the brothers karamazov

the brothers karamazov


Chapter I. Fyodor Pavlovitch Karamazov


Alexey Fyodorovitch Karamazov was the third son of Fyodor Pavlovitch

Karamazov, a land owner well known in our district in his own day, and

still remembered among us owing to his gloomy and tragic death, which

happened thirteen years ago, and which I shall describe in its proper

place. For the present I will only say that this "landowner"--for so we

used to call him, although he hardly spent a day of his life on his own

estate--was a strange type, yet one pretty frequently to be met with, a

type abject and vicious and at the same time senseless. But he was one of

those senseless persons who are very well capable of looking after their

worldly affairs, and, apparently, after nothing else. Fyodor Pavlovitch,

for instance, began with next to nothing; his estate was of the smallest;

he ran to dine at other men's tables, and fastened on them as a toady, yet

at his death it appeared that he had a hundred thousand roubles in hard

cash. At the same time, he was all his life one of the most senseless,

fantastical fellows in the whole district. I repeat, it was not

stupidity--the majority of these fantastical fellows are shrewd and

intelligent enough--but just senselessness, and a peculiar national form of



He was married twice, and had three sons, the eldest, Dmitri, by his first

wife, and two, Ivan and Alexey, by his second. Fyodor Pavlovitch's first

wife, Adelaida Ivanovna, belonged to a fairly rich and distinguished noble

family, also landowners in our district, the Miuesovs. How it came to pass

that an heiress, who was also a beauty, and moreover one of those

vigorous, intelligent girls, so common in this generation, but sometimes

also to be found in the last, could have married such a worthless, puny

weakling, as we all called him, I won't attempt to explain. I knew a young

lady of the last "romantic" generation who after some years of an

enigmatic passion for a gentleman, whom she might quite easily have

married at any moment, invented insuperable obstacles to their union, and

ended by throwing herself one stormy night into a rather deep and rapid

river from a high bank, almost a precipice, and so perished, entirely to

satisfy her own caprice, and to be like Shakespeare's Ophelia. Indeed, if

this precipice, a chosen and favorite spot of hers, had been less

picturesque, if there had been a prosaic flat bank in its place, most

likely the suicide would never have taken place.

This fact and probably there have been not a few similar instances in the last two or

three generations. Adelaida Ivanovna Miuesov's action was similarly, no

doubt, an echo of other people's ideas, and was due to the irritation

caused by lack of mental freedom. She wanted, perhaps, to show her

feminine independence, to override class distinctions and the despotism of

her family. And a pliable imagination persuaded her, we must suppose, for

a brief moment, that Fyodor Pavlovitch, in spite of his parasitic

position, was one of the bold and ironical spirits of that progressive

epoch, though he was, in fact, an ill-natured buffoon and nothing more.

What gave the marriage piquancy was that it was preceded by an elopement,

and this greatly captivated Adelaida Ivanovna's fancy. Fyodor Pavlovitch's

position at the time made him specially eager for any such enterprise, for

he was passionately anxious to make a career in one way or another. To

attach himself to a good family and obtain a dowry was an alluring

prospect. As for mutual love it did not exist apparently, either in the

bride or in him, in spite of Adelaida Ivanovna's beauty. This was,

perhaps, a unique case of the kind in the life of Fyodor Pavlovitch, who

was always of a voluptuous temper, and ready to run after any petticoat on

the slightest encouragement. She seems to have been the only woman who

made no particular appeal to his senses.


Immediately after the elopement Adelaida Ivanovna discerned in a flash

that she had no feeling for her husband but contempt. The marriage

accordingly showed itself in its true colors with extraordinary rapidity.

Although the family accepted the event pretty quickly and apportioned the

runaway bride her dowry, the husband and wife began to lead a most

disorderly life, and there were everlasting scenes between them. It was

said that the young wife showed incomparably more generosity and dignity

than Fyodor Pavlovitch, who, as is now known, got hold of all her money up

to twenty-five thousand roubles as soon as she received it, so that those

thousands were lost to her for ever. The little village and the rather

fine town house which formed part of her dowry he did his utmost for a

long time to transfer to his name, by means of some deed of conveyance. He

would probably have succeeded, merely from her moral fatigue and desire to

get rid of him, and from the contempt and loathing he aroused by his

persistent and shameless importunity. But, fortunately, Adelaida

Ivanovna's family intervened and circumvented his greediness. It is known

for a fact that frequent fights took place between the husband and wife,

but rumor had it that Fyodor Pavlovitch did not beat his wife but was

beaten by her, for she was a hot-tempered, bold, dark-browed, impatient

woman, possessed of remarkable physical strength. Finally, she left the

house and ran away from Fyodor Pavlovitch with a destitute divinity

student, leaving Mitya, a child of three years old, in her husband's

hands. Immediately Fyodor Pavlovitch introduced a regular harem into the

house, and abandoned himself to orgies of drunkenness. In the intervals he

used to drive all over the province, complaining tearfully to each and all

of Adelaida Ivanovna's having left him, going into details too disgraceful

for a husband to mention in regard to his own married life. What seemed to

gratify him and flatter his self-love most was to play the ridiculous part

of the injured husband, and to parade his woes with embellishments.


"One would think that you'd got a promotion, Fyodor Pavlovitch, you seem

so pleased in spite of your sorrow," scoffers said to him. Many even added

that he was glad of a new comic part in which to play the buffoon, and

that it was simply to make it funnier that he pretended to be unaware of

his ludicrous position. But, who knows, it may have been simplicity. At

last he succeeded in getting on the track of his runaway wife. The poor

woman turned out to be in Petersburg, where she had gone with her divinity

student, and where she had thrown herself into a life of complete

emancipation. Fyodor Pavlovitch at once began bustling about, making

preparations to go to Petersburg, with what object he could not himself

have said. He would perhaps have really gone; but having determined to do

so he felt at once entitled to fortify himself for the journey by another

bout of reckless drinking. And just at that time his wife's family

received the news of her death in Petersburg. She had died quite suddenly

in a garret, according to one story, of typhus, or as another version had

it, of starvation. Fyodor Pavlovitch was drunk when he heard of his wife's

death, and the story is that he ran out into the street and began shouting

with joy, raising his hands to Heaven: "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant

depart in peace," but others say he wept without restraint like a little

child, so much so that people were sorry for him, in spite of the

repulsion he inspired. It is quite possible that both versions were true,

that he rejoiced at his release, and at the same time wept for her who

released him. As a general rule, people, even the wicked, are much more

naive and simple-hearted than we suppose. And we ourselves are, too.




Chapter II. He Gets Rid Of His Eldest Son



You can easily imagine what a father such a man could be and how he would

bring up his children. His behavior as a father was exactly what might be

expected. He completely abandoned the child of his marriage with Adelaida

Ivanovna, not from malice, nor because of his matrimonial grievances, but

simply because he forgot him. While he was wearying every one with his

tears and complaints, and turning his house into a sink of debauchery, a

faithful servant of the family, Grigory, took the three-year-old Mitya

into his care. If he hadn't looked after him there would have been no one

even to change the baby's little shirt.


It happened moreover that the child's relations on his mother's side

forgot him too at first. His grandfather was no longer living, his widow,

Mitya's grandmother, had moved to Moscow, and was seriously ill, while his

daughters were married, so that Mitya remained for almost a whole year in

old Grigory's charge and lived with him in the servant's cottage. But if

his father had remembered him (he could not, indeed, have been altogether

unaware of his existence) he would have sent him back to the cottage, as

the child would only have been in the way of his debaucheries. But a

cousin of Mitya's mother, Pyotr Alexandrovitch Miuesov, happened to return

from Paris. He lived for many years afterwards abroad, but was at that

time quite a young man, and distinguished among the Miuesovs as a man of

enlightened ideas and of European culture, who had been in the capitals

and abroad. Towards the end of his life he became a Liberal of the type

common in the forties and fifties. In the course of his career he had come

into contact with many of the most Liberal men of his epoch, both in

Russia and abroad. He had known Proudhon and Bakunin personally, and in

his declining years was very fond of describing the three days of the

Paris Revolution of February 1848, hinting that he himself had almost

taken part in the fighting on the barricades. This was one of the most

grateful recollections of his youth. He had an independent property of

about a thousand souls, to reckon in the old style. His splendid estate

lay on the outskirts of our little town and bordered on the lands of our

famous monastery, with which Pyotr Alexandrovitch began an endless

lawsuit, almost as soon as he came into the estate, concerning the rights

of fishing in the river or wood-cutting in the forest, I don't know

exactly which. He regarded it as his duty as a citizen and a man of

culture to open an attack upon the "clericals." Hearing all about Adelaida

Ivanovna, whom he, of course, remembered, and in whom he had at one time

been interested, and learning of the existence of Mitya, he intervened, in

spite of all his youthful indignation and contempt for Fyodor Pavlovitch.

He made the latter's acquaintance for the first time, and told him

directly that he wished to undertake the child's education. He used long

afterwards to tell as a characteristic touch, that when he began to speak

of Mitya, Fyodor Pavlovitch looked for some time as though he did not

understand what child he was talking about, and even as though he was

surprised to hear that he had a little son in the house. The story may

have been exaggerated, yet it must have been something like the truth.


Fyodor Pavlovitch was all his life fond of acting, of suddenly playing an

unexpected part, sometimes without any motive for doing so, and even to

his own direct disadvantage, as, for instance, in the present case. This

habit, however, is characteristic of a very great number of people, some

of them very clever ones, not like Fyodor Pavlovitch. Pyotr Alexandrovitch

carried the business through vigorously, and was appointed, with Fyodor

Pavlovitch, joint guardian of the child, who had a small property, a house

and land, left him by his mother. Mitya did, in fact, pass into this

cousin's keeping, but as the latter had no family of his own, and after

securing the revenues of his estates was in haste to return at once to

Paris, he left the boy in charge of one of his cousins, a lady living in

Moscow. It came to pass that, settling permanently in Paris he, too,

forgot the child, especially when the Revolution of February broke out,

making an impression on his mind that he remembered all the rest of his

life. The Moscow lady died, and Mitya passed into the care of one of her

married daughters. I believe he changed his home a fourth time later on. I

won't enlarge upon that now, as I shall have much to tell later of Fyodor

Pavlovitch's firstborn, and must confine myself now to the most essential

facts about him, without which I could not begin my story.


In the first place, this Mitya, or rather Dmitri Fyodorovitch, was the

only one of Fyodor Pavlovitch's three sons who grew up in the belief that

he had property, and that he would be independent on coming of age. He

spent an irregular boyhood and youth. He did not finish his studies at the

gymnasium, he got into a military school, then went to the Caucasus, was

promoted, fought a duel, and was degraded to the ranks, earned promotion

again, led a wild life, and spent a good deal of money. He did not begin

to receive any income from Fyodor Pavlovitch until he came of age, and

until then got into debt. He saw and knew his father, Fyodor Pavlovitch,

for the first time on coming of age, when he visited our neighborhood on

purpose to settle with him about his property. He seems not to have liked

his father. He did not stay long with him, and made haste to get away,

having only succeeded in obtaining a sum of money, and entering into an

agreement for future payments from the estate, of the revenues and value

of which he was unable (a fact worthy of note), upon this occasion, to get

a statement from his father. Fyodor Pavlovitch remarked for the first time

then (this, too, should be noted) that Mitya had a vague and exaggerated

idea of his property. Fyodor Pavlovitch was very well satisfied with this,

as it fell in with his own designs. He gathered only that the young man

was frivolous, unruly, of violent passions, impatient, and dissipated, and

that if he could only obtain ready money he would be satisfied, although

only, of course, for a short time. So Fyodor Pavlovitch began to take

advantage of this fact, sending him from time to time small doles,

installments. In the end, when four years later, Mitya, losing patience,

came a second time to our little town to settle up once for all with his

father, it turned out to his amazement that he had nothing, that it was

difficult to get an account even, that he had received the whole value of

his property in sums of money from Fyodor Pavlovitch, and was perhaps even

in debt to him, that by various agreements into which he had, of his own

desire, entered at various previous dates, he had no right to expect

anything more, and so on, and so on. The young man was overwhelmed,

suspected deceit and cheating, and was almost beside himself. And, indeed,

this circumstance led to the catastrophe, the account of which forms the

subject of my first introductory story, or rather the external side of it.

But before I pass to that story I must say a little of Fyodor Pavlovitch's

other two sons, and of their origin.




Chapter III. The Second Marriage And The Second Family



Very shortly after getting his four-year-old Mitya off his hands Fyodor

Pavlovitch married a second time. His second marriage lasted eight years.

He took this second wife, Sofya Ivanovna, also a very young girl, from

another province, where he had gone upon some small piece of business in

company with a Jew. Though Fyodor Pavlovitch was a drunkard and a vicious

debauchee he never neglected investing his capital, and managed his

business affairs very successfully, though, no doubt, not over-

scrupulously. Sofya Ivanovna was the daughter of an obscure deacon, and

was left from childhood an orphan without relations. She grew up in the

house of a general's widow, a wealthy old lady of good position, who was

at once her benefactress and tormentor. I do not know the details, but I

have only heard that the orphan girl, a meek and gentle creature, was once

cut down from a halter in which she was hanging from a nail in the loft,

so terrible were her sufferings from the caprice and everlasting nagging

of this old woman, who was apparently not bad-hearted but had become an

insufferable tyrant through idleness.


Fyodor Pavlovitch made her an offer; inquiries were made about him and he

was refused. But again, as in his first marriage, he proposed an elopement

to the orphan girl. There is very little doubt that she would not on any

account have married him if she had known a little more about him in time.

But she lived in another province; besides, what could a little girl of

sixteen know about it, except that she would be better at the bottom of

the river than remaining with her benefactress. So the poor child

exchanged a benefactress for a benefactor. Fyodor Pavlovitch did not get a

penny this time, for the general's widow was furious. She gave them

nothing and cursed them both. But he had not reckoned on a dowry; what

allured him was the remarkable beauty of the innocent girl, above all her

innocent appearance, which had a peculiar attraction for a vicious

profligate, who had hitherto admired only the coarser types of feminine



"Those innocent eyes slit my soul up like a razor," he used to say

afterwards, with his loathsome snigger. In a man so depraved this might,

of course, mean no more than sensual attraction. As he had received no

dowry with his wife, and had, so to speak, taken her "from the halter," he

did not stand on ceremony with her. Making her feel that she had "wronged"

him, he took advantage of her phenomenal meekness and submissiveness to

trample on the elementary decencies of marriage. He gathered loose women

into his house, and carried on orgies of debauchery in his wife's

presence. To show what a pass things had come to, I may mention that

Grigory, the gloomy, stupid, obstinate, argumentative servant, who had

always hated his first mistress, Adelaida Ivanovna, took the side of his

new mistress. He championed her cause, abusing Fyodor Pavlovitch in a

manner little befitting a servant, and on one occasion broke up the revels

and drove all the disorderly women out of the house. In the end this

unhappy young woman, kept in terror from her childhood, fell into that

kind of nervous disease which is most frequently found in peasant women

who are said to be "possessed by devils." At times after terrible fits of

hysterics she even lost her reason. Yet she bore Fyodor Pavlovitch two

sons, Ivan and Alexey, the eldest in the first year of marriage and the

second three years later. When she died, little Alexey was in his fourth

year, and, strange as it seems, I know that he remembered his mother all

his life, like a dream, of course. At her death almost exactly the same

thing happened to the two little boys as to their elder brother, Mitya.

They were completely forgotten and abandoned by their father. They were

looked after by the same Grigory and lived in his cottage, where they were

found by the tyrannical old lady who had brought up their mother. She was

still alive, and had not, all those eight years, forgotten the insult done

her. All that time she was obtaining exact information as to her Sofya's

manner of life, and hearing of her illness and hideous surroundings she

declared aloud two or three times to her retainers:


"It serves her right. God has punished her for her ingratitude."


Exactly three months after Sofya Ivanovna's death the general's widow

suddenly appeared in our town, and went straight to Fyodor Pavlovitch's

house. She spent only half an hour in the town but she did a great deal.

It was evening. Fyodor Pavlovitch, whom she had not seen for those eight

years, came in to her drunk. The story is that instantly upon seeing him,

without any sort of explanation, she gave him two good, resounding slaps

on the face, seized him by a tuft of hair, and shook him three times up

and down. Then, without a word, she went straight to the cottage to the

two boys. Seeing, at the first glance, that they were unwashed and in

dirty linen, she promptly gave Grigory, too, a box on the ear, and

announcing that she would carry off both the children she wrapped them

just as they were in a rug, put them in the carriage, and drove off to her

own town. Grigory accepted the blow like a devoted slave, without a word,

and when he escorted the old lady to her carriage he made her a low bow

and pronounced impressively that, "God would repay her for the orphans."

"You are a blockhead all the same," the old lady shouted to him as she

drove away.


Fyodor Pavlovitch, thinking it over, decided that it was a good thing, and

did not refuse the general's widow his formal consent to any proposition

in regard to his children's education. As for the slaps she had given him,

he drove all over the town telling the story.


It happened that the old lady died soon after this, but she left the boys

in her will a thousand roubles each "for their instruction, and so that

all be spent on them exclusively, with the condition that it be so

portioned out as to last till they are twenty-one, for it is more than

adequate provision for such children. If other people think fit to throw

away their money, let them." I have not read the will myself, but I heard

there was something queer of the sort, very whimsically expressed. The

principal heir, Yefim Petrovitch Polenov, the Marshal of Nobility of the

province, turned out, however, to be an honest man. Writing to Fyodor

Pavlovitch, and discerning at once that he could extract nothing from him

for his children's education (though the latter never directly refused but

only procrastinated as he always did in such cases, and was, indeed, at

times effusively sentimental), Yefim Petrovitch took a personal interest

in the orphans. He became especially fond of the younger, Alexey, who

lived for a long while as one of his family. I beg the reader to note this

from the beginning. And to Yefim Petrovitch, a man of a generosity and

humanity rarely to be met with, the young people were more indebted for

their education and bringing up than to any one. He kept the two thousand

roubles left to them by the general's widow intact, so that by the time

they came of age their portions had been doubled by the accumulation of

interest. He educated them both at his own expense, and certainly spent

far more than a thousand roubles upon each of them. I won't enter into a

detailed account of their boyhood and youth, but will only mention a few

of the most important events. Of the elder, Ivan, I will only say that he

grew into a somewhat morose and reserved, though far from timid boy. At

ten years old he had realized that they were living not in their own home

but on other people's charity, and that their father was a man of whom it

was disgraceful to speak. This boy began very early, almost in his infancy

(so they say at least), to show a brilliant and unusual aptitude for

learning. I don't know precisely why, but he left the family of Yefim

Petrovitch when he was hardly thirteen, entering a Moscow gymnasium, and

boarding with an experienced and celebrated teacher, an old friend of

Yefim Petrovitch. Ivan used to declare afterwards that this was all due to

the "ardor for good works" of Yefim Petrovitch, who was captivated by the

idea that the boy's genius should be trained by a teacher of genius. But

neither Yefim Petrovitch nor this teacher was living when the young man

finished at the gymnasium and entered the university. As Yefim Petrovitch

had made no provision for the payment of the tyrannical old lady's legacy,

which had grown from one thousand to two, it was delayed, owing to

formalities inevitable in Russia, and the young man was in great straits

for the first two years at the university, as he was forced to keep

himself all the time he was studying. It must be noted that he did not

even attempt to communicate with his father, perhaps from pride, from

contempt for him, or perhaps from his cool common sense, which told him

that from such a father he would get no real assistance. However that may

have been, the young man was by no means despondent and succeeded in

getting work, at first giving sixpenny lessons and afterwards getting

paragraphs on street incidents into the newspapers under the signature of

"Eye-Witness." These paragraphs, it was said, were so interesting and

piquant that they were soon taken. This alone showed the young man's

practical and intellectual superiority over the masses of needy and

unfortunate students of both sexes who hang about the offices of the

newspapers and journals, unable to think of anything better than

everlasting entreaties for copying and translations from the French.

