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Chapter 5

  • HIPPOLYTE, who had fallen asleep during Lebedeff's discourse, now suddenl_oke up, just as though someone had jogged him in the side. He shuddered, raised himself on his arm, gazed around, and grew very pale. A look almost o_error crossed his face as he recollected.
  • "What! are they all off? Is it all over? Is the sun up?" He trembled, an_aught at the prince's hand. "What time is it? Tell me, quick, for goodness'
  • sake! How long have I slept?" he added, almost in despair, just as though h_ad overslept something upon which his whole fate depended.
  • "You have slept seven or perhaps eight minutes," said Evgenie Pavlovitch.
  • Hippolyte gazed eagerly at the latter, and mused for a few moments.
  • "Oh, is that all?" he said at last. "Then I—"
  • He drew a long, deep breath of relief, as it seemed. He realized that all wa_ot over as yet, that the sun had not risen, and that the guests had merel_one to supper. He smiled, and two hectic spots appeared on his cheeks.
  • "So you counted the minutes while I slept, did you, Evgenie Pavlovitch?" h_aid, ironically. "You have not taken your eyes off me all the evening—I hav_oticed that much, you see! Ah, Rogojin! I've just been dreaming about him, prince," he added, frowning. "Yes, by the by," starting up, "where's th_rator? Where's Lebedeff? Has he finished? What did he talk about? Is it true, prince, that you once declared that 'beauty would save the world'? Grea_eaven! The prince says that beauty saves the world! And I declare that h_nly has such playful ideas because he's in love! Gentlemen, the prince is i_ove. I guessed it the moment he came in. Don't blush, prince; you make m_orry for you. What beauty saves the world? Colia told me that you are _ealous Christian; is it so? Colia says you call yourself a Christian."
  • The prince regarded him attentively, but said nothing.
  • "You don't answer me; perhaps you think I am very fond of you?" adde_ippolyte, as though the words had been drawn from him.
  • "No, I don't think that. I know you don't love me."
  • "What, after yesterday? Wasn't I honest with you?"
  • "I knew yesterday that you didn't love me."
  • "Why so? why so? Because I envy you, eh? You always think that, I know. But d_ou know why I am saying all this? Look here! I must have some mor_hampagne—pour me out some, Keller, will you?"
  • "No, you're not to drink any more, Hippolyte. I won't let you." The princ_oved the glass away.
  • "Well perhaps you're right," said Hippolyte, musing. "They might say—yet, devil take them! what does it matter?—prince, what can it matter what peopl_ill say of us THEN, eh? I believe I'm half asleep. I've had such a dreadfu_ream—I've only just remembered it. Prince, I don't wish you such dreams a_hat, though sure enough, perhaps, I DON'T love you. Why wish a man evil, though you do not love him, eh? Give me your hand—let me press it sincerely.
  • There—you've given me your hand—you must feel that I DO press it sincerely, don't you? I don't think I shall drink any more. What time is it? Never mind, I know the time. The time has come, at all events. What! they are layin_upper over there, are they? Then this table is free? Capital, gentlemen!
  • I—hem! these gentlemen are not listening. Prince, I will just read over a_rticle I have here. Supper is more interesting, of course, but—"
  • Here Hippolyte suddenly, and most unexpectedly, pulled out of his breast- pocket a large sealed paper. This imposing-looking document he placed upon th_able before him.
  • The effect of this sudden action upon the company was instantaneous. Evgeni_avlovitch almost bounded off his chair in excitement. Rogojin drew nearer t_he table with a look on his face as if he knew what was coming. Gania cam_earer too; so did Lebedeff and the others—the paper seemed to be an object o_reat interest to the company in general.
  • "What have you got there?" asked the prince, with some anxiety.
  • "At the first glimpse of the rising sun, prince, I will go to bed. I told yo_ would, word of honour! You shall see!" cried Hippolyte. "You think I'm no_apable of opening this packet, do you?" He glared defiantly round at th_udience in general.
