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Chapter 14 The Peasants Stand Firm

  • THIS was how Fetyukovitch concluded his speech, and the enthusiasm of th_udience burst like an irresistible storm. It was out of the question to sto_t: the women wept, many of the men wept too, even two important personage_hed tears. The President submitted, and even postponed ringing his bell. Th_uppression of such an enthusiasm would be the suppression of somethin_acred, as the ladies cried afterwards. The orator himself was genuinel_ouched.
  • And it was at this moment that Ippolit Kirillovitch got up to make certai_bjections. People looked at him with hatred. "What? What's the meaning of it?
  • He positively dares to make objections," the ladies babbled. But if the whol_orld of ladies, including his wife, had protested he could not have bee_topped at that moment. He was pale, he was shaking with emotion, his firs_hrases were even unintelligible, he gasped for breath, could hardly spea_learly, lost the thread. But he soon recovered himself. Of this new speech o_is I will quote only a few sentences.
  • "… I am reproached with having woven a romance. But what is this defence i_ot one romance on the top of another? All that was lacking was poetry. Fyodo_avlovitch, while waiting for his mistress, tears open the envelope and throw_t on the floor. We are even told what he said while engaged in this strang_ct. Is not this a flight of fancy? And what proof have we that he had take_ut the money? Who heard what he said? The weak-minded idiot, Smerdyakov, transformed into a Byronic hero, avenging society for his illegitimate birth- isn't this a romance in the Byronic style? And the son who breaks into hi_ather's house and murders him without murdering him is not even a romance- this is a sphinx setting us a riddle which he cannot solve himself. If h_urdered him, he murdered him, and what's the meaning of his murdering hi_ithout having murdered him- who can make head or tail of this?
  • "Then we are admonished that our tribune is a tribune of true and sound idea_nd from this tribune of 'sound ideas' is heard a solemn declaration that t_all the murder of a father 'parricide' is nothing but a prejudice! But i_arricide is a prejudice, and if every child is to ask his father why he is t_ove him, what will become of us? What will become of the foundations o_ociety? What will become of the family? Parricide, it appears, is only a bog_f Moscow merchants' wives. The most precious, the most sacred guarantees fo_he destiny and future of Russian justice are presented to us in a perverte_nd frivolous form, simply to attain an object- to obtain the justification o_omething which cannot be justified. 'Oh, crush him by mercy,' cries th_ounsel for the defence; but that's all the criminal wants, and to-morrow i_ill be seen how much he is crushed. And is not the counsel for the defenc_oo modest in asking only for the acquittal of the prisoner? Why not found _harity in the honour of the parricide to commemorate his exploit among futur_enerations? Religion and the Gospel are corrected- that's all mysticism, w_re told, and ours is the only true Christianity which has been subjected t_he analysis of reason and common sense. And so they set up before us a fals_emblance of Christ! 'What measure ye mete so it shall be meted unto yo_gain,' cried the counsel for the defence, and instantly deduces that Chris_eaches us to measure as it is measured to us and this from the tribune o_ruth and sound sense! We peep into the Gospel only on the eve of makin_peeches, in order to dazzle the audience by our acquaintance with what is, anyway, a rather original composition, which may be of use to produce _ertain effect- all to serve the purpose! But what Christ commands us i_omething very different: He bids us beware of doing this, because the wicke_orld does this, but we ought to forgive and to turn the other cheek, and no_o measure to our persecutors as they measure to us. This is what our God ha_aught us and not that to forbid children to murder their fathers is _rejudice. And we will not from the tribune of truth and good sense correc_he Gospel of our Lord, Whom the counsel for the defence deigns to call only
  • 'the crucified lover of humanity,' in opposition to all orthodox Russia, whic_alls to Him, 'For Thou art our God!'"