Having once got into touch with the editors Ivan Fyodorovitch always kept

up his connection with them, and in his latter years at the university he

published brilliant reviews of books upon various special subjects, so

that he became well known in literary circles. But only in his last year

he suddenly succeeded in attracting the attention of a far wider circle of

readers, so that a great many people noticed and remembered him. It was

rather a curious incident. When he had just left the university and was

preparing to go abroad upon his two thousand roubles, Ivan Fyodorovitch

published in one of the more important journals a strange article, which

attracted general notice, on a subject of which he might have been

supposed to know nothing, as he was a student of natural science. The

article dealt with a subject which was being debated everywhere at the

time--the position of the ecclesiastical courts. After discussing several

opinions on the subject he went on to explain his own view. What was most

striking about the article was its tone, and its unexpected conclusion.

Many of the Church party regarded him unquestioningly as on their side.

And yet not only the secularists but even atheists joined them in their

applause. Finally some sagacious persons opined that the article was

nothing but an impudent satirical burlesque. I mention this incident

particularly because this article penetrated into the famous monastery in

our neighborhood, where the inmates, being particularly interested in the

question of the ecclesiastical courts, were completely bewildered by it.

Learning the author's name, they were interested in his being a native of

the town and the son of "that Fyodor Pavlovitch." And just then it was

that the author himself made his appearance among us.


Why Ivan Fyodorovitch had come amongst us I remember asking myself at the

time with a certain uneasiness. This fateful visit, which was the first

step leading to so many consequences, I never fully explained to myself.

It seemed strange on the face of it that a young man so learned, so proud,

and apparently so cautious, should suddenly visit such an infamous house

and a father who had ignored him all his life, hardly knew him, never

thought of him, and would not under any circumstances have given him

money, though he was always afraid that his sons Ivan and Alexey would

also come to ask him for it. And here the young man was staying in the

house of such a father, had been living with him for two months, and they

were on the best possible terms. This last fact was a special cause of

wonder to many others as well as to me. Pyotr Alexandrovitch Miuesov, of

whom we have spoken already, the cousin of Fyodor Pavlovitch's first wife,

happened to be in the neighborhood again on a visit to his estate. He had

come from Paris, which was his permanent home. I remember that he was more

surprised than any one when he made the acquaintance of the young man, who

interested him extremely, and with whom he sometimes argued and not

without an inner pang compared himself in acquirements.


"He is proud," he used to say, "he will never be in want of pence; he has

got money enough to go abroad now. What does he want here? Every one can

see that he hasn't come for money, for his father would never give him

any. He has no taste for drink and dissipation, and yet his father can't

do without him. They get on so well together!"


That was the truth; the young man had an unmistakable influence over his

father, who positively appeared to be behaving more decently and even

seemed at times ready to obey his son, though often extremely and even

spitefully perverse.


It was only later that we learned that Ivan had come partly at the request

of, and in the interests of, his elder brother, Dmitri, whom he saw for

the first time on this very visit, though he had before leaving Moscow

been in correspondence with him about an important matter of more concern

to Dmitri than himself. What that business was the reader will learn fully

in due time. Yet even when I did know of this special circumstance I still

felt Ivan Fyodorovitch to be an enigmatic figure, and thought his visit

rather mysterious.


I may add that Ivan appeared at the time in the light of a mediator

between his father and his elder brother Dmitri, who was in open quarrel

with his father and even planning to bring an action against him.


The family, I repeat, was now united for the first time, and some of its

members met for the first time in their lives. The younger brother,

Alexey, had been a year already among us, having been the first of the

three to arrive. It is of that brother Alexey I find it most difficult to

speak in this introduction. Yet I must give some preliminary account of

him, if only to explain one queer fact, which is that I have to introduce

my hero to the reader wearing the cassock of a novice. Yes, he had been

for the last year in our monastery, and seemed willing to be cloistered

there for the rest of his life.




Chapter IV. The Third Son, Alyosha



He was only twenty, his brother Ivan was in his twenty-fourth year at the

time, while their elder brother Dmitri was twenty-seven. First of all, I

must explain that this young man, Alyosha, was not a fanatic, and, in my

opinion at least, was not even a mystic. I may as well give my full

opinion from the beginning. He was simply an early lover of humanity, and

that he adopted the monastic life was simply because at that time it

struck him, so to say, as the ideal escape for his soul struggling from

the darkness of worldly wickedness to the light of love. And the reason

this life struck him in this way was that he found in it at that time, as

he thought, an extraordinary being, our celebrated elder, Zossima, to whom

he became attached with all the warm first love of his ardent heart. But I

do not dispute that he was very strange even at that time, and had been so

indeed from his cradle. I have mentioned already, by the way, that though

he lost his mother in his fourth year he remembered her all his life--her

face, her caresses, "as though she stood living before me." Such memories

may persist, as every one knows, from an even earlier age, even from two

years old, but scarcely standing out through a whole lifetime like spots

of light out of darkness, like a corner torn out of a huge picture, which

has all faded and disappeared except that fragment. That is how it was

with him. He remembered one still summer evening, an open window, the

slanting rays of the setting sun (that he recalled most vividly of all);

in a corner of the room the holy image, before it a lighted lamp, and on

her knees before the image his mother, sobbing hysterically with cries and

moans, snatching him up in both arms, squeezing him close till it hurt,

and praying for him to the Mother of God, holding him out in both arms to

the image as though to put him under the Mother's protection ... and

suddenly a nurse runs in and snatches him from her in terror. That was the

picture! And Alyosha remembered his mother's face at that minute. He used

to say that it was frenzied but beautiful as he remembered. But he rarely

cared to speak of this memory to any one. In his childhood and youth he

was by no means expansive, and talked little indeed, but not from shyness

or a sullen unsociability; quite the contrary, from something different,

from a sort of inner preoccupation entirely personal and unconcerned with

other people, but so important to him that he seemed, as it were, to

forget others on account of it. But he was fond of people: he seemed

throughout his life to put implicit trust in people: yet no one ever

looked on him as a simpleton or naive person. There was something about

him which made one feel at once (and it was so all his life afterwards)

that he did not care to be a judge of others--that he would never take it

upon himself to criticize and would never condemn any one for anything. He

seemed, indeed, to accept everything without the least condemnation though

often grieving bitterly: and this was so much so that no one could

surprise or frighten him even in his earliest youth. Coming at twenty to

his father's house, which was a very sink of filthy debauchery, he, chaste

and pure as he was, simply withdrew in silence when to look on was

unbearable, but without the slightest sign of contempt or condemnation.

His father, who had once been in a dependent position, and so was

sensitive and ready to take offense, met him at first with distrust and

sullenness. "He does not say much," he used to say, "and thinks the more."

But soon, within a fortnight indeed, he took to embracing him and kissing

him terribly often, with drunken tears, with sottish sentimentality, yet

he evidently felt a real and deep affection for him, such as he had never

been capable of feeling for any one before.


Every one, indeed, loved this young man wherever he went, and it was so

from his earliest childhood. When he entered the household of his patron

and benefactor, Yefim Petrovitch Polenov, he gained the hearts of all the

family, so that they looked on him quite as their own child. Yet he

entered the house at such a tender age that he could not have acted from

design nor artfulness in winning affection. So that the gift of making

himself loved directly and unconsciously was inherent in him, in his very

nature, so to speak. It was the same at school, though he seemed to be

just one of those children who are distrusted, sometimes ridiculed, and

even disliked by their schoolfellows. He was dreamy, for instance, and

rather solitary. From his earliest childhood he was fond of creeping into

a corner to read, and yet he was a general favorite all the while he was

at school. He was rarely playful or merry, but any one could see at the

first glance that this was not from any sullenness. On the contrary he was

bright and good-tempered. He never tried to show off among his

schoolfellows. Perhaps because of this, he was never afraid of any one,

yet the boys immediately understood that he was not proud of his

fearlessness and seemed to be unaware that he was bold and courageous. He

never resented an insult. It would happen that an hour after the offense

he would address the offender or answer some question with as trustful and

candid an expression as though nothing had happened between them. And it

was not that he seemed to have forgotten or intentionally forgiven the

affront, but simply that he did not regard it as an affront, and this

completely conquered and captivated the boys. He had one characteristic

which made all his schoolfellows from the bottom class to the top want to

mock at him, not from malice but because it amused them. This

characteristic was a wild fanatical modesty and chastity. He could not

bear to hear certain words and certain conversations about women. There

are "certain" words and conversations unhappily impossible to eradicate in

schools. Boys pure in mind and heart, almost children, are fond of talking

in school among themselves, and even aloud, of things, pictures, and

images of which even soldiers would sometimes hesitate to speak. More than

that, much that soldiers have no knowledge or conception of is familiar to

quite young children of our intellectual and higher classes. There is no

moral depravity, no real corrupt inner cynicism in it, but there is the

appearance of it, and it is often looked upon among them as something

refined, subtle, daring, and worthy of imitation. Seeing that Alyosha

Karamazov put his fingers in his ears when they talked of "that," they

used sometimes to crowd round him, pull his hands away, and shout

nastiness into both ears, while he struggled, slipped to the floor, tried

to hide himself without uttering one word of abuse, enduring their insults

in silence. But at last they left him alone and gave up taunting him with

being a "regular girl," and what's more they looked upon it with

compassion as a weakness. He was always one of the best in the class but

was never first.


At the time of Yefim Petrovitch's death Alyosha had two more years to

complete at the provincial gymnasium. The inconsolable widow went almost

immediately after his death for a long visit to Italy with her whole

family, which consisted only of women and girls. Alyosha went to live in

the house of two distant relations of Yefim Petrovitch, ladies whom he had

never seen before. On what terms he lived with them he did not know

himself. It was very characteristic of him, indeed, that he never cared at

whose expense he was living. In that respect he was a striking contrast to

his elder brother Ivan, who struggled with poverty for his first two years

in the university, maintained himself by his own efforts, and had from

childhood been bitterly conscious of living at the expense of his

benefactor. But this strange trait in Alyosha's character must not, I

think, be criticized too severely, for at the slightest acquaintance with

him any one would have perceived that Alyosha was one of those youths,

almost of the type of religious enthusiast, who, if they were suddenly to

come into possession of a large fortune, would not hesitate to give it

away for the asking, either for good works or perhaps to a clever rogue.

In general he seemed scarcely to know the value of money, not, of course,

in a literal sense. When he was given pocket-money, which he never asked

for, he was either terribly careless of it so that it was gone in a

moment, or he kept it for weeks together, not knowing what to do with it.


In later years Pyotr Alexandrovitch Miuesov, a man very sensitive on the

score of money and bourgeois honesty, pronounced the following judgment,

after getting to know Alyosha:


"Here is perhaps the one man in the world whom you might leave alone

without a penny, in the center of an unknown town of a million

inhabitants, and he would not come to harm, he would not die of cold and

hunger, for he would be fed and sheltered at once; and if he were not, he

would find a shelter for himself, and it would cost him no effort or

humiliation. And to shelter him would be no burden, but, on the contrary,

would probably be looked on as a pleasure."


He did not finish his studies at the gymnasium. A year before the end of

the course he suddenly announced to the ladies that he was going to see

his father about a plan which had occurred to him. They were sorry and

unwilling to let him go. The journey was not an expensive one, and the

ladies would not let him pawn his watch, a parting present from his

benefactor's family. They provided him liberally with money and even

fitted him out with new clothes and linen. But he returned half the money

they gave him, saying that he intended to go third class. On his arrival

in the town he made no answer to his father's first inquiry why he had

come before completing his studies, and seemed, so they say, unusually

thoughtful. It soon became apparent that he was looking for his mother's

tomb. He practically acknowledged at the time that that was the only

object of his visit. But it can hardly have been the whole reason of it.

It is more probable that he himself did not understand and could not

explain what had suddenly arisen in his soul, and drawn him irresistibly

into a new, unknown, but inevitable path. Fyodor Pavlovitch could not show

him where his second wife was buried, for he had never visited her grave

since he had thrown earth upon her coffin, and in the course of years had

entirely forgotten where she was buried.


Fyodor Pavlovitch, by the way, had for some time previously not been

living in our town. Three or four years after his wife's death he had gone

to the south of Russia and finally turned up in Odessa, where he spent

several years. He made the acquaintance at first, in his own words, "of a

lot of low Jews, Jewesses, and Jewkins," and ended by being received by

"Jews high and low alike." It may be presumed that at this period he

developed a peculiar faculty for making and hoarding money. He finally

returned to our town only three years before Alyosha's arrival. His former

acquaintances found him looking terribly aged, although he was by no means

an old man. He behaved not exactly with more dignity but with more

effrontery. The former buffoon showed an insolent propensity for making

buffoons of others. His depravity with women was not simply what it used

to be, but even more revolting. In a short time he opened a great number

of new taverns in the district. It was evident that he had perhaps a

hundred thousand roubles or not much less. Many of the inhabitants of the

town and district were soon in his debt, and, of course, had given good

security. Of late, too, he looked somehow bloated and seemed more

irresponsible, more uneven, had sunk into a sort of incoherence, used to

begin one thing and go on with another, as though he were letting himself

go altogether. He was more and more frequently drunk. And, if it had not

been for the same servant Grigory, who by that time had aged considerably

too, and used to look after him sometimes almost like a tutor, Fyodor

Pavlovitch might have got into terrible scrapes. Alyosha's arrival seemed

to affect even his moral side, as though something had awakened in this

prematurely old man which had long been dead in his soul.


"Do you know," he used often to say, looking at Alyosha, "that you are

like her, 'the crazy woman' "--that was what he used to call his dead wife,

Alyosha's mother. Grigory it was who pointed out the "crazy woman's" grave

to Alyosha. He took him to our town cemetery and showed him in a remote

corner a cast-iron tombstone, cheap but decently kept, on which were

inscribed the name and age of the deceased and the date of her death, and

below a four-lined verse, such as are commonly used on old-fashioned

middle-class tombs. To Alyosha's amazement this tomb turned out to be

Grigory's doing. He had put it up on the poor "crazy woman's" grave at his

own expense, after Fyodor Pavlovitch, whom he had often pestered about the

grave, had gone to Odessa, abandoning the grave and all his memories.

Alyosha showed no particular emotion at the sight of his mother's grave.

He only listened to Grigory's minute and solemn account of the erection of

the tomb; he stood with bowed head and walked away without uttering a

word. It was perhaps a year before he visited the cemetery again. But this

little episode was not without an influence upon Fyodor Pavlovitch--and a

very original one. He suddenly took a thousand roubles to our monastery to

pay for requiems for the soul of his wife; but not for the second,

Alyosha's mother, the "crazy woman," but for the first, Adelaida Ivanovna,

who used to thrash him. In the evening of the same day he got drunk and

abused the monks to Alyosha. He himself was far from being religious; he

had probably never put a penny candle before the image of a saint. Strange

impulses of sudden feeling and sudden thought are common in such types.


I have mentioned already that he looked bloated. His countenance at this

time bore traces of something that testified unmistakably to the life he

had led. Besides the long fleshy bags under his little, always insolent,

suspicious, and ironical eyes; besides the multitude of deep wrinkles in

his little fat face, the Adam's apple hung below his sharp chin like a

great, fleshy goiter, which gave him a peculiar, repulsive, sensual

appearance; add to that a long rapacious mouth with full lips, between

which could be seen little stumps of black decayed teeth. He slobbered

every time he began to speak. He was fond indeed of making fun of his own

face, though, I believe, he was well satisfied with it. He used

particularly to point to his nose, which was not very large, but very

delicate and conspicuously aquiline. "A regular Roman nose," he used to

say, "with my goiter I've quite the countenance of an ancient Roman

patrician of the decadent period." He seemed proud of it.


Not long after visiting his mother's grave Alyosha suddenly announced that

he wanted to enter the monastery, and that the monks were willing to

receive him as a novice. He explained that this was his strong desire, and

that he was solemnly asking his consent as his father. The old man knew

that the elder Zossima, who was living in the monastery hermitage, had

made a special impression upon his "gentle boy."


"That is the most honest monk among them, of course," he observed, after

listening in thoughtful silence to Alyosha, and seeming scarcely surprised

at his request. "H'm!... So that's where you want to be, my gentle boy?"


He was half drunk, and suddenly he grinned his slow half-drunken grin,

which was not without a certain cunning and tipsy slyness. "H'm!... I had

a presentiment that you would end in something like this. Would you

believe it? You were making straight for it. Well, to be sure you have

your own two thousand. That's a dowry for you. And I'll never desert you,

my angel. And I'll pay what's wanted for you there, if they ask for it.

But, of course, if they don't ask, why should we worry them? What do you

say? You know, you spend money like a canary, two grains a week. H'm!...

Do you know that near one monastery there's a place outside the town where

every baby knows there are none but 'the monks' wives' living, as they are

called. Thirty women, I believe. I have been there myself. You know, it's

interesting in its own way, of course, as a variety. The worst of it is

it's awfully Russian. There are no French women there. Of course they

could get them fast enough, they have plenty of money. If they get to hear

of it they'll come along. Well, there's nothing of that sort here, no

'monks' wives,' and two hundred monks. They're honest. They keep the

fasts. I admit it.... H'm.... So you want to be a monk? And do you know

I'm sorry to lose you, Alyosha; would you believe it, I've really grown

fond of you? Well, it's a good opportunity. You'll pray for us sinners; we

have sinned too much here. I've always been thinking who would pray for

me, and whether there's any one in the world to do it. My dear boy, I'm

awfully stupid about that. You wouldn't believe it. Awfully. You see,

however stupid I am about it, I keep thinking, I keep thinking--from time

to time, of course, not all the while. It's impossible, I think, for the

devils to forget to drag me down to hell with their hooks when I die. Then

I wonder--hooks? Where would they get them? What of? Iron hooks? Where do

they forge them? Have they a foundry there of some sort? The monks in the

monastery probably believe that there's a ceiling in hell, for instance.

Now I'm ready to believe in hell, but without a ceiling. It makes it more

refined, more enlightened, more Lutheran that is. And, after all, what

does it matter whether it has a ceiling or hasn't? But, do you know,

there's a damnable question involved in it? If there's no ceiling there

can be no hooks, and if there are no hooks it all breaks down, which is

unlikely again, for then there would be none to drag me down to hell, and

if they don't drag me down what justice is there in the world? _Il

faudrait les inventer_, those hooks, on purpose for me alone, for, if you

only knew, Alyosha, what a blackguard I am."


