Chapter XIV

How Candide and Cacambo Were Received by the Jesuits of Paraguay

CANDIDE HAD BROUGHT such a valet with him from Cadiz, as one often meets with on the coasts of Spain and in the American colonies. He was a quarter Spaniard, born of a mongrel in Tucuman; he had been singing-boy, sacristan, sailor, monk, peddler, soldier, and lackey. His name was Cacambo, and he loved his master, because his master was a very good man. He quickly saddled the two Andalusian horses.

“Come, master, let us follow the old woman's advice; let us start, and run without looking behind us.”

Candide shed tears.

“Oh! my dear Cunegonde! must I leave you just at a time when the Governor was going to sanction our nuptials? Cunegonde, brought to such a distance what will become of you?”

“She will do as well as she can,” said Cacambo; “the women are never at a loss, God provides for them, let us run.”

“Whither art thou carrying me? Where shall we go? What shall we do without Cunegonde?” said Candide.

“By St. James of Compostella,” said Cacambo, “you were going to fight against the Jesuits; let us go to fight for them; I know the road well, I'll conduct you to their kingdom, where they will be charmed to have a captain that understands the Bulgarian exercise. You'll make a prodigious fortune; if we cannot find our account in one world we shall in another. It is a great pleasure to see and do new things.”

“You have before been in Paraguay, then?” said Candide.

“Ay, sure,” answered Cacambo, “I was servant in the College of the Assumption, and am acquainted with the government of the good Fathers as well as I am with the streets of Cadiz. It is an admirable government. The kingdom is upwards of three hundred leagues in diameter, and divided into thirty provinces; there the Fathers possess all, and the people nothing; it is a masterpiece of reason and justice. For my part I see nothing so divine as the Fathers who here make war upon the kings of Spain and Portugal, and in Europe confess those kings; who here kill Spaniards, and in Madrid send them to heaven; this delights me, let us push forward. You are going to be the happiest of mortals. What pleasure will it be to those Fathers to hear that a captain who knows the Bulgarian exercise has come to them!”

As soon as they reached the first barrier, Cacambo told the advanced guard that a captain wanted to speak with my lord the Commandant. Notice was given to the main guard, and immediately a Paraguayan officer ran and laid himself at the feet of the Commandant, to impart this news to him. Candide and Cacambo were disarmed, and their two Andalusian horses seized. The strangers were introduced between two files of musketeers; the Commandant was at the further end, with the three-cornered cap on his head, his gown tucked up, a sword by his side, and a spontoon in his hand. He beckoned, and straightway the newcomers were encompassed by four-and-twenty soldiers. A sergeant told them they must wait, that the Commandant could not speak to them, and that the reverend Father Provincial does not suffer any Spaniard to open his mouth but in his presence, or to stay above three hours in the province.

“And where is the reverend Father Provincial?” said Cacambo.

“He is upon the parade just after celebrating mass,” answered the sergeant, “and you cannot kiss his spurs till three hours hence.”

“However,” said Cacambo, “the captain is not a Spaniard, but a German, he is ready to perish with hunger as well as myself; cannot we have something for breakfast, while we wait for his reverence?”

The sergeant went immediately to acquaint the Commandant with what he had heard.

“God be praised!” said the reverend Commandant, “since he is a German, I may speak to him; take him to my arbor.”

Candide was at once conducted to a beautiful summerhouse, ornamented with a very pretty colonnade of green and gold marble, and with trellises, enclosing paraquets, humming birds, flybirds, guinea hens, and all other rare birds. An excellent breakfast was provided in vessels of gold; and while the Paraguayans were eating maize out of wooden dishes, in the open fields and exposed to the heat of the sun, the reverend Father Commandant retired to his arbor.

He was a very handsome young man, with a full face, white skin but high in color; he had an arched eyebrow, a lively eye, red ears, vermilion lips, a bold air, but such a boldness as neither belonged to a Spaniard nor a Jesuit. They returned their arms to Candide and Cacambo, and also the two Andalusian horses; to whom Cacambo gave some oats to eat just by the arbor, having an eye upon them all the while for fear of a surprise.

Candide first kissed the hem of the Commandant's robe, then they sat down to table.

“You are, then, a German?” said the Jesuit to him in that language.

“Yes, reverend Father,” answered Candide.

