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The Brothers Karamazov: Part II, Book V

Written by eastern writer on Thursday, February 07, 2008

Book V
Pro and Contra

Chapter 1
The Engagement

MADAME HOHLAKOV was again the first to meet Alyosha. She was
flustered; something important had happened. Katerina Ivanovna's
hysterics had ended in a fainting fit, and then "a terrible, awful
weakness had followed, she lay with her eyes turned up and was
delirious. Now she was in a fever. They had sent for Herzenstube; they
had sent for the aunts. The aunts were already here, but Herzenstube
had not yet come. They were all sitting in her room, waiting. She
was unconscious now, and what if it turned to brain fever!"
Madame Hohlakov looked gravely alarmed. "This is serious,
serious," she added at every word, as though nothing that had happened
to her before had been serious. Alyosha listened with distress, and
was beginning to describe his adventures, but she interrupted him at
the first words. She had not time to listen. She begged him to sit
with Lise and wait for her there.
"Lise," she whispered almost in his ear, "Lise has greatly
surprised me just now, dear Alexey Fyodorovitch. She touched me,
too, and so my heart forgives her everything. Only fancy, as soon as
you had gone, she began to be truly remorseful for having laughed at
you to-day and yesterday, though she was not laughing at you, but only
joking. But she was seriously sorry for it, almost ready to cry, so
that I was quite surprised. She has never been really sorry for
laughing at me, but has only made a joke of it. And you know she is
laughing at me every minute. But this time she was in earnest She
thinks a great deal of your opinion, Alexey Fyodorovitch, and don't
take offence or be wounded by her if you can help it. I am never
hard upon her, for she's such a clever little thing. Would you believe
it? She said just now that you were a friend of her childhood, 'the
greatest friend of her childhood'- just think of that- 'greatest
friend'- and what about me? She has very strong feelings and memories,
and, what's more, she uses these phrases, most unexpected words, which
come out all of a sudden when you least expect them. She spoke
lately about a pine-tree, for instance: there used to be a pine-tree
standing in our garden in her early childhood. Very likely it's
standing there still; so there's no need to speak in the past tense.
Pine-trees are not like people, Alexey Fyodorovitch, they don't change
quickly. 'Mamma,' she said, 'I remember this pine tree as in a dream,'
only she said something so original about it that I can't repeat it.
Besides, I've forgotten it. Well, good-bye! I am so worried I feel I
shall go out of my mind. Ah! Alexey Fyodorovitch, I've been out of
my mind twice in my life. Go to Lise, cheer her up, as you always
can so charmingly. Lise," she cried, going to her door, "here I've
brought you Alexey Fyodorovitch, whom you insulted so. He is not at
all angry, I assure you; on the contrary, he is surprised that you
could suppose so."
"Merci, maman. Come in, Alexey Fyodorovitch."
Alyosha went in. Lise looked rather embarrassed, and at once
flushed crimson. She was evidently ashamed of something, and, as
people always do in such cases, she began immediately talking of other
things, as though they were of absorbing interest to her at the
"Mamma has just told me all about the two hundred roubles,
Alexey Fyodorovitch, and your taking them to that poor officer...
and she told me all the awful story of how he had been insulted... and
you know, although mamma muddles things... she always rushes from
one thing to another... I cried when I heard. Well, did you give him
the money and how is that poor man getting on?"
"The fact is I didn't give it to him, and it's a long story,"
answered Alyosha, as though he, too, could think of nothing but his
regret at having failed, yet Lise saw perfectly well that he, too,
looked away, and that he, too, was trying to talk of other things.
Alyosha sat down to the table and began to tell his story, but
at the first words he lost his embarrassment and gained the whole of
Lise's attention as well. He spoke with deep feeling, under the
influence of the strong impression he had just received, and he
succeeded in telling his story well and circumstantially. In old
days in Moscow he had been fond of coming to Lise and describing to
her what had just happened to him, what he had read, or what he
remembered of his childhood. Sometimes they had made day-dreams and
woven whole romances together- generally cheerful and amusing ones.
Now they both felt suddenly transported to the old days in Moscow, two
years before. Lise was extremely touched by his story. Alyosha
described Ilusha with warm feeling. When he finished describing how
the luckless man trampled on the money, Lise could not help clasping
her hands and crying out:
"So you didn't give him the money! So you let him run away! Oh,
dear, you ought to have run after him!"
"No, Lise; it's better I didn't run after him," said Alyosha,
getting up from his chair and walking thoughtfully across the room.
"How so? How is it better? Now they are without food and their
case is hopeless."
"Not hopeless, for the two hundred roubles will still come to
them. He'll take the money to-morrow. To-morrow he will be sure to
take it," said Alyosha, pacing up and down, pondering. "You see,
Lise," he went on, stopping suddenly before her, "I made one
blunder, but that, even that, is all for the best."
"What blunder, and why is it for the best?"
"I'll tell you. He is a man of weak and timorous character; he has
suffered so much and is very good-natured. I keep wondering why he
took offence so suddenly, for I assure you, up to the last minute,
he did not know that he was going to trample on the notes. And I think
now that there was a great deal to offend him... and it could not have
been otherwise in his position.... To begin with, he was sore at
having been so glad of the money in my presence and not having
concealed it from me. If he had been pleased, but not so much; if he
had not shown it; if he had begun affecting scruples and difficulties,
as other people do when they take money, he might still endure- to
take it. But he was too genuinely delighted, and that was
mortifying. Ah, Lise, he is a good and truthful man- that's the
worst of the whole business. All the while he talked, his voice was so
weak, so broken, he talked so fast, so fast, he kept laughing such a
laugh, or perhaps he was crying- yes, I am sure he was crying, he
was so delighted- and he talked about his daughters- and about the
situation he could get in another town.... And when he had poured
out his heart, he felt ashamed at having shown me his inmost soul like
that. So he began to hate me at once. He is one of those awfully
sensitive poor people. What had made him feel most ashamed was that he
had given in too soon and accepted me as a friend, you see. At first
he almost flew at me and tried to intimidate me, but as soon as he saw
the money he had begun embracing me; he kept touching me with his
hands. This must have been how he came to feel it all so
humiliating, and then I made that blunder, a very important one. I
suddenly said to him that if he had not money enough to move to
another town, we would give it to him, and, indeed, I myself would
give him as much as he wanted out of my own money. That struck him all
at once. Why, he thought, did I put myself forward to help him? You
know, Lise, it's awfully hard for a man who has been injured, when
other people look at him as though they were his benefactors....
I've heard that; Father Zossima told me so. I don't know how to put
it, but I have often seen it myself. And I feel like that myself, too.
And the worst of it was that though he did not know, to the very
last minute, that he would trample on the notes, he had a kind of
presentiment of it, I am sure of that. That's just what made him so
ecstatic, that he had that presentiment.... And though it's so
dreadful, it's all for the best. In fact, I believe nothing better
could have happened."
"Why, why could nothing better have happened?" cried Lise, looking
with great surprise at Alyosha.
"Because if he had taken the money, in an hour after getting home,
he would be crying with mortification, that's just what would have
happened. And most likely he would have come to me early to-morrow,
and perhaps have flung the notes at me and trampled upon them as he
did just now. But now he has gone home awfully proud and triumphant,
though he knows he has 'ruined himself.' So now nothing could be
easier than to make him accept the two hundred roubles by to-morrow,
for he has already vindicated his honour, tossed away the money, and
trampled it under foot.... He couldn't know when he did it that I
should bring it to him again to-morrow, and yet he is in terrible need
of that money. Though he is proud of himself now, yet even to-day
he'll be thinking what a help he has lost. He will think of it more
than ever at night, will dream of it, and by to-morrow morning he
may be ready to run to me to ask forgiveness. It's just then that I'll
appear. 'Here, you are a proud man,' I shall say: 'you have shown
it; but now take the money and forgive us!' And then he will take it!
Alyosha was carried away with joy as he uttered his last words,
"And then he will take it!" Lise clapped her hands.
"Ah, that's true! I understand that perfectly now. Ah, Alyosha,
how do you know all this? So young and yet he knows what's in the
heart.... I should never have worked it out."
"The great thing now is to persuade him that he is on an equal
footing with us, in spite of his taking money from us," Alyosha went
on in his excitement, "and not only on an equal, but even on a
higher footing."
"'On a higher footing' is charming, Alexey Fyodorovitch; but go
on, go on!"
"You mean there isn't such an expression as 'on a higher footing';
but that doesn't matter because- "
"Oh, no, of course it doesn't matter. Forgive me, Alyosha,
dear.... You know, I scarcely respected you till now- that is I
respected you but on an equal footing; but now I shall begin to
respect you on a higher footing. Don't be angry, dear, at my
joking," she put in at once, with strong feeling. "I am absurd and
small, but you, you! Listen, Alexey Fyodorovitch. Isn't there in all
our analysis- I mean your analysis... no, better call it ours-
aren't we showing contempt for him, for that poor man- in analysing
his soul like this, as it were, from above, eh? In deciding so
certainly that he will take the money?"
"No, Lise, it's not contempt," Alyosha answered, as though he
had prepared himself for the question. "I was thinking of that on
the way here. How can it be contempt when we are all like him, when we
are all just the same as he is? For you know we are just the same,
no better. If we are better, we should have been just the same in
his place.... I don't know about you, Lise, but I consider that I have
a sordid soul in many ways, and his soul is not sordid; on the
contrary, full of fine feeling.... No, Lise, I have no contempt for
him. Do you know, Lise, my elder told me once to care for most
people exactly as one would for children, and for some of them as
one would for the sick in hospitals."
"Ah, Alexey Fyodorovitch. dear, let us care for people as we would
for the sick!"
"Let us, Lise; I am ready. Though I am not altogether ready in
myself. I am sometimes very impatient and at other times I don't see
things. It's different with you."
"Ah, I don't believe it! Alexey Fyodorovitch, how happy I am!"
"I am so glad you say so, Lise."
"Alexey Fyodorovitch, you are wonderfully good, but you are
sometimes sort of formal.... And yet you are not a bit formal
really. Go to the door, open it gently, and see whether mamma is
listening," said Lise, in a nervous, hurried whisper.
Alyosha went, opened the door, and reported that no one was
"Come here, Alexey Fyodorovitch," Lise went on, flushing redder
and redder. "Give me your hand- that's right. I have to make a great
confession. I didn't write to you yesterday in joke, but in
earnest," and she hid her eyes with her hand. It was evident that
she was greatly ashamed of the confession.
Suddenly she snatched his hand and impulsively kissed it three
"Ah, Lise, what a good thing!" cried Alyosha joyfully. "You
know, I was perfectly sure you were in earnest."
"Sure? Upon my word! She put aside his hand, but did not leave
go of it, blushing hotly, and laughing a little happy laugh. "I kiss
his hand and he says, 'What a good thing!'"
But her reproach was undeserved. Alyosha, too, was greatly
"I should like to please you always, Lise, but don't know how to
do it." he muttered, blushing too.
"Alyosha, dear, you are cold and rude. Do you see? He has chosen
me as his wife and is quite settled about it. He is sure I was in
earnest. What a thing to say! Why, that's impertinence- that's what it
"Why, was it wrong of me to feel sure?" Alyosha asked, laughing
"Ah, Alyosha, on the contrary, it was delightfully right," cried
Lise, looking tenderly and happily at him.
Alyosha stood still, holding her hand in his. Suddenly he
stooped down and kissed her on her lips.
"Oh, what are you doing?" cried Lise. Alyosha was terribly
"Oh, forgive me if I shouldn't.... Perhaps I'm awfully
stupid.... You said I was cold, so I kissed you.... But I see it was
Lise laughed, and hid her face in her hands. "And in that
dress!" she ejaculated in the midst of her mirth. But she suddenly
ceased laughing and became serious, almost stern.
"Alyosha, we must put off kissing. We are not ready for that
yet, and we shall have a long time to wait," she ended suddenly. "Tell
me rather why you who are so clever, so intellectual, so observant,
choose a little idiot, an invalid like me? Ah, Alyosha, I am awfully
happy, for I don't deserve you a bit."
"You do, Lise. I shall be leaving the monastery altogether in a
few days. If I go into the world, I must marry. I know that. He told
me to marry, too. Whom could I marry better than you- and who would
have me except you? I have been thinking it over. In the first
place, you've known me from a child and you've a great many
qualities I haven't. You are more light-hearted than I am; above
all, you are more innocent than I am. I have been brought into contact
with many, many things already.... Ah, you don't know, but I, too,
am a Karamazov. What does it matter if you do laugh and make jokes,
and at me, too? Go on laughing. I am so glad you do. You laugh like
a little child, but you think like a martyr."
"Like a martyr? How?"
"Yes, Lise, your question just now: whether we weren't showing
contempt for that poor man by dissecting his soul- that was the
question of a sufferer.... You see, I don't know how to express it,
but anyone who thinks of such questions is capable of suffering.
Sitting in your invalid chair you must have thought over many things
"Alyosha, give me your hand. Why are you taking it away?" murmured
Lise in a failing voice, weak with happiness. "Listen, Alyosha. What
will you wear when you come out of the monastery? What sort of suit?
Don't laugh, don't be angry, it's very, very important to me."
"I haven't thought about the suit, Lise; But I'll wear whatever
you like."
"I should like you to have a dark blue velvet coat, a white
pique waistcoat, and a soft grey felt hat.... Tell me, did you believe
that I didn't care for you when I said I didn't mean what I wrote?"
"No, I didn't believe it."
"Oh, you insupportable person, you are incorrigible."
"You see, I knew that you seemed to care for me, but I pretended
to believe that you didn't care for me to make it easier for you."
"That makes it worse! Worse and better than all! Alyosha, I am
awfully fond of you. Just before you came this morning, I tried my
fortune. I decided I would ask you for my letter, and if you brought
it out calmly and gave it to me (as might have been expected from you)
it would mean that you did not love me at all, that you felt
nothing, and were simply a stupid boy, good for nothing, and that I am
ruined. But you left the letter at home and that cheered me. You
left it behind on purpose, so as not to give it back, because you knew
I would ask for it? That was it, wasn't it?"
"Ah, Lise, it was not so a bit. The letter is with me now, and
it was this morning, in this pocket. Here it is."
Alyosha pulled the letter out laughing, and showed it her at a
"But I am not going to give it to you. Look at it from here."
"Why, then you told a lie? You, a monk, told a lie!"
"I told a lie if you like," Alyosha laughed, too. "I told a lie so
as not to give you back the letter. It's very precious to me," he
added suddenly, with strong feeling, and again he flushed. "It
always will be, and I won't give it up to anyone!"
Lise looked at him joyfully. "Alyosha," she murmured again,
"look at the door. Isn't mamma listening?"
"Very well, Lise, I'll look; but wouldn't it be better not to
look? Why suspect your mother of such meanness?"
"What meanness? As for her spying on her daughter, it's her right,
it's not meanness!" cried Lise, firing up. "You may be sure, Alexey
Fyodorovitch, that when I am a mother, if I have a daughter like
myself I shall certainly spy on her!"
"Really, Lise? That's not right."
"Oh, my goodness! What has meanness to do with it? If she were
listening to some ordinary worldly conversation, it would be meanness,
but when her own daughter is shut up with a young man... Listen,
Alyosha, do you know I shall spy upon you as soon as we are married,
and let me tell you I shall open all your letters and read them, so
you may as well be prepared."
"Yes, of course, if so- " muttered Alyosha, "only it's not right."
"Ah, how contemptuous! Alyosha, dear, we won't quarrel the very
first day. I'd better tell you the whole truth. Of course, it's very
wrong to spy on people, and, of course, I am not right and you are,
only I shall spy on you all the same."
"Do, then; you won't find out anything," laughed Alyosha.
"And Alyosha, will you give in to me? We must decide that too."
"I shall be delighted to, Lise, and certain to, only not in the
most important things. Even if you don't agree with me, I shall do
my duty in the most important things."
"That's right; but let me tell you I am ready to give in to you
not only in the most important matters, but in everything. And I am
ready to vow to do so now- in everything, and for all my life!"
cried Lise fervently, "and I'll do it gladly, gladly! What's more,
I'll swear never to spy on you, never once, never to read one of
your letters. For you are right and I am not. And though I shall be
awfully tempted to spy, I know that I won't do it since you consider
it dishonourable. You are my conscience now.... Listen, Alexey
Fyodorovitch, why have you been so sad lately- both yesterday and
to-day? I know you have a lot of anxiety and trouble, but I see you
have some special grief besides, some secret one, perhaps?"
"Yes, Lise, I have a secret one, too," answered Alyosha
mournfully. "I see you love me, since you guessed that."
"What grief? What about? Can you tell me?" asked Lise with timid
"I'll tell you later, Lise- afterwards," said Alyosha, confused.
"Now you wouldn't understand it perhaps- and perhaps I couldn't
explain it."
"I know your brothers and your father are worrying you, too."
"Yes, my brothers too," murmured Alyosha, pondering.
"I don't like your brother Ivan, Alyosha," said Lise suddenly.
He noticed this remark with some surprise, but did not answer it.
"My brothers are destroying themselves," he went on, "my father,
too. And they are destroying others with them. It's 'the primitive
force of the Karamazovs,' as father Paissy said the other day, a
crude, unbridled, earthly force. Does the spirit of God move above
that force? Even that I don't know. I only know that I, too, am a
Karamazov.... Me a monk, a monk! Am I a monk, Lise? You said just
now that I was."
"Yes, I did."
"And perhaps I don't even believe in God."
"You don't believe? What is the matter?" said Lise quietly and
gently. But Alyosha did not answer. There was something too
mysterious, too subjective in these last words of his, perhaps obscure
to himself, but yet torturing him.
"And now on the top of it all, my friend, the best man in the
world is going, is leaving the earth! If you knew, Lise, how bound
up in soul I am with him! And then I shall be left alone.... I shall
come to you, Lise.... For the future we will be together."
"Yes, together, together! Henceforward we shall be always
together, all our lives! Listen, kiss me, I allow you."
Alyosha kissed her.
"Come, now go. Christ be with you!" and she made the sign of the
cross over him. "Make haste back to him while he is alive. I see
I've kept you cruelly. I'll pray to-day for him and you. Alyosha, we
shall be happy! Shall we be happy, shall we?"
"I believe we shall, Lise."
Alyosha thought it better not to go in to Madame Hohlakov and
was going out of the house without saying good-bye to her. But no
sooner had he opened the door than he found Madame Hohlakov standing
before him. From the first word Alyosha guessed that she had been
waiting on purpose to meet him.
"Alexey Fyodorovitch, this is awful. This is all childish nonsense
and ridiculous. I trust you won't dream- It's foolishness, nothing but
foolishness!" she said, attacking him at once.
"Only don't tell her that," said Alyosha, "or she will be upset,
and that's bad for her now."
"Sensible advice from a sensible young man. Am I to understand
that you only agreed with her from compassion for her invalid state,
because you didn't want to irritate her by contradiction?"
"Oh no, not at all. I was quite serious in what I said," Alyosha
declared stoutly.
"To be serious about it is impossible, unthinkable, and in the
first place I shall never be at home to you again, and I shall take
her away, you may be sure of that."
"But why?" asked Alyosha. "It's all so far off. We may have to
wait another year and a half."
"Ah, Alexey Fyodorovitch, that's true, of course, and you'll
have time to quarrel and separate a thousand times in a year and a
half. But I am so unhappy! Though it's such nonsense, it's a great
blow to me. I feel like Famusov in the last scene of Sorrow from
Wit. You are Tchatsky and she is Sofya, and, only fancy, I've run down
to meet you on the stairs, and in the play the fatal scene takes place
on the staircase. I heard it all; I almost dropped. So this is the
explanation of her dreadful night and her hysterics of late! It
means love to the daughter but death to the mother. I might as well be
in my grave at once. And a more serious matter still, what is this
letter she has written? Show it me at once, at once!"
"No, there's no need. Tell me, how is Katerina Ivanovna now? I
must know."
"She still lies in delirium; she has not regained consciousness.
Her aunts are here; but they do nothing but sigh and give themselves
airs. Herzenstube came, and he was so alarmed that I didn't know
what to do for him. I nearly sent for a doctor to look after him. He
was driven home in my carriage. And on the top of it all, you and this
letter! It's true nothing can happen for a year and a half. In the
name of all that's holy, in the name of your dying elder, show me that
letter, Alexey Fyodorovitch. I'm her mother. Hold it in your hand,
if you like, and I will read it so."
"No, I won't show it to you. Even if she sanctioned it, I
wouldn't. I am coming to-morrow, and if you like, we can talk over
many things, but now good-bye!"
And Alyosha ran downstairs and into the street.
Chapter 2
Smerdyakov with a Guitar

