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Voltaire: How Candide was brought up in a beautiful castle, and how he was expelled from it

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There was in Vestphalia, in the castle of the Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh, a young lad to whom nature had given the sweetest manners. His physiology betrayed his spirit. He had a fairly straightforward judgment, with the simplest mind; it is, I believe, for this reason that he was called Candide. The old servants of the house suspected that he was the son of the Baron’s sister and of a good and honest gentleman of the neighborhood, whom this lady would never marry because he had been able to prove seventy-one quarterings only, and that the rest of his genealogical tree had been lost in time.

The Baron was one of the most powerful lords of Westphalia, for his castle had a door and windows. His great hall itself was adorned with a tapestry. All the dogs of his yards formed a pack in need; his grooms were his huntsmen; the vicar of the village was his grand-chaplain. They all called him Sir, and they laughed when he told stories.

The Baroness, who weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds, attracted a great deal of consideration, and did the honors of the house with a dignity which rendered her still more respectable. Her daughter Cunegonde, seventeen years old, was colorful, fresh, greasy, appetizing. The son of the Baron appeared in all worthy of his father. The preceptor Pangloss [from pan, all, and glossa, language] was the oracle of the house, and little Candide listened to his lessons with all the good faith of his age and character.

Pangloss taught metaphysico-theologo-cosmolonigology. He admirably proved that there is no effect without cause, and that, in this best of all possible worlds, the castle of the Baron was the most beautiful of the castles, and his lady was the best of the possible Baroness.

It is proved, he said, that things can not be otherwise; because everything being made for an end, everything is necessarily for the best end. Note that the noses were made for wearing glasses; so we have glasses [see Volume XXVII, page 528; and in the Mélanges, year 1738, chapter XI of the third part of Newton’s Elements of  philosophy; and the year 1768, chapter X of the Singularities of nature]. The legs are obviously instituted to wear shoes, and so we have shoes. The stones have been formed to be cut and build castles; also the Baron has a very fine castle; the greatest Baron of the province must be the best lodged; and the pigs were made to be eaten, we eat pork all year round: therefore those who have asserted that all is good have said a foolish thing; it was necessary to say that everything is at best.

Candide listened attentively, and believed innocently; for he found Miss Cunegonde extremely beautiful, although he never took the boldness of telling her. He concluded that after the happiness of being born Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh, the second degree of happiness was to be Miss Cunegonde; the third, to see her every day; and the fourth, to hear Master Pangloss, the greatest philosopher in the province, and consequently of all the world.

One day Cunegonde, walking alongside the castle in the little wood called park, saw Dr. Pangloss who was practicing a lesson in experimental physics to his mother’s maid, a very pretty amd docile little brunette. As Miss Cunegonde had a great deal of disposition for the sciences, she observed, without blowing, the repeated experiments of which she was a witness; she clearly saw the doctor’s sufficient reason, the effects and causes, and returned all agitated, thoughtful, full of the desire to be learned, thinking that she might well be the sufficient reason for the young Candide, who could also be his.

She met Candide when returning to the castle, and blushed: Candide blushed as well. She said hello to him in a broken voice; and Candide spoke to her without knowing what he was saying. The next day, after dinner, as they were leaving the table, Cunegonde and Candide were behind a screen; Cunegonde dropped her handkerchief; Candide picked it up; she took his hand innocently; the young man innocently kissed the young lady’s hand with a vivacity, a sensibility, a peculiar grace; their mouths met, their eyes flaming, their knees trembled, their hands went astray. The Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh passed by the screen, and seeing this cause and effect, expelled Candide out of the castle with great kicks in the back. Cunégonde fainted; she was blown by the Baroness as soon as she had returned to herself; and all was dismayed in the most beautiful and agreeable of the possible castles.

Translation by Nicolae Sfetcu

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