As they pronounced these words they looked at each other with great amazement, and with such an emotion as they could not conceal.

“And from what part of Germany do you come?” said the Jesuit.

“I am from the dirty province of Westphalia,” answered Candide; “I was born in the Castle of Thunder-ten-Tronckh.”

“Oh! Heavens! is it possible?” cried the Commandant.

“What a miracle!” cried Candide.

“Is it really you?” said the Commandant.

“It is not possible!” said Candide.

They drew back; they embraced; they shed rivulets of tears.

“What, is it you, reverend Father? You, the brother of the fair Cunegonde! You, that was slain by the Bulgarians! You, the Baron's son! You, a Jesuit in Paraguay! I must confess this is a strange world that we live in. Oh, Pangloss! Pangloss! how glad you would be if you had not been hanged!”

The Commandant sent away the negro slaves and the Paraguayans, who served them with liquors in goblets of rock crystal. He thanked God and St. Ignatius a thousand times; he clasped Candide in his arms; and their faces were all bathed with tears.

“You will be more surprised, more affected, and transported,” said Candide, “when I tell you that Cunegonde, your sister, whom you believe to have been ripped open, is in perfect health.”


“In your neighborhood, with the Governor of Buenos Ayres; and I was going to fight against you.”

Every word which they uttered in this long conversation but added wonder to wonder. Their souls fluttered on their tongues, listened in their ears, and sparkled in their eyes. As they were Germans, they sat a good while at table, waiting for the reverend Father Provincial, and the Commandant spoke to his dear Candide as follows.


  1. This line shouldn't be read as if Candide is stating a fact but rather as if he's saying, "And to think, I was going to fight against you." He can't believe the absurdity of it or his good fortune in not having fought in this war. It's almost an aside to himself, where he expresses both his surprise and his pleasure.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  2. Notice that this is the third person reputed to have died at the castle of Thunder-ten-Tronckh: first Pangloss, then Cunegonde, and now her brother. The order in which they appear to return from the dead also happens to be their order of importance to Candide, who loves his teacher first, Cunegonde second, and anyone else third.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  3. The arbor in this context refers to a garden alcove, typically bounded on all sides and roofed with winding plants, which are often grown on a latticed wooden framework. The Commandant's arbor would be an alcove in his personal garden outside of his living quarters, making his offer to speak to Candide there a sign of some hospitality, though not as notable a sign as if he'd invited Candide into his home.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  4. Also known as an espontoon or a half-pike, a "spontoon" is a kind of weapon like a pole with a double-edged blade at one end and a handle at the other. It's called a half-pike because it's shorter, with a handle almost as long as the blade. It was often carried by officers of the infantry and used as a method of signaling orders to the regiment. This entire description of the Commandant, including the clothes he wears and the weapons he carries, suggests that he's a leader and not necessarily a great warrior.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  5. Voltaire positions Paraguay as a kind of Utopia, suggesting that its theocratic or religious rule is superior to the monarchial rule of Spain and Portugal. Given the satirical nature of the book, however, we can be sure that Voltaire is using this hyperbole to undercut the idea of Utopia.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  6. In Europe, listening to the kings' confessions helps one get to Heaven. In the colonial period, many religious orders, particularly those like the Jesuits, who were often persecuted for their faith, sailed to the new world to establish churches where they would be just as powerful or more so than the King and Queen. This desire for power underscores the essential hypocrisy of the Church, which Voltaire points out here.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  7. Notice the parallels that Voltaire draws between Candide and Don Quixote: they both embark on absurd adventures, they both espouse religious philosophies, and they both have a companion, a Spaniard, who rides with him (Cacambo on an Andalusian horse, and Sancho Panza on a donkey). Voltaire often borrows from classic literature in this way.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  8. A "sacristan" is a priest, or a sexton of a small parish church. In listing all of the valet's former occupations, Voltaire begins by alternating between religious and secular positions. Though these professions aren't necessarily listed in order, there aren't any religious positions after that of "monk," suggesting that the valet has concluded his professional relationship with the Church.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  9. The word "valet" refers to a personal man-servant or attendant, typically charged with dressing his master and preparing him for journeys. As a captain in a small army, Candide would've been entitled to at least such valet, whose primary duties would be to care for his weapons, horses, and military uniforms.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor