Fiction > Voltaire > Candide, or The Optimist

François Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694–1778).  Candide, or The Optimist.  1884.
Chapter V
A Tempest, a Shipwreck, an Earthquake, and what else befell Doctor Pangloss, Candide, and James the Anabaptist
ONE-HALF of the passengers, weakened and half-dead with the inconceivable anxiety and sickness which the rolling of a vessel at sea occasions through the whole human frame, were lost to all sense of the danger that surrounded them. The others made loud outcries, or betook themselves to their prayers. The sails were blown into shivers, and the masts were brought by the board. The vessel was a perfect wreck. Every one was busily employed, but nobody could be either heard or obeyed. The Anabaptist, being upon deck, lent a helping hand as well as the rest, when a brutish sailor gave him a blow and laid him speechless; but with the violence of the blow the tar himself tumbled head-foremost overboard, and fell upon a piece of the broken mast, which he immediately grasped. Honest James, forgetting the injury he had so lately received from him, flew to his assistance, and with great difficulty hauled him in again, but in the attempt was, by a sudden jerk of the ship, thrown overboard himself, in sight of the very fellow whom he had risked his life to save, and who took not the least notice of him in this distress. Candide, who beheld all that passed, and saw his benefactor one moment rising above water and the next swallowed up by the merciless waves, was preparing to jump after him; but was prevented by the philosopher Pangloss, who demonstrated to him that the coast of Lisbon had been made on purpose for the Anabaptist to be drowned there. While he was proving his argument à priori, the ship foundered, and the whole crew perished, except Pangloss, Candide, and the sailor who had been the means of drowning the good Anabaptist. The villain swam ashore, but Pangloss and Candide go to land upon a plank.  1
  As soon as they had recovered themselves from their surprise and fatigue, they walked towards Lisbon. With what little money they had left they thought to save themselves from starving after having escaped drowning.  2
  Scarcely had they done lamenting the loss of their benefactor and set foot in the city, when they perceived the earth to tremble under their feet, and the sea, swelling and foaming in the harbour, dash in pieces the vessels that were riding at an anchor. Large sheets of flames and cinders covered the streets and public places. The houses tottered, and were tumbled topsy-turvy, even to their foundations, which were themselves destroyed; and thirty thousand inhabitants of both sexes, young and old, were buried beneath the ruins. The sailor, whistling and swearing, cried, “Damn it, there’s something to be got here!” “What can be the ‘sufficient reason’ of this phenomenon?” said Pangloss. “It is certainly the Day of Judgment,” said Candide. The sailor, defying death in the pursuit of plunder, rushed into the midst of the ruin, where he found some money, with which he got drunk, and after he had slept himself sober, he purchased the favours of the first good-natured wench that came in his way, amidst the ruins of demolished houses and the groans of half-buried and expiring persons. Pangloss pulled him by the sleeve: “Friend,” said he, “this is not right; you trespass against the universal reason, and have mistaken your time.” “Death and ’ounds!” answered the other, “I am a sailor and born at Batavia, and have trampled four times upon the crucifix in as many voyages to Japan; you are come to a good hand with your universal reason.”  3
  In the meantime, Candide, who had been wounded by some pieces of stone that fell from the houses, lay stretched in the street, almost covered with rubbish. “For God’s sake,” said he to Pangloss, “get me a little wine and oil; I am dying.” “This concussion of the earth is no new thing,” said Pangloss; “the city of Lima in America experienced the same last year: the same cause, the same effects; there is certainly a train of sulphur all the way underground from Lima to Lisbon.” “Nothing more probable,” said Candide; “but for the love of God a little oil and wine.” “Probable!” replied the philosopher. “I maintain that the thing is demonstrable.” Candide fainted away, and Pangloss fetched him some water from a neighbouring spring.  4
  The next day, in searching among the ruins, they found some eatables, with which they repaired their exhausted strength. After this they assisted the inhabitants in relieving the distressed and wounded. Some whom they had humanely assisted, gave them as good a dinner as could be expected under such terrible circumstances. The repast, indeed, was mournful, and the company moistened their bread with their tears; but Pangloss endeavoured to comfort them under this affliction by affirming that things could not be otherwise than they were: “for,” said he, “all this is for the very best end, for if there is a volcano at Lisbon, it could be in no other spot; and it is impossible but things should be as they are, for everything is for the best.”  5
  By the side of the preceptor sat a little man dressed in black, who was one of the familiars of the Inquisition. This person, taking him up with great complaisance, said, “Possibly, my good sir, you do not believe in original sin; for if everything is best, there could have been no such thing as the fall or punishment of men.”  6
  “I humbly ask your excellency’s pardon,” answered Pangloss, still more politely; “for the fall of man, and the curse consequent thereupon, necessarily entered into the system of the best of worlds.” “That is as much as to say, sir,” rejoined the familiar, “you do not believe in free-will.” “Your excellency will be so good as to excuse me,” said Pangloss; “free-will is consistent with absolute necessity; for it was necessary we should be free, for in that the will——”  7
  Pangloss was in the midst of his proposition when the Inquisitor beckoned to his attendant to help him to a glass of port wine.  8

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