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The Brothers Karamazov: Book II (Chapter IV-VI)

Written by eastern writer on Thursday, February 07, 2008

Chapter 4
A Lady of Little Faith

A visitor looking on the scene of his conversation with the
peasants and his blessing them shed silent tears and wiped them away
with her handkerchief. She was a sentimental society lady of genuinely
good disposition in many respects. When the elder went up to her at
last she met him enthusiastically.
"Ah, what I have been feeling, looking on at this touching
scene!... "She could not go on for emotion. "Oh, I understand the
people's love for you. I love the people myself. I want to love
them. And who could help loving them, our splendid Russian people,
so simple in their greatness!"
"How is your daughter's health? You wanted to talk to me again?"
"Oh, I have been urgently begging for it, I have prayed for it!
I was ready to fall on my knees and kneel for three days at your
windows until you let me in. We have come, great healer, to express
our ardent gratitude. You have healed my Lise, healed her
completely, merely by praying over her last Thursday and laying your
hands upon her. We have hastened here to kiss those hands, to pour out
our feelings and our homage."
"What do you mean by healed? But she is still lying down in her
"But her night fevers have entirely ceased ever since Thursday,"
said the lady with nervous haste. "And that's not all. Her legs are
stronger. This mourning she got up well; she had slept all night. Look
at her rosy cheeks, her bright eyes! She used to be always crying, but
now she laughs and is gay and happy. This morning she insisted on my
letting her stand up, and she stood up for a whole minute without
any support. She wagers that in a fortnight she'll be dancing a
quadrille. I've called in Doctor Herzenstube. He shrugged his
shoulders and said, 'I am amazed; I can make nothing of it.' And would
you have us not come here to disturb you, not fly here to thank you?
Lise, thank him- thank him!"
Lise's pretty little laughing face became suddenly serious. She
rose in her chair as far as she could and, looking at the elder,
clasped her hands before him, but could not restrain herself and broke
into laughter.
"It's at him," she said, pointing to Alyosha, with childish
vexation at herself for not being able to repress her mirth.
If anyone had looked at Alyosha standing a step behind the
elder, he would have caught a quick flush crimsoning his cheeks in
an instant. His eyes shone and he looked down.
"She has a message for you, Alexey Fyodorovitch. How are you?" the
mother went on, holding out her exquisitely gloved hand to Alyosha.
The elder turned round and all at once looked attentively at
Alyosha. The latter went nearer to Lise and, smiling in a strangely
awkward way, held out his hand to her too. Lise assumed an important
"Katerina Ivanovna has sent you this through me." She handed him a
little note. "She particularly begs you to go and see her as soon as
possible; that you will not fail her, but will be sure to come."
"She asks me to go and see her? Me? What for?" Alyosha muttered in
great astonishment. His face at once looked anxious.
"Oh, it's all to do with Dmitri Fyodorovitch and- what has
happened lately," the mother explained hurriedly. "Katerina Ivanovna
has made up her mind, but she must see you about it.... Why, of
course, I can't say. But she wants to see you at once. And you will go
to her, of course. It is a Christian duty."
"I have only seen her once," Alyosha protested with the same
"Oh, she is such a lofty, incomparable creature If only for her
suffering.... Think what she has gone through, what she is enduring
now Think what awaits her! It's all terrible, terrible!
"Very well, I will come," Alyosha decided, after rapidly
scanning the brief, enigmatic note, which consisted of an urgent
entreaty that he would come, without any sort of explanation.
"Oh, how sweet and generous that would be of you" cried Lise
with sudden animation. "I told mamma you'd be sure not to go. I said
you were saving your soul. How splendid you are I've always thought
you were splendid. How glad I am to tell you so!"
"Lise!" said her mother impressively, though she smiled after
she had said it.
"You have quite forgotten us, Alexey Fyodorovitch," she said; "you
never come to see us. Yet Lise has told me twice that she is never
happy except with you."
