“The elder is one of those modern young men of brilliant education and vigorous intellect, who has lost all faith in everything. He has denied and rejected much already, like his father. We have all heard him, he was a welcome guest in local society. He never concealed his opinions, quite the contrary in fact, which justifies me in speaking rather openly of him now, of course, not as an individual, but as a member of the Karamazov family. Another personage closely connected with the case died here by his own hand last night. I mean an afflicted idiot, formerly the servant, and possibly the illegitimate son of Fyodor Pavlovitch, Smerdyakov. At the preliminary inquiry, he told me with hysterical tears how the young Ivan Karamazov had horrified him by his spiritual audacity. ‘Everything in the world is lawful according to him, and nothing must be forbidden in the future—that is what he always taught me.’ I believe that idiot was driven out of his mind by this theory, though, of course, the epileptic attacks from which he suffered, and this terrible catastrophe, have helped to unhinge his faculties. But he dropped one very interesting observation, which would have done credit to a more intelligent observer, and that is, indeed, why I’ve mentioned it, ‘If there is one of the sons that is like Fyodor Pavlovitch in character, it is Ivan Fyodorovitch.’

“With that remark I conclude my sketch of his character, feeling it indelicate to continue further. Oh, I don’t want to draw any further conclusions and croak like a raven over the young man’s future. We’ve seen to-day in this court that there are still good impulses in his young heart, that family feeling has not been destroyed in him by lack of faith and cynicism, which has come to him rather by inheritance than by the exercise of independent thought.

“Then the third son. Oh, he is a devout and modest youth, who does not share his elder brother’s gloomy and destructive theory of life. He has sought to cling to the ‘ideas of the people,’ or to what goes by that name in some circles of our intellectual classes. He clung to the monastery, and was within an ace of becoming a monk. He seems to me to have betrayed unconsciously, and so early, that timid despair which leads so many in our unhappy society, who dread cynicism and its corrupting influences, and mistakenly attribute all the mischief to European enlightenment, to return to their ‘native soil,’ as they say, to the bosom, so to speak, of their mother earth, like frightened children, yearning to fall asleep on the withered bosom of their decrepit mother, and to sleep there for ever, only to escape the horrors that terrify them.

“For my part I wish the excellent and gifted young man every success. I trust that his youthful idealism and impulse towards the ideas of the people may never degenerate, as often happens, on the moral side into gloomy mysticism, and on the political into blind Chauvinism—two elements which are even a greater menace to Russia than the premature decay, due to misunderstanding and gratuitous adoption of European ideas, from which his elder brother is suffering.”

Two or three people clapped their hands at the mention of Chauvinism and mysticism. Ippolit Kirillovitch had been, indeed, carried away by his own eloquence. All this had little to do with the case in hand, to say nothing of the fact of its being somewhat vague, but the sickly and consumptive man was overcome by the desire to express himself once in his life. People said afterwards that he was actuated by unworthy motives in his criticism of Ivan, because the latter had on one or two occasions got the better of him in argument, and Ippolit Kirillovitch remembering it, tried now to take his revenge. But I don’t know whether it was true. All this was only introductory, however, and the speech passed to more direct consideration of the case.

“But to return to the eldest son,” Ippolit Kirillovitch went on. “He is the prisoner before us. We have his life and his actions, too, before us; the fatal day has come and all has been brought to the surface. While his brothers seem to stand for ‘Europeanism’ and ‘the principles of the people,’ he seems to represent Russia as she is. Oh, not all Russia, not all! God preserve us, if it were! Yet, here we have her, our mother Russia, the very scent and sound of her. Oh, he is spontaneous, he is a marvellous mingling of good and evil, he is a lover of culture and Schiller, yet he brawls in taverns and plucks out the beards of his boon companions. Oh, he, too, can be good and noble, but only when all goes well with him. What is more, he can be carried off his feet, positively carried off his feet by noble ideals, but only if they come of themselves, if they fall from heaven for him, if they need not be paid for. He dislikes paying

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.