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Voltaire: What happened in France to Candide and Martin

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Candide stopped in Bordeaux only as long as it took to sell some pebbles of the Dorado, and to accommodate himself to a good two-seat chair; for he could no longer dispense of his philosopher Martin; he was only very sorry to separate from his sheep, which he left at the Bordeaux Academy of Sciences, which proposed the subject of this year’s price to find out why the wool of this sheep was red; and the prize was awarded to a scholar of the North, who proved by A, plus B, minus C divided by Z, that the sheep must have been red, and die of the sheep-pox.

However, all the travelers whom Candide met in the cabarets of the road said to him: ‘We are going to Paris.’ This general eagerness at last gave him the desire to see this capital; it was not much to turn away from the road to Venice.

He entered the Faubourg Saint-Marceau, and thought he was in the  ugliest village of Westphalia.

Scarcely was Candide in his inn, when he was attacked by a slight illness, caused by his fatigues. As he had an enormous diamond on his finger, and a prodigiously heavy cassette had been seen in his crew, he immediately had two doctors whom he had not sent for, some close friends who did not leave him, and two devotees who warmed her broths. Martin said:

“I remember being ill in Paris on my first journey; I was very poor; therefore, I had no friends, no devotees, no doctors, and I recovered.”

However, by dint of medicines and bleeding, the disease of Candide became serious. A regular in the neighborhood came gently to ask him for a bill payable to the porter for the other world: Candide would not do it; the devotees assured him that it was a new fashion. Candide replied that he was not a fashionable man. Martin wanted to throw the regular out of the windows. The clerk swore that no one would bury Candide. Martin swore that he would bury the clerk if he continued to bother them. The quarrel grew heated: Martin took him by the shoulders, and drove him away roughly; which caused a great scandal, of which a report was made.

Candide heals; and during his convalescence he had very good company to sup with him. They played high. Candide was amazed that the ace never came to him; and Martin was not surprised.

Among those who performed the honors of the city, there was a little Périgord abbe, one of those eager, always alert, always helpful, cheeky, caressing, accommodating, watching strangers on their way, telling them the scandalous history of the city, and offer them pleasures at all costs. At first he led Candide and Martin to comedy. There was a new tragedy. Candide found himself placed near some fine spirits. That did not stop him from crying at scenes played perfectly. One of the reasoners who were at his side said to him in an interlude:

“You are very wrong to weep, this actress is very bad; the actor who plays with her is even worse actor; the play is even worse than the actors; the author does not know a word of Arabic, and yet the scene is in Arabia; and, moreover, he is a man who does not believe in innate ideas; I will bring you twenty pamphlets tomorrow against him.”

“Sir, how many plays do you have in France?” said Candide to the abbe; who replied:

“Five or six thousand.”

“That is a great deal,” said Candide. “How many are good?””

Fifteen or sixteen,” replied the other.

“That’s a lot,” said Martin.

Candide was very pleased with an actress who played Queen Elizabeth in a rather flat tragedy, which is sometimes played.

“This actress,” he said to Martin, “pleases me very much; she has a false air of Miss Cunegonde; I should be glad to greet her.”

The Périgord abbe offered to introduce him to her home. Candide, raised in Germany, asked what was the etiquette, and how the queens of England were treated in France.

“We must distinguish,” said the abbe; “in the provinces they are led to the tavern; in Paris, they are respected when they are beautiful, and are thrown to the streets when they are dead.”

“From queens to the street!” said Candide.

“Yes, really,” said Martin; “Monsieur Abbe is right; I was in Paris when Miss Monime passed, as they say, from this life to the other; he was refused, what these people call the honors of burial, that is, to rot with all the beggars of the neighborhood in an ugly cemetery; she was buried by her own band at the corner of the Rue de Bourgogne; which must have made her an extreme pain, for she thought very nobly.”

“That is very impolite,” said Candide.

“What do you want?” said Martin; “These people are so made. Imagine all the contradictions, all possible incompatibilities, you will see in the government, in the courts, in the churches, in the spectacles of this strange nation.”

“Is it true that people always laugh at Paris?” said Candide.

