I was in bed, and fast asleep, when it pleased Heaven to send the Bulgars to our delightful castle of Thunder-ten-tronckh, where they murdered my father and brother, and cut my mother in pieces. A tall Bulgar soldier, six feet high, perceiving that I had fainted away at this sight, attempted to ravish me; the operation brought me to my senses. I cried, I struggled, I bit, I scratched, I would have torn the tall Bulgarian's eyes out, not knowing that what had happened at my father's castle was a customary thing. The brutal soldier, enraged at my resistance, gave me a wound in my left leg with his hanger, the mark of which I still carry."
"Methinks I long to see it," said Candide, with all imaginable simplicity.
"You shall," said Cunegund, "but let me proceed."
"Pray do," replied Candide.
She continued. "A Bulgar captain came in, and saw me weltering in my blood, and the soldier still as busy as if no one had been present. The officer, enraged at the fellow's want of respect to him, killed him with one stroke of his sabre as he lay upon me. This captain took care of me, had me cured, and carried me as a prisoner of war to his quarters. I washed what little linen he possessed, and cooked his victuals: he was very fond of me, that was certain; neither can I deny that he was well made, and had a soft, white skin, but he was very stupid, and knew nothing of philosophy: it might plainly be perceived that he had not been educated under Dr. Pangloss. In three months, having gambled away all his money, and having grown tired of me, he sold me to a Jew, named Don Issachar, who traded in Holland and Portugal, and was passionately fond of women. This Jew showed me great kindness, in hopes of gaining my favors; but he never could prevail on me to yield. A modest woman may be once ravished; but her virtue is greatly strengthened thereby. In order to make sure of me, he brought me to this country house you now see. I had hitherto believed that nothing could equal the beauty of the castle of Thunder-ten-tronckh; but I found I was mistaken. [JS1]
"The Grand Inquisitor saw me one day at Mass, ogled me all the time of service, and when it was over, sent to let me know he wanted to speak with me about some private business. I was conducted to his palace, where I told him all my story; he represented to me how much it was beneath a person of my birth to belong to a circumcised Israelite. He caused a proposal to be made to Don Issachar, that he should resign me to His Lordship. Don Issachar, being the court banker and a man of credit, was not easy to be prevailed upon. His Lordship threatened him with an auto-da-fe; in short, my Jew was frightened into a compromise, and it was agreed between them, that the house and myself should belong to both in common; that the Jew should have Monday, Wednesday, and the Sabbath to himself; and the Inquisitor the other four days of the week. This agreement has subsisted almost six months; but not without several contests, whether the space from Saturday night to Sunday morning belonged to the old or the new law. For my part, I have hitherto withstood them both, and truly I believe this is the very reason why they are both so fond of me. [JS2]
"At length to turn aside the scourge of earthquakes, and to intimidate Don Issachar, My Lord Inquisitor was pleased to celebrate an auto-da-fe. He did me the honor to invite me to the ceremony. I had a very good seat; and refreshments of all kinds were offered the ladies between Mass and the execution. I was dreadfully shocked at the burning of the two Jews, and the honest Biscayan who married his godmother; but how great was my surprise, my consternation, and concern, when I beheld a figure so like Pangloss, dressed in a sanbenito and mitre! I rubbed my eyes; I looked at him attentively. I saw him hanged, and I fainted away: scarce had I recovered my senses, when I saw you stripped of clothing; this was the height of horror, grief, and despair. I must confess to you for a truth, that your skin is whiter and more blooming than that of the Bulgarian captain. This spectacle worked me up to a pitch of distraction. I screamed out, and would have said, 'Hold, barbarians!' but my voice failed me; and indeed my cries would have signified nothing. After you had been severely whipped, I said to myself, 'How is it possible that the lovely Candide and the sage Pangloss should be at Lisbon, the one to receive a hundred lashes, and the other to be hanged by order of My Lord Inquisitor, of whom I am so great a favorite? Pangloss deceived me most cruelly, in saying that everything is for the best.'