Alyosha raised his downcast eyes and again flushed, and again
smiled without knowing why. But the elder was no longer watching
him. He had begun talking to a monk who, as mentioned before, had been
awaiting his entrance by Lise's chair. He was evidently a monk of
the humblest, that is of the peasant, class, of a narrow outlook,
but a true believer, and, in his own way, a stubborn one. He announced
that he had come from the far north, from Obdorsk, from Saint
Sylvester, and was a member of a poor monastery, consisting of only
ten monks. The elder gave him his blessing and invited him to come
to his cell whenever he liked.
"How can you presume to do such deeds?" the monk asked suddenly,
pointing solemnly and significantly at Lise. He was referring to her
"It's too early, of course, to speak of that. Relief is not
complete cure, and may proceed from different causes. But if there has
been any healing, it is by no power but God's will. It's all from God.
Visit me, Father," he added to the monk. "It's not often I can see
visitors. I am ill, and I know that my days are numbered."
"Oh, no, no! God will not take you from us. You will live a
long, long time yet," cried the lady. "And in what way are you ill?
You look so well, so gay and happy."
"I am extraordinarily better to-day. But I know that it's only for
a moment. I understand my disease now thoroughly. If I seem so happy
to you, you could never say anything that would please me so much. For
men are made for happiness, and anyone who is completely happy has a
right to say to himself, 'I am doing God's will on earth.' All the
righteous, all the saints, all the holy martyrs were happy."
"Oh, how you speak! What bold and lofty words" cried the lady.
"You seem to pierce with your words. And yet- happiness, happiness-
where is it? Who can say of himself that he is happy? Oh, since you
have been so good as to let us see you once more to-day, let me tell
you what I could not utter last time, what I dared not say, all I am
suffering and have been for so long! I am suffering! Forgive me! I
am suffering!"
And in a rush of fervent feeling she clasped her hands before him.
"From what specially?"
"I suffer... from lack of faith."
"Lack of faith in God?"
"Oh, no, no! I dare not even think of that. But the future life-
it is such an enigma And no one, no one can solve it. Listen! You
are a healer, you are deeply versed in the human soul, and of course I
dare not expect you to believe me entirely, but I assure you on my
word of honour that I am not speaking lightly now. The thought of
the life beyond the grave distracts me to anguish, to terror. And I
don't know to whom to appeal, and have not dared to all my life. And
now I am so bold as to ask you. Oh, God! What will you think of me
She clasped her hands.
"Don't distress yourself about my opinion of you," said the elder.
"I quite believe in the sincerity of your suffering."
"Oh, how thankful I am to you! You see, I shut my eyes and ask
myself if everyone has faith, where did it come from? And then they do
say that it all comes from terror at the menacing phenomena of nature,
and that none of it's real. And I say to myself, 'What if I've been
believing all my life, and when I come to die there's nothing but
the burdocks growing on my grave?' as I read in some author. It's
awful! How- how can I get back my faith? But I only believed when I
was a little child, mechanically, without thinking of anything. How,
how is one to prove it? have come now to lay my soul before you and to
ask you about it. If I let this chance slip, no one all my life will
answer me. How can I prove it? How can I convince myself? Oh, how
unhappy I am! I stand and look about me and see that scarcely anyone
else cares; no one troubles his head about it, and I'm the only one
who can't stand it. It's deadly- deadly!"
"No doubt. But there's no proving it, though you can be
convinced of it."
"By the experience of active love. Strive to love your neighbour
actively and indefatigably. In as far as you advance in love you
will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your
soul. If you attain to perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of
your neighbour, then you will believe without doubt, and no doubt
can possibly enter your soul. This has been tried. This is certain."
"In active love? There's another question and such a question! You
see, I so love humanity that- would you believe it?- I often dream
of forsaking all that I have, leaving Lise, and becoming a sister of
mercy. I close my eyes and think and dream, and at that moment I
feel full of strength to overcome all obstacles. No wounds, no
festering sores could at that moment frighten me. I would bind them up
and wash them with my own hands. I would nurse the afflicted. I
would be ready to kiss such wounds."