“Yes,” said the abbe, “but it is enraged; for they complain of everything with great bursts of laughter; even the most detestable deeds are laughed at.”

“What is this big pig,” said Candide, “who told me so bad of the piece where I cried so much, and the actors who made me so happy?”

“It is an evil one,” replied the abbot, “who earns his life by speaking evil of all coins and books; he hates whoever succeeds, as the eunuchs hate the enjoyers; it is one of those serpents of literature which feed on mire and venom; it is a follicular.”

“What do you call follicular?” said Candide.

“It is,” said the abbe, “a leaf-maker, a Freron.”

Thus, Candide, Martin, and the Périgord, reasoned on the staircase, watching the world go out of the room.

“Although I am very eager to see Miss Cunegonde again,” said Candide, “I should like to supper with Miss Clairon, for she seemed to me admirable.”

The abbe was not a man to approach Miss Clairon, who saw nothing but good company.

“She is engaged for tonight,” he said, “but I shall have the honor of bringing you to a lady of quality, and there you will know Paris as if you had been there four years.”

Candide, who was naturally curious, allowed herself to be led to the lady’s, at the bottom of the Faubourg Saint-Honore; a Pharaoh was occupied there; twelve sad ladies each held in their hands a little book of maps, a horned register of their misfortunes. A profound silence reigned, the pallor was on the forehead of the laying, the anxiety on that of the banker; and the lady of the house, seated beside this pitiless banker, noticed with lynx eyes all the paroles, all the seven-and-a-half campaigns, of which each player had his cards; she decorated them with a severe but polite attention, and was not angry, for fear of losing her practices. The lady called herself the Marquise de Parolignac. His daughter, aged fifteen, was among the punters, and warned with  a wink of the knavery of those poor men who tried to repair the cruelties of fate. The Périgord abbe, Candide, and Martin, entered; no one got up, nor bowed, nor looked at them; all were deeply occupied with their cards.

“The Baroness of Thunder-ten-tronckh was more civil,” said Candide.

The abbe, however, approached the Marquise’s ear, which rose half-way, honored Candide with a graceful smile, and Martin with an air of noble head; she ordered a siege and a game of cards to be given to Candide, who lost fifty thousand francs in two sizes. and every one was astonished that Candide was not moved by his loss; the lackeys said among themselves, in their language of lackeys: ‘It must be some English milord.’ The supper was like most of the suppers of Paris, first of the silence, then a noise of words not distinguished, then jokes, most of which are insipid, false news, bad reasonings, a little politics , and much scandal; they even spoke of new books.

“Have you seen the novel of the Sieur Gauchat, Doctor of Theology?” said the Périgord abbe.

“Yes,” replied one of the guests, “but I have not been able to finish it. We have a lot of impertinent writings; but all together do not approach the impertinence of Gauchat, a doctor of theology; I am so satisfied with the immensity of the detestable books which flood us, that I began to bury myself in Pharaoh.”

“And the Mixtures of Archdeacon Trublet, what do you say?” said the abbe.

“Ah!” said Madame de Parolignac, “the mortal tiresome! As he curiously tells you what everyone knows! As he ponderously discusses what is not worth to be noticed slightly! As he appropriates, without spirit, the minds of others! How he spoils what he pills! How disgusted I am! But it will no longer disgust me; it is enough to have read a few pages of the archdeacon.”

There was at table a learned man of taste, who supported what the Marquise said. Tragedies were then spoken of; the lady asked why there were tragedies which were sometimes played, and which could not be read. The man of taste explained very well how a piece could have some interest, and had almost no merit; he proved in a few words that it was not enough to bring one or two of these situations, which are found in all novels, and which always seduce the spectators; but that one must be new without being bizarre, often sublime and always natural, to know the human heart and make it speak; to be a great poet, without ever having any character in the play appear poetic; to know his language perfectly, to speak it with purity, with a continuous harmony, without rhyme costing anything in the sense.