  • At this the President intervened and checked the over-zealous speaker, beggin_im not to exaggerate, not to overstep the bounds, and so on, as president_lways do in such cases. The audience, too, was uneasy. The public wa_estless: there were even exclamations of indignation. Fetyukovitch did not s_uch as reply; he only mounted the tribune to lay his hand on his heart and, with an offended voice, utter a few words full of dignity. He only touche_gain, lightly and ironically, on "romancing" and "psychology," and in a_ppropriate place quoted, "Jupiter, you are angry, therefore you are wrong,"
  • which provoked a burst of approving laughter in the audience, for Ippoli_irillovitch was by no means like Jupiter. Then, a propos of the accusatio_hat he was teaching the young generation to murder their fathers, Fetyukovitch observed, with great dignity, that he would not even answer. A_or the prosecutor's charge of uttering unorthodox opinions, Fetyukovitc_inted that it was a personal insinuation and that he had expected in thi_ourt to be secure from accusations "damaging to my reputation as a citize_nd a loyal subject." But at these words the President pulled him up, too, an_etyukovitch concluded his speech with a bow, amid a hum of approbation in th_ourt. And Ippolit Kirillovitch was, in the opinion of our ladies, "crushe_or good."
  • Then the prisoner was allowed to speak. Mitya stood up, but said very little.
  • He was fearfully exhausted, physically and mentally. The look of strength an_ndependence with which he had entered in the morning had almost disappeared.
  • He seemed as though he had passed through an experience that day, which ha_aught him for the rest of his life something very important he had no_nderstood till then. His voice was weak, he did not shout as before. In hi_ords there was a new note of humility, defeat and submission.
  • "What am I to say, gentlemen of the jury? The hour of judgment has come fo_e, I feel the hand of God upon me! The end has come to an erring man! But, before God, I repeat to you, I am innocent of my father's blood! For the las_ime I repeat, it wasn't I killed him! I was erring, but I loved what is good.
  • Every instant I strove to reform, but I lived like a wild beast. I thank th_rosecutor, he told me many things about myself that I did not know; but it'_ot true that I killed my father, the prosecutor is mistaken. I thank m_ounsel, too. I cried listening to him; but it's not true that I killed m_ather, and he needn't have supposed it. And don't believe the doctors. I a_erfectly sane, only my heart is heavy. If you spare me, if you let me go, _ill pray for you. I will be a better man. I give you my word before God _ill! And if you will condemn me, I'll break my sword over my head myself an_iss the pieces. But spare me, do not rob me of my God! I know myself, I shal_ebel! My heart is heavy, gentlemen… spare me!"
  • He almost fell back in his place: his voice broke: he could hardly articulat_he last phrase. Then the judges proceeded to put the questions and began t_sk both sides to formulate their conclusions. But I will not describe th_etails. At last the jury rose to retire for consultation. The President wa_ery tired, and so his last charge to the jury was rather feeble. "B_mpartial, don't be influenced by the eloquence of the defence, but yet weig_he arguments. Remember that there is a great responsibility laid upon you,"
  • and so on and so on.
  • The jury withdrew and the court adjourned. People could get up, move about, exchange their accumulated impressions, refresh themselves at the buffet. I_as very late, almost one o'clock in the night, but nobody went away: th_train was so great that no one could think of repose. All waited with sinkin_earts; though that is, perhaps, too much to say, for the ladies were only i_ state of hysterical impatience and their hearts were untroubled. A_cquittal, they thought, was inevitable. They all prepared themselves for _ramatic moment of general enthusiasm. I must own there were many among th_en, too, who were convinced that an acquittal was inevitable. Some wer_leased, others frowned, while some were simply dejected, not wanting him t_e acquitted. Fetyukovitch himself was confident of his success. He wa_urrounded by people congratulating him and fawning upon him.
  • "There are," he said to one group, as I was told afterwards, "there ar_nvisible threads binding the counsel for the defence with the jury. One feel_uring one's speech if they are being formed. I was aware of them. They exist.
  • Our cause is won. Set your mind at rest."
  • "What will our peasants say now?" said one stout, cross-looking, pock-marke_entleman, a landowner of the neighbourhood, approaching a group of gentleme_ngaged in conversation.
  • "But they are not all peasants. There are four government clerks among them."
  • "Yes, there are clerks," said a member of the district council, joining th_roup.
  • "And do you know that Nazaryev, the merchant with the medal, a juryman?"
  • "What of him?"
  • "He is a man with brains."
  • "But he never speaks."
  • "He is no great talker, but so much the better. There's no need for th_etersburg man to teach him: he could teach all Petersburg himself. He's th_ather of twelve children. Think of that!"
  • "Upon my word, you don't suppose they won't acquit him?" one of our youn_fficials exclaimed in another group.
  • "They'll acquit him for certain," said a resolute voice.
  • "It would be shameful, disgraceful, not to acquit him cried the official.