"It is much, and well that your mind is full of such dreams and
not others. Some time, unawares, you may do a good deed in reality."
"Yes. But could I endure such a life for long?" the lady went on
fervently, almost frantically. "That's the chief question- that's my
most agonising question. I shut my eyes and ask myself, 'Would you
persevere long on that path? And if the patient whose wounds you are
washing did not meet you with gratitude, but worried you with his
whims, without valuing or remarking your charitable services, began
abusing you and rudely commanding you, and complaining to the superior
authorities of you (which often happens when people are in great
suffering)- what then? Would you persevere in your love, or not?'
And do you know, I came with horror to the conclusion that, if
anything could dissipate my love to humanity, it would be ingratitude.
In short, I am a hired servant, I expect my payment at once- that
is, praise, and the repayment of love with love. Otherwise I am
incapable of loving anyone.'"
She was in a very paroxysm of self-castigation, and, concluding,
she looked with defiant resolution at the elder.
"It's just the same story as a doctor once told me," observed
the elder. "He was a man getting on in years, and undoubtedly
clever. He spoke as frankly as you, though in jest, in bitter jest. 'I
love humanity,' he said, 'but I wonder at myself. The more I love
humanity in general, the less I love man in particular. In my dreams,'
he said, 'I have often come to making enthusiastic schemes for the
service of humanity, and perhaps I might actually have faced
crucifixion if it had been suddenly necessary; and yet I am
incapable of living in the same room with anyone for two days
together, as I know by experience. As soon as anyone is near me, his
personality disturbs my self-complacency and restricts my freedom.
In twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he's
too long over his dinner; another because he has a cold and keeps on
blowing his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come
close to me. But it has always happened that the more I detest men
individually the more ardent becomes my love for humanity.'
"But what's to be done? What can one do in such a case? Must one
"No. It is enough that you are distressed at it. Do what you
can, and it will be reckoned unto you. Much is done already in you
since you can so deeply and sincerely know yourself. If you have
been talking to me so sincerely, simply to gain approbation for your
frankness, as you did from me just now, then, of course, you will
not attain to anything in the achievement of real love; it will all
get no further than dreams, and your whole life will slip away like
a phantom. In that case you will naturally cease to think of the
future life too, and will of yourself grow calmer after a fashion in
the end."
"You have crushed me! Only now, as you speak, I understand that
I was really only seeking your approbation for my sincerity when I
told you I could not endure ingratitude. You have revealed me to
myself. You have seen through me and explained me to myself
"Are you speaking the truth? Well, now, after such a confession, I
believe that you are sincere and good at heart. If you do not attain
happiness, always remember that you are on the right road, and try not
to leave it. Above all, avoid falsehood, every kind of falsehood,
especially falseness to yourself. Watch over your own deceitfulness
and look into it every hour, every minute. Avoid being scornful,
both to others and to yourself. What seems to you bad within you
will grow purer from the very fact of your observing it in yourself.
Avoid fear, too, though fear is only the consequence of every sort
of falsehood. Never be frightened at your own faint-heartedness in
attaining love. Don't be frightened overmuch even at your evil
actions. I am sorry I can say nothing more consoling to you, for
love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in
dreams. Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly
performed and in the sight of all. Men will even give their lives if
only the ordeal does not last long but is soon over, with all
looking on and applauding as though on the stage. But active love is
labour and fortitude, and for some people too, perhaps, a complete
science. But I predict that just when you see with horror that in
spite of all your efforts you are getting farther from your goal
instead of nearer to it- at that very moment I predict that you will
reach it and behold clearly the miraculous power of the Lord who has
been all the time loving and mysteriously guiding you. Forgive me
for not being able to stay longer with you. They are waiting for me.
