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"We Must Cultivate Our Garden"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The story of Candide is Voltaire's bitter attack on the theory of Leibnitz that this is the "best of all possible worlds." The ingenuous Candide, illegitimate son of a noble German family, is taught this principle by his tutor, Dr. Pangloss. In the rambling series of events that ensues, Candide encounters every form of human wickedness, as he travels from Europe to Spanish America and finally to Turkey, where he finds his sweetheart, Cunegonde, from whom he had long been separated. There, reunited with her and his old tutor, Dr. Pangloss, he at last decides to give up his attempt to justify the evil in the world; instead, he buys a small farm. In vain does Dr. Pangloss, faithful to his philosophy, argue that Candide's sufferings are justified because they have led to his present comfortable existence on the farm. Candide's reply is simply:

"'Tis well said, but we must cultivate our garden."