The country appeared cultivated as much for pleasure as to produce the necessities of life. The useful and agreeable were here equally blended. The roads were filled, or rather adorned, with carriages formed of glittering materials, in which sat men and women of a surprising beauty; they were drawn with great rapidity by red sheep of a very large size[footnoteRef:18]; which far surpassed the finest horses of Andalusia, Tetuan, or Mecquinez. [18: Voltaire borrowed his red sheep from traveller=s tales; they were actually llamas and alpacas. ]
ANow this is a country,@ said Candide, Apreferable to [email protected]
He and Cacambo landed near the first village they saw, at the entrance of which they perceived some children covered with tattered garments of the richest brocade and playing at quoits. Our two inhabitants of the other hemisphere amused themselves greatly with what they saw. The quoits were large, round pieces, yellow, red, and green, which cast a most glorious luster. Our travelers picked some of them up, and they proved to be gold, emeralds, rubies, and diamonds; the least of which would have been the greatest ornament to the superb throne of the Great Mogul.
AWithout doubt,@ said Cacambo, Athose children must be the King’s sons that are playing at [email protected]
As he was uttering these words the schoolmaster of the village appeared, who came to call the children to school.
AThat,@ said Candide, Amust be the tutor of the royal [email protected]
The little ragamuffins immediately quitted their diversion, leaving the quoits on the ground with all their other playthings. Candide gathered them up, ran to the schoolmaster, and, with a most respectful bow, presented them to him, giving him to understand by signs that their Royal Highnesses had forgot their gold and precious stones. The schoolmaster, with a smile, flung them upon the ground, then, examining Candide from head to foot with an air of astonishment, he turned his back and went his way.
Our travelers took care, however, to gather up the gold, the rubies, and the emeralds.
AWhere are [email protected] cried Candide. AThe King’s children in this country must have an excellent education, since they are taught to show such a contempt for gold and precious [email protected]
Cacambo was as much surprised as his master. They then drew near the first house in the village, which was built after the manner of a European palace. There was a crowd of people about the door, and a still greater number in the house. The sound of the most delightful instruments of music was heard, and the most agreeable smell came from the kitchen. Cacambo went up to the door and heard those within talking in the Peruvian language, which was his mother tongue; for the read should know that Cacambo was born
in a village of Tucuman, where no other language is spoken.[footnoteRef:19] [19: Everyone does not know this, since Peru at the time had a number of native dialects, but the language spoken at large was Spanish. The APeruvian [email protected] was Voltaire=s invention. ]
AI will be your interpreter here,@ said he to Candide. ALet us go in; this is a roadside [email protected]
Immediately two waiters and two servant-girls, dressed in cloth of gold, and their hair braided with ribbons of tissue, accosted the strangers and invited them to sit down. Their dinner consisted of four dishes of different soups, each garnished with two young parakeets, a large dish of condor that weighed two hundred weight, two roasted monkeys of a delicious flavor, three hundred hummingbirds in one dish, and six hundred in another; some excellent ragouts, and delicate tarts, the whole served up in dishes of rock-crystal. Several sorts of liquors, extracted from the sugarcane, were handed about by the servants who attended.
Most of the company were traveling salesmen and wagon-drivers, all extremely polite; they asked Cacambo a few questions with the utmost discretion and circumspection; and replied to his in a most obliging and satisfactory manner.
As soon as dinner was over, both Candide and Cacambo thought they might easily pay very handsomely for their entertainment, laying down two of those large gold pieces which they had picked off the ground; but at the sight of this, the landlord and landlady burst into a fit of laughing and held their sides for some time.
When the fit was over, the landlord said, AGentlemen, I plainly perceive you are strangers, and such we are not accustomed to meet; pardon us, therefore, for laughing when you offered us the common pebbles of our highways as payment for your meal. To be sure, you have none of the coin of this kingdom; but there is no necessity of having any money at all to dine in this house. All the inns, which are established for the convenience of those who carry on the trade of this nation, are maintained by the government. You have found but very indifferent entertainment here, because this is only a poor village; but in almost every other of these public houses you will meet with a reception worthy of persons of your [email protected]
Cacambo explained the whole of this speech of the landlord to Candide, who listened to it with the same astonishment with which his friend communicated it.
AWhat sort of a country is this,@ he said to the other, Athat is unknown to all the world and in which Nature has everywhere so different an appearance to what she has in ours? Possibly this is that part of the globe where everything is for the best, for it is necessary that there must be some such place. And, for all that Master Pangloss could say, I often perceived that things went very ill in [email protected]
Chapter 18 – What They Saw in the Country of El Dorado
Cacambo vented all his curiosity upon his landlord by a thousand different questions; the honest man answered him thus, AI am very ignorant, sir, and content in my ignorance; however, we have in this neighborhood an old man retired from court, who is the most learned and communicative person in the whole [email protected] He then conducted Cacambo to the old man; Candide acted now the secondary role and played servant to his valet. They entered a very plain house, for the door was merely silver and the ceiling was only of beaten gold, but they were wrought in such elegant taste as to vie with the richest. The antechamber as well was only incrusted with rubies and emeralds; but here too the order in which everything was disposed made amends for this great simplicity. The old man received the strangers on his sofa, which was stuffed with hummingbirds’ feathers, and ordered his servants to serve them liquors in golden goblets, after which he satisfied their curiosity in the following terms.
AI am now one hundred and seventy-two years old, and I learned of my late father, who drove the King=s carriage, the amazing revolutions of Peru, to which he had been an eyewitness. This kingdom is the ancient patrimony of the Incas, who very imprudently quitted it to conquer another part of the world, and were at length conquered and destroyed themselves by the Spaniards. Those princes of their family who remained in their native country acted more wisely. They ordained, with the consent of their whole nation, that none of the inhabitants of our little kingdom should ever quit it; and to this wise ordinance we owe the preservation of our innocence and happiness. The Spaniards had some confused notion of this country, to which they gave the name of El Dorado; and Sir Walter Raleigh, an Englishman, actually came very near it about three hundred years ago; but the inaccessible rocks and precipices with which our country is surrounded on all sides has hitherto secured us from the rapacious fury of the people of Europe, who have an unaccountable fondness for the pebbles and dirt of our land and for the sake of which they would murder us all to the very last [email protected]
The conversation lasted some time and turned chiefly on the form of government, their manners, their women, their public diversions, and the arts. At length, Candide, who had always had a taste for philosophy, asked whether the people of that country had any religion.
The old man reddened a little at this question.
Cacambo asked in a respectful manner what was the established religion of El Dorado. The old man blushed again and said, ACan there be two religions, then? Ours, I apprehend, is the religion of the whole world; we worship God from morning till [email protected]
ADo you worship but one [email protected] said Cacambo, who still acted as the interpreter of Candide’s doubts.