The lady was weeping.
"Lise, Lise! Bless her- bless her!" she cried, starting up
"She does not deserve to be loved. I have seen her naughtiness all
along," the elder said jestingly. "Why have you been laughing at
Lise had in fact been occupied in mocking at him all the time. She
had noticed before that Alyosha was shy and tried not to look at
her, and she found this extremely amusing. She waited intently to
catch his eye. Alyosha, unable to endure her persistent stare, was
irresistibly and suddenly drawn to glance at her, and at once she
smiled triumphantly in his face. Alyosha was even more disconcerted
and vexed. At last he turned away from her altogether and hid behind
the elder's back. After a few minutes, drawn by the same
irresistible force, he turned again to see whether he was being looked
at or not, and found Lise almost hanging out of her chair to peep
sideways at him, eagerly waiting for him to look. Catching his eye,
she laughed so that the elder could not help saying, "Why do you
make fun of him like that, naughty girl?"
Lise suddenly and quite unexpectedly blushed. Her eyes flashed and
her face became quite serious. She began speaking quickly and
nervously in a warm and resentful voice:
"Why has he forgotten everything, then? He used to carry me
about when I was little. We used to play together. He used to come
to teach me to read, do you know. Two years ago, when he went away, he
said that he would never forget me, that we were friends for ever, for
ever, for ever! And now he's afraid of me all at once. Am I going to
eat him? Why doesn't he want to come near me? Why doesn't he talk? Why
won't he come and see us? It's not that you won't let him. We know
that he goes everywhere. It's not good manners for me to invite him.
He ought to have thought of it first, if he hasn't forgotten me. No,
now he's saving his soul! Why have you put that long gown on him? If
he runs he'll fall."
And suddenly she hid her face in her hand and went off into
irresistible, prolonged, nervous, inaudible laughter. The elder
listened to her with a smile, and blessed her tenderly. As she
kissed his hand she suddenly pressed it to her eyes and began crying.
"Don't be angry with me. I'm silly and good for nothing... and
perhaps Alyosha's right, quite right, in not wanting to come and see
such a ridiculous girl."
"I will certainly send him," said the elder.
Chapter 5
So Be It! So Be It!

THE elder's absence from his cell had lasted for about twenty-five
minutes. It was more than half-past twelve, but Dmitri, on whose
account they had all met there, had still not appeared. But he
seemed almost to be forgotten, and when the elder entered the cell
again, he found his guests engaged in eager conversation. Ivan and the
two monks took the leading share in it. Miusov, too, was trying to
take a part, and apparently very eagerly, in the conversation. But
he was unsuccessful in this also. He was evidently in the
background, and his remarks were treated with neglect, which increased
his irritability. He had had intellectual encounters with Ivan
before and he could not endure a certain carelessness Ivan showed him.
"Hitherto at least I have stood in the front ranks of all that
is progressive in Europe, and here the new generation positively
ignores us," he thought.
Fyodor Pavlovitch, who had given his word to sit still and be
quiet, had actually been quiet for some time, but he watched his
neighbour Miusov with an ironical little smile, obviously enjoying his
discomfiture. He had been waiting for some time to pay off old scores,
and now he could not let the opportunity slip. Bending over his
shoulder he began teasing him again in a whisper.
"Why didn't you go away just now, after the 'courteously kissing'?
Why did you consent to remain in such unseemly company? It was because
you felt insulted and aggrieved, and you remained to vindicate
yourself by showing off your intelligence. Now you won't go till
you've displayed your intellect to them."
"You again?... On the contrary, I'm just going."
"You'll be the last, the last of all to go!" Fyodor Pavlovitch
delivered him another thrust, almost at the moment of Father Zossima's
The discussion died down for a moment, but the elder, seating
himself in his former place, looked at them all as though cordially
inviting them to go on. Alyosha, who knew every expression of his
face, saw that he was fearfully exhausted and making a great effort.
