Candid or optimism



There was in Westphalia, in the castle of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh, a young boy to whom nature had given the sweetest manners. His physiology betrayed his spirit. He had the right judgment, with the simplest mind; it is, I believe, for this reason that he was called Candide. The old servants of the house suspected that he was the son of the baron’s sister, and of a good and honest gentleman of the neighborhood, whom this young lady never wished to marry, because he had been unable to prove that seventy-one quarters, and the rest of his family tree had been lost by the insult of time.

The Baron was one of the most powerful lords of Westphalia, for his castle had a door and windows. His great room itself was adorned with a tapestry. All the dogs in his poultry yards composed a pack in need; his grooms were his biters; the vicar of the village was his great chaplain. They all called him Monsignor, and they laughed when he made tales.

The Baroness, who weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds, attracted great consideration, and did the honors of the house with a dignity which made her even more respectable. His seventeen-year-old daughter Cunégonde was colorful, fresh, fat, and appetizing. The son of the baron appeared in all worthy of his father. The preceptor Pangloss was the oracle of the house, and little Candide listened to his lessons with all the good faith of his age and character.

Pangloss taught metaphysico-theologo-cosmolonigology. He proved admirably that there is no effect without a cause, and that, in this best of all possible worlds, the castle of Monseigneur the Baron was the most beautiful of castles, and Madame the best of barons possible.

“It is demonstrated,” said he, “that things can not be otherwise, for everything being done for an end, everything is necessarily for the better end. Note that the nose has been made to wear glasses, so we have glasses. The legs are obviously instituted to be shod, and we have shoes. The stones were formed to be carved and to make castles, so Monseigneur has a very beautiful castle; the largest baron in the province must be the best housed; and pigs being made to be eaten, we eat pork all the year round; therefore, those who have put forward that all is well have said foolishness; it was necessary to say that everything is at best. ”

Candide listened attentively, and believed innocently, for he found Mademoiselle Cunegonde extremely beautiful, though he never took the boldness to tell him so. He concluded that after the happiness of being born baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh, the second degree of happiness was to be Miss Cunegonde, the third, to see her every day, and the fourth to hear Master Pangloss , the greatest philosopher of the province, and consequently of all the earth.

One day Cunégonde, while walking near the castle, in the little wood called park, saw between the brushes Dr. Pangloss who gave a lesson in experimental physics to the maid’s maid, a very pretty and very docile little brunette . As Miss Cunegonde had many dispositions for the sciences, she observed, without blowing, the repeated experiments which she witnessed; she saw clearly the sufficient reason of the doctor, the effects and the causes, and returned, agitated and pensive, full of the desire to be learned, thinking that she might well be the sufficient reason for the young Candide, who could also be his.

She met Candide on returning to the castle, and blushed. Candide also blushed. She said hello to him in a broken voice, and Candide spoke to him without knowing what he was saying. The next day, after dinner, as we were leaving the table, Cunegonde and Candide found themselves behind a screen; Cunégonde dropped his handkerchief, Candide picked it up, she innocently took his hand, the young man innocently kissed the young lady’s hand with a vivacity, a sensitivity, a special grace; their mouths met, their eyes ignited, their knees trembled, their hands went astray. The Baron de Thunder-ten-tronckh passed by the screen, and seeing this cause and effect, chased Candide from the castle with great kicks in the back; Cunégonde fainted; she was beaten by the baroness as soon as she returned to herself; and all was dismayed in the most beautiful and pleasant castles possible.

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