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Candide, Or The Optimist

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Candide, seeing a Milton, asked the senator if he did not think that author a great man. "Who?" said Pococurante sharply. "That barbarian, who writes a tedious commentary, in ten books of rambling verse, on the first chapter of Genesis! That slovenly imitator of the Greeks, who disfigures the creation by making the Messiah take a pair of compasses from Heaven's armoury to plan the world; whereas Moses represented the Deity as producing the whole universe by his fiat! Can I think you have any esteem for a writer who has spoiled Tasso's hell and the devil; who transforms Lucifer, sometimes into a toad, and at others into a pigmy; who makes him say the same thing over again a hundred times; who metamorphoses him into a school-divine; and who, by an absurdly serious imitation of Ariosto's comic invention of fire-arms, represents the devils and angels cannonading each other in heaven! Neither I, nor any other Italian, can possibly take pleasure in such melancholy reveries. But the marriage of Sin and Death, and snakes issuing from the womb of the former, are enough to make any person sick that is not lost to all sense of delicacy. This obscene, whimsical, and disagreeable poem met with the neglect that it deserved at its first publication; and I only treat the author now as he was treated in his own country by his contemporaries."  

Candide was sensibly grieved at this speech, as he had a great respect for Homer and was very fond of Milton. "Alas!" said he softly to Martin, "I am afraid this man holds our German poets in great contempt." "There would be no such great harm in that," said Martin. "Oh, what a surprising man!" said Candide to himself; "what a prodigious genius is this Pococuranté! Nothing can please him."  

After finishing their survey of the library they went down into the garden, when Candide commended the several beauties that offered themselves to his view. "I know nothing upon earth laid out in such bad taste," said Pococurante, "everything about it is childish and trifling; but I shall have another laid out to-morrow upon a nobler plan."
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