Of late he had been liable to fainting fits from exhaustion. His
face had the pallor that was common before such attacks, and his
lips were white. But he evidently did not want to break up the
party. He seemed to have some special object of his own in keeping
them. What object? Alyosha watched him intently.
"We are discussing this gentleman's most interesting article,"
said Father Iosif, the librarian, addressing the elder, and indicating
Ivan. "He brings forward much that is new, but I think the argument
cuts both ways. It is an article written in answer to a book by an
ecclesiastical authority on the question of the ecclesiastical
court, and the scope of its jurisdiction."
"I'm sorry I have not read your article, but I've heard of it,"
said the elder, looking keenly and intently at Ivan.
"He takes up a most interesting position," continued the Father
Librarian. "As far as Church jurisdiction is concerned he is
apparently quite opposed to the separation of Church from State."
"That's interesting. But in what sense?" Father Zossima asked
The latter, at last, answered him, not condescendingly, as Alyosha
had feared, but with modesty and reserve, with evident goodwill and
apparently without the slightest arrierepensee
"I start from the position that this confusion of elements, that
is, of the essential principles of Church and State, will, of
course, go on for ever, in spite of the fact that it is impossible for
them to mingle, and that the confusion of these elements cannot lead
to any consistent or even normal results, for there is falsity at
the very foundation of it. Compromise between the Church and State
in such questions as, for instance, jurisdiction, is, to my
thinking, impossible in any real sense. My clerical opponent maintains
that the Church holds a precise and defined position in the State. I
maintain, on the contrary, that the Church ought to include the
whole State, and not simply to occupy a corner in it, and, if this is,
for some reason, impossible at present, then it ought, in reality,
to be set up as the direct and chief aim of the future development
of Christian society!"
"Perfectly true," Father Paissy, the silent and learned monk,
assented with fervour and decision.
"The purest Ultramontanism!" cried Miusov impatiently, crossing
and recrossing his legs.
"Oh, well, we have no mountains," cried Father Iosif, and
turning to the elder he continued: "Observe the answer he makes to the
following 'fundamental and essential' propositions of his opponent,
who is, you must note, an ecclesiastic. First, that 'no social
organisation can or ought to arrogate to itself power to dispose of
the civic and political rights of its members.' Secondly, that
'criminal and civil jurisdiction ought not to belong to the Church,
and is inconsistent with its nature, both as a divine institution
and as an organisation of men for religious objects,' and, finally, in
the third place, 'the Church is a kingdom not of this world.'
"A most unworthy play upon words for an ecclesiastic!" Father
Paissy could not refrain from breaking in again. "I have read the book
which you have answered," he added, addressing Ivan, "and was
astounded at the words 'The Church is a kingdom not of this world. 'If
it is not of this world, then it cannot exist on earth at all. In
the Gospel, the words 'not of this world' are not used in that
sense. To play with such words is indefensible. Our Lord Jesus
Christ came to set up the Church upon earth. The Kingdom of Heaven, of
course, is not of this world, but in Heaven; but it is only entered
through the Church which has been founded and established upon
earth. And so a frivolous play upon words in such a connection is
unpardonable and improper. The Church is, in truth, a kingdom and
ordained to rule, and in the end must undoubtedly become the kingdom
ruling over all the earth. For that we have the divine promise."
