Слике страница
PDF
ePub

equity of these judgments, and to say to one's self: That is as it should be; to shake one's ears and turn over a new leaf, or else to remain what one is, but on the conditions aforesaid. ..

I- You cannot doubt what judgment I pass on such a character as yours?

He - Not at all; I am in your eyes an abject and most despicable creature; and I am sometimes the same in my own eyes, though not often: I more frequently congratulate myself on my vices than blame myself for them; you are more constant in your contempt.

1- True; but why show me all your turpitude ?

He First, because you already know a good deal of it, and I saw that there was more to gain than to lose, by confessing the rest.

I-How so, if you please?

He - It is important in some lines of business to reach sublimity; it is especially so in evil. People spit upon a small rogue, but they cannot refuse a kind of consideration to a great criminal; his courage amazes you, his atrocity makes you shudder. In all things, what people prize is unity of character.

I- But this estimable unity of character you have not quite got: I find you from time to time vacillating in your principles; it is uncertain whether you get your wickedness from nature or study, and whether study has brought you as far as possible.

He I agree with you, but I have done my best. Have I not had the modesty to recognize persons more perfect in my own line than myself ? Have I not spoken to you of Bouret with the deepest admiration? Bouret is the first person in the world for me.

I- But after Bouret you come ?
He-No.
I— Palissot, then?
He — Palissot, but not Palissot alone.
I — And who is worthy to share the second rank with him?
He - The Renegade of Avignon.

I-I never heard of the Renegade of Avignon, but he must be an astonishing man.

He — He is so, indeed. 1- The history of great personages has always interested

me.

He

I can well believe it. This hero lived in the house

a

of a good and worthy descendant of Abraham, promised to be father of the faithful in number equal to the stars in the heavens.

I- In the house of a Jew?

He- In the house of a Jew. He had at first surprised pity, then good will, then entire confidence, for that is how it always happens: we count so strongly on our kindness, that we seldom hide our secrets from anybody on whom we have heaped benefits. How should there not be ingrates in the world, when we expose this man to the temptation of being ungrateful with impunity? That is a just reflection which our Jew failed to make. He confided to the renegade that he could not conscientiously eat pork. You will see the advantage that a fertile wit knew how to get from such a confession. Some months passed, during which our renegade redoubled his attentions ; when he believed his Jew thoroughly touched, thoroughly captivated, thoroughly convinced that he had no better friend among all the tribes of Israel ... now admire the circumspection of the man! He is in no hurry; he lets the pear ripen before he shakes the branch; too much haste might have ruined his design. It is because greatness of character usually results from the natural balance between several opposite qualities.

I- Pray leave your reflections, and go straight on with your story.

He — That is impossible. There are days when I cannot help reflecting; 'tis a malady that must be allowed to run its

Where was I ? I- At the intimacy that had been established between the Jew and the renegade.

He — Then the pear was ripe. . . But you are not listening; what are you dreaming about?

I-I am thinking of the curious inequality in your tone, now so high, now so low. He - How can a man made of vices be one and the same?

He reaches his friend's house one night, with an air of violent perturbation, with broken accents, a face as pale as death, and trembling in every limb. “What is the matter with you?” — “We are ruined.” — “Ruined, how?—“Ruined, I

?" tell you, beyond all help.”—“Explain.” – “One moment,

, until I have recovered from my fright.”—“Come, then, recover

“ yourself,” says the Jew. ... "

“A traitor has informed against us before the Holy Inquisition, you as a Jew, me as a renegade, an infamous renegade. Mark how the traitor does not

course.

blush to use the most odious expressions.

It needs more cour. age than you may suppose to call one's self by one's right name; you

do not know what an effort it costs to come to that.
1-No, I dare say not.

But “the infamous renegade He -- He is false, but his falsity is adroit enough. The Jew takes fright, tears his beard, rolls on the ground, sees the officers at his door, sees himself clad in the Sanbenito, sees his auto-da-all made ready. “My friend,” he cries, “my good, tender friend, my only friend, what is to be done?”

“What is to be done? Why, show ourselves, affect the greatest security, go about our business just as we usually do. The procedure of the tribunal is secret but slow; we must take advantage of its delays to sell all you have. I will hire a boat, or I will have it hired by a third person — that will be best; in

; it we will deposit your fortune, for it is your fortune that they are most anxious to get at; and then we will go, you and I, and seek under another sky the freedom of serving our God, and following in security the law of Abraham and our own consciences. The important point in our present dangerous situation is to do nothing imprudent.

