Zadig, The Book of Faith by Voltaire.. - HTML preview
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The Book of Fate
Translated from the
Published in MDCCXLIX
Printed for John Brindley, Bookseller to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, in New Bond–Street.
——Quo fata trahunt, retrahuntque sequamur.
Per varios casus, per tot discrimina rerum,
Tendimus in Latium.——VIRG.
The Dedication to the Sultana Sheraa, by Sadi.
The 18th of the Month Scheval, in the Year of the Hegira, 837.
Thou Joy of ev'ry Eye! Thou Torment of every Heart! Thou Intellectual Light! I do not kiss the Dust of thy Feet;
because thou seldom art seen out of the Seraglio, and when thou art, thou walkest only on the Carpets of Iran, or on
Beds of Roses.
I here present you with a Translation of the Work of an ancient Sage, who having the Happiness of living free from all
Avocations, thought proper, by Way of Amusement, to write the History of Zadig; a Performance, that comprehends in it
more Instruction than, 'tis possible, you may at first be aware of. I beg you would indulge me so far as to read it over, and
then pass your impartial Judgment upon it: For notwithstanding you are in the Bloom of your Life; tho' ev'ry Pleasure
courts you; tho' you are Nature's Darling, and have internal Qualities in proportion to your Beauty; tho' the World
resounds your Praises from Morning till Night, and consequently you must have a just Title to a superior Degree of
Understanding than the rest of your Sex; Yet your Wit is no ways flashy; Your Taste is refin'd, and I have had the Honour
to hear you talk more learnedly than the wisest Dervise, with his venerable Beard, and pointed Bonnet: You are discreet,
and yet not mistrustful; you are easy, but not weak; you are beneficent with Discretion; you love your Friends, and create
yourself no Enemies. Your most sprightly Flights borrow no Graces from Detraction; you never speak a misbecoming
Word, nor do an ill–natur'd Action, tho' 'tis always in your Power. In a Word, your Soul is as spotless as your Person. You
have, moreover, a little Fund of Philosophy, which gives me just Grounds to hope that you'll relish this Historical
Performance better than any other Lady of your Quality would do.
It was originally compos'd in the Chaldean Language, to which both you and my self are perfect Strangers. It was
translated, however, into Arabic, for the Amusement of the celebrated Sultan OULOUG–BEG. It first appear'd in Public,
when the Arabian and Persian Tales of One Thousand and One Nights, and One Thousand and One Days, were most
in Vogue: OULOUG chose rather to entertain himself with the Adventures of Zadig. The Sultanas indeed were more fond
of the former. How can you, said the judicious OULOUG, be so partial, as to prefer a Set of Tales, that are no ways
interesting or instructive, to a Work, that has a Variety of Beauties to recommend it? Oh! replied the Sultanas, the less
Sense there is in them, the more they are in Taste; and the less their Merit, the greater their Commendation.
I flatter my self, thou Patroness of Wisdom, that thou wilt not copy after those thoughtless Sultanas, but give into the
Sentiments of OULOUG. I am in hopes likewise, when you are tir'd with the Conversation of such as make those
senseless Romances abovemention'd their favourite Amusements, you will vouchsafe to listen for one Minute or two, to
the Dictates of solid Sense. Had you been Thalestris in the Days of Scander, the Son of Philip; had you been the Queen
of Sheba, in the Reign of Solomon, those Kings would have been proud to have taken a Tour to visit you.
May the Celestial Virtues grant, that your Pleasures may meet with no Interruption; your Charms know no Decay; and
may your Felicity be everlasting!
I, Who have subscrib'd my Name hereto, ambitious of being thought a Man of Wit and Learning, have perus'd this
MANUSCRIPT, which I find, to my great Mortification, amusing, moral, philosophical, and fit to be read, even by those
who have an utter Aversion to Romances; for which Reason, I have depretiated it, as it deserves, and have in direct
Terms told the CADI–LESQUIER, that 'tis a most detestable Performance.
The Blind EYE.
