from satires by
François Marie Arouet de


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Introduction by Lester G. Crocker

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Introduction by
Lester G. Crocker

Copyright © 1962 by Washington Square Press, Inc.

In order to cure some evil, we must first reject the notion that all is good, and, paradoxically, accept the notion that evil is an ineradicable, incurable reality. Only then can we know man’s nature, his place and his best course on earth. This is Voltaire’s constructive revolt, against the world, against man, against history. We must give up aiming for the stars, but refuse, too, to join the wolves: we must cultivate our garden. Our garden is the limited realm of virtue, justice and honest labor that is within the compass or our creative powers. We must start at home, in our own little worlds.



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The Optimist

translated by Tobias George Smollett

Copyright © 1962 by Washington Square Press, Inc.

Chapter I

Master Pangloss taught metaphysico-theologo-cosmolo-nigology. He could prove admirably that there is no effect without a cause, and that, in this best of all possible worlds, the Baron’s castle was the most magnificent of all castles and my lady the best of all possible baronesses.

“It is demonstrable,” said he, “that things cannot be otherwise than they are; for as all things have been created for some end, they must necessarily be created for the best end. Observe, for instance, the nose is formed for spectacles, therefore we wear spectacles. The legs are visibly designed for stockings, accordingly we wear stockings. [...] And they who assert that everything is good do not express themselves correctly; they should say that everything is for the best.”

Chapter II A court-martial sat upon him, and he was asked which he liked best, either to run the gauntlet six and thirty times through the whole regiment, or to have his brains blown out with a dozen musket balls. In vain did he remonstrate to them that the human will is free, and that he chose neither. They obliged him to make a choice [...]


Free will

Chapter III

“Hark you, friend,” said the orator, “do you hold the Pope to be Antichrist?”

“Truly, I never heard anything about it,” said Candide, “but whether he is or not, I am in want of something to eat.”

“You deserve not to eat or to drink,” replied the orator, “wretch, monster that you are!”

Chapter IV

Pangloss, during the voyage, explained to him how everything was so constituted that it could not be better. James did not quite agree with him on this point.

“Mankind,” said he, “must, in some things, have deviated from their original innocence; for they were not born wolves, and yet they worry one another like those beasts of prey. God never gave them twenty-four pounders nor bayonets, and yet they have made cannon and bayonets to destroy one another. To this account I might add not only bankruptcies but the law, which seizes on the effects of bankrupts only to cheat the creditors.”

“All this was indispensably necessary,” replied the one-eyed doctor, “for private misfortunes are public benefits; so that the more private misfortunes there are, the greater is the general good.”

While he was arguing in this manner, the sky was overcast, the winds blew from the four quarters of the compass, and the ship was assailed by a most terrible tempest, within sight of the port of Lisbon.

Chapter XX

“Surely the devil must be in you, ” said Candide.

“He concerns himself so much,” replied Martin, “in the affairs of this world that it is very probably he may be in me as well as everywhere else; but I must confess, when I cast my eye on this globe, or rather globule, I cannot help thinking that God has abandoned it to some malignant being. [...] I scarce ever knew a city that did not wish the destruction of its neighboring city, nor a family that did not desire to exterminate some other family. The poor, in all pars of the world, bear an inveterate hatred to the rich, even while they creep and cringe to them; and the rich treat the poor like sheep, whose wool and flesh they barter for money. A million of regimented assassins traverse Europe from one end to the other to get their bread by regular depredation and murder, because it is the most gentlemanlike profession. Even in those cities which seem to enjoy the blessings of peace and where the arts flourish, the inhabitants are devoured with envy, care, and anxiety, which are greater plagues than any experienced in a town besieged. Private chagrins are still more dreadful than public calamities. In a word, I have seen and suffered so much, that I am a Manichæan.”

“You see,“ said Candide to Martin, “that vice is sometimes punished. This villain, the Dutch skipper, has met with the fate he deserved.”

“Very truly,” said Martin, “but why should the passengers be doomed also to destruction? God has punished the knave, and the devil has drowned the rest.”

Chapter XXI

“Do you think,” said Candide, “that mankind always massacred each other as they do now? Were they always guilty of lies, fraud, treachery, ingratitude, inconstancy, envy, ambition, and cruelty? Were they always thieves, fools, cowards, gluttons, drunkards, misers, calumniators, debauchees, fanatics, and hypocrites?”

“Do you believe,” said Martin, “that hawks have always been accustomed to eat pigeons when they found them?”

“Yes, of course,” said Candide.

“Well then,” replied Martin, “if hawks have always had the same nature, why should you pretend that mankind change theirs?”