He ceased speaking suddenly, as though checking himself. After
listening attentively and respectfully Ivan went on, addressing the
elder with perfect composure and as before with ready cordiality:
"The whole point of my article lies in the fact that during the
first three centuries Christianity only existed on earth in the Church
and was nothing but the Church. When the pagan Roman Empire desired to
become Christian, it inevitably happened that, by becoming
Christian, it included the Church but remained a pagan State in very
many of its departments. In reality this was bound to happen. But Rome
as a State retained too much of the pagan civilisation and culture,
as, for example, in the very objects and fundamental principles of the
State. The Christian Church entering into the State could, of
course, surrender no part of its fundamental principles- the rock on
which it stands- and could pursue no other aims than those which
have been ordained and revealed by God Himself, and among them that of
drawing the whole world, and therefore the ancient pagan State itself,
into the Church. In that way (that is, with a view to the future) it
is not the Church that should seek a definite position in the State,
like 'every social organisation,' or as 'an organisation of men for
religious purposes' (as my opponent calls the Church), but, on the
contrary, every earthly State should be, in the end, completely
transformed into the Church and should become nothing else but a
Church, rejecting every purpose incongruous with the aims of the
Church. All this will not degrade it in any way or take from its
honour and glory as a great State, nor from the glory of its rulers,
but only turns it from a false, still pagan, and mistaken path to
the true and rightful path, which alone leads to the eternal goal.
This is why the author of the book On the Foundations of Church
Jurisdiction would have judged correctly if, in seeking and laying
down those foundations, he bad looked upon them as a temporary
compromise inevitable in our sinful and imperfect days. But as soon as
the author ventures to declare that the foundations which he
predicates now, part of which Father Iosif just enumerated, are the
permanent, essential, and eternal foundations, he is going directly
against the Church and its sacred and eternal vocation. That is the
gist of my article."
"That is, in brief," Father Paissy began again, laying stress on
each word, "according to certain theories only too clearly
formulated in the nineteenth century, the Church ought to be
transformed into the State, as though this would be an advance from
a lower to a higher form, so as to disappear into it, making way for
science, for the spirit of the age, and civilisation. And if the
Church resists and is unwilling, some corner will be set apart for her
in the State, and even that under control and this will be so
everywhere in all modern European countries. But Russian hopes and
conceptions demand not that the Church should pass as from a lower
into a higher type into the State, but, on the contrary, that the
State should end by being worthy to become only the Church and nothing
else. So be it! So be it!"
"Well, I confess you've reassured me somewhat," Miusov said
smiling, again crossing his legs. "So far as I understand, then, the
realisation of such an ideal is infinitely remote, at the second
coming of Christ. That's as you please. It's a beautiful Utopian dream
of the abolition of war, diplomacy, banks, and so on- something
after the fashion of socialism, indeed. But I imagined that it was all
meant seriously, and that the Church might be now going to try
criminals, and sentence them to beating, prison, and even death."
"But if there were none but the ecclesiastical court, the Church
would not even now sentence a criminal to prison or to death. Crime
and the way of regarding it would inevitably change, not all at once
of course, but fairly soon," Ivan replied calmly, without flinching.
"Are you serious?" Miusov glanced keenly at him.
"If everything became the Church, the Church would exclude all the
criminal and disobedient, and would not cut off their heads," Ivan
went on. "I ask you, what would become of the excluded? He would be
cut off then not only from men, as now, but from Christ. By his
crime he would have transgressed not only against men but against
the Church of Christ. This is so even now, of course, strictly
speaking, but it is not clearly enunciated, and very, very often the
criminal of to-day compromises with his conscience: 'I steal,' he
says, 'but I don't go against the Church. I'm not an enemy of Christ.'
That's what the criminal of to-day is continually saying to himself,
but when the Church takes the place of the State it will be
difficult for him, in opposition to the Church all over the world,
to say: 'All men are mistaken, all in error, all mankind are the false
Church. I, a thief and murderer, am the only true Christian Church.'
It will be very difficult to say this to himself; it requires a rare
combination of unusual circumstances. Now, on the other side, take the
Church's own view of crime: is it not bound to renounce the present
almost pagan attitude, and to change from a mechanical cutting off
of its tainted member for the preservation of society, as at
present, into completely and honestly adopting the idea of the
regeneration of the man, of his reformation and salvation?"
"What do you mean? I fail to understand again," Miusov
interrupted. "Some sort of dream again. Something shapeless and even
incomprehensible. What is excommunication? What sort of exclusion? I
suspect you are simply amusing yourself, Ivan Fyodorovitch."