"But there are no hooks there," said Alyosha, looking gently and seriously

at his father.


"Yes, yes, only the shadows of hooks, I know, I know. That's how a

Frenchman described hell: '_J'ai bu l'ombre d'un cocher qui avec l'ombre

d'une brosse frottait l'ombre d'une carrosse._' How do you know there are

no hooks, darling? When you've lived with the monks you'll sing a

different tune. But go and get at the truth there, and then come and tell

me. Anyway it's easier going to the other world if one knows what there is

there. Besides, it will be more seemly for you with the monks than here

with me, with a drunken old man and young harlots ... though you're like

an angel, nothing touches you. And I dare say nothing will touch you

there. That's why I let you go, because I hope for that. You've got all

your wits about you. You will burn and you will burn out; you will be

healed and come back again. And I will wait for you. I feel that you're

the only creature in the world who has not condemned me. My dear boy, I

feel it, you know. I can't help feeling it."


And he even began blubbering. He was sentimental. He was wicked and





Chapter V. Elders



Some of my readers may imagine that my young man was a sickly, ecstatic,

poorly developed creature, a pale, consumptive dreamer. On the contrary,

Alyosha was at this time a well-grown, red-cheeked, clear-eyed lad of

nineteen, radiant with health. He was very handsome, too, graceful,

moderately tall, with hair of a dark brown, with a regular, rather long,

oval-shaped face, and wide-set dark gray, shining eyes; he was very

thoughtful, and apparently very serene. I shall be told, perhaps, that red

cheeks are not incompatible with fanaticism and mysticism; but I fancy

that Alyosha was more of a realist than any one. Oh! no doubt, in the

monastery he fully believed in miracles, but, to my thinking, miracles are

never a stumbling-block to the realist. It is not miracles that dispose

realists to belief. The genuine realist, if he is an unbeliever, will

always find strength and ability to disbelieve in the miraculous, and if

he is confronted with a miracle as an irrefutable fact he would rather

disbelieve his own senses than admit the fact. Even if he admits it, he

admits it as a fact of nature till then unrecognized by him. Faith does

not, in the realist, spring from the miracle but the miracle from faith.

If the realist once believes, then he is bound by his very realism to

admit the miraculous also. The Apostle Thomas said that he would not

believe till he saw, but when he did see he said, "My Lord and my God!"

Was it the miracle forced him to believe? Most likely not, but he believed

solely because he desired to believe and possibly he fully believed in his

secret heart even when he said, "I do not believe till I see."


I shall be told, perhaps, that Alyosha was stupid, undeveloped, had not

finished his studies, and so on. That he did not finish his studies is

true, but to say that he was stupid or dull would be a great injustice.

I'll simply repeat what I have said above. He entered upon this path only

because, at that time, it alone struck his imagination and presented

itself to him as offering an ideal means of escape for his soul from

darkness to light. Add to that that he was to some extent a youth of our

last epoch--that is, honest in nature, desiring the truth, seeking for it

and believing in it, and seeking to serve it at once with all the strength

of his soul, seeking for immediate action, and ready to sacrifice

everything, life itself, for it. Though these young men unhappily fail to

understand that the sacrifice of life is, in many cases, the easiest of

all sacrifices, and that to sacrifice, for instance, five or six years of

their seething youth to hard and tedious study, if only to multiply

tenfold their powers of serving the truth and the cause they have set

before them as their goal--such a sacrifice is utterly beyond the strength

of many of them. The path Alyosha chose was a path going in the opposite

direction, but he chose it with the same thirst for swift achievement. As

soon as he reflected seriously he was convinced of the existence of God

and immortality, and at once he instinctively said to himself: "I want to

live for immortality, and I will accept no compromise." In the same way,

if he had decided that God and immortality did not exist, he would at once

have become an atheist and a socialist. For socialism is not merely the

labor question, it is before all things the atheistic question, the

question of the form taken by atheism to-day, the question of the tower of

Babel built without God, not to mount to heaven from earth but to set up

heaven on earth. Alyosha would have found it strange and impossible to go

on living as before. It is written: "Give all that thou hast to the poor

and follow Me, if thou wouldst be perfect."


Alyosha said to himself: "I can't give two roubles instead of 'all,' and

only go to mass instead of 'following Him.' " Perhaps his memories of

childhood brought back our monastery, to which his mother may have taken

him to mass. Perhaps the slanting sunlight and the holy image to which his

poor "crazy" mother had held him up still acted upon his imagination.

Brooding on these things he may have come to us perhaps only to see

whether here he could sacrifice all or only "two roubles," and in the

monastery he met this elder. I must digress to explain what an "elder" is

in Russian monasteries, and I am sorry that I do not feel very competent

to do so. I will try, however, to give a superficial account of it in a

few words. Authorities on the subject assert that the institution of

"elders" is of recent date, not more than a hundred years old in our

monasteries, though in the orthodox East, especially in Sinai and Athos,

it has existed over a thousand years. It is maintained that it existed in

ancient times in Russia also, but through the calamities which overtook

Russia--the Tartars, civil war, the interruption of relations with the East

after the destruction of Constantinople--this institution fell into

oblivion. It was revived among us towards the end of last century by one

of the great "ascetics," as they called him, Paissy Velitchkovsky, and his

disciples. But to this day it exists in few monasteries only, and has

sometimes been almost persecuted as an innovation in Russia. It flourished

especially in the celebrated Kozelski Optin Monastery. When and how it was

introduced into our monastery I cannot say. There had already been three

such elders and Zossima was the last of them. But he was almost dying of

weakness and disease, and they had no one to take his place. The question

for our monastery was an important one, for it had not been distinguished

by anything in particular till then: they had neither relics of saints,

nor wonder-working ikons, nor glorious traditions, nor historical

exploits. It had flourished and been glorious all over Russia through its

elders, to see and hear whom pilgrims had flocked for thousands of miles

from all parts.


What was such an elder? An elder was one who took your soul, your will,

into his soul and his will. When you choose an elder, you renounce your

own will and yield it to him in complete submission, complete self-

abnegation. This novitiate, this terrible school of abnegation, is

undertaken voluntarily, in the hope of self-conquest, of self-mastery, in

order, after a life of obedience, to attain perfect freedom, that is, from

self; to escape the lot of those who have lived their whole life without

finding their true selves in themselves. This institution of elders is not

founded on theory, but was established in the East from the practice of a

thousand years. The obligations due to an elder are not the ordinary

"obedience" which has always existed in our Russian monasteries. The

obligation involves confession to the elder by all who have submitted

themselves to him, and to the indissoluble bond between him and them.


The story is told, for instance, that in the early days of Christianity

one such novice, failing to fulfill some command laid upon him by his

elder, left his monastery in Syria and went to Egypt. There, after great

exploits, he was found worthy at last to suffer torture and a martyr's

death for the faith. When the Church, regarding him as a saint, was

burying him, suddenly, at the deacon's exhortation, "Depart all ye

unbaptized," the coffin containing the martyr's body left its place and

was cast forth from the church, and this took place three times. And only

at last they learnt that this holy man had broken his vow of obedience and

left his elder, and, therefore, could not be forgiven without the elder's

absolution in spite of his great deeds. Only after this could the funeral

take place. This, of course, is only an old legend. But here is a recent



A monk was suddenly commanded by his elder to quit Athos, which he loved

as a sacred place and a haven of refuge, and to go first to Jerusalem to

do homage to the Holy Places and then to go to the north to Siberia:

"There is the place for thee and not here." The monk, overwhelmed with

sorrow, went to the OEcumenical Patriarch at Constantinople and besought

him to release him from his obedience. But the Patriarch replied that not

only was he unable to release him, but there was not and could not be on

earth a power which could release him except the elder who had himself

laid that duty upon him. In this way the elders are endowed in certain

cases with unbounded and inexplicable authority. That is why in many of

our monasteries the institution was at first resisted almost to

persecution. Meantime the elders immediately began to be highly esteemed

among the people. Masses of the ignorant people as well as men of

distinction flocked, for instance, to the elders of our monastery to

confess their doubts, their sins, and their sufferings, and ask for

counsel and admonition. Seeing this, the opponents of the elders declared

that the sacrament of confession was being arbitrarily and frivolously

degraded, though the continual opening of the heart to the elder by the

monk or the layman had nothing of the character of the sacrament. In the

end, however, the institution of elders has been retained and is becoming

established in Russian monasteries. It is true, perhaps, that this

instrument which had stood the test of a thousand years for the moral

regeneration of a man from slavery to freedom and to moral perfectibility

may be a two-edged weapon and it may lead some not to humility and

complete self-control but to the most Satanic pride, that is, to bondage

and not to freedom.


The elder Zossima was sixty-five. He came of a family of landowners, had

been in the army in early youth, and served in the Caucasus as an officer.

He had, no doubt, impressed Alyosha by some peculiar quality of his soul.

Alyosha lived in the cell of the elder, who was very fond of him and let

him wait upon him. It must be noted that Alyosha was bound by no

obligation and could go where he pleased and be absent for whole days.

Though he wore the monastic dress it was voluntarily, not to be different

from others. No doubt he liked to do so. Possibly his youthful imagination

was deeply stirred by the power and fame of his elder. It was said that so

many people had for years past come to confess their sins to Father

Zossima and to entreat him for words of advice and healing, that he had

acquired the keenest intuition and could tell from an unknown face what a

new-comer wanted, and what was the suffering on his conscience. He

sometimes astounded and almost alarmed his visitors by his knowledge of

their secrets before they had spoken a word.


Alyosha noticed that many, almost all, went in to the elder for the first

time with apprehension and uneasiness, but came out with bright and happy

faces. Alyosha was particularly struck by the fact that Father Zossima was

not at all stern. On the contrary, he was always almost gay. The monks

used to say that he was more drawn to those who were more sinful, and the

greater the sinner the more he loved him. There were, no doubt, up to the

end of his life, among the monks some who hated and envied him, but they

were few in number and they were silent, though among them were some of

great dignity in the monastery, one, for instance, of the older monks

distinguished for his strict keeping of fasts and vows of silence. But the

majority were on Father Zossima's side and very many of them loved him

with all their hearts, warmly and sincerely. Some were almost fanatically

devoted to him, and declared, though not quite aloud, that he was a saint,

that there could be no doubt of it, and, seeing that his end was near,

they anticipated miracles and great glory to the monastery in the

immediate future from his relics. Alyosha had unquestioning faith in the

miraculous power of the elder, just as he had unquestioning faith in the

story of the coffin that flew out of the church. He saw many who came with

sick children or relatives and besought the elder to lay hands on them and

to pray over them, return shortly after--some the next day--and, falling in

tears at the elder's feet, thank him for healing their sick.


Whether they had really been healed or were simply better in the natural

course of the disease was a question which did not exist for Alyosha, for

he fully believed in the spiritual power of his teacher and rejoiced in

his fame, in his glory, as though it were his own triumph. His heart

throbbed, and he beamed, as it were, all over when the elder came out to

the gates of the hermitage into the waiting crowd of pilgrims of the

humbler class who had flocked from all parts of Russia on purpose to see

the elder and obtain his blessing. They fell down before him, wept, kissed

his feet, kissed the earth on which he stood, and wailed, while the women

held up their children to him and brought him the sick "possessed with

devils." The elder spoke to them, read a brief prayer over them, blessed

them, and dismissed them. Of late he had become so weak through attacks of

illness that he was sometimes unable to leave his cell, and the pilgrims

waited for him to come out for several days. Alyosha did not wonder why

they loved him so, why they fell down before him and wept with emotion

merely at seeing his face. Oh! he understood that for the humble soul of

the Russian peasant, worn out by grief and toil, and still more by the

everlasting injustice and everlasting sin, his own and the world's, it was

the greatest need and comfort to find some one or something holy to fall

down before and worship.


"Among us there is sin, injustice, and temptation, but yet, somewhere on

earth there is some one holy and exalted. He has the truth; he knows the

truth; so it is not dead upon the earth; so it will come one day to us,

too, and rule over all the earth according to the promise."


Alyosha knew that this was just how the people felt and even reasoned. He

understood it, but that the elder Zossima was this saint and custodian of

God's truth--of that he had no more doubt than the weeping peasants and the

sick women who held out their children to the elder. The conviction that

after his death the elder would bring extraordinary glory to the monastery

was even stronger in Alyosha than in any one there, and, of late, a kind

of deep flame of inner ecstasy burnt more and more strongly in his heart.

He was not at all troubled at this elder's standing as a solitary example

before him.


"No matter. He is holy. He carries in his heart the secret of renewal for

all: that power which will, at last, establish truth on the earth, and all

men will be holy and love one another, and there will be no more rich nor

poor, no exalted nor humbled, but all will be as the children of God, and

the true Kingdom of Christ will come." That was the dream in Alyosha's



The arrival of his two brothers, whom he had not known till then, seemed

to make a great impression on Alyosha. He more quickly made friends with

his half-brother Dmitri (though he arrived later) than with his own

brother Ivan. He was extremely interested in his brother Ivan, but when

the latter had been two months in the town, though they had met fairly

often, they were still not intimate. Alyosha was naturally silent, and he

seemed to be expecting something, ashamed about something, while his

brother Ivan, though Alyosha noticed at first that he looked long and

curiously at him, seemed soon to have left off thinking of him. Alyosha

noticed it with some embarrassment. He ascribed his brother's indifference

at first to the disparity of their age and education. But he also wondered

whether the absence of curiosity and sympathy in Ivan might be due to some

other cause entirely unknown to him. He kept fancying that Ivan was

absorbed in something--something inward and important--that he was striving

towards some goal, perhaps very hard to attain, and that that was why he

had no thought for him. Alyosha wondered, too, whether there was not some

contempt on the part of the learned atheist for him--a foolish novice. He

knew for certain that his brother was an atheist. He could not take

offense at this contempt, if it existed; yet, with an uneasy embarrassment

which he did not himself understand, he waited for his brother to come

nearer to him. Dmitri used to speak of Ivan with the deepest respect and

with a peculiar earnestness. From him Alyosha learnt all the details of

the important affair which had of late formed such a close and remarkable

bond between the two elder brothers. Dmitri's enthusiastic references to

Ivan were the more striking in Alyosha's eyes since Dmitri was, compared

with Ivan, almost uneducated, and the two brothers were such a contrast in

personality and character that it would be difficult to find two men more



It was at this time that the meeting, or, rather gathering of the members

of this inharmonious family took place in the cell of the elder who had

such an extraordinary influence on Alyosha. The pretext for this gathering

was a false one. It was at this time that the discord between Dmitri and

his father seemed at its acutest stage and their relations had become

insufferably strained. Fyodor Pavlovitch seems to have been the first to

suggest, apparently in joke, that they should all meet in Father Zossima's

cell, and that, without appealing to his direct intervention, they might

more decently come to an understanding under the conciliating influence of

the elder's presence. Dmitri, who had never seen the elder, naturally

supposed that his father was trying to intimidate him, but, as he secretly

blamed himself for his outbursts of temper with his father on several

recent occasions, he accepted the challenge. It must be noted that he was

not, like Ivan, staying with his father, but living apart at the other end

of the town. It happened that Pyotr Alexandrovitch Miuesov, who was staying

in the district at the time, caught eagerly at the idea. A Liberal of the

forties and fifties, a freethinker and atheist, he may have been led on by

boredom or the hope of frivolous diversion. He was suddenly seized with

the desire to see the monastery and the holy man. As his lawsuit with the

monastery still dragged on, he made it the pretext for seeing the

Superior, in order to attempt to settle it amicably. A visitor coming with

such laudable intentions might be received with more attention and

consideration than if he came from simple curiosity. Influences from

within the monastery were brought to bear on the elder, who of late had

scarcely left his cell, and had been forced by illness to deny even his

ordinary visitors. In the end he consented to see them, and the day was



"Who has made me a judge over them?" was all he said, smilingly, to



Alyosha was much perturbed when he heard of the proposed visit. Of all the

wrangling, quarrelsome party, Dmitri was the only one who could regard the

interview seriously. All the others would come from frivolous motives,

perhaps insulting to the elder. Alyosha was well aware of that. Ivan and

Miuesov would come from curiosity, perhaps of the coarsest kind, while his

father might be contemplating some piece of buffoonery. Though he said

nothing, Alyosha thoroughly understood his father. The boy, I repeat, was

far from being so simple as every one thought him. He awaited the day with

a heavy heart. No doubt he was always pondering in his mind how the family

discord could be ended. But his chief anxiety concerned the elder. He

trembled for him, for his glory, and dreaded any affront to him,

especially the refined, courteous irony of Miuesov and the supercilious

half-utterances of the highly educated Ivan. He even wanted to venture on

warning the elder, telling him something about them, but, on second

thoughts, said nothing. He only sent word the day before, through a

friend, to his brother Dmitri, that he loved him and expected him to keep

his promise. Dmitri wondered, for he could not remember what he had

promised, but he answered by letter that he would do his utmost not to let

himself be provoked "by vileness," but that, although he had a deep

respect for the elder and for his brother Ivan, he was convinced that the

meeting was either a trap for him or an unworthy farce.


"Nevertheless I would rather bite out my tongue than be lacking in respect

to the sainted man whom you reverence so highly," he wrote in conclusion.

Alyosha was not greatly cheered by the letter.





Book II. An Unfortunate Gathering




Chapter I. They Arrive At The Monastery



It was a warm, bright day at the end of August. The interview with the

elder had been fixed for half-past eleven, immediately after late mass.

Our visitors did not take part in the service, but arrived just as it was

over. First an elegant open carriage, drawn by two valuable horses, drove

up with Miuesov and a distant relative of his, a young man of twenty,

called Pyotr Fomitch Kalganov. This young man was preparing to enter the

university. Miuesov, with whom he was staying for the time, was trying to

persuade him to go abroad to the university of Zurich or Jena. The young

man was still undecided. He was thoughtful and absent-minded. He was nice-

looking, strongly built, and rather tall. There was a strange fixity in

his gaze at times. Like all very absent-minded people he would sometimes

stare at a person without seeing him. He was silent and rather awkward,

but sometimes, when he was alone with any one, he became talkative and

effusive, and would laugh at anything or nothing. But his animation

vanished as quickly as it appeared. He was always well and even

elaborately dressed; he had already some independent fortune and

expectations of much more. He was a friend of Alyosha's.


In an ancient, jolting, but roomy, hired carriage, with a pair of old

pinkish-gray horses, a long way behind Miuesov's carriage, came Fyodor

Pavlovitch, with his son Ivan. Dmitri was late, though he had been

informed of the time the evening before. The visitors left their carriage

at the hotel, outside the precincts, and went to the gates of the

monastery on foot. Except Fyodor Pavlovitch, none of the party had ever

seen the monastery, and Miuesov had probably not even been to church for

thirty years. He looked about him with curiosity, together with assumed

ease. But, except the church and the domestic buildings, though these too

were ordinary enough, he found nothing of interest in the interior of the

monastery. The last of the worshippers were coming out of the church,

bareheaded and crossing themselves. Among the humbler people were a few of

higher rank--two or three ladies and a very old general. They were all

staying at the hotel. Our visitors were at once surrounded by beggars, but

none of them gave them anything, except young Kalganov, who took a ten-

copeck piece out of his purse, and, nervous and embarrassed--God knows

why!--hurriedly gave it to an old woman, saying: "Divide it equally." None

of his companions made any remark upon it, so that he had no reason to be

embarrassed; but, perceiving this, he was even more overcome.


