Important Quotations Explained
gave instruction in metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. He
proved admirably that there cannot possibly be an effect without
a cause and that in this best of all possible worlds the baron’s
castle was the most beautiful of all castles and his wife the best
of all possible baronesses. —It is clear, said he, that things cannot
be otherwise than they are, for since everything is made to serve
an end, everything necessarily serves the best end. Observe: noses were
made to support spectacles, hence we have spectacles. Legs, as anyone
can plainly see, were made to be breeched, and so we have breeches.
. . . Consequently, those who say everything is well are uttering
mere stupidities; they should say everything is for the best.
hundred times I wanted to kill myself, but always I loved life more.
This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our worst instincts;
is anything more stupid than choosing to carry a burden that really
one wants to cast on the ground? to hold existence in horror, and
yet to cling to it? to fondle the serpent which devours us till
it has eaten out our heart? —In the countries through which I have
been forced to wander, in the taverns where I have had to work,
I have seen a vast number of people who hated their existence; but I
never saw more than a dozen who deliberately put an end to their
enormous riches which this rascal had stolen were sunk beside him
in the sea, and nothing was saved but a single sheep. —You see,
said Candide to Martin, crime is punished sometimes; this scoundrel
of a Dutch merchant has met the fate he deserved. —Yes, said Martin;
but did the passengers aboard his ship have to perish too? God punished
the scoundrel, the devil drowned the others.
. . . [W]hen they were not arguing, the boredom was so fierce that
one day the old woman ventured to say: —I should like to know which
is worse, being raped a hundred times by negro pirates, having a
buttock cut off, running the gauntlet in the Bulgar army, being
flogged and hanged in an auto-da-fé, being dissected and rowing
in the galleys—experiencing, in a word, all the miseries through
which we have passed—or else just sitting here and doing nothing?
—It’s a hard question, said Candide. These words gave rise to new
reflections, and Martin in particular concluded that man was bound
to live either in convulsions of misery or in the lethargy of boredom.
are perfectly right, said Pangloss; for when man was put into the
garden of Eden, he was put there ut operaretur eum, so that he should
work it; this proves that man was not born to take his ease. —Let’s
work without speculating, said Martin; it’s the only way of rendering
life bearable. The whole little group entered into this laudable
scheme; each one began to exercise his talents. The little plot
yielded fine crops . . . and Pangloss sometimes used to say to Candide: —All
events are linked together in the best of possible worlds; for,
after all, if you had not been driven from a fine castle by being
kicked in the backside for love of Miss Cunégonde, if you hadn’t
been sent before the Inquisition, if you hadn’t traveled across
America on foot, if you hadn’t given a good sword thrust to the
baron, if you hadn’t lost all your sheep from the good land of Eldorado,
you wouldn’t be sitting here eating candied citron and pistachios.
—That is very well put, said Candide, but we must go and work our garden.
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