22. In France
Candide by Voltaire

What happened in France, to Candide and Martin.

Candide stayed no longer at Bordeaux than till he could dispose of some of the pebbles of Eldorado, and furnish himself with a post-chaise large enough to hold two persons; for he could not part with his philosopher Martin. He was indeed very sorry to part with his sheep, which he left at the Academy of Sciences at Bordeaux, which proposed for the subject of this year's prize, the reason why this sheep's wool was red; and the prize was adjudged to a learned man in the North, who demonstrated. by A plus B minus C divided by Z, that the sheep must be red, and die of the rot.

In the meantime, all the travellers whom Candide met in the inns on the road, telling him they were going to Paris, this general eagerness to see the capital inspired him, at length, with the same desire, as it was not much out of the way in his journey towards Venice.

He entered Paris by the suburb of St. Marçeau and fancied himself to be in the dirtiest village in Westphalia.

Candide had scarce got to his inn, when he was seized by a slight indisposition, caused by his fatigues. As he had a very large diamond on his finger, and the people had taken notice of a pretty heavy box among his baggage, in a moment's time he had no less than two physicians to attend him, who did not wait to be sent for; a few intimate friends, that never left him, sat up with him together with a couple of female friends that took care to have his broths warmed.

"I remember," said Martin, "that when I was sick at Paris, in my first journey, I was very poor, and could meet neither with friends, nurses, nor physicians; but I recovered."

Meanwhile, by medicines and bleedings, Candide's disorder grew more serious, and the clerk of the town came, with great modesty to ask a bill for the other world, payable to the bearer. Candide refused to accord it: the nurses I assured him that it was a new fashion. Candide replied, that he was resolved not to follow the fashion. Martin was going to throw the clerk out of the window. The clerk swore that Candide should not be buried. Martin swore he would bury the clerk, if he continued to be troublesome. The quarrel grew high, and Martin took the clerk by the shoulders, and pushed him out of doors. This occasioned a great deal of scandal, and an action was commenced against him.

Candide recovered, and while he was convalescent, had the best company to sup with him. They gamed high and Candide was very much surprised that he never could throw an ace; but Martin was not surprised at all.

Among those who did him the honours of the city was a little cleric of Perigord, one of those people that are always busy, always alert, always ready to do one service, forward, fawning, and accommodating themselves to every one's humour; who watch for strangers on their journey, tell them the scandalous history of the town, and offer them help at all prices. This man took Candide and Martin to the playhouse, where a new tragedy was to be acted. Candide found himself seated near the critics, but this did not prevent him from weeping at some scenes that were well acted. One of these critics, who stood at his elbow, said to him, in the midst of one of the acts,

"You were in the wrong to shed tears; that's a shocking actress, the actor who plays with her is worse than she is, and the piece is still worse than the actors. The author does not understand a single word of Arabic, and yet the scene lies in Arabia; but besides, he is a man who does not believe that our ideas are innate. I'll bring you twenty pamphlets against him tomorrow."
"Pray sir," said Candide, to the cleric, "how many theatrical pieces have you in France?"
"Five or six thousand," replied the other.
"Indeed! that is a great many," said Candide, "but how many good ones are there among them?"
"Some fifteen or sixteen," was the reply.
"Oh, that is a great many," said Martin.

Candide was greatly taken with an actress who played Queen Elizabeth in a doll kind of tragedy, that was occasionally put on the stage.

"That actress," said he to Martin, "pleases me greatly. She has some sort of resemblance to Miss Cunegonde. I should be very glad to pay my respects to her."

The cleric of Perigord offered his services to introduce him to her at her own house. Candide, who was brought up in Germany, desired to be informed as to the ceremony used on these occasions, and how a queen of England was treated in France.