HE had no time to lose indeed. Even while he was saying good-bye
to Lise, the thought had struck him that he must attempt some
stratagem to find his brother Dmitri, who was evidently keeping out of
his way. It was getting late, nearly three o'clock. Alyosha's whole
soul turned to the monastery, to his dying saint, but the necessity of
seeing Dmitri outweighed everything. The conviction that a great
inevitable catastrophe was about to happen grew stronger in
Alyosha's mind with every hour. What that catastrophe was, and what he
would say at that moment to his brother, he could perhaps not have
said definitely. "Even if my benefactor must die without me, anyway
I won't have to reproach myself all my life with the thought that I
might have saved something and did not, but passed by and hastened
home. If I do as I intend, I shall be following his great precept."
His plan was to catch his brother Dmitri unawares, to climb over
the fence, as he had the day before, get into the garden and sit in
the summer-house. If Dmitri were not there, thought Alyosha, he
would not announce himself to Foma or the women of the house, but
would remain hidden in the summer-house, even if he had to wait
there till evening. If, as before, Dmitri were lying in wait for
Grushenka to come, he would be very likely to come to the
summer-house. Alyosha did not, however, give much thought to the
details of his plan, but resolved to act upon it, even if it meant not
getting back to the monastery that day.
Everything happened without hindrance, he climbed over the
hurdle almost in the same spot as the day before, and stole into the
summer-house unseen. He did not want to be noticed. The woman of the
house and Foma too, if he were here, might be loyal to his brother and
obey his instructions, and so refuse to let Alyosha come into the
garden, or might warn Dmitri that he was being sought and inquired
There was no one in the summer-house. Alyosha sat down and began
to wait. He looked round the summer-house, which somehow struck him as
a great deal more ancient than before. Though the day was just as fine
as yesterday, it seemed a wretched little place this time. There was a
circle on the table, left no doubt from the glass of brandy having
been spilt the day before. Foolish and irrelevant ideas strayed
about his mind, as they always do in a time of tedious waiting. He
wondered, for instance, why he had sat down precisely in the same
place as before, why not in the other seat. At last he felt very
depressed- depressed by suspense and uncertainty. But he had not sat
there more than a quarter of an hour, when he suddenly heard the thrum
of a guitar somewhere quite close. People were sitting, or had only
just sat down, somewhere in the bushes not more than twenty paces
away. Alyosha suddenly recollected that on coming out of the
summer-house the day before, he had caught a glimpse of an old green
low garden-seat among the bushes on the left, by the fence. The people
must be sitting on it now. Who were they?
A man's voice suddenly began singing in a sugary falsetto,
accompanying himself on the guitar:

With invincible force
I am bound to my dear.
O Lord, have mercy
On her and on me!
On her and on me!
On her and on me!

The voice ceased. It was a lackey's tenor and a lackey's song.
Another voice, a woman's, suddenly asked insinuatingly and
bashfully, though with mincing affectation:
"Why haven't you been to see us for so long, Pavel Fyodorovitch?
Why do you always look down upon us?"
"Not at all answered a man's voice politely, but with emphatic
dignity. It was clear that the man had the best of the position, and
that the woman was making advances. "I believe the man must be
Smerdyakov," thought Alyosha, "from his voice. And the lady must be
the daughter of the house here, who has come from Moscow, the one
who wears the dress with a tail and goes to Marfa for soup."
"I am awfully fond of verses of all kinds, if they rhyme," the
woman's voice continued. "Why don't you go on?"
The man sang again:

What do I care for royal wealth
If but my dear one be in health?
Lord have mercy
On her and on me!
On her and on me!
On her and on me!

"It was even better last time," observed the woman's voice. "You
sang 'If my darling be in health'; it sounded more tender. I suppose
you've forgotten to-day."
"Poetry is rubbish!" said Smerdyakov curtly.
"Oh, no! I am very fond of poetry."
"So far as it's poetry, it's essential rubbish. Consider yourself,
who ever talks in rhyme? And if we were all to talk in rhyme, even
though it were decreed by government, we shouldn't say much, should
we? Poetry is no good, Marya Kondratyevna."
"How clever you are! How is it you've gone so deep into
everything?" The woman's voice was more and more insinuating.
"I could have done better than that. I could have known more
than that, if it had not been for my destiny from my childhood up. I
would have shot a man in a duel if he called me names because I am
descended from a filthy beggar and have no father. And they used to
throw it in my teeth in Moscow. It had reached them from here,
thanks to Grigory Vassilyevitch. Grigory Vassilyevitch blames me for
rebelling against my birth, but I would have sanctioned their
killing me before I was born that I might not have come into the world
at all. They used to say in the market, and your mamma too, with great
lack of delicacy, set off telling me that her hair was like a mat on
her head, and that she was short of five foot by a wee bit. Why talk
of a wee bit while she might have said 'a little bit,' like everyone
else? She wanted to make it touching, a regular peasant's feeling. Can
a Russian peasant be said to feel, in comparison with an educated man?
He can't be said to have feeling at all, in his ignorance. From my
childhood up when I hear 'a wee bit,' I am ready to burst with rage. I
hate all Russia, Marya Kondratyevna."
"If you'd been a cadet in the army, or a young hussar, you
wouldn't have talked like that, but would have drawn your sabre to
defend all Russia."
"I don't want to be a hussar, Marya Kondratyevna, and, what's
more, I should like to abolish all soldiers."
"And when an enemy comes, who is going to defend us?"
"There's no need of defence. In 1812 there was a great invasion of
Russia by Napoleon, first Emperor of the French, father of the present
one, and it would have been a good thing if they had conquered us. A
clever nation would have conquered a very stupid one and annexed it.
We should have had quite different institutions."
"Are they so much better in their own country than we are? I
wouldn't change a dandy I know of for three young englishmen,"
observed Marya Kondratyevna tenderly, doubtless accompanying her words
with a most languishing glance.
"That's as one prefers."
"But you are just like a foreigner- just like a most gentlemanly
foreigner. I tell you that, though it makes me bashful."
"If you care to know, the folks there and ours here are just alike
in their vice. They are swindlers, only there the scoundrel wears
polished boots and here he grovels in filth and sees no harm in it.
The Russian people want thrashing, as Fyodor Pavlovitch said very
truly yesterday, though he is mad, and all his children."
"You said yourself you had such a respect for Ivan Fyodorovitch."
"But he said I was a stinking lackey. He thinks that I might be
unruly. He is mistaken there. If I had a certain sum in my pocket, I
would have left here long ago. Dmitri Fyodorovitch is lower than any
lackey in his behaviour, in his mind, and in his poverty. He doesn't
know how to do anything, and yet he is respected by everyone. I may be
only a soup-maker, but with luck I could open a cafe restaurant in
Petrovka, in Moscow, for my cookery is something special, and
there's no one in Moscow, except the foreigners, whose cookery is
anything special. Dmitri Fyodorovitch is a beggar, but if he were to
challenge the son of the first count in the country, he'd fight him.
Though in what way is he better than I am? For he is ever so much
stupider than I am. Look at the money he has wasted without any need!"
"It must be lovely, a duel," Marya Kondratyevna observed suddenly.
"How so?"
"It must be so dreadful and so brave, especially when young
officers with pistols in their hands pop at one another for the sake
of some lady. A perfect picture! Ah, if only girls were allowed to
look on, I'd give anything to see one!"
"It's all very well when you are firing at someone, but when he is
firing straight in your mug, you must feel pretty silly. You'd be glad
to run away, Marya Kondratyevna."
"You don't mean you would run away?" But Smerdyakov did not
deign to reply. After a moment's silence the guitar tinkled again, and
he sang again in the same falsetto:

Whatever you may say,
I shall go far away.
Life will be bright and gay
In the city far away.
I shall not grieve,
I shall not grieve at all,
I don't intend to grieve at all.

Then something unexpected happened. Alyosha suddenly sneezed. They
were silent. Alyosha got up and walked towards them. He found
Smerdyakov dressed up and wearing polished boots, his hair pomaded,
and perhaps curled. The guitar lay on the garden-seat. His companion
was the daughter of the house, wearing a light-blue dress with a train
two yards long. She was young and would not have been bad-looking, but
that her face was so round and terribly freckled.
"Will my brother Dmitri soon be back? asked Alyosha with as much
composure as he could.
Smerdyakov got up slowly; Marya Kondratyevna rose too.
"How am I to know about Dmitri Fyodorovitch? It's not as if I were
his keeper," answered Smerdyakov quietly, distinctly, and
"But I simply asked whether you do know?" Alyosha explained.
"I know nothing of his whereabouts and don't want to."
"But my brother told me that you let him know all that goes on
in the house, and promised to let him know when Agrafena
Alexandrovna comes."
Smerdyakov turned a deliberate, unmoved glance upon him.
"And how did you get in this time, since the gate was bolted an
hour ago?" he asked, looking at Alyosha.
"I came in from the back-alley, over the fence, and went
straight to the summer-house. I hope you'll forgive me, he added
addressing Marya Kondratyevna. "I was in a hurry to find my brother."
"Ach, as though we could take it amiss in you!" drawled Marya
Kondratyevna, flattered by Alyosha's apology. "For Dmitri Fyodorovitch
often goes to the summer-house in that way. We don't know he is here
and he is sitting in the summer-house."
"I am very anxious to find him, or to learn from you where he is
now. Believe me, it's on business of great importance to him."
"He never tells us," lisped Marya Kondratyevna.
"Though I used to come here as a friend," Smerdyakov began
again, "Dmitri Fyodorovitch has pestered me in a merciless way even
here by his incessant questions about the master. 'What news?' he'll
ask. 'What's going on in there now? Who's coming and going?' and can't
I tell him something more. Twice already he's threatened me with death

"With death?" Alyosha exclaimed in surprise.
"Do you suppose he'd think much of that, with his temper, which
you had a chance of observing yourself yesterday? He says if I let
Agrafena Alexandrovna in and she passes the night there, I'll be the
first to suffer for it. I am terribly afraid of him, and if I were not
even more afraid of doing so, I ought to let the police know. God only
knows what he might not do!"
"His honour said to him the other day, 'I'll pound you in a
mortar!'" added Marya Kondratyevna.
"Oh, if it's pounding in a mortar, it may be only talk,"
observed Alyosha. "If I could meet him, I might speak to him about
that too."
"Well, the only thing I can tell you is this," said Smerdyakov, as
though thinking better of it; "I am here as an old friend and
neighbour, and it would be odd if I didn't come. On the other hand,
Ivan Fyodorovitch sent me first thing this morning to your brother's
lodging in Lake Street, without a letter, but with a message to Dmitri
Fyodorovitch to go to dine with him at the restaurant here, in the
marketplace. I went, but didn't find Dmitri Fyodorovitch at home,
though it was eight o'clock. 'He's been here, but he is quite gone,'
those were the very words of his landlady. It's as though there was an
understanding between them. Perhaps at this moment he is in the
restaurant with Ivan Fyodorovitch, for Ivan Fyodorovitch has not
been home to dinner and Fyodor Pavlovitch dined alone an hour ago, and
is gone to lie down. But I beg you most particularly not to speak of
me and of what I have told you, for he'd kill me for nothing at all."
"Brother Ivan invited Dmitri to the restaurant to-day?" repeated
Alyosha quickly.
"That's so."
"The Metropolis tavern in the marketplace?"
"The very same."
"That's quite likely," cried Alyosha, much excited. "Thank you,
Smerdyakov; that's important. I'll go there at once."
"Don't betray me," Smerdyakov called after him.
"Oh, no, I'll go to the tavern as though by chance. Don't be
"But wait a minute, I'll open the gate to you," cried Marya
"No; it's a short cut, I'll get over the fence again."
What he had heard threw Alyosha into great agitation. He ran to
the tavern. It was impossible for him to go into the tavern in his
monastic dress, but he could inquire at the entrance for his
brothers and call them down. But just as he reached the tavern, a
window was flung open, and his brother Ivan called down to him from
"Alyosha, can't you come up here to me? I shall be awfully
"To be sure I can, only I don't quite know whether in this
dress- "
"But I am in a room apart. Come up the steps; I'll run down to
meet you."
A minute later Alyosha was sitting beside his brother. Ivan was
alone dining.
Chapter 3
The Brothers Make Friends

IVAN was not, however, in a separate room, but only in a place
shut off by a screen, so that it was unseen by other people in the
room. It was the first room from the entrance with a buffet along
the wall. Waiters were continually darting to and fro in it. The
only customer in the room was an old retired military man drinking tea
in a corner. But there was the usual bustle going on in the other
rooms of the tavern; there were shouts for the waiters, the sound of
popping corks, the click of billiard balls, the drone of the organ.
Alyosha knew that Ivan did not usually visit this tavern and
disliked taverns in general. So he must have come here, he
reflected, simply to meet Dmitri by arrangement. Yet Dmitri was not
"Shall I order you fish, soup, or anything. You don't live on
tea alone, I suppose," cried Ivan, apparently delighted at having
got hold of Alyosha. He had finished dinner and was drinking tea.
"Let me have soup, and tea afterwards, I am hungry," said
Alyosha gaily.
"And cherry jam? They have it here. You remember how you used to
love cherry jam when you were little?"
"You remember that? Let me have jam too, I like it still."
Ivan rang for the waiter and ordered soup, jam, and tea.
"I remember everything, Alyosha, I remember you till you were
eleven, I was nearly fifteen. There's such a difference between
fifteen and eleven that brothers are never companions at those ages. I
don't know whether I was fond of you even. When I went away to
Moscow for the first few years I never thought of you at all. Then,
when you came to Moscow yourself, we only met once somewhere, I
believe. And now I've been here more than three months, and so far
we have scarcely said a word to each other. To-morrow I am going away,
and I was just thinking as I sat here how I could see you to say
good-bye and just then you passed."
"Were you very anxious to see me, then?"
"Very. I want to get to know you once for all, and I want you to
know me. And then to say good-bye. I believe it's always best to get
to know people just before leaving them. I've noticed how you've
been looking at me these three months. There has been a continual look
of expectation in your eyes, and I can't endure that. That's how it is
I've kept away from you. But in the end I have learned to respect you.
The little man stands firm, I thought. Though I am laughing, I am
serious. You do stand firm, don't you? I like people who are firm like
that whatever it is they stand by, even if they are such little
fellows as you. Your expectant eyes ceased to annoy me, I grew fond of
them in the end, those expectant eyes. You seem to love me for some
reason, Alyosha?"
"I do love you, Ivan. Dmitri says of you- Ivan is a tomb! I say of
you, Ivan is a riddle. You are a riddle to me even now. But I
understand something in you, and I did not understand it till this
"What's that?" laughed Ivan.
"You won't be angry?" Alyosha laughed too.
"That you are just as young as other young men of three and
twenty, that you are just a young and fresh and nice boy, green in
fact! Now, have I insulted you dreadfully?"
"On the contrary, I am struck by a coincidence," cried Ivan,
warmly and good-humouredly. "Would you believe it that ever since that
scene with her, I have thought of nothing else but my youthful
greenness, and just as though you guessed that, you begin about it. Do
you know I've been sitting here thinking to myself: that if I didn't
believe in life, if I lost faith in the woman I love, lost faith in
the order of things, were convinced, in fact, that everything is a
disorderly, damnable, and perhaps devil-ridden chaos, if I were struck
by every horror of man's disillusionment- still I should want to
live and, having once tasted of the cup, I would not turn away from it
till I had drained it! At thirty, though, I shall be sure to leave the
cup, even if I've not emptied it, and turn away- where I don't know.
But till I am thirty, I know that my youth will triumph over
everything- every disillusionment, every disgust with life. I've asked
myself many times whether there is in the world any despair that would
overcome this frantic and perhaps unseemly thirst for life in me,
and I've come to the conclusion that there isn't, that is till I am
thirty, and then I shall lose it of myself, I fancy. Some drivelling
consumptive moralists- and poets especially- often call that thirst
for life base. It's a feature of the Karamazovs, it's true, that
thirst for life regardless of everything; you have it no doubt too,
but why is it base? The centripetal force on our planet is still
fearfully strong, Alyosha. I have a longing for life, and I go on
living in spite of logic. Though I may not believe in the order of the
universe, yet I love the sticky little leaves as they open in
spring. I love the blue sky, I love some people, whom one loves you
know sometimes without knowing why. I love some great deeds done by
men, though I've long ceased perhaps to have faith in them, yet from
old habit one's heart prizes them. Here they have brought the soup for
you, eat it, it will do you good. It's first-rate soup, they know
how to make it here. I want to travel in Europe, Alyosha, I shall
set off from here. And yet I know that I am only going to a graveyard,
but it's a most precious graveyard, that's what it is! Precious are
the dead that lie there, every stone over them speaks of such
burning life in the past, of such passionate faith in their work,
their truth, their struggle and their science, that I know I shall
fall on the ground and kiss those stones and weep over them; though
I'm convinced in my heart that it's long been nothing but a graveyard.
And I shall not weep from despair, but simply because I shall be happy
in my tears, I shall steep my soul in emotion. I love the sticky
leaves in spring, the blue sky- that's all it is. It's not a matter of
intellect or logic, it's loving with one's inside, with one's stomach.
One loves the first strength of one's youth. Do you understand
anything of my tirade, Alyosha?" Ivan laughed suddenly.
"I understand too well, Ivan. One longs to love with one's inside,
with one's stomach. You said that so well and I am awfully glad that
you have such a longing for life," cried Alyosha. "I think everyone
should love life above everything in the world."
"Love life more than the meaning of it?"
"Certainly, love it, regardless of logic as you say, it must be
regardless of logic, and it's only then one will understand the
meaning of it. I have thought so a long time. Half your work is
done, Ivan, you love life, now you've only to try to do the second
half and you are saved."
"You are trying to save me, but perhaps I am not lost! And what
does your second half mean?"
"Why, one has to raise up your dead, who perhaps have not died
after all. Come, let me have tea. I am so glad of our talk, Ivan."
"I see you are feeling inspired. I am awfully fond of such
professions de foi* from such- novices. You are a steadfast person,
Alexey. Is it true that you mean to leave the monastery?"

