Chapter V

Tempest, Shipwreck, Earthquake, and what Became of Doctor Pangloss, Candide, and James the Anabaptist

HALF DEAD OF that inconceivable anguish which the rolling of a ship produces, one-half of the passengers were not even sensible of the danger. The other half shrieked and prayed. The sheets were rent, the masts broken, the vessel gaped. Work who would, no one heard, no one commanded. The Anabaptist being upon deck bore a hand, when a brutish sailor struck him roughly and laid him sprawling; but with the violence of the blow he himself tumbled head foremost overboard, and stuck upon a piece of the broken mast. Honest James ran to his assistance, hauled him up, and from the effort he made was precipitated into the sea in sight of the sailor, who left him to perish, without deigning to look at him. Candide drew near and saw his benefactor, who rose above the water one moment and was then swallowed up forever. He was just going to jump after him, but was prevented by the philosopher Pangloss, who demonstrated to him that the Bay of Lisbon had been made on purpose for the Anabaptist to be drowned. While he was proving this à priori, the ship foundered; all perished except Pangloss, Candide, and that brutal sailor who had drowned the good Anabaptist. The villain swam safely to the shore, while Pangloss and Candide were borne thither upon a plank.

As soon as they recovered themselves a little they walked toward Lisbon. They had some money left, with which they hoped to save themselves from starving, after they had escaped drowning. Scarcely had they reached the city, lamenting the death of their benefactor, when they felt the earth tremble under their feet. The sea swelled and foamed in the harbor, and beat to pieces the vessels riding at anchor. Whirlwinds of fire and ashes covered the streets and public places; houses fell, roofs were flung upon the pavements, and the pavements were scattered. Thirty thousand inhabitants of all ages and sexes were crushed under the ruins. The sailor, whistling and swearing, said there was booty to be gained here.

“What can be the sufficient reason of this phenomenon?” said Pangloss.

“This is the Last Day!” cried Candide.

The sailor ran among the ruins, facing death to find money; finding it, he took it, got drunk, and having slept himself sober, purchased the favors of the first good-natured wench whom he met on the ruins of the destroyed houses, and in the midst of the dying and the dead. Pangloss pulled him by the sleeve.

“My friend,” said he, “this is not right. You sin against the universal reason; you choose your time badly.”

“S'blood and fury!” answered the other; “I am a sailor and born at Batavia. Four times have I trampled upon the crucifix in four voyages to Japan; a fig for thy universal reason.”

Some falling stones had wounded Candide. He lay stretched in the street covered with rubbish.

“Alas!” said he to Pangloss, “get me a little wine and oil; I am dying.”

“This concussion of the earth is no new thing,” answered Pangloss. “The city of Lima, in America, experienced the same convulsions last year; the same cause, the same effects; there is certainly a train of sulphur under ground from Lima to Lisbon.”

“Nothing more probable,” said Candide; “but for the love of God a little oil and wine.”

“How, probable?” replied the philosopher. “I maintain that the point is capable of being demonstrated.”

Candide fainted away, and Pangloss fetched him some water from a neighboring fountain. The following day they rummaged among the ruins and found provisions, with which they repaired their exhausted strength. After this they joined with others in relieving those inhabitants who had escaped death. Some, whom they had succored, gave them as good a dinner as they could in such disastrous circumstances; true, the repast was mournful, and the company moistened their bread with tears; but Pangloss consoled them, assuring them that things could not be otherwise.

“For,” said he, “all that is is for the best. If there is a volcano at Lisbon it cannot be elsewhere. It is impossible that things should be other than they are; for everything is right.”

A little man dressed in black, Familiar of the Inquisition, who sat by him, politely took up his word and said:

“Apparently, then, sir, you do not believe in original sin; for if all is for the best there has then been neither Fall nor punishment.”

“I humbly ask your Excellency's pardon,” answered Pangloss, still more politely; “for the Fall and curse of man necessarily entered into the system of the best of worlds.”

“Sir,” said the Familiar, “you do not then believe in liberty?”

“Your Excellency will excuse me,” said Pangloss; “liberty is consistent with absolute necessity, for it was necessary we should be free; for, in short, the determinate will—”

Pangloss was in the middle of his sentence, when the Familiar beckoned to his footman, who gave him a glass of wine from Porto or Opporto.