  • The prince observed that he was trembling all over.
  • "None of us ever thought such a thing!" Muishkin replied for all. "Why shoul_ou suppose it of us? And what are you going to read, Hippolyte? What is it?"
  • "Yes, what is it?" asked others. The packet sealed with red wax seemed t_ttract everyone, as though it were a magnet.
  • "I wrote this yesterday, myself, just after I saw you, prince, and told you _ould come down here. I wrote all day and all night, and finished it thi_orning early. Afterwards I had a dream."
  • "Hadn't we better hear it tomorrow?" asked the prince timidly.
  • "Tomorrow 'there will be no more time!'" laughed Hippolyte, hysterically. "Yo_eedn't be afraid; I shall get through the whole thing in forty minutes, a_ost an hour! Look how interested everybody is! Everybody has drawn near.
  • Look! look at them all staring at my sealed packet! If I hadn't sealed it u_t wouldn't have been half so effective! Ha, ha! that's mystery, that is! No_hen, gentlemen, shall I break the seal or not? Say the word; it's a mystery, I tell you—a secret! Prince, you know who said there would be 'no more time'?
  • It was the great and powerful angel in the Apocalypse."
  • "Better not read it now," said the prince, putting his hand on the packet.
  • "No, don't read it!" cried Evgenie suddenly. He appeared so strangel_isturbed that many of those present could not help wondering.
  • "Reading? None of your reading now!" said somebody; "it's supper-time." "Wha_ort of an article is it? For a paper? Probably it's very dull," said another.
  • But the prince's timid gesture had impressed even Hippolyte.
  • "Then I'm not to read it?" he whispered, nervously. "Am I not to read it?" h_epeated, gazing around at each face in turn. "What are you afraid of, prince?" he turned and asked the latter suddenly.
  • "What should I be afraid of?"
  • "Has anyone a coin about them? Give me a twenty-copeck piece, somebody!" An_ippolyte leapt from his chair.
  • "Here you are," said Lebedeff, handing him one; he thought the boy had gon_ad.
  • "Vera Lukianovna," said Hippolyte, "toss it, will you? Heads, I read, tails, _on't."
  • Vera Lebedeff tossed the coin into the air and let it fall on the table.
  • It was "heads."
  • "Then I read it," said Hippolyte, in the tone of one bowing to the fiat o_estiny. He could not have grown paler if a verdict of death had suddenly bee_resented to him.
  • "But after all, what is it? Is it possible that I should have just risked m_ate by tossing up?" he went on, shuddering; and looked round him again. Hi_yes had a curious expression of sincerity. "That is an astonishin_sychological fact," he cried, suddenly addressing the prince, in a tone o_he most intense surprise. "It is… it is something quite inconceivable, prince," he repeated with growing animation, like a man regainin_onsciousness. "Take note of it, prince, remember it; you collect, I am told, facts concerning capital punishment… They told me so. Ha, ha! My God, ho_bsurd!" He sat down on the sofa, put his elbows on the table, and laid hi_ead on his hands. "It is shameful—though what does it matter to me if it i_hameful?
  • "Gentlemen, gentlemen! I am about to break the seal," he continued, wit_etermination. "I-I—of course I don't insist upon anyone listening if they d_ot wish to."
  • With trembling fingers he broke the seal and drew out several sheets of paper, smoothed them out before him, and began sorting them.
  • "What on earth does all this mean? What's he going to read?" muttered severa_oices. Others said nothing; but one and all sat down and watched wit_uriosity. They began to think something strange might really be about t_appen. Vera stood and trembled behind her father's chair, almost in tear_ith fright; Colia was nearly as much alarmed as she was. Lebedeff jumped u_nd put a couple of candles nearer to Hippolyte, so that he might see better.
  • "Gentlemen, this—you'll soon see what this is," began Hippolyte, and suddenl_ommenced his reading.
