Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 9 The Galloping Troika. The End of the Prosecutor's Speech

  • IPPOLIT KIRILLOVITCH had chosen the historial method of exposition, beloved b_ll nervous orators, who find in its limitation a check on their own eage_hetoric. At this moment in his speech he went off into a dissertation o_rushenka's "first lover," and brought forward several interesting thoughts o_his theme.
  • "Karamazov, who had been frantically jealous of everyone, collapsed, so t_peak, and effaced himself at once before this first lover. What makes it al_he more strange is that he seems to have hardly thought of this formidabl_ival. But he had looked upon him as a remote danger, and Karamazov alway_ives in the present. Possibly he regarded him as a fiction. But his wounde_eart grasped instantly that the woman had been concealing this new rival an_eceiving him, because he was anything but a fiction to her, because he wa_he one hope of her life. Grasping this instantly, he resigned himself.
  • "Gentlemen of the jury, I cannot help dwelling on this unexpected trait in th_risoner's character. He suddenly evinces an irresistible desire for justice, a respect for woman and a recognition of her right to love. And all this a_he very moment when he had stained his hands with his father's blood for he_ake! It is true that the blood he had shed was already crying out fo_engeance, for, after having ruined his soul and his life in this world, h_as forced to ask himself at that same instant what he was and what he coul_e now to her, to that being, dearer to him than his own soul, in compariso_ith that former lover who had returned penitent, with new love, to the woma_e had once betrayed, with honourable offers, with the promise of a reforme_nd happy life. And he, luckless man, what could he give her now, what coul_e offer her?
  • "Karamazov felt all this, knew that all ways were barred to him by his crim_nd that he was a criminal under sentence, and not a man with life before him!
  • This thought crushed him. And so he instantly flew to one frantic plan, which, to a man of Karamazov's character, must have appeared the one inevitable wa_ut of his terrible position. That way out was suicide. He ran for the pistol_e had left in pledge with his friend Perhotin and on the way, as he ran, h_ulled out of his pocket the money, for the sake of which he had stained hi_ands with his father's gore. Oh, now he needed money more than ever.
  • Karamazov would die, Karamazov would shoot himself and it should b_emembered! To be sure, he was a poet and had burnt the candle at both end_ll his life. 'To her, to her! and there, oh, there I will give a feast to th_hole world, such as never was before, that will be remembered and talked o_ong after! In the midst of shouts of wild merriment, reckless gypsy songs an_ances I shall raise the glass and drink to the woman I adore and her new- found happiness! And then, on the spot, at her feet, I shall dash out m_rains before her and punish myself! She will remember Mitya Karamazo_ometimes, she will see how Mitya loved her, she will feel for Mitya!'
  • "Here we see in excess a love of effect, a romantic despair an_entimentality, and the wild recklessness of the Karamazovs. Yes, but there i_omething else, gentlemen of the jury, something that cries out in the soul, throbs incessantly in the mind, and poisons the heart unto death- tha_omething is conscience, gentlemen of the jury, its judgment, its terribl_orments! The pistol will settle everything, the pistol is the only way out!
  • But beyond- I don't know whether Karamazov wondered at that moment 'What lie_eyond,' whether Karamazov could, like Hamlet, wonder 'What lies beyond.' No, gentlemen of the jury, they have their Hamlets, but we still have ou_aramazovs!"
  • Here Ippolit Kirillovitch drew a minute picture of Mitya's preparations, th_cene at Perhotin's, at the shop, with the drivers. He quoted numerous word_nd actions, confirmed by witnesses, and the picture made a terribl_mpression on the audience. The guilt of this harassed and desperate man stoo_ut clear and convincing, when the facts were brought together.
  • "What need had he of precaution? Two or three times he almost confessed, hinted at it, all but spoke out." (Then followed the evidence given b_itnesses.) "He even cried out to the peasant who drove him, 'Do you know, yo_re driving a murderer!' But it was impossible for him to speak out, he had t_et to Mokroe and there to finish his romance. But what was awaiting th_uckless man? Almost from the first minute at Mokroe he saw that hi_nvincible rival was perhaps by no means so invincible, that the toast t_heir new-found happiness was not desired and would not be acceptable. But yo_now the facts, gentlemen of the jury, from the preliminary inquiry.
  • Karamazov's triumph over his rival was complete and his soul passed into quit_ new phase, perhaps the most terrible phase through which his soul has passe_r will pass.
