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Chapter 12 And There Was No Murder Either

  • "ALLOW me, gentlemen of the jury, to remind you that a man's life is at stak_nd that you must be careful. We have heard the prosecutor himself admit tha_ntil to-day he hesitated to accuse the prisoner of a full and consciou_remeditation of the crime; he hesitated till he saw that fatal drunken lette_hich was produced in court to-day. 'All was done as written.' But, I repea_gain, he was running to her, to seek her, solely to find out where she was.
  • That's a fact that can't be disputed. Had she been at home, he would not hav_un away, but would have remained at her side, and so would not have done wha_e promised in the letter. He ran unexpectedly and accidentally, and by tha_ime very likely he did not even remember his drunken letter. 'He snatched u_he pestle,' they say, and you will remember how a whole edifice of psycholog_as built on that pestle- why he was bound to look at that pestle as a weapon,
  • to snatch it up, and so on, and so on. A very commonplace idea occurs to me a_his point: What if that pestle had not been in sight, had not been lying o_he shelf from which it was snatched by the prisoner, but had been put away i_ cupboard? It would not have caught the prisoner's eye, and he would have ru_way without a weapon, with empty hands, and then he would certainly not hav_illed anyone. How then can I look upon the pestle as a proof o_remeditation?
  • "Yes, but he talked in the taverns of murdering his father, and two day_efore, on the evening when he wrote his drunken letter, he was quiet and onl_uarrelled with a shopman in the tavern, because a Karamazov could not hel_uarrelling, forsooth! But my answer to that is, that, if he was planning suc_ murder in accordance with his letter, he certainly would not have quarrelle_ven with a shopman, and probably would not have gone into the tavern at all,
  • because a person plotting such a crime seeks quiet and retirement, seeks t_fface himself, to avoid being seen and heard, and that not from calculation,
  • but from instinct. Gentlemen of the jury, the psychological method is a two-
  • edged weapon, and we, too, can use it. As for all this shouting in tavern_hroughout the month, don't we often hear children, or drunkards coming out o_averns shout, 'I'll kill you'? but they don't murder anyone. And that fata_etter- isn't that simply drunken irritability, too? Isn't that simply th_hout of the brawler outside the tavern, 'I'll kill you! I'll kill the lot o_ou!' Why not, why could it not be that? What reason have we to call tha_etter 'fatal' rather than absurd? Because his father has been found murdered,
  • because a witness saw the prisoner running out of the garden with a weapon i_is hand, and was knocked down by him: therefore, we are told, everything wa_one as he had planned in writing, and the letter was not 'absurd,' but
  • 'fatal.'
  • "Now, thank God! we've come to the real point: 'since he was in the garden, h_ust have murdered him.' In those few words: 'since he was, then he must' lie_he whole case for the prosecution. He was there, so he must have. And what i_here is no must about it, even if he was there? Oh, I admit that the chain o_vidence- the coincidences- are really suggestive. But examine all these fact_eparately, regardless of their connection. Why, for instance, does th_rosecution refuse to admit the truth of the prisoner's statement that he ra_way from his father's window? Remember the sarcasms in which the prosecuto_ndulged at the expense of the respectful and 'pious' sentiments whic_uddenly came over the murderer. But what if there were something of the sort,
  • a feeling of religious awe, if not of filial respect? 'My mother must hav_een praying for me at that moment,' were the prisoner's words at th_reliminary inquiry, and so he ran away as soon as he convinced himself tha_adame Svyetlov was not in his father's house. 'But he could not convinc_imself by looking through the window,' the prosecutor objects. But wh_ouldn't he? Why? The window opened at the signals given by the prisoner. Som_ord might have been uttered by Fyodor Pavlovitch, some exclamation whic_howed the prisoner that she was not there. Why should we assume everything a_e imagine it, as we make up our minds to imagine it? A thousand things ma_appen in reality which elude the subtlest imagination.
  • "'Yes, but Grigory saw the door open and so the prisoner certainly was in th_ouse, therefore he killed him.' Now about that door, gentlemen of the jury… .
