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Voltaire: Tempest, shipwreck, earthquake, and what happened to Doctor Pangloss, Candide, and Anabaptist Jacques

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The earthquake of Lisbon was on 1st of November, 1755

Half of the weakened passengers, exhaling from those inconceivable anguishes which the roll of a vessel carries in the nerves and in all the moods of the body agitated in opposite directions, had not even the strength to worry about the danger. The other half uttered cries and prayers; the sails were torn, the masts broken, the ship half open. Worked who could, nobody was heard, nobody commanded. The Anabaptist was helping a little the maneuver; he was on the deck; a furious sailor strikes him roughly and spreads it on the planks; but at the blow he gave him, he himself had such a violent shock that he fell out of the ship, head first. He remained suspended and hung on a part of a broken mast. The good Jacques went to his assistance, helped him to go up, and from the effort he made, he was thrown into the sea at the sight of the sailor, who let him perish without deigning to look at him. Candide approaches, sees his benefactor who reappears for a moment, and who is engulfed for ever. He wishes to throw himself after him into the sea; the philosopher Pangloss prevents it by proving to him that the roadstead of Lisbon had been purposely formed so that this Anabaptist might be drowned in it. While he proved it a priori, the ship opened, all perished except Pangloss, Candide, and that brutal sailor who had drowned the virtuous Anabaptist; the rascal swam happily to the shore, where Pangloss and Candide were carried on a plank.

When they returned a little to them, they marched towards Lisbon; there remained to them some money, with which they hoped to escape from hunger after having escaped the tempest.

Scarcely have they set foot in the city, weeping for the death of their benefactor, that they feel the earth trembling under their feet. [The earthquake of Lisbon was on 1st of November, 1755] The sea rises bubbling in the harbor, and breaks the ships which are at anchor. Swirls of flames and ashes cover the streets and public squares; the houses collapse, the roofs are overturned on the foundations, and the foundations are dispersed; thirty thousand inhabitants of every age and sex are crushed under ruins. The sailor said whistling and swearing:

“There will be something to be gained here.”

“What can be the reason for this phenomenon?” said Pangloss.

“Here is the last day of the world!” exclaimed Candide.

The sailor runs incontinently in the midst of the debris, confronts death to find money, finds it, seizes it, gets drunk, and having slept himself sober, buys the favors of the first girl of good will encountered on the ruins of destroyed houses, and in the midst of the dying and the dead. Pangloss, however, pulled him by the sleeve.

“My friend,” he said, “it is not well; you miss the universal reason, you take your time badly.

“Head and blood,” replied the other, “I am a sailor and born at Batavia; I walked four times on the crucifix in four voyages to Japo; you found you man with your universal reason!

Candide was wounded by some shards of stone; he was lying in the street and covered with debris. He said to Pangloss:

“Alas! Give me a little wine and oil; I’m dying.

This earthquake is not a new thing,” replied Pangloss; “the city of Lima experienced the same shocks in America last year; same causes, same effects; there is certainly a trail of sulfur underground from Lima to Lisbon.

Nothing is more probable, said Candide; “but, for God, a little oil and wine.

How likely? replied the philosopher, “I maintain that the thing is demonstrated.”

Candide lost consciousness, and Pangloss brought him a little water from a neighboring fountain.

The next day, having found a few mouthfuls of food by slipping through the rubbish, they repaired their strength a little. Then they worked like others to relieve the inhabitants who had escaped death. Some citizens, rescued by them, gave them a dinner as good as they could in such a disaster; it is true that the meal was sad; the diners watered their bread with their tears; but Pangloss consoled them, assuring them that things could not be otherwise:

Because, he said, all this is the best; for if there is a volcano in Lisbon, it could not be elsewhere; for it is impossible that things should not be where they are, for all is well.

A little black man, familiar to the inquisition, who was next to him, spoke politely and said:

Apparently, monsieur does not believe in original sin; because if everything is at its best, there was neither a fall nor a punishment.

I ask your Excellency very humbly for forgiveness,” replied Pangloss, still more politely, for the fall of man and the curse necessarily entered into the best of possible worlds.

Do not you believe in freedom? said the familiar.

Your Excellency will excuse me,” said Pangloss; “freedom can subsist with absolute necessity; for it was necessary that we should be free; for at last the determined will…

Pangloss was in the middle of his sentence, when the familiar nodded to his footman, which served him to drink wine of Porto or Oporto.

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