No sooner said than done. The vessel is hired, victualed, and manned, the Jew's fortune put on board; on the morrow, at dawn, they are to sail, they are free to sup gayly and to sleep in all security; on the morrow they escape their prosecutors. In the night, the renegade gets up, despoils the Jew of his portfolio, his purse, his jewels, goes on board, and sails away. And you think that this is all? Good: you are not awake to it. Now when they told me the story, I divined at once what I have not told you, in order to try your sagacity. You were quite right to be an honest man; you would never have made more than a fifth-rate scoundrel. Up to this point the renegade

. is only that; he is a contemptible rascal whom nobody would consent to resemble. The sublimity of his wickedness is this, that he was himself the informer against his good friend the Israelite, of whom the Inquisition took hold when he awoke the next morning, and of whom a few days later they made a famous bonfire. And it was in this way that the renegade became the tranquil possessor of the fortune of the accursed descendant of those who crucified our Lord.

I-I do not know which of the two is most horrible to me

the vileness of your renegade, or the tone in which you speak of it.

He — And that is what I said : the atrocity of the action carries you beyond contempt, and hence my sincerity. I wished you to know to what a degree I excelled in my art, to extort from you the admission that I was at least original in my abasement, to rank me in your mind on the line of the great good for-naughts, and to hail me henceforth-Vivat Mascarillus, fourbum imperator!

EXPERIENCES OF CANDIDE.

BY VOLTAIRE.

(From "Candide; or, Optimism.")

[ocr errors]

[François MARIE AROUET, who assumed the name Voltaire, was born in Paris, November 21, 1694, and died there, May 30, 1778. He was educated in the Jesuit college Louis-le-Grand, and though intended by his parents for a lawyer he determined to become a writer. From the beginning of his career he was keen and fearless, and by his indiscreet but undeniably witty writing incurred the displeasure of the Duke of Orleans, regent of France, by whom he was imprisoned in the Bastille, 1717–1718. His life was full of action and vicissitude, and though his denunciations of wrong or tyranny from any quarter frequently brought upon him persecution from those in authority, he was acknowledged by the world the greatest writer in Europe. His writings are far too numerous for individual mention, some editions of his collected works containing as many as ninety-two volumes. They include poetry, dramas, and prose. Among his more famous works are : “Edipus” (1718), “ History of Charles XII., King of Sweden” (1730), “Philosophical Letters ” (1732), “Century of Louis XIV." (1751), “ History of Russia under Peter I." (1759), “ Republi. can Ideas” (1762), “The Bible at Last Explained" (1766), and the “ Essay on Manners.”]

ONE evening that Candide, with his attendant Martin, were going to sit down to supper with some foreigners who lodged at the same inn where they had taken up their quarters, a man, with a face the color of soot, came behind him, and taking him by the arm, said, “ Hold yourself in readiness to go along with us; be sure you do not fail." Upon this, turning about to see from whom the above came, he beheld Cacambo. Nothing but the sight of Miss Cunegund could have given greater joy and surprise. He was almost beside himself. After embracing

. this dear friend, “Cunegund!” said he, “ Cunegund has come with you, doubtless! Where, where is she ? Carry me to her

room.

this instant, that I may die with joy in her presence.” “Cunegund is not here," answered Cacambo, “she is at Constantinople.” “Good heavens, at Constantinople! But no matter if she were in China, I would fly thither. Quick, quick, dear Cacambo, let us be gone." “Soft and fair," said Cacambo, “stay till you have supped. I cannot at present stay to say anything more to you. I am a slave, and my master waits for me: I must go and attend him at table. But mum ! say not a word; only get your supper, and hold yourself in readiness.”

Candide, divided between joy and grief, charmed to have thus met with his faithful agent again, and surprised to hear he was a slave, his heart palpitating, his senses confused, but full of the hopes of recovering his dear Cunegund, sat down to table with Martin, who beheld all these scenes with great unconcern, and with six strangers, who were come to spend the Carnival at Venice.

Cacambo waited at table upon one of those strangers. When supper was nearly over he drew near to his master, and whispered him in the ear, “Sire, your majesty may go when you please; the ship is ready; and so saying he left the

The guests, surprised at what they had heard, looked at each other without speaking a word, when another servant drawing near to his master, in like manner said, “Sire, your majesty's post chaise is at Padua, and the bark is ready. The master made him a sign, and he instantly withdrew. The company all stared at each other again, and the general astonishment was increased. A third servant then approached another of the strangers, and said, “Sire, if your majesty will be advised by me, you will not make any longer stay in this place; I will go and get everything ready,” and instantly disappeared.

Candide and Martin then took it for granted that this was some of the diversions of the Carnival, and that these were characters in masquerade. Then a fourth domestic said to the fourth stranger, “ Your majesty may set off when you please ; saying this, he went away like the rest. A fifth valet said the same to a fifth master. But the sixth domestic spoke in a different style to the person on whom he waited, and who sat near to Candide. “Troth, sir," said he, “they will trust your

• , majesty no longer, nor myself neither, and we may both of us chance to be sent to jail this very night; and therefore I shall e'en take care of myself, and so adieu.” The servants being

« ПретходнаНастави »