"There is a distinction to be observed in these matters," said the cleric. "In the country towns, 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 on a dunghill."
"How!" said Candide, "throw a queen's body on a dunghill?"
"The gentleman is quite correct," said Martin, "he tells you nothing but the truth. I happened to be in Paris when Miss Mevina made her exit, as they say, from this world to the other. She was refused what they here call the rights of sepulchre: that is, to say, she was denied the privilege of rotting in a church-yard with all the beggars in the parish. They buried her at the corner of Burgundy Street, which most certainly would have shocked her extremely, for she was very high spirited."
"This was a very unfeeling act," said Candide.
"What would you do?" said Martin. , "It is the way of these people. Figure to yourself all the contradictions, and all the absurdities possible, and you will find them in the church, in the government, in the tribunals, and in the theatres, of this droll nation."
"Is it true that the Parisians are always laughing?" said Candide.
"Yes," said the cleric, "but it is with hearts full of anger. They complain amidst bursts of laughter; they even commit the most detestable actions, laughing all the while."
"Who," said Candide, "was that ill-mannered hog, who spoke so disparagingly of the scene in the play that made me weep, and of the actors who gave me so much pleasure?"
"It is a miserable creature," replied the cleric, "who gets his living by running down all the new plays and all the new books. He hates those who meet with success, as eunuchs hate all who enjoy themselves. He is one of those literary serpents who nourish themselves on venom. He is a pamphleteer."
"What do you call a pamphleteer?" said Candide.
"It is," said the cleric, "a maker of pamphlets; a Freron."

Thus Candide, Martin and the Perigordin conversed together, on the stairway, whilst seeing the spectators go out of the theatre.

"Although I am very anxious to see Miss Cunegonde, I would like to sup with Mademoiselle Clairon, she appears so amiable," said Candide.

The cleric was not the man to approach Mademoiselle Clairon, who received only the best company.

"She is engaged this evening," said he, "but permit me the honour to introduce you to a lady of quality, who will make you as well acquainted with Paris as though you had lived there four years."

Candide who was naturally curious, allowed himself to be taken to the house of the lady, situated in the faubourg Saint Honore; the company was playing at faro; twelve melancholy looking punters held each in their hands a small pack of cards, with the corners turned down, as if to register their losses. Profound silence reigned. The faces of all the punters were very pale, he who held the bank was the very picture of anxiety, and the lady of the house, seated near this pitiless man, observed with the eyes of a lynx every word, every sept-et-le-va with which each player of the company bent the corners of his cards; she made them straighten them out again; and was very strict in that respect, yet very polite, for fear of losing their custom. The lady assumed the title of Marchioness of Parolignac. Her daughter, about fifteen years of age, was one of the punters, and notified her mother by a wink of her eye of the little tricks the poor people they were victimizing resorted to in trying to repair their losses.

Candide and Martin enter. No one rises, no one salutes them, nobody even looks at them; all are intensely occupied with their cards.

"Madame the Baroness of Thunder-ten-tronckh was more polite," thought Candide.

Meanwhile, the cleric whispered in the ear of the marchioness, who, partly rising, honoured Candide with a gracious smile, and Martin with a majestic nod. She ordered a seat and a hand of cards to be given to Candide, who lost fifty thousand francs in two deals. After which, they supped very merrily, and all the company were astonished that Candide was not in the least cast down by his losses. The waiters came to the conclusion among themselves that he must be some English lord.

The supper was, like most suppers at Paris, begun in silence; afterwards, there was a noise of words that no one could distinguish. Then came insipid jokes, false news, and bad arguments; a little politics, and a great deal of scandal. They even conversed about new books.

"Have you seen the romance of Mr. Gauchet, professor of philosophy?" said the cleric of Perigord.
"Yes," replied one of the company, "but I couldn't finish reading it. We have a crowd of impertinent writers, but all of them together don't come up to the impertinence of Gauchet, professor of philosophy. I am so disgusted with this immensity of detestable books with which we are inundated, that I have taken to playing faro."
"And the Miscellanies of Troublet, what do you think of them?" said the cleric.
"Ah!" said Madame de Parolignac, "the tiresome creature! How curiously he tells you what all the world knows. How weightily he discusses what is not worth being ever so lightly remarked. How he appropriates the genius of others without having the least genius himself. How he spoils what he steals; how he disgusts me; but he will disgust me no more; it is enough to have read a few pages."