In the Reign of King Moabdar, there was a young Man, a Native of Babylon, by name Zadig; who was not only endowed
by Nature with an uncommon Genius, but born of illustrious Parents, who bestowed on him an Education no ways
inferior to his Birth. Tho' rich and young, he knew how to give a Check to his Passions; he was no ways self–conceited;
he didn't always act up to the strictest Rules of Reason himself, and knew how to look on the Foibles of others, with an
Eye of Indulgence. Every one was surpriz'd to find, that notwithstanding he had such a Fund of Wit, he never insulted;
nay, never so much as rallied any of his Companions, for that Tittle Tattle, which was so vague and empty, so noisy and
confus'd; for those rash Reflections, those illiterate Conclusions, and those insipid Jokes; and, in short, for that Flow of
unmeaning Words, which was call'd polite Conversation in Babylon. He had learned from the first Book of Zoroaster, that
Self–love is like a Bladder full blown, which when once prick'd, discharges a kind of petty Tempest. Zadig, in particular,
never boasted of his Contempt of the Fair Sex, or of his Facility to make Conquests amongst them. He was of a
generous Spirit; insomuch, that he was not afraid of obliging even an ungrateful Man; strictly adhering to that wise Maxim
of Zoroaster. When you are eating, throw an Offal to the Dogs that are under the Table, lest they should be tempted to
bite you. He was as wise as he could well be wish'd; since he was fond of no Company, but such as were distinguish'd
for Men of Sense. As he was well–grounded, in all the Sciences of the antient Chaldeans, he was no Stranger to those
Principles of Natural Philosophy, which were then known: And understood as much of Metaphysics as any one in all
Ages after him; that is to say, he knew little or nothing of the Matter. He was firmly convinc'd, that the Year consisted of
365 Days and an half, tho' directly repugnant to the new Philosophy of the Age he liv'd in; and that the Sun was situated
in the Center of the Earth; And when the Chief Magi told him, with an imperious Air, that he maintain'd erroneous
Principles; and that it was an Indignity offered to the Government under which he liv'd, to imagine the Sun should roll
round its own Axis, and that the Year consisted of twelve Months, he knew how to sit still and quiet, without shewing the
least Tokens of Resentment or Contempt.
As Zadig was immensely rich, and had consequently Friends without Number; and as he was a Gentleman of a robust
Constitution, and remarkably handsome; as he was endowed with a plentiful Share of ready and inoffensive Wit: And, in
a Word, as his Heart was perfectly sincere and open, he imagin'd himself, in some Measure, qualified to be perfectly
happy. For which Purpose he determin'd to marry a gay young Lady (one Semira by name) whose Beauty, Birth and
Fortune, render'd her the most desirable Person in all Babylon. He had a sincere Affection for her, grounded on Honour,
and Semira conceiv'd as tender a Passion for him. They were just upon the critical Minute of a mutual Conjunction in the
Bands of Matrimony, when, as they were walking Hand in Hand together towards one of the Gates of Babylon, under the
Shade of a Row of Palm–trees, that grew on the Banks of the River Euphrates, they were beset by a Band of Ruffians,
arm'd with Sabres, Bows and Arrows. They were the Guards, it seems, of young Orcan (Nephew of a certain Minister of
State) whom the Parasites, kept by his Uncle, had buoy'd up with a Permission to do, with Impunity, whatever he thought
proper. This young Rival, tho' he had none of those internal Qualities to boast of that Zadig had, yet he imagin'd himself
a Man of more Power; and for that Reason, was perfectly outrageous to see the other preferr'd before him. This Fit of
Jealousy, the Result of mere Vanity, prompted him to think that he was deeply in Love with the fair Semira; and fir'd with
that amorous Notion, he was determin'd to take her away from Zadig, by Dint of Arms. The Ravishers rush'd rudely upon
her, and in the Transport of their Rage, drew the Blood of a Beauty, the Sight of whose Charms would have soften'd the
very Tigers of Mount Imaüs. The injur'd Lady rent the very Heavens with her Exclamations. Where's my dear Husband,
she cried? They have torn me from the Arms of the only Man whom I adore. She never reflected on the Danger to which
she was expos'd; her sole Concern was for her beloved Zadig. At the same Time, he defended her, like a Lover, and a
Man of Integrity and Courage. With the Assistance only of two domestic Servants, he put those Sons of Violence to
Flight, and conducted Semira, bloody as she was, and in fainting Fits, to her own House. No sooner was she come to
her self, but she fix'd her lovely Eyes on her Dear Deliverer. O Zadig, said she, I love thee as affectionately, as if I were
actually thy Bride: I love thee, as the Man, to whom I owe my Life, and what is dearer to me, the Preservation of my
Honour. No Heart sure could be more deeply smitten than that of Semira. Never did the Lips of the fairest Creature living
utter softer Sounds; never did the most enamoured Lady breathe such tender Sentiments of Love and Gratitude for his
signal Service; never, in short, did the most affectionate Bride express such Transports of Joy for the fondest Husband.
Her Wounds, however, were but very superficial, and she was soon recover'd. Zadig receiv'd a Wound that was much
more dangerous: An unlucky Arrow had graz'd one of his Eyes, and the Orifice was deep. Semira was incessant in her
Prayers to the Gods that they might restore her Zadig. Her Eyes were Night and Day overwhelm'd with Tears. She
waited with Impatience for the happy Moment, when those of Zadig might dart their Fires upon her; but alas! the
wounded Eye grew so inflam'd and swell'd, that she was terrified to the last Degree. She sent as far as Memphis for
Hermes, the celebrated Physician there, who instantly attended his new Patient with a numerous Retinue. Upon his first
Visit, he peremptorily declared that Zadig would lose his Eye; and foretold not only the Day, but the very Hour when that
woful Disaster would befal him. Had it been, said that Great Man, his right Eye, I could have administred an infallible
Specific; but as it is, his Misfortune is beyond the Art of Man to cure. Tho' all Babylon pitied the hard Case of Zadig, they
equally stood astonish'd at the profound Penetration of Hermes. Two Days after the Imposthume broke, without any
Application, and Zadig soon after was perfectly recover'd. Hermes thereupon wrote a very long and elaborate Treatise,
to prove that his Wound ought not to have been heal'd. Zadig, however, never thought it worth his while to peruse his
learned Lucubrations; but, as soon as ever he could get abroad, determin'd to pay the Lady a Visit, who had testified
such uncommon Concern for his Welfare, and for whose Sake alone he wish'd for the Restoration of his Sight. Semira
he found had been out of Town for three Days; but was inform'd, by the bye, that his intended Spouse, having conceived
an implacable Aversion to a one–ey'd Man, was that very Night to be married to Orcan. At this unexpected ill News, poor
Zadig was perfectly thunder–struck: He laid his Disappointment so far to Heart, that in a short Time he was become a
mere Skeleton, and was sick almost to death for some Months afterwards. At last, however, by Dint of Reflection, he got
the better of his Distemper; and the Acuteness of the Pain he underwent, in some Measure, contributed towards his
Since I have met with such an unexpected Repulse, said he, from a capricious Court–Lady, I am determin'd to marry
some substantial Citizen's Daughter. He pitch'd accordingly upon Azora, a young Gentlewoman extremely well–bred, an
excellent Oeconomist, and one, whose Parents were very rich.
Their Nuptials accordingly were soon after solemniz'd, and for a whole Month successively, no two Turtles were ever
more fond of each other. In Process of Time, however, he perceiv'd she was a little Coquettish, and too much inclin'd to
think, that the handsomest young Fellows were always the most virtuous and the greatest Wits.
One Day Azora, as she was just return'd home from taking a short Country airing, threw herself into a violent Passion,
and swell'd with Invectives. What, in God's Name, my Dear, said Zadig, has thus ruffled your Temper? What can be the
Meaning of all these warm Exclamations? Alas! said she, you would have been disgusted as much as I am, had you
been an Eye–witness of that Scene of Female Falshood, as I was Yesterday. I went, you must know, to visit the
disconsolate Widow Cosrou, who has been these two Days erecting a Monument to the Memory of her young deceased
Husband, near the Brook that runs on one side of her Meadow. She made the most solemn Vow, in the Height of her
Affliction, never to stir from that Tomb, as long as ever that Rivulet took its usual Course.—Well! and wherein, pray, said
Zadig, is the good Woman so much to blame? Is it not an incontestable Mark of her superior Merit and Conjugal–
Affection? But, Zadig, said Azora, was you to know how her Thoughts were employ'd when I made my Visit, you'd never
forget or forgive her. Pray, my dearest Azora, what then was she about? Why, the Creature, said Azora, was studying, to
be sure, to find out Ways and Means to turn the Current of the River.
Azora, in short, harangu'd so long, and, was so big with her Invectives against the young Widow, that her too affected,
vain Shew of Virtue, gave Zadig a secret Disgust.
Zadig had an intimate Friend, one Cador by Name, whose Spouse was perfectly honest, and had in reality a greater
Regard for him, than all Mankind besides: This Friend Zadig made his Confident, and bound him to keep a Project of his
entirely a Secret, by a Promise of some valuable Token of his Respect. Azora had been visiting a Female Companion for
two Days together in the Country, and on the third was returning home: No sooner, however, was she in Sight of the
House, but the Servants ran to meet her with Tears in their Eyes, and told her, that their Master dy'd suddenly the Night
before; that they durstn't carry her the doleful Tidings, but were going to bury Zadig in the Sepulchre of his Ancestors, at
the Bottom of the Garden. She burst into a Flood of Tears; tore her Hair; and vow'd to die by his Side. As soon as it was
dark, young Cador came, and begg'd the Favour of being introduc'd to the Widow. He was so, and they wept together
very cordially. Next Day the Storm was somewhat abated, and they din'd together; Cador inform'd her, that his Friend
had left him the much greater Part of his Effects, and gave her to understand, that he should think himself the happiest
Creature in the World, if she would condescend to be his Partner in that Demise. The Widow wept, sobb'd, and began to
melt. More Time was spent in Supper than at Dinner. They discoursed together with a little more Freedom. Azora was
lavish of her Encomiums on Zadig; but then, 'twas true, she said, he had some secret Infirmities to which Cador was a
Stranger. In the Midst of their Midnight Entertainment, Cador all on a sudden complain'd that he was taken with a most
violent pleuretic Fit, and was ready to swoon away. Our Lady being extremely concern'd, and over–officious, flew to her
Closet of Cordials, and brought down every Thing she could think of that might be of Service on this emergent Occasion.
She was extremely sorry that the famous Hermes was gone from Babylon, and condescended to lay her warm Hand
upon the Part affected, in which he felt such an agonizing Pain. Pray Sir, said she, in a soft, languishing Tone, are you
subject to this tormenting Malady? Sometimes, Madam, said Cador, so strong, that they bring me almost to Death's Door;
and there is but one Thing can infallibly cure me; and that is, the Application of a dead Man's Nose to the part affected.
An odd Remedy truly, said Azora. Not stranger, Madam, said he, than the Great [ 1 ]
Arnon's infallible Apoplectic
This Assurance of Success, together with Cador's personal Merit, determin'd Azora in his Favour. After all, said she,
when my Husband shall be about to cross the Bridge Tchimavar, from this World of Yesterday, to the other, of To–
morrow, will the Angel Asrael, think you, make any Scruple about his Passage, should his Nose prove something shorter
in the next Life than 'twas in this? She would venture, however, and taking up a sharp Razor, repair'd to her Husband's
Tomb; water'd it first with her Tears, and then intended to perform the innocent Operation, as he lay extended
breathless, as she thought, in his Coffin. Zadig mounted in a Moment; secur'd his Nose with one Hand, and the Incision–
Knife with the other. Madam, said he, never more exclaim against the Widow Cosrou. The Scheme for cutting my Nose
off was much closer laid than hers of throwing the River into a new Channel.
The DOG and the HORSE.
Zadig found, by Experience, that the first thirty Days of Matrimony (as 'tis written in the Book of Zend) is Honey–Moon;
but the second is all Wormwood. He was oblig'd, in short, as Azora grew such a Termagant, to sue out a Bill of Divorce,
and to seek his Consolation for the future, in the Study of Nature. Who is happier, said he, than the Philosopher, who
peruses with Understanding that spacious Book, which the supreme Being has laid open before his Eyes? The Truths
he discovers there, are of infinite Service to him. He thereby cultivates and improves his Mind. He lives in Peace and
Tranquility all his Days; he is afraid of Nobody, and he has no tender, indulgent Wife to shorten his Nose for him.
Wrapped up in these Contemplations, he retir'd to a little Country House on the Banks of the Euphrates; there he never
spent his Time in calculating how many Inches of Water run thro' the Arch of a Bridge in a second of Time, or in
enquiring if a Cube Line of Rain falls more in the Mouse–Month, than in that of the Ram. He form'd no Projects for
making Silk Gloves and Stockings out of Spiders Webbs, nor of China–Ware out of broken Glass–Bottles; but he pry'd
into the Nature and Properties of Animals and Plants, and soon, by his strict and repeated Enquiries, he was capable of
discerning a Thousand Variations in visible Objects, that others, less curious, imagin'd were all alike.
One Day, as he was taking a solitary Walk by the Side of a Thicket, he espy'd one of the Queen's Eunuchs, with
several of his Attendants, coming towards him, hunting about, in deep Concern, both here and there, like Persons almost
in Despair, and seeking, with Impatience, for something lost of the utmost Importance. Young Man, said the Queen's
chief Eunuch, have not you seen, pray, her Majesty's Dog? Zadig very cooly replied, you mean her Bitch, I presume. You
say very right Sir, said the Eunuch, 'tis a Spaniel–Bitch indeed.—And very small said Zadig: She has had Puppies too
lately; she's a little lame with her left Fore–foot, and has long Ears. By your exact Description, Sir, you must doubtless
have seen her, said the Eunuch, almost out of Breath. But I have not Sir, notwithstanding, neither did I know, but by you,
that the Queen ever had such a favourite Bitch.
Just at this critical Juncture, so various are the Turns of Fortune's Wheel! the best Palfrey in all the King's Stable had
broke loose from the Groom, and got upon the Plains of Babylon. The Head Huntsman with all his inferior Officers, were
in Pursuit after him, with as much Concern, as the Eunuch about the Bitch. The Head Huntsman address'd himself to
Zadig, and ask'd him, whether he hadn't seen the King's Palfrey run by him. No Horse, said Zadig, ever gallop'd
smoother; he is about five Foot high, his Hoofs are very small; his Tail is about three Foot six Inches long; the studs of
his Bit are of pure Gold, about 23 Carats; and his Shoes are of Silver, about Eleven penny Weight a–piece. What Course
did he take, pray, Sir? Whereabouts is he, said the Huntsman? I never sat Eyes on him, reply'd Zadig, not I, neither did I
ever hear before now, that his Majesty had such a Palfrey.
The Head Huntsman, as well as the Head Eunuch, upon his answering their Interrogatories so very exactly, not
doubting in the least, but that Zadig had clandestinely convey'd both the Bitch and the Horse away, secur'd him, and
carried him before the grand Desterham, who condemn'd him to the Knout, and to be confin'd for Life in some remote and
lonely Part of Siberia. No sooner had the Sentence been pronounc'd, but the Horse and Bitch were both found. The
Judges were in some Perplexity in this odd Affair, and yet thought it absolutely necessary, as the Man was innocent, to
recal their Decree. However, they laid a Fine upon him of Four Hundred Ounces of Gold, for his false Declaration of his
not having seen, what doubtless he did: And the Fine was order'd to be deposited in Court accordingly: On the Payment
whereof, he was permitted to bring his Cause on to a Hearing before the grand Desterham.
On the Day appointed for that Purpose he open'd the Cause himself, in Terms to this or the like Effect.
Ye bright Stars of Justice, ye profound Abyss of universal Knowledge, ye Mirrors of Equity, who have in you the Solidity
of Lead, the Hardness of Steel, the Lustre of a Diamond, and the Resemblance of the purest Gold! Since ye have
condescended so far, as to admit of my Address to this August Assembly, I here, in the most solemn Manner, swear to
you by Orosmades, that I never saw the Queen's illustrious Bitch, nor the sacred Palfrey of the King of Kings. I'll be
ingenuous, however, and declare the Truth, and nothing but the Truth. As I was walking by the Thicket's Side, where I
met with her Majesty's most venerable chief Eunuch, and the King's most illustrious chief Huntsman, I perceiv'd upon the
Sand the Footsteps of an Animal, and I easily inferr'd that it must be a little one. The several small, tho' long Ridges of
Land between the Footsteps of the Creature, gave me just Grounds to imagine it was a Bitch whose Teats hung down;
and for that Reason, I concluded she had but lately pupp'd. As I observ'd likewise some other Traces, in some Degree
different, which seem'd to have graz'd all the Way upon the Surface of the Sand, on the Side of the fore–Feet, I knew
well enough she must have had long Ears. And forasmuch as I discern'd; with some Degree of Curiosity, that the Sand
was every where less hollow'd by one Foot in particular, than by the other three, I conceiv'd that the Bitch of our most
august Queen was somewhat lamish, if I may presume to say so.
As to the Palfrey of the King of Kings, give me leave to inform you, that as I was walking down the Lane by the Thicket–
side, I took particular Notice of the Prints made upon the Sand by a Horse's Shoes; and found that their Distances were
in exact Proportion; from that Observation, I concluded the Palfrey gallop'd well. In the next Place, the Dust of some
Trees in a narrow Lane, which was but seven Foot broad, was here and there swept off, both on the Right and on the
Left, about three Feet and six Inches from the Middle of the Road. For which Reason I pronounc'd the Tail of the Palfrey
to be three Foot and a half long, with which he had whisk'd off the Dust on both Sides as he ran along. Again, I perceiv'd
under the Trees, which form'd a Kind of Bower of five Feet high, some Leaves that had been lately fallen on the Ground,
and I was sensible the Horse must have shook them off; from whence I conjectur'd he was five Foot high. As to the Bits
of his Bridle, I knew they must be of Gold, and of the Value I mention'd; for he had rubb'd the Studs upon a certain Stone,
which I knew to be a Touch–stone, by an Experiment that I had made of it. To conclude, by the Prints which his Shoes
had left of some Flint–Stones of another Nature, I concluded his Shoes were Silver, and of eleven penny Weight
Fineness, as I before mention'd.
The whole Bench of Judges stood astonish'd at the Profundity of Zadig's nice Discernment. The News was soon
carried to the King and the Queen. Zadig was not only the whole Subject of the Court's Conversation; but his Name was
mention'd with the utmost Veneration in the King's Chambers, and his Privy–Council. And notwithstanding several of their
Magi declar'd he ought to be burnt for a Sorcerer; yet the King thought proper, that the Fine he had deposited in Court,
should be peremptorily restor'd. The Clerk of the Court, the Tipstaffs, and other petty Officers, waited on him in their
proper Habit, in order to refund the four Hundred Ounces of Gold, pursuant to the King's express Order; modestly
reserving only three Hundred and ninety Ounces, part thereof, to defray the Fees of the Court. And the Domesticks
swarm'd about him likewise, in Hopes of some small Consideration.
Zadig, upon winding up of the Bottom, was fully convinc'd, that it was very dangerous to be over–wise; and was
determin'd to set a Watch before the Door of his Lips for the future.
