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Chapter 23 – Candide and Martin Touch upon the English Coast-What They See There

VoltaireNov 04, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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Ah Pangloss! Pangloss! ah Martin! ah my dear Miss Cunegund! What
sort of a world is this?” Thus exclaimed Candide as soon as he 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 barren land in the
neighborhood 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 madhouse 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 the harbor 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 something
tied before his eyes. 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,
or foe of mankind, lords it thus tyrannically over the world?”

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

“And pray 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 an admiral to death, in order to
encourage the others to fight.”

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 confide
in Cacambo, like another self. All is well, all is very well, all is
well as possible.”

 

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