  • "One may say with certainty, gentlemen of the jury," the prosecutor continued,
  • "that outraged nature and the criminal heart bring their own vengeance mor_ompletely than any earthly justice. What's more, justice and punishment o_arth positively alleviate the punishment of nature and are, indeed, essentia_o the soul of the criminal at such moments, as its salvation from despair.
  • For I cannot imagine the horror and moral suffering of Karamazov when h_earnt that she loved him, that for his sake she had rejected her first lover, that she was summoning him, Mitya, to a new life, that she was promising hi_appiness- and when? When everything was over for him and nothing wa_ossible!
  • "By the way, I will note in parenthesis a point of importance for the light i_hrows on the prisoner's position at the moment. This woman, this love of his, had been till the last moment, till the very instant of his arrest, a bein_nattainable, passionately desired by him but unattainable. Yet why did he no_hoot himself then, why did he relinquish his design and even forget where hi_istol was? It was just that passionate desire for love and the hope o_atisfying it that restrained him. Throughout their revels he kept close t_is adored mistress, who was at the banquet with him and was more charming an_ascinating to him than ever- he did not leave her side, abasing himself i_is homage before her.
  • "His passion might well, for a moment, stifle not only the fear of arrest, bu_ven the torments of conscience. For a moment, oh, only for a moment! I ca_icture the state of mind of the criminal hopelessly enslaved by thes_nfluences- first, the influence of drink, of noise and excitement, of th_hud of the dance and the scream of the song, and of her, flushed with wine, singing and dancing and laughing to him! Secondly, the hope in the backgroun_hat the fatal end might still be far off, that not till next morning, a_east, they would come and take him. So he had a few hours and that's much, very much! In a few hours one can think of many things. I imagine that he fel_omething like what criminals feel when they are being taken to the scaffold.
  • They have another long, long street to pass down and at walking pace, pas_housands of people. Then there will be a turning into another street and onl_t the end of that street the dread place of execution! I fancy that at th_eginning of the journey the condemned man, sitting on his shameful cart, mus_eel that he has infinite life still before him. The houses recede, the car_oves on- oh, that's nothing, it's still far to the turning into the secon_treet and he still looks boldly to right and to left at those thousands o_allously curious people with their eyes fixed on him, and he still fancie_hat he is just such a man as they. But now the turning comes to the nex_treet. Oh, that's nothing, nothing, there's still a whole street before him, and however many houses have been passed, he will still think there are man_eft. And so to the very end, to the very scaffold.
  • "This I imagine is how it was with Karamazov then. 'They've not had time yet,'
  • he must have thought, 'I may still find some way out, oh, there's still tim_o make some plan of defence, and now, now- she is so fascinating!'
  • "His soul was full of confusion and dread, but he managed, however, to pu_side half his money and hide it somewhere- I cannot otherwise explain th_isappearance of quite half of the three thousand he had just taken from hi_ather's pillow. He had been in Mokroe more than once before, he had carouse_here for two days together already, he knew the old big house with all it_assages and outbuildings. I imagine that part of the money was hidden in tha_ouse, not long before the arrest, in some crevice, under some floor, in som_orner, under the roof. With what object? I shall be asked. Why, th_atastrophe may take place at once, of course; he hadn't yet considered how t_eet it, he hadn't the time, his head was throbbing and his heart was wit_er, but money- money was indispensable in any case! With money a man i_lways a man. Perhaps such foresight at such a moment may strike you a_nnatural? But he assures us himself that a month before, at a critical an_xciting moment, he had halved his money and sewn it up in a little bag. An_hough that was not true, as we shall prove directly, it shows the idea was _amiliar one to Karamazov, he had contemplated it. What's more, when h_eclared at the inquiry that he had put fifteen hundred roubles in a bag (which never existed) he may have invented that little bag on the inspiratio_f the moment, because he had two hours before divided his money and hidde_alf of it at Mokroe till morning, in case of emergency, simply not to have i_n himself. Two extremes, gentlemen of the jury, remember that Karamazov ca_ontemplate two extremes and both at once.
  • "We have looked in the house, but we haven't found the money. It may still b_here or it may have disappeared next day and be in the prisoner's hands now.
  • In any case he was at her side, on his knees before her, she was lying on th_ed, he had his hands stretched out to her and he had so entirely forgotte_verything that he did not even hear the men coming to arrest him. He hadn'_ime to prepare any line of defence in his mind. He was caught unawares an_onfronted with his judges, the arbiters of his destiny.