  • Observe that we have only the statement of one witness as to that door, and h_as at the time in such a condition, that- but supposing the door was open;
  • supposing the prisoner has lied in denying it, from an instinct of self-
  • defence, natural in his position; supposing he did go into the house- well,
  • what then? How does it follow that because he was there he committed th_urder? He might have dashed in, run through the rooms; might have pushed hi_ather away; might have struck him; but as soon as he had made sure Madam_vyetlov was not there, he may have run away rejoicing that she was not ther_nd that he had not killed his father. And it was perhaps just because he ha_scaped from the temptation to kill his father, because he had a clea_onscience and was rejoicing at not having killed him, that he was capable o_ pure feeling, the feeling of pity and compassion, and leapt off the fence _inute later to the assistance of Grigory after he had, in his excitement,
  • knocked him down.
  • "With terrible eloquence the prosecutor has described to us the dreadful stat_f the prisoner's mind at Mokroe when love again lay before him calling him t_ew life, while love was impossible for him because he had his father'_loodstained corpse behind him and beyond that corpse- retribution. And ye_he prosecutor allowed him love, which he explained, according to his method,
  • talking about this drunken condition, about a criminal being taken t_xecution, about it being still far off, and so on and so on. But again I ask,
  • Mr. Prosecutor, have you not invented a new personality? Is the prisoner s_oarse and heartless as to be able to think at that moment of love and o_odges to escape punishment, if his hands were really stained with hi_ather's blood? No, no, no! As soon as it was made plain to him that she love_im and called him to her side, promising him new happiness, oh! then, _rotest he must have felt the impulse to suicide doubled, trebled, and mus_ave killed himself, if he had his father's murder on his conscience. Oh, no!
  • he would not have forgotten where his pistols lay! I know the prisoner: th_avage, stony heartlessness ascribed to him by the prosecutor is inconsisten_ith his character. He would have killed himself, that's certain. He did no_ill himself just because 'his mother's prayers had saved him,' and he wa_nnocent of his father's blood. He was troubled, he was grieving that night a_okroe only about old Grigory and praying to God that the old man woul_ecover, that his blow had not been fatal, and that he would not have t_uffer for it. Why not accept such an interpretation of the facts? Wha_rustworthy proof have we that the prisoner is lying?
  • "But we shall be told at once again, 'There is his father's corpse! If he ra_way without murdering him, who did murder him?' Here, I repeat, you have th_hole logic of the prosecution. Who murdered him, if not he? There's no one t_ut in his place.
  • "Gentlemen of the jury, is that really so? Is it positively, actually tru_hat there is no one else at all? We've heard the prosecutor count on hi_ingers all the persons who were in that house that night. They were five i_umber; three of them, I agree, could not have been responsible- the murdere_an himself, old Grigory, and his wife. There are left then the prisoner an_merdyakov, and the prosecutor dramatically exclaims that the prisoner pointe_o Smerdyakov because he had no one else to fix on, that had there been _ixth person, even a phantom of a sixth person, he would have abandoned th_harge against Smerdyakov at once in shame and have accused that other. But,
  • gentlemen of the jury, why may I not draw the very opposite conclusion? Ther_re two persons- the prisoner and Smerdyakov. Why can I not say that yo_ccuse my client, simply because you have no one else to accuse? And you hav_o one else only because you have determined to exclude Smerdyakov from al_uspicion.
  • "It's true, indeed, Smerdyakov is accused only by the prisoner, his tw_rothers, and Madame Svyetlov. But there are others who accuse him: there ar_ague rumours of a question, of a suspicion, an obscure report, a feeling o_xpectation. Finally, we have the evidence of a combination of facts ver_uggestive, though, I admit, inconclusive. In the first place we hav_recisely on the day of the catastrophe that fit, for the genuineness of whic_he prosecutor, for some reason, has felt obliged to make a careful defence.
  • Then Smerdyakov's sudden suicide on the eve of the trial. Then the equall_tartling evidence given in court to-day by the elder of the prisoner'_rothers, who had believed in his guilt, but has to-day produced a bundle o_otes and proclaimed Smerdyakov as the murderer. Oh, I fully share the court'_nd the prosecutor's conviction that Ivan Karamazov is suffering from brai_ever, that his statement may really be a desperate effort, planned i_elirium, to save his brother by throwing the guilt on the dead man. But agai_merdyakov's name is pronounced, again there is a suggestion of mystery. Ther_s something unexplained, incomplete. And perhaps it may one day be explained.
  • But we won't go into that now. Of that later.
  • "The court has resolved to go on with the trial, but, meantime, I might make _ew remarks about the character-sketch of Smerdyakov drawn with subtlety an_alent by the prosecutor. But while I admire his talent I cannot agree wit_im. I have visited Smerdyakov, I have seen him and talked to him, and he mad_ very different impression on me. He was weak in health, it is true; but i_haracter, in spirit, he was by no means the weak man the prosecutor has mad_im out to be. I found in him no trace of the timidity on which the prosecuto_o insisted. There was no simplicity about him, either. I found in him, on th_ontrary, an extreme mistrustfulness concealed under a mask of naivete, and a_ntelligence of considerable range. The prosecutor was too simple in takin_im for weak-minded. He made a very definite impression on me: I left him wit_he conviction that he was a distinctly spiteful creature, excessivel_mbitious, vindictive, and intensely envious. I made some inquiries: h_esented his parentage, was ashamed of it, and would clench his teeth when h_emembered that he was the son of 'stinking Lizaveta.' He was disrespectful t_he servant Grigory and his wife, who had cared for him in his childhood. H_ursed and jeered at Russia. He dreamed of going to France and becoming _renchman. He used often to say that he hadn't the means to do so. I fancy h_oved no one but himself and had a strangely high opinion of himself. Hi_onception of culture was limited to good clothes, clean shirt-fronts an_olished boots. Believing himself to be the illegitimate son of Fyodo_avlovitch (there is evidence of this), he might well have resented hi_osition, compared with that of his master's legitimate sons. They ha_verything, he nothing. They had all the rights, they had the inheritance,
  • while he was only the cook. He told me himself that he had helped Fyodo_avlovitch to put the notes in the envelope. The destination of that sum- _um which would have made his career- must have been hateful to him. Moreover,
  • he saw three thousand roubles in new rainbow-coloured notes. (I asked hi_bout that on purpose.) Oh, beware of showing an ambitious and envious man _arge sum of money at once! And it was the first time he had seen so muc_oney in the hands of one man. The sight of the rainbow-coloured notes ma_ave made a morbid impression on his imagination, but with no immediat_esults.
  • "The talented prosecutor, with extraordinary subtlety, sketched for us all th_rguments for and against the hypothesis of Smerdyakov's guilt, and asked u_n particular what motive he had in feigning a fit. But he may not have bee_eigning at all, the fit may have happened quite naturally, but it may hav_assed off quite naturally, and the sick man may have recovered, no_ompletely perhaps, but still regaining consciousness, as happens wit_pileptics.
  • "The prosecutor asks at what moment could Smerdyakov have committed th_urder. But it is very easy to point out that moment. He might have waked u_rom deep sleep (for he was only asleep- an epileptic fit is always followe_y a deep sleep) at that moment when the old Grigory shouted at the top of hi_oice 'Parricide!' That shout in the dark and stillness may have wake_merdyakov whose sleep may have been less sound at the moment: he migh_aturally have waked up an hour before.
  • "Getting out of bed, he goes almost unconsciously and with no definite motiv_owards the sound to see what's the matter. His head is still clouded with hi_ttack, his faculties are half asleep; but, once in the garden, he walks t_he lighted windows and he hears terrible news from his master, who would be,
  • of course, glad to see him. His mind sets to work at once. He hears all th_etails from his frightened master, and gradually in his disordered brai_here shapes itself an idea- terrible, but seductive and irresistibly logical.
  • To kill the old man, take the three thousand, and throw all the blame on t_is young master. A terrible lust of money, of booty, might seize upon him a_e realised his security from detection. Oh! these sudden and irresistibl_mpulses come so often when there is a favourable opportunity, and especiall_ith murderers who have had no idea of committing a murder beforehand. An_merdyakov may have gone in and carried out his plan. With what weapon? Why,
  • with any stone picked up in the garden. But what for, with what object? Why,
  • the three thousand which means a career for him. Oh, I am not contradictin_yself- the money may have existed. And perhaps Smerdyakov alone knew where t_ind it, where his master kept it. And the covering of the money- the tor_nvelope on the floor?
  • "Just now, when the prosecutor was explaining his subtle theory that only a_nexperienced thief like Karamazov would have left the envelope on the floor,
  • and not one like Smerdyakov, who would have avoided leaving a piece o_vidence against himself, I thought as I listened that I was hearing somethin_ery familiar, and, would you believe it, I have heard that very argument,
  • that very conjecture, of how Karamazov would have behaved, precisely two day_efore, from Smerdyakov himself. What's more, it struck me at the time. _ancied that there was an artificial simplicity about him; that he was in _urry to suggest this idea to me that I might fancy it was my own. H_nsinuated it, as it were. Did he not insinuate the same idea at the inquir_nd suggest it to the talented prosecutor?
  • "I shall be asked, 'What about the old woman, Grigory's wife? She heard th_ick man moaning close by, all night.' Yes, she heard it, but that evidence i_xtremely unreliable. I knew a lady who complained bitterly that she had bee_ept awake all night by a dog in the yard. Yet the poor beast, it appeared,
  • had only yelped once or twice in the night. And that's natural. If anyone i_sleep and hears a groan he wakes up, annoyed at being waked, but instantl_alls asleep again. Two hours later, again a groan, he wakes up and fall_sleep again; and the same thing again two hours later- three times altogethe_n the night. Next morning the sleeper wakes up and complains that someone ha_een groaning all night and keeping him awake. And it is bound to seem so t_im: the intervals of two hours of sleep he does not remember, he onl_emembers the moments of waking, so he feels he has been waked up all night.
  • "But why, why, asks the prosecutor, did not Smerdyakov confess in his las_etter? Why did his conscience prompt him to one step and not to both? But,
  • excuse me, conscience implies penitence, and the suicide may not have fel_enitence, but only despair. Despair and penitence are two very differen_hings. Despair may be vindictive and irreconcilable, and the suicide, layin_is hands on himself, may well have felt redoubled hatred for those whom h_ad envied all his life.
  • "Gentlemen of the jury, beware of a miscarriage of justice! What is ther_nlikely in all I have put before you just now? Find the error in m_easoning; find the impossibility, the absurdity. And if there is but a shad_f possibility, but a shade of probability in my propositions, do not condem_im. And is there only a shade? I swear by all that is sacred, I fully believ_n the explanation of the murder I have just put forward. What troubles me an_akes me indignant is that of all the mass of facts heaped up by th_rosecution against the prisoner, there is not a single one certain an_rrefutable. And yet the unhappy man is to be ruined by the accumulation o_hese facts. Yes, the accumulated effect is awful: the blood, the bloo_ripping from his fingers, the bloodstained shirt, the dark night resoundin_ith the shout 'Parricide!' and the old man falling with a broken head. An_hen the mass of phrases, statements, gestures, shouts! Oh! this has so muc_nfluence, it can so bias the mind; but, gentlemen of the jury, can it bia_our minds? Remember, you have been given absolute power to bind and to loose,
  • but the greater the power, the more terrible its responsibility.
  • "I do not draw back one iota from what I have said just now, but suppose fo_ne moment I agreed with the prosecution that my luckless client had staine_is hands with his father's blood. This is only hypothesis, I repeat; I neve_or one instant doubt of his innocence. But, so be it, I assume that my clien_s guilty of parricide. Even so, hear what I have to say. I have it in m_eart to say something more to you, for I feel that there must be a grea_onflict in your hearts and minds… . Forgive my referring to your hearts an_inds, gentlemen of the jury, but I want to be truthful and sincere to th_nd. Let us all be sincere!"
  • At this point the speech was interrupted by rather loud applause. The las_ords, indeed, were pronounced with a note of such sincerity that everyon_elt that he really might have something to say, and that what he was about t_ay would be of the greatest consequence. But the President, hearing th_pplause, in a loud voice threatened to clear the court if such an inciden_ere repeated. Every sound was hushed and Fetyukovitch began in a voice ful_f feeling quite unlike the tone he had used hitherto.