Chapter 13 – How Candide Was Forced Away From His Fair Cunegonde and the Old Woman


1 1 The beautiful Cunegonde having heard the old woman’s history, paid her all the civilities due to a person of her rank and merit. She likewise accepted her proposal, and engaged all the passengers, one after the other, to relate their adventures; and then both she and Candide allowed that the old woman was in the right.
2 1 “It is a great pity,” said Candide, “that the sage Pangloss was hanged contrary to custom at an auto-da-fé; he would tell us most amazing things in regard to the physical and moral evils that overspread earth and sea, and I should be able, with due respect, to make a few objections.”
3 While each passenger was recounting his story, the ship made her way. They landed at Buenos Ayres. Cunegonde, Captain Candide, and the old woman, waited on the Governor, Don Fernando d’Ibaraa, y Figueora, y Mascarenes, y Lampourdos, y Souza. This nobleman had a stateliness becoming a person who bore so many names. He spoke to men with so noble a disdain, carried his nose so loftily, raised his voice so unmercifully, assumed so imperious an air, and stalked with such intolerable pride, that those who saluted him were strongly inclined to give him a good drubbing. Cunegonde appeared to him the most beautiful he had ever met. The first thing he did was to ask whether she was not the captain’s wife. The manner in which he asked the question alarmed Candide; he durst not say she was his wife, because indeed she was not; neither durst he say she was his sister, because it was not so; and although this obliging lie had been formerly much in favour among the ancients, and although it could be useful to the moderns, his soul was too pure to betray the truth.
4 “Miss Cunegonde,” said he, “is to do me the honour to marry me, and we beseech your excellency to deign to sanction our marriage.”
5 Don Fernando d’Ibaraa, y Figueora, y Mascarenes, y Lampourdos, y Souza, turning up his moustachios, smiled mockingly, and ordered Captain Candide to go and review his company. Candide obeyed, and the Governor remained alone with Miss Cunegonde. He declared his passion, protesting he would marry her the next day in the face of the church, or otherwise, just as should be agreeable to herself. Cunegonde asked a quarter of an hour to consider of it, to consult the old woman, and to take her resolution.
6 1

The old woman spoke thus to Cunegonde:

“Miss, you have seventy-two quarterings, and not a farthing; it is now in your power to be wife to the greatest lord in South America, who has very beautiful moustachios. Is it for you to pique yourself upon inviolable fidelity? You have been ravished by Bulgarians; a Jew and an Inquisitor have enjoyed your favours. Misfortune gives sufficient excuse. I own, that if I were in your place, I should have no scruple in marrying the Governor and in making the fortune of Captain Candide.”

7 While the old woman spoke with all the prudence which age and experience gave, a small ship entered the port on board of which were an Alcalde and his alguazils, and this was what had happened.
8 1 As the old woman had shrewdly guessed, it was a Grey Friar who stole Cunegonde’s money and jewels in the town of Badajos, when she and Candide were escaping. The Friar wanted to sell some of the diamonds to a jeweller; the jeweller knew them to be the Grand Inquisitor’s. The Friar before he was hanged confessed he had stolen them. He described the persons, and the route they had taken. The flight of Cunegonde and Candide was already known. They were traced to Cadiz. A vessel was immediately sent in pursuit of them. The vessel was already in the port of Buenos Ayres. The report spread that the Alcalde was going to land, and that he was in pursuit of the murderers of my lord the Grand Inquisitor. The prudent old woman saw at once what was to be done.
9 “You cannot run away,” said she to Cunegonde, “and you have nothing to fear, for it was not you that killed my lord; besides the Governor who loves you will not suffer you to be ill-treated; therefore stay.”
10

She then ran immediately to Candide.

“Fly,” said she, “or in an hour you will be burnt.”

There was not a moment to lose; but how could he part from Cunegonde, and where could he flee for shelter?

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The Candide 2.0 reading experiment has concluded. Please feel free to roam our garden of comments and annotations.

5 Responses to “Chapter 13 – How Candide Was Forced Away From His Fair Cunegonde and the Old Woman”

Here is the crime procedural part of Candide, the twists and turns of a Law & Order episode reduced to a single paragraph. This is one of my favorite “what might have been?” moments—what if Candide and Cunegonde went on the lam and the story turned into a pursuit novel? As there’s no real narrator of the story, a detective of sorts could pop up to track Candide the gentle hero turned murderer. This is something beyond speculation, of course, as the structure wouldn’t necessarily tolerate an extended plotline such as pursuit, but it’s an interesting way to consider how narrative possibilities are opened and closed at different parts of the story. Large sections of the travels have to be condensed to a paragraph, where other stories take up multiple chapters of exacting detail, as in the old woman’s story. Voltaire has more targets in mind for the next chapters—-the Jesuits in Paraguay—-and, actually, the pursuit novel plot continues in the next chapters as Candide gets into more trouble befitting a man on the run.

Pangloss’s principle of sufficient reason vs. the old woman’s notion of misfortune as the principle of sufficient excuse—this is quite a contest of philosophies! Both philosophies depend on different forms of narrative to make their cases: Pangloss’s recursive stories which generate tautologies and the old woman’s piling on of tragic event after tragic event. The conte philosophique is, then, a mixed genre through which we can see different modes of storytelling and explanation in philosophical writing. It’s not just the ideas themselves, but how they’re written out (and re-mixed with elements of other genres such as satire) that give the story its texture. What are some other narrative modes of philosophy that we see in the book?

When my English class read The Odyssey, we had to write “missing chapters” of the story—-I think mine was a longer jaunt in the underworld. (This conceit is rendered brilliantly in The Lost Book of the Odyssey, which purports to be fragmentary pieces of the manuscript found in an archaeological dig.) This paragraph seems like a great moment to find the “lost chapters” of Candide: what are the other passengers’ stories of misfortune? What have we learned about how the characters tell stories, and what other directions could one take in recounting misfortune? Would we learn more about the Seven Years War, the slave trade, colonial exploration and trade?

Voltaire has set up the assignment for future sequelists (and teachers!) in making the joke on the title page that Candide was translated from a German manuscript by “Dr. Ralph”; starting in 1761, the joke was extended with the note that the story had been augmented with further materials found in his pocket after Dr. Ralph’s death at Minden in 1761. Some of Candide’s sequels purport to be “found” manuscripts themselves, as though the characters carried on lives outside of the text.

Grace Kim says:

The purpose of Candide’s journey is to reflect upon the tragic events that happen around the world and change his optimistic belief. However, at this point, Candide’s journey is slowly progressing, and he has yet to become introduced to other beliefs to fully alter his perception as of the moment. He does show a glimpse of a change when he refers to Pangloss and his teachings and how he should be able to “make a few objections.” This demonstrates the slow character development of Candide.

At this point in the story, when Candide hears the story of the old woman’s ordeals, he came to realization that Pangloss’s philosophy of optimism was indeed insufficient. In a sense, Candide’s innocence was stripped away from him when he questions Pangloss’s theory. Cunegonde decided to accept the governer’s proposal in marriage (advised by the old woman) in order to regain her social stability. With that being said, Candide was naive in believing Pangloss now that the love of his life had chosen fortune and status over love.