Chapter XV

How Candide Killed the Brother of his Dear Cunegonde

“I SHALL HAVE ever present to my memory the dreadful day, on which I saw my father and mother killed, and my sister ravished. When the Bulgarians retired, my dear sister could not be found; but my mother, my father, and myself, with two maid-servants and three little boys all of whom had been slain, were put in a hearse, to be conveyed for interment to a chapel belonging to the Jesuits, within two leagues of our family seat. A Jesuit sprinkled us with some holy water; it was horribly salt; a few drops of it fell into my eyes; the father perceived that my eyelids stirred a little; he put his hand upon my heart and felt it beat. I received assistance, and at the end of three weeks I recovered. You know, my dear Candide, I was very pretty; but I grew much prettier, and the reverend Father Didrie, Superior of that House, conceived the tenderest friendship for me; he gave me the habit of the order, some years after I was sent to Rome. The Father-General needed new levies of young German-Jesuits. The sovereigns of Paraguay admit as few Spanish Jesuits as possible; they prefer those of other nations as being more subordinate to their commands. I was judged fit by the reverend Father-General to go and work in this vineyard. We set out—a Pole, a Tyrolese, and myself. Upon my arrival I was honored with a sub-deaconship and a lieutenancy. I am today colonel and priest. We shall give a warm reception to the King of Spain's troops; I will answer for it that they shall be excommunicated and well beaten. Providence sends you here to assist us. But is it, indeed, true that my dear sister Cunegonde is in the neighborhood, with the Governor of Buenos Ayres?”

Candide assured him on oath that nothing was more true, and their tears began afresh.

The Baron could not refrain from embracing Candide; he called him his brother, his savior.

“Ah! perhaps,” said he, “we shall together, my dear Candide, enter the town as conquerors, and recover my sister Cunegonde.”

“That is all I want,” said Candide, “for I intended to marry her, and I still hope to do so.”

“You insolent!” replied the Baron, “would you have the impudence to marry my sister who has seventy-two quarterings! I find thou bast the most consummate effrontery to dare to mention so presumptuous a design!”

Candide, petrified at this speech, made answer:

“Reverend Father, all the quarterings in the world signify nothing; I rescued your sister from the arms of a Jew and of an Inquisitor; she has great obligations to me, she wishes to marry me; Master Pangloss always told me that all men are equal, and certainly I will marry her.”

“We shall see that, thou scoundrel!” said the Jesuit Baron de Thunder-ten-Tronckh, and that instant struck him across the face with the flat of his sword. Candide in an instant drew his rapier, and plunged it up to the hilt in the Jesuit's belly; but in pulling it out reeking hot, he burst into tears.

“Good God!” said he, “I have killed my old master, my friend, my brother-in-law! I am the best-natured creature in the world, and yet I have already killed three men, and of these three two were priests.”

Cacambo, who stood sentry by the door of the arbor, ran to him. “We have nothing more for it than to sell our lives as dearly as we can,” said his master to him, “without doubt some one will soon enter the arbor, and we must die sword in hand.”

Cacambo, who had been in a great many scrapes in his lifetime, did not lose his head; he took the Baron's Jesuit habit, put it on Candide, gave him the square cap, and made him mount on horseback. All this was done in the twinkling of an eye.

“Let us gallop fast, master, everybody will take you for a Jesuit, going to give directions to your men, and we shall have passed the frontiers before they will be able to overtake us.”

He flew as he spoke these words, crying out aloud in Spanish:

“Make way, make way, for the reverend Father Colonel.”


  1. Candide, being so young and good-natured, has no instinct for self-preservation other than the one to kill. He isn't devious in the way Cacambo or the old woman are, and he can't think on his feet. In a book full of priests, philosophers, nobleman, and Grand Inquisitors, it's ironic that the only people who know how to save themselves are the servants.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  2. "Bast" being short for "bastard," an illegitimate child such as Candide. The Baron finds this plan ("design") presumptuous and offensive, and refers to it as a "consummate effrontery," or a complete, shameless insolence. As a bastard, Candide would never be allowed to marry Cunegonde, and her brother here takes after their father by refusing to allow it.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  3. In general, "levies" are duties or taxes typically collected by nobles and landowners from the general public. In this context, "levies" are men conscripted into the Church's army as into military service. The young Jesuit, Cunegonde's brother, thus becomes a leader of a troop in a holy Jesuit army without first having any real military training.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  4. This is the first indication to the reader that a significant amount of time has passed in the course of the book. Voltaire's writing style has the effect of making all the book's events appear to happen in quick succession, but, as we learn here, a significant amount of time has passed, which means that Candide and Cunegonde, who were teens when this began, are likely now in their mid to late twenties.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor
  5. Notice the uncomfortable juxtaposition of Father Didrie's interest and Cunegonde's brother's beauty. Even in the 1700s, it was well-known that priests and other prominent religious officials often engaged in sexual relationships with young men, particularly boys who sang in the choir or went on to the priesthood. This tendency has been the cause of many scandals but is used here as the butt of a joke.

    — Sinead, Owl Eyes Contributor