Chapter III

How Candide Made his Escape from the Bulgarians, and what Afterwards Became of Him

THERE WAS NEVER anything so gallant, so spruce, so brilliant, and so well disposed as the two armies. Trumpets, fifes, hautboys, drums, and cannon made music such as Hell itself had never heard. The cannons first of all laid flat about six thousand men on each side; the muskets swept away from this best of worlds nine or ten thousand ruffians who infested its surface. The bayonet was also a sufficient reason for the death of several thousands. The whole might amount to thirty thousand souls. Candide, who trembled like a philosopher, hid himself as well as he could during this heroic butchery.

At length, while the two kings were causing Te Deum to be sung each in his own camp, Candide resolved to go and reason elsewhere on effects and causes. He passed over heaps of dead and dying, and first reached a neighboring village; it was in cinders, it was an Abare village which the Bulgarians had burnt according to the laws of war. Here, old men covered with wounds, beheld their wives, hugging their children to their bloody breasts, massacred before their faces; there, their daughters, disembowelled and breathing their last after having satisfied the natural wants of Bulgarian heroes; while others, half burned in the flames, begged to be despatched. The earth was strewed with brains, arms, and legs.

Candide fled quickly to another village; it belonged to the Bulgarians; and the Abarian heroes had treated it in the same way. Candide, walking always over palpitating limbs or across ruins, arrived at last beyond the seat of war, with a few provisions in his knapsack, and Miss Cunegonde always in his heart. His provisions failed him when he arrived in Holland; but having heard that everybody was rich in that country, and that they were Christians, he did not doubt but he should meet with the same treatment from them as he had met with in the Baron's castle, before Miss Cunegonde's bright eyes were the cause of his expulsion thence.

He asked alms of several grave-looking people, who all answered him, that if he continued to follow this trade they would confine him to the house of correction, where he should be taught to get a living.

The next he addressed was a man who had been haranguing a large assembly for a whole hour on the subject of charity. But the orator, looking askew, said:

“What are you doing here? Are you for the good cause?”

“There can be no effect without a cause,” modestly answered Candide; “the whole is necessarily concatenated and arranged for the best. It was necessary for me to have been banished from the presence of Miss Cunegonde, to have afterwards run the gauntlet, and now it is necessary I should beg my bread until I learn to earn it; all this cannot be otherwise.”

“My friend,” said the orator to him, “do you believe the Pope to be Anti-Christ?”

“I have not heard it,” answered Candide; “but whether he be, or whether he be not, I want bread.”

“Thou dost not deserve to eat,” said the other. “Begone, rogue; begone, wretch; do not come near me again.”

The orator's wife, putting her head out of the window, and spying a man that doubted whether the Pope was Anti-Christ, poured over him a full…Oh, heavens! to what excess does religious zeal carry the ladies.

A man who had never been christened, a good Anabaptist, named James, beheld the cruel and ignominious treatment shown to one of his brethren, an unfeathered biped with a rational soul, he took him home, cleaned him, gave him bread and beer, presented him with two florins, and even wished to teach him the manufacture of Persian stuffs which they make in Holland. Candide, almost prostrating himself before him, cried:

“Master Pangloss has well said that all is for the best in this world, for I am infinitely more touched by your extreme generosity than with the inhumanity of that gentleman in the black coat and his lady.”

The next day, as he took a walk, he met a beggar all covered with scabs, his eyes diseased, the end of his nose eaten away, his mouth distorted, his teeth black, choking in his throat, tormented with a violent cough, and spitting out a tooth at each effort.

Footnotes

  1. A florin was a gold coin struck in Florence in the Middle Ages. Over time, the term was applied to a number of different coins, including the English two-shilling bob, the German Rheingulder, and the Dutch guilder, the coin most likely referred to here.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  2. Here, "Persian stuffs" refers to Persian fabrics, in particular to textiles with elaborate, ornamental designs, such as brocade. Holland and Persia didn't establish trade until the 17th Century, when the Dutch East India Company began importing Persian textiles, spices, and ceramic wares. To save money, they began producing some of these items in Holland, as Voltaire mentions here.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  3. "Brethren" being a plural form of "brother" and "biped" meaning any creature that walks on two feet and isn't feathered. James witnessed what happened to Candide (a foul event not unlike a baptism in that he was showered in filth instead of water) and now wants to help. He disagrees with the orator both personally and philosophically and feels that the orator should've treated Candide better.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  4. Anabaptists were members of a Christian sect that believed people shouldn't be baptized at infancy but should wait until they were old enough to choose to believe in God. Once they had professed their faith, they were then baptized. This character, James, hasn't been baptized yet, but in describing him as "good" Voltaire implies that he most likely will be.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  5. Voltaire trails off, but we can assume that this is a bucket of urine and possibly feces. Up until the modern age, chamber pots or buckets were used as toilets and dumped out of the window onto the street when they were full. Reportedly, gentlemen started walking on the outside of the street when walking with a lady to prevent her from being the victim of such an event.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  6. It seems even Candide has his limits. He's been beaten, imprisoned, starved, and shown the worst side of humanity, and now he doesn't care one lick about the Pope and the Antichrist. Though his optimism hasn't faded, it has been blunted by his hunger, which makes this exchange with the orator especially irritating.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  7. Notice the hypocrisy of this line. This orator, who has just delivered a lengthy speech on charity, ignores Candide's request for bread and instead asks him about his religious affiliation. The 18th Century was a contentious time in religious history in which many innocent people were persecuted for their religious beliefs or lack thereof. Voltaire uses this hypocritical Christian to build his anti-religious message.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  8. Another way to put this would be that Candide needs to learn how to make his way in the world. Up until he was thrown out of the Baron's castle, he had been coddled, pampered, taught no worthwhile skills other than to think. He's incapable of supporting himself, but, being Candide, reasons that all of this has happened for a reason and thus approaches it as a learning experience.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  9. Here we see Candide's optimistic philosophy skewered again: in his innocence, he has been led to believe that all men will treat their fellow men with respect, but when he begins begging (asking "alms"), they threaten to throw him in jail. Thus, we see that every man is out for himself and that the honor Candide believes in has been lost, if indeed it ever existed.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  10. By showing that the Abarian heroes have behaved as badly as their Bulgarian counterparts, Voltaire evens the playing field, so to speak, so that neither side can be seen as more or less evil than the other. Rather, it is war itself that is evil, which leads us to Voltaire's implicit question: “How can a benevolent God permit this terrible evil to happen?”

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  11. After heaping such hyperbolic praise on the two sides, Voltaire gives us perhaps the most gruesome scene in the entire book, replete with burned corpses and women who've been brutalized. He juxtaposes the glory of of warfare as a noble ideal with its violent reality, painting a picture of the battlefield as a place where no thinking person could possibly believe that war was good.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  12. Te Deum, a hymn praising God (Deus), typically sung following a war victory. Notice that both kings are singing it at once, implying that the losses they've each inflicted on the other side constitute a "victory," even though neither of them have truly won or lost the war. Voltaire uses this absurd situation to underscore that there are no winners in war.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  13. In the 18th Century, warfare was a very formal and ostentatious affair, with battlefields containing not just soldiers and cannons but trumpet players and other musicians making music for the troops. "Hautboys" are double-reeded wind instruments and "fifes" are like high-pitched flutes.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  14. To be "gallant" means to be brave and honorable, whereas "spruce" means to be brisk and lively. Voltaire praises the armies in an over-the-top and disingenuous way, exaggerating both their skill and their appearance in order to point out the essentially ridiculous nature of war.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor