Chapter 23 Summary
“Candide and Martin head for the coast of England. What they see there”
Candide and Martin are on a Dutch ship on their way to England, and Candide bemoans the evils of this world and longs for his beloved Cunégonde. He asks Martin if he knows whether the people of England are as mad as they are in France. Martin tells him the English people suffer from a different kind of madness.
England is a country which fights a war over “a few acres of snow near Canada,” and they are spending more money on this war than what all of Canada is worth. Though he cannot explain their behavior, Martin warns Candide that he is certain to discover what the rest of the world already knows: the English are “splenetic” (easily angered).
They speak of these things until they arrive in Portsmouth, where a large crowd of people have gathered. They are looking attentively at a portly man who is kneeling blindfolded on the deck of one of the ships of the fleet. Four soldiers stand in a line in front of the man and calmly shoot four bullets into the man’s head. The crowd seems content and begins to disperse.
Candide is once again appalled at the cruelties of men in this world. He asks about the man who was shot and is told he was an admiral. He was shot because he did not have enough people killed. The English admiral and a French admiral fought a duel, and it was decided that the English admiral had not drawn close enough to him. Candide points out the obvious: the French admiral was the same distance from his enemy when he shot as the English admiral was from him. No one denies that fact, but Englishmen believe that it is good to kill an admiral occasionally to inspire the troops.
After Candide hears all of this, he is appalled and does not even want to set foot in this country. He implores the Dutch captain to take him directly to Venice, and he does not even care if the man robs him as thoroughly as the Dutch captain he met in Suriname did. The captain is ready in two days, and he guides his ship along the coast of France. They see Lisbon in the distance, and Candide shudders at the memories. They continue through the strait and into the Mediterranean Sea until they finally arrive in Venice.
Candide embraces Martin and thanks God that they have arrived in the place where he is going to once again see he his beloved Cunégonde, for he knows he can rely on Cacambo. All is well once again, and all is the best it can possibly be.