* Professions of faith.

"Yes, my elder sends me out into the world."
"We shall see each other then in the world. We shall meet before I
am thirty, when I shall begin to turn aside from the cup. Father
doesn't want to turn aside from his cup till he is seventy, he
dreams of hanging on to eighty in fact, so he says. He means it only
too seriously, though he is a buffoon. He stands on a firm rock,
too, he stands on his sensuality though after we are thirty, indeed,
there may be nothing else to stand on.... But to hang on to seventy is
nasty, better only to thirty; one might retain 'a shadow of
nobility' by deceiving oneself. Have you seen Dmitri to-day?"
"No, but I saw Smerdyakov," and Alyosha rapidly, though
minutely, described his meeting with Smerdyakov. Ivan began
listening anxiously and questioned him.
"But he begged me not to tell Dmitri that he had told me about
him," added Alyosha. Ivan frowned and pondered.
"Are you frowning on Smerdyakov's account?" asked Alyosha.
"Yes, on his account. Damn him, I certainly did want to see
Dmitri, but now there's no need," said Ivan reluctantly.
"But are you really going so soon, brother?"
"What of Dmitri and father? how will it end?" asked Alyosha
"You are always harping upon it! What have I to do with it? Am I
my brother Dmitri's keeper?" Ivan snapped irritably, but then he
suddenly smiled bitterly. "Cain's answer about his murdered brother,
wasn't it? Perhaps that's what you're thinking at this moment? Well
damn it all, I can't stay here to be their keeper, can I? I've
finished what I had to do, and I am going. Do you imagine I am jealous
of Dmitri, that I've been trying to steal his beautiful Katerina
Ivanovna for the last three months? Nonsense, I had business of my
own. I finished it. I am going. I finished it just now, you were
"At Katerina Ivanovna's?"
"Yes, and I've released myself once for all. And after all, what
have I to do with Dmitri? Dmitri doesn't come in. I had my own
business to settle with Katerina Ivanovna. You know, on the
contrary, that Dmitri behaved as though there was an understanding
between us. I didn't ask to do it, but he solemnly handed her over
to me and gave us his blessing. It's all too funny. Ah, Alyosha, if
you only knew how light my heart is now! Would you believe it, I sat
here eating my dinner and was nearly ordering champagne to celebrate
my first hour of freedom. Tfoo! It's been going on nearly six
months, and all at once I've thrown it off. I could never have guessed
even yesterday, how easy it would be to put an end to it if I wanted."
"You are speaking of your love, Ivan?"
"Of my love, if you like. I fell in love with the young lady, I
worried myself over her and she worried me. I sat watching over her...
and all at once it's collapsed! I spoke this morning with inspiration,
but I went away and roared with laughter. Would you believe it? Yes,
it's the literal truth."
"You seem very merry about it now," observed Alyosha, looking into
his face, which had suddenly grown brighter.
"But how could I tell that I didn't care for her a bit! Ha ha!
It appears after all I didn't. And yet how she attracted me! How
attractive she was just now when I made my speech! And do you know she
attracts me awfully even now, yet how easy it is to leave her. Do
you think I am boasting?"
"No, only perhaps it wasn't love."
"Alyosha," laughed Ivan, "don't make reflections about love,
it's unseemly for you. How you rushed into the discussion this
morning! I've forgotten to kiss you for it.... But how she tormented
me! It certainly was sitting by a 'laceration.' Ah, she knew how I
loved her! She loved me and not Dmitri," Ivan insisted gaily. "Her
feeling for Dmitri was simply a self-laceration. All I told her just
now was perfectly true, but the worst of it is, it may take her
fifteen or twenty years to find out that she doesn't care for
Dmitri, and loves me whom she torments, and perhaps she may never find
it out at all, in spite of her lesson to-day. Well, it's better so;
I can simply go away for good. By the way, how is she now? What
happened after I departed?"
Alyosha told him she had been hysterical, and that she was now, he
heard, unconscious and delirious.
"Isn't Madame Hohlakov laying it on?"
"I think not."
"I must find out. Nobody dies of hysterics, though. They don't
matter. God gave woman hysterics as a relief. I won't go to her at
all. Why push myself forward again?"
"But you told her that she had never cared for you."
"I did that on purpose. Alyosha, shall I call for some
champagne? Let us drink to my freedom. Ah, if only you knew how glad I
"No, brother, we had better not drink," said Alyosha suddenly.
"Besides I feel somehow depressed."
"Yes, you've been depressed a long time, I've noticed it."
"Have you settled to go to-morrow morning, then?"
"Morning? I didn't say I should go in the morning.... But
perhaps it may be the morning. Would you believe it, I dined here
to-day only to avoid dining with the old man, I loathe him so. I
should have left long ago, so far as he is concerned. But why are
you so worried about my going away? We've plenty of time before I
go, an eternity!"
"If you are going away to-morrow, what do you mean by an
"But what does it matter to us?" laughed Ivan. "We've time
enough for our talk, for what brought us here. Why do you look so
surprised? Answer: why have we met here? To talk of my love for
Katerina Ivanovna, of the old man and Dmitri? of foreign travel? of
the fatal position of Russia? of the Emperor Napoleon? Is that it?"
"Then you know what for. It's different for other people; but we
in our green youth have to settle the eternal questions first of
all. That's what we care about. Young Russia is talking about
nothing but the eternal questions now. just when the old folks are all
taken up with practical questions. Why have you been looking at me
in expectation for the last three months? To ask me, 'What do you
believe, or don't you believe at all?' That's what your eyes have been
meaning for these three months, haven't they?"
"Perhaps so," smiled Alyosha. "You are not laughing at me, now,
"Me laughing! I don't want to wound my little brother who has been
watching me with such expectation for three months. Alyosha, look
straight at me! Of course, I am just such a little boy as you are,
only not a novice. And what have Russian boys been doing up till
now, some of them, I mean? In this stinking tavern, for instance,
here, they meet and sit down in a corner. They've never met in their
lives before and, when they go out of the tavern, they won't meet
again for forty years. And what do they talk about in that momentary
halt in the tavern? Of the eternal questions, of the existence of
God and immortality. And those who do not believe in God talk of
socialism or anarchism, of the transformation of all humanity on a new
pattern, so that it all comes to the same, they're the same
questions turned inside out. And masses, masses of the most original
Russian boys do nothing but talk of the eternal questions! Isn't it
"Yes, for real Russians the questions of God's existence and of
immortality, or, as you say, the same questions turned inside out,
come first and foremost, of course, and so they should," said Alyosha,
still watching his brother with the same gentle and inquiring smile.
"Well, Alyosha, it's sometimes very unwise to be a Russian at all,
but anything stupider than the way Russian boys spend their time one
can hardly imagine. But there's one Russian boy called Alyosha I am
awfully fond of."
"How nicely you put that in!" Alyosha laughed suddenly.
"Well, tell me where to begin, give your orders. The existence
of God, eh?"
"Begin where you like. You declared yesterday at father's that
there was no God." Alyosha looked searchingly at his brother.
"I said that yesterday at dinner on purpose to tease you and I saw
your eyes glow. But now I've no objection to discussing with you,
and I say so very seriously. I want to be friends with you, Alyosha,
for I have no friends and want to try it. Well, only fancy, perhaps
I too accept God," laughed Ivan; "that's a surprise for you, isn't
"Yes of course, if you are not joking now."
"Joking? I was told at the elder's yesterday that I was joking.
You know, dear boy, there was an old sinner in the eighteenth
century who declared that, if there were no God, he would have to be
invented. S'il n'existait pas Dieu, il faudrait l'inventer. And man
has actually invented God. And what's strange, what would be
marvellous, is not that God should really exist; the marvel is that
such an idea, the idea of the necessity of God, could enter the head
of such a savage, vicious beast as man. So holy it is, so touching, so
wise and so great a credit it does to man. As for me, I've long
resolved not to think whether man created God or God man. And I
won't go through all the axioms laid down by Russian boys on that
subject, all derived from European hypotheses; for what's a hypothesis
there is an axiom with the Russian boy, and not only with the boys but
with their teachers too, for our Russian professors are often just the
same boys themselves. And so I omit all the hypotheses. For what are
we aiming at now? I am trying to explain as quickly as possible my
essential nature, that is what manner of man I am, what I believe
in, and for what I hope, that's it, isn't it? And therefore I tell you
that I accept God simply. But you must note this: if God exists and if
He really did create the world, then, as we all know, He created it
according to the geometry of Euclid and the human mind with the
conception of only three dimensions in space. Yet there have been
and still are geometricians and philosophers, and even some of the
most distinguished, who doubt whether the whole universe, or to
speak more widely, the whole of being, was only created in Euclid's
geometry; they even dare to dream that two parallel lines, which
according to Euclid can never meet on earth, may meet somewhere in
infinity. I have come to the conclusion that, since I can't understand
even that, I can't expect to understand about God. I acknowledge
humbly that I have no faculty for settling such questions, I have a
Euclidian earthly mind, and how could I solve problems that are not of
this world? And I advise you never to think about it either, my dear
Alyosha, especially about God, whether He exists or not. All such
questions are utterly inappropriate for a mind created with an idea of
only three dimensions. And so I accept God and am glad to, and
what's more, I accept His wisdom, His purpose which are utterly beyond
our ken; I believe in the underlying order and the meaning of life;
I believe in the eternal harmony in which they say we shall one day be
blended. I believe in the Word to Which the universe is striving,
and Which Itself was 'with God,' and Which Itself is God and so on,
and so on, to infinity. There are all sorts of phrases for it. I
seem to be on the right path, don't I'? Yet would you believe it, in
the final result I don't accept this world of God's, and, although I
know it exists, I don't accept it at all. It's not that I don't accept
God, you must understand, it's the world created by Him I don't and
cannot accept. Let me make it plain. I believe like a child that
suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating
absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage,
like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small
Euclidian mind of man, that in the world's finale, at the moment of
eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it
will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments,
for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood
they've shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to
justify all that has happened with men- but thought all that may
come to pass, I don't accept it. I won't accept it. Even if parallel
lines do meet and I see it myself, I shall see it and say that they've
met, but still I won't accept it. That's what's at the root of me,
Alyosha; that's my creed. I am in earnest in what I say. I began our
talk as stupidly as I could on purpose, but I've led up to my
confession, for that's all you want. You didn't want to hear about
God, but only to know what the brother you love lives by. And so
I've told you."
Ivan concluded his long tirade with marked and unexpected feeling.
"And why did you begin 'as stupidly as you could'?" asked Alyosha,
looking dreamily at him.
"To begin with, for the sake of being Russian. Russian
conversations on such subjects are always carried on inconceivably
stupidly. And secondly, the stupider one is, the closer one is to
reality. The stupider one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief
and artless, while intelligence wriggles and hides itself.
Intelligence is a knave, but stupidity is honest and straight forward.
I've led the conversation to my despair, and the more stupidly I
have presented it, the better for me."
"You will explain why you don't accept the world?" said Alyosha.
"To be sure I will, it's not a secret, that's what I've been
leading up to. Dear little brother, I don't want to corrupt you or
to turn you from your stronghold, perhaps I want to be healed by you."
Ivan smiled suddenly quite like a little gentle child. Alyosha had
never seen such a smile on his face before.
Chapter 4

"I MUST make one confession" Ivan began. "I could never understand
how one can love one's neighbours. It's just one's neighbours, to my
mind, that one can't love, though one might love those at a
distance. I once read somewhere of John the Merciful, a saint, that
when a hungry, frozen beggar came to him, he took him into his bed,
held him in his arms, and began breathing into his mouth, which was
putrid and loathsome from some awful disease. I am convinced that he
did that from 'self-laceration,' from the self-laceration of
falsity, for the sake of the charity imposed by duty, as a penance
laid on him. For anyone to love a man, he must be hidden, for as
soon as he shows his face, love is gone."
"Father Zossima has talked of that more than once," observed
Alyosha; "he, too, said that the face of a man often hinders many
people not practised in love, from loving him. But yet there's a great
deal of love in mankind, and almost Christ-like love. I know that
myself, Ivan."
"Well, I know nothing of it so far, and can't understand it, and
the innumerable mass of mankind are with me there. The question is,
whether that's due to men's bad qualities or whether it's inherent
in their nature. To my thinking, Christ-like love for men is a miracle
impossible on earth. He was God. But we are not gods. Suppose I, for
instance, suffer intensely. Another can never know how much I
suffer, because he is another and not I. And what's more, a man is
rarely ready to admit another's suffering (as though it were a
distinction). Why won't he admit it, do you think? Because I smell
unpleasant, because I have a stupid face, because I once trod on his
foot. Besides, there is suffering and suffering; degrading,
humiliating suffering such as humbles me- hunger, for instance- my
benefactor will perhaps allow me; but when you come to higher
suffering- for an idea, for instance- he will very rarely admit
that, perhaps because my face strikes him as not at all what he
fancies a man should have who suffers for an idea. And so he
deprives me instantly of his favour, and not at all from badness of
heart. Beggars, especially genteel beggars, ought never to show
themselves, but to ask for charity through the newspapers. One can
love one's neighbours in the abstract, or even at a distance, but at
close quarters it's almost impossible. If it were as on the stage,
in the ballet, where if beggars come in, they wear silken rags and
tattered lace and beg for alms dancing gracefully, then one might like
looking at them. But even then we should not love them. But enough
of that. I simply wanted to show you my point of view. I meant to
speak of the suffering of mankind generally, but we had better confine
ourselves to the sufferings of the children. That reduces the scope of
my argument to a tenth of what it would be. Still we'd better keep
to the children, though it does weaken my case. But, in the first
place, children can be loved even at close quarters, even when they
are dirty, even when they are ugly (I fancy, though, children never
are ugly). The second reason why I won't speak of grown-up people is
that, besides being disgusting and unworthy of love, they have a
compensation- they've eaten the apple and know good and evil, and they
have become 'like gods.' They go on eating it still. But the
children haven't eaten anything, and are so far innocent. Are you fond
of children, Alyosha? I know you are, and you will understand why I
prefer to speak of them. If they, too, suffer horribly on earth,
they must suffer for their fathers' sins, they must be punished for
their fathers, who have eaten the apple; but that reasoning is of
the other world and is incomprehensible for the heart of man here on
earth. The innocent must not suffer for another's sins, and especially
such innocents! You may be surprised at me, Alyosha, but I am
awfully fond of children, too. And observe, cruel people, the violent,
the rapacious, the Karamazovs are sometimes very fond of children.
Children while they are quite little- up to seven, for instance- are
so remote from grown-up people they are different creatures, as it
were, of a different species. I knew a criminal in prison who had,
in the course of his career as a burglar, murdered whole families,
including several children. But when he was in prison, he had a
strange affection for them. He spent all his time at his window,
watching the children playing in the prison yard. He trained one
little boy to come up to his window and made great friends with
him.... You don't know why I am telling you all this, Alyosha? My head
aches and I am sad."
"You speak with a strange air," observed Alyosha uneasily, "as
though you were not quite yourself."
"By the way, a Bulgarian I met lately in Moscow," Ivan went on,
seeming not to hear his brother's words, "told me about the crimes
committed by Turks and Circassians in all parts of Bulgaria through
fear of a general rising of the Slavs. They burn villages, murder,
outrage women and children, they nail their prisoners by the ears to
the fences, leave them so till morning, and in the morning they hang
them- all sorts of things you can't imagine. People talk sometimes
of bestial cruelty, but that's a great injustice and insult to the
beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel.
The tiger only tears and gnaws, that's all he can do. He would never
think of nailing people by the ears, even if he were able to do it.
These Turks took a pleasure in torturing children, -too; cutting the
unborn child from the mothers womb, and tossing babies up in the air
and catching them on the points of their bayonets before their
mothers' eyes. Doing it before the mothers' eyes was what gave zest to
the amusement. Here is another scene that I thought very
interesting. Imagine a trembling mother with her baby in her arms, a
circle of invading Turks around her. They've planned a diversion: they
pet the baby, laugh to make it laugh. They succeed, the baby laughs.
At that moment a Turk points a pistol four inches from the baby's
face. The baby laughs with glee, holds out its little hands to the
pistol, and he pulls the trigger in the baby's face and blows out
its brains. Artistic, wasn't it? By the way, Turks are particularly
fond of sweet things, they say."
"Brother, what are you driving at?" asked Alyosha.
"I think if the devil doesn't exist, but man has created him, he
has created him in his own image and likeness."
"Just as he did God, then?" observed Alyosha.
"'It's wonderful how you can turn words,' as Polonius says in
Hamlet," laughed Ivan. "You turn my words against me. Well, I am glad.
Yours must be a fine God, if man created Him in his image and
likeness. You asked just now what I was driving at. You see, I am fond
of collecting certain facts, and, would you believe, I even copy
anecdotes of a certain sort from newspapers and books, and I've
already got a fine collection. The Turks, of course, have gone into
it, but they are foreigners. I have specimens from home that are
even better than the Turks. You know we prefer beating- rods and
scourges- that's our national institution. Nailing ears is unthinkable
for us, for we are, after all, Europeans. But the rod and the
scourge we have always with us and they cannot be taken from us.
Abroad now they scarcely do any beating. Manners are more humane, or
laws have been passed, so that they don't dare to flog men now. But
they make up for it in another way just as national as ours. And so
national that it would be practically impossible among us, though I
believe we are being inoculated with it, since the religious
movement began in our aristocracy. I have a charming pamphlet,
translated from the French, describing how, quite recently, five years
ago, a murderer, Richard, was executed- a young man, I believe, of
three and twenty, who repented and was converted to the Christian
faith at the very scaffold. This Richard was an illegitimate child who
was given as a child of six by his parents to some shepherds on the
Swiss mountains. They brought him up to work for them. He grew up like
a little wild beast among them. The shepherds taught him nothing,
and scarcely fed or clothed him, but sent him out at seven to herd the
flock in cold and wet, and no one hesitated or scrupled to treat him
so. Quite the contrary, they thought they had every right, for Richard
had been given to them as a chattel, and they did not even see the
necessity of feeding him. Richard himself describes how in those
years, like the Prodigal Son in the Gospel, he longed to eat of the
mash given to the pigs, which were fattened for sale. But they
wouldn't even give that, and beat him when he stole from the pigs. And
that was how he spent all his childhood and his youth, till he grew up
and was strong enough to go away and be a thief. The savage began to
earn his living as a day labourer in Geneva. He drank what he
earned, he lived like a brute, and finished by killing and robbing
an old man. He was caught, tried, and condemned to death. They are not
sentimentalists there. And in prison he was immediately surrounded
by pastors, members of Christian brotherhoods, philanthropic ladies,
and the like. They taught him to read and write in prison, and
expounded the Gospel to him. They exhorted him, worked upon him,
drummed at him incessantly, till at last he solemnly confessed his
crime. He was converted. He wrote to the court himself that he was a
monster, but that in the end God had vouchsafed him light and shown
grace. All Geneva was in excitement about him- all philanthropic and
religious Geneva. All the aristocratic and well-bred society of the
town rushed to the prison, kissed Richard and embraced him; 'You are
our brother, you have found grace.' And Richard does nothing but
weep with emotion, 'Yes, I've found grace! All my youth and
childhood I was glad of pigs' food, but now even I have found grace. I
am dying in the Lord.' 'Yes, Richard, die in the Lord; you have shed
blood and must die. Though it's not your fault that you knew not the
Lord, when you coveted the pigs' food and were beaten for stealing
it (which was very wrong of you, for stealing is forbidden); but
you've shed blood and you must die.'And on the last day, Richard,
perfectly limp, did nothing but cry and repeat every minute: 'This
is my happiest day. I am going to the Lord.' 'Yes,' cry the pastors
and the judges and philanthropic ladies. 'This is the happiest day
of your life, for you are going to the Lord!' They all walk or drive
to the scaffold in procession behind the prison van. At the scaffold
they call to Richard: 'Die, brother, die in the Lord, for even thou
hast found grace!' And so, covered with his brothers' kisses,
Richard is dragged on to the scaffold, and led to the guillotine.
And they chopped off his head in brotherly fashion, because he had
found grace. Yes, that's characteristic. That pamphlet is translated
into Russian by some Russian philanthropists of aristocratic rank
and evangelical aspirations, and has been distributed gratis for the
enlightenment of the people. The case of Richard is interesting
because it's national. Though to us it's absurd to cut off a man's
head, because he has become our brother and has found grace, yet we
have our own speciality, which is all but worse. Our historical
pastime is the direct satisfaction of inflicting pain. There are lines
in Nekrassov describing how a peasant lashes a horse on the eyes,
'on its meek eyes,' everyone must have seen it. It's peculiarly
Russian. He describes how a feeble little nag has foundered under
too heavy a load and cannot move. The peasant beats it, beats it
savagely, beats it at last not knowing what he is doing in the
intoxication of cruelty, thrashes it mercilessly over and over
again. 'However weak you are, you must pull, if you die for it.' The
nag strains, and then he begins lashing the poor defenceless
creature on its weeping, on its 'meek eyes.' The frantic beast tugs
and draws the load, trembling all over, gasping for breath, moving
sideways, with a sort of unnatural spasmodic action- it's awful in
Nekrassov. But that only a horse, and God has horses to be beaten.
So the Tatars have taught us, and they left us the knout as a
remembrance of it. But men, too, can be beaten. A well-educated,
cultured gentleman and his wife beat their own child with a birch-rod,
a girl of seven. I have an exact account of it. The papa was glad that
the birch was covered with twigs. 'It stings more,' said he, and so be
began stinging his daughter. I know for a fact there are people who at
every blow are worked up to sensuality, to literal sensuality, which
increases progressively at every blow they inflict. They beat for a
minute, for five minutes, for ten minutes, more often and more
savagely. The child screams. At last the child cannot scream, it
gasps, 'Daddy daddy!' By some diabolical unseemly chance the case
was brought into court. A counsel is engaged. The Russian people
have long called a barrister 'a conscience for hire.' The counsel
protests in his client's defence. 'It's such a simple thing,' he says,
'an everyday domestic event. A father corrects his child. To our shame
be it said, it is brought into court.' The jury, convinced by him,
give a favourable verdict. The public roars with delight that the
torturer is acquitted. Ah, pity I wasn't there! I would have
proposed to raise a subscription in his honour! Charming pictures.
"But I've still better things about children. I've collected a
great, great deal about Russian children, Alyosha. There was a
little girl of five who was hated by her father and mother, 'most
worthy and respectable people, of good education and breeding.' You
see, I must repeat again, it is a peculiar characteristic of many
people, this love of torturing children, and children only. To all
other types of humanity these torturers behave mildly and
benevolently, like cultivated and humane Europeans; but they are
very fond of tormenting children, even fond of children themselves
in that sense. it's just their defencelessness that tempts the
tormentor, just the angelic confidence of the child who has no
refuge and no appeal, that sets his vile blood on fire. In every
man, of course, a demon lies hidden- the demon of rage, the demon of
lustful heat at the screams of the tortured victim, the demon of
lawlessness let off the chain, the demon of diseases that follow on
vice, gout, kidney disease, and so on.
"This poor child of five was subjected to every possible torture
by those cultivated parents. They beat her, thrashed her, kicked her
for no reason till her body was one bruise. Then, they went to greater
refinements of cruelty- shut her up all night in the cold and frost in
a privy, and because she didn't ask to be taken up at night (as though
a child of five sleeping its angelic, sound sleep could be trained
to wake and ask), they smeared her face and filled her mouth with
excrement, and it was her mother, her mother did this. And that mother
could sleep, hearing the poor child's groans! Can you understand why a
little creature, who can't even understand what's done to her,
should beat her little aching heart with her tiny fist in the dark and
the cold, and weep her meek unresentful tears to dear, kind God to
protect her? Do you understand that, friend and brother, you pious and
humble novice? Do you understand why this infamy must be and is
permitted? Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth,
for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that
diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole world
of knowledge is not worth that child's prayer to dear, kind God'! I
say nothing of the sufferings of grown-up people, they have eaten
the apple, damn them, and the devil take them all! But these little
ones! I am making you suffer, Alyosha, you are not yourself. I'll
leave off if you like."
"Nevermind. I want to suffer too," muttered Alyosha.
"One picture, only one more, because it's so curious, so
characteristic, and I have only just read it in some collection of
Russian antiquities. I've forgotten the name. I must look it up. It
was in the darkest days of serfdom at the beginning of the century,
and long live the Liberator of the People! There was in those days a
general of aristocratic connections, the owner of great estates, one
of those men- somewhat exceptional, I believe, even then- who,
retiring from the service into a life of leisure, are convinced that
they've earned absolute power over the lives of their subjects.
There were such men then. So our general, settled on his property of
two thousand souls, lives in pomp, and domineers over his poor
neighbours as though they were dependents and buffoons. He has kennels
of hundreds of hounds and nearly a hundred dog-boys- all mounted,
and in uniform. One day a serf-boy, a little child of eight, threw a
stone in play and hurt the paw of the general's favourite hound.
'Why is my favourite dog lame?' He is told that the boy threw a
stone that hurt the dog's paw. 'So you did it.' The general looked the
child up and down. 'Take him.' He was taken- taken from his mother and
kept shut up all night. Early that morning the general comes out on
horseback, with the hounds, his dependents, dog-boys, and huntsmen,
all mounted around him in full hunting parade. The servants are
summoned for their edification, and in front of them all stands the
mother of the child. The child is brought from the lock-up. It's a
gloomy, cold, foggy, autumn day, a capital day for hunting. The
general orders the child to be undressed; the child is stripped naked.
He shivers, numb with terror, not daring to cry.... 'Make him run,'
commands the general. 'Run! run!' shout the dog-boys. The boy runs....
'At him!' yells the general, and he sets the whole pack of hounds on
the child. The hounds catch him, and tear him to pieces before his
mother's eyes!... I believe the general was afterwards declared
incapable of administering his estates. Well- what did he deserve?
To be shot? To be shot for the satisfaction of our moral feelings?
Speak, Alyosha!
"To be shot," murmured Alyosha, lifting his eyes to Ivan with a
pale, twisted smile.
"Bravo!" cried Ivan delighted. "If even you say so... You're a
pretty monk! So there is a little devil sitting in your heart, Alyosha
"What I said was absurd, but-"
"That's just the point, that 'but'!" cried Ivan. "Let me tell you,
novice, that the absurd is only too necessary on earth. The world
stands on absurdities, and perhaps nothing would have come to pass
in it without them. We know what we know!"
"What do you know?"
"I understand nothing," Ivan went on, as though in delirium. "I
don't want to understand anything now. I want to stick to the fact.
I made up my mind long ago not to understand. If I try to understand
anything, I shall be false to the fact, and I have determined to stick
to the fact."
"Why are you trying me?" Alyosha cried, with sudden distress.
"Will you say what you mean at last?"
"Of course, I will; that's what I've been leading up to. You are
dear to me, I don't want to let you go, and I won't give you up to
your Zossima."
Ivan for a minute was silent, his face became all at once very
"Listen! I took the case of children only to make my case clearer.
Of the other tears of humanity with which the earth is soaked from its
crust to its centre, I will say nothing. I have narrowed my subject on
purpose. I am a bug, and I recognise in all humility that I cannot
understand why the world is arranged as it is. Men are themselves to
blame, I suppose; they were given paradise, they wanted freedom, and
stole fire from heaven, though they knew they would become unhappy, so
there is no need to pity them. With my pitiful, earthly, Euclidian
understanding, all I know is that there is suffering and that there
are none guilty; that cause follows effect, simply and directly;
that everything flows and finds its level- but that's only Euclidian
nonsense, I know that, and I can't consent to live by it! What comfort
is it to me that there are none guilty and that cause follows effect
simply and directly, and that I know it?- I must have justice, or I
will destroy myself. And not justice in some remote infinite time
and space, but here on earth, and that I could see myself. I have
believed in it. I want to see it, and if I am dead by then, let me
rise again, for if it all happens without me, it will be too unfair.
Surely I haven't suffered simply that I, my crimes and my
sufferings, may manure the soil of the future harmony for somebody
else. I want to see with my own eyes the hind lie down with the lion
and the victim rise up and embrace his murderer. I want to be there
when everyone suddenly understands what it has all been for. All the
religions of the world are built on this longing, and I am a believer.
But then there are the children, and what am I to do about them?
That's a question I can't answer. For the hundredth time I repeat,
there are numbers of questions, but I've only taken the children,
because in their case what I mean is so unanswerably clear. Listen! If
all must suffer to pay for the eternal harmony, what have children
to do with it, tell me, please? It's beyond all comprehension why they
should suffer, and why they should pay for the harmony. Why should
they, too, furnish material to enrich the soil for the harmony of
the future? I understand solidarity in sin among men. I understand
solidarity in retribution, too; but there can be no such solidarity
with children. And if it is really true that they must share
responsibility for all their fathers' crimes, such a truth is not of
this world and is beyond my comprehension. Some jester will say,
perhaps, that the child would have grown up and have sinned, but you
see he didn't grow up, he was torn to pieces by the dogs, at eight
years old. Oh, Alyosha, I am not blaspheming! I understand, of course,
what an upheaval of the universe it will be when everything in
heaven and earth blends in one hymn of praise and everything that
lives and has lived cries aloud: 'Thou art just, O Lord, for Thy
ways are revealed.' When the mother embraces the fiend who threw her
child to the dogs, and all three cry aloud with tears, 'Thou art just,
O Lord!' then, of course, the crown of knowledge will be reached and
all will be made clear. But what pulls me up here is that I can't
accept that harmony. And while I am on earth, I make haste to take
my own measures. You see, Alyosha, perhaps it really may happen that
if I live to that moment, or rise again to see it, I, too, perhaps,
may cry aloud with the rest, looking at the mother embracing the
child's torturer, 'Thou art just, O Lord!' but I don't want to cry
aloud then. While there is still time, I hasten to protect myself, and
so I renounce the higher harmony altogether. It's not worth the
tears of that one tortured child who beat itself on the breast with
its little fist and prayed in its stinking outhouse, with its
unexpiated tears to 'dear, kind God'! It's not worth it, because those
tears are unatoned for. They must be atoned for, or there can be no
harmony. But how? How are you going to atone for them? Is it possible?
By their being avenged? But what do I care for avenging them? What
do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since
those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of
harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I
don't want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to
swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then
I protest that the truth is not worth such a price. I don't want the
mother to embrace the oppressor who threw her son to the dogs! She
dare not forgive him! Let her forgive him for herself, if she will,
let her forgive the torturer for the immeasurable suffering of her
mother's heart. But the sufferings of her tortured child she has no
right to forgive; she dare not forgive the torturer, even if the child
were to forgive him! And if that is so, if they dare not forgive, what
becomes of harmony? Is there in the whole world a being who would have
the right to forgive and could forgive? I don't want harmony. From
love for humanity I don't want it. I would rather be left with the
unavenged suffering. I would rather remain with my unavenged suffering
and unsatisfied indignation, even if I were wrong. Besides, too high a
price is asked for harmony; it's beyond our means to pay so much to
enter on it. And so I hasten to give back my entrance ticket, and if I
am an honest man I am bound to give it back as soon as possible. And
that I am doing. It's not God that I don't accept, Alyosha, only I
most respectfully return him the ticket."
"That's rebellion," murmered Alyosha, looking down.
"Rebellion? I am sorry you call it that," said Ivan earnestly.
"One can hardly live in rebellion, and I want to live. Tell me
yourself, I challenge your answer. Imagine that you are creating a
fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the
end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and
inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature- that baby
beating its breast with its fist, for instance- and to found that
edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the
architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth."
"No, I wouldn't consent," said Alyosha softly.
"And can you admit the idea that men for whom you are building
it would agree to accept their happiness on the foundation of the
unexpiated blood of a little victim? And accepting it would remain
happy for ever?"
"No, I can't admit it. Brother," said Alyosha suddenly, with
flashing eyes, "you said just now, is there a being in the whole world
who would have the right to forgive and could forgive? But there is
a Being and He can forgive everything, all and for all, because He
gave His innocent blood for all and everything. You have forgotten
Him, and on Him is built the edifice, and it is to Him they cry aloud,
'Thou art just, O Lord, for Thy ways are revealed!'
"Ah! the One without sin and His blood! No, I have not forgotten
Him; on the contrary I've been wondering all the time how it was you
did not bring Him in before, for usually all arguments on your side
put Him in the foreground. Do you know, Alyosha- don't laugh I made
a poem about a year ago. If you can waste another ten minutes on me,
I'll tell it to you."
"You wrote a poem?"
"Oh, no, I didn't write it," laughed Ivan, and I've never
written two lines of poetry in my life. But I made up this poem in
prose and I remembered it. I was carried away when I made it up. You
will be my first reader- that is listener. Why should an author forego
even one listener?" smiled Ivan. "Shall I tell it to you?"
"I am all attention." said Alyosha.
"My poem is called The Grand Inquisitor; it's a ridiculous
thing, but I want to tell it to you.
Chapter 5
The Grand Inquisitor

"EVEN this must have a preface- that is, a literary preface,"
laughed Ivan, "and I am a poor hand at making one. You see, my
action takes place in the sixteenth century, and at that time, as
you probably learnt at school, it was customary in poetry to bring
down heavenly powers on earth. Not to speak of Dante, in France,
clerks, as well as the monks in the monasteries, used to give
regular performances in which the Madonna, the saints, the angels,
Christ, and God Himself were brought on the stage. In those days it
was done in all simplicity. In Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris an
edifying and gratuitous spectacle was provided for the people in the
Hotel de Ville of Paris in the reign of Louis XI in honour of the
birth of the dauphin. It was called Le bon jugement de la tres
sainte et gracieuse Vierge Marie, and she appears herself on the stage
and pronounces her bon jugement. Similar plays, chiefly from the Old
Testament, were occasionally performed in Moscow too, up to the
times of Peter the Great. But besides plays there were all sorts of
legends and ballads scattered about the world, in which the saints and
angels and all the powers of Heaven took part when required. In our
monasteries the monks busied themselves in translating, copying, and
even composing such poems- and even under the Tatars. There is, for
instance, one such poem (of course, from the Greek), The Wanderings of
Our Lady through Hell, with descriptions as bold as Dante's. Our
Lady visits hell, and the Archangel Michael leads her through the
torments. She sees the sinners and their punishment. There she sees
among others one noteworthy set of sinners in a burning lake; some
of them sink to the bottom of the lake so that they can't swim out,
and 'these God forgets'- an expression of extraordinary depth and
force. And so Our Lady, shocked and weeping, falls before the throne
of God and begs for mercy for all in hell- for all she has seen there,
indiscriminately. Her conversation with God is immensely
interesting. She beseeches Him, she will not desist, and when God
points to the hands and feet of her Son, nailed to the Cross, and
asks, 'How can I forgive His tormentors?' she bids all the saints, all
the martyrs, all the angels and archangels to fall down with her and
pray for mercy on all without distinction. It ends by her winning from
God a respite of suffering every year from Good Friday till Trinity
Day, and the sinners at once raise a cry of thankfulness from hell,
chanting, 'Thou art just, O Lord, in this judgment.' Well, my poem
would have been of that kind if it had appeared at that time. He comes
on the scene in my poem, but He says nothing, only appears and
passes on. Fifteen centuries have passed since He promised to come
in His glory, fifteen centuries since His prophet wrote, 'Behold, I
come quickly'; 'Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, neither
the Son, but the Father,' as He Himself predicted on earth. But
humanity awaits him with the same faith and with the same love. Oh,
with greater faith, for it is fifteen centuries since man has ceased
to see signs from heaven.