  • "It's headed, 'A Necessary Explanation,' with the motto, 'Apres moi l_eluge!' Oh, deuce take it all! Surely I can never have seriously written suc_ silly motto as that? Look here, gentlemen, I beg to give notice that al_his is very likely terrible nonsense. It is only a few ideas of mine. If yo_hink that there is anything mysterious coming—or in a word—"
  • "Better read on without any more beating about the bush," said Gania.
  • "Affectation!" remarked someone else.
  • "Too much talk," said Rogojin, breaking the silence for the first time.
  • Hippolyte glanced at him suddenly, and when their eye, met Rogojin showed hi_eeth in a disagreeable smile, and said the following strange words: "That'_ot the way to settle this business, my friend; that's not the way at all."
  • Of course nobody knew what Rogojin meant by this; but his words made a dee_mpression upon all. Everyone seemed to see in a flash the same idea.
  • As for Hippolyte, their effect upon him was astounding. He trembled so tha_he prince was obliged to support him, and would certainly have cried out, bu_hat his voice seemed to have entirely left him for the moment. For a minut_r two he could not speak at all, but panted and stared at Rogojin. At last h_anaged to ejaculate:
  • "Then it was YOU who came—YOU—YOU?"
  • "Came where? What do you mean?" asked Rogojin, amazed. But Hippolyte, pantin_nd choking with excitement, interrupted him violently.
  • "YOU came to me last week, in the night, at two o'clock, the day I was wit_ou in the morning! Confess it was you!"
  • "Last week? In the night? Have you gone cracked, my good friend?"
  • Hippolyte paused and considered a moment. Then a smile of cunning—almos_riumph—crossed his lips.
  • "It was you," he murmured, almost in a whisper, but with absolute conviction.
  • "Yes, it was you who came to my room and sat silently on a chair at my windo_or a whole hour—more! It was between one and two at night; you rose and wen_ut at about three. It was you, you! Why you should have frightened me so, wh_ou should have wished to torment me like that, I cannot tell—but you it was."
  • There was absolute hatred in his eyes as he said this, but his look of fea_nd his trembling had not left him.
  • "You shall hear all this directly, gentlemen. I-I—listen!"
  • He seized his paper in a desperate hurry; he fidgeted with it, and tried t_ort it, but for a long while his trembling hands could not collect the sheet_ogether. "He's either mad or delirious," murmured Rogojin. At last he began.
  • For the first five minutes the reader's voice continued to tremble, and h_ead disconnectedly and unevenly; but gradually his voice strengthened.
  • Occasionally a violent fit of coughing stopped him, but his animation gre_ith the progress of the reading—as did also the disagreeable impression whic_t made upon his audience,—until it reached the highest pitch of excitement.
  • Here is the article.
  • MY NECESSARY EXPLANATION.
  • "Apres moi le deluge.
  • "Yesterday morning the prince came to see me. Among other things he asked m_o come down to his villa. I knew he would come and persuade me to this step, and that he would adduce the argument that it would be easier for me to die'
  • among people and green trees,'—as he expressed it. But today he did not say
  • 'die,' he said 'live.' It is pretty much the same to me, in my position, whic_e says. When I asked him why he made such a point of his 'green trees,' h_old me, to my astonishment, that he had heard that last time I was i_avlofsk I had said that I had come 'to have a last look at the trees.'
  • "When I observed that it was all the same whether one died among trees or i_ront of a blank brick wall, as here, and that it was not worth making an_uss over a fortnight, he agreed at once. But he insisted that the good air a_avlofsk and the greenness would certainly cause a physical change for th_etter, and that my excitement, and my DREAMS, would be perhaps relieved. _emarked to him, with a smile, that he spoke like a materialist, and h_nswered that he had always been one. As he never tells a lie, there must b_omething in his words. His smile is a pleasant one. I have had a good look a_im. I don't know whether I like him or not; and I have no time to waste ove_he question. The hatred which I felt for him for five months has becom_onsiderably modified, I may say, during the last month. Who knows, perhaps _m going to Pavlofsk on purpose to see him! But why do I leave my chamber?
  • Those who are sentenced to death should not leave their cells. If I had no_ormed a final resolve, but had decided to wait until the last minute, _hould not leave my room, or accept his invitation to come and die a_avlofsk. I must be quick and finish this explanation before tomorrow. I shal_ave no time to read it over and correct it, for I must read it tomorrow t_he prince and two or three witnesses whom I shall probably find there.
  • "As it will be absolutely true, without a touch of falsehood, I am curious t_ee what impression it will make upon me myself at the moment when I read i_ut. This is my 'last and solemn'—but why need I call it that? There is n_uestion about the truth of it, for it is not worthwhile lying for _ortnight; a fortnight of life is not itself worth having, which is a proo_hat I write nothing here but pure truth.
  • ("N.B.—Let me remember to consider; am I mad at this moment, or not? or rathe_t these moments? I have been told that consumptives sometimes do go out o_heir minds for a while in the last stages of the malady. I can prove thi_omorrow when I read it out, by the impression it makes upon the audience. _ust settle this question once and for all, otherwise I can't go on wit_nything.)
  • "I believe I have just written dreadful nonsense; but there's no time fo_orrecting, as I said before. Besides that, I have made myself a promise no_o alter a single word of what I write in this paper, even though I find tha_ am contradicting myself every five lines. I wish to verify the working o_he natural logic of my ideas tomorrow during the reading—whether I am capabl_f detecting logical errors, and whether all that I have meditated over durin_he last six months be true, or nothing but delirium.
  • "If two months since I had been called upon to leave my room and the view o_eyer's wall opposite, I verily believe I should have been sorry. But now _ave no such feeling, and yet I am leaving this room and Meyer's brick wal_OR EVER. So that my conclusion, that it is not worth while indulging i_rief, or any other emotion, for a fortnight, has proved stronger than my ver_ature, and has taken over the direction of my feelings. But is it so? Is i_he case that my nature is conquered entirely? If I were to be put on the rac_ow, I should certainly cry out. I should not say that it is not worth whil_o yell and feel pain because I have but a fortnight to live.
  • "But is it true that I have but a fortnight of life left to me? I know I tol_ome of my friends that Doctor B. had informed me that this was the case; bu_ now confess that I lied; B. has not even seen me. However, a week ago, _alled in a medical student, Kislorodoff, who is a Nationalist, an Atheist, and a Nihilist, by conviction, and that is why I had him. I needed a man wh_ould tell me the bare truth without any humbug or ceremony—and so h_id—indeed, almost with pleasure (which I thought was going a little too far).
  • "Well, he plumped out that I had about a month left me; it might be a littl_ore, he said, under favourable circumstances, but it might also b_onsiderably less. According to his opinion I might die quit_uddenly—tomorrow, for instance—there had been such cases. Only a day or tw_ince a young lady at Colomna who suffered from consumption, and was about o_ par with myself in the march of the disease, was going out to market to bu_rovisions, when she suddenly felt faint, lay down on the sofa, gasped once, and died.
  • "Kislorodoff told me all this with a sort of exaggerated devil-may-car_egligence, and as though he did me great honour by talking to me so, becaus_t showed that he considered me the same sort of exalted Nihilistic being a_imself, to whom death was a matter of no consequence whatever, either way.
  • "At all events, the fact remained—a month of life and no more! That he i_ight in his estimation I am absolutely persuaded.
  • "It puzzles me much to think how on earth the prince guessed yesterday that _ave had bad dreams. He said to me, 'Your excitement and dreams will fin_elief at Pavlofsk.' Why did he say 'dreams'? Either he is a doctor, or els_e is a man of exceptional intelligence and wonderful powers of observation.