  • "Suppose he did murder him- there are fathers and fathers! And, besides, h_as in such a frenzy… . He really may have done nothing but swing the pestl_n the air, and so knocked the old man down. But it was a pity they dragge_he valet in. That was simply an absurd theory! If I'd been in Fetyukovitch'_lace, I should simply have said straight out: 'He murdered him; but he is no_uilty, hang it all!'
  • "That's what he did, only without saying, 'Hang it all!'"
  • "No, Mihail Semyonovitch, he almost said that, too," put in a third voice.
  • "Why, gentlemen, in Lent an actress was acquitted in our town who had cut th_hroat of her lover's lawful wife."
  • "Oh, but she did not finish cutting it."
  • "That makes no difference. She began cutting it."
  • "What did you think of what he said about children? Splendid, wasn't it?"
  • "Splended!"
  • "And about mysticism, too!"
  • "Oh, drop mysticism, do!" cried someone else; "think of Ippolit and his fat_rom this day forth. His wife will scratch his eyes out to-morrow for Mitya'_ake."
  • "Is she here?"
  • "What an idea! If she'd been here she'd have scratched them out in court. Sh_s at home with toothache. He he he!"
  • "He he he!"
  • In a third group:
  • "I dare say they will acquit Mitenka, after all."
  • "I should not be surprised if he turns the Metropolis upside down to-morrow.
  • He will be drinking for ten days!"
  • "Oh, the devil!"
  • "The devil's bound to have a hand in it. Where should he be if not here?"
  • "Well, gentlemen, I admit it was eloquent. But still it's not the thing t_reak your father's head with a pestle! Or what are we coming to?"
  • "The chariot! Do you remember the chariot?"
  • "Yes; he turned a cart into a chariot!"
  • "And to-morrow he will turn a chariot into a cart, just to suit his purpose."
  • "What cunning chaps there are nowadays! Is there any justice to be had i_ussia?"
  • But the bell rang. The jury deliberated for exactly an hour, neither more no_ess. A profound silence reigned in the court as soon as the public had take_heir seats. I remember how the jurymen walked into the court. At last! _on't repeat the questions in order, and, indeed, I have forgotten them. _emember only the answer to the President's first and chief question: "Did th_risoner commit the murder for the sake of robbery and with premeditation?" (_on't remember the exact words.) There was a complete hush. The foreman of th_ury, the youngest of the clerks, pronounced, in a clear, loud voice, amids_he deathlike stillness of the court:
  • "Yes, guilty!"
  • And the same answer was repeated to every question: "Yes, guilty!" and withou_he slightest extenuating comment. This no one had expected; almost everyon_ad reckoned upon a recommendation to mercy, at least. The death-like silenc_n the court was not broken- all seemed petrified: those who desired hi_onviction as well as those who had been eager for his acquittal. But that wa_nly for the first instant, and it was followed by a fearful hubbub. Many o_he men in the audience were pleased. Some were rubbing their hands with n_ttempt to conceal their joy. Those who disagreed with the verdict seeme_rushed, shrugged their shoulders, whispered, but still seemed unable t_ealise this. But how shall I describe the state the ladies were in? I though_hey would create a riot. At first they could scarcely believe their ears.
  • Then suddenly the whole court rang with exclamations: "What's the meaning o_t? What next?" They leapt up from their places. They seemed to fancy that i_ight be at once reconsidered and reversed. At that instant Mitya suddenl_tood up and cried in a heart-rending voice, stretching his hands out befor_im:
  • "I swear by God and the dreadful Day of Judgment I am not guilty of m_ather's blood! Katya, I forgive you! Brothers, friends, have pity on th_ther woman!"
  • He could not go on, and broke into a terrible sobbing wail that was heard al_ver the court in a strange, unnatural voice unlike his own. From the farthes_orner at the back of the gallery came a piercing shriek- it was Grushenka.
  • She had succeeded in begging admittance to the court again before th_eginning of the lawyers' speeches. Mitya was taken away. The passing of th_entence was deferred till next day. The whole court was in a hubbub but I di_ot wait to hear. I only remember a few exclamations I heard on the steps as _ent out.
  • "He'll have a twenty years' trip to the mines!"
  • "Not less."
  • "Well, our peasants have stood firm."
  • "And have done for our Mitya."