"Thus agitated and perplexed, now distracted and lost, now half dead with grief, I revolved in my mind the murder of my father, mother, and brother, committed before my eyes; the insolence of the rascally Bulgarian soldier; the wound he gave me in the groin; my servitude; my being a cook-wench to my Bulgarian captain; my subjection to the hateful Jew, and my cruel Inquisitor; the hanging of Doctor Pangloss; the Miserere sung while you were being whipped; and particularly the kiss I gave you behind the screen, the last day I ever beheld you. I returned thanks to God for having brought you to the place where I was, after so many trials. I charged the old woman who attends me to bring you hither as soon as was convenient. She has punctually executed my orders, and I now enjoy the inexpressible satisfaction of seeing you, hearing you, and speaking to you. But you must certainly be half-dead with hunger; I myself have a great inclination to eat, and so let us sit down to supper." [JS3]
Upon this the two lovers immediately placed themselves at table, and, after having supped, they returned to seat themselves again on the magnificent sofa already mentioned, where they were in amorous dalliance, when Senor Don Issachar, one of the masters of the house, entered unexpectedly; it was the Sabbath day, and he came to enjoy his privilege, and sigh forth his passion at the feet of the fair Cunegund.
the Grand Inquisitor, and the Jew
"What," said he, "thou Galilean slut? The Inquisitor was not enough for thee, but this rascal must come in for a share with me?"
In uttering these words, he drew out a long poniard, which he always carried about him, and never dreaming that his adversary had any arms, he attacked him most furiously; but our honest Westphalian had received from the old woman a handsome sword with the suit of clothes. Candide drew his rapier, and though he was very gentle and sweet-tempered, he laid the Israelite dead on the floor at the fair Cunegund's feet. [JS5]
"Holy Virgin!" cried she, "what will become of us? A man killed in my apartment! If the peace-officers come, we are undone."
"Had not Pangloss been hanged," replied Candide, "he would have given us most excellent advice, in this emergency; for he was a profound philosopher. But, since he is not here, let us consult the old woman."
She was very sensible, and was beginning to give her advice, when another door opened on a sudden. It was now one o'clock in the morning, and of course the beginning of Sunday, which, by agreement, fell to the lot of My Lord Inquisitor. Entering he discovered the flagellated Candide with his drawn sword in his hand, a dead body stretched on the floor, Cunegund frightened out of her wits, and the old woman giving advice.
At that very moment, a sudden thought came into Candide's head. "If this holy man," thought he, "should call assistance, I shall most undoubtedly be consigned to the flames, and Miss Cunegund may perhaps meet with no better treatment: besides, he was the cause of my being so cruelly whipped; he is my rival; and as I have now begun to dip my hands in blood, I will kill away, for there is no time to hesitate."
This whole train of reasoning was clear and instantaneous; so that, without giving time to the Inquisitor to recover from his surprise, he ran him through the body, and laid him by the side of the Jew. [JS6]
"Here's another fine piece of work!" cried Cunegund. "Now there can be no mercy for us, we are excommunicated; our last hour is come. But how could you, who are of so mild a temper, dispatch a Jew and an Inquisitor in two minutes' time?"
"Beautiful maiden," answered Candide, "when a man is in love, is jealous, and has been flogged by the Inquisition, he becomes lost to all reflection."
The old woman then put in her word:
"There are three Andalusian horses in the stable, with as many bridles and saddles; let the brave Candide get them ready. Madam has a parcel of moidores and jewels, let us mount immediately, though I have lost one buttock; let us set out for Cadiz; it is the finest weather in the world, and there is great pleasure in traveling in the cool of the night."
Candide, without any further hesitation, saddled the three horses; and Miss Cunegund, the old woman, and he, set out, and traveled thirty miles without once halting. While they were making the best of their way, the Holy Brotherhood entered the house. My Lord, the Inquisitor, was interred in a magnificent manner, and Master Issachar's body was thrown upon a dunghill.
Candide, Cunegund, and the old woman, had by this time reached the little town of Avacena, in the midst of the mountains of Sierra Morena, and were engaged in the following conversation in an inn, where they had taken up their quarters.
and the Old Woman Arrive at Cadiz,
Who could it be that has robbed me of my moidores and jewels?" exclaimed Miss Cunegund, all bathed in tears. "How shall we live? What shall we do? Where shall I find Inquisitors and Jews who can give me more?"
"Alas!" said the old woman, "I have a shrewd suspicion of a reverend Franciscan father, who lay last night in the same inn with us at Badajoz. God forbid I should condemn any one wrongfully, but he came into our room twice, and he set off in the morning long before us."
"Alas!" said Candide, "Pangloss has often demonstrated to me that the goods of this world are common to all men, and that everyone has an equal right to the enjoyment of them;but, not withstanding, according to these principles, the Franciscan ought to have left us enough to carry us to the end of our journey. Have you nothing at all left, my dear Miss Cunegund?" [JS7]
"Not a maravedi," replied she.
"What is to be done then?" said Candide.
"Sell one of the horses," replied the old woman. "I will get up behind Miss Cunegund, though I have only one buttock to ride on, and we shall reach Cadiz."
In the same inn there was a Benedictine friar, who bought the horse very cheap. Candide, Cunegund, and the old woman, after passing through Lucina, Chellas, and Letrixa, arrived at length at Cadiz. A fleet was then getting ready, and troops were assembling in order to induce the reverend fathers, Jesuits of Paraguay, who were accused of having excited one of the Indian tribes in the neighborhood of the town of the Holy Sacrament, to revolt against the Kings of Spain and Portugal.
Candide, having been in the Bulgarian service, performed the military exercise of that nation before the general of this little army with so intrepid an air, and with such agility and expedition, that he received the command of a company of foot. Being now made a captain, he embarked with Miss Cunegund, the old woman, two valets, and the two Andalusian horses, which had belonged to the Grand Inquisitor of Portugal.
"We are now going into another world, and surely it must be there that everything is for the best; for I must confess that we have had some little reason to complain of what passes in ours, both as to the physical and moral part. Though I have a sincere love for you," said Miss Cunegund, "yet I still shudder at the reflection of what I have seen and experienced." [JS8]
"All will be well," replied Candide, "the sea of this new world is already better than our European seas: it is smoother, and the winds blow more regularly."
"God grant it," said Cunegund, "but I have met with such terrible treatment in this world that I have almost lost all hopes of a better one."
"What murmuring and complaining is here indeed!" cried the old woman. "If you had suffered half what I have, there might be some reason for it."
Miss Cunegund could scarce refrain from laughing at the good old woman, and thought it droll enough to pretend to a greater share of misfortunes than her own.
"Alas! my good dame," said she, "unless you had been ravished by two Bulgars, had received two deep wounds in your belly, had seen two of your own castles demolished, had lost two fathers, and two mothers, and seen both of them barbarously murdered before your eyes, and to sum up all, had two lovers whipped at an auto-da-fe, I cannot see how you could be more unfortunate than I. Add to this, though born a baroness, and bearing seventy-two quarterings, I have been reduced to the station of a cook-wench."
"Miss," replied the old woman, "you do not know my family as yet; but if I were to show you my posteriors, you would not talk in this manner, but suspend your judgment." This speech raised a high curiosity in Candide and Cunegund; and the old woman continued as follows.
I have not always been blear-eyed. My nose did not always touch my chin; nor was I always a servant. You must know that I am the daughter of Pope Urban X, and of the Princess of Palestrina. To the age of fourteen I was brought up in a castle, compared with which all the castles of the German barons would not have been fit for stabling, and one of my robes would have bought half the province of Westphalia. I grew up, and improved in beauty, wit, and every graceful accomplishment; and in the midst of pleasures, homage, and the highest expectations. I already began to inspire the men with love. My breast began to take its right form, and such a breast! white, firm, and formed like that of the Venus de' Medici; my eyebrows were as black as jet, and as for my eyes, they darted flames and eclipsed the luster of the stars, as I was told by the poets of our part of the world. My maids, when they dressed and undressed me, used to fall into an ecstasy in viewing me before and behind; and all the men longed to be in their places.
