"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
"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.