  • (But that he is an 'idiot,' at bottom there can be no doubt whatever.) It s_appened that just before he arrived I had a delightful little dream; one of _ind that I have hundreds of just now. I had fallen asleep about an hou_efore he came in, and dreamed that I was in some room, not my own. It was _arge room, well furnished, with a cupboard, chest of drawers, sofa, and m_ed, a fine wide bed covered with a silken counterpane. But I observed in th_oom a dreadful-looking creature, a sort of monster. It was a little like _corpion, but was not a scorpion, but far more horrible, and especially so, because there are no creatures anything like it in nature, and because it ha_ppeared to me for a purpose, and bore some mysterious signification. I looke_t the beast well; it was brown in colour and had a shell; it was a crawlin_ind of reptile, about eight inches long, and narrowed down from the head, which was about a couple of fingers in width, to the end of the tail, whic_ame to a fine point. Out of its trunk, about a couple of inches below it_ead, came two legs at an angle of forty-five degrees, each about three inche_ong, so that the beast looked like a trident from above. It had eight har_eedle-like whiskers coming out from different parts of its body; it wen_long like a snake, bending its body about in spite of the shell it wore, an_ts motion was very quick and very horrible to look at. I was dreadfull_fraid it would sting me; somebody had told me, I thought, that it wa_enomous; but what tormented me most of all was the wondering and wondering a_o who had sent it into my room, and what was the mystery which I felt i_ontained.
  • "It hid itself under the cupboard and under the chest of drawers, and crawle_nto the corners. I sat on a chair and kept my legs tucked under me. Then th_east crawled quietly across the room and disappeared somewhere near my chair.
  • I looked about for it in terror, but I still hoped that as my feet were safel_ucked away it would not be able to touch me.
  • "Suddenly I heard behind me, and about on a level with my head, a sort o_attling sound. I turned sharp round and saw that the brute had crawled up th_all as high as the level of my face, and that its horrible tail, which wa_oving incredibly fast from side to side, was actually touching my hair! _umped up—and it disappeared. I did not dare lie down on my bed for fear i_hould creep under my pillow. My mother came into the room, and some friend_f hers. They began to hunt for the reptile and were more composed than I was; they did not seem to be afraid of it. But they did not understand as I did.
  • "Suddenly the monster reappeared; it crawled slowly across the room and mad_or the door, as though with some fixed intention, and with a slow movemen_hat was more horrible than ever.
  • "Then my mother opened the door and called my dog, Norma. Norma was a grea_ewfoundland, and died five years ago.
  • "She sprang forward and stood still in front of the reptile as if she had bee_urned to stone. The beast stopped too, but its tail and claws still move_bout. I believe animals are incapable of feeling supernatural fright—if _ave been rightly informed,—but at this moment there appeared to me to b_omething more than ordinary about Norma's terror, as though it must b_upernatural; and as though she felt, just as I did myself, that this reptil_as connected with some mysterious secret, some fatal omen.
  • "Norma backed slowly and carefully away from the brute, which followed her, creeping deliberately after her as though it intended to make a sudden dar_nd sting her.
  • "In spite of Norma's terror she looked furious, though she trembled in all he_imbs. At length she slowly bared her terrible teeth, opened her great re_aws, hesitated—took courage, and seized the beast in her mouth. It seemed t_ry to dart out of her jaws twice, but Norma caught at it and half swallowe_t as it was escaping. The shell cracked in her teeth; and the tail and leg_tuck out of her mouth and shook about in a horrible manner. Suddenly Norm_ave a piteous whine; the reptile had bitten her tongue. She opened her mout_ide with the pain, and I saw the beast lying across her tongue, and out o_ts body, which was almost bitten in two, came a hideous white-lookin_ubstance, oozing out into Norma's mouth; it was of the consistency of _rushed black-beetle just then I awoke and the prince entered the room."
  • "Gentlemen!" said Hippolyte, breaking off here, "I have not done yet, but i_eems to me that I have written down a great deal here that i_nnecessary,—this dream—"
  • "You have indeed!" said Gania.
  • "There is too much about myself, I know, but—" As Hippolyte said this his fac_ore a tired, pained look, and he wiped the sweat off his brow.
  • "Yes," said Lebedeff, "you certainly think a great deal too much abou_ourself."
  • "Well—gentlemen—I do not force anyone to listen! If any of you are unwillin_o sit it out, please go away, by all means!"
  • "He turns people out of a house that isn't his own," muttered Rogojin.
  • "Suppose we all go away?" said Ferdishenko suddenly.
  • Hippolyte clutched his manuscript, and gazing at the last speaker wit_littering eyes, said: "You don't like me at all!" A few laughed at this, bu_ot all.
  • "Hippolyte," said the prince, "give me the papers, and go to bed like _ensible fellow. We'll have a good talk tomorrow, but you really mustn't go o_ith this reading; it is not good for you!"
  • "How can I? How can I?" cried Hippolyte, looking at him in amazement.
  • "Gentlemen! I was a fool! I won't break off again. Listen, everyone who want_o!"
  • He gulped down some water out of a glass standing near, bent over the table, in order to hide his face from the audience, and recommenced.
  • "The idea that it is not worth while living for a few weeks took possession o_e a month ago, when I was told that I had four weeks to live, but onl_artially so at that time. The idea quite overmastered me three days since, that evening at Pavlofsk. The first time that I felt really impressed wit_his thought was on the terrace at the prince's, at the very moment when I ha_aken it into my head to make a last trial of life. I wanted to see people an_rees (I believe I said so myself), I got excited, I maintained Burdovsky'_ights, 'my neighbour!'—I dreamt that one and all would open their arms, an_mbrace me, that there would be an indescribable exchange of forgivenes_etween us all! In a word, I behaved like a fool, and then, at that very sam_nstant, I felt my 'last conviction.' I ask myself now how I could have waite_ix months for that conviction! I knew that I had a disease that spares n_ne, and I really had no illusions; but the more I realized my condition, th_ore I clung to life; I wanted to live at any price. I confess I might wel_ave resented that blind, deaf fate, which, with no apparent reason, seemed t_ave decided to crush me like a fly; but why did I not stop at resentment? Wh_id I begin to live, knowing that it was not worthwhile to begin? Why did _ttempt to do what I knew to be an impossibility? And yet I could not eve_ead a book to the end; I had given up reading. What is the good of reading, what is the good of learning anything, for just six months? That thought ha_ade me throw aside a book more than once.
  • "Yes, that wall of Meyer's could tell a tale if it liked. There was no spot o_ts dirty surface that I did not know by heart. Accursed wall! and yet it i_earer to me than all the Pavlofsk trees!—That is—it WOULD be dearer if i_ere not all the same to me, now!
  • "I remember now with what hungry interest I began to watch the lives of othe_eople—interest that I had never felt before! I used to wait for Colia'_rrival impatiently, for I was so ill myself, then, that I could not leave th_ouse. I so threw myself into every little detail of news, and took so muc_nterest in every report and rumour, that I believe I became a regular gossip!
  • I could not understand, among other things, how all these people—with so muc_ife in and before them—do not become RICH—and I don't understand it now. _emember being told of a poor wretch I once knew, who had died of hunger. _as almost beside myself with rage! I believe if I could have resuscitated hi_ would have done so for the sole purpose of murdering him!
  • "Occasionally I was so much better that I could go out; but the streets use_o put me in such a rage that I would lock myself up for days rather than g_ut, even if I were well enough to do so! I could not bear to see all thos_reoccupied, anxious-looking creatures continuously surging along the street_ast me! Why are they always anxious? What is the meaning of their eterna_are and worry? It is their wickedness, their perpetual detestabl_alice—that's what it is—they are all full of malice, malice!
  • "Whose fault is it that they are all miserable, that they don't know how t_ive, though they have fifty or sixty years of life before them? Why did tha_ool allow himself to die of hunger with sixty years of unlived life befor_im?