It was strange that their arrival did not seem expected, and that they

were not received with special honor, though one of them had recently made

a donation of a thousand roubles, while another was a very wealthy and

highly cultured landowner, upon whom all in the monastery were in a sense

dependent, as a decision of the lawsuit might at any moment put their

fishing rights in his hands. Yet no official personage met them.


Miuesov looked absent-mindedly at the tombstones round the church, and was

on the point of saying that the dead buried here must have paid a pretty

penny for the right of lying in this "holy place," but refrained. His

liberal irony was rapidly changing almost into anger.


"Who the devil is there to ask in this imbecile place? We must find out,

for time is passing," he observed suddenly, as though speaking to himself.


All at once there came up a bald-headed, elderly man with ingratiating

little eyes, wearing a full, summer overcoat. Lifting his hat, he

introduced himself with a honeyed lisp as Maximov, a landowner of Tula. He

at once entered into our visitors' difficulty.


"Father Zossima lives in the hermitage, apart, four hundred paces from the

monastery, the other side of the copse."


"I know it's the other side of the copse," observed Fyodor Pavlovitch,

"but we don't remember the way. It is a long time since we've been here."


"This way, by this gate, and straight across the copse ... the copse. Come

with me, won't you? I'll show you. I have to go.... I am going myself.

This way, this way."


They came out of the gate and turned towards the copse. Maximov, a man of

sixty, ran rather than walked, turning sideways to stare at them all, with

an incredible degree of nervous curiosity. His eyes looked starting out of

his head.


"You see, we have come to the elder upon business of our own," observed

Miuesov severely. "That personage has granted us an audience, so to speak,

and so, though we thank you for showing us the way, we cannot ask you to

accompany us."


"I've been there. I've been already; _un chevalier parfait_," and Maximov

snapped his fingers in the air.


"Who is a _chevalier_?" asked Miuesov.


"The elder, the splendid elder, the elder! The honor and glory of the

monastery, Zossima. Such an elder!"


But his incoherent talk was cut short by a very pale, wan-looking monk of

medium height, wearing a monk's cap, who overtook them. Fyodor Pavlovitch

and Miuesov stopped.


The monk, with an extremely courteous, profound bow, announced:


"The Father Superior invites all of you gentlemen to dine with him after

your visit to the hermitage. At one o'clock, not later. And you also," he

added, addressing Maximov.


"That I certainly will, without fail," cried Fyodor Pavlovitch, hugely

delighted at the invitation. "And, believe me, we've all given our word to

behave properly here.... And you, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, will you go, too?"


"Yes, of course. What have I come for but to study all the customs here?

The only obstacle to me is your company...."


"Yes, Dmitri Fyodorovitch is non-existent as yet."


"It would be a capital thing if he didn't turn up. Do you suppose I like

all this business, and in your company, too? So we will come to dinner.

Thank the Father Superior," he said to the monk.


"No, it is my duty now to conduct you to the elder," answered the monk.


"If so I'll go straight to the Father Superior--to the Father Superior,"

babbled Maximov.


"The Father Superior is engaged just now. But as you please--" the monk



"Impertinent old man!" Miuesov observed aloud, while Maximov ran back to

the monastery.


"He's like von Sohn," Fyodor Pavlovitch said suddenly.


"Is that all you can think of?... In what way is he like von Sohn? Have

you ever seen von Sohn?"


"I've seen his portrait. It's not the features, but something indefinable.

He's a second von Sohn. I can always tell from the physiognomy."


"Ah, I dare say you are a connoisseur in that. But, look here, Fyodor

Pavlovitch, you said just now that we had given our word to behave

properly. Remember it. I advise you to control yourself. But, if you begin

to play the fool I don't intend to be associated with you here.... You see

what a man he is"--he turned to the monk--"I'm afraid to go among decent

people with him." A fine smile, not without a certain slyness, came on to

the pale, bloodless lips of the monk, but he made no reply, and was

evidently silent from a sense of his own dignity. Miuesov frowned more than



"Oh, devil take them all! An outer show elaborated through centuries, and

nothing but charlatanism and nonsense underneath," flashed through

Miuesov's mind.


"Here's the hermitage. We've arrived," cried Fyodor Pavlovitch. "The gates

are shut."


And he repeatedly made the sign of the cross to the saints painted above

and on the sides of the gates.


"When you go to Rome you must do as the Romans do. Here in this hermitage

there are twenty-five saints being saved. They look at one another, and

eat cabbages. And not one woman goes in at this gate. That's what is

remarkable. And that really is so. But I did hear that the elder receives

ladies," he remarked suddenly to the monk.


"Women of the people are here too now, lying in the portico there waiting.

But for ladies of higher rank two rooms have been built adjoining the

portico, but outside the precincts--you can see the windows--and the elder

goes out to them by an inner passage when he is well enough. They are

always outside the precincts. There is a Harkov lady, Madame Hohlakov,

waiting there now with her sick daughter. Probably he has promised to come

out to her, though of late he has been so weak that he has hardly shown

himself even to the people."


"So then there are loopholes, after all, to creep out of the hermitage to

the ladies. Don't suppose, holy father, that I mean any harm. But do you

know that at Athos not only the visits of women are not allowed, but no

creature of the female sex--no hens, nor turkey-hens, nor cows."


"Fyodor Pavlovitch, I warn you I shall go back and leave you here. They'll

turn you out when I'm gone."


"But I'm not interfering with you, Pyotr Alexandrovitch. Look," he cried

suddenly, stepping within the precincts, "what a vale of roses they live



Though there were no roses now, there were numbers of rare and beautiful

autumn flowers growing wherever there was space for them, and evidently

tended by a skillful hand; there were flower-beds round the church, and

between the tombs; and the one-storied wooden house where the elder lived

was also surrounded with flowers.


"And was it like this in the time of the last elder, Varsonofy? He didn't

care for such elegance. They say he used to jump up and thrash even ladies

with a stick," observed Fyodor Pavlovitch, as he went up the steps.


"The elder Varsonofy did sometimes seem rather strange, but a great deal

that's told is foolishness. He never thrashed any one," answered the monk.

"Now, gentlemen, if you will wait a minute I will announce you."


"Fyodor Pavlovitch, for the last time, your compact, do you hear? Behave

properly or I will pay you out!" Miuesov had time to mutter again.


"I can't think why you are so agitated," Fyodor Pavlovitch observed

sarcastically. "Are you uneasy about your sins? They say he can tell by

one's eyes what one has come about. And what a lot you think of their

opinion! you, a Parisian, and so advanced. I'm surprised at you."


But Miuesov had no time to reply to this sarcasm. They were asked to come

in. He walked in, somewhat irritated.


"Now, I know myself, I am annoyed, I shall lose my temper and begin to

quarrel--and lower myself and my ideas," he reflected.




Chapter II. The Old Buffoon



They entered the room almost at the same moment that the elder came in

from his bedroom. There were already in the cell, awaiting the elder, two

monks of the hermitage, one the Father Librarian, and the other Father

Paissy, a very learned man, so they said, in delicate health, though not

old. There was also a tall young man, who looked about two and twenty,

standing in the corner throughout the interview. He had a broad, fresh

face, and clever, observant, narrow brown eyes, and was wearing ordinary

dress. He was a divinity student, living under the protection of the

monastery. His expression was one of unquestioning, but self-respecting,

reverence. Being in a subordinate and dependent position, and so not on an

equality with the guests, he did not greet them with a bow.


Father Zossima was accompanied by a novice, and by Alyosha. The two monks

rose and greeted him with a very deep bow, touching the ground with their

fingers; then kissed his hand. Blessing them, the elder replied with as

deep a reverence to them, and asked their blessing. The whole ceremony was

performed very seriously and with an appearance of feeling, not like an

everyday rite. But Miuesov fancied that it was all done with intentional

impressiveness. He stood in front of the other visitors. He ought--he had

reflected upon it the evening before--from simple politeness, since it was

the custom here, to have gone up to receive the elder's blessing, even if

he did not kiss his hand. But when he saw all this bowing and kissing on

the part of the monks he instantly changed his mind. With dignified

gravity he made a rather deep, conventional bow, and moved away to a

chair. Fyodor Pavlovitch did the same, mimicking Miuesov like an ape. Ivan

bowed with great dignity and courtesy, but he too kept his hands at his

sides, while Kalganov was so confused that he did not bow at all. The

elder let fall the hand raised to bless them, and bowing to them again,

asked them all to sit down. The blood rushed to Alyosha's cheeks. He was

ashamed. His forebodings were coming true.


Father Zossima sat down on a very old-fashioned mahogany sofa, covered

with leather, and made his visitors sit down in a row along the opposite

wall on four mahogany chairs, covered with shabby black leather. The monks

sat, one at the door and the other at the window. The divinity student,

the novice, and Alyosha remained standing. The cell was not very large and

had a faded look. It contained nothing but the most necessary furniture,

of coarse and poor quality. There were two pots of flowers in the window,

and a number of holy pictures in the corner. Before one huge ancient ikon

of the Virgin a lamp was burning. Near it were two other holy pictures in

shining settings, and, next them, carved cherubims, china eggs, a Catholic

cross of ivory, with a Mater Dolorosa embracing it, and several foreign

engravings from the great Italian artists of past centuries. Next to these

costly and artistic engravings were several of the roughest Russian prints

of saints and martyrs, such as are sold for a few farthings at all the

fairs. On the other walls were portraits of Russian bishops, past and



Miuesov took a cursory glance at all these "conventional" surroundings and

bent an intent look upon the elder. He had a high opinion of his own

insight, a weakness excusable in him as he was fifty, an age at which a

clever man of the world of established position can hardly help taking

himself rather seriously. At the first moment he did not like Zossima.

There was, indeed, something in the elder's face which many people besides

Miuesov might not have liked. He was a short, bent, little man, with very

weak legs, and though he was only sixty-five, he looked at least ten years

older. His face was very thin and covered with a network of fine wrinkles,

particularly numerous about his eyes, which were small, light-colored,

quick, and shining like two bright points. He had a sprinkling of gray

hair about his temples. His pointed beard was small and scanty, and his

lips, which smiled frequently, were as thin as two threads. His nose was

not long, but sharp, like a bird's beak.


"To all appearances a malicious soul, full of petty pride," thought

Miuesov. He felt altogether dissatisfied with his position.


A cheap little clock on the wall struck twelve hurriedly, and served to

begin the conversation.


"Precisely to our time," cried Fyodor Pavlovitch, "but no sign of my son,

Dmitri. I apologize for him, sacred elder!" (Alyosha shuddered all over at

"sacred elder.") "I am always punctual myself, minute for minute,

remembering that punctuality is the courtesy of kings...."


"But you are not a king, anyway," Miuesov muttered, losing his self-

restraint at once.


"Yes; that's true. I'm not a king, and, would you believe it, Pyotr

Alexandrovitch, I was aware of that myself. But, there! I always say the

wrong thing. Your reverence," he cried, with sudden pathos, "you behold

before you a buffoon in earnest! I introduce myself as such. It's an old

habit, alas! And if I sometimes talk nonsense out of place it's with an

object, with the object of amusing people and making myself agreeable. One

must be agreeable, mustn't one? I was seven years ago in a little town

where I had business, and I made friends with some merchants there. We

went to the captain of police because we had to see him about something,

and to ask him to dine with us. He was a tall, fat, fair, sulky man, the

most dangerous type in such cases. It's their liver. I went straight up to

him, and with the ease of a man of the world, you know, 'Mr. Ispravnik,'

said I, 'be our Napravnik.' 'What do you mean by Napravnik?' said he. I

saw, at the first half-second, that it had missed fire. He stood there so

glum. 'I wanted to make a joke,' said I, 'for the general diversion, as

Mr. Napravnik is our well-known Russian orchestra conductor and what we

need for the harmony of our undertaking is some one of that sort.' And I

explained my comparison very reasonably, didn't I? 'Excuse me,' said he,

'I am an Ispravnik, and I do not allow puns to be made on my calling.' He

turned and walked away. I followed him, shouting, 'Yes, yes, you are an

Ispravnik, not a Napravnik.' 'No,' he said, 'since you called me a

Napravnik I am one.' And would you believe it, it ruined our business! And

I'm always like that, always like that. Always injuring myself with my

politeness. Once, many years ago, I said to an influential person: 'Your

wife is a ticklish lady,' in an honorable sense, of the moral qualities,

so to speak. But he asked me, 'Why, have you tickled her?' I thought I'd

be polite, so I couldn't help saying, 'Yes,' and he gave me a fine

tickling on the spot. Only that happened long ago, so I'm not ashamed to

tell the story. I'm always injuring myself like that."


"You're doing it now," muttered Miuesov, with disgust.


Father Zossima scrutinized them both in silence.


"Am I? Would you believe it, I was aware of that, too, Pyotr

Alexandrovitch, and let me tell you, indeed, I foresaw I should as soon as

I began to speak. And do you know I foresaw, too, that you'd be the first

to remark on it. The minute I see my joke isn't coming off, your

reverence, both my cheeks feel as though they were drawn down to the lower

jaw and there is almost a spasm in them. That's been so since I was young,

when I had to make jokes for my living in noblemen's families. I am an

inveterate buffoon, and have been from birth up, your reverence, it's as

though it were a craze in me. I dare say it's a devil within me. But only

a little one. A more serious one would have chosen another lodging. But

not your soul, Pyotr Alexandrovitch; you're not a lodging worth having

either. But I do believe--I believe in God, though I have had doubts of

late. But now I sit and await words of wisdom. I'm like the philosopher,

Diderot, your reverence. Did you ever hear, most Holy Father, how Diderot

went to see the Metropolitan Platon, in the time of the Empress Catherine?

He went in and said straight out, 'There is no God.' To which the great

bishop lifted up his finger and answered, 'The fool hath said in his heart

there is no God.' And he fell down at his feet on the spot. 'I believe,'

he cried, 'and will be christened.' And so he was. Princess Dashkov was

his godmother, and Potyomkin his godfather."


"Fyodor Pavlovitch, this is unbearable! You know you're telling lies and

that that stupid anecdote isn't true. Why are you playing the fool?" cried

Miuesov in a shaking voice.


"I suspected all my life that it wasn't true," Fyodor Pavlovitch cried

with conviction. "But I'll tell you the whole truth, gentlemen. Great

elder! Forgive me, the last thing about Diderot's christening I made up

just now. I never thought of it before. I made it up to add piquancy. I

play the fool, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, to make myself agreeable. Though I

really don't know myself, sometimes, what I do it for. And as for Diderot,

I heard as far as 'the fool hath said in his heart' twenty times from the

gentry about here when I was young. I heard your aunt, Pyotr

Alexandrovitch, tell the story. They all believe to this day that the

infidel Diderot came to dispute about God with the Metropolitan



Miuesov got up, forgetting himself in his impatience. He was furious, and

conscious of being ridiculous.


What was taking place in the cell was really incredible. For forty or

fifty years past, from the times of former elders, no visitors had entered

that cell without feelings of the profoundest veneration. Almost every one

admitted to the cell felt that a great favor was being shown him. Many

remained kneeling during the whole visit. Of those visitors, many had been

men of high rank and learning, some even freethinkers, attracted by

curiosity, but all without exception had shown the profoundest reverence

and delicacy, for here there was no question of money, but only, on the

one side love and kindness, and on the other penitence and eager desire to

decide some spiritual problem or crisis. So that such buffoonery amazed

and bewildered the spectators, or at least some of them. The monks, with

unchanged countenances, waited, with earnest attention, to hear what the

elder would say, but seemed on the point of standing up, like Miuesov.

Alyosha stood, with hanging head, on the verge of tears. What seemed to

him strangest of all was that his brother Ivan, on whom alone he had

rested his hopes, and who alone had such influence on his father that he

could have stopped him, sat now quite unmoved, with downcast eyes,

apparently waiting with interest to see how it would end, as though he had

nothing to do with it. Alyosha did not dare to look at Rakitin, the

divinity student, whom he knew almost intimately. He alone in the

monastery knew Rakitin's thoughts.


"Forgive me," began Miuesov, addressing Father Zossima, "for perhaps I seem

to be taking part in this shameful foolery. I made a mistake in believing

that even a man like Fyodor Pavlovitch would understand what was due on a

visit to so honored a personage. I did not suppose I should have to

apologize simply for having come with him...."


Pyotr Alexandrovitch could say no more, and was about to leave the room,

overwhelmed with confusion.


"Don't distress yourself, I beg." The elder got on to his feeble legs, and

taking Pyotr Alexandrovitch by both hands, made him sit down again. "I beg

you not to disturb yourself. I particularly beg you to be my guest." And

with a bow he went back and sat down again on his little sofa.


"Great elder, speak! Do I annoy you by my vivacity?" Fyodor Pavlovitch

cried suddenly, clutching the arms of his chair in both hands, as though

ready to leap up from it if the answer were unfavorable.


"I earnestly beg you, too, not to disturb yourself, and not to be uneasy,"

the elder said impressively. "Do not trouble. Make yourself quite at home.

And, above all, do not be so ashamed of yourself, for that is at the root

of it all."


"Quite at home? To be my natural self? Oh, that is much too much, but I

accept it with grateful joy. Do you know, blessed Father, you'd better not

invite me to be my natural self. Don't risk it.... I will not go so far as

that myself. I warn you for your own sake. Well, the rest is still plunged

in the mists of uncertainty, though there are people who'd be pleased to

describe me for you. I mean that for you, Pyotr Alexandrovitch. But as for

you, holy being, let me tell you, I am brimming over with ecstasy."


He got up, and throwing up his hands, declaimed, "Blessed be the womb that

bare thee, and the paps that gave thee suck--the paps especially. When you

said just now, 'Don't be so ashamed of yourself, for that is at the root

of it all,' you pierced right through me by that remark, and read me to

the core. Indeed, I always feel when I meet people that I am lower than

all, and that they all take me for a buffoon. So I say, 'Let me really

play the buffoon. I am not afraid of your opinion, for you are every one

of you worse than I am.' That is why I am a buffoon. It is from shame,

great elder, from shame; it's simply over-sensitiveness that makes me

rowdy. If I had only been sure that every one would accept me as the

kindest and wisest of men, oh, Lord, what a good man I should have been

then! Teacher!" he fell suddenly on his knees, "what must I do to gain

eternal life?"


It was difficult even now to decide whether he was joking or really moved.


Father Zossima, lifting his eyes, looked at him, and said with a smile:


"You have known for a long time what you must do. You have sense enough:

don't give way to drunkenness and incontinence of speech; don't give way

to sensual lust; and, above all, to the love of money. And close your

taverns. If you can't close all, at least two or three. And, above

all--don't lie."


"You mean about Diderot?"