No signs from heaven come to-day
To add to what the heart doth say.

There was nothing left but faith in what the heart doth say. It is
true there were many miracles in those days. There were saints who
performed miraculous cures; some holy people, according to their
biographies, were visited by the Queen of Heaven herself. But the
devil did not slumber, and doubts were already arising among men of
the truth of these miracles. And just then there appeared in the north
of Germany a terrible new heresy. 'A huge star like to a torch'
(that is, to a church) 'fell on the sources of the waters and they
became bitter.' These heretics began blasphemously denying miracles.
But those who remained faithful were all the more ardent in their
faith. The tears of humanity rose up to Him as before, awaited His
coming, loved Him, hoped for Him, yearned to suffer and die for Him as
before. And so many ages mankind had prayed with faith and fervour, 'O
Lord our God, hasten Thy coming'; so many ages called upon Him, that
in His infinite mercy He deigned to come down to His servants.
Before that day He had come down, He had visited some holy men,
martyrs, and hermits, as is written in their lives. Among us,
Tyutchev, with absolute faith in the truth of his words, bore
witness that

Bearing the Cross, in slavish dress,
Weary and worn, the Heavenly King
Our mother, Russia, came to bless,
And through our land went wandering.

And that certainly was so, I assure you.
"And behold, He deigned to appear for a moment to the people, to
the tortured, suffering people, sunk in iniquity, but loving Him
like children. My story is laid in Spain, in Seville, in the most
terrible time of the Inquisition, when fires were lighted every day to
the glory of God, and 'in the splendid auto da fe the wicked
heretics were burnt.' Oh, of course, this was not the coming in
which He will appear, according to His promise, at the end of time
in all His heavenly glory, and which will be sudden 'as lightning
flashing from east to west.' No, He visited His children only for a
moment, and there where the flames were crackling round the
heretics. In His infinite mercy He came once more among men in that
human shape in which He walked among men for thirty-three years
fifteen centuries ago. He came down to the 'hot pavements' of the
southern town in which on the day before almost a hundred heretics
had, ad majorem gloriam Dei, been burnt by the cardinal, the Grand
Inquisitor, in a magnificent auto da fe, in the presence of the
king, the court, the knights, the cardinals, the most charming
ladies of the court, and the whole population of Seville.
"He came softly, unobserved, and yet, strange to say, everyone
recognised Him. That might be one of the best passages in the poem.
I mean, why they recognised Him. The people are irresistibly drawn
to Him, they surround Him, they flock about Him, follow Him. He
moves silently in their midst with a gentle smile of infinite
compassion. The sun of love burns in His heart, and power shine from
His eyes, and their radiance, shed on the people, stirs their hearts
with responsive love. He holds out His hands to them, blesses them,
and a healing virtue comes from contact with Him, even with His
garments. An old man in the crowd, blind from childhood, cries out, 'O
Lord, heal me and I shall see Thee!' and, as it were, scales fall from
his eyes and the blind man sees Him. The crowd weeps and kisses the
earth under His feet. Children throw flowers before Him, sing, and cry
hosannah. 'It is He- it is He!' repeat. 'It must be He, it can be no
one but Him!' He stops at the steps of the Seville cathedral at the
moment when the weeping mourners are bringing in a little open white
coffin. In it lies a child of seven, the only daughter of a
prominent citizen. The dead child lies hidden in flowers. 'He will
raise your child,' the crowd shouts to the weeping mother. The priest,
coming to meet the coffin, looks perplexed, and frowns, but the mother
of the dead child throws herself at His feet with a wail. 'If it is
Thou, raise my child!' she cries, holding out her hands to Him. The
procession halts, the coffin is laid on the steps at His feet. He
looks with compassion, and His lips once more softly pronounce,
'Maiden, arise!' and the maiden arises. The little girl sits up in the
coffin and looks round, smiling with wide-open wondering eyes, holding
a bunch of white roses they had put in her hand.
"There are cries, sobs, confusion among the people, and at that
moment the cardinal himself, the Grand Inquisitor, passes by the
cathedral. He is an old man, almost ninety, tall and erect, with a
withered face and sunken eyes, in which there is still a gleam of
light. He is not dressed in his gorgeous cardinal's robes, as he was
the day before, when he was burning the enemies of the Roman Church-
at this moment he is wearing his coarse, old, monk's cassock. At a
distance behind him come his gloomy assistants and slaves and the
'holy guard.' He stops at the sight of the crowd and watches it from a
distance. He sees everything; he sees them set the coffin down at
His feet, sees the child rise up, and his face darkens. He knits his
thick grey brows and his eyes gleam with a sinister fire. He holds out
his finger and bids the guards take Him. And such is his power, so
completely are the people cowed into submission and trembling
obedience to him, that the crowd immediately makes way for the guards,
and in the midst of deathlike silence they lay hands on Him and lead
him away. The crowd instantly bows down to the earth, like one man,
before the old Inquisitor. He blesses the people in silence and passes
on' The guards lead their prisoner to the close, gloomy vaulted
prison- in the ancient palace of the Holy, inquisition and shut him in
it. The day passes and is followed by the dark, burning,
'breathless' night of Seville. The air is 'fragrant with laurel and
lemon.' In the pitch darkness the iron door of the prison is
suddenly opened and the Grand Inquisitor himself comes in with a light
in his hand. He is alone; the door is closed at once behind him. He
stands in the doorway and for a minute or two gazes into His face.
At last he goes up slowly, sets the light on the table and speaks.
"'Is it Thou? Thou?' but receiving no answer, he adds at once.
'Don't answer, be silent. What canst Thou say, indeed? I know too well
what Thou wouldst say. And Thou hast no right to add anything to
what Thou hadst said of old. Why, then, art Thou come to hinder us?
For Thou hast come to hinder us, and Thou knowest that. But dost
thou know what will be to-morrow? I know not who Thou art and care not
to know whether it is Thou or only a semblance of Him, but to-morrow I
shall condemn Thee and burn Thee at the stake as the worst of
heretics. And the very people who have to-day kissed Thy feet,
to-morrow at the faintest sign from me will rush to heap up the embers
of Thy fire. Knowest Thou that? Yes, maybe Thou knowest it,' he
added with thoughtful penetration, never for a moment taking his
eyes off the Prisoner."
"I don't quite understand, Ivan. What does it mean?" Alyosha,
who had been listening in silence, said with a smile. "Is it simply
a wild fantasy, or a mistake on the part of the old man- some
impossible quid pro quo?"
"Take it as the last," said Ivan, laughing, "if you are so
corrupted by modern realism and can't stand anything fantastic. If you
like it to be a case of mistaken identity, let it be so. It is
true," he went on, laughing, "the old man was ninety, and he might
well be crazy over his set idea. He might have been struck by the
appearance of the Prisoner. It might, in fact, be simply his
ravings, the delusion of an old man of ninety, over-excited by the
auto da fe of a hundred heretics the day before. But does it matter to
us after all whether it was a mistake of identity or a wild fantasy?
All that matters is that the old man should speak out, that he
should speak openly of what he has thought in silence for ninety
"And the Prisoner too is silent? Does He look at him and not say a
"That's inevitable in any case," Ivan laughed again. "The old
man has told Him He hasn't the right to add anything to what He has
said of old. One may say it is the most fundamental feature of Roman
Catholicism, in my opinion at least. 'All has been given by Thee to
the Pope,' they say, 'and all, therefore, is still in the Pope's
hands, and there is no need for Thee to come now at all. Thou must not
meddle for the time, at least.' That's how they speak and write too-
the Jesuits, at any rate. I have read it myself in the works of
their theologians. 'Hast Thou the right to reveal to us one of the
mysteries of that world from which Thou hast come?' my old man asks
Him, and answers the question for Him. 'No, Thou hast not; that Thou
mayest not add to what has been said of old, and mayest not take
from men the freedom which Thou didst exalt when Thou wast on earth.
Whatsoever Thou revealest anew will encroach on men's freedom of
faith; for it will be manifest as a miracle, and the freedom of
their faith was dearer to Thee than anything in those days fifteen
hundred years ago. Didst Thou not often say then, "I will make you
free"? But now Thou hast seen these "free" men,' the old man adds
suddenly, with a pensive smile. 'Yes, we've paid dearly for it,' he
goes on, looking sternly at Him, 'but at last we have completed that
work in Thy name. For fifteen centuries we have been wrestling with
Thy freedom, but now it is ended and over for good. Dost Thou not
believe that it's over for good? Thou lookest meekly at me and
deignest not even to be wroth with me. But let me tell Thee that
now, to-day, people are more persuaded than ever that they have
perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it
humbly at our feet. But that has been our doing. Was this what Thou
didst? Was this Thy freedom?'"
"I don't understand again." Alyosha broke in. "Is he ironical,
is he jesting?"
"Not a bit of it! He claims it as a merit for himself and his
Church that at last they have vanquished freedom and have done so to
make men happy. 'For now' (he is speaking of the Inquisition, of
course) 'for the first time it has become possible to think of the
happiness of men. Man was created a rebel; and how can rebels be
happy? Thou wast warned,' he says to Him. 'Thou hast had no lack of
admonitions and warnings, but Thou didst not listen to those warnings;
Thou didst reject the only way by which men might be made happy.
But, fortunately, departing Thou didst hand on the work to us. Thou
hast promised, Thou hast established by Thy word, Thou hast given to
us the right to bind and to unbind, and now, of course, Thou canst not
think of taking it away. Why, then, hast Thou come to hinder us?'"
"And what's the meaning of 'no lack of admonitions and warnings'?"
asked Alyosha.
"Why, that's the chief part of what the old man must say.
"'The wise and dread spirit, the spirit of self-destruction and
non-existence,' the old man goes on, great spirit talked with Thee
in the wilderness, and we are told in the books that he "tempted"
Thee. Is that so? And could anything truer be said than what he
revealed to Thee in three questions and what Thou didst reject, and
what in the books is called "the temptation"? And yet if there has
ever been on earth a real stupendous miracle, it took place on that
day, on the day of the three temptations. The statement of those three
questions was itself the miracle. If it were possible to imagine
simply for the sake of argument that those three questions of the
dread spirit had perished utterly from the books, and that we had to
restore them and to invent them anew, and to do so had gathered
together all the wise men of the earth- rulers, chief priests, learned
men, philosophers, poets- and had set them the task to invent three
questions, such as would not only fit the occasion, but express in
three words, three human phrases, the whole future history of the
world and of humanity- dost Thou believe that all the wisdom of the
earth united could have invented anything in depth and force equal
to the three questions which were actually put to Thee then by the
wise and mighty spirit in the wilderness? From those questions
alone, from the miracle of their statement, we can see that we have
here to do not with the fleeting human intelligence, but with the
absolute and eternal. For in those three questions the whole
subsequent history of mankind is, as it were, brought together into
one whole, and foretold, and in them are united all the unsolved
historical contradictions of human nature. At the time it could not be
so clear, since the future was unknown; but now that fifteen hundred
years have passed, we see that everything in those three questions was
so justly divined and foretold, and has been so truly fulfilled,
that nothing can be added to them or taken from them.
"Judge Thyself who was right- Thou or he who questioned Thee then?
Remember the first question; its meaning, in other words, was this:
"Thou wouldst go into the world, and art going with empty hands,
with some promise of freedom which men in their simplicity and their
natural unruliness cannot even understand, which they fear and
dread- for nothing has ever been more insupportable for a man and a
human society than freedom. But seest Thou these stones in this
parched and barren wilderness? Turn them into bread, and mankind
will run after Thee like a flock of sheep, grateful and obedient,
though for ever trembling, lest Thou withdraw Thy hand and deny them
Thy bread." But Thou wouldst not deprive man of freedom and didst
reject the offer, thinking, what is that freedom worth if obedience is
bought with bread? Thou didst reply that man lives not by bread alone.
But dost Thou know that for the sake of that earthly bread the
spirit of the earth will rise up against Thee and will strive with
Thee and overcome Thee, and all will follow him, crying, "Who can
compare with this beast? He has given us fire from heaven!" Dost
Thou know that the ages will pass, and humanity will proclaim by the
lips of their sages that there is no crime, and therefore no sin;
there is only hunger? "Feed men, and then ask of them virtue!"
that's what they'll write on the banner, which they will raise against
Thee, and with which they will destroy Thy temple. Where Thy temple
stood will rise a new building; the terrible tower of Babel will be
built again, and though, like the one of old, it will not be finished,
yet Thou mightest have prevented that new tower and have cut short the
sufferings of men for a thousand years; for they will come back to
us after a thousand years of agony with their tower. They will seek us
again, hidden underground in the catacombs, for we shall be again
persecuted and tortured. They will find us and cry to us, "Feed us,
for those who have promised us fire from heaven haven't given it!" And
then we shall finish building their tower, for he finishes the
building who feeds them. And we alone shall feed them in Thy name,
declaring falsely that it is in Thy name. Oh, never, never can they
feed themselves without us! No science will give them bread so long as
they remain free. In the end they will lay their freedom at our
feet, and say to us, "Make us your slaves, but feed us." They will
understand themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for
all are inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able
to share between them! They will be convinced, too, that they can
never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless, and
rebellious. Thou didst promise them the bread of Heaven, but, I repeat
again, can it compare with earthly bread in the eyes of the weak, ever
sinful and ignoble race of man? And if for the sake of the bread of
Heaven thousands shall follow Thee, what is to become of the
millions and tens of thousands of millions of creatures who will not
have the strength to forego the earthly bread for the sake of the
heavenly? Or dost Thou care only for the tens of thousands of the
great and strong, while the millions, numerous as the sands of the
sea, who are weak but love Thee, must exist only for the sake of the
great and strong? No, we care for the weak too. They are sinful and
rebellious, but in the end they too will become obedient. They will
marvel at us and look on us as gods, because we are ready to endure
the freedom which they have found so dreadful and to rule over them-
so awful it will seem to them to be free. But we shall tell them
that we are Thy servants and rule them in Thy name. We shall deceive
them again, for we will not let Thee come to us again. That
deception will be our suffering, for we shall be forced to lie.
"'This is the significance of the first question in the
wilderness, and this is what Thou hast rejected for the sake of that
freedom which Thou hast exalted above everything. Yet in this question
lies hid the great secret of this world. Choosing "bread," Thou
wouldst have satisfied the universal and everlasting craving of
humanity- to find someone to worship. So long as man remains free he
strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone
to worship. But man seeks to worship what is established beyond
dispute, so that all men would agree at once to worship it. For
these pitiful creatures are concerned not only to find what one or the
other can worship, but to find community of worship is the chief
misery of every man individually and of all humanity from the
beginning of time. For the sake of common worship they've slain each
other with the sword. They have set up gods and challenged one
another, "Put away your gods and come and worship ours, or we will
kill you and your gods!" And so it will be to the end of the world,
even when gods disappear from the earth; they will fall down before
idols just the same. Thou didst know, Thou couldst not but have known,
this fundamental secret of human nature, but Thou didst reject the one
infallible banner which was offered Thee to make all men bow down to
Thee alone- the banner of earthly bread; and Thou hast rejected it for
the sake of freedom and the bread of Heaven. Behold what Thou didst
further. And all again in the name of freedom! I tell Thee that man is
tormented by no greater anxiety than to find someone quickly to whom
he can hand over that gift of freedom with which the ill-fated
creature is born. But only one who can appease their conscience can
take over their freedom. In bread there was offered Thee an invincible
banner; give bread, and man will worship thee, for nothing is more
certain than bread. But if someone else gains possession of his
conscience- Oh! then he will cast away Thy bread and follow after
him who has ensnared his conscience. In that Thou wast right. For
the secret of man's being is not only to live but to have something to
live for. Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would
not consent to go on living, and would rather destroy himself than
remain on earth, though he had bread in abundance. That is true. But
what happened? Instead of taking men's freedom from them, Thou didst
make it greater than ever! Didst Thou forget that man prefers peace,
and even death, to freedom of choice in the knowledge of good and
evil? Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of
conscience, but nothing is a greater cause of suffering. And behold,
instead of giving a firm foundation for setting the conscience of
man at rest for ever, Thou didst choose all that is exceptional, vague
and enigmatic; Thou didst choose what was utterly beyond the
strength of men, acting as though Thou didst not love them at all-
Thou who didst come to give Thy life for them! Instead of taking
possession of men's freedom, Thou didst increase it, and burdened
the spiritual kingdom of mankind with its sufferings for ever. Thou
didst desire man's free love, that he should follow Thee freely,
enticed and taken captive by Thee. In place of the rigid ancient
law, man must hereafter with free heart decide for himself what is
good and what is evil, having only Thy image before him as his
guide. But didst Thou not know that he would at last reject even Thy
image and Thy truth, if he is weighed down with the fearful burden
of free choice? They will cry aloud at last that the truth is not in
Thee, for they could not have been left in greater confusion and
suffering than Thou hast caused, laying upon them so many cares and
unanswerable problems.
"'So that, in truth, Thou didst Thyself lay the foundation for the
destruction of Thy kingdom, and no one is more to blame for it. Yet
what was offered Thee? There are three powers, three powers alone,
able to conquer and to hold captive for ever the conscience of these
impotent rebels for their happiness those forces are miracle,
mystery and authority. Thou hast rejected all three and hast set the
example for doing so. When the wise and dread spirit set Thee on the
pinnacle of the temple and said to Thee, "If Thou wouldst know whether
Thou art the Son of God then cast Thyself down, for it is written: the
angels shall hold him up lest he fall and bruise himself, and Thou
shalt know then whether Thou art the Son of God and shalt prove then
how great is Thy faith in Thy Father." But Thou didst refuse and
wouldst not cast Thyself down. Oh, of course, Thou didst proudly and
well, like God; but the weak, unruly race of men, are they gods? Oh,
Thou didst know then that in taking one step, in making one movement
to cast Thyself down, Thou wouldst be tempting God and have lost all
Thy faith in Him, and wouldst have been dashed to pieces against
that earth which Thou didst come to save. And the wise spirit that
tempted Thee would have rejoiced. But I ask again, are there many like
Thee? And couldst Thou believe for one moment that men, too, could
face such a temptation? Is the nature of men such, that they can
reject miracle, and at the great moments of their life, the moments of
their deepest, most agonising spiritual difficulties, cling only to
the free verdict of the heart? Oh, Thou didst know that Thy deed would
be recorded in books, would be handed down to remote times and the
utmost ends of the earth, and Thou didst hope that man, following
Thee, would cling to God and not ask for a miracle. But Thou didst not
know that when man rejects miracle he rejects God too; for man seeks
not so much God as the miraculous. And as man cannot bear to be
without the miraculous, he will create new miracles of his own for
himself, and will worship deeds of sorcery and witchcraft, though he
might be a hundred times over a rebel, heretic and infidel. Thou didst
not come down from the Cross when they shouted to Thee, mocking and
reviling Thee, "Come down from the cross and we will believe that Thou
art He." Thou didst not come down, for again Thou wouldst not
enslave man by a miracle, and didst crave faith given freely, not
based on miracle. Thou didst crave for free love and not the base
raptures of the slave before the might that has overawed him for ever.
But Thou didst think too highly of men therein, for they are slaves,
of course, though rebellious by nature. Look round and judge;
fifteen centuries have passed, look upon them. Whom hast Thou raised
up to Thyself? I swear, man is weaker and baser by nature than Thou
hast believed him! Can he, can he do what Thou didst? By showing him
so much respect, Thou didst, as it were, cease to feel for him, for
Thou didst ask far too much from him- Thou who hast loved him more
than Thyself! Respecting him less, Thou wouldst have asked less of
him. That would have been more like love, for his burden would have
been lighter. He is weak and vile. What though he is everywhere now
rebelling against our power, and proud of his rebellion? It is the
pride of a child and a schoolboy. They are little children rioting and
barring out the teacher at school. But their childish delight will
end; it will cost them dear. Mankind as a whole has always striven
to organise a universal state. There have been many great nations with
great histories, but the more highly they were developed the more
unhappy they were, for they felt more acutely than other people the
craving for world-wide union. The great conquerors, Timours and
Ghenghis-Khans, whirled like hurricanes over the face of the earth
striving to subdue its people, and they too were but the unconscious
expression of the same craving for universal unity. Hadst Thou taken
the world and Caesar's purple, Thou wouldst have founded the universal
state and have given universal peace. For who can rule men if not he
who holds their conscience and their bread in his hands? We have taken
the sword of Caesar, and in taking it, of course, have rejected Thee
and followed him. Oh, ages are yet to come of the confusion of free
thought, of their science and cannibalism. For having begun to build
their tower of Babel without us, they will end, of course, with
cannibalism. But then the beast will crawl to us and lick our feet and
spatter them with tears of blood. And we shall sit upon the beast
and raise the cup, and on it will be written, "Mystery." But then, and
only then, the reign of peace and happiness will come for men. Thou
art proud of Thine elect, but Thou hast only the elect, while we
give rest to all. And besides, how many of those elect, those mighty
ones who could become elect, have grown weary waiting for Thee, and
have transferred and will transfer the powers of their spirit and
the warmth of their heart to the other camp, and end by raising
their free banner against Thee. Thou didst Thyself lift up that
banner. But with us all will be happy and will no more rebel nor
destroy one another as under Thy freedom. Oh, we shall persuade them
that they will only become free when they renounce their freedom to us
and submit to us. And shall we be right or shall we be lying? They
will be convinced that we are right, for they will remember the
horrors of slavery and confusion to which Thy freedom brought them.
Freedom, free thought, and science will lead them into such straits
and will bring them face to face with such marvels and insoluble
mysteries, that some of them, the fierce and rebellious, will
destroy themselves, others, rebellious but weak, will destroy one
another, while the rest, weak and unhappy, will crawl fawning to our
feet and whine to us: "Yes, you were right, you alone possess His
mystery, and we come back to you, save us from ourselves!"
"'Receiving bread from us, they will see clearly that we take
the bread made by their hands from them, to give it to them, without
any miracle. They will see that we do not change the stones to
bread, but in truth they will be more thankful for taking it from
our hands than for the bread itself! For they will remember only too
well that in old days, without our help, even the bread they made
turned to stones in their hands, while since they have come back to
us, the very stones have turned to bread in their hands. Too, too well
will they know the value of complete submission! And until men know
that, they will be unhappy. Who is most to blame for their not knowing
it?-speak! Who scattered the flock and sent it astray on unknown
paths? But the flock will come together again and will submit once
more, and then it will be once for all. Then we shall give them the
quiet humble happiness of weak creatures such as they are by nature.
Oh, we shall persuade them at last not to be proud, for Thou didst
lift them up and thereby taught them to be proud. We shall show them
that they are weak, that they are only pitiful children, but that
childlike happiness is the sweetest of all. They will become timid and
will look to us and huddle close to us in fear, as chicks to the
hen. They will marvel at us and will be awe-stricken before us, and
will be proud at our being so powerful and clever that we have been
able to subdue such a turbulent flock of thousands of millions. They
will tremble impotently before our wrath, their minds will grow
fearful, they will be quick to shed tears like women and children, but
they will be just as ready at a sign from us to pass to laughter and
rejoicing, to happy mirth and childish song. Yes, we shall set them to
work, but in their leisure hours we shall make their life like a
child's game, with children's songs and innocent dance. Oh, we shall
allow them even sin, they are weak and helpless, and they will love us
like children because we allow them to sin. We shall tell them that
every sin will be expiated, if it is done with our permission, that we
allow them to sin because we love them, and the punishment for these
sins we take upon ourselves. And we shall take it upon ourselves,
and they will adore us as their saviours who have taken on
themselves their sins before God. And they will have no secrets from
us. We shall allow or forbid them to live with their wives and
mistresses, to have or not to have children according to whether
they have been obedient or disobedient- and they will submit to us
gladly and cheerfully. The most painful secrets of their conscience,
all, all they will bring to us, and we shall have an answer for all.
And they will be glad to believe our answer, for it will save them
from the great anxiety and terrible agony they endure at present in
making a free decision for themselves. And all will be happy, all
the millions of creatures except the hundred thousand who rule over
them. For only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be unhappy. There
will be thousands of millions of happy babes, and a hundred thousand
sufferers who have taken upon themselves the curse of the knowledge of
good and evil. Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire
in Thy name, and beyond the grave they will find nothing but death.
But we shall keep the secret, and for their happiness we shall
allure them with the reward of heaven and eternity. Though if there
were anything in the other world, it certainly would not be for such
as they. It is prophesied that Thou wilt come again in victory, Thou
wilt come with Thy chosen, the proud and strong, but we will say
that they have only saved themselves, but we have saved all. We are
told that the harlot who sits upon the beast, and holds in her hands
the mystery, shall be put to shame, that the weak will rise up
again, and will rend her royal purple and will strip naked her
loathsome body. But then I will stand up and point out to Thee the
thousand millions of happy children who have known no sin. And we
who have taken their sins upon us for their happiness will stand up
before Thee and say: "Judge us if Thou canst and darest." Know that
I fear Thee not. Know that I too have been in the wilderness, I too
have lived on roots and locusts, I too prized the freedom with which
Thou hast blessed men, and I too was striving to stand among Thy
elect, among the strong and powerful, thirsting "to make up the
number." But I awakened and would not serve madness. I turned back and
joined the ranks of those who have corrected Thy work. I left the
proud and went back to the humble, for the happiness of the humble.
What I say to Thee will come to pass, and our dominion will be built
up. I repeat, to-morrow Thou shalt see that obedient flock who at a
sign from me will hasten to heap up the hot cinders about the pile
on which I shall burn Thee for coming to hinder us. For if anyone
has ever deserved our fires, it is Thou. To-morrow I shall burn
Thee. Dixi.'"*