“Whoever,” he added, “does not observe all these rules, can make one or two tragedies applauded in the theater, but he will never be counted among the good writers; there are very few good tragedies: some are idylls in well-written and rhymed dialogues; the others, of political reasoning which lulls, or amplifications which repel; the others, the dreams of an energumen, in a barbarous style, interrupted remarks, long apostrophes to the gods, because cannot speak to men, false maxims, bombastic commonplace.”

Candide listened attentively to this, and conceived a great idea of ​​the discourse; and as the Marquise had taken care to place him beside her, he approached her ear, and took the liberty of asking her who was this man who spoke so well.

“He is a learned man,” said the lady, “who does not lay down, and that the abbe sometimes leads to me to supper; he is well acquainted with tragedies and books, and has made a whistled tragedy, and a book of which one has never seen outside his bookseller’s shop but a copy he has dedicated to me.”

“A great man!” said Candide, “He’s another Pangloss.”

Then, turning to him, he said to him:

“Sir, you think, no doubt, that everything is at best in the physical world and in morals, and that nothing could be otherwise?”

“I, sir,” replied the learned man, “I do not think of all that; I think everything goes wrong with us; that no one knows what is his rank, nor what is his office, nor what he does, or what he ought to do, and that except the supper, which is fairly gay, and where there seems to be enough union, all the rest of the time is spent in impertinent quarrels; Jansenists versus Molinists, Parliamentarians against churchmen, men of letters against men of letters, courtiers against courtiers, financiers against the people, women against husbands, parents against parents; it is an eternal war.”

Candide replied:

“I have seen worse; but a wise man, who has since had the misfortune to be hanged, informed me that all this is marvelous; they are shadows of a beautiful picture.”

“Your hanged laughed at the world,” said Martin; “your shadows are horrible spots.”

“It is the men who make the stains,” says Candide, “and they cannot dispense with it.”

“So it’s not their fault,” said Martin. Most of the punters, who heard nothing of this language, drank; and Martin reasoned with the learned man, and Candide related some of his adventures to the lady of the house.

After supper, the Marquise led Candide into his cabinet, and made him sit on a sofa.

“Well!” she said to him, “do you always love Miss Cunegonde of Thunder-ten-tronckh?”

“Yes, madam,” replied Candide. The Marquise replied with a tender smile:

“You answer me like a young man from Westphalia; a Frenchman would have said to me: ‘It is true that I loved Mademoiselle Cunegonde; but on seeing you, madam, I fear not to love her anymore.'”

“Alas! Madame,” said Candide,” I will answer as you please.”

“Your passion for her,” said the Marquise,” began by picking up her handkerchief; I want you to pick up my garter.”

“With all my heart,” said Candide; and he picked it up.

“But I want you to give it to me,” said the lady; and Candide handed it to her. “You see,” said the lady, “you are a stranger; I sometimes cause my lovers to languish in Paris a fortnight, but I surrender to you from the first night, because I must do the honors of his country to a young man of Westphalia.” The beautiful woman, having seen two enormous diamonds at the hands of her young stranger, praised them in such good faith, that Candide’s fingers passed them to the marquise’s fingers.

Candide, on his return with his Périgord abbe, felt some remorse for having inflicted on Miss Cunegonde. The abbe entered his grief; he had only a slight share in the fifty thousand pounds lost to the game by Candide, and to the value of the two brilliant half given and half extorted. His plan was to profit as much as he could from the advantages which Candide’s acquaintance might procure him. He spoke to him a lot about Cunegonde; and Candide told him that he would ask pardon of this beautiful woman for his infidelity when he will see her at Venice.

The Périgord was redoubling his politeness and attentions, and took a tender interest in all that Candide said, in all that he did, in all that he wished to do.

“Have you, then, sir,” he said, “an appointment at Venice?”

“Yes, Monsieur Abbe,” said Candide; “I must go and find Miss Cunegonde.” Then, engaged by the pleasure of speaking of what he loved, he related, according to his custom, part of his adventures with this illustrious Westphalian woman.

“I believe,” said the abbe, “that Miss Cunegonde has a good deal of wit, and that she writes charming letters.”

“I have never received any,” said Candide; “for, imagine that having been driven from the castle for her sake, I could not write to her; that soon afterwards I learned that she was dead, that I afterwards found her, and that I lost her, and that I sent her, at two thousand five hundred leagues from here, an express whose answer I await.”