An Opportunity soon offer'd for the Trial of his Resolution. A Prisoner of State had just made his Escape, and pass'd
under the Window of Zadig's House. Zadig was examin'd thereupon, but was absolutely dumb. However, as it was
plainly prov'd upon him, that he did look out of the Window at the same Time, he was sentenc'd to pay five Hundred
Ounces of Gold for that Misdemeanor; and moreover, was oblig'd to thank the Court for their Indulgence; a Compliment
which the Magistrates of Babylon expect to be paid them. Good God! said he, to himself, have I not substantial Reason
to complain, that my impropitious Stars should direct me to walk by a Wood's–Side, where the Queen's Bitch and the
King's Palfrey should happen to pass by? How dangerous is it to pop one's Head out of one's Window? And, in a Word,
how difficult is it for a Man to be happy on this Side the Grave?
The ENVIOUS MAN.
As Zadig had met with such a Series of Misfortunes, he was determin'd to ease the Weight of them by the Study of
Philosophy, and the Conversation of select Friends. He was still possess'd of a little pretty Box in the Out–parts of
Babylon, which was furnish'd in a good Taste; where every Artist was welcome, and wherein he enjoy'd all the rational
Pleasures that a virtuous Man could well wish for. In the Morning, his Library was always open for the Use of the
Learned; at Night his Table was fill'd with the most agreeable Companions; but he was soon sensible, by Experience,
how dangerous it was to keep learned Men Company. A warm Dispute arose about a certain Law of Zoroaster; which
prohibited the Eating of Griffins: But to what Purpose said some of the Company, was that Prohibition, since there is no
such Animal in Nature? Some again insisted that there must; for otherwise Zoroaster could never have been so weak as
to give his Pupils such a Caution. Zadig, in order to compromize the Matter, said; Gentlemen, If there are such Creatures
in Being, let us never touch them; and if there are not, we are well assur'd we can't touch them; so in either Case we
shall comply with the Commandment.
A learned Man at the upper End of the Table, who had compos'd thirteen Volumes, expatiating on every Property of the
Griffin, took this Affair in a very serious Light, which would greatly have embarrass'd Zadig, but for the Credit of a Magus,
who was Brother to his Friend Cador. From that Day forward, Zadig ever distinguish'd and preferr'd good, before learned
Company: He associated with the most conversible Men, and the most amiable Ladies in all Babylon; he made elegant
Entertainments, which were frequently preceded by a Concert of Musick, and enliven'd by the most facetious
Conversation, in which, as he had felt the Smart of it, he had laid aside all Thoughts of shewing his Wit, which is not only
the surest Proof that a Man has none, but the most infallible Means to spoil all good Company.
Neither the Choice of his Friends, nor that of his Dishes, was the Result of Pride or Ostentation. He took Delight in
appearing to be, what he actually was, and not in seeming to be what he was not; and by that Means, got a greater real
Character than he actually aim'd at.
Directly opposite to his House liv'd Arimazes, one puff'd up with Pride, who not meeting with Success in the World,
sought his Revenge in railing against all Mankind. Rich as he was, it was almost more than he could accomplish, to
procure ev'n any Parasites about him. Tho' the rattling of the Chariots which stopp'd at Zadig's Door was a perfect
Nuisance to him; yet the good Character which every Body gave him was still a higher Provocation. He would sometimes
intrude himself upon Zadig, and set down at his Table without any Invitation; when there, he would most certainly
interrupt the Mirth of the Company, as Harpies, they say, infect the very Carrion that they eat.
Arimazes took it in his Head one Day to invite a young Lady to an Entertainment; but she, instead of accepting of his
Offer, spent the Evening at Zadig's. Another Time, as Zadig and he were chatting together at Court, a Minister of State
came up to them, and invited Zadig to Supper, but took no Notice of Arimazes. The most implacable Aversions have
frequently no better Foundations. This Gentleman, who was call'd the envious Man, would have taken away the Life of
Zadig if he could because most People distinguish'd him by the Title of the Happy Man. "An Opportunity of doing
Mischief, says Zoroaster, offers itself a hundred Times a Day; but that of doing a Friend a good Office but once a Year."
Arimazes went one Day to Zadig's House, when he was walking in his Garden with two Friends, and a young Lady, to
whom he said Abundance of fine Things, with no other Design but the innocent Pleasure of saying them. Their
Conversation turn'd on a War that the King had happily put an End to, between him and his Vassal, the Prince of
Hyrcania. Zadig having signaliz'd himself in that short War, commended his Majesty very highly, but was more lavish of
his Compliments on the Lady. He took out his Pocket Book, and wrote four extempore Verses on that Occasion, and
gave them the Lady to read. The Gentlemen then present begg'd to be oblig'd with a Sight of them, as well as the Lady,
But either thro' Modesty, or rather a self–Consciousness that he hadn't happily succeeded, he gave them a flat Denial.