"I was contracted in marriage to a sovereign prince of Massa Carrara. Such a prince! as handsome as myself, sweet-tempered, agreeable, witty, and in love with me over head and ears. I loved him, too, as our sex generally do for the first time, with rapture, transport, and idolatry. The nuptials were prepared with surprising pomp and magnificence; the ceremony was attended with feasts, carousals, and burlesques: all Italy composed sonnets in my praise, though not one of them was tolerable.
"I was on the point of reaching the summit of bliss, when an old marchioness, who had been mistress to the Prince, my husband, invited him to drink chocolate. In less than two hours after he returned from the visit, he died of most terrible convulsions.
"But this is a mere trifle. My mother, distracted to the highest degree, and yet less afflicted than I, determined to absent herself for some time from so fatal a place. As she had a very fine estate in the neighborhood of Gaeta, we embarked on board a galley, which was gilded like the high altar of St. Peter's, at Rome. In our passage we were boarded by a Sallee rover. Our men defended themselves like true Pope's soldiers; they flung themselves upon their knees, laid down their arms, and begged the corsair to give them absolution in articulo mortis.
"The Moors presently stripped us as bare as ever we were born. My mother, my maids of honor, and myself, were served all in the same manner. It is amazing how quick these gentry are at undressing people. But what surprised me most was, that they made a rude sort of surgical examination of parts of the body which are sacred to the functions of nature. I thought it a very strange kind of ceremony; for thus we are generally apt to judge of things when we have not seen the world. I afterwards learned that it was to discover if we had any diamonds concealed. This practice had been established since time immemorial among those civilized nations that scour the seas. I was informed that the religious Knights of Malta never fail to make this search whenever any Moors of either sex fall into their hands. It is a part of the law of nations, from which they never deviate.
"I need not tell you how great a hardship it was for a young princess and her mother to be made slaves and carried to Morocco. You may easily imagine what we must have suffered on board a corsair. My mother was still extremely handsome, our maids of honor, and even our common waiting-women, had more charms than were to be found in all Africa.
"As to myself, I was enchanting; I was beauty itself, and then I had my virginity. But, alas! I did not retain it long; this precious flower, which had been reserved for the lovely Prince of Massa Carrara, was cropped by the captain of the Moorish vessel, who was a hideous Negro, and thought he did me infinite honor. Indeed, both the Princess of Palestrina and myself must have had very strong constitutions to undergo all the hardships and violences we suffered before our arrival at Morocco. But I will not detain you any longer with such common things; they are hardly worth mentioning. [JS9]
"Upon our arrival at Morocco we found that kingdom deluged with blood. Fifty sons of the Emperor Muley Ishmael were each at the head of a party. This produced fifty civil wars of blacks against blacks, of tawnies against tawnies, and of mulattoes against mulattoes. In short, the whole empire was one continued scene of carnage.
"No sooner were we landed than a party of blacks, of a contrary faction to that of my captain, came to rob him of his booty. Next to the money and jewels, we were the most valuable things he had. I witnessed on this occasion such a battle as you never beheld in your cold European climates. The northern nations have not that fermentation in their blood, nor that raging lust for women that is so common in Africa. The natives of Europe seem to have their veins filled with milk only; but fire and vitriol circulate in those of the inhabitants of Mount Atlas and the neighboring provinces. They fought with the fury of the lions, tigers, and serpents of their country, to decide who should have us. A Moor seized my mother by the right arm, while my captain's lieutenant held her by the left; another Moor laid hold of her by the right leg, and one of our corsairs held her by the other. In this manner almost all of our women were dragged by four soldiers. [JS10]
"My captain kept me concealed behind him, and with his drawn scimitar cut down everyone who opposed him; at length I saw all our Italian women and my mother mangled and torn in pieces by the monsters who contended for them. The captives, my companions, the Moors who took us, the soldiers, the sailors, the blacks, the whites, the mulattoes, and lastly, my captain himself, were all slain, and I remained alone expiring upon a heap of dead bodies. Similar barbarous scenes were transacted every day over the whole country, which is of three hundred leagues in extent, and yet they never missed the five stated times of prayer enjoined by their prophet Mahomet.