Chapter XXII

Candide had not been long at his inn before he was seized with a slight disorder owing to the fatigue he had undergone. As he wore a diamond of an enormous size on his finger, and had, among the rest of his equipage, a strong box that seemed very weighty, he soon found himself between two physicians whom he had not sent for, a number of intimate friends whom he had never seen, and who would not quit his bedside, and two female devotees who warmed his soup for him.

“I remember,” said Martin to him, “that the first time I came to Paris I was likewise taken ill. I was very poor, and accordingly, I had neither friends, nurses, nor physicians, and yet I did very well.”

However, by dint of purging and bleeding Candide’s disorder became very serious.



“A good-for-nothing sort of a man,” answered the Abbé, “one who gets his livelihood by abusing every new book and play. He abominates to see anyone meet with success, like eunuchs who detest everyone that possesses those powers they are deprived of. He is one of those vipers in literature who nourish themselves with their own venom, a pamphlet-monger.”



Chapter XXIII

“And pray,” he said, “why did 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.”

Chapter XXV “Music is become the art of executing what is difficult; now, whatever is difficult cannot be long pleasing. I believe I might take more pleasure in an opera, if they had not made such a monster of it as perfectly shocks me.”



“Ignorant readers are apt to praise everything by the lump in a writer of reputation. For my part, I read only to please myself.”

“Surely now, you will own that this man is the happiest of all mortals, for he is above everything he possesses.”

“But do not you see,” answered Martin, “that he likewise dislikes everything he possesses? It was an observation of Plato, long since, that those are not the best stomachs that reject, without distinction, all sorts of aliments.”

“True,” said Candide, “But still there must certainly be a pleasure in criticizing everything, and in perceiving faults where others think they see beauties.”

“That is,” replied Martin, “there is a pleasure in having no pleasure.”

Chapter XXVIII

“Well, my dear Pangloss,” said Candide to him, “when you were hanged, dissected, whipped and tugging at the oar, did you continue to think that everything in this world happens for the best?”

“I have always abided by my first opinion,” answered Pangloss, “for, after all, I am a philosopher, and it would not become me to retract my sentiments.”



Chapter XXX

“Master, we come to intreat you to tell us why so strange an animal as man has been formed?”

“Why do you trouble your head about it?” said the dervish. “Is it any business of yours?”

“But, my Reverend Father,” said Candide, “there is a horrible deal of evil on the earth.”

“What signifies it,” said the dervish, “whether there is evil or good? When his Highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the rats in the vessel are at their ease or not?”



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An Oriental History

translated by Tobias George Smollett

Copyright © 1962 by Washington Square Press, Inc.

Chapter I Instructed in the sciences of the ancient Chaldeans, he understood the principles of natural philosophy, such as they were then supposed to be, and knew as much of metaphysics as has ever been known in any age, that is, little or nothing at all.
Chapter VI

He made everyone feel the sacred authority of the law, but no one felt the weight of his dignity. He never checked the deliberations of the divan; and every vizier might give his opinion without the fear of incurring the minister’s displeasure. When he gave judgment, it was not he that gave it, it was the law; the rigor of which, however, whenever it was too severe, he always took care to soften; and when laws were wanting, the equity of his decisions was such as might easily have made them pass for those of Zoroaster.

It is to him that the nations are indebted for this great principle, to wit, that it is better to run the risk of sparing the guilty than to condemn the innocent. He imagined that laws were made to secure the people from the suffering of injuries as well as to restrain them from committing crimes. His chief talent consisted in discovering the truth, which all men seek to obscure.



Chapter XIV He became arbiter of all the disputes that arose between merchants, the friend of sages and the adviser of that small number of people who accept advice.



Chapter XVII It is commonly supposed that we are less miserable when we have companions in our misery. This, according to Zoroaster, does not proceed from malice, but necessity. We feel ourselves insensibly drawn to an unhappy person as to one like ourselves. The joy of the happy would be an insult; but two men in distress are like two slender trees, which mutually supporting one another, fortify themselves against the storm.
Chapter XVIII The moments of reunion and of parting are the two greatest of life, as says the great book of Zend.
Chapter XX

“But why,” said Zadig, “is it necessary that there should be crimes and misfortunes and that these misfortunes should fall on the good?”

“The wicked,” replied Jesrad, “are always unhappy. They serve to prove and try the small number of the just that are scattered throughout the earth, and there is no evil that is not productive of some good.”

“But,” said Zadig, “suppose there were nothing but good and no evil at all.”

“Then,” replied Jesrad, “this earth would be another earth: the chain of events would be ranged in another order and directed by wisdom; but this other order, which would be perfect, can exist only in the eternal abode of the Supreme Being, to which no evil can approach.”



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