Chapter IV

How Candide Found his Old Master Pangloss, and what Happened to Them

CANDIDE, YET MORE moved with compassion than with horror, gave to this shocking beggar the two florins which he had received from the honest Anabaptist James. The spectre looked at him very earnestly, dropped a few tears, and fell upon his neck. Candide recoiled in disgust.

“Alas!” said one wretch to the other, “do you no longer know your dear Pangloss?”

“What do I hear? You, my dear master! you in this terrible plight! What misfortune has happened to you? Why are you no longer in the most magnificent of castles? What has become of Miss Cunegonde, the pearl of girls, and nature's masterpiece?”

“I am so weak that I cannot stand,” said Pangloss.

Upon which Candide carried him to the Anabaptist's stable, and gave him a crust of bread. As soon as Pangloss had refreshed himself a little:

“Well,” said Candide, “Cunegonde?”

“She is dead,” replied the other.

Candide fainted at this word; his friend recalled his senses with a little bad vinegar which he found by chance in the stable. Candide reopened his eyes.

“Cunegonde is dead! Ah, best of worlds, where art thou? But of what illness did she die? Was it not for grief, upon seeing her father kick me out of his magnificent castle?”

“No,” said Pangloss, “she was ripped open by the Bulgarian soldiers, after having been violated by many; they broke the Baron's head for attempting to defend her; my lady, her mother, was cut in pieces; my poor pupil was served just in the same manner as his sister; and as for the castle, they have not left one stone upon another, not a barn, nor a sheep, nor a duck, nor a tree; but we have had our revenge, for the Abares have done the very same thing to a neighboring barony, which belonged to a Bulgarian lord.”

At this discourse Candide fainted again; but coming to himself, and having said all that it became him to say, inquired into the cause and effect, as well as into the sufficient reason that had reduced Pangloss to so miserable a plight.

“Alas!” said the other, “it was love; love, the comfort of the human species, the preserver of the universe, the soul of all sensible beings, love, tender love.”

“Alas!” said Candide, “I know this love, that sovereign of hearts, that soul of our souls; yet it never cost me more than a kiss and twenty kicks on the backside. How could this beautiful cause produce in you an effect so abominable?”

Pangloss made answer in these terms: “Oh, my dear Candide, you remember Paquette, that pretty wench who waited on our noble Baroness; in her arms I tasted the delights of paradise, which produced in me those hell torments with which you see me devoured; she was infected with them, she is perhaps dead of them. This present Paquette received of a learned Grey Friar, who had traced it to its source; he had had it of an old countess, who had received it from a cavalry captain, who owed it to a marchioness who took it from a page, who had received it from a Jesuit, who when a novice had it in a direct line from one of the companions of Christopher Columbus. For my part I shall give it to nobody, I am dying.”

“Oh, Pangloss!” cried Candide, “what a strange genealogy. Is not the Devil the original stock of it?”

“Not at all,” replied this great man, “it was a thing unavoidable, a necessary ingredient in the best of worlds; for if Columbus had not in an island of America caught this disease, which contaminates the source of life, frequently even hinders generation, and which is evidently opposed to the great end of nature, we should have neither chocolate nor cochineal. We are also to observe that upon our continent, this distemper is like religious controversy, confined to a particular spot. The Turks, the Indians, the Persians, the Chinese, the Siamese, the Japanese, know nothing of it; but there is a sufficient reason for believing that they will know it in their turn in a few centuries. In the meantime, it has made marvelous progress among us, especially in those great armies composed of honest well-disciplined hirelings, who decide the destiny of states; for we may safely affirm that when an army of thirty thousand men fights another of an equal number, there are about twenty thousand of them p—x—d on each side.”

“Well, this is wonderful!” said Candide, “but you must get cured.”

“Alas! how can I?” said Pangloss, “I have not a farthing, my friend, and all over the globe there is no letting of blood or taking a glister, without paying, or somebody paying for you.”

These last words determined Candide; he went and flung himself at the feet of the charitable Anabaptist James, and gave him so touching a picture of the state to which his friend was reduced, that the good man did not scruple to take Dr. Pangloss into his house, and had him cured at his expense. In the cure Pangloss lost only an eye and an ear. He wrote well, and knew arithmetic perfectly. The Anabaptist James made him his bookkeeper. At the end of two months, being obliged to go to Lisbon about some mercantile affairs, he took the two philosophers with him in his ship. Pangloss explained to him how everything was so constituted that it could not be better. James was not of this opinion.