"No, not about Diderot. Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies

to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot

distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect

for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and

in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to

passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all

from continual lying to other men and to himself. The man who lies to

himself can be more easily offended than any one. You know it is sometimes

very pleasant to take offense, isn't it? A man may know that nobody has

insulted him, but that he has invented the insult for himself, has lied

and exaggerated to make it picturesque, has caught at a word and made a

mountain out of a molehill--he knows that himself, yet he will be the first

to take offense, and will revel in his resentment till he feels great

pleasure in it, and so pass to genuine vindictiveness. But get up, sit

down, I beg you. All this, too, is deceitful posturing...."


"Blessed man! Give me your hand to kiss."


Fyodor Pavlovitch skipped up, and imprinted a rapid kiss on the elder's

thin hand. "It is, it is pleasant to take offense. You said that so well,

as I never heard it before. Yes, I have been all my life taking offense,

to please myself, taking offense on esthetic grounds, for it is not so

much pleasant as distinguished sometimes to be insulted--that you had

forgotten, great elder, it is distinguished! I shall make a note of that.

But I have been lying, lying positively my whole life long, every day and

hour of it. Of a truth, I am a lie, and the father of lies. Though I

believe I am not the father of lies. I am getting mixed in my texts. Say,

the son of lies, and that will be enough. Only ... my angel ... I may

sometimes talk about Diderot! Diderot will do no harm, though sometimes a

word will do harm. Great elder, by the way, I was forgetting, though I had

been meaning for the last two years to come here on purpose to ask and to

find out something. Only do tell Pyotr Alexandrovitch not to interrupt me.

Here is my question: Is it true, great Father, that the story is told

somewhere in the _Lives of the Saints_ of a holy saint martyred for his

faith who, when his head was cut off at last, stood up, picked up his

head, and, 'courteously kissing it,' walked a long way, carrying it in his

hands. Is that true or not, honored Father?"


"No, it is untrue," said the elder.


"There is nothing of the kind in all the lives of the saints. What saint

do you say the story is told of?" asked the Father Librarian.


"I do not know what saint. I do not know, and can't tell. I was deceived.

I was told the story. I had heard it, and do you know who told it? Pyotr

Alexandrovitch Miuesov here, who was so angry just now about Diderot. He it

was who told the story."


"I have never told it you, I never speak to you at all."


"It is true you did not tell me, but you told it when I was present. It

was three years ago. I mentioned it because by that ridiculous story you

shook my faith, Pyotr Alexandrovitch. You knew nothing of it, but I went

home with my faith shaken, and I have been getting more and more shaken

ever since. Yes, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, you were the cause of a great fall.

That was not a Diderot!"


Fyodor Pavlovitch got excited and pathetic, though it was perfectly clear

to every one by now that he was playing a part again. Yet Miuesov was stung

by his words.


"What nonsense, and it is all nonsense," he muttered. "I may really have

told it, some time or other ... but not to you. I was told it myself. I

heard it in Paris from a Frenchman. He told me it was read at our mass

from the _Lives of the Saints_ ... he was a very learned man who had made

a special study of Russian statistics and had lived a long time in

Russia.... I have not read the _Lives of the Saints_ myself, and I am not

going to read them ... all sorts of things are said at dinner--we were

dining then."


"Yes, you were dining then, and so I lost my faith!" said Fyodor

Pavlovitch, mimicking him.


"What do I care for your faith?" Miuesov was on the point of shouting, but

he suddenly checked himself, and said with contempt, "You defile

everything you touch."


The elder suddenly rose from his seat. "Excuse me, gentlemen, for leaving

you a few minutes," he said, addressing all his guests. "I have visitors

awaiting me who arrived before you. But don't you tell lies all the same,"

he added, turning to Fyodor Pavlovitch with a good-humored face. He went

out of the cell. Alyosha and the novice flew to escort him down the steps.

Alyosha was breathless: he was glad to get away, but he was glad, too,

that the elder was good-humored and not offended. Father Zossima was going

towards the portico to bless the people waiting for him there. But Fyodor

Pavlovitch persisted in stopping him at the door of the cell.


"Blessed man!" he cried, with feeling. "Allow me to kiss your hand once

more. Yes, with you I could still talk, I could still get on. Do you think

I always lie and play the fool like this? Believe me, I have been acting

like this all the time on purpose to try you. I have been testing you all

the time to see whether I could get on with you. Is there room for my

humility beside your pride? I am ready to give you a testimonial that one

can get on with you! But now, I'll be quiet; I will keep quiet all the

time. I'll sit in a chair and hold my tongue. Now it is for you to speak,

Pyotr Alexandrovitch. You are the principal person left now--for ten





Chapter III. Peasant Women Who Have Faith



Near the wooden portico below, built on to the outer wall of the precinct,

there was a crowd of about twenty peasant women. They had been told that

the elder was at last coming out, and they had gathered together in

anticipation. Two ladies, Madame Hohlakov and her daughter, had also come

out into the portico to wait for the elder, but in a separate part of it

set aside for women of rank.


Madame Hohlakov was a wealthy lady, still young and attractive, and always

dressed with taste. She was rather pale, and had lively black eyes. She

was not more than thirty-three, and had been five years a widow. Her

daughter, a girl of fourteen, was partially paralyzed. The poor child had

not been able to walk for the last six months, and was wheeled about in a

long reclining chair. She had a charming little face, rather thin from

illness, but full of gayety. There was a gleam of mischief in her big dark

eyes with their long lashes. Her mother had been intending to take her

abroad ever since the spring, but they had been detained all the summer by

business connected with their estate. They had been staying a week in our

town, where they had come more for purposes of business than devotion, but

had visited Father Zossima once already, three days before. Though they

knew that the elder scarcely saw any one, they had now suddenly turned up

again, and urgently entreated "the happiness of looking once again on the

great healer."


The mother was sitting on a chair by the side of her daughter's invalid

carriage, and two paces from her stood an old monk, not one of our

monastery, but a visitor from an obscure religious house in the far north.

He too sought the elder's blessing.


But Father Zossima, on entering the portico, went first straight to the

peasants who were crowded at the foot of the three steps that led up into

the portico. Father Zossima stood on the top step, put on his stole, and

began blessing the women who thronged about him. One crazy woman was led

up to him. As soon as she caught sight of the elder she began shrieking

and writhing as though in the pains of childbirth. Laying the stole on her

forehead, he read a short prayer over her, and she was at once soothed and



I do not know how it may be now, but in my childhood I often happened to

see and hear these "possessed" women in the villages and monasteries. They

used to be brought to mass; they would squeal and bark like a dog so that

they were heard all over the church. But when the sacrament was carried in

and they were led up to it, at once the "possession" ceased, and the sick

women were always soothed for a time. I was greatly impressed and amazed

at this as a child; but then I heard from country neighbors and from my

town teachers that the whole illness was simulated to avoid work, and that

it could always be cured by suitable severity; various anecdotes were told

to confirm this. But later on I learnt with astonishment from medical

specialists that there is no pretense about it, that it is a terrible

illness to which women are subject, specially prevalent among us in

Russia, and that it is due to the hard lot of the peasant women. It is a

disease, I was told, arising from exhausting toil too soon after hard,

abnormal and unassisted labor in childbirth, and from the hopeless misery,

from beatings, and so on, which some women were not able to endure like

others. The strange and instant healing of the frantic and struggling

woman as soon as she was led up to the holy sacrament, which had been

explained to me as due to malingering and the trickery of the "clericals,"

arose probably in the most natural manner. Both the women who supported

her and the invalid herself fully believed as a truth beyond question that

the evil spirit in possession of her could not hold out if the sick woman

were brought to the sacrament and made to bow down before it. And so, with

a nervous and psychically deranged woman, a sort of convulsion of the

whole organism always took place, and was bound to take place, at the

moment of bowing down to the sacrament, aroused by the expectation of the

miracle of healing and the implicit belief that it would come to pass; and

it did come to pass, though only for a moment. It was exactly the same now

as soon as the elder touched the sick woman with the stole.


Many of the women in the crowd were moved to tears of ecstasy by the

effect of the moment: some strove to kiss the hem of his garment, others

cried out in sing-song voices.


He blessed them all and talked with some of them. The "possessed" woman he

knew already. She came from a village only six versts from the monastery,

and had been brought to him before.


"But here is one from afar." He pointed to a woman by no means old but

very thin and wasted, with a face not merely sunburnt but almost blackened

by exposure. She was kneeling and gazing with a fixed stare at the elder;

there was something almost frenzied in her eyes.


"From afar off, Father, from afar off! From two hundred miles from here.

From afar off, Father, from afar off!" the woman began in a sing-song

voice as though she were chanting a dirge, swaying her head from side to

side with her cheek resting in her hand.


There is silent and long-suffering sorrow to be met with among the

peasantry. It withdraws into itself and is still. But there is a grief

that breaks out, and from that minute it bursts into tears and finds vent

in wailing. This is particularly common with women. But it is no lighter a

grief than the silent. Lamentations comfort only by lacerating the heart

still more. Such grief does not desire consolation. It feeds on the sense

of its hopelessness. Lamentations spring only from the constant craving to

reopen the wound.


"You are of the tradesman class?" said Father Zossima, looking curiously

at her.


"Townfolk we are, Father, townfolk. Yet we are peasants though we live in

the town. I have come to see you, O Father! We heard of you, Father, we

heard of you. I have buried my little son, and I have come on a

pilgrimage. I have been in three monasteries, but they told me, 'Go,

Nastasya, go to them'--that is to you. I have come; I was yesterday at the

service, and to-day I have come to you."


"What are you weeping for?"


"It's my little son I'm grieving for, Father. He was three years old--three

years all but three months. For my little boy, Father, I'm in anguish, for

my little boy. He was the last one left. We had four, my Nikita and I, and

now we've no children, our dear ones have all gone. I buried the first

three without grieving overmuch, and now I have buried the last I can't

forget him. He seems always standing before me. He never leaves me. He has

withered my heart. I look at his little clothes, his little shirt, his

little boots, and I wail. I lay out all that is left of him, all his

little things. I look at them and wail. I say to Nikita, my husband, 'Let

me go on a pilgrimage, master.' He is a driver. We're not poor people,

Father, not poor; he drives our own horse. It's all our own, the horse and

the carriage. And what good is it all to us now? My Nikita has begun

drinking while I am away. He's sure to. It used to be so before. As soon

as I turn my back he gives way to it. But now I don't think about him.

It's three months since I left home. I've forgotten him. I've forgotten

everything. I don't want to remember. And what would our life be now

together? I've done with him, I've done. I've done with them all. I don't

care to look upon my house and my goods. I don't care to see anything at



"Listen, mother," said the elder. "Once in olden times a holy saint saw in

the Temple a mother like you weeping for her little one, her only one,

whom God had taken. 'Knowest thou not,' said the saint to her, 'how bold

these little ones are before the throne of God? Verily there are none

bolder than they in the Kingdom of Heaven. "Thou didst give us life, O

Lord," they say, "and scarcely had we looked upon it when Thou didst take

it back again." And so boldly they ask and ask again that God gives them

at once the rank of angels. Therefore,' said the saint, 'thou, too, O

mother, rejoice and weep not, for thy little son is with the Lord in the

fellowship of the angels.' That's what the saint said to the weeping

mother of old. He was a great saint and he could not have spoken falsely.

Therefore you too, mother, know that your little one is surely before the

throne of God, is rejoicing and happy, and praying to God for you, and

therefore weep not, but rejoice."


The woman listened to him, looking down with her cheek in her hand. She

sighed deeply.


"My Nikita tried to comfort me with the same words as you. 'Foolish one,'

he said, 'why weep? Our son is no doubt singing with the angels before

God.' He says that to me, but he weeps himself. I see that he cries like

me. 'I know, Nikita,' said I. 'Where could he be if not with the Lord God?

Only, here with us now he is not as he used to sit beside us before.' And

if only I could look upon him one little time, if only I could peep at him

one little time, without going up to him, without speaking, if I could be

hidden in a corner and only see him for one little minute, hear him

playing in the yard, calling in his little voice, 'Mammy, where are you?'

If only I could hear him pattering with his little feet about the room

just once, only once; for so often, so often I remember how he used to run

to me and shout and laugh, if only I could hear his little feet I should

know him! But he's gone, Father, he's gone, and I shall never hear him

again. Here's his little sash, but him I shall never see or hear now."


She drew out of her bosom her boy's little embroidered sash, and as soon

as she looked at it she began shaking with sobs, hiding her eyes with her

fingers through which the tears flowed in a sudden stream.


"It is Rachel of old," said the elder, "weeping for her children, and will

not be comforted because they are not. Such is the lot set on earth for

you mothers. Be not comforted. Consolation is not what you need. Weep and

be not consoled, but weep. Only every time that you weep be sure to

remember that your little son is one of the angels of God, that he looks

down from there at you and sees you, and rejoices at your tears, and

points at them to the Lord God; and a long while yet will you keep that

great mother's grief. But it will turn in the end into quiet joy, and your

bitter tears will be only tears of tender sorrow that purifies the heart

and delivers it from sin. And I shall pray for the peace of your child's

soul. What was his name?"


"Alexey, Father."


"A sweet name. After Alexey, the man of God?"


"Yes, Father."


"What a saint he was! I will remember him, mother, and your grief in my

prayers, and I will pray for your husband's health. It is a sin for you to

leave him. Your little one will see from heaven that you have forsaken his

father, and will weep over you. Why do you trouble his happiness? He is

living, for the soul lives for ever, and though he is not in the house he

is near you, unseen. How can he go into the house when you say that the

house is hateful to you? To whom is he to go if he find you not together,

his father and mother? He comes to you in dreams now, and you grieve. But

then he will send you gentle dreams. Go to your husband, mother; go this

very day."


"I will go, Father, at your word. I will go. You've gone straight to my

heart. My Nikita, my Nikita, you are waiting for me," the woman began in a

sing-song voice; but the elder had already turned away to a very old

woman, dressed like a dweller in the town, not like a pilgrim. Her eyes

showed that she had come with an object, and in order to say something.

She said she was the widow of a non-commissioned officer, and lived close

by in the town. Her son Vasenka was in the commissariat service, and had

gone to Irkutsk in Siberia. He had written twice from there, but now a

year had passed since he had written. She did inquire about him, but she

did not know the proper place to inquire.


"Only the other day Stepanida Ilyinishna--she's a rich merchant's wife--said

to me, 'You go, Prohorovna, and put your son's name down for prayer in the

church, and pray for the peace of his soul as though he were dead. His

soul will be troubled,' she said, 'and he will write you a letter.' And

Stepanida Ilyinishna told me it was a certain thing which had been many

times tried. Only I am in doubt.... Oh, you light of ours! is it true or

false, and would it be right?"


"Don't think of it. It's shameful to ask the question. How is it possible

to pray for the peace of a living soul? And his own mother too! It's a

great sin, akin to sorcery. Only for your ignorance it is forgiven you.

Better pray to the Queen of Heaven, our swift defense and help, for his

good health, and that she may forgive you for your error. And another

thing I will tell you, Prohorovna. Either he will soon come back to you,

your son, or he will be sure to send a letter. Go, and henceforward be in

peace. Your son is alive, I tell you."


"Dear Father, God reward you, our benefactor, who prays for all of us and

for our sins!"


But the elder had already noticed in the crowd two glowing eyes fixed upon

him. An exhausted, consumptive-looking, though young peasant woman was

gazing at him in silence. Her eyes besought him, but she seemed afraid to



"What is it, my child?"


"Absolve my soul, Father," she articulated softly, and slowly sank on her

knees and bowed down at his feet. "I have sinned, Father. I am afraid of

my sin."


The elder sat down on the lower step. The woman crept closer to him, still

on her knees.


"I am a widow these three years," she began in a half-whisper, with a sort

of shudder. "I had a hard life with my husband. He was an old man. He used

to beat me cruelly. He lay ill; I thought looking at him, if he were to

get well, if he were to get up again, what then? And then the thought came

to me--"


"Stay!" said the elder, and he put his ear close to her lips.


The woman went on in a low whisper, so that it was almost impossible to

catch anything. She had soon done.


"Three years ago?" asked the elder.


"Three years. At first I didn't think about it, but now I've begun to be

ill, and the thought never leaves me."


"Have you come from far?"


"Over three hundred miles away."


"Have you told it in confession?"


"I have confessed it. Twice I have confessed it."


"Have you been admitted to Communion?"


"Yes. I am afraid. I am afraid to die."


"Fear nothing and never be afraid; and don't fret. If only your penitence

fail not, God will forgive all. There is no sin, and there can be no sin

on all the earth, which the Lord will not forgive to the truly repentant!

Man cannot commit a sin so great as to exhaust the infinite love of God.

Can there be a sin which could exceed the love of God? Think only of

repentance, continual repentance, but dismiss fear altogether. Believe

that God loves you as you cannot conceive; that He loves you with your

sin, in your sin. It has been said of old that over one repentant sinner

there is more joy in heaven than over ten righteous men. Go, and fear not.

Be not bitter against men. Be not angry if you are wronged. Forgive the

dead man in your heart what wrong he did you. Be reconciled with him in

truth. If you are penitent, you love. And if you love you are of God. All

things are atoned for, all things are saved by love. If I, a sinner, even

as you are, am tender with you and have pity on you, how much more will

God. Love is such a priceless treasure that you can redeem the whole world

by it, and expiate not only your own sins but the sins of others."


He signed her three times with the cross, took from his own neck a little

ikon and put it upon her. She bowed down to the earth without speaking.


He got up and looked cheerfully at a healthy peasant woman with a tiny

baby in her arms.


"From Vyshegorye, dear Father."


"Five miles you have dragged yourself with the baby. What do you want?"


"I've come to look at you. I have been to you before--or have you

forgotten? You've no great memory if you've forgotten me. They told us you

were ill. Thinks I, I'll go and see him for myself. Now I see you, and

you're not ill! You'll live another twenty years. God bless you! There are

plenty to pray for you; how should you be ill?"


"I thank you for all, daughter."


"By the way, I have a thing to ask, not a great one. Here are sixty

copecks. Give them, dear Father, to some one poorer than me. I thought as

I came along, better give through him. He'll know whom to give to."


"Thanks, my dear, thanks! You are a good woman. I love you. I will do so

certainly. Is that your little girl?"


"My little girl, Father, Lizaveta."


"May the Lord bless you both, you and your babe Lizaveta! You have

gladdened my heart, mother. Farewell, dear children, farewell, dear ones."


He blessed them all and bowed low to them.




Chapter IV. A Lady Of Little Faith



A visitor looking on the scene of his conversation with the peasants and

his blessing them shed silent tears and wiped them away with her

handkerchief. She was a sentimental society lady of genuinely good

disposition in many respects. When the elder went up to her at last she

met him enthusiastically.


"Ah, what I have been feeling, looking on at this touching scene!..." She

could not go on for emotion. "Oh, I understand the people's love for you.

I love the people myself. I want to love them. And who could help loving

them, our splendid Russian people, so simple in their greatness!"


"How is your daughter's health? You wanted to talk to me again?"


