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Chapter 18

The ÆNIGMAS, or RIDDLES.


_Zadig_, as one beside himself, and perfectly thunder-struck, beat
his March at random. He entred, however, into the City of _Babylon_,
on that very Day, when those Combatants who had been before engag'd
in the List or Circus, were already assembled in the spacious
Outer-Court of the Palace, in order to solve the Ænigmas, and give
the wisest Answers they could to such Questions, as the _Grand
Magus_ should propose. All the Parties concern'd were present,
except the Knight of the Green Armour. No sooner had _Zadig_ made
his Appearance in the City, but the Populace flock'd round about
him: No Eye was satisfied with gazing at him: All in general were
lavish of their Praises, and in their Hearts wish'd him their
Sovereign, except the envious Man, who as he pass'd by, fetch'd a
deep Sigh, and turn'd his Head aside. The Populace with loud
Acclamations attended him to the Palace-Gate. The Queen, who had
heard of his Arrival, was in the utmost Agony, between Hope and
Despair. Her Vexation had almost brought her to Death's Door; she
couldn't conceive why _Zadig_ should appear without his
Accoutrements, nor imagine which Way _Itobad_ could procure the
snow-white Armour. At the Sight of _Zadig_ a confus'd Murmur ran
thro' the whole Place. Every Eye was surpriz'd, tho' charm'd at the
same Time to see him again: But then none were to be admitted into
the Assembly-Room except the Knights.

I have fought as successfully as any one of them all, said _Zadig_,
tho' another appears clad in my Armour; but in the mean Time, before
I can possibly prove my Assertion, I insist upon being admitted into
Court, in order to give my Solutions to such Ænigmas as shall be
propos'd. 'Twas put to the Vote. As the Reputation of his being a
Man of the strictest Honour and Veracity was so strongly imprinted
on their Minds, the Motion of his Admittance was carried in the
Affirmative, without the least Opposition.

The first Question the _Grand Magus_ propos'd was this: What is the
longest and yet the shortest Thing in the World; the most swift and
the most slow; the most divisible, and the most extended; the least
valu'd, and the most regretted; And without which nothing can
possibly be done: Which, in a Word, devours every Thing how minute
soever, and yet gives Life and Spirit to every Object or Being,
however Great?

_Itobad_ had the Honour to answer first. His reply was, that a Man
of his Merit had something else to think on, than idle Riddles;
'twas enough for him, that he was acknowledg'd the Hero of the
Circus. One said, the Solution of the Ænigma propos'd was _Fortune_;
others said the _Earth_; and others again the _Light_: But _Zadig_
pronounced it to be _Time_. Nothing, said he, can be longer, since
'tis the Measure of Eternity; Nothing is shorter, since there is
Time always wanting to accomplish what we aim at. Nothing passes so
slowly as Time to him who is in Expectation; and nothing so swift as
Time to him who is in the perfect Enjoyment of his Wishes. It's
Extent is to Infinity, in the Whole; and divisible to Infinity in
part. All Men neglect it in the Passage; and all regret the Loss of
it when 'tis past. Nothing can possibly be done without it; it
buries in Oblivion whatever is unworthy of being transmitted down to
Posterity; and it renders all illustrious Actions immortal. The
Assembly agreed unanimously that _Zadig_ was in the Right.

The next Question that was started, was, What is the Thing we
receive, without being ever thankful for it; which we enjoy, without
knowing how we came by it; which we give away to others, without
knowing where 'tis to be found; and which we lose, without being any
ways conscious of our Misfortune?

Each pass'd his Verdict. _Zadig_ was the only Person that concluded
it was LIFE. He solv'd every Ænigma propos'd, with equal Facility.
_Itobad_, when he heard the Explications, always said that nothing
in the World was more easy, than to solve such obvious Questions;
and that he could interpret a thousand of them without the least
Hesitation, were he inclin'd to trouble his Head about such Trifles.
Other Questions were propos'd in regard to Justice, the sovereign
Good, and the Art of Government. _Zadig's_ Answers still carried the
greatest Weight. What Pity 'tis, said some who were present, that
one of so comprehensive a Genius, should make such a scurvy
Cavalier?

Most illustrious Grandees, said _Zadig_, I was the Person that had
the Honour of being Victor at your Circus; the white Armour, most
puissant Lords, was mine. That awkward Warrior there, Lord _Itobad_,
dress'd himself in it whilst I was asleep. He imagin'd, it is plain,
that it would do him more Honour than his own Green one. Unaccoutred
as I am, I am ready, before this august Assembly, to give them
incontestable Proof of my superior Skill; to engage with the Usurper
of the White Armour with my Sword only in my Mantle and Bonnet; and
to testify that I only was the happy Victor of the justly admired
_Hottam_.

