Candide/Chapter 23

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Candide and Martin Touch Upon the English Coast;
What They Saw There

Ah Pangloss! Pangloss! Ah, Martin! Martin! Ah, my dear Miss Cunegund! What sort of a world is this?” Thus exclaimed Candide, as soon as he had got on board the Dutch ship.

“Why, something very foolish, and very abominable,” said Martin.

“You are acquainted with England,” said Candide; “are they as great fools in that country, as in France?”

“Yes, but in a different manner,” answered Martin. “You know that these two nations are at war about a few acres of snow in the neighbourhood of Canada, and that they have expended much greater sums in the contest than all Canada is worth. To say exactly whether there are a greater number fit to be inhabitants of a mad-house in the one country than the other, exceeds the limits of my imperfect capacity; I know, in general, that the people we are going to visit, are of a very dark and gloomy disposition.”

As they were chatting thus together, they arrived at Portsmouth. The shore, on each side of the harbour, was lined with a multitude of people, whose eyes were steadfastly fixed on a lusty man, who was kneeling down on the deck of one of the men of war, with his eyes bound. Opposite to this personage stood four soldiers, each of whom shot three bullets into his skull, with all the composure imaginable; and when it was done, the whole company went away perfectly well satisfied.

“What the devil is all this for?” said Candide; “and what demon lords it thus over all the world?”

He then asked who was that lusty man who had been sent out of the world with so much ceremony, and he received for answer, that it was an admiral.

“And, pray,” he said, “why do you put your admiral to death?”

“Because he did not put a sufficient number of his fellow creatures to death. You must know, he had an engagement with a French admiral, and it has been proved against him that he was not near enough to his antagonist.”

“But,” replied Candide, “the French admiral must have been as far from him.”

“There is no doubt of that; but in this country it is found requisite, now and then, to put one admiral to death, in order to spirit up the others.”

Candide was so shocked at what he saw and heard that he would not set foot on shore, but made a bargain with the Dutch skipper (were he even to rob him like the captain of Surinam) to carry him directly to Venice.

The skipper was ready in two days. They sailed along the coast of France, and passed within sight of Lisbon, at which Candide trembled. From thence they proceeded to the straits, entered the Mediterranean, and at length arrived at Venice.

“God be praised,” said Candide, embracing Martin, “this is the place where I am to behold my beloved Cunegund once again. I can rely on Cacambo, like another self. All is well, all very well, all as well as possible.”