"Yes, but you know, in reality it is so now," said the elder
suddenly, and all turned to him at once. "If it were not for the
Church of Christ there would be nothing to restrain the criminal
from evil-doing, no real chastisement for it afterwards; none, that
is, but the mechanical punishment spoken of just now, which in the
majority of cases only embitters the heart; and not the real
punishment, the only effectual one, the only deterrent and softening
one, which lies in the recognition of sin by conscience."
"How is that, may one inquire?" asked Miusov, with lively
"Why," began the elder, "all these sentences to exile with hard
labour, and formerly with flogging also, reform no one, and what's
more, deter hardly a single criminal, and the number of crimes does
not diminish but is continually on the increase. You must admit
that. Consequently the security of society is not preserved, for,
although the obnoxious member is mechanically cut off and sent far
away out of sight, another criminal always comes to take his place
at once, and often two of them. If anything does preserve society,
even in our time, and does regenerate and transform the criminal, it
is only the law of Christ speaking in his conscience. It is only by
recognising his wrongdoing as a son of a Christian society- that is,
of the Church- that he recognises his sin against society- that is,
against the Church. So that it is only against the Church, and not
against the State, that the criminal of to-day can recognise that he
has sinned. If society, as a Church, had jurisdiction, then it would
know when to bring back from exclusion and to reunite to itself. Now
the Church having no real jurisdiction, but only the power of moral
condemnation, withdraws of her own accord from punishing the
criminal actively. She does not excommunicate him but simply
persists in motherly exhortation of him. What is more, the Church even
tries to preserve all Christian communion with the criminal. She
admits him to church services, to the holy sacrament, gives him
alms, and treats him more a captive than as a convict. And what
would become of the criminal, O Lord, if even the Christian society-
that is, the Church- were to reject him even as the civil law
rejects him and cuts him off? What would become of him if the Church
punished him with her excommunication as the direct consequence of the
secular law? There could be no more terrible despair, at least for a
Russian criminal, for Russian criminals still have faith. Though,
who knows, perhaps then a fearful thing would happen, perhaps the
despairing heart of the criminal would lose its faith and then what
would become of him? But the Church, like a tender, loving mother,
holds aloof from active punishment herself, as the sinner is too
severely punished already by the civil law, and there must be at least
someone to have pity on him. The Church holds aloof, above all,
because its judgment is the only one that contains the truth, and
therefore cannot practically and morally be united to any other
judgment even as a temporary compromise. She can enter into no compact
about that. The foreign criminal, they say, rarely repents, for the
very doctrines of to-day confirm him in the idea that his crime is not
a crime, but only a reaction against an unjustly oppressive force.
Society cuts him off completely by a force that triumphs over him
mechanically and (so at least they say of themselves in Europe)
accompanies this exclusion with hatred, forgetfulness, and the most
profound indifference as to the ultimate fate of the erring brother.