_Itobad_ accepted of the Challenge with all the Assurance of Success
imaginable. He did not doubt, but being properly accoutred with his
Helmet, his Cuirass, and his Bracelets, he should be able to hue
down an Antagonist, in his Mantle and Cap, and nothing to skreen him
from his Resentment, but a single Sabre. _Zadig_ drew his Sword, and
saluted the Queen with it, who view'd him with Transport mix'd with
Fear. _Itobad_ drew his, but paid his Compliments to Nobody. He
approach'd _Zadig_, as one, whom he imagin'd incapable of making any
considerable Resistance. He concluded, 'twas in his Power to cut
_Zadig_ into Atoms. _Zadig_, however, knew how to parry the Blow, by
dexterously receiving it upon his _Fort_ (as the Swords-men call it)
by which Means _Itobad's_ Sword was snapt in two. With that _Zadig_
in an Instant clos'd his Adversary, and by his superior Strength, as
well as Skill, laid him sprawling on his Back. Then holding the
Point of his Sword to the opening of his Cuirass, Submit to be
stripp'd of your borrow'd Plumes, or you are a dead Man this Moment.
_Itobad_, always surpriz'd, that any Disappointment should attend a
Man of such exalted Merit as himself, very tamely permitted _Zadig_
to disrobe him by Degrees of his pompous Helmet, his superb Cuirass,
his rich Bracelets, his brilliant Cuisses, or Armour for his Thighs,
and other Martial Accoutrements. When _Zadig_ had equipp'd himself
_Cap-a-pee_, in his now recover'd Armour, he flew to _Astarte_, and
threw himself prostrate at her Feet. _Cador_ prov'd, without any
great Difficulty, that the White Armour was _Zadig's_ Property. He
was thereupon acknowledg'd King of _Babylon_, by the unanimous
Content of the Whole Court; but more particularly with the
Approbation of _Astarte_, who after such a long Series of
Misfortunes, now tasted the Sweets of seeing her darling _Zadig_
thought worthy, in the Opinion of the whole World, to be the Partner
of her royal Bed. _Itobad_ withdrew, and contented himself with
being call'd _my Lord_ within the narrow Compass of his own
Domesticks. _Zadig_, in short, was elected King, and was as happy as
any Mortal could be.

Now he began to reflect on what the Angel _Jesrad_ had said to him:
Nay, he reflected so far back as the Story of the _Arabian_ Atom of
Dust metamorphosed into a Diamond. The Queen and He ador'd the
Divine Providence. _Zadig_ permitted _Missouf_, the Fair Coquet, to
make her Conquests where she could. He sent Couriers to bring the
Free-booter _Arbogad_ to Court, and gave him an Honourable Military
Post in his Army, with a farther Promise of Promotion to the highest
Dignity; but upon this express Condition, that he would act for the
future as a Soldier of Honour; but assur'd him at the same Time,
that he'd make a publick Example of him, if he follow'd his
Profession of Free-booting for the future.

_Setoc_ was sent for from the lonely Desarts of _Arabia_, together
with the fair _Almonza_, his new Bride, to preside over the
commercial Affairs of _Babylon_. _Cador_ was advanc'd to a Post near
himself, and was his Favourite Minister at Court, as the just Reward
of his past Services. He was, in short, the King's real Friend; and
_Zadig_ was the only Monarch in the Universe that could boast of
such an Attendant. The Dwarf, tho' dumb, was not wholly forgotten.
The Fisherman was put into the Possession of a very handsome House;
and _Orcan_ was sentenc'd, not only to pay him a very considerable
Sum for the Injustice done him in detaining his Wife; but to resign
her likewise to the proper Owner: The Fisherman, however, grown wise
by Experience, soften'd the Rigour of the Sentence, and took the
Money only in full of all Accounts.

He didn't leave so much as _Semira_ wholly disconsolate, tho' she
had such an Aversion to a blind Eye; nor _Azora_ comfortless,
notwithstanding her affectionate Intention to shorten his Nose; for
he sooth'd their Sorrows by very munificent Presents. The envious
Informer indeed, died with Shame and Vexation. The Empire was
glorious abroad, and in the full Enjoyment of Tranquility, Peace and
Plenty, at home: This, in short, was the true golden Age. The whole
Country was sway'd by Love and Justice. Every one blest _Zadig_; and
_Zadig_ blest Heav'n for his unexpected Success.


_FINIS._


Transcriber's Notes:

Spelling and punctuation are as found (for example,
_Itabod/Itobad_ was left as printed), with one exception:
the original reads "purcha'd" in "An _Arabian_ Merchant,
_Setoc_ by Name, purchas'd them both;"

Hyphenated words are closed up if all other examples are
closed, otherwise not. If there is a mix of broken and not,
then it was left with a hyphen.

Italic possessives were changed for clarity (for example,
_Zadig's_ not _Zadig_'s).


Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire

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