He was sensible, that a sudden poetic Flight must prove insipid to every one but the Person in whose Favour it is written,
whereupon he snapt the Table in two whereon the Lines were wrote, and threw both Pieces into a Rose–bush, where
they were hunted for, but to no Purpose. Soon after it happened to rain, and all the Company flew into the House, but
Arimazes. Notwithstanding the Shower, he continued in the Garden, and never quitted it, till he had found one Moiety of
the Tablet, which was unfortunately broke in such a Manner, that even the half Lines were good sense, and good Metre,
tho' very short. But what was still more remarkably unfortunate, they appear'd at first View, to be a severe satyr upon the
King: The Words were these:
To flagrant Crimes
His Crown he owes;
To peaceful Times
The worst of Foes.
This was the first Moment that ever Arimazes was happy. He had it now in his Power to ruin the most virtuous and
innocent of Men. Big with his execrable Joy, he flew to his Majesty with this virulent Satyr of Zadig's under his own Hand.
Not only Zadig, but his two Friends and the Lady were immediately close confin'd. His Cause was soon over; for the
Judges turn'd a deaf Ear to what he had to say. When Sentence of Condemnation was pass'd upon him, Arimazes, still
spiteful, was heard to say, as he went out of Court, with an Air of Contempt, that Zadig's Lines were Treason indeed, but
nothing more. Tho' Zadig didn't value himself on Account of his Genius for Poetry; yet he was almost distracted to find
himself condemn'd for the worst of Traitors, and his two Friends and the Lady lock'd up in a Dungeon for a Crime, of
which he was no ways guilty. He wasn't permitted to speak one Word for himself. His Pocket–Book was sufficient
Evidence against him. So strict were the Laws of Babylon! He was carried to the Place of Execution, through a Croud of
Spectators, who durstn't condole with him, and who flock'd about him, to observe whether his Countenance chang'd, or
whether he died with a good Grace. His Relations were the only real Mourners; for there was no Estate in Reversion for
them; three Parts of his Effects were confiscated for the King's Use, and the fourth was devoted, as a Reward, to the use
of the Informer.
Just at the Time that he was preparing himself for Death, the King's Parrot flew from her Balcony, into Zadig's Garden,
and alighted on a Rose–bush. A Peach, that had been blown down, and drove by the Wind from an adjacent Tree, just
under the Bush, was glew'd, as it were, to the other Moiety of the Tablet. Away flew the Parrot with her Booty, and
return'd to the King's Lap. The Monarch, being somewhat curious, read the Words on the broken Tablet, which had no
Meaning in them as he could perceive, but seem'd to be the broken Parts of a Tetrastick. He was a great Admirer of
Poetry; and the odd Adventure of his Parrot, put him upon Reflection. The Queen who recollected full well the Lines that
were wrote on the Fragment of Zadig's Tablet, order'd that Part of it to be produc'd: Both the broken Pieces being put
together, they answered exactly the Indentures; and then the Verses which Zadig had written, in a Flight of Loyalty, ran
Tyrants are prone to flagrant Crimes;
To Clemency his Crown he owes;
To Concord and to peaceful Times,
Love only is the worst of Foes.
Upon this the King order'd Zadig to be instantly brought before him; and his two Friends and the Lady to be that
Moment discharg'd. Zadig, as he stood before the King and Queen, fix'd his Eyes upon the Ground, and begg'd their
Majesty's Pardon for his little worthless, poetical Attempt. He spoke, however, with such a becoming Grace, and with so
much Modesty and good Sense, that the King and the Queen, ordered him to be brought before them once again. He
was brought accordingly, and he pleas'd them still more and more. In short, they gave him all the immense Estate of
Arimazes, who had so unjustly accus'd him; but Zadig generously return'd the wicked Informer the Whole to a Farthing.
The envious Man, however, was no ways affected, but with the Restoration of his Effects. Zadig every Day grew more
and more in Favour at Court. He was made a Party in all the King's Pleasures, and nothing was done in the Privy–
Council without him. The Queen, from that very Hour, shew'd him so much Respect, and spoke to him in such soft and
endearing Terms, that in Process of Time, it prov'd of fatal Consequence to herself, her Royal Consort, to Zadig, and the
whole Kingdom. Zadig now began to think it was not so difficult a Thing to be happy as at first he imagin'd.
The Force of Generosity.
The Time now drew near for the Celebration of a grand Festival, which was kept but once in five Years. 'Twas a
constant Custom in Babylon at the Expiration of the Term above–mention'd, to distinguish that Citizen from all the Rest,
in the most solemn Manner, who had done the most generous Action; and the Grandees and Magi always sat as Judges.
The Satrap inform'd them of every praise–worthy Deed that occurr'd within his District. All were put to the Vote, and the
King himself pronounc'd the Definitive Sentence. People of all Ranks and Degrees came from the remotest Part of the
Kingdom to be present at this Solemnity. The Victor, whoever he was, receiv'd from the King's own Hand a golden Cup,
enrich'd with precious Stones, and upon the Delivery, the King made use of the following Salutation. Receive this
Reward of your Generosity, and may the Gods grant me Thousands of such valuable Subjects!