"Oh, I have been urgently begging for it, I have prayed for it! I was

ready to fall on my knees and kneel for three days at your windows until

you let me in. We have come, great healer, to express our ardent

gratitude. You have healed my Lise, healed her completely, merely by

praying over her last Thursday and laying your hands upon her. We have

hastened here to kiss those hands, to pour out our feelings and our



"What do you mean by healed? But she is still lying down in her chair."


"But her night fevers have entirely ceased ever since Thursday," said the

lady with nervous haste. "And that's not all. Her legs are stronger. This

morning she got up well; she had slept all night. Look at her rosy cheeks,

her bright eyes! She used to be always crying, but now she laughs and is

gay and happy. This morning she insisted on my letting her stand up, and

she stood up for a whole minute without any support. She wagers that in a

fortnight she'll be dancing a quadrille. I've called in Doctor

Herzenstube. He shrugged his shoulders and said, 'I am amazed; I can make

nothing of it.' And would you have us not come here to disturb you, not

fly here to thank you? Lise, thank him--thank him!"


Lise's pretty little laughing face became suddenly serious. She rose in

her chair as far as she could and, looking at the elder, clasped her hands

before him, but could not restrain herself and broke into laughter.


"It's at him," she said, pointing to Alyosha, with childish vexation at

herself for not being able to repress her mirth.


If any one had looked at Alyosha standing a step behind the elder, he

would have caught a quick flush crimsoning his cheeks in an instant. His

eyes shone and he looked down.


"She has a message for you, Alexey Fyodorovitch. How are you?" the mother

went on, holding out her exquisitely gloved hand to Alyosha.


The elder turned round and all at once looked attentively at Alyosha. The

latter went nearer to Lise and, smiling in a strangely awkward way, held

out his hand to her too. Lise assumed an important air.


"Katerina Ivanovna has sent you this through me." She handed him a little

note. "She particularly begs you to go and see her as soon as possible;

that you will not fail her, but will be sure to come."


"She asks me to go and see her? Me? What for?" Alyosha muttered in great

astonishment. His face at once looked anxious. "Oh, it's all to do with

Dmitri Fyodorovitch and--what has happened lately," the mother explained

hurriedly. "Katerina Ivanovna has made up her mind, but she must see you

about it.... Why, of course, I can't say. But she wants to see you at

once. And you will go to her, of course. It is a Christian duty."


"I have only seen her once," Alyosha protested with the same perplexity.


"Oh, she is such a lofty, incomparable creature! If only for her

suffering.... Think what she has gone through, what she is enduring now!

Think what awaits her! It's all terrible, terrible!"


"Very well, I will come," Alyosha decided, after rapidly scanning the

brief, enigmatic note, which consisted of an urgent entreaty that he would

come, without any sort of explanation.


"Oh, how sweet and generous that would be of you!" cried Lise with sudden

animation. "I told mamma you'd be sure not to go. I said you were saving

your soul. How splendid you are! I've always thought you were splendid.

How glad I am to tell you so!"


"Lise!" said her mother impressively, though she smiled after she had said



"You have quite forgotten us, Alexey Fyodorovitch," she said; "you never

come to see us. Yet Lise has told me twice that she is never happy except

with you."


Alyosha raised his downcast eyes and again flushed, and again smiled

without knowing why. But the elder was no longer watching him. He had

begun talking to a monk who, as mentioned before, had been awaiting his

entrance by Lise's chair. He was evidently a monk of the humblest, that is

of the peasant, class, of a narrow outlook, but a true believer, and, in

his own way, a stubborn one. He announced that he had come from the far

north, from Obdorsk, from Saint Sylvester, and was a member of a poor

monastery, consisting of only ten monks. The elder gave him his blessing

and invited him to come to his cell whenever he liked.


"How can you presume to do such deeds?" the monk asked suddenly, pointing

solemnly and significantly at Lise. He was referring to her "healing."


"It's too early, of course, to speak of that. Relief is not complete cure,

and may proceed from different causes. But if there has been any healing,

it is by no power but God's will. It's all from God. Visit me, Father," he

added to the monk. "It's not often I can see visitors. I am ill, and I

know that my days are numbered."


"Oh, no, no! God will not take you from us. You will live a long, long

time yet," cried the lady. "And in what way are you ill? You look so well,

so gay and happy."


"I am extraordinarily better to-day. But I know that it's only for a

moment. I understand my disease now thoroughly. If I seem so happy to you,

you could never say anything that would please me so much. For men are

made for happiness, and any one who is completely happy has a right to say

to himself, 'I am doing God's will on earth.' All the righteous, all the

saints, all the holy martyrs were happy."


"Oh, how you speak! What bold and lofty words!" cried the lady. "You seem

to pierce with your words. And yet--happiness, happiness--where is it? Who

can say of himself that he is happy? Oh, since you have been so good as to

let us see you once more to-day, let me tell you what I could not utter

last time, what I dared not say, all I am suffering and have been for so

long! I am suffering! Forgive me! I am suffering!"


And in a rush of fervent feeling she clasped her hands before him.


"From what specially?"


"I suffer ... from lack of faith."


"Lack of faith in God?"


"Oh, no, no! I dare not even think of that. But the future life--it is such

an enigma! And no one, no one can solve it. Listen! You are a healer, you

are deeply versed in the human soul, and of course I dare not expect you

to believe me entirely, but I assure you on my word of honor that I am not

speaking lightly now. The thought of the life beyond the grave distracts

me to anguish, to terror. And I don't know to whom to appeal, and have not

dared to all my life. And now I am so bold as to ask you. Oh, God! What

will you think of me now?"


She clasped her hands.


"Don't distress yourself about my opinion of you," said the elder. "I

quite believe in the sincerity of your suffering."


"Oh, how thankful I am to you! You see, I shut my eyes and ask myself if

every one has faith, where did it come from? And then they do say that it

all comes from terror at the menacing phenomena of nature, and that none

of it's real. And I say to myself, 'What if I've been believing all my

life, and when I come to die there's nothing but the burdocks growing on

my grave?' as I read in some author. It's awful! How--how can I get back my

faith? But I only believed when I was a little child, mechanically,

without thinking of anything. How, how is one to prove it? I have come now

to lay my soul before you and to ask you about it. If I let this chance

slip, no one all my life will answer me. How can I prove it? How can I

convince myself? Oh, how unhappy I am! I stand and look about me and see

that scarcely any one else cares; no one troubles his head about it, and

I'm the only one who can't stand it. It's deadly--deadly!"


"No doubt. But there's no proving it, though you can be convinced of it."




"By the experience of active love. Strive to love your neighbor actively

and indefatigably. In as far as you advance in love you will grow surer of

the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain to

perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbor, then you will

believe without doubt, and no doubt can possibly enter your soul. This has

been tried. This is certain."


"In active love? There's another question--and such a question! You see, I

so love humanity that--would you believe it?--I often dream of forsaking all

that I have, leaving Lise, and becoming a sister of mercy. I close my eyes

and think and dream, and at that moment I feel full of strength to

overcome all obstacles. No wounds, no festering sores could at that moment

frighten me. I would bind them up and wash them with my own hands. I would

nurse the afflicted. I would be ready to kiss such wounds."


"It is much, and well that your mind is full of such dreams and not

others. Sometime, unawares, you may do a good deed in reality."


"Yes. But could I endure such a life for long?" the lady went on

fervently, almost frantically. "That's the chief question--that's my most

agonizing question. I shut my eyes and ask myself, 'Would you persevere

long on that path? And if the patient whose wounds you are washing did not

meet you with gratitude, but worried you with his whims, without valuing

or remarking your charitable services, began abusing you and rudely

commanding you, and complaining to the superior authorities of you (which

often happens when people are in great suffering)--what then? Would you

persevere in your love, or not?' And do you know, I came with horror to

the conclusion that, if anything could dissipate my love to humanity, it

would be ingratitude. In short, I am a hired servant, I expect my payment

at once--that is, praise, and the repayment of love with love. Otherwise I

am incapable of loving any one."


She was in a very paroxysm of self-castigation, and, concluding, she

looked with defiant resolution at the elder.


"It's just the same story as a doctor once told me," observed the elder.

"He was a man getting on in years, and undoubtedly clever. He spoke as

frankly as you, though in jest, in bitter jest. 'I love humanity,' he

said, 'but I wonder at myself. The more I love humanity in general, the

less I love man in particular. In my dreams,' he said, 'I have often come

to making enthusiastic schemes for the service of humanity, and perhaps I

might actually have faced crucifixion if it had been suddenly necessary;

and yet I am incapable of living in the same room with any one for two

days together, as I know by experience. As soon as any one is near me, his

personality disturbs my self-complacency and restricts my freedom. In

twenty-four hours I begin to hate the best of men: one because he's too

long over his dinner; another because he has a cold and keeps on blowing

his nose. I become hostile to people the moment they come close to me. But

it has always happened that the more I detest men individually the more

ardent becomes my love for humanity.' "


"But what's to be done? What can one do in such a case? Must one despair?"


"No. It is enough that you are distressed at it. Do what you can, and it

will be reckoned unto you. Much is done already in you since you can so

deeply and sincerely know yourself. If you have been talking to me so

sincerely, simply to gain approbation for your frankness, as you did from

me just now, then of course you will not attain to anything in the

achievement of real love; it will all get no further than dreams, and your

whole life will slip away like a phantom. In that case you will naturally

cease to think of the future life too, and will of yourself grow calmer

after a fashion in the end."


"You have crushed me! Only now, as you speak, I understand that I was

really only seeking your approbation for my sincerity when I told you I

could not endure ingratitude. You have revealed me to myself. You have

seen through me and explained me to myself!"


"Are you speaking the truth? Well, now, after such a confession, I believe

that you are sincere and good at heart. If you do not attain happiness,

always remember that you are on the right road, and try not to leave it.

Above all, avoid falsehood, every kind of falsehood, especially falseness

to yourself. Watch over your own deceitfulness and look into it every

hour, every minute. Avoid being scornful, both to others and to yourself.

What seems to you bad within you will grow purer from the very fact of

your observing it in yourself. Avoid fear, too, though fear is only the

consequence of every sort of falsehood. Never be frightened at your own

faint-heartedness in attaining love. Don't be frightened overmuch even at

your evil actions. I am sorry I can say nothing more consoling to you, for

love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams.

Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in

the sight of all. Men will even give their lives if only the ordeal does

not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as

though on the stage. But active love is labor and fortitude, and for some

people too, perhaps, a complete science. But I predict that just when you

see with horror that in spite of all your efforts you are getting farther

from your goal instead of nearer to it--at that very moment I predict that

you will reach it and behold clearly the miraculous power of the Lord who

has been all the time loving and mysteriously guiding you. Forgive me for

not being able to stay longer with you. They are waiting for me. Good-by."


The lady was weeping.


"Lise, Lise! Bless her--bless her!" she cried, starting up suddenly.


"She does not deserve to be loved. I have seen her naughtiness all along,"

the elder said jestingly. "Why have you been laughing at Alexey?"


Lise had in fact been occupied in mocking at him all the time. She had

noticed before that Alyosha was shy and tried not to look at her, and she

found this extremely amusing. She waited intently to catch his eye.

Alyosha, unable to endure her persistent stare, was irresistibly and

suddenly drawn to glance at her, and at once she smiled triumphantly in

his face. Alyosha was even more disconcerted and vexed. At last he turned

away from her altogether and hid behind the elder's back. After a few

minutes, drawn by the same irresistible force, he turned again to see

whether he was being looked at or not, and found Lise almost hanging out

of her chair to peep sideways at him, eagerly waiting for him to look.

Catching his eye, she laughed so that the elder could not help saying,

"Why do you make fun of him like that, naughty girl?"


Lise suddenly and quite unexpectedly blushed. Her eyes flashed and her

face became quite serious. She began speaking quickly and nervously in a

warm and resentful voice:


"Why has he forgotten everything, then? He used to carry me about when I

was little. We used to play together. He used to come to teach me to read,

do you know. Two years ago, when he went away, he said that he would never

forget me, that we were friends for ever, for ever, for ever! And now he's

afraid of me all at once. Am I going to eat him? Why doesn't he want to

come near me? Why doesn't he talk? Why won't he come and see us? It's not

that you won't let him. We know that he goes everywhere. It's not good

manners for me to invite him. He ought to have thought of it first, if he

hasn't forgotten me. No, now he's saving his soul! Why have you put that

long gown on him? If he runs he'll fall."


And suddenly she hid her face in her hand and went off into irresistible,

prolonged, nervous, inaudible laughter. The elder listened to her with a

smile, and blessed her tenderly. As she kissed his hand she suddenly

pressed it to her eyes and began crying.


"Don't be angry with me. I'm silly and good for nothing ... and perhaps

Alyosha's right, quite right, in not wanting to come and see such a

ridiculous girl."


"I will certainly send him," said the elder.




Chapter V. So Be It! So Be It!



The elder's absence from his cell had lasted for about twenty-five

minutes. It was more than half-past twelve, but Dmitri, on whose account

they had all met there, had still not appeared. But he seemed almost to be

forgotten, and when the elder entered the cell again, he found his guests

engaged in eager conversation. Ivan and the two monks took the leading

share in it. Miuesov, too, was trying to take a part, and apparently very

eagerly, in the conversation. But he was unsuccessful in this also. He was

evidently in the background, and his remarks were treated with neglect,

which increased his irritability. He had had intellectual encounters with

Ivan before and he could not endure a certain carelessness Ivan showed



"Hitherto at least I have stood in the front ranks of all that is

progressive in Europe, and here the new generation positively ignores us,"

he thought.


Fyodor Pavlovitch, who had given his word to sit still and be quiet, had

actually been quiet for some time, but he watched his neighbor Miuesov with

an ironical little smile, obviously enjoying his discomfiture. He had been

waiting for some time to pay off old scores, and now he could not let the

opportunity slip. Bending over his shoulder he began teasing him again in

a whisper.


"Why didn't you go away just now, after the 'courteously kissing'? Why did

you consent to remain in such unseemly company? It was because you felt

insulted and aggrieved, and you remained to vindicate yourself by showing

off your intelligence. Now you won't go till you've displayed your

intellect to them."


"You again?... On the contrary, I'm just going."


"You'll be the last, the last of all to go!" Fyodor Pavlovitch delivered

him another thrust, almost at the moment of Father Zossima's return.


The discussion died down for a moment, but the elder, seating himself in

his former place, looked at them all as though cordially inviting them to

go on. Alyosha, who knew every expression of his face, saw that he was

fearfully exhausted and making a great effort. Of late he had been liable

to fainting fits from exhaustion. His face had the pallor that was common

before such attacks, and his lips were white. But he evidently did not

want to break up the party. He seemed to have some special object of his

own in keeping them. What object? Alyosha watched him intently.


"We are discussing this gentleman's most interesting article," said Father

Iosif, the librarian, addressing the elder, and indicating Ivan. "He

brings forward much that is new, but I think the argument cuts both ways.

It is an article written in answer to a book by an ecclesiastical

authority on the question of the ecclesiastical court, and the scope of

its jurisdiction."


"I'm sorry I have not read your article, but I've heard of it," said the

elder, looking keenly and intently at Ivan.


"He takes up a most interesting position," continued the Father Librarian.

"As far as Church jurisdiction is concerned he is apparently quite opposed

to the separation of Church from State."


"That's interesting. But in what sense?" Father Zossima asked Ivan.


The latter, at last, answered him, not condescendingly, as Alyosha had

feared, but with modesty and reserve, with evident goodwill and apparently

without the slightest _arriere-pensee_.


"I start from the position that this confusion of elements, that is, of

the essential principles of Church and State, will, of course, go on for

ever, in spite of the fact that it is impossible for them to mingle, and

that the confusion of these elements cannot lead to any consistent or even

normal results, for there is falsity at the very foundation of it.

Compromise between the Church and State in such questions as, for

instance, jurisdiction, is, to my thinking, impossible in any real sense.

My clerical opponent maintains that the Church holds a precise and defined

position in the State. I maintain, on the contrary, that the Church ought

to include the whole State, and not simply to occupy a corner in it, and,

if this is, for some reason, impossible at present, then it ought, in

reality, to be set up as the direct and chief aim of the future

development of Christian society!"


"Perfectly true," Father Paissy, the silent and learned monk, assented

with fervor and decision.


"The purest Ultramontanism!" cried Miuesov impatiently, crossing and

recrossing his legs.


"Oh, well, we have no mountains," cried Father Iosif, and turning to the

elder he continued: "Observe the answer he makes to the following

'fundamental and essential' propositions of his opponent, who is, you must

note, an ecclesiastic. First, that 'no social organization can or ought to

arrogate to itself power to dispose of the civic and political rights of

its members.' Secondly, that 'criminal and civil jurisdiction ought not to

belong to the Church, and is inconsistent with its nature, both as a

divine institution and as an organization of men for religious objects,'

and, finally, in the third place, 'the Church is a kingdom not of this

world.' "


"A most unworthy play upon words for an ecclesiastic!" Father Paissy could

not refrain from breaking in again. "I have read the book which you have

answered," he added, addressing Ivan, "and was astounded at the words 'the

Church is a kingdom not of this world.' If it is not of this world, then

it cannot exist on earth at all. In the Gospel, the words 'not of this

world' are not used in that sense. To play with such words is

indefensible. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to set up the Church upon earth.

The Kingdom of Heaven, of course, is not of this world, but in Heaven; but

it is only entered through the Church which has been founded and

established upon earth. And so a frivolous play upon words in such a

connection is unpardonable and improper. The Church is, in truth, a

kingdom and ordained to rule, and in the end must undoubtedly become the

kingdom ruling over all the earth. For that we have the divine promise."


He ceased speaking suddenly, as though checking himself. After listening

attentively and respectfully Ivan went on, addressing the elder with

perfect composure and as before with ready cordiality:


"The whole point of my article lies in the fact that during the first

three centuries Christianity only existed on earth in the Church and was

nothing but the Church. When the pagan Roman Empire desired to become

Christian, it inevitably happened that, by becoming Christian, it included

the Church but remained a pagan State in very many of its departments. In

reality this was bound to happen. But Rome as a State retained too much of

the pagan civilization and culture, as, for example, in the very objects

and fundamental principles of the State. The Christian Church entering

into the State could, of course, surrender no part of its fundamental

principles--the rock on which it stands--and could pursue no other aims than

those which have been ordained and revealed by God Himself, and among them

that of drawing the whole world, and therefore the ancient pagan State

itself, into the Church. In that way (that is, with a view to the future)

it is not the Church that should seek a definite position in the State,

like 'every social organization,' or as 'an organization of men for

religious purposes' (as my opponent calls the Church), but, on the

contrary, every earthly State should be, in the end, completely

transformed into the Church and should become nothing else but a Church,

rejecting every purpose incongruous with the aims of the Church. All this

will not degrade it in any way or take from its honor and glory as a great

State, nor from the glory of its rulers, but only turns it from a false,

still pagan, and mistaken path to the true and rightful path, which alone

leads to the eternal goal. This is why the author of the book _On the

Foundations of Church Jurisdiction_ would have judged correctly if, in

seeking and laying down those foundations, he had looked upon them as a

temporary compromise inevitable in our sinful and imperfect days. But as

soon as the author ventures to declare that the foundations which he

predicates now, part of which Father Iosif just enumerated, are the

permanent, essential, and eternal foundations, he is going directly

against the Church and its sacred and eternal vocation. That is the gist

of my article."