There was at table a man of learning and taste, who inclined to what the marchioness had said. The conversation turning on tragedies, the lady asked how it happened that there were tragedies which were sometimes played, that nobody cared to read. The man of taste explained how a play could be somewhat interesting, yet have scarcely any merit. He proved, in a few words, that

"it is not enough to introduce one or two of those scenes which are found in all the romances, and which always seduce the spectators. It is necessary to be new without being fickle, often sublime, and always natural; to understand the human heart, and make it speak; to be a good poet, without letting any character in the play appear like one; to be perfectly acquainted with language, to speak it with purity and continuous harmony, and never sacrifice sense to rhyme. Whoever," added he, "does not observe all these rules, may write one or two tragedies that will be applauded at the theatre, but he will never rank among good writers. There are very few good tragedies. Some are idyls in dialogue, well written and well rhymed; others are political reasonings which put us to sleep, or amplifications which repel us; others are dreams of demoniacs in barbarous style, desultory talk, long apostrophes to the gods because the author does not understand how to talk to men, false maxims and bombast."

Candide listened to all this with attention, and conceived a high opinion of the discourser; and as the marchioness had taken care to place him at her side, he took the liberty of asking, in a whisper, who this man was, who spoke so well.

"It is a scholar," said the lady, "who never puntes, and whom the cleric sometimes brings along with him to supper. He is perfectly acquainted with tragedies and books, he has written a hissed tragedy, and a book which he dedicated to me; but the only copy that has ever seen the outside of the publisher's store is the one he presented to me."
"The great man!" said Candide, "he is another Pangloss."

Then turning to him, he said:

"Sir, you believe, no doubt, that all is for the best in the physical and moral world, and that nothing can be otherwise?"
"Me," replied the scholar, "I don't think anything of the kind. I find that all goes contrary with us, that no one knows what is his rank, or what is his employment, or what he does, or what he ought to do; and except entertainments which are very gay, and over which there appears to be considerable union, all the rest of the time passes in impertinent quarrels, Jansenists against Molinists, members of parliament against dignitaries of the church, men of letters against men of letters, courtezans against courtezans, financiers against the people, wives against husbands, relations against relations; it is a continual warfare."
"I have seen the worst," replied Candide, "but a very great philosopher, who had the misfortune to be hanged, has taught me that all this is wonderfully well; a mere shadow on a very fine picture."
"Your philosopher who has been hanged made a great fool of himself," said Martin, "your shadows are horrible blemishes."
"It is men who make the blemishes," said Candide, "and they can't help it."
"Then it is not their fault," said Martin.

Most of the punters, who understood nothing of this language employed their time in drinking. Martin kept on reasoning with the scholar, and Candide related a part of his adventures to the lady of the house.

After supper, the marchioness conducted Candide into her private room, and seated him on a sofa.

"Ah, well, you love Miss Cunegonde, of Thunder-tentronckh, to distraction."
"Yes, Madam," said Candide.

To this the marchioness replied with a tender smile,

"You answer me just like a young Westphalian; a Frenchman would have said: — 'It is true that I did love Mademoiselle Cunegonde, but having seen you, Madam, I fear I shall never love her any more."'
"Well, Madam," said Candide, "I will answer thus if you wish."
"Your passion for her," said the marchioness, "commenced in picking up her handkerchief; will you please to pick up my garter?"
"With all my heart," said Candide, and he picked it up.
"Now I want you to tie it on," said the lady; and Candide tied it on. "Look you," said the lady, "you are a stranger; I sometimes make my Parisian lovers languish a fortnight, but I surrender to you the first night, parce qu'il faut faire les honneurs de son pays to a young man from Westphalia."

The lady perceiving two enormous diamonds worn by her young stranger, praised them so much that they immediately passed from the fingers of Candide to those of the marchioness.

Candide, in returning with the cleric of Perigord, expressed remorse for having been guilty of infidelity towards Miss Cunegonde; the cleric consoled him; he had only a small part of the fifty thousand francs which Candide lost at play, and of the value of the two brilliants, half given, half extorted. His design was to profit as much as he could from the advantages Candide's acquaintanceship might procure him. He talked continually of Cunegonde, and Candide assured him that he would ask pardon of this beauty when he should meet her at Venice.

The cleric redoubled his politeness and attentions, and took a very tender interest in all Candide said, in all he did, and in all he wished to do.

"You have then, sir," said he, "a rendezvous at Venice?"
"Yes, Mr. Cleric," said Candide, "I must certainly go there, to find Miss Cunegonde."

Then, led away by the pleasure of speaking of one he so loved, he related, as was his custom, a part of his adventures with this illustrious Westphalian.