In this way, it all takes place without the compassionate intervention
of the Church, for in many cases there are no churches there at all,
for though ecclesiastics and splendid church buildings remain, the
churches themselves have long ago striven to pass from Church into
State and to disappear in it completely. So it seems at least in
Lutheran countries. As for Rome, it was proclaimed a State instead
of a Church a thousand years ago. And so the criminal is no longer
conscious of being a member of the Church and sinks into despair. If
he returns to society, often it is with such hatred that society
itself instinctively cuts him off. You can judge for yourself how it
must end. In many cases it would seem to be the same with us, but
the difference is that besides the established law courts we have
the Church too, which always keeps up relations with the criminal as a
dear and still precious son. And besides that, there is still
preserved, though only in thought, the judgment of the Church, which
though no longer existing in practice is still living as a dream for
the future, and is, no doubt, instinctively recognised by the criminal
in his soul. What was said here just now is true too, that is, that if
the jurisdiction of the Church were introduced in practice in its full
force, that is, if the whole of the society were changed into the
Church, not only the judgment of the Church would have influence on
the reformation of the criminal such as it never has now, but possibly
also the crimes themselves would be incredibly diminished. And there
can be no doubt that the Church would look upon the criminal and the
crime of the future in many cases quite differently and would
succeed in restoring the excluded, in restraining those who plan evil,
and in regenerating the fallen. It is true," said Father Zossima, with
a smile, "the Christian society now is not ready and is only resting
on some seven righteous men, but as they are never lacking, it will
continue still unshaken in expectation of its complete
transformation from a society almost heathen in character into a
single universal and all-powerful Church. So be it, so be it! Even
though at the end of the ages, for it is ordained to come to pass! And
there is no need to be troubled about times and seasons, for the
secret of the times and seasons is in the wisdom of God, in His
foresight, and His love. And what in human reckoning seems still
afar off, may by the Divine ordinance be close at hand, on the eve
of its appearance. And so be it, so be it!
"So be it, so be it!" Father Paissy repeated austerely and
"Strange, extremely strange" Miusov pronounced, not so much with
heat as with latent indignation.
"What strikes you as so strange?" Father Iosif inquired
"Why, it's beyond anything!" cried Miusov, suddenly breaking
out; "the State is eliminated and the Church is raised to the position
of the State. It's not simply Ultramontanism, it's
arch-Ultramontanism! It's beyond the dreams of Pope Gregory the
"You are completely misunderstanding it," said Father Paissy
sternly. "Understand, the Church is not to be transformed into the
State. That is Rome and its dream. That is the third temptation of the
devil. On the contrary, the State is transformed into the Church, will
ascend and become a Church over the whole world- which is the complete
opposite of Ultramontanism and Rome, and your interpretation, and is
only the glorious destiny ordained for the Orthodox Church. This
star will arise in the east!"
Miusov was significantly silent. His whole figure expressed
extraordinary personal dignity. A supercilious and condescending smile
played on his lips. Alyosha watched it all with a throbbing heart. The
whole conversation stirred him profoundly. He glanced casually at
Rakitin, who was standing immovable in his place by the door listening
and watching intently though with downcast eyes. But from the colour
in his cheeks Alyosha guessed that Rakitin was probably no less
excited, and he knew what caused his excitement.
"Allow me to tell you one little anecdote, gentlemen," Miusov said
impressively, with a peculiarly majestic air. "Some years ago, soon
after the coup d'etat of December, I happened to be calling in Paris
on an extremely influential personage in the Government, and I met a
very interesting man in his house. This individual was not precisely a
detective but was a sort of superintendent of a whole regiment of
political detectives- a rather powerful position in its own way. I was
prompted by curiosity to seize the opportunity of conversation with
him. And as he had not come as a visitor but as a subordinate official
bringing a special report, and as he saw the reception given me by his
chief, he deigned to speak with some openness, to a certain extent
only, of course. He was rather courteous than open, as Frenchmen
know how to be courteous, especially to a foreigner. But I
thoroughly understood him. The subject was the socialist
revolutionaries who were at that time persecuted. I will quote only
one most curious remark dropped by this person. 'We are not
particularly afraid,' said he, 'of all these socialists, anarchists,
infidels, and revolutionists; we keep watch on them and know all their
goings on. But there are a few peculiar men among them who believe
in God and are Christians, but at the same time are socialists.
These are the people we are most afraid of. They are dreadful people
The socialist who is a Christian is more to be dreaded than a
socialist who is an atheist.' The words struck me at the time, and now
they have suddenly come back to me here, gentlemen."
"You apply them to us, and look upon us as socialists?" Father
Paissy asked directly, without beating about the bush.
But before Pyotr Alexandrovitch could think what to answer, the
door opened, and the guest so long expected, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, came
in. They had, in fact, given up expecting him, and his sudden
appearance caused some surprise for a moment.

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