"That is, in brief," Father Paissy began again, laying stress on each

word, "according to certain theories only too clearly formulated in the

nineteenth century, the Church ought to be transformed into the State, as

though this would be an advance from a lower to a higher form, so as to

disappear into it, making way for science, for the spirit of the age, and

civilization. And if the Church resists and is unwilling, some corner will

be set apart for her in the State, and even that under control--and this

will be so everywhere in all modern European countries. But Russian hopes

and conceptions demand not that the Church should pass as from a lower

into a higher type into the State, but, on the contrary, that the State

should end by being worthy to become only the Church and nothing else. So

be it! So be it!"


"Well, I confess you've reassured me somewhat," Miuesov said smiling, again

crossing his legs. "So far as I understand, then, the realization of such

an ideal is infinitely remote, at the second coming of Christ. That's as

you please. It's a beautiful Utopian dream of the abolition of war,

diplomacy, banks, and so on--something after the fashion of socialism,

indeed. But I imagined that it was all meant seriously, and that the

Church might be _now_ going to try criminals, and sentence them to

beating, prison, and even death."


"But if there were none but the ecclesiastical court, the Church would not

even now sentence a criminal to prison or to death. Crime and the way of

regarding it would inevitably change, not all at once of course, but

fairly soon," Ivan replied calmly, without flinching.


"Are you serious?" Miuesov glanced keenly at him.


"If everything became the Church, the Church would exclude all the

criminal and disobedient, and would not cut off their heads," Ivan went

on. "I ask you, what would become of the excluded? He would be cut off

then not only from men, as now, but from Christ. By his crime he would

have transgressed not only against men but against the Church of Christ.

This is so even now, of course, strictly speaking, but it is not clearly

enunciated, and very, very often the criminal of to-day compromises with

his conscience: 'I steal,' he says, 'but I don't go against the Church.

I'm not an enemy of Christ.' That's what the criminal of to-day is

continually saying to himself, but when the Church takes the place of the

State it will be difficult for him, in opposition to the Church all over

the world, to say: 'All men are mistaken, all in error, all mankind are

the false Church. I, a thief and murderer, am the only true Christian

Church.' It will be very difficult to say this to himself; it requires a

rare combination of unusual circumstances. Now, on the other side, take

the Church's own view of crime: is it not bound to renounce the present

almost pagan attitude, and to change from a mechanical cutting off of its

tainted member for the preservation of society, as at present, into

completely and honestly adopting the idea of the regeneration of the man,

of his reformation and salvation?"


"What do you mean? I fail to understand again," Miuesov interrupted. "Some

sort of dream again. Something shapeless and even incomprehensible. What

is excommunication? What sort of exclusion? I suspect you are simply

amusing yourself, Ivan Fyodorovitch."


"Yes, but you know, in reality it is so now," said the elder suddenly, and

all turned to him at once. "If it were not for the Church of Christ there

would be nothing to restrain the criminal from evil-doing, no real

chastisement for it afterwards; none, that is, but the mechanical

punishment spoken of just now, which in the majority of cases only

embitters the heart; and not the real punishment, the only effectual one,

the only deterrent and softening one, which lies in the recognition of sin

by conscience."


"How is that, may one inquire?" asked Miuesov, with lively curiosity.


"Why," began the elder, "all these sentences to exile with hard labor, and

formerly with flogging also, reform no one, and what's more, deter hardly

a single criminal, and the number of crimes does not diminish but is

continually on the increase. You must admit that. Consequently the

security of society is not preserved, for, although the obnoxious member

is mechanically cut off and sent far away out of sight, another criminal

always comes to take his place at once, and often two of them. If anything

does preserve society, even in our time, and does regenerate and transform

the criminal, it is only the law of Christ speaking in his conscience. It

is only by recognizing his wrong-doing as a son of a Christian

society--that is, of the Church--that he recognizes his sin against

society--that is, against the Church. So that it is only against the

Church, and not against the State, that the criminal of to-day can

recognize that he has sinned. If society, as a Church, had jurisdiction,

then it would know when to bring back from exclusion and to reunite to

itself. Now the Church having no real jurisdiction, but only the power of

moral condemnation, withdraws of her own accord from punishing the

criminal actively. She does not excommunicate him but simply persists in

motherly exhortation of him. What is more, the Church even tries to

preserve all Christian communion with the criminal. She admits him to

church services, to the holy sacrament, gives him alms, and treats him

more as a captive than as a convict. And what would become of the

criminal, O Lord, if even the Christian society--that is, the Church--were

to reject him even as the civil law rejects him and cuts him off? What

would become of him if the Church punished him with her excommunication as

the direct consequence of the secular law? There could be no more terrible

despair, at least for a Russian criminal, for Russian criminals still have

faith. Though, who knows, perhaps then a fearful thing would happen,

perhaps the despairing heart of the criminal would lose its faith and then

what would become of him? But the Church, like a tender, loving mother,

holds aloof from active punishment herself, as the sinner is too severely

punished already by the civil law, and there must be at least some one to

have pity on him. The Church holds aloof, above all, because its judgment

is the only one that contains the truth, and therefore cannot practically

and morally be united to any other judgment even as a temporary

compromise. She can enter into no compact about that. The foreign

criminal, they say, rarely repents, for the very doctrines of to-day

confirm him in the idea that his crime is not a crime, but only a reaction

against an unjustly oppressive force. Society cuts him off completely by a

force that triumphs over him mechanically and (so at least they say of

themselves in Europe) accompanies this exclusion with hatred,

forgetfulness, and the most profound indifference as to the ultimate fate

of the erring brother. In this way, it all takes place without the

compassionate intervention of the Church, for in many cases there are no

churches there at all, for though ecclesiastics and splendid church

buildings remain, the churches themselves have long ago striven to pass

from Church into State and to disappear in it completely. So it seems at

least in Lutheran countries. As for Rome, it was proclaimed a State

instead of a Church a thousand years ago. And so the criminal is no longer

conscious of being a member of the Church and sinks into despair. If he

returns to society, often it is with such hatred that society itself

instinctively cuts him off. You can judge for yourself how it must end. In

many cases it would seem to be the same with us, but the difference is

that besides the established law courts we have the Church too, which

always keeps up relations with the criminal as a dear and still precious

son. And besides that, there is still preserved, though only in thought,

the judgment of the Church, which though no longer existing in practice is

still living as a dream for the future, and is, no doubt, instinctively

recognized by the criminal in his soul. What was said here just now is

true too, that is, that if the jurisdiction of the Church were introduced

in practice in its full force, that is, if the whole of the society were

changed into the Church, not only the judgment of the Church would have

influence on the reformation of the criminal such as it never has now, but

possibly also the crimes themselves would be incredibly diminished. And

there can be no doubt that the Church would look upon the criminal and the

crime of the future in many cases quite differently and would succeed in

restoring the excluded, in restraining those who plan evil, and in

regenerating the fallen. It is true," said Father Zossima, with a smile,

"the Christian society now is not ready and is only resting on some seven

righteous men, but as they are never lacking, it will continue still

unshaken in expectation of its complete transformation from a society

almost heathen in character into a single universal and all-powerful

Church. So be it, so be it! Even though at the end of the ages, for it is

ordained to come to pass! And there is no need to be troubled about times

and seasons, for the secret of the times and seasons is in the wisdom of

God, in His foresight, and His love. And what in human reckoning seems

still afar off, may by the Divine ordinance be close at hand, on the eve

of its appearance. And so be it, so be it!"


"So be it, so be it!" Father Paissy repeated austerely and reverently.


"Strange, extremely strange!" Miuesov pronounced, not so much with heat as

with latent indignation.


"What strikes you as so strange?" Father Iosif inquired cautiously.


"Why, it's beyond anything!" cried Miuesov, suddenly breaking out; "the

State is eliminated and the Church is raised to the position of the State.

It's not simply Ultramontanism, it's arch-Ultramontanism! It's beyond the

dreams of Pope Gregory the Seventh!"


"You are completely misunderstanding it," said Father Paissy sternly.

"Understand, the Church is not to be transformed into the State. That is

Rome and its dream. That is the third temptation of the devil. On the

contrary, the State is transformed into the Church, will ascend and become

a Church over the whole world--which is the complete opposite of

Ultramontanism and Rome, and your interpretation, and is only the glorious

destiny ordained for the Orthodox Church. This star will arise in the



Miuesov was significantly silent. His whole figure expressed extraordinary

personal dignity. A supercilious and condescending smile played on his

lips. Alyosha watched it all with a throbbing heart. The whole

conversation stirred him profoundly. He glanced casually at Rakitin, who

was standing immovable in his place by the door listening and watching

intently though with downcast eyes. But from the color in his cheeks

Alyosha guessed that Rakitin was probably no less excited, and he knew

what caused his excitement.


"Allow me to tell you one little anecdote, gentlemen," Miuesov said

impressively, with a peculiarly majestic air. "Some years ago, soon after

the _coup d'etat_ of December, I happened to be calling in Paris on an

extremely influential personage in the Government, and I met a very

interesting man in his house. This individual was not precisely a

detective but was a sort of superintendent of a whole regiment of

political detectives--a rather powerful position in its own way. I was

prompted by curiosity to seize the opportunity of conversation with him.

And as he had not come as a visitor but as a subordinate official bringing

a special report, and as he saw the reception given me by his chief, he

deigned to speak with some openness, to a certain extent only, of course.

He was rather courteous than open, as Frenchmen know how to be courteous,

especially to a foreigner. But I thoroughly understood him. The subject

was the socialist revolutionaries who were at that time persecuted. I will

quote only one most curious remark dropped by this person. 'We are not

particularly afraid,' said he, 'of all these socialists, anarchists,

infidels, and revolutionists; we keep watch on them and know all their

goings on. But there are a few peculiar men among them who believe in God

and are Christians, but at the same time are socialists. These are the

people we are most afraid of. They are dreadful people! The socialist who

is a Christian is more to be dreaded than a socialist who is an atheist.'

The words struck me at the time, and now they have suddenly come back to

me here, gentlemen."


"You apply them to us, and look upon us as socialists?" Father Paissy

asked directly, without beating about the bush.


But before Pyotr Alexandrovitch could think what to answer, the door

opened, and the guest so long expected, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, came in. They

had, in fact, given up expecting him, and his sudden appearance caused

some surprise for a moment.




Chapter VI. Why Is Such A Man Alive?



Dmitri Fyodorovitch, a young man of eight and twenty, of medium height and

agreeable countenance, looked older than his years. He was muscular, and

showed signs of considerable physical strength. Yet there was something

not healthy in his face. It was rather thin, his cheeks were hollow, and

there was an unhealthy sallowness in their color. His rather large,

prominent, dark eyes had an expression of firm determination, and yet

there was a vague look in them, too. Even when he was excited and talking

irritably, his eyes somehow did not follow his mood, but betrayed

something else, sometimes quite incongruous with what was passing. "It's

hard to tell what he's thinking," those who talked to him sometimes

declared. People who saw something pensive and sullen in his eyes were

startled by his sudden laugh, which bore witness to mirthful and light-

hearted thoughts at the very time when his eyes were so gloomy. A certain

strained look in his face was easy to understand at this moment. Every one

knew, or had heard of, the extremely restless and dissipated life which he

had been leading of late, as well as of the violent anger to which he had

been roused in his quarrels with his father. There were several stories

current in the town about it. It is true that he was irascible by nature,

"of an unstable and unbalanced mind," as our justice of the peace,

Katchalnikov, happily described him.


He was stylishly and irreproachably dressed in a carefully buttoned frock-

coat. He wore black gloves and carried a top-hat. Having only lately left

the army, he still had mustaches and no beard. His dark brown hair was

cropped short, and combed forward on his temples. He had the long,

determined stride of a military man. He stood still for a moment on the

threshold, and glancing at the whole party went straight up to the elder,

guessing him to be their host. He made him a low bow, and asked his

blessing. Father Zossima, rising in his chair, blessed him. Dmitri kissed

his hand respectfully, and with intense feeling, almost anger, he said:


"Be so generous as to forgive me for having kept you waiting so long, but

Smerdyakov, the valet sent me by my father, in reply to my inquiries, told

me twice over that the appointment was for one. Now I suddenly learn--"


"Don't disturb yourself," interposed the elder. "No matter. You are a

little late. It's of no consequence...."


"I'm extremely obliged to you, and expected no less from your goodness."


Saying this, Dmitri bowed once more. Then, turning suddenly towards his

father, made him, too, a similarly low and respectful bow. He had

evidently considered it beforehand, and made this bow in all seriousness,

thinking it his duty to show his respect and good intentions.


Although Fyodor Pavlovitch was taken unawares, he was equal to the

occasion. In response to Dmitri's bow he jumped up from his chair and made

his son a bow as low in return. His face was suddenly solemn and

impressive, which gave him a positively malignant look. Dmitri bowed

generally to all present, and without a word walked to the window with his

long, resolute stride, sat down on the only empty chair, near Father

Paissy, and, bending forward, prepared to listen to the conversation he

had interrupted.


Dmitri's entrance had taken no more than two minutes, and the conversation

was resumed. But this time Miuesov thought it unnecessary to reply to

Father Paissy's persistent and almost irritable question.


"Allow me to withdraw from this discussion," he observed with a certain

well-bred nonchalance. "It's a subtle question, too. Here Ivan

Fyodorovitch is smiling at us. He must have something interesting to say

about that also. Ask him."


"Nothing special, except one little remark," Ivan replied at once.

"European Liberals in general, and even our liberal dilettanti, often mix

up the final results of socialism with those of Christianity. This wild

notion is, of course, a characteristic feature. But it's not only Liberals

and dilettanti who mix up socialism and Christianity, but, in many cases,

it appears, the police--the foreign police, of course--do the same. Your

Paris anecdote is rather to the point, Pyotr Alexandrovitch."


"I ask your permission to drop this subject altogether," Miuesov repeated.

"I will tell you instead, gentlemen, another interesting and rather

characteristic anecdote of Ivan Fyodorovitch himself. Only five days ago,

in a gathering here, principally of ladies, he solemnly declared in

argument that there was nothing in the whole world to make men love their

neighbors. That there was no law of nature that man should love mankind,

and that, if there had been any love on earth hitherto, it was not owing

to a natural law, but simply because men have believed in immortality.

Ivan Fyodorovitch added in parenthesis that the whole natural law lies in

that faith, and that if you were to destroy in mankind the belief in

immortality, not only love but every living force maintaining the life of

the world would at once be dried up. Moreover, nothing then would be

immoral, everything would be lawful, even cannibalism. That's not all. He

ended by asserting that for every individual, like ourselves, who does not

believe in God or immortality, the moral law of nature must immediately be

changed into the exact contrary of the former religious law, and that

egoism, even to crime, must become not only lawful but even recognized as

the inevitable, the most rational, even honorable outcome of his position.

From this paradox, gentlemen, you can judge of the rest of our eccentric

and paradoxical friend Ivan Fyodorovitch's theories."


"Excuse me," Dmitri cried suddenly; "if I've heard aright, crime must not

only be permitted but even recognized as the inevitable and the most

rational outcome of his position for every infidel! Is that so or not?"


"Quite so," said Father Paissy.


"I'll remember it."


Having uttered these words Dmitri ceased speaking as suddenly as he had

begun. Every one looked at him with curiosity.


"Is that really your conviction as to the consequences of the

disappearance of the faith in immortality?" the elder asked Ivan suddenly.


"Yes. That was my contention. There is no virtue if there is no



"You are blessed in believing that, or else most unhappy."


"Why unhappy?" Ivan asked smiling.


"Because, in all probability you don't believe yourself in the immortality

of your soul, nor in what you have written yourself in your article on

Church jurisdiction."


"Perhaps you are right! ... But I wasn't altogether joking," Ivan suddenly

and strangely confessed, flushing quickly.


"You were not altogether joking. That's true. The question is still

fretting your heart, and not answered. But the martyr likes sometimes to

divert himself with his despair, as it were driven to it by despair

itself. Meanwhile, in your despair, you, too, divert yourself with

magazine articles, and discussions in society, though you don't believe

your own arguments, and with an aching heart mock at them inwardly....

That question you have not answered, and it is your great grief, for it

clamors for an answer."


"But can it be answered by me? Answered in the affirmative?" Ivan went on

asking strangely, still looking at the elder with the same inexplicable



"If it can't be decided in the affirmative, it will never be decided in

the negative. You know that that is the peculiarity of your heart, and all

its suffering is due to it. But thank the Creator who has given you a

lofty heart capable of such suffering; of thinking and seeking higher

things, for our dwelling is in the heavens. God grant that your heart will

attain the answer on earth, and may God bless your path."


The elder raised his hand and would have made the sign of the cross over

Ivan from where he stood. But the latter rose from his seat, went up to

him, received his blessing, and kissing his hand went back to his place in

silence. His face looked firm and earnest. This action and all the

preceding conversation, which was so surprising from Ivan, impressed every

one by its strangeness and a certain solemnity, so that all were silent

for a moment, and there was a look almost of apprehension in Alyosha's

face. But Miuesov suddenly shrugged his shoulders. And at the same moment

Fyodor Pavlovitch jumped up from his seat.


"Most pious and holy elder," he cried, pointing to Ivan, "that is my son,

flesh of my flesh, the dearest of my flesh! He is my most dutiful Karl

Moor, so to speak, while this son who has just come in, Dmitri, against

whom I am seeking justice from you, is the undutiful Franz Moor--they are

both out of Schiller's _Robbers_, and so I am the reigning Count von Moor!

Judge and save us! We need not only your prayers but your prophecies!"


"Speak without buffoonery, and don't begin by insulting the members of

your family," answered the elder, in a faint, exhausted voice. He was

obviously getting more and more fatigued, and his strength was failing.


"An unseemly farce which I foresaw when I came here!" cried Dmitri

indignantly. He too leapt up. "Forgive it, reverend Father," he added,

addressing the elder. "I am not a cultivated man, and I don't even know

how to address you properly, but you have been deceived and you have been

too good-natured in letting us meet here. All my father wants is a

scandal. Why he wants it only he can tell. He always has some motive. But

I believe I know why--"


"They all blame me, all of them!" cried Fyodor Pavlovitch in his turn.

"Pyotr Alexandrovitch here blames me too. You have been blaming me, Pyotr

Alexandrovitch, you have!" he turned suddenly to Miuesov, although the

latter was not dreaming of interrupting him. "They all accuse me of having

hidden the children's money in my boots, and cheated them, but isn't there

a court of law? There they will reckon out for you, Dmitri Fyodorovitch,

from your notes, your letters, and your agreements, how much money you

had, how much you have spent, and how much you have left. Why does Pyotr

Alexandrovitch refuse to pass judgment? Dmitri is not a stranger to him.

