Whimsical Post #6: Some more good advice (and a rationale)

“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” they say and it is well proved by this passage from Candide. 

“Human grandeur,” said Pangloss, “is very dangerous, if we believe the testimonies of almost all philosophers; for we find Eglon, King of Moab, was assassinated by Aod; Absalom was hanged by the hair of his head, and run through with three darts; King Nadab, son of Jeroboam, was slain by Baaza; King Ela by Zimri; Okosias by Jehu; Athaliah by Jehoiada; the Kings Jehooiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah, were led into captivity: I need not tell you what was the fate of Croesus, Astyages, Darius, Dionysius of Syracuse, Pyrrhus, Perseus, Hannibal, Jugurtha, Ariovistus, Caesar, Pompey, Nero, Otho, Vitellius, Domitian, Richard II of England, Edward II, Henry VI, Richard III, Mary Stuart, Charles I, the three Henrys of France, and the Emperor Henry IV.”

Voltaire wrote the satire Candide, ou l’Optimisme in 1759. Since then and to the present, this list would include Gustav III of Sweden, Louis XVI of France, Emperor Paul of Russia, Alexander II of Russia, Nasser al-Din Shah the Qajar king of Persia, Umberto I of Italy, Alexander I of Serbia and his wife Queen Draga, Carlos I of Portugal, George I of Greece, Nicholas II of Russia along with his family, Alexander I of Yugoslavia, Ananda Mahidol of Thailand, Faisal II of Iraq, Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Birendra of Nepal (with virtually his family). 

 But, the work which begins with the eponymous young man, living a sheltered life and being indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimism (or simply optimism) by his mentor, Pangloss and then the sudden stop to such an existence, followed by the hero’s slow but painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships. It concludes with Candide, if not outright rejecting optimism, advocating an enigmatic precept, “we must cultivate our garden”, in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds”.

But how he gets to this conclusion is a tale in itself……. In the concluding chapter of the novella, comes this passage……

In the neighborhood lived a famous dervish who passed for the best philosopher in Turkey; they went to consult him: Pangloss, who was their spokesman, addressed him thus:
“Master, we come to entreat you to tell us why so strange an animal as man has been formed?”
“Why do you trouble your head about it?”
said the dervish; “is it any business of yours?”
“But, Reverend Father,”
said Candide, “there is a horrible deal of evil on the earth.”
“What signifies it,”
said the dervish, “whether there is evil or good? When His Highness sends a ship to Egypt does he trouble his head whether the rats in the vessel are at their ease or not?”
“What must then be done?”
said Pangloss.
“Be silent,” answered the dervish.
“I flattered myself,” replied Pangloss, “to have reasoned a little with you on the causes and effects, on the best of possible worlds, the origin of evil, the nature of the soul, and a pre-established harmony.”
At these words the dervish shut the door in their faces.
During this conversation, news was spread abroad that two viziers of the bench and the mufti had just been strangled at Constantinople, and several of their friends impaled. This catastrophe made a great noise for some hours. Pangloss, Candide, and Martin, as they were returning to the little farm, met with a good-looking old man, who was taking the air at his door, under an alcove formed of the boughs of orange trees. Pangloss, who was as inquisitive as he was disputative, asked him what was the name of the mufti who was lately strangled.
“I cannot tell,” answered the good old man; “I never knew the name of any mufti, or vizier breathing. I am entirely ignorant of the event you speak of; I presume that in general such as are concerned in public affairs sometimes come to a miserable end; and that they deserve it: but I never inquire what is doing at Constantinople; I am contented with sending thither the produce of my garden, which I cultivate with my own hands.”
After saying these words, he invited the strangers to come into his house. His two daughters and two sons presented them with divers sorts of sherbet of their own making; besides caymac, heightened with the peels of candied citrons, oranges, lemons, pineapples, pistachio nuts, and Mocha coffee unadulterated with the bad coffee of Batavia or the American islands.
“You must certainly have a vast estate,” said Candide to the Turk.
“I have no more than twenty acres of ground,” he replied, “the whole of which I cultivate myself with the help of my children; and our labour keeps off from us three great evils – idleness, vice, and want.”

This sets them thinking and they come to the conclusion that….

“Neither need you tell me,” said Candide, “that we must take care of our garden.”
“You are in the right,”
said Pangloss; “for when man was put into the garden of Eden, it was with an intent to dress it; and this proves that man was not born to be idle.”
“Work then without disputing,”
said Martin; “it is the only way to render life supportable.”
The little society, one and all, entered into this laudable design and set themselves to exert their different talents. The little piece of ground yielded them a plentiful crop…….

 Pangloss used now and then to say to Candide: “There is a concatenation of all events in the best of possible worlds; for, in short, had you not been kicked out of a fine castle …………….. and had you not lost all your sheep, which you brought from the good country of El Dora you would not have been here to eat preserved citrons and pistachio nuts.”
“Excellently observed,”
answered Candide; “but let us cultivate our garden.”

Now you all do know why I play Farmville so avidly………


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