"I fancy," said the cleric, "that Miss Cunegonde is a lady of very great accomplishments, that she writes charming letters?"
"I never received any letters from her," said Candide, "for, being driven out of the castle on account of my passion for her, I could not write to her; soon after, I heard she was dead; afterwards, I found her, and lost her; and I have now sent an express to her about two thousand five hundred leagues from hence, and wait for an answer."

The cleric heard him with great attention, and appeared to be a little thoughtful. He soon took leave of the two strangers, after a most affectionate embrace. The next day, as soon as Candide awoke, he received a letter couched in the following terms:

"My dearest love, I have been ill these eight days in this town, and have learned that you are here. I would fly to your arms, if I were able to stir. I knew of your passage to Bordeaux, where I have left the faithful Cacambo and the old woman, who are to follow me very soon. The governor of Buenos-Ayres has taken all from me, but your heart is still left me. Come; your presence will restore me to life, unless it kills me with pleasure."

This charming and unexpected letter transported Candide with inexpressible joy, whilst the sickness of his dear Cunegonde overwhelmed him with sorrow. Distracted between these two passions, he took his gold and diamonds, and got somebody to conduct him and Martin to the house where Miss Cunegonde was lodged.

On his entrance, he trembled in every limb, his heart beat quick, and his voice was choked-up with sighs; he asked them to bring a light, and was going to open the curtains of the bed.

"Take care, sir," said the nurse, "she can't bear light, it would kill her";

And immediately she drew the curtains close again.

"My dear Cunegonde," said Candide, weeping, "how do you find yourself? though you can't see me, you may speak to me, at least."
"She cannot speak," said the maid.

The sick lady then put a plump little hand out of the bed, which Candide for some time bathed with his tears, and afterwards filled with diamonds, leaving a bag full of gold upon the easy chair.

In the midst of his transports, a lifeguardman came in, followed by the Perigordin cleric and a file of soldiers.

"There," said he, "are the two suspected foreigners."

He caused them to be immediately seized, and ordered his men to drag them to prison.

"It is not thus they treat travellers at Eldorado," said Candide.
"I am more a Manichean than ever," said Martin.
"But pray, sir, where are you going to carry us?" said Candide.
"To a hole in the lowest dungeon," said the lifeguardman.

Martin having recovered his usual coolness, saw at once that the lass who pretended to be Cunegonde was a cheat; that the Perigordin cleric was an impostor, who had taken advantage of Candide's simplicity; and that the lifeguardman was another sharper, whom they might easily get clear of.

Rather than expose himself before a court of justice, Candide, by his counsellor's advice, and besides, being very impatient to see the real Cunegonde, offered the lifeguardman three small diamonds, worth about 3,000 pistoles each.

"Ah, sir," said the man with the ivory baton, "though you had committed all the crimes that can be imagined, this would make me think you the most honest gentleman in the world! Three diamonds! worth 3,000 pistoles apiece! Sir, instead of putting you in a dungeon, I would lose my life for you; all strangers are arrested here, but let me alone for that; I have a brother at Dieppe in Normandy; I'll conduct you thither, and if you have any diamonds to give him, he will take as good care of you as I would myself."
"And why do they put all strangers under arrest?" said Candide.

The cleric of Perigord then put in his word:

"Because," said he, "a knave of Atrebatia listened to some foolish stories, which made him commit a parricide, not like that in May, 1610, but like that in December, 1594; and just like those that a great many other knaves have been guilty of, in other months and other years, after listening to foolish stories."

The lifeguardman then gave him a more particular account of their crimes.

"Oh! the monsters," cried Candide, "are there then such terrible crimes among people who dance and sing? Can I not immediately get out of this country, where monkeys provoke tigers? I have seen bears in my own country, but I never met with men except at Eldorado. In the name of God, Mr. Officer, conduct me to Venice, where I am to wait for Miss Cunegonde."
"I can conduct you nowhere except to Lower Normandy," said the mock officer.

Immediately he ordered his irons to be struck off, said he was under a mistake, discharged his men, conducted Candide and Martin to Dieppe, and left them in the hands of his brother.

There was then a small Holland trader in the harbour. The Norman, by means of three more diamonds, became the most serviceable man in the world, put Candide and his attendants safe on board the vessel, which was ready to sail for Portsmouth, in England.

This was not the way to Venice; but Candide thought he had escaped from hell, and resolved to resume his voyage towards Venice the first opportunity that offered.

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