Upon this memorable Day, the King appear'd in all the Pomp imaginable on his Throne of State, surrounded by his
Grandees, the Magi, and the Deputies, from all the surrounding Nations, of every Province that attended these public
Sports, where Honour was to be acquir'd, not by the Velocity of the best Race–Horse, or by bodily Strength, but by
intrinsic Merit. The principal Satrap proclaim'd, with an audible Voice, such Actions as would entitle the Victor to the
inestimable Prize; but never mention'd one Word of Zadig's Greatness of Soul, in returning his invidious Neighbour all his
Estate, notwithstanding he would have taken away his Life: That was but a Trifle, and not worth speaking of.
The first that was set up for the Prize, was a Judge, that had occasion'd a Citizen to lose a very considerable Cause,
through some Mistake, for which he was no ways responsible, and made him Restitution out of his private Purse.
The next Candidate was a Youth, that tho' violently in Love with one that he intended shortly to make his Spouse, yet
resign'd her to his Friend, who was just expiring at her Feet; and moreover, gave her a Portion at the same Time.
After this appear'd a Soldier, who, in the Hyrcanian War, had done a much more glorious Action than the Lover. A Gang
of Hyrcanians having taken his Mistress from him, he fought them bravely, and rescued her out of their Hands: Soon
after, he was inform'd, that another Band of the same Party had hurried away his Mother to a Place not far distant; he left
his Mistress, all drown'd in Tears, and ran to his Mother's Assistance: After that Skirmish was over, he returned to his
Sweet–heart, and found her just expiring. He would fain have plung'd a Dagger into his Heart that Moment; but his
Mother remonstrated to him, that, should he die, she should be entirely helpless, and upon that Account only he had
Courage to live a little longer.
The Judges seem'd very much inclin'd to give their Votes for the Soldier; but the King prevented them, by saying, that
the Soldier's Action was praise–worthy enough, and so were those of the rest, but none of them give me any Surprize.
What Zadig did Yesterday perfectly struck me with Astonishment. I'll mention another Instance. I had some few Days ago,
as a Testimony of my Resentment, banish'd my Prime–Minister, and Favourite Coreb from the Court. I complain'd of his
Conduct in the warmest Terms; and all my Sycophants about me, told me that I was too merciful; and loaded him with the
sharpest Invectives. I ask'd Zadig what his Opinion was of Coreb; and he dar'd to give him the best of Characters. I must
confess, I have read in our publick Records, indeed, of Instances where Restitution have been generally made, for
Injuries committed by Mistake; where a Mistress has been resign'd; and where a Mother has been preferr'd to a Mistress;
but I never read of a Courtier, that would speak to the Advantage of a Minister in Disgrace, and against whom the
Sovereign was highly incens'd. I'll give 20,000 Pieces of Gold to every Candidate that has been this Day proclaim'd, but
I'll give the Cup to no one but Zadig.
Sire, said Zadig, 'tis your Majesty alone, that deserves the Cup; 'tis you alone who have done an Action of Generosity,
never heard of before; since you, who are King of Kings, wasn't exasperated against your Slave, when he contradicted
you in the Heat of your Passion. Every Body gaz'd with Eyes of Admiration on the King and Zadig. The Judge, who had
generously made Restitution for his Error; the Lover, who had married his Mistress to his Friend; the Soldier, who had
preferr'd the Welfare of his Mother to that of his Mistress; received the promis'd Donation from the Monarch, and saw
their Names register'd in the Book of Fame: But Zadig had the Cup. The King got the universal Character of a good
Prince, which he did not long preserve. This joyful Day was solemniz'd with Festivals beyond the Time by Law
establish'd. Tragedies were acted there that drew Tears from the Spectators; and Comedies that made them laugh;
Entertainments, that the Babylonians were perfect Strangers to: The Commemoration of it is still preserv'd in Asia. Now,
said Zadig, I am happy at last; but he was grosly mistaken.
Young as Zadig was, he was constituted chief Judge of all the Tribunals throughout the Empire. He fill'd the Place, like
one, whom the Gods had endow'd with the strictest Justice, and the most solid Wisdom. It was to him, the Nations round
about were indebted for that generous Maxim; that 'tis much more Prudence to acquit two Persons, tho' actually guilty,
than to pass Sentence of Condemnation in one that is virtuous and innocent. It was his firm Opinion, that the Laws were
intended to be a Praise to those who did well, as much as to be a Terror to Evildoers. It was his peculiar Talent to render
Truth as obvious as possible: Whereas most Men study to render it intricate and obscure. On the very first Day of his