  1. Porto is a city in northwest Portugal, about three hours north of Lisbon. It's sometimes called "Opporto" because traders who didn't speak Portuguese misinterpreted the phrase "O Porto" (of Porto) as "Opporto," assuming that this was the name of the city. Voltaire uses both to enhance the comedic effect of the Familiar having to call for wine (presumably because he finds Pangloss' argument tiresome).

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  2. The Familiar asks Pangloss whether or not he believes in Free Will. In Christian theology, Free Will is opposed to determinism or fate. Pangloss doesn't get to finish his thought here, but he seems to believe that the illusion of Free Will is necessary even though every effect already has a pre-determined cause.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  3. A Familiar was an officer of the Spanish Inquisition, a Roman Catholic tribunal established in the 15th Century to control heresy and to pass judgment on the wicked. Today, the Spanish Inquisition is most well-known for its barbaric acts of torture, which including quartering their prisoners and burning them at the stake. To cross a Familiar of the Inquisition meant almost certain death.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  4. To "succor" means to help or to assist, often with the connotation of soothing or comforting someone. The translator of this addition may also have chosen the word "succor" because of it's a homophone of "sucker," suggesting that they help others not out of the goodness of their hearts but rather with the express purpose of gaining something in return.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  5. The speed with which Candide responds here should indicate to the reader that he's only attempting to humor Pangloss and that he just agrees with him to speed up the process of getting the oil and wine. That he speaks to Pangloss this way suggests both that he knows his teacher is more interested in proving his point than helping others and that he's beginning to question his philosophy altogether.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  6. True to form, Pangloss cares more about being right and proving his theories than about Candide's actual wellbeing or the reality of their situation. That he refuses to honor Candide's request and allows the boy to faint suggests that he's unaware of the damage his theories can do.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  7. At some Christian burials, priests were known to throw wheat, wine, and oil onto a coffin. This practice likely derives from ancient Greece, where wine, oil, milk, and honey were poured over a grave to honor the dead. Candide, having never experienced wounds this severe, thinks that he will die soon and wants to ensure that Pangloss gives him a proper burial.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  8. The Japanese had such a strong aversion to the Christian faith that they compelled Europeans trading with them to trample on the cross, renounce all tenets of Christianity, then swear that it wan't their faith. Traders who did so weren't considered heretics or heathens because this was considered a necessary aspect of trade, not unlike how Pangloss overlooks his venereal disease because visiting America also resulted in chocolate.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  9. The "Last Day" refers to the Last Judgement, or Judgement Day. In the Bible, Judgment Day is depicted as an apocalyptic event where the dead rise again and are reunited with their souls. It's believed that Christ will come with the angels and judge all the living and the dead. Candide's horror in this scene is a result of the devastation and not fear of Judgment (as an innocent young man, he's likely to go to Heaven).

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  10. Ships that have been anchored in port or were docked before the earthquake, which had an estimated magnitude of 8.5-9.0, making it one of the strongest and deadliest earthquakes in all of history. It's very unlikely that Candide and Pangloss would've survived both the shipwreck and the earthquake, just as it's very unlikely that Candide would've survived the gauntlet in Chapter II, but Voltaire has proven that he doesn't care about such trivialities.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  11. Pangloss and Candide have been caught in the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake, a real event that occurred on Saturday, November 1, 1755, on the holiday of All Saints' Day. The earthquake itself was followed by fires and tsunami, which together destroyed Lisbon and the surrounding areas, killing an estimated 100,000 people.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  12. A Latin phrase meaning “from the cause to the effect,” "a priori" is a type of deductive reasoning that derives a specific conclusion from a general circumstance. Today, when arguments are referred to as "a priori," they're being criticized for working backward logically in order to create a "cause" for an effect without accounting for the fact that there are multiple possible causes for any one effect. Thus, Pangloss' reasoning is proven wrong in that it jumps to one conclusion without considering any other possibilities.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  13. "Sheets" in this context refer to sails, which are "rent" or tattered by the wind, just as the ship itself is "gaped" or cracked by the tempest, likely by being dashed against some rocks. This destruction causes the ship's crew to descend into anarchy, with some working to save the ship and others merely fending for themselves.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor