Chapter I

How Candide was Brought up in a Magnificent Castle, and how He was Expelled Thience

IN A CASTLE of Westphalia, belonging to the Baron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh, lived a youth, whom nature had endowed with the most gentle manners. His countenance was a true picture of his soul. He combined a true judgment with simplicity of spirit, which was the reason, I apprehend, of his being called Candide. The old servants of the family suspected him to have been the son of the Baron's sister, by a good, honest gentleman of the neighborhood, whom that young lady would never marry because he had been able to prove only seventy-one quarterings, the rest of his genealogical tree having been lost through the injuries of time.

The Baron was one of the most powerful lords in Westphalia, for his castle had not only a gate, but windows. His great hall, even, was hung with tapestry. All the dogs of his farmyards formed a pack of hounds at need; his grooms were his huntsmen; and the curate of the village was his grand almoner. They called him “My Lord,” and laughed at all his stories.

The Baron's lady weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds, and was therefore a person of great consideration, and she did the honors of the house with a dignity that commanded still greater respect. Her daughter Cunegonde was seventeen years of age, fresh-colored, comely, plump, and desirable. The Baron's son seemed to be in every respect worthy of his father. The Preceptor Pangloss was the oracle of the family, and little Candide heard his lessons with all the good faith of his age and character.

Pangloss was professor of metaphysicotheologico-cosmolonigology. He proved 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 castles, and his lady the best of all possible Baronesses.

“It is demonstrable,” said he, “that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for all being created for an end, all is necessarily for the best end. Observe, that the nose has been formed to bear spectacles—thus we have spectacles. Legs are visibly designed for stockings—and we have stockings. Stones were made to be hewn, and to construct castles—therefore my lord has a magnificent castle; for the greatest baron in the province ought to be the best lodged. Pigs were made to be eaten—therefore we eat pork all the year round. Consequently they who assert that all is well have said a foolish thing, they should have said all is for the best.”

Candide listened attentively and believed innocently; for he thought Miss Cunegonde extremely beautiful, though he never had the courage to tell her 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 that of seeing her every day, and the fourth that of hearing Master Pangloss, the greatest philosopher of the whole province, and consequently of the whole world.

One day Cunegonde, while walking near the castle, in a little wood which they called a park, saw between the bushes, Dr. Pangloss giving a lesson in experimental natural philosophy to her mother's chamber-maid, a little brown wench, very pretty and very docile. As Miss Cunegonde had a great disposition for the sciences, she breathlessly observed the repeated experiments of which she was a witness; she clearly perceived the force of the doctor's reasons, the effects, and the causes; she turned back greatly flurried, quite pensive, and filled with the desire to be learned; dreaming that she might well be a sufficient reason for young Candide, and he for her.

She met Candide on reaching the castle and blushed; Candide blushed also; she wished him good morrow in a faltering tone, and Candide spoke to her without knowing what he said. The next day after dinner, as they went from table, Cunegonde and Candide found themselves behind a screen; Cunegonde let fall her handkerchief, Candide picked it up, she took him innocently by the hand, the youth as innocently kissed the young lady's hand with particular vivacity, sensibility, and grace; their lips met, their eyes sparkled, their knees trembled, their hands strayed. Baron Thunder-ten-Tronckh passed near the screen and beholding this cause and effect chased Candide from the castle with great kicks on the backside; Cunegonde fainted away; she was boxed on the ears by the Baroness, as soon as she came to herself; and all was consternation in this most magnificent and most agreeable of all possible castles.

Footnotes

  1. In European courts and upper class society it was customary for a gentleman to kiss a lady's hand as a show of respect or affection. To engage in any overt sexual acts, such as kissing on the mouth, was frowned upon by the aristocracy and would've constituted a severe breach of etiquette.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. This might seem like good cover for two furtive lovers, but, in reality, this screen is likely partially transparent, making everything they do behind it appear in silhouette to everyone at the dinner. It's no wonder, then, that they get caught.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. Another element of Leibnitz's philosophy, the Principle of Sufficient Reason demands that for every cause their must be a reason, that is, for every fact, there must be some evidence to support that fact. For Cunegonde to be a *sufficient reason* for Candide would mean that she was a reason for his existence, that she was made for Candide and he for her like noses are "made" for spectacles. It's a romantic but ultimately faulty form of logic.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. Most likely, this is a euphemism for some form of flirtation or sexual activity, as implied the description of the chambermaid as "a little brown wench" (wench being a word typically associated with common or wanton women). Pangloss' arrogance is also clearly evident here in that he's lecturing a chambermaid, a servant, who would have no need of this "education."

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. This line should indicate to the reader that there's somethign wrong with Pangloss' philosophy. Though Candide is an innocent, somewhat ignorant character, Voltaire isn't, and uses double-edged phrases like this to suggest that Candide *shouldn't* believe what Pangloss teaches him.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. Notice how these lines form a tautology, here defined as an argument that fails to appropriately assign cause and effect. By Pangloss' logic, the nose was created *with the intent* of one day wearing spectacles, an argument that employs a kind of reverse-engineering that doesn't withstand serious philosophical inquiry.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. Pangloss' philosophy mirrors that of many during the Enlightenment, especially Baron Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz, a German polymath and philosopher whose optimism was based on a strong faith in God and predestination. If God has a predestined plan for us all, then He must know what's best for us, and if He knows what's best, then He must have created the best possible world for us. Voltaire exaggerates this philosophy to reveal its faults.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. A combination of metaphysics, the philosophy of being and substance, theology, the study of religion, and cosmology, the study of the universe. This combined field of inquiry was invented by Voltaire for maximum comedic effect, suggesting that Pangloss has put on airs and claimed to know more than he really does.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. A "preceptor" is a teacher or instructor. "Pangloss" is a name derived from the Greek words *pan*, meaning "all," and *gloss*, meaning "language," making Pangloss mean "all tongues." Together, these two words suggest that Pangloss has a wide range of knowledge and interests well-suited to that of a teacher.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  10. Cunegonde, Candide's love interest, daughter of the Baron. Her name may be a pun on the Latin word "cunnus" and the French word "cul," both terms for female genitalia. This supports the reading of the character as the primary love interest in the novel.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  11. In the 18th Century, when *Candide* was written, a person's weight was often indicative of their social status, as it signified that one was wealthy enough to afford to put food on the table. Many people, such as the Flemish Baroque painter Rubens, considered large women like the Baroness beautiful and revered them highly.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  12. A grand almoner is an official who distributes charity for someone (an individual, a monarch, or a religious organization). A curate is a priest entrusted with the religious education of a parish flock. That the two are one in the same here suggests that the Baron has the curate (and, by extension, the Church) in his back pocket.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  13. Highlighting the features of the Baron's castle emphasizes his status and, to a certain extent, the ridiculous standards by which wealth and prestige are measured in this society. Some critics suggest that Voltaire is also parodying the Emperor of Lilliput in Jonathan Swift's *Gulliver's Travels*, who was a full thumbnail taller than his citizens.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  14. From the Latin *candidus*, source of the English *candid*, meaning honest, open, straightforward (also, innocent, impartial, fortunate). It's telling that Voltaire named Candide thus, because it establishes his character as a frank and generous person, with a "simplicity of spirit" that will guide him through his adventures.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  15. Westphalia, a region in Germany situated between the Rhine and Weser rivers. In 1648, it was the site of the Peace of Westphalia, the treaty that ended the Thirty Years' War. In 1758, a year before Candide was published, Duke Ferdinand of Prussia drove the French from Westphalia during the fighting of the Seven Years' War.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor
  16. Quarterings are divisions on a coat of arms; they indicate the degree, or lack thereof, of a person's worth or social station. Interestingly, the maximum number of divisions was usually sixty-four, but Voltaire increased it to take a stab at the class of lords, whose values he satirizes throughout the book.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Editor