  • "Gentlemen of the jury, there are moments in the execution of our duties whe_t is terrible for us to face a man, terrible on his account, too! The moment_f contemplating that animal fear, when the criminal sees that all is lost, but still struggles, still means to struggle, the moments when every instinc_f self-preservation rises up in him at once and he looks at you wit_uestioning and suffering eyes, studies you, your face, your thoughts, uncertain on which side you will strike, and his distracted mind frame_housands of plans in an instant, but he is still afraid to speak, afraid o_iving himself away! This purgatory of the spirit, this animal thirst fo_elf-preservation, these humiliating moments of the human soul, are awful, an_ometimes arouse horror and compassion for the criminal even in the lawyer.
  • And this was what we all witnessed then.
  • "At first he was thunderstruck and in his terror dropped some ver_ompromising phrases. 'Blood! I've deserved it!' But he quickly restraine_imself. He had not prepared what he was to say, what answer he was to make, he had nothing but a bare denial ready. 'I am not guilty of my father'_eath.' That was his fence for the moment and behind it he hoped to throw up _arricade of some sort. His first compromising exclamations he hastened t_xplain by declaring that he was responsible for the death of the servan_rigory only. 'Of that bloodshed I am guilty, but who has killed my father, gentlemen, who has killed him? Who can have killed him, if not I?' Do yo_ear, he asked us that, us, who had come to ask him that question! Do you hea_hat uttered with such premature haste- 'if not I'- the animal cunning, th_aivete the Karamazov impatience of it? 'I didn't kill him and you mustn'_hink I did! I wanted to kill him, gentlemen, I wanted to kill him,' h_astens to admit (he was in a hurry, in a terrible hurry), 'but still I am no_uilty, it is not I murdered him.' He concedes to us that he wanted to murde_im, as though to say, you can see for yourselves how truthful I am, so you'l_elieve all the sooner that I didn't murder him. Oh, in such cases th_riminal is often amazingly shallow and credulous.
  • "At that point one of the lawyers asked him, as it were incidentally, the mos_imple question, 'Wasn't it Smerdyakov killed him?' Then, as we expected, h_as horribly angry at our having anticipated him and caught him unawares, before he had time to pave the way to choose and snatch the moment when i_ould be most natural to bring in Smerdyakov's name. He rushed at once to th_ther extreme, as he always does, and began to assure us that Smerdyakov coul_ot have killed him, was not capable of it. But don't believe him, that wa_nly his cunning; he didn't really give up the idea of Smerdyakov; on th_ontrary, he meant to bring him forward again; for, indeed, he had no one els_o bring forward, but he would do that later, because for the moment that lin_as spoiled for him. He would bring him forward perhaps next day, or even _ew days later, choosing an opportunity to cry out to us, 'You know I was mor_ceptical about Smerdyakov than you, you remember that yourselves, but now _m convinced. He killed him, he must have done!' And for the present he fall_ack upon a gloomy and irritable denial. Impatience and anger prompted him, however, to the most inept and incredible explanation of how he looked int_is father's window and how he respectfully withdrew. The worst of it was tha_e was unaware of the position of affairs, of the evidence given by Grigory.
  • "We proceeded to search him. The search angered, but encouraged him, the whol_hree thousand had not been found on him, only half of it. And no doubt onl_t that moment of angry silence, the fiction of the little bag first occurre_o him. No doubt he was conscious himself of the improbability of the stor_nd strove painfully to make it sound more likely, to weave it into a romanc_hat would sound plausible. In such cases the first duty, the chief task o_he investigating lawyers, is to prevent the criminal being prepared, t_ounce upon him unexpectedly so that he may blurt out his cherished ideas i_ll their simplicity, improbability and inconsistency. The criminal can onl_e made to speak by the sudden and apparently incidental communication of som_ew fact, of some circumstance of great importance in the case, of which h_ad no previous idea and could not have foreseen. We had such a fact i_eadiness- that was Grigory's evidence about the open door through which th_risoner had run out. He had completely forgotten about that door and had no_ven suspected that Grigory could have seen it.
  • "The effect of it was amazing. He leapt up and shouted to us, 'Then Smerdyako_urdered him, it was Smerdyakov!' and so betrayed the basis of the defence h_as keeping back, and betrayed it in its most improbable shape, for Smerdyako_ould only have committed the murder after he had knocked Grigory down and ru_way. When we told him that Grigory saw the door was open before he fell down, and had heard Smerdyakov behind the screen as he came out of his bedroom- Karamazov was positively crushed. My esteemed and witty colleague, Nikola_arfenovitch, told me afterwards that he was almost moved to tears at th_ight of him. And to improve matters, the prisoner hastened to tell us abou_he much-talked-of little bag- so be it, you shall hear this romance!
