Candide - Voltaire - Chapter I



In a castle of Westphalia, belonging to the Baron of
Thunder-ten-Tronckh, lived a youth, whom nature had endowed with the
most gentle manners. His countenance was a true picture of his soul. He
combined a true judgment with simplicity of spirit, which was the
reason, I apprehend, of his being called Candide. The old servants of
the family suspected him to have been the son of the Baron's sister, by
a good, honest gentleman of the neighborhood, whom that young lady would
never marry because he had been able to prove only seventy-one
quarterings, the rest of his genealogical tree having been lost through
the injuries of time.

The Baron was one of the most powerful lords in Westphalia, for his
castle had not only a gate, but windows. His great hall, even, was hung
with tapestry. All the dogs of his farm-yards formed a pack of hounds at
need; his grooms were his huntsmen; and the curate of the village was
his grand almoner. They called him "My Lord," and laughed at all his

The Baron's lady weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds, and was
therefore a person of great consideration, and she did the honours of
the house with a dignity that commanded still greater respect. Her
daughter Cunegonde was seventeen years of age, fresh-coloured, comely,
plump, and desirable. The Baron's son seemed to be in every respect
worthy of his father. The Preceptor Pangloss was the oracle of the
family, and little Candide heard his lessons with all the good faith of
his age and character.

Pangloss was professor of metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. He
proved admirably that there is no effect without a cause, and that, in
this best of all possible worlds, the Baron's castle was the most
magnificent of castles, and his lady the best of all possible

"It is demonstrable," said he, "that things cannot be otherwise than as
they are; for all being created for an end, all is necessarily for the
best end. Observe, that the nose has been formed to bear
spectacles--thus we have spectacles. Legs are visibly designed for
stockings--and we have stockings. Stones were made to be hewn, and to
construct castles--therefore my lord has a magnificent castle; for the
greatest baron in the province ought to be the best lodged. Pigs were
made to be eaten--therefore we eat pork all the year round. Consequently
they who assert that all is well have said a foolish thing, they should
have said all is for the best."

Candide listened attentively and believed innocently; for he thought
Miss Cunegonde extremely beautiful, though he never had the courage to
tell her so. He concluded that after the happiness of being born of
Baron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh, the second degree of happiness was to be
Miss Cunegonde, the third that of seeing her every day, and the fourth
that of hearing Master Pangloss, the greatest philosopher of the whole
province, and consequently of the whole world.

One day Cunegonde, while walking near the castle, in a little wood which
they called a park, saw between the bushes, Dr. Pangloss giving a lesson
in experimental natural philosophy to her mother's chamber-maid, a
little brown wench, very pretty and very docile. As Miss Cunegonde had a
great disposition for the sciences, she breathlessly observed the
repeated experiments of which she was a witness; she clearly perceived
the force of the Doctor's reasons, the effects, and the causes; she
turned back greatly flurried, quite pensive, and filled with the desire
to be learned; dreaming that she might well be a _sufficient reason_ for
young Candide, and he for her.

She met Candide on reaching the castle and blushed; Candide blushed
also; she wished him good morrow in a faltering tone, and Candide spoke
to her without knowing what he said. The next day after dinner, as they
went from table, Cunegonde and Candide found themselves behind a screen;
Cunegonde let fall her handkerchief, Candide picked it up, she took him
innocently by the hand, the youth as innocently kissed the young lady's
hand with particular vivacity, sensibility, and grace; their lips met,
their eyes sparkled, their knees trembled, their hands strayed. Baron
Thunder-ten-Tronckh passed near the screen and beholding this cause and
effect chased Candide from the castle with great kicks on the backside;
Cunegonde fainted away; she was boxed on the ears by the Baroness, as
soon as she came to herself; and all was consternation in this most
magnificent and most agreeable of all possible castles.

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