* I have spoken.

Ivan stopped. He was carried away as he talked, and spoke with
excitement; when he had finished, he suddenly smiled.
Alyosha had listened in silence; towards the end he was greatly
moved and seemed several times on the point of interrupting, but
restrained himself. Now his words came with a rush.
"But... that's absurd!" he cried, flushing. "Your poem is in
praise of Jesus, not in blame of Him- as you meant it to be. And who
will believe you about freedom? Is that the way to understand it?
That's not the idea of it in the Orthodox Church.... That's Rome,
and not even the whole of Rome, it's false-those are the worst of
the Catholics the Inquisitors, the Jesuits!... And there could not
be such a fantastic creature as your Inquisitor. What are these sins
of mankind they take on themselves? Who are these keepers of the
mystery who have taken some curse upon themselves for the happiness of
mankind? When have they been seen? We know the Jesuits, they are
spoken ill of, but surely they are not what you describe? They are not
that at all, not at all.... They are simply the Romish army for the
earthly sovereignty of the world in the future, with the Pontiff of
Rome for Emperor... that's their ideal, but there's no sort of mystery
or lofty melancholy about it.... It's simple lust of power, of
filthy earthly gain, of domination-something like a universal
serfdom with them as masters-that's all they stand for. They don't
even believe in God perhaps. Your suffering Inquisitor is a mere
"Stay, stay," laughed Ivan. "how hot you are! A fantasy you say,
let it be so! Of course it's a fantasy. But allow me to say: do you
really think that the Roman Catholic movement of the last centuries is
actually nothing but the lust of power, of filthy earthly gain? Is
that Father Paissy's teaching?"
"No, no, on the contrary, Father Paissy did once say something
rather the same as you... but of course it's not the same, not a bit
the same," Alyosha hastily corrected himself.
"A precious admission, in spite of your 'not a bit the same.' I
ask you why your Jesuits and Inquisitors have united simply for vile
material gain? Why can there not be among them one martyr oppressed by
great sorrow and loving humanity? You see, only suppose that there was
one such man among all those who desire nothing but filthy material
gain-if there's only one like my old Inquisitor, who had himself eaten
roots in the desert and made frenzied efforts to subdue his flesh to
make himself free and perfect. But yet all his life he loved humanity,
and suddenly his eyes were opened, and he saw that it is no great
moral blessedness to attain perfection and freedom, if at the same
time one gains the conviction that millions of God's creatures have
been created as a mockery, that they will never be capable of using
their freedom, that these poor rebels can never turn into giants to
complete the tower, that it was not for such geese that the great
idealist dreamt his dream of harmony. Seeing all that he turned back
and joined- the clever people. Surely that could have happened?"
"Joined whom, what clever people?" cried Alyosha, completely
carried away. "They have no such great cleverness and no mysteries and
secrets.... Perhaps nothing but Atheism, that's all their secret. Your
Inquisitor does not believe in God, that's his secret!"
"What if it is so! At last you have guessed it. It's perfectly
true, it's true that that's the whole secret, but isn't that
suffering, at least for a man like that, who has wasted his whole life
in the desert and yet could not shake off his incurable love of
humanity? In his old age he reached the clear conviction that
nothing but the advice of the great dread spirit could build up any
tolerable sort of life for the feeble, unruly, 'incomplete,
empirical creatures created in jest.' And so, convinced of this, he
sees that he must follow the counsel of the wise spirit, the dread
spirit of death and destruction, and therefore accept lying and
deception, and lead men consciously to death and destruction, and
yet deceive them all the way so that they may not notice where they
are being led, that the poor blind creatures may at least on the way
think themselves happy. And note, the deception is in the name of
Him in Whose ideal the old man had so fervently believed all his
life long. Is not that tragic? And if only one such stood at the
head of the whole army 'filled with the lust of power only for the
sake of filthy gain'- would not one such be enough to make a
tragedy? More than that, one such standing at the head is enough to
create the actual leading idea of the Roman Church with all its armies
and Jesuits, its highest idea. I tell you frankly that I firmly
believe that there has always been such a man among those who stood at
the head of the movement. Who knows, there may have been some such
even among the Roman Popes. Who knows, perhaps the spirit of that
accursed old man who loves mankind so obstinately in his own way, is
to be found even now in a whole multitude of such old men, existing
not by chance but by agreement, as a secret league formed long ago for
the guarding of the mystery, to guard it from the weak and the
unhappy, so as to make them happy. No doubt it is so, and so it must
be indeed. I fancy that even among the Masons there's something of the
same mystery at the bottom, and that that's why the Catholics so
detest the Masons as their rivals breaking up the unity of the idea,
while it is so essential that there should be one flock and one
shepherd.... But from the way I defend my idea I might be an author
impatient of your criticism. Enough of it."
"You are perhaps a Mason yourself!" broke suddenly from Alyosha.
"You don't believe in God," he added, speaking this time very
sorrowfully. He fancied besides that his brother was looking at him
ironically. "How does your poem end?" he asked, suddenly looking down.
"Or was it the end?"
"I meant to end it like this. When the Inquisitor ceased
speaking he waited some time for his Prisoner to answer him. His
silence weighed down upon him. He saw that the Prisoner had listened
intently all the time, looking gently in his face and evidently not
wishing to reply. The old man longed for him to say something, however
bitter and terrible. But He suddenly approached the old man in silence
and softly kissed him on his bloodless aged lips. That was all his
answer. The old man shuddered. His lips moved. He went to the door,
opened it, and said to Him: 'Go, and come no more... come not at
all, never, never!' And he let Him out into the dark alleys of the
town. The Prisoner went away."
"And the old man?"
"The kiss glows in his heart, but the old man adheres to his
"And you with him, you too?" cried Alyosha, mournfully.
Ivan laughed.
"Why, it's all nonsense, Alyosha. It's only a senseless poem of
a senseless student, who could never write two lines of verse. Why
do you take it so seriously? Surely you don't suppose I am going
straight off to the Jesuits, to join the men who are correcting His
work? Good Lord, it's no business of mine. I told you, all I want is
to live on to thirty, and then... dash the cup to the ground!"
"But the little sticky leaves, and the precious tombs, and the
blue sky, and the woman you love! How will you live, how will you love
them?" Alyosha cried sorrowfully. "With such a hell in your heart
and your head, how can you? No, that's just what you are going away
for, to join them... if not, you will kill yourself, you can't
endure it!"
"There is a strength to endure everything," Ivan said with a
cold smile.
"The strength of the Karamazovs- the strength of the Karamazov
"To sink into debauchery, to stifle your soul with corruption,
"Possibly even that... only perhaps till I am thirty I shall
escape it, and then-"
"How will you escape it? By what will you escape it? That's
impossible with your ideas."
"In the Karamazov way, again."
"'Everything is lawful,' you mean? Everything is lawful, is that
Ivan scowled, and all at once turned strangely pale.
"Ah, you've caught up yesterday's phrase, which so offended
Muisov- and which Dmitri pounced upon so naively and paraphrased!"
he smiled queerly. "Yes, if you like, 'everything is lawful' since the
word has been said, I won't deny it. And Mitya's version isn't bad."
Alyosha looked at him in silence.
"I thought that going away from here I have you at least," Ivan
said suddenly, with unexpected feeling; "but now I see that there is
no place for me even in your heart, my dear hermit. The formula,
'all is lawful,' I won't renounce- will you renounce me for that,
Alyosha got up, went to him and softly kissed him on the lips.
"That's plagiarism," cried Ivan, highly delighted. "You stole that
from my poem. Thank you though. Get up, Alyosha, it's time we were
going, both of us."
They went out, but stopped when they reached the entrance of the
"Listen, Alyosha," Ivan began in a resolute voice, "if I am really
able to care for the sticky little leaves I shall only love them,
remembering you. It's enough for me that you are somewhere here, and I
shan't lose my desire for life yet. Is that enough for you? Take it as
a declaration of love if you like. And now you go to the right and I
to the left. And it's enough, do you hear, enough. I mean even if I
don't go away to-morrow (I think I certainly shall go) and we meet
again, don't say a word more on these subjects. I beg that
particularly. And about Dmitri too, I ask you specially, never speak
to me again," he added, with sudden irritation; "it's all exhausted,
it has all been said over and over again, hasn't it? And I'll make you
one promise in return for it. When at thirty, I want to 'dash the
cup to the ground,' wherever I may be I'll come to have one more
talk with you, even though it were from America, you may be sure of
that. I'll come on purpose. It will be very interesting to have a look
at you, to see what you'll be by that time. It's rather a solemn
promise, you see. And we really may be parting for seven years or ten.
Come, go now to your Pater Seraphicus, he is dying. If he dies without
you, you will be angry with me for having kept you. Good-bye, kiss
me once more; that's right, now go."
Ivan turned suddenly and went his way without looking back. It was
just as Dmitri had left Alyosha the day before, though the parting had
been very different. The strange resemblance flashed like an arrow
through Alyosha's mind in the distress and dejection of that moment.
He waited a little, looking after his brother. He suddenly noticed
that Ivan swayed as he walked and that his right shoulder looked lower
than his left. He had never noticed it before. But all at once he
turned too, and almost ran to the monastery. It was nearly dark, and
he felt almost frightened; something new was growing up in him for
which he could not account. The wind had risen again as on the
previous evening, and the ancient pines murmured gloomily about him
when he entered the hermitage copse. He almost ran. "Pater Seraphicus-
he got that name from somewhere- where from?" Alyosha wondered. "Ivan,
poor Ivan, and when shall I see you again?... Here is the hermitage.
Yes, yes, that he is, Pater Seraphicus, he will save me- from him
and for ever!"
Several times afterwards he wondered how he could, on leaving
Ivan, so completely forget his brother Dmitri, though he had that
morning, only a few hours before, so firmly resolved to find him and
not to give up doing so, even should he be unable to return to the
monastery that night.
Chapter 6
For Awhile a Very Obscure One