"I disengaged myself with great difficulty from such a heap of corpses, and made a shift to crawl to a large orange tree that stood on the bank of a neighboring rivulet, where I fell down exhausted with fatigue, and overwhelmed with horror, despair, and hunger. My senses being overpowered, I fell asleep, or rather seemed to be in a trance. Thus I lay in a state of weakness and insensibility between life and death, when I felt myself pressed by something that moved up and down upon my body. This brought me to myself. I opened my eyes, and saw a pretty fair-faced man, who sighed and muttered these words between his teeth, 'O che sciagura d'essere senza coglioni!" [JS11] '
Astonished and delighted to hear my native language, and no less surprised at the young man's words, I told him that there were far greater misfortunes in the world than what he complained of. And to convince him of it, I gave him a short history of the horrible disasters that had befallen me; and as soon as I had finished, fell into a swoon again.
"He carried me in his arms to a neighboring cottage, where he had me put to bed, procured me something to eat, waited on me with the greatest attention, comforted me, caressed me, told me that he had never seen anything so perfectly beautiful as myself, and that he had never so much regretted the loss of what no one could restore to him.
"'I was born at Naples,' said he, 'where they make eunuchs of thousands of children every year; some die of the operation; some acquire voices far beyond the most tuneful of your ladies; and others are sent to govern states and empires. I underwent this operation very successfully, and was one of the singers in the Princess of Palestrina's chapel.'
"'How,' cried I, 'in my mother's chapel!'
"'The Princess of Palestrina, your mother!' cried he, bursting into a flood of tears. 'Is it possible you should be the beautiful young princess whom I had the care of bringing up till she was six years old, and who at that tender age promised to be as fair as I now behold you?'
"'I am the same,' I replied. 'My mother lies about a hundred yards from here cut in pieces and buried under a heap of dead bodies.'
"I then related to him all that had befallen me, and he in return acquainted me with all his adventures, and how he had been sent to the court of the King of Morocco by a Christian prince to conclude a treaty with that monarch; in consequence of which he was to be furnished with military stores, and ships to destroy the commerce of other Christian governments.
"'I have executed my commission,' said the eunuch; 'I am going to take ship at Ceuta, and I'll take you along with me to Italy. Ma che sciagura d'essere senza coglioni!'
"I thanked him with tears of joy, but, not withstanding, instead of taking me with him to Italy, he carried me to Algiers, and sold me to the Dey of that province. I had not been long a slave when the plague, which had made the tour of Africa, Asia, and Europe, broke out at Algiers with redoubled fury. You have seen an earthquake; but tell me, miss, have you ever had the plague?"
"Never," answered the young Baroness.
"If you had ever had it," continued the old woman, "you would own an earthquake was a trifle to it. It is very common in Africa; I was seized with it. Figure to yourself the distressed condition of the daughter of a Pope, only fifteen years old, and who in less than three months had felt the miseries of poverty and slavery; had been debauched almost every day; had beheld her mother cut into four quarters; had experienced the scourges of famine and war; and was now dying of the plague at Algiers. I did not, however, die of it; but my eunuch, and the Dey, and almost the whole seraglio of Algiers, were swept off.
"As soon as the first fury of this dreadful pestilence was over, a sale was made of the Dey's slaves. I was purchased by a merchant who carried me to Tunis. This man sold me to another merchant, who sold me again to another at Tripoli; from Tripoli I was sold to Alexandria, from Alexandria to Smyrna, and from Smyrna to Constantinople. After many changes, I at length became the property of an Aga of the Janissaries, who, soon after I came into his possession, was ordered away to the defense of Azoff, then besieged by the Russians.
"The Aga, being very fond of women, took his whole seraglio with him, and lodged us in a small fort, with two black eunuchs and twenty soldiers for our guard. Our army made a great slaughter among the Russians; but they soon returned us the compliment. Azoff was taken by storm, and the enemy spared neither age, sex, nor condition, but put all to the sword, and laid the city in ashes. Our little fort alone held out; they resolved to reduce us by famine. The twenty janissaries, who were left to defend it, had bound themselves by an oath never to surrender the place. Being reduced to the extremity of famine, they found themselves obliged to kill our two eunuchs, and eat them rather than violate their oath. But this horrible repast soon failing them, they next determined to devour the women.
