"Oh, Pangloss!" cried Candide, "what a strange genealogy! Is not the Devil the original stock of it [syphilis]?"
"Not at all," replied this great man, "it was a think unavoidable, a necessarily ingredient in the best of worlds; for if Columbus had not in an island of America caught this disease, which contaminates the source of life, frequently even hinders generation, and which is evidently opposed to the great end of nature, we should have neither chocolate nor cochineal."
All our ancient history, as one of our wits remarked, is no more than accepted fiction.
Voltaire, Jeannot et Colin
Voltaire should have known better. There is not a shred of evidence that Columbus ever contracted syphilis in the New World (though some of his crew may have), nor did he know anything about chocolate (as we shall see), let alone cochineal, a fine red dye derived from the bodies of Mexican scale insects.