Voltaire [English]

François Marie Arouet [Voltaire] (París,
november 21 1694 – ibídem, may 30 1778)

In the middle of the institutional crisis of the catholic church, Voltaire offers us an intresting perspective of the catholic extremism.


"After the earthquake, which had destroyed three-fourths of the city of Lisbon, the sages of that
country could think of no means more effectual to preserve the kingdom from utter ruin than to entertain the people with an auto-da-fé12, it having been decided by the University of Coimbra, that the burning of a few people alive by a slow fire, and with great ceremony, is an infallible preventive of earthquakes.

In consequence thereof they had seized on a Biscayan for marrying his godmother, and on two
Portuguese for taking out the bacon of a fried chicken they were eating13; after dinner they came and secured Dr. Pangloss, and his pupil Candide, the one for speaking his mind, and the other for seeming to approve what he had said. They were conducted to separate cool apartments, remote from the glare of the sun. Eight days afterwards they were each dressed in a san-benito, and their heads were adorned with paper miters. The miter and san-benito worn by Candide were painted with flames reversed and with devils that had neither tails nor claws; but Dr. Pangloss's devils had both tails and claws, and his flames were upright.
In these habits they marched in procession and heard a very pathetic sermon, which was followed by an anthem accompanied by bagpipes. Candide was flogged to some tune while the anthem was being sung; the Biscayan and the two men who would not eat bacon were burned, and Pangloss was hanged, which is not a common custom at these solemnities. The same day there was another earthquake, which made most dreadful havoc.

Candide, amazed, terrified, confounded, astonished, all bloody, and trembling from head to foot,
said to himself, AIf this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the others like? If I had only been
whipped, I could have put up with it, as I did among the Bulgarians; but, not withstanding, oh my dear
Pangloss! my beloved master! oh greatest of philosophers! was it necessary that I should live to see you hanged, without knowing the reason? O my dear Anabaptist, best of men, was it necessary that you should be drowned in the harbor? O Cunégonde, you mirror of young ladies! was it ncessary that you should have your belly ripped open?

He was making the best of his way from the place where he had been preached to, whipped,
absolved and blessed, when he was accosted by an old woman, who said to him, ATake courage, child, and follow me."

Candide - Full text

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