  • "And everyone of them shows his rags, his toil-worn hands, and yells in hi_rath: 'Here are we, working like cattle all our lives, and always as hungr_s dogs, and there are others who do not work, and are fat and rich!' Th_ternal refrain! And side by side with them trots along some wretched fello_ho has known better days, doing light porter's work from morn to night for _iving, always blubbering and saying that 'his wife died because he had n_oney to buy medicine with,' and his children dying of cold and hunger, an_is eldest daughter gone to the bad, and so on. Oh! I have no pity and n_atience for these fools of people. Why can't they be Rothschilds? Whose faul_s it that a man has not got millions of money like Rothschild? If he ha_ife, all this must be in his power! Whose fault is it that he does not kno_ow to live his life?
  • "Oh! it's all the same to me now—NOW! But at that time I would soak my pillo_t night with tears of mortification, and tear at my blanket in my rage an_ury. Oh, how I longed at that time to be turned out—ME, eighteen years old, poor, half-clothed, turned out into the street, quite alone, without lodging, without work, without a crust of bread, without relations, without a singl_cquaintance, in some large town—hungry, beaten (if you like), but in goo_ealth—and THEN I would show them—
  • "What would I show them?
  • "Oh, don't think that I have no sense of my own humiliation! I have suffere_lready in reading so far. Which of you all does not think me a fool at thi_oment—a young fool who knows nothing of life—forgetting that to live as _ave lived these last six months is to live longer than grey-haired old men.
  • Well, let them laugh, and say it is all nonsense, if they please. They may sa_t is all fairy-tales, if they like; and I have spent whole nights tellin_yself fairy-tales. I remember them all. But how can I tell fairy-tales now?
  • The time for them is over. They amused me when I found that there was not eve_ime for me to learn the Greek grammar, as I wanted to do. 'I shall die befor_ get to the syntax,' I thought at the first page—and threw the book under th_able. It is there still, for I forbade anyone to pick it up.
  • "If this 'Explanation' gets into anybody's hands, and they have patience t_ead it through, they may consider me a madman, or a schoolboy, or, mor_ikely, a man condemned to die, who thought it only natural to conclude tha_ll men, excepting himself, esteem life far too lightly, live it far to_arelessly and lazily, and are, therefore, one and all, unworthy of it. Well, I affirm that my reader is wrong again, for my convictions have nothing to d_ith my sentence of death. Ask them, ask any one of them, or all of them, wha_hey mean by happiness! Oh, you may be perfectly sure that if Columbus wa_appy, it was not after he had discovered America, but when he was discoverin_t! You may be quite sure that he reached the culminating point of hi_appiness three days before he saw the New World with his actual eyes, whe_is mutinous sailors wanted to tack about, and return to Europe! What did th_ew World matter after all? Columbus had hardly seen it when he died, and i_eality he was entirely ignorant of what he had discovered. The importan_hing is life—life and nothing else! What is any 'discovery' whatever compare_ith the incessant, eternal discovery of life?
  • "But what is the use of talking? I'm afraid all this is so commonplace that m_onfession will be taken for a schoolboy exercise—the work of some ambitiou_ad writing in the hope of his work 'seeing the light'; or perhaps my reader_ill say that 'I had perhaps something to say, but did not know how to expres_t.'
  • "Let me add to this that in every idea emanating from genius, or even in ever_erious human idea—born in the human brain—there always remains something—som_ediment—which cannot be expressed to others, though one wrote volumes an_ectured upon it for five-and-thirty years. There is always a something, _emnant, which will never come out from your brain, but will remain there wit_ou, and you alone, for ever and ever, and you will die, perhaps, withou_aving imparted what may be the very essence of your idea to a single livin_oul.
  • "So that if I cannot now impart all that has tormented me for the last si_onths, at all events you will understand that, having reached my 'las_onvictions,' I must have paid a very dear price for them. That is what _ished, for reasons of my own, to make a point of in this my 'Explanation.'
  • "But let me resume."