Because they are all against me, while Dmitri Fyodorovitch is in debt to

me, and not a little, but some thousands of which I have documentary

proof. The whole town is echoing with his debaucheries. And where he was

stationed before, he several times spent a thousand or two for the

seduction of some respectable girl; we know all about that, Dmitri

Fyodorovitch, in its most secret details. I'll prove it.... Would you

believe it, holy Father, he has captivated the heart of the most honorable

of young ladies of good family and fortune, daughter of a gallant colonel,

formerly his superior officer, who had received many honors and had the

Anna Order on his breast. He compromised the girl by his promise of

marriage, now she is an orphan and here; she is betrothed to him, yet

before her very eyes he is dancing attendance on a certain enchantress.

And although this enchantress has lived in, so to speak, civil marriage

with a respectable man, yet she is of an independent character, an

unapproachable fortress for everybody, just like a legal wife--for she is

virtuous, yes, holy Fathers, she is virtuous. Dmitri Fyodorovitch wants to

open this fortress with a golden key, and that's why he is insolent to me

now, trying to get money from me, though he has wasted thousands on this

enchantress already. He's continually borrowing money for the purpose.

From whom do you think? Shall I say, Mitya?"


"Be silent!" cried Dmitri, "wait till I'm gone. Don't dare in my presence

to asperse the good name of an honorable girl! That you should utter a

word about her is an outrage, and I won't permit it!"


He was breathless.


"Mitya! Mitya!" cried Fyodor Pavlovitch hysterically, squeezing out a

tear. "And is your father's blessing nothing to you? If I curse you, what



"Shameless hypocrite!" exclaimed Dmitri furiously.


"He says that to his father! his father! What would he be with others?

Gentlemen, only fancy; there's a poor but honorable man living here,

burdened with a numerous family, a captain who got into trouble and was

discharged from the army, but not publicly, not by court-martial, with no

slur on his honor. And three weeks ago, Dmitri seized him by the beard in

a tavern, dragged him out into the street and beat him publicly, and all

because he is an agent in a little business of mine."


"It's all a lie! Outwardly it's the truth, but inwardly a lie!" Dmitri was

trembling with rage. "Father, I don't justify my action. Yes, I confess it

publicly, I behaved like a brute to that captain, and I regret it now, and

I'm disgusted with myself for my brutal rage. But this captain, this agent

of yours, went to that lady whom you call an enchantress, and suggested to

her from you, that she should take I.O.U.'s of mine which were in your

possession, and should sue me for the money so as to get me into prison by

means of them, if I persisted in claiming an account from you of my

property. Now you reproach me for having a weakness for that lady when you

yourself incited her to captivate me! She told me so to my face.... She

told me the story and laughed at you.... You wanted to put me in prison

because you are jealous of me with her, because you'd begun to force your

attentions upon her; and I know all about that, too; she laughed at you

for that as well--you hear--she laughed at you as she described it. So here

you have this man, this father who reproaches his profligate son!

Gentlemen, forgive my anger, but I foresaw that this crafty old man would

only bring you together to create a scandal. I had come to forgive him if

he held out his hand; to forgive him, and ask forgiveness! But as he has

just this minute insulted not only me, but an honorable young lady, for

whom I feel such reverence that I dare not take her name in vain, I have

made up my mind to show up his game, though he is my father...."


He could not go on. His eyes were glittering and he breathed with

difficulty. But every one in the cell was stirred. All except Father

Zossima got up from their seats uneasily. The monks looked austere but

waited for guidance from the elder. He sat still, pale, not from

excitement but from the weakness of disease. An imploring smile lighted up

his face; from time to time he raised his hand, as though to check the

storm, and, of course, a gesture from him would have been enough to end

the scene; but he seemed to be waiting for something and watched them

intently as though trying to make out something which was not perfectly

clear to him. At last Miuesov felt completely humiliated and disgraced.


"We are all to blame for this scandalous scene," he said hotly. "But I did

not foresee it when I came, though I knew with whom I had to deal. This

must be stopped at once! Believe me, your reverence, I had no precise

knowledge of the details that have just come to light, I was unwilling to

believe them, and I learn for the first time.... A father is jealous of

his son's relations with a woman of loose behavior and intrigues with the

creature to get his son into prison! This is the company in which I have

been forced to be present! I was deceived. I declare to you all that I was

as much deceived as any one."


"Dmitri Fyodorovitch," yelled Fyodor Pavlovitch suddenly, in an unnatural

voice, "if you were not my son I would challenge you this instant to a

duel ... with pistols, at three paces ... across a handkerchief," he

ended, stamping with both feet.


With old liars who have been acting all their lives there are moments when

they enter so completely into their part that they tremble or shed tears

of emotion in earnest, although at that very moment, or a second later,

they are able to whisper to themselves, "You know you are lying, you

shameless old sinner! You're acting now, in spite of your 'holy' wrath."


Dmitri frowned painfully, and looked with unutterable contempt at his



"I thought ... I thought," he said, in a soft and, as it were, controlled

voice, "that I was coming to my native place with the angel of my heart,

my betrothed, to cherish his old age, and I find nothing but a depraved

profligate, a despicable clown!"


"A duel!" yelled the old wretch again, breathless and spluttering at each

syllable. "And you, Pyotr Alexandrovitch Miuesov, let me tell you that

there has never been in all your family a loftier, and more honest--you

hear--more honest woman than this 'creature,' as you have dared to call

her! And you, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, have abandoned your betrothed for that

'creature,' so you must yourself have thought that your betrothed couldn't

hold a candle to her. That's the woman called a 'creature'!"


"Shameful!" broke from Father Iosif.


"Shameful and disgraceful!" Kalganov, flushing crimson, cried in a boyish

voice, trembling with emotion. He had been silent till that moment.


"Why is such a man alive?" Dmitri, beside himself with rage, growled in a

hollow voice, hunching up his shoulders till he looked almost deformed.

"Tell me, can he be allowed to go on defiling the earth?" He looked round

at every one and pointed at the old man. He spoke evenly and deliberately.


"Listen, listen, monks, to the parricide!" cried Fyodor Pavlovitch,

rushing up to Father Iosif. "That's the answer to your 'shameful!' What is

shameful? That 'creature,' that 'woman of loose behavior' is perhaps

holier than you are yourselves, you monks who are seeking salvation! She

fell perhaps in her youth, ruined by her environment. But she loved much,

and Christ himself forgave the woman 'who loved much.' "


"It was not for such love Christ forgave her," broke impatiently from the

gentle Father Iosif.


"Yes, it was for such, monks, it was! You save your souls here, eating

cabbage, and think you are the righteous. You eat a gudgeon a day, and you

think you bribe God with gudgeon."


"This is unendurable!" was heard on all sides in the cell.


But this unseemly scene was cut short in a most unexpected way. Father

Zossima rose suddenly from his seat. Almost distracted with anxiety for

the elder and every one else, Alyosha succeeded, however, in supporting

him by the arm. Father Zossima moved towards Dmitri and reaching him sank

on his knees before him. Alyosha thought that he had fallen from weakness,

but this was not so. The elder distinctly and deliberately bowed down at

Dmitri's feet till his forehead touched the floor. Alyosha was so

astounded that he failed to assist him when he got up again. There was a

faint smile on his lips.


"Good-by! Forgive me, all of you!" he said, bowing on all sides to his



Dmitri stood for a few moments in amazement. Bowing down to him--what did

it mean? Suddenly he cried aloud, "Oh, God!" hid his face in his hands,

and rushed out of the room. All the guests flocked out after him, in their

confusion not saying good-by, or bowing to their host. Only the monks went

up to him again for a blessing.


"What did it mean, falling at his feet like that? Was it symbolic or

what?" said Fyodor Pavlovitch, suddenly quieted and trying to reopen

conversation without venturing to address anybody in particular. They were

all passing out of the precincts of the hermitage at the moment.


"I can't answer for a madhouse and for madmen," Miuesov answered at once

ill-humoredly, "but I will spare myself your company, Fyodor Pavlovitch,

and, trust me, for ever. Where's that monk?"


"That monk," that is, the monk who had invited them to dine with the

Superior, did not keep them waiting. He met them as soon as they came down

the steps from the elder's cell, as though he had been waiting for them

all the time.


"Reverend Father, kindly do me a favor. Convey my deepest respect to the

Father Superior, apologize for me, personally, Miuesov, to his reverence,

telling him that I deeply regret that owing to unforeseen circumstances I

am unable to have the honor of being present at his table, greatly as I

should desire to do so," Miuesov said irritably to the monk.


"And that unforeseen circumstance, of course, is myself," Fyodor

Pavlovitch cut in immediately. "Do you hear, Father; this gentleman

doesn't want to remain in my company or else he'd come at once. And you

shall go, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, pray go to the Father Superior and good

appetite to you. I will decline, and not you. Home, home, I'll eat at

home, I don't feel equal to it here, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, my amiable



"I am not your relative and never have been, you contemptible man!"


"I said it on purpose to madden you, because you always disclaim the

relationship, though you really are a relation in spite of your shuffling.

I'll prove it by the church calendar. As for you, Ivan, stay if you like.

I'll send the horses for you later. Propriety requires you to go to the

Father Superior, Pyotr Alexandrovitch, to apologize for the disturbance

we've been making...."


"Is it true that you are going home? Aren't you lying?"


"Pyotr Alexandrovitch! How could I dare after what's happened! Forgive me,

gentlemen, I was carried away! And upset besides! And, indeed, I am

ashamed. Gentlemen, one man has the heart of Alexander of Macedon and

another the heart of the little dog Fido. Mine is that of the little dog

Fido. I am ashamed! After such an escapade how can I go to dinner, to

gobble up the monastery's sauces? I am ashamed, I can't. You must excuse



"The devil only knows, what if he deceives us?" thought Miuesov, still

hesitating, and watching the retreating buffoon with distrustful eyes. The

latter turned round, and noticing that Miuesov was watching him, waved him

a kiss.


"Well, are you coming to the Superior?" Miuesov asked Ivan abruptly.


"Why not? I was especially invited yesterday."


"Unfortunately I feel myself compelled to go to this confounded dinner,"

said Miuesov with the same irritability, regardless of the fact that the

monk was listening. "We ought, at least, to apologize for the disturbance,

and explain that it was not our doing. What do you think?"


"Yes, we must explain that it wasn't our doing. Besides, father won't be

there," observed Ivan.


"Well, I should hope not! Confound this dinner!"


They all walked on, however. The monk listened in silence. On the road

through the copse he made one observation however--that the Father Superior

had been waiting a long time, and that they were more than half an hour

late. He received no answer. Miuesov looked with hatred at Ivan.


"Here he is, going to the dinner as though nothing had happened," he

thought. "A brazen face, and the conscience of a Karamazov!"




Chapter VII. A Young Man Bent On A Career



Alyosha helped Father Zossima to his bedroom and seated him on his bed. It

was a little room furnished with the bare necessities. There was a narrow

iron bedstead, with a strip of felt for a mattress. In the corner, under

the ikons, was a reading-desk with a cross and the Gospel lying on it. The

elder sank exhausted on the bed. His eyes glittered and he breathed hard.

He looked intently at Alyosha, as though considering something.


"Go, my dear boy, go. Porfiry is enough for me. Make haste, you are needed

there, go and wait at the Father Superior's table."


"Let me stay here," Alyosha entreated.


"You are more needed there. There is no peace there. You will wait, and be

of service. If evil spirits rise up, repeat a prayer. And remember, my

son"--the elder liked to call him that--"this is not the place for you in

the future. When it is God's will to call me, leave the monastery. Go away

for good."


Alyosha started.


"What is it? This is not your place for the time. I bless you for great

service in the world. Yours will be a long pilgrimage. And you will have

to take a wife, too. You will have to bear _all_ before you come back.

There will be much to do. But I don't doubt of you, and so I send you

forth. Christ is with you. Do not abandon Him and He will not abandon you.

You will see great sorrow, and in that sorrow you will be happy. This is

my last message to you: in sorrow seek happiness. Work, work unceasingly.

Remember my words, for although I shall talk with you again, not only my

days but my hours are numbered."


Alyosha's face again betrayed strong emotion. The corners of his mouth



"What is it again?" Father Zossima asked, smiling gently. "The worldly may

follow the dead with tears, but here we rejoice over the father who is

departing. We rejoice and pray for him. Leave me, I must pray. Go, and

make haste. Be near your brothers. And not near one only, but near both."


Father Zossima raised his hand to bless him. Alyosha could make no

protest, though he had a great longing to remain. He longed, moreover, to

ask the significance of his bowing to Dmitri, the question was on the tip

of his tongue, but he dared not ask it. He knew that the elder would have

explained it unasked if he had thought fit. But evidently it was not his

will. That action had made a terrible impression on Alyosha; he believed

blindly in its mysterious significance. Mysterious, and perhaps awful.


As he hastened out of the hermitage precincts to reach the monastery in

time to serve at the Father Superior's dinner, he felt a sudden pang at

his heart, and stopped short. He seemed to hear again Father Zossima's

words, foretelling his approaching end. What he had foretold so exactly

must infallibly come to pass. Alyosha believed that implicitly. But how

could he be left without him? How could he live without seeing and hearing

him? Where should he go? He had told him not to weep, and to leave the

monastery. Good God! It was long since Alyosha had known such anguish. He

hurried through the copse that divided the monastery from the hermitage,

and unable to bear the burden of his thoughts, he gazed at the ancient

pines beside the path. He had not far to go--about five hundred paces. He

expected to meet no one at that hour, but at the first turn of the path he

noticed Rakitin. He was waiting for some one.


"Are you waiting for me?" asked Alyosha, overtaking him.


"Yes," grinned Rakitin. "You are hurrying to the Father Superior, I know;

he has a banquet. There's not been such a banquet since the Superior

entertained the Bishop and General Pahatov, do you remember? I shan't be

there, but you go and hand the sauces. Tell me one thing, Alexey, what

does that vision mean? That's what I want to ask you."


"What vision?"


"That bowing to your brother, Dmitri. And didn't he tap the ground with

his forehead, too!"


"You speak of Father Zossima?"


"Yes, of Father Zossima."


"Tapped the ground?"


"Ah, an irreverent expression! Well, what of it? Anyway, what does that

vision mean?"


"I don't know what it means, Misha."


"I knew he wouldn't explain it to you! There's nothing wonderful about it,

of course, only the usual holy mummery. But there was an object in the

performance. All the pious people in the town will talk about it and

spread the story through the province, wondering what it meant. To my

thinking the old man really has a keen nose; he sniffed a crime. Your

house stinks of it."


"What crime?"


Rakitin evidently had something he was eager to speak of.


"It'll be in your family, this crime. Between your brothers and your rich

old father. So Father Zossima flopped down to be ready for what may turn

up. If something happens later on, it'll be: 'Ah, the holy man foresaw it,

prophesied it!' though it's a poor sort of prophecy, flopping like that.

'Ah, but it was symbolic,' they'll say, 'an allegory,' and the devil knows

what all! It'll be remembered to his glory: 'He predicted the crime and

marked the criminal!' That's always the way with these crazy fanatics;

they cross themselves at the tavern and throw stones at the temple. Like

your elder, he takes a stick to a just man and falls at the feet of a



"What crime? What murderer? What do you mean?"


Alyosha stopped dead. Rakitin stopped, too.


"What murderer? As though you didn't know! I'll bet you've thought of it

before. That's interesting, too, by the way. Listen, Alyosha, you always

speak the truth, though you're always between two stools. Have you thought

of it or not? Answer."


"I have," answered Alyosha in a low voice. Even Rakitin was taken aback.


"What? Have you really?" he cried.


"I ... I've not exactly thought it," muttered Alyosha, "but directly you

began speaking so strangely, I fancied I had thought of it myself."


"You see? (And how well you expressed it!) Looking at your father and your

brother Mitya to-day you thought of a crime. Then I'm not mistaken?"


"But wait, wait a minute," Alyosha broke in uneasily. "What has led you to

see all this? Why does it interest you? That's the first question."


"Two questions, disconnected, but natural. I'll deal with them separately.

What led me to see it? I shouldn't have seen it, if I hadn't suddenly

understood your brother Dmitri, seen right into the very heart of him all

at once. I caught the whole man from one trait. These very honest but

passionate people have a line which mustn't be crossed. If it were, he'd

run at your father with a knife. But your father's a drunken and abandoned

old sinner, who can never draw the line--if they both let themselves go,

they'll both come to grief."


"No, Misha, no. If that's all, you've reassured me. It won't come to



"But why are you trembling? Let me tell you; he may be honest, our Mitya

(he is stupid, but honest), but he's--a sensualist. That's the very

definition and inner essence of him. It's your father has handed him on

his low sensuality. Do you know, I simply wonder at you, Alyosha, how you

can have kept your purity. You're a Karamazov too, you know! In your

family sensuality is carried to a disease. But now, these three

sensualists are watching one another, with their knives in their belts.

The three of them are knocking their heads together, and you may be the



"You are mistaken about that woman. Dmitri--despises her," said Alyosha,

with a sort of shudder.


"Grushenka? No, brother, he doesn't despise her. Since he has openly

abandoned his betrothed for her, he doesn't despise her. There's something

here, my dear boy, that you don't understand yet. A man will fall in love

with some beauty, with a woman's body, or even with a part of a woman's

body (a sensualist can understand that), and he'll abandon his own

children for her, sell his father and mother, and his country, Russia,

too. If he's honest, he'll steal; if he's humane, he'll murder; if he's

faithful, he'll deceive. Pushkin, the poet of women's feet, sung of their

feet in his verse. Others don't sing their praises, but they can't look at

their feet without a thrill--and it's not only their feet. Contempt's no

help here, brother, even if he did despise Grushenka. He does, but he

can't tear himself away."


"I understand that," Alyosha jerked out suddenly.


"Really? Well, I dare say you do understand, since you blurt it out at the

first word," said Rakitin, malignantly. "That escaped you unawares, and

the confession's the more precious. So it's a familiar subject; you've

thought about it already, about sensuality, I mean! Oh, you virgin soul!

You're a quiet one, Alyosha, you're a saint, I know, but the devil only

knows what you've thought about, and what you know already! You are pure,

but you've been down into the depths.... I've been watching you a long

time. You're a Karamazov yourself; you're a thorough Karamazov--no doubt

birth and selection have something to answer for. You're a sensualist from

your father, a crazy saint from your mother. Why do you tremble? Is it

true, then? Do you know, Grushenka has been begging me to bring you along.

'I'll pull off his cassock,' she says. You can't think how she keeps

begging me to bring you. I wondered why she took such an interest in you.

Do you know, she's an extraordinary woman, too!"


"Thank her and say I'm not coming," said Alyosha, with a strained smile.

"Finish what you were saying, Misha. I'll tell you my idea after."


"There's nothing to finish. It's all clear. It's the same old tune,

brother. If even you are a sensualist at heart, what of your brother,

Ivan? He's a Karamazov, too. What is at the root of all you Karamazovs is

that you're all sensual, grasping and crazy! Your brother Ivan writes

theological articles in joke, for some idiotic, unknown motive of his own,

though he's an atheist, and he admits it's a fraud himself--that's your

brother Ivan. He's trying to get Mitya's betrothed for himself, and I

fancy he'll succeed, too. And what's more, it's with Mitya's consent. For

Mitya will surrender his betrothed to him to be rid of her, and escape to

Grushenka. And he's ready to do that in spite of all his nobility and