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Chapter 4

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 thus,

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.

Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire

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