  • "Gentlemen of the jury, I have told you already why I consider this romanc_ot only an absurdity, but the most improbable invention that could have bee_rought forward in the circumstances. If one tried for a bet to invent th_ost unlikely story, one could hardly find anything more incredible. The wors_f such stories is that the triumphant romancers can always be put t_onfusion and crushed by the very details in which real life is so rich an_hich these unhappy and involuntary storytellers neglect as insignifican_rifles. Oh, they have no thought to spare for such details, their minds ar_oncentrated on their grand invention as a whole, and fancy anyone daring t_ull them up for a trifle! But that's how they are caught. The prisoner wa_sked the question, 'Where did you get the stuff for your little bag and wh_ade it for you?' 'I made it myself.' 'And where did you get the linen?' Th_risoner was positively offended, he thought it almost insulting to ask hi_uch a trivial question, and would you believe it, his resentment was genuine!
  • But they are all like that. 'I tore it off my shirt. "Then we shall find tha_hirt among your linen to-morrow, with a piece torn off.' And only fancy, gentlemen of the jury, if we really had found that torn shirt (and how coul_e have failed to find it in his chest of drawers or trunk?) that would hav_een a fact, a material fact in support of his statement! But he was incapabl_f that reflection. 'I don't remember, it may not have been off my shirt, _ewed it up in one of my landlady's caps.' 'What sort of a cap?' 'It was a_ld cotton rag of hers lying about.' 'And do you remember that clearly?' 'No, I don't.' And he was angry, very angry, and yet imagine not remembering it! A_he most terrible moments of man's life, for instance when he is being led t_xecution, he remembers just such trifles. He will forget anything but som_reen roof that has flashed past him on the road, or a jackdaw on a cross- that he will remember. He concealed the making of that little bag from hi_ousehold, he must have remembered his humiliating fear that someone migh_ome in and find him needle in hand, how at the slightest sound he slippe_ehind the screen (there is a screen in his lodgings).
  • "But, gentlemen of the jury, why do I tell you all this, all these details, trifles?" cried Ippolit Kirillovitch suddenly. "Just because the prisone_till persists in these absurdities to this moment. He has not explaine_nything since that fatal night two months ago, he has not added one actua_lluminating fact to his former fantastic statements; all those ar_rivialities. 'You must believe it on my honour.' Oh, we are glad to believ_t, we are eager to believe it, even if only on his word of honour! Are w_ackals thirsting for human blood? Show us a single fact in the prisoner'_avour and we shall rejoice; but let it be a substantial, real fact, and not _onclusion drawn from the prisoner's expression by his own brother, or tha_hen he beat himself on the breast he must have meant to point to the littl_ag, in the darkness, too. We shall rejoice at the new fact, we shall be th_irst to repudiate our charge, we shall hasten to repudiate it. But no_ustice cries out and we persist, we cannot repudiate anything."
  • Ippolit Kirillovitch passed to his final peroration. He looked as though h_as in a fever, he spoke of the blood that cried for vengeance, the blood o_he father murdered by his son, with the base motive of robbery! He pointed t_he tragic and glaring consistency of the facts.
  • "And whatever you may hear from the talented and celebrated counsel for th_efence," Ippolit Kirillovitch could not resist adding, "whatever eloquent an_ouching appeals may be made to your sensibilities, remember that at thi_oment you are in a temple of justice. Remember that you are the champions o_ur justice, the champions of our holy Russia, of her principles, her family, everything that she holds sacred! Yes, you represent Russia here at thi_oment, and your verdict will be heard not in this hall only but will re-ech_hroughout the whole of Russia, and all Russia will hear you, as her champion_nd her judges, and she will be encouraged or disheartened by your verdict. D_ot disappoint Russia and her expectations. Our fatal troika dashes on in he_eadlong flight perhaps to destruction and in all Russia for long past me_ave stretched out imploring hands and called a halt to its furious reckles_ourse. And if other nations stand aside from that troika that may be, no_rom respect, as the poet would fain believe, but simply from horror. Fro_orror, perhaps from disgust. And well it is that they stand aside, but mayb_hey will cease one day to do so and will form a firm wall confronting th_urrying apparition and will check the frenzied rush of our lawlessness, fo_he sake of their own safety, enlightenment and civilisation. Already we hav_eard voices of alarm from Europe, they already begin to sound. Do not temp_hem! Do not heap up their growing hatred by a sentence justifying the murde_f a father by his son I
  • Though Ippolit Kirillovitch was genuinely moved, he wound up his speech wit_his rhetorical appeal- and the effect produced by him was extraordinary. Whe_e had finished his speech, he went out hurriedly and, as I have mentione_efore, almost fainted in the adjoining room. There was no applause in th_ourt, but serious persons were pleased. The ladies were not so wel_atisfied, though even they were pleased with his eloquence, especially a_hey had no apprehensions as to the upshot of the trial and had full trust i_etyukovitch. "He will speak at last and of course carry all before him."
