21. The Coast of France
From Candide by Voltaire (1759)

Candide and Martin draw near to the coast of France and continue to discuss.

At length they descried the coast of France.

"Have you ever been in France, Mr. Martin?" said Candide.
"Yes," said Martin, "I have travelled over several of its provinces. In some, half the inhabitants are mere fools; in others, they are too cunning; in others, either very polite and good natured, or very brutish; in others, they affect to be wits; and in all of them the chief occupation is love, the next lying, and the third to talk nonsense."
"But, Mr. Martin, have you ever been in Paris?"
"Yes, I have; the people are just the same there; it is a mere chaos; a crowd in which every one is in search after pleasure, but no one finds it, as far as I have been able to discover. I spent a few days there on my arrival, and I was robbed of all I had, by some sharpers, at the fair of St. Germain. Nay, I myself was taken up for a robber, and was eight days in prison; after which I turned corrector of the press, to get a small matter to carry me on foot to Holland. I know the whole tribe of scribblers, with malcontents and fanatics. They say the people are very polite in that city; I wish I could believe them."
"For my part, I have no curiosity to see France," said Candide, "you may easily fancy that when a person has once spent a month at Eldorado, he is very indifferent whether he sees anything else on earth, except Miss Cunegonde. I am going to wait for her at Venice; we will go through France, in our way towards Italy. Won't you bear me company?"
"With all my heart," said Martin, "they say that Venice is not fit for any but the noble Venetians; but, for all that, they receive strangers very well, provided they have a good deal of money. I have none; you have; therefore, I'll follow you all the world over."
"Now I think of it," said Candide, "do you imagine that the earth was originally nothing but water, as is asserted in the great book belonging to the Captain?"
"I don't believe a word of it," said Martin, "no more than I do of all the reveries that have been published for some time."
"But for what end was the world created, then?" said Candide.
"To make people mad," replied Martin.
"Were not you greatly surprised," continued Candide, "at the story I told you of the passion which the two girls in the country of the Oreillons had for those two apes?"
"Not at all," said Martin, "I see nothing strange in that passion; for I have seen so many strange things already, that I can look upon nothing as extraordinary."
"Do you believe," said Candide, "that mankind have always been cutting one another's throats; that they were always liars, knaves, treacherous and ungrateful; always thieves, sharpers, highwaymen, lazy, envious and gluttons; always drunkards, misers, ambitious and blood-thirsty; always backbiters, debauchees, fanatics, hypocrites and fools?"
"Do you not believe," said Martin, "that hawks have always preyed upon pigeons, when they could light upon them?"
"Certainly," said Candide.
"Well, then," said Martin, "if the hawks have always had the same nature, what reason can you give why mankind should have changed theirs? "
"Oh!" said Candide, "there is a great deal of difference, because free-will * * *."

In the midst of this dispute, they arrived at Bordeaux.

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