The abbe listened attentively, and seemed a little dreamy. He soon took leave of the two strangers, after tenderly embracing them. The next day Candide received a letter on his waking, which read:

‘My dearest lover, a week ago I was ill in this town; I hear you are there. I would fly in your arms if I could stir. I knew your passage in Bordeaux; I left there the faithful Cacambo and the old woman, who are soon to follow me. The governor of Buenos Ayres has taken everything, but I still have your heart. Come; your presence will restore me to life or make me die of pleasure.’

This charming letter, this unexpected letter, carried Candide away with inexpressible joy; and the illness of his dear Cunegonde overwhelmed him with grief. Shared between these two sentiments, he took his gold and his diamonds, and was conducted with Martin to the hotel where Miss Cunegonde lived. He enters, trembling with emotion, his heart throbbing, his voice sobbing; he wants to open the curtains of the bed; he wants to bring light.

“Keep it to yourself,” said the servant-maid; “the light kills her.” And suddenly she closes the curtain.

“My dear Cunegonde,” said Candide, weeping, “how are you? If you cannot see me, speak to me at least.”

“She cannot speak,” says the servant-maid, and the lady then draws a plump hand from the bed, which Candide watered for a long time with her tears, and then filled with diamonds, leaving a bag full of gold on the armchair.

In the midst of his transports came an exempt followed of the Périgord abbe and a squad.

“There, then,” he said, “are these two strange suspects?” He immediately seizes them, and orders his brave men to drag them into prison.

“It is not thus that travelers are treated in Eldorado,” said Candide.

“I’m more Manichaean than ever,” said Martin.

“But, sir, where are you leading us?” said Candide.

“In a low-bass ass,” said the exempt.

Martin, having regained his composure, judged that the lady who claimed to be Cunegonde was a knave, the Périgord abbe a rogue, who had abused Candide’s innocence as quickly as possible, and the exempt another rogue who could easily be got rid of.

Rather than expose himself to the proceedings of justice, Candide, enlightened by his advice, and always impatient to see again the true Cunegonde, proposed to the exempt three small diamonds of about three thousand pistols each.

“Ah! sir,” said the man with the ivory stick, “if you had committed all the crimes imaginable, you are the most honest man in the world; three diamonds! each of three thousand pistoles! Sir! I would have myself killed for you, instead of leading you into a dungeon. There are arrested all foreigners, but let me do it; I have a brother at Dieppe in Normandy; I will lead you there; and if you have some diamond to give him, he will take care of you as well as myself.”

“And why are all the strangers arrested?” said Candide. The Périgord abbe then spoke, and said:

“It is because a beggar of the land of Atrebatia [Artois. Damiens was born in Arras, the capital of Artois – The attack of Damiens is of the 5th of January, 1757] has heard foolishness; this alone caused him to commit a parricide, not such as that of 1610 in the month of May [May 14, 1610 is the day of the assassination of Henri IV by Ravaillac], but such as that of 1594 in December [On December 27, 1594, Jean Chatel, a Jesuit pupil, stabbed Henry IV], and like many others committed in other years and in other months by other beggars who had heard foolishness.”

The exempt then explained what it was.

“Ah! monsters!” cried Candide; “What! Such horrors in a people who dance and sing! Cannot I get out of this country as quickly where monkeys annoy tigers? I saw bears in my country; I only saw men in the Dorado. In the name of God, Monsieur Exempt, take me to Venice, where I must wait for Miss Cunegonde.”

“I can only take you to Lower Normandy,” said the Barigel [Chief of Henchmen]. Immediately he makes him take off his chains, says he has been mistaken, sends his people away, takes Candide and Martin to Dieppe, and leaves them in the hands of his brother. There was a small Dutch vessel in the harbor. The Norman, with the help of three other diamonds, became the most helpful of the men, embarked Candide and his men in the ship which was to sail for Portsmouth in England. It was not the way to Venice; but Candide thought he escaped from hell; and he expected to return to Venice at the first opportunity.

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