"We had a very pious and humane man, who gave them a most excellent sermon on this occasion, exhorting them not to kill us all at once. 'Cut off only one of the buttocks of each of those ladies,' said he, 'and you will fare extremely well; if you are under the necessity of having recourse to the same expedient again, you will find the like supply a few days hence. Heaven will approve of so charitable an action, and work your deliverance.'
"By the force of this eloquence he easily persuaded them, and all of us underwent the operation. The man applied the same balsam as they do to children after circumcision. We were all ready to give up the ghost. [JS13]
"The Janissaries had scarcely time to finish the repast with which we had supplied them, when the Russians attacked the place by means of flat-bottomed boats, and not a single janissary escaped. The Russians paid no regard to the condition we were in; but there are French surgeons in all parts of the world, and one of them took us under his care, and cured us. I shall never forget, while I live, that as soon as my wounds were perfectly healed he made me certain proposals. In general, he desired us all to be of a good cheer, assuring us that the like had happened in many sieges; and that it was perfectly agreeable to the laws of war.
"As soon as my companions were in a condition to walk, they were sent to Moscow. As for me, I fell to the lot of a Boyard, who put me to work in his garden, and gave me twenty lashes a day. But this nobleman having about two years afterwards been broken alive upon the wheel, with about thirty others, for some court intrigues, I took advantage of the event, and made my escape. I traveled over a great part of Russia. I was a long time an innkeeper's servant at Riga, then at Rostock, Wismar, Leipsic, Cassel, Utrecht, Leyden, The Hague, and Rotterdam. I have grown old in misery and disgrace, living with only one buttock, and having in perpetual remembrance that I am a Pope's daughter. I have been a hundred times upon the point of killing myself, but still I was fond of life. This ridiculous weakness is, perhaps, one of the dangerous principles implanted in our nature. For what can be more absurd than to persist in carrying a burden of which we wish to be eased? to detest, and yet to strive to preserve our existence? In a word, to caress the serpent that devours us, and hug him close to our bosoms till he has gnawed into our hearts? [JS14]
"In the different countries which it has been my fate to traverse, and at the many inns where I have been a servant, I have observed a prodigious number of people who held their existence in abhorrence, and yet I never knew more than twelve who voluntarily put an end to their misery; namely, three Negroes, four Englishmen, as many Genevese, and a German professor named Robek. My last place was with the Jew, Don Issachar, who placed me near your person, my fair lady; to whose fortunes I have attached myself, and have been more concerned with your adventures than with my own. I should never have even mentioned the latter to you, had you not a little piqued me on the head of sufferings; and if it were not customary to tell stories on board a ship in order to pass away the time. [JS15]
"In short, my dear miss, I have a great deal of knowledge and experience in the world, therefore take my advice: divert yourself, and prevail upon each passenger to tell his story, and if there is one of them all that has not cursed his existence many times, and said to himself over and over again that he was the most wretched of mortals, I give you leave to throw me headfirst into the sea."
[JS1] What has Cunegonde succeeded in learning since leaving home?
[JS2] To what extent has Reason enabled the Inquisitor and the Jew to overcome their differences?
[JS3] What vision of human nature is revealed by Cunegonde’s adventures?
[JS4] What conclusion should we draw from Voltaire’s obvious anti-Semitism?
[JS5] Should Candide be held responsible for this murder?
[JS6] How about this one? Voltaire’s point?
[JS7] Has Candide learned anything?
[JS8] has Candide learned anything? (How about Cunegonde?)
[JS9] Voltaire on Othello?
[JS10] What should we make of Voltaire’s racism?
[JS11] Any guesses as to the translation?
[JS12] What conclusion does Voltaire want us to reach about the vagaries of the Princess’ fortunes?
[JS13] What rationale led to the woman’s loss of her buttock?
[JS14] What makes humans indestructible? What makes life worth living despite its horrors?
[JS15] What is Voltaire’s point? Despite the horrors of this woman’s life she never commits suicide. Why?