“It is more likely,” said he, “mankind have a little corrupted nature, for they were not born wolves, and they have become wolves; God has given them neither cannon of four-and-twenty pounders, nor bayonets; and yet they have made cannon and bayonets to destroy one another. Into this account I might throw not only bankrupts, but Justice which seizes on the effects of bankrupts to cheat the creditors.”

“All this was indispensable,” replied the one-eyed doctor, “for private misfortunes make the general good, so that the more private misfortunes there are the greater is the general good.”

While he reasoned, the sky darkened, the winds blew from the four quarters, and the ship was assailed by a most terrible tempest within sight of the port of Lisbon.


  1. Another way to put this would be that private misfortunes make life in general seem good by comparison, and that in particular the private misfortune of going bankrupt frees up land, assets, and servants to be redistributed. The fact that these lands aren't typically redistributed to the public gives this "general good" an inherently classist overtone.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  2. In Christian theology, all humans are born with Original Sin, which we inherit from Adam and Eve, who ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. This "corrupted nature" James refers to may be Original Sin, or it may be a flaw that has developed in humanity over time, producing the horrors that James describes.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  3. This line indicates that the syphilis has not affected Pangloss' brain. In its end stage, syphilis is well-known to cause dementia in people who suffer from it, and given Pangloss' advanced stage of decay this wouldn't be an unreasonable concern. Note, however, that it takes up to twenty years for dementia to develop in syphilis patients, and that Pangloss must've caught it much earlier in life to be this far gone.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  4. "Glister" is an archaic term for an enema, or an injection of fluid into the rectum, generally used for cleaning purposes. In the 18th Century, glisters and blood-letting were common ways of purifying the body. This blood-letting may also refer to the practice of using leeches to suck the blood out of a patient (the logic being that the leech would filter out the infection).

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  5. P—x—d, here means poxed, or diseased. Syphilis was frequently referred to as the Great Pox and may be the specific disease Pangloss and the soldiers have contracted. However, syphilis in general acts very slowly on the body, with many sufferers experiencing no noticeable symptoms for years. Pangloss' misunderstanding of venereal disease speaks to the general confusion surrounding STDs in the 18th century.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  6. Historical records prove this statement wrong. In fact, all of these societies fell victim to venereal diseases early in their development. It is true, however, that the incidence of STDs in these countries, and in particular in Japan, has been significantly lower than in Europe, which may be due in part to their differing attitudes toward sex.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  7. A "friar" is a member of a religious order, in particular the Dominicans, Augustines, Carmelites, and Franciscans, who were known to wear gray robes such as the one mentioned here. Notice how Voltaire has taken great pains to trace this disease through all classes of society, implying that no one (regardless of their religion or their class) is safe.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  8. This "great end of nature" should be understood as procreation, or the proliferation of life. Pangloss believes that his venereal diseases have contaminated his sperm, "the source of life," making it difficult to reproduce. He's both right and wrong in this: some STDs can reduce male fertility, but do not, in fact, damage the sperm itself or prevent procreation.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  9. "Cochineal," a reddish dye made from the crushed bodies of female cochineal insects. Both chocolate and cochineal were brought from the Americas by Christopher Columbus and were so highly prized in Europe that Pangloss sees contracting a venereal disease as a fair trade.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  10. In the 18th century, venereal diseases were thought to have come to Europe from Hispaniola in the West Indies, through some followers of Christopher Columbus who later fought in the siege of Naples. From this latter circumstance, a venereal disease was known, for some time, as the Neapolitan disease.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  11. A "marchioness" is a noblewoman who ranks above a countess and below a duchess, while a "page" is a young servant who works for a member of a noble house. Notice the way in which Voltaire cavalierly traces the provenance of this STD, ignoring both the social hierarchy and any sense of propriety to reveal just how lascivious the upper classes could be.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  12. His "hell torments" are, in fact, sexually transmitted diseases, which he contracted after having unprotected sex with Paquette, the young servant we saw in Chapter I. Note, however, that there are no known sexual diseases that cause the symptoms Pangloss suffers from, and that it's very unlikely that he would lose his teeth because of it. Here, we can see Voltaire exaggerating the punishment for Pangloss' sins for comedic effect.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  13. Taken literally, this line means that Pangloss uses the bad vinegar as smelling salts to wake Candide back up. One could also read this line to mean that Pangloss has brought Candide back to his senses, or in other words reminded him of his education and his upbringing, which makes his fainting here very unbecoming, given that he's a man of letters.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  14. The word "spectre" typically refers to a supernatural apparition or a ghost, but is here used metaphorically to refer to the "spectre" of this beggar, who, as we soon learn, is actually Candide's former teacher, Pangloss, here presented as a ghost of his former self because he no longer commands the same respect as he did.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor