.

[10] P. 42. The following posthumous note of Voltaire’s was first added to M. Beuchot’s edition of his works issued in 1829; “See the extreme discretion of the author; there has not been up to the present any Pope named Urban X.; he feared to give a bastard to a known Pope. What circumspection! What delicacy of conscience!” The last Pope Urban was the eighth, and he died in 1644.

[11] P. 45. Muley-Ismael was Emperor of Morocco from 1672 to 1727, and was a notoriously cruel tyrant.

[12] P. 47. “Oh, what a misfortune to be an eunuch!”

[13] P. 48. Carlo Broschi, called Farinelli, an Italian singer, born at Naples in 1705, without being exactly Minister, governed Spain under Ferdinand VI.; he died in 1782. He has been made one of the chief persons in one of the comic operas of MM. Auber and Scribe.

[14] P. 53. Jean Robeck, a Swede, who was born in 1672, will be found mentioned in Rousseau’s Nouvelle Héloïse. He drowned himself in the Weser at Bremen in 1729, and was the author of a Latin treatise on voluntary death, first printed in 1735.

[15] P. 60. A spontoon was a kind of half-pike, a military weapon carried by officers of infantry and used as a medium for signalling orders to the regiment.

[16] P. 64. Later Voltaire substituted the name of the Father Croust for that of Didrie. Of Croust he said in the Dictionnaire Philosophique that he was “the most brutal of the Society.”

[17] P. 68. By the Journal of Trevoux Voltaire meant a critical periodical printed by the Jesuits at Trevoux under the title of Mémoires pour servir à l’Historie des Sciences et des Beaux-Arts. It existed from 1701 until 1767, during which period its title underwent many changes.

[18] P. 76. It has been suggested that Voltaire, in speaking of red sheep, referred to the llama, a South American ruminant allied to the camel. These animals are sometimes of a reddish colour, and were notable as pack-carriers and for their fleetness.

[19] P. 78. The first English translator curiously gives “a tourene of bouilli that weighed two hundred pounds,” as the equivalent of “un contour bouilli qui pesait deux cent livres.” The French editor of the 1869 reprint points out that the South American vulture, or condor, is meant; the name of this bird, it may be added, is taken from “cuntur,” that given it by the aborigines.

[20] P. 90. Spanish half-crowns.

[21] P. 99. Socinians; followers of the teaching of Lalius and Faustus Socinus (16th century), which denied the doctrine of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the personality of the devil, the native and total depravity of man, the vicarious atonement and eternal punishment. The Socinians are now represented by the Unitarians. Manicheans; followers of Manes or Manichæus (3rd century), a Persian who maintained that there are two principles, the one good and the other evil, each equally powerful in the government of the world.


[22] P. 107. In the 1759 editions, in place of the long passage in brackets from here to page 215, there was only the following: “‘Sir,’ said the Perigordian Abbé to him, ‘have you noticed that young person who has so roguish a face and so fine a figure? You may have her for ten thousand francs a month, and fifty thousand crowns in diamonds.’ ‘I have only a day or two to give her,’ answered Candide, ‘because I have a rendezvous at Venice.’ In the evening after supper the insinuating Perigordian redoubled his politeness and attentions.”

[23] P. 108. The play referred to is supposed to be “Le Comte d’Essex,” by Thomas Corneille.

[24] P. 108. In France actors were at one time looked upon as excommunicated persons, not worthy of burial in holy ground or with Christian rites. In 1730 the “honours of sepulture” were refused to Mademoiselle Lecouvreur (doubtless the Miss Monime of this passage). Voltaire’s miscellaneous works contain a paper on the matter.