  • Everyone looked at Mitya; he sat silent through the whole of the prosecutor'_peech, clenching his teeth, with his hands clasped, and his head bowed. Onl_rom time to time he raised his head and listened, especially when Grushenk_as spoken of. When the prosecutor mentioned Rakitin's opinion of her, a smil_f contempt and anger passed over his face and he murmured rather audibly,
  • "The Bernards!" When Ippolit Kirillovitch described how he had questioned an_ortured him at Mokroe, Mitya raised his head and listened with intens_uriosity. At one point he seemed about to jump up and cry out, but controlle_imself and only shrugged his shoulders disdainfully. People talked afterward_f the end of the speech, of the prosecutor's feat in examining the prisone_t Mokroe, and jeered at Ippolit Kirillovitch. "The man could not resis_oasting of his cleverness," they said.
  • The court was adjourned, but only for a short interval, a quarter of an hou_r twenty minutes at most. There was a hum of conversation and exclamations i_he audience. I remember some of them.
  • "A weighty speech," a gentleman in one group observed gravely.
  • "He brought in too much psychology," said another voice.
  • "But it was all true, the absolute truth!"
  • "Yes, he is first rate at it."
  • "He summed it all up."
  • "Yes, he summed us up, too," chimed in another voice, "Do you remember, at th_eginning of his speech, making out we were all like Fyodor Pavlovitch?"
  • "And at the end, too. But that was all rot."
  • "And obscure too."
  • "He was a little too much carried away."
  • "It's unjust, it's unjust."
  • "No, it was smartly done, anyway. He's had long to wait, but he's had his say, ha ha!"
  • "What will the counsel for the defence say?"
  • In another group I heard:
  • "He had no business to make a thrust at the Petersburg man like that;
  • 'appealing to your sensibilities'- do you remember?"
  • "Yes, that was awkward of him."
  • "He was in too great a hurry."
  • "He is a nervous man."
  • "We laugh, but what must the prisoner be feeling?"
  • "Yes, what must it be for Mitya?"
  • In a third group:
  • "What lady is that, the fat one, with the lorgnette, sitting at the end?"
  • "She is a general's wife, divorced, I know her."
  • "That's why she has the lorgnette."
  • "She is not good for much."
  • "Oh no, she is a piquante little woman."
  • "Two places beyond her there is a little fair woman, she is prettier."
  • "They caught him smartly at Mokroe, didn't they, eh?"
  • "Oh, it was smart enough. We've heard it before, how often he has told th_tory at people's houses!
  • "And he couldn't resist doing it now. That's vanity."
  • "He is a man with a grievance, he he!"
  • "Yes, and quick to take offence. And there was too much rhetoric, such lon_entences."
  • "Yes, he tries to alarm us, he kept trying to alarm us. Do you remember abou_he troika? Something about 'They have Hamlets, but we have, so far, onl_aramazovs!' That was cleverly said!"
  • "That was to propitiate the liberals. He is afraid of them."
  • "Yes, and he is afraid of the lawyer, too."
  • "Yes, what will Fetyukovitch say?"
  • "Whatever he says, he won't get round our peasants."
  • "Don't you think so?"
  • A fourth group:
  • "What he said about the troika was good, that piece about the other nations."
  • "And that was true what he said about other nations not standing it."
  • "What do you mean?"
  • "Why, in the English Parliment a Member got up last week and speaking abou_he Nihilists asked the Ministry whether it was not high time to intervene, t_ducate this barbarous people. Ippolit was thinking of him, I know he was. H_as talking about that last week."
  • "Not an easy job."
  • "Not an easy job? Why not?"
  • "Why, we'd shut up Kronstadt and not let them have any corn. Where would the_et it?"
  • "In America. They get it from America now."
  • "Nonsense!"
  • But the bell rang, all rushed to their places. Fetyukovitch mounted th_ribune.