AND Ivan, on parting from Alyosha, went home to Fyodor
Pavlovitch's house. But, strange to say, he was overcome by
insufferable depression, which grew greater at every step he took
towards the house. There was nothing strange in his being depressed;
what was strange was that Ivan could not have said what was the
cause of it. He had often been depressed before, and there was nothing
surprising at his feeling so at such a moment, when he had broken
off with everything had brought him here, and was preparing that day
to make a new start and enter upon a new, unknown future. He would
again be as solitary as ever, and though he had great hopes, and
great- too great- expectations from life, he could not have given
any definite account of his hopes, his expectations, or even his
Yet at that moment, though the apprehension of the new and unknown
certainly found place in his heart, what was worrying him was
something quite different. "Is it loathing for my father's house?"
he wondered. "Quite likely; I am so sick of it; and though it's the
last time I shall cross its hateful threshold, still I loathe it....
No, it's not that either. Is it the parting with Alyosha and the
conversation I had with him? For so many years I've been silent with
the whole world and not deigned to speak, and all of a sudden I reel
off a rigmarole like that." certainly might have been the youthful
vexation of youthful inexperience and vanity- vexation at having
failed to express himself, especially with such a being as Alyosha, on
whom his heart had certainly been reckoning. No doubt that came in,
that vexation, it must have done indeed; but yet that was not it, that
was not it either. "I feel sick with depression and yet I can't tell
what I want. Better not think, perhaps."
Ivan tried "not to think," but that, too, was no use. What made
his depression so vexatious and irritating was that it had a kind of
casual, external character- he felt that. Some person or thing
seemed to be standing out somewhere, just as something will
sometimes obtrude itself upon the eye, and though one may be so busy
with work or conversation that for a long time one does not notice it,
yet it irritates and almost torments one till at last one realises,
and removes the offending object, often quite a trifling and
ridiculous one- some article left about in the wrong place, a
handkerchief on the floor, a book not replaced on the shelf, and so
At last, feeling very cross and ill-humoured, Ivan arrived home,
and suddenly, about fifteen paces from the garden gate, he guessed
what was fretting and worrying him.
On a bench in the gateway the valet Smerdyakov was sitting
enjoying the coolness of the evening, and at the first glance at him
Ivan knew that the valet Smerdyakov was on his mind, and that it was
this man that his soul loathed. It all dawned upon him suddenly and
became clear. just before, when Alyosha had been telling him of his
meeting with Smerdyakov, he had felt a sudden twinge of gloom and
loathing, which had immediately stirred responsive anger in his heart.
Afterwards, as he talked, Smerdyakov had been forgotten for the
time; but still he had been in his mind, and as soon as Ivan parted
with Alyosha and was walking home, the forgotten sensation began to
obtrude itself again. "Is it possible that a miserable, contemptible
creature like that can worry me so much?" he wondered, with
insufferable irritation.
It was true that Ivan had come of late to feel an intense
dislike for the man, especially during the last few days. He had
even begun to notice in himself a growing feeling that was almost of
hatred for the creature. Perhaps this hatred was accentuated by the
fact that when Ivan first came to the neighbourhood he had felt
quite differently. Then he had taken a marked interest in
Smerdyakov, and had even thought him very original. He had
encouraged him to talk to him, although he had always wondered at a
certain incoherence, or rather restlessness, in his mind, and could
not understand what it was that so continually and insistently
worked upon the brain of "the contemplative." They discussed
philosophical questions and even how there could have been light on
the first day when the sun, moon, and stars were only created on the
fourth day, and how that was to be understood. But Ivan soon saw that,
though the sun, moon, and stars might be an interesting subject, yet
that it was quite secondary to Smerdyakov, and that he was looking for
something altogether different. In one way and another, he began to
betray a boundless vanity, and a wounded vanity, too, and that Ivan
disliked. It had first given rise to his aversion. Later on, there had
been trouble in the house. Grushenka had come on the scene, and
there had been the scandals with his brother Dmitri- they discussed
that, too. But though Smerdyakov always talked of that with great
excitement, it was impossible to discover what he desired to come of
it. There was, in fact, something surprising in the illogicality and
incoherence of some of his desires, accidentally betrayed and always
vaguely expressed. Smerdyakov was always inquiring, putting certain
indirect but obviously premeditated questions, but what his object was
he did not explain, and usually at the most important moment he
would break off and relapse into silence or pass to another subject.
But what finally irritated Ivan most and confirmed his dislike for him
was the peculiar, revolting familiarity which Smerdyakov began to show
more and more markedly. Not that he forgot himself and was rude; on
the contrary, he always spoke very respectfully, yet he had
obviously begun to consider- goodness knows why!- that there was
some sort of understanding between him and Ivan Fyodorovitch. He
always spoke in a tone that suggested that those two had some kind
of compact, some secret between them, that had at some time been
expressed on both sides, only known to them and beyond the
comprehension of those around them. But for a long while Ivan did
not recognise the real cause of his growing dislike and he had only
lately realised what was at the root of it.
With a feeling of disgust and irritation he tried to pass in at
the gate without speaking or looking at Smerdyakov. But Smerdyakov
rose from the bench, and from that action alone, Ivan knew instantly
that he wanted particularly to talk to him. Ivan looked at him and
stopped, and the fact that he did stop, instead of passing by, as he
meant to the minute before, drove him to fury. With anger and
repulsion he looked at Smerdyakov's emasculate, sickly face, with
the little curls combed forward on his forehead. His left eye winked
and he grinned as if to say, "Where are you going? You won't pass
by; you see that we two clever people have something to say to each
Ivan shook. "Get away, miserable idiot. What have I to do with
you?" was on the tip of his tongue, but to his profound astonishment
he heard himself say, "Is my father still asleep, or has he waked?"
He asked the question softly and meekly, to his own surprise,
and at once, again to his own surprise, sat down on the bench. For
an instant he felt almost frightened; he remembered it afterwards.
Smerdyakov stood facing him, his hands behind his back, looking at him
with assurance and almost severity.
"His honour is still asleep," he articulated deliberately ("You
were the first to speak, not I," he seemed to say). "I am surprised at
you, sir," he added, after a pause, dropping his eyes affectedly,
setting his right foot forward, and playing with the tip of his
polished boot.
"Why are you surprised at me?" Ivan asked abruptly and sullenly,
doing his utmost to restrain himself, and suddenly realising, with
disgust, that he was feeling intense curiosity and would not, on any
account, have gone away without satisfying it.
"Why don't you go to Tchermashnya, sir?" Smerdyakov suddenly
raised his eyes and smiled familiarly. "Why I smile you must
understand of yourself, if you are a clever man," his screwed-up
left eye seemed to say.
"Why should I go to Tchermashnya?" Ivan asked in surprise.
Smerdyakov was silent again.
"Fyodor Pavlovitch himself has so begged you to," he said at last,
slowly and apparently attaching no significance to his answer. "I
put you off with a secondary reason," he seemed to suggest, "simply to
say something."
"Damn you! Speak out what you want!" Ivan cried angrily at last,
passing from meekness to violence.
Smerdyakov drew his right foot up to his left, pulled himself
up, but still looked at him with the same serenity and the same little
"Substantially nothing- but just by way of conversation."
Another silence followed. They did not speak for nearly a
minute. Ivan knew that he ought to get up and show anger, and
Smerdyakov stood before him and seemed to be waiting as though to
see whether he would be angry or not. So at least it seemed to Ivan.
At last he moved to get up. Smerdyakov seemed to seize the moment.
"I'm in an awful position, Ivan Fyodorovitch. I don't know how
to help myself," he said resolutely and distinctly, and at his last
word he sighed. Ivan Fyodorovitch sat down again.
"They are both utterly crazy, they are no better than little
children," Smerdyakov went on. "I am speaking of your parent and
your brother Dmitri Fyodorovitch. Here Fyodor Pavlovitch will get up
directly and begin worrying me every minute, 'Has she come? Why hasn't
she come?' and so on up till midnight and even after midnight. And
if Agrafena Alexandrovna doesn't come (for very likely she does not
mean to come at all) then he will be at me again to-morrow morning,
'Why hasn't she come? When will she come?'- as though I were to
blame for it. On the other side it's no better. As soon as it gets
dark, or even before, your brother will appear with his gun in his
hands: 'Look out, you rogue, you soup-maker. If you miss her and don't
let me know she's been- I'll kill you before anyone.' When the night's
over, in the morning, he, too, like Fyodor Pavlovitch, begins worrying
me to death. 'Why hasn't she come? Will she come soon?' And he, too,
thinks me to blame because his lady hasn't come. And every day and
every hour they get angrier and angrier, so that I sometimes think I
shall kill myself in a fright. I can't depend them, sir."
"And why have you meddled? Why did you begin to spy for Dmitri
Fyodorovitch?" said Ivan irritably.
"How could I help meddling? Though, indeed, I haven't meddled at
all, if you want to know the truth of the matter. I kept quiet from
the very beginning, not daring to answer; but he pitched on me to be
his servant. He has had only one thing to say since: 'I'll kill you,
you scoundrel, if you miss her.' I feel certain, sir, that I shall
have a long fit to-morrow."
"What do you mean by 'a long fit'?"
"A long fit, lasting a long time- several hours, or perhaps a
day or two. Once it went on for three days. I fell from the garret
that time. The struggling ceased and then began again, and for three
days I couldn't come back to my senses. Fyodor Pavlovitch sent for
Herzenstube, the doctor here, and he put ice on my head and tried
another remedy, too.... I might have died."
"But they say one can't tell with epilepsy when a fit is coming.
What makes you say you will have one to-morrow?" Ivan inquired, with a
peculiar, irritable curiosity.
"That's just so. You can't tell beforehand."
"Besides, you fell from the garret then."
"I climb up to the garret every day. I might fall from the
garret again to-morrow. And, if not, I might fall down the cellar
steps. I have to go into the cellar every day, too."
Ivan took a long look at him.
"You are talking nonsense, I see, and I don't quite understand
you," he said softly, but with a sort of menace. "Do you mean to
pretend to be ill to-morrow for three days, eh?"
Smerdyakov, who was looking at the ground again, and playing
with the toe of his right foot, set the foot down, moved the left
one forward, and, grinning, articulated:
"If I were able to play such a trick, that is, pretend to have a
fit- and it would not be difficult for a man accustomed to them- I
should have a perfect right to use such a means to save myself from
death. For even if Agrafena Alexandrovna comes to see his father while
I am ill, his honour can't blame a sick man for not telling him.
He'd be ashamed to."
"Hang it all!" Ivan cried, his face working with anger, "Why are
you always in such a funk for your life? All my brother Dmitri's
threats are only hasty words and mean nothing. He won't kill you; it's
not you he'll kill!"
"He'd kill me first of all, like a fly. But even more than that, I
am afraid I shall be taken for an accomplice of his when he does
something crazy to his father."
"Why should you be taken for an accomplice?"
"They'll think I am an accomplice, because I let him know the
signals as a great secret."
"What signals? Whom did you tell? Confound you, speak more
"I'm bound to admit the fact," Smerdyakov drawled with pedantic
composure, "that I have a secret with Fyodor Pavlovitch in this
business. As you know yourself (if only you do know it) he has for
several days past locked himself in as soon as night or even evening
comes on. Of late you've been going upstairs to your room early
every evening, and yesterday you did not come down at all, and so
perhaps you don't know how carefully he has begun to lock himself in
at night, and even if Grigory Vassilyevitch comes to the door he won't
open to him till he hears his voice. But Grigory Vassilyevitch does
not come, because I wait upon him alone in his room now. That's the
arrangement he made himself ever since this to-do with Agrafena
Alexandrovna began. But at night, by his orders, I go away to the
lodge so that I don't get to sleep till midnight, but am on the watch,
getting up and walking about the yard, waiting for Agrafena
Alexandrovna to come. For the last few days he's been perfectly
frantic expecting her. What he argues is, she is afraid of him, Dmitri
Fyodorovitch (Mitya, as he calls him), 'and so,' says he, 'she'll come
the back-way, late at night, to me. You look out for her,' says he,
'till midnight and later; and if she does come, you run up and knock
at my door or at the window from the garden. Knock at first twice,
rather gently, and then three times more quickly, then,' says he, 'I
shall understand at once that she has come, and will open the door
to you quietly.' Another signal he gave me in case anything unexpected
happens. At first, two knocks, and then, after an interval, another
much louder. Then he will understand that something has happened
suddenly and that I must see him, and he will open to me so that I can
go and speak to him. That's all in case Agrafena Alexandrovna can't
come herself, but sends a message. Besides, Dmitri Fyodorovitch
might come, too, so I must let him know he is near. His honour is
awfully afraid of Dmitri Fyodorovitch, so that even if Agrafena
Alexandrovna had come and were locked in with him, and Dmitri
Fyodorovitch were to turn up anywhere near at the time, I should be
bound to let him know at once, knocking three times. So that the first
signal of five knocks means Agrafena Alexandrovna has come, while
the second signal of three knocks means 'something important to tell
you.' His honour has shown me them several times and explained them.
And as in the whole universe no one knows of these signals but
myself and his honour, so he'd open the door without the slightest
hesitation and without calling out (he is awfully afraid of calling
out aloud). Well, those signals are known to Dmitri Fyodorovitch
too, now."
"How are they known? Did you tell him? How dared you tell him?"
"It was through fright I did it. How could I dare to keep it
back from him? Dmitri Fyodorovitch kept persisting every day, 'You are
deceiving me, you are hiding something from me! I'll break both your
legs for you.' So I told him those secret signals that he might see my
slavish devotion, and might be satisfied that I was not deceiving him,
but was telling him all I could."
"If you think that he'll make use of those signals and try to
get in, don't let him in."
"But if I should be laid up with a fit, how can I prevent him
coming in then, even if I dared prevent him, knowing how desperate
he is?"
"Hang it! How can you be so sure you are going to have a fit,
confound you? Are you laughing at me?"
"How could I dare laugh at you? I am in no laughing humour with
this fear on me. I feel I am going to have a fit. I have a
presentiment. Fright alone will bring it on."
"Confound it! If you are laid up, Grigory will be on the watch.
Let Grigory know beforehand; he will be sure not to let him in."
"I should never dare to tell Grigory Vassilyevitch about the
signals without orders from my master. And as for Grigory
Vassilyevitch hearing him and not admitting him, he has been ill
ever since yesterday, and Marfa Ignatyevna intends to give him
medicine to-morrow. They've just arranged it. It's a very strange
remedy of hers. Marfa Ignatyevna knows of a preparation and always
keeps it. It's a strong thing made from some herb. She has the
secret of it, and she always gives it to Grigory Vassilyevitch three
times a year when his lumbago's so bad he is almost paralysed by it.
Then she takes a towel, wets it with the stuff, and rubs his whole
back for half an hour till it's quite red and swollen, and what's left
in the bottle she gives him to drink with a special prayer; but not
quite all, for on such occasions she leaves some for herself, and
drinks it herself. And as they never take strong drink, I assure you
they both drop asleep at once and sleep sound a very long time. And
when Grigory Vassilyevitch wakes up he is perfectly well after it, but
Marfa Ignatyevna always has a headache from it. So, if Marfa
Ignatyevna carries out her intention to-morrow, they won't hear
anything and hinder Dmitri Fyodorovitch. They'll be asleep."
"What a rigmarole! And it all seems to happen at once, as though
it were planned. You'll have a fit and they'll both be unconscious,"
cried Ivan. "But aren't you trying to arrange it so?" broke from him
suddenly, and he frowned threateningly.
"How could I?... And why should I, when it all depends on Dmitri
Fyodorovitch and his plans?... If he means to do anything, he'll do
it; but if not, I shan't be thrusting him upon his father."
"And why should he go to father, especially on the sly, if, as you
say yourself, Agrafena Alexandrovna won't come at all?" Ivan went
on, turning white with anger. "You say that yourself, and all the
while I've been here, I've felt sure it was all the old man's fancy,
and the creature won't come to him. Why should Dmitri break in on
him if she doesn't come? Speak, I want to know what you are thinking!"
"You know yourself why he'll come. What's the use of what I think?
His honour will come simply because he is in a rage or suspicious on
account of my illness perhaps, and he'll dash in, as he did
yesterday through impatience to search the rooms, to see whether she
hasn't escaped him on the sly. He is perfectly well aware, too, that
Fyodor Pavlovitch has a big envelope with three thousand roubles in
it, tied up with ribbon and sealed with three seals. On it is
written in his own hand 'To my angel Grushenka, if she will come,'
to which he added three days later, 'for my little chicken.' There's
no knowing what that might do."
"Nonsense!" cried Ivan, almost beside himself. "Dmitri won't
come to steal money and kill my father to do it. He might have
killed him yesterday on account of Grushenka, like the frantic, savage
fool he is, but he won't steal."
"He is in very great need of money now- the greatest need, Ivan
Fyodorovitch. You don't know in what need he is," Smerdyakov
explained, with perfect composure and remarkable distinctness. "He
looks on that three thousand as his own, too. He said so to me
himself. 'My father still owes me just three thousand,' he said. And
besides that, consider, Ivan Fyodorovitch, there is something else
perfectly true. It's as good as certain, so to say, that Agrafena
Alexandrovna will force him, if only she cares to, to marry her- the
master himself, I mean, Fyodor Pavlovitch- if only she cares to, and
of course she may care to. All I've said is that she won't come, but
maybe she's looking for more than that- I mean to be mistress here.
I know myself that Samsonov, her merchant, was laughing with her about
it, telling her quite openly that it would not be at all a stupid
thing to do. And she's got plenty of sense. She wouldn't marry a
beggar like Dmitri Fyodorovitch. So, taking that into consideration,
Ivan Fyodorovitch, reflect that then neither Dmitri Fyodorovitch nor
yourself and your brother, Alexey Fyodorovitch, would have anything
after the master's death, not a rouble, for Agrafena Alexandrovna
would marry him simply to get hold of the whole, all the money there
is. But if your father were to die now, there'd be some forty thousand
for sure, even for Dmitri Fyodorovitch whom he hates so, for he's made
no will.... Dmitri Fyodorovitch knows all that very well."
A sort of shudder passed over Ivan's face. He suddenly flushed.
"Then why on earth," he suddenly interrupted Smerdyakov, "do you
advise me to go to Tchermashnya? What did you mean by that? If I go
away, you see what will happen here." Ivan drew his breath with
"Precisely so," said Smerdyakov, softly and reasonably, watching
Ivan intently, however.
"What do you mean by 'precisely so'?" Ivan questioned him, with
a menacing light in his eyes, restraining himself with difficulty.
"I spoke because I felt sorry for you. If I were in your place I
should simply throw it all up... rather than stay on in such a
position," answered Smerdyakov, with the most candid air looking at
Ivan's flashing eyes. They were both silent.
"You seem to be a perfect idiot, and what's more... an awful
scoundrel, too." Ivan rose suddenly from the bench. He was about to
pass straight through the gate, but he stopped short and turned to
Smerdyakov. Something strange followed. Ivan, in a sudden paroxysm,
bit his lip, clenched his fists, and, in another minute, would have
flung himself on Smerdyakov. The latter, anyway, noticed it at the
same moment, started, and shrank back. But the moment passed without
mischief to Smerdyakov, and Ivan turned in silence, as it seemed in
perplexity, to the gate.
"I am going away to Moscow to-morrow, if you care to know- early
to-morrow morning. That's all!" he suddenly said aloud angrily, and
wondered himself afterwards what need there was to say this then to
"That's the best thing you can do," he responded, as though he had
expected to hear it; "except that you can always be telegraphed for
from Moscow, if anything should happen here."
Ivan stopped again, and again turned quickly to Smerdyakov. But
a change had passed over him, too. All his familiarity and carelessnes
had completely disappeared. His face expressed attention and
expectation, intent but timid and cringing.
"Haven't you something more to say- something to add?" could be
read in the intent gaze he fixed on Ivan.
"And couldn't I be sent for from Tchermashnya, too- in case
anything happened?" Ivan shouted suddenly, for some unknown reason
raising his voice.
"From Tchermashnya, too... you could be sent for," Smerdyakov
muttered, almost in a whisper, looking disconcerted, but gazing
intently into Ivan's eyes.
"Only Moscow is farther and Tchermashnya is nearer. Is it to
save my spending money on the fare, or to save my going so far out
of my way, that you insist on Tchermashnya?"
"Precisely so..." muttered Smerdyakov, with a breaking voice. He
looked at Ivan with a revolting smile, and again made ready to draw
back. But to his astonishment Ivan broke into a laugh, and went
through the gate still laughing. Anyone who had seen his face at
that moment would have known that he was not laughing from lightness
of heart, and he could not have explained himself what he was
feeling at that instant. He moved and walked as though in a nervous
Chapter 7
"It's Always Worth While Speaking to a Clever Man"

AND in the same nervous frenzy, too, he spoke. Meeting Fyodor
Pavlovitch in the drawing-room directly he went in, he shouted to him,
waving his hands, "I am going upstairs to my room, not in to you.
Good-bye!" and passed by, trying not even to look at his father.
Very possibly the old man was too hateful to him at that moment; but
such an unceremonious display of hostility was a surprise even to
Fyodor Pavlovitch. And the old man evidently wanted to tell him
something at once and had come to meet him in the drawing-room on
purpose. Receiving this amiable greeting, he stood still in silence
and with an ironical air watched his son going upstairs, till he
passed out of sight.
"What's the matter with him?" he promptly asked Smerdyakov, who
had followed Ivan.
"Angry about something. Who can tell?" the valet muttered
"Confound him! Let him be angry then. Bring in the samovar, and
get along with you. Look sharp! No news?"
Then followed a series of questions such as Smerdyakov had just
complained of to Ivan, all relating to his expected visitor, and these
questions we will omit. Half an hour later the house was locked, and
the crazy old man was wandering along through the rooms in excited
expectation of hearing every minute the five knocks agreed upon. Now
and then he peered out into the darkness, seeing nothing.
It was very late, but Ivan was still awake and reflecting. He
sat up late that night, till two o'clock. But we will not give an
account of his thoughts, and this is not the place to look into that
soul- its turn will come. And even if one tried, it would be very hard
to give an account of them, for there were no thoughts in his brain,
but something very vague, and, above all, intense excitement. He
felt himself that he had lost his bearings. He was fretted, too, by
all sorts of strange and almost surprising desires; for instance,
after midnight he suddenly had an intense irresistible inclination
to go down, open the door, go to the lodge and beat Smerdyakov. But if
he had been asked why, he could not have given any exact reason,
except perhaps that he loathed the valet as one who had insulted him
more gravely than anyone in the world. On the other hand, he was
more than once that night overcome by a sort of inexplicable
humiliating terror, which he felt positively paralysed his physical
powers. His head ached and he was giddy. A feeling of hatred was
rankling in his heart, as though he meant to avenge himself on
someone. He even hated Alyosha, recalling the conversation he had just
had with him. At moments he hated himself intensely. Of Katerina
Ivanovna he almost forgot to think, and wondered greatly at this
afterwards, especially as he remembered perfectly that when he had
protested so valiantly to Katerina Ivanovna that he would go away next
day to Moscow, something had whispered in his heart, "That's nonsense,
you are not going, and it won't be so easy to tear yourself away as
you are boasting now."
Remembering that night long afterwards, Ivan recalled with
peculiar repulsion how he had suddenly got up from the sofa and had
stealthily, as though he were afraid of being watched, opened the
door, gone out on the staircase and listened to Fyodor Pavlovitch
stirring down below, had listened a long while- some five minutes-
with a sort of strange curiosity, holding his breath while his heart
throbbed. And why he had done all this, why he was listening, he could
not have said. That "action" all his life afterwards he called
"infamous," and at the bottom of his heart, he thought of it as the
basest action of his life. For Fyodor Pavlovitch himself he felt no
hatred at that moment, but was simply intensely curious to know how he
was walking down there below and what he must be doing now. He
wondered and imagined how he must be peeping out of the dark windows
and stopping in the middle of the room, listening, listening- for
someone to knock. Ivan went out on the stairs twice to listen like
About two o'clock when everything was quiet, and even Fyodor
Pavlovitch had gone to bed, Ivan had got into bed, firmly resolved
to fall asleep at once, as he felt fearfully exhausted. And he did
fall asleep at once, and slept soundly without dreams, but waked
early, at seven o'clock, when it was broad daylight. Opening his eyes,
he was surprised to feel himself extraordinarily vigorous. He jumped
up at once and dressed quickly; then dragged out his trunk and began
packing immediately. His linen had come back from the laundress the
previous morning. Ivan positively smiled at the thought that
everything was helping his sudden departure. And his departure
certainly was sudden. Though Ivan had said the day before (to Katerina
Ivanovna, Alyosha, and Smerdyakov) that he was leaving next day, yet
he remembered that he had no thought of departure when he went to bed,
or, at least, had not dreamed that his first act in the morning
would be to pack his trunk. At last his trunk and bag were ready. It
was about nine o'clock when Marfa Ignatyevna came in with her usual
inquiry, "Where will your honour take your tea, in your own room or
downstairs?" He looked almost cheerful, but there was about him, about
his words and gestures, something hurried and scattered. Greeting
his father affably, and even inquiring specially after his health,
though he did not wait to hear his answer to the end, he announced
that he was starting off in an hour to return to Moscow for good,
and begged him to send for the horses. His father heard this
announcement with no sign of surprise, and forgot in an unmannerly way
to show regret at losing him. Instead of doing so, he flew into a
great flutter at the recollection of some important business of his
"What a fellow you are! Not to tell me yesterday! Never mind;
we'll manage it all the same. Do me a great service, my dear boy. Go
to Tchermashnya on the way. It's only to turn to the left from the
station at Volovya, only another twelve versts and you come to
"I'm sorry, I can't. It's eighty versts to the railway and the
train starts for Moscow at seven o'clock to-night. I can only just
catch it."
"You'll catch it to-morrow or the day after, but to-day turn off
to Tchermashnya. It won't put you out much to humour your father! If I
hadn't had something to keep me here, I would have run over myself
long ago, for I've some business there in a hurry. But here I...
it's not the time for me to go now.... You see, I've two pieces of
copse land there. The Maslovs, an old merchant and his son, will
give eight thousand for the timber. But last year I just missed a
purchaser who would have given twelve. There's no getting anyone about
here to buy it. The Maslovs have it all their own way. One has to take
what they'll give, for no one here dare bid against them. The priest
at Ilyinskoe wrote to me last Thursday that a merchant called
Gorstkin, a man I know, had turned up. What makes him valuable is that
he is not from these parts, so he is not afraid of the Maslovs. He
says he will give me eleven thousand for the copse. Do you hear? But
he'll only be here, the priest writes, for a week altogether, so you
must go at once and make a bargain with him."
"Well, you write to the priest; he'll make the bargain."
"He can't do it. He has no eye for business. He is a perfect
treasure, I'd give him twenty thousand to take care of for me
without a receipt; but he has no eye for business, he is a perfect
child, a crow could deceive him. And yet he is a learned man, would
you believe it? This Gorstkin looks like a peasant, he wears a blue
kaftan, but he is a regular rogue. That's the common complaint. He
is a liar. Sometimes he tells such lies that you wonder why he is
doing it. He told me the year before last that his wife was dead and
that he had married another, and would you believe it, there was not a
word of truth in it? His wife has never died at all, she is alive to
this day and gives him a beating twice a week. So what you have to
find out is whether he is lying or speaking the truth when he says
he wants to buy it and would give eleven thousand."
"I shall be no use in such a business. I have no eye either."
"Stay, wait a bit! You will be of use, for I will tell you the
signs by which you can judge about Gorstkin. I've done business with
him a long time. You see, you must watch his beard; he has a nasty,
thin, red beard. If his beard shakes when he talks and he gets
cross, it's all right, he is saying what he means, he wants to do
business. But if he strokes his beard with his left hand and grins- he
is trying to cheat you. Don't watch his eyes, you won't find out
anything from his eyes, he is a deep one, a rogue but watch his beard!
I'll give you a note and you show it to him. He's called Gorstkin,
though his real name is Lyagavy;* but don't call him so, he will be
offended. If you come to an understanding with him, and see it's all
right, write here at once. You need only write: 'He's not lying.'
Stand out for eleven thousand; one thousand you can knock off, but not
more. just think! there's a difference between eight thousand and
eleven thousand. It's as good as picking up three thousand; it's not
so easy to find a purchaser, and I'm in desperate need of money.
Only let me know it's serious, and I'll run over and fix it up. I'll
snatch the time somehow. But what's the good of my galloping over,
if it's all a notion of the priest's? Come, will you go?"

* i.e. setter dog.

"Oh, I can't spare the time. You must excuse me."
"Come, you might oblige your father. I shan't forget it. You've no
heart, any of you that's what it is! What's a day or two to you? Where
are you going now- to Venice? Your Venice will keep another two
days. I would have sent Alyosha, but what use is Alyosha in a thing
like that? I send you just because you are a clever fellow. Do you
suppose I don't see that? You know nothing about timber, but you've
got an eye. All that is wanted is to see whether the man is in
earnest. I tell you, watch his beard- if his beard shakes you know
he is in earnest."
"You force me to go to that damned Tchermashnya yourself, then?"
cried Ivan, with a malignant smile.
Fyodor Pavlovitch did not catch, or would not catch, the
malignancy, but he caught the smile.
"Then you'll go, you'll go? I'll scribble the note for you at
"I don't know whether I shall go. I don't know. I'll decide on the
"Nonsense! Decide at once. My dear fellow, decide! If you settle
the matter, write me a line; give it to the priest and he'll send it
on to me at once. And I won't delay you more than that. You can go
to Venice. The priest will give you horses back to Volovya station."
The old man was quite delighted. He wrote the note, and sent for
the horses. A light lunch was brought in, with brandy. When Fyodor
Pavlovitch was pleased, he usually became expansive, but to-day he
seemed to restrain himself. Of Dmitri, for instance, he did not say
a word. He was quite unmoved by the parting, and seemed, in fact, at a
loss for something to say. Ivan noticed this particularly. "He must be
bored with me," he thought. Only when accompanying his son out on to
the steps, the old man began to fuss about. He would have kissed
him, but Ivan made haste to hold out his hand, obviously avoiding
the kiss. His father saw it at once, and instantly pulled himself up.
"Well, good luck to you, good luck to you!" he repeated from the
steps. "You'll come again some time or other? Mind you do come. I
shall always be glad to see you. Well, Christ be with you!"
Ivan got into the carriage.
"Good-bye, Ivan! Don't be too hard on me!" the father called for
the last time.
The whole household came out to take leave- Smerdyakov, Marfa
and Grigory. Ivan gave them ten roubles each. When he had seated
himself in the carriage, Smerdyakov jumped up to arrange the rug.
"You see... I am going to Tchermashnya," broke suddenly from Ivan.
Again, as the day before, the words seemed to drop of themselves,
and he laughed, too, a peculiar, nervous laugh. He remembered it
long after.
"It's a true saying then, that 'it's always worth while speaking
to a clever man,'" answered Smerdyakov firmly, looking significantly
at Ivan.
The carriage rolled away. Nothing was clear in Ivan's soul, but he
looked eagerly around him at the fields, at the hills, at the trees,
at a flock of geese flying high overhead in the bright sky. And all of
a sudden he felt very happy. He tried to talk to the driver, and he
felt intensely interested in an answer the peasant made him; but a
minute later he realised that he was not catching anything, and that
he had not really even taken in the peasant's answer. He was silent,
and it was pleasant even so. The air was pure and cool, sky bright.
The images of Alyosha and Katerina Ivanovna floated into his mind. But
he softly smiled, blew softly on the friendly phantoms, and they
flew away. "There's plenty of time for them," he thought. They reached
the station quickly, changed horses, and galloped to Volovya "Why is
it worth while speaking to a clever man? What did he mean by that?"
The thought seemed suddenly to clutch at his breathing. "And why did I
tell him I was going to Tchermashnya?" They reached Volovya station.
Ivan got out of the carriage, and the drivers stood round him
bargaining over the journey of twelve versts to Tchermashnya. He
told them to harness the horses. He went into the station house,
looked round, glanced at the overseer's wife, and suddenly went back
to the entrance.
"I won't go to Tchermashnya. Am I too late to reach the railway by
seven, brothers?"
"We shall just do it. Shall we get the carriage out?"
"At once. Will any one of you be going to the town to-morrow?"
"To be sure. Mitri here will."
"Can you do me a service, Mitri? Go to my father's, to Fyodor
Pavlovitch Karamazov, and tell him I haven't gone to Tchermashnya. Can
"Of course I can. I've known Fyodor Pavlovitch a long time."
"And here's something for you, for I dare say he won't give you
anything," said Ivan, laughing gaily.
"You may depend on it he won't." Mitri laughed too. "Thank you,
sir. I'll be sure to do it."
At seven o'clock Ivan got into the train and set off to Moscow.
"Away with the past. I've done with the old world for ever, and may
I have no news, no echo, from it. To a new life, new places, and no
looking back!" But instead of delight his soul was filled with such
gloom, and his heart ached with such anguish, as he had never known in
his life before. He was thinking all the night. The train flew on, and
only at daybreak, when he was approaching Moscow, he suddenly roused
himself from his meditation.
"I am a scoundrel," he whispered to himself.
Fyodor Pavlovitch remained well satisfied at having seen his son
off. For two hours afterwards he felt almost happy, and sat drinking
brandy. But suddenly something happened which was very annoying and
unpleasant for everyone in the house, and completely upset Fyodor
Pavlovitch's equanimity at once. Smerdyakov went to the cellar for
something and fell down from the top of the steps. Fortunately,
Marfa Ignatyevna was in the yard and heard him in time. She did not
see the fall, but heard his scream- the strange, peculiar scream, long
familiar to her- the scream of the epileptic falling in a fit. They
could not tell whether the fit had come on him at the moment he was
decending the steps, so that he must have fallen unconscious, or
whether it was the fall and the shock that had caused the fit in
Smerdyakov, who was known to be liable to them. They found him at
the bottom of the cellar steps, writhing in convulsions and foaming at
the mouth. It was thought at first that he must have broken something-
an arm or a leg- and hurt himself, but "God had preserved him," as
Marfa Ignatyevna expressed it- nothing of the kind had happened. But
it was difficult to get him out of the cellar. They asked the
neighbours to help and managed it somehow. Fyodor Pavlovitch himself
was present at the whole ceremony. He helped, evidently alarmed and
upset. The sick man did not regain consciousness; the convulsions
ceased for a time, but then began again, and everyone concluded that
the same thing would happen, as had happened a year before, when he
accidently fell from the garret. They remembered that ice been put
on his head then. There was still ice in the cellar, and Marfa
Ignatyevna had some brought up. In the evening, Fyodor Pavlovitch sent
for Doctor Herzenstube, who arrived at once. He was a most estimable
old man, and the most careful and conscientious doctor in the
province. After careful examination, he concluded that the fit was a
very violent one and might have serious consequences; that meanwhile
he, Herzenstube, did not fully understand it, but that by to-morrow
morning, if the present remedies were unavailing, he would venture
to try something else. The invalid was taken to the lodge, to a room
next to Grigory's and Marfa Ignatyevna's.
Then Fyodor Pavlovitch had one misfortune after another to put
up with that day. Marfa Ignatyevna cooked the dinner, and the soup,
compared with Smerdyakov's, was "no better than dish-water," and the
fowl was so dried up that it was impossible to masticate it. To her
master's bitter, though deserved, reproaches, Marfa Ignatyevna replied
that the fowl was a very old one to begin with, and that she had never
been trained as a cook. In the evening there was another trouble in
store for Fyodor Pavlovitch; he was informed that Grigory, who had not
been well for the last three days, was completely laid up by his
lumbago. Fyodor Pavlovitch finished his tea as early as possible and
locked himself up alone in the house. He was in terrible excitement
and suspense. That evening he reckoned on Grushenka's coming almost as
a certainty. He had received from Smerdyakov that morning an assurance
"that she had promised to come without fail." The incorrigible old
man's heart throbbed with excitement; he paced up and down his empty
rooms listening. He had to be on the alert. Dmitri might be on the
watch for her somewhere, and when she knocked on the window
(Smerdyakov had informed him two days before that he had told her
where and how to knock) the door must be opened at once. She must
not be a second in the passage, for fear which God forbid!- that she
should be frightened and run away. Fyodor Pavlovitch had much to think
of, but never had his heart been steeped in such voluptuous hopes.
This time he could say almost certainly that she would come!

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