(continued from The Grand Inquisitor
, this being it's second installment)
(just a little note, there are no paragraph breaks, that's not my fault. Dostoyevsky
was one of those guys that could just do that, go for chapters in a single paragraph.)
'Oh, that day you understood that by taking only one step, the step of casting yourself down, you would instantly have tempted the Lord and would have lost all faith in him, and would have dashed yourself to pieces against the earth which you had come to save, and the clever Spirit which had tempted you would rejoice. But, I repeat, are there many such as you? And could you really have supposed, even for a moment, that people would have the strength to resist such a temptation
? Is human nature really of a kind as to be able to reject the miracle, and to make do, at such terrible moments of life, moments of the most terrible fundamental and tormenting spiritual questions
, with only a free
decision of the heart
? Oh, you knew that your great deed would be preserved in the Scriptures, would attain to the depth of the ages and to the outermost limits of the earth, and you hoped that, in following you, man too would make do with God
, not requiring a miracle
. But you did not know that no sooner did man reject the miracle than he would at once reject God also, for man does not seek God so much as miracles. And since man is not strong enough to get by without the miracle, he creates new miracles for himself, his own now, and bows down before the miracle of the quack and the witchcraft of the peasant woman, even though he is a mutineer, heretic
a hundred times over. You did not come down from the Cross
when they shouted to you, mocking and teasing you: 'Come down from the Cross
and we will believe that it is You.' You did not come down because you thirsted for a faith that was free, not miraculous. You thirsted for a love
that was free, not for the servile ecstasies
of the slave
before the might that has inspired him with dread
once and for all. But even here you had too high an opinion of human beings, for of couse, they are slaves, though they are created mutineers. Look around you and judge
, now that fifteen centuries have passed, take a glance at them: which of them have you borne up to yourself? Upon my word, man is created weaker and more base than you supposed! Can he, can he perform the deeds of which you are capable? In respecting him so much you acted as though you ceased to have compassion
for him, because you demanded too much of him --- and yet who was this? The very one you had loved more than yourself! Had you respected him less you would have demanded of him less, and that would have been closer to love
, for his burden would gave been lighter. He is weak and dishonourable. So what if now he mutinees against your power
and is proud of his mutiny
? This is the pride of a small boy, a schoolboy. These are little children, mutinying in class and driving out thier teacher. But the ecstasy
of the little boys will come to an end, it will cost them dearly. They will overthrow the temples and soak the earth in blood.
But at last the stupid children will realize that even though they are mutineers, they are feeble mutineers, who are unable to sustain their mutiny. In flood
s of stupid tears they will at last recognize that the intention of the one who created them mutineers was undoubtedly to make fun of them. They will say this in despair, and their words will be blashpemy
, which will make them even more unhappy, for human nature cannot endure blashpemy and in the end invariably takes revenge
for it. Thus, restlessness, confusion
--- those are the lot of human beings now, after all that you underwent for the sake of their freedom! Your great prophet
says in an allegorical vision
that he saw all those who took part in the first resurrection
and that of each tribe there were twelve thousand. But if there were so many of them, they cannot have been human beings, but gods
. They had borne your Cross, they had borne decades in the hungry and barren wilderness
, living on roots and locusts
--- and of course, it goes without saying that you may point with pride to those children of freedom, of a love that is free, of the free and magnificent sacrifice
they have made in your name. Remember, however, that there were only a few thousand of them, and those were gods --- but what about the rest? And in what way are the other weak human beings
to blame for not having been able to bear the same things as the mighty? In what way is the weak soul
to blame for not having the strength to accomodate such terrible gifts? And indeed, did you really only come to the chosen ones
and for the chosen one
s? But if that is so, then there is a mystery
there and it is not for us to comprehend it. And if there is a mystery, then we were within our rights to propagate that mystery and teach them that it was not the free decision of their hearts and not love that mattered, but the mystery, which they must obey blindly, even in opposition to their conscience
s. And that was what we did. We corrected your great deed and founded it upon miracle
. And people were glad that they had once been together into a flock and that at last from their hearts had been removed such a terrible gift, which had brought them so much torment. Were we right, to teach and act thus
, would you say? Did we not love mankind
, when we so humbly admitted his helplessness, lightening his burden with love and allowing his feeble nature
, but with our permission? Why have you come to get in our way now? And why do you gaze at me so silently and sincerely with those meek eyes of yours? Why do you not get angry? I do not want your love, because I myself do not love you. And what is there I can conceal from you? Do you think I don't know who I'm talking to? What I have to say to you is familiar already, I can read it in your eyes. And do you think I would conceal our secret
from you? Perhaps it is my own lips you want to hear it from --- then listen: we are not with you, but with him
, there is our secret! We have long been not with you, but with him
, eight centuries now. It is now just eight centuries since we took from him that which you in indignation rejected, that final gift he offered you, when he showed you all the kingdoms of the world: we took from him Rome
and the sword of Caesar
and announced that we alone were the kings of the world
, the only kings, even though to this day we have not succeeded in bringing our task to its complete fulfillment. But whose is the blame for that? Oh, this task is as yet only at its beginning, but it has begun. The world
will have to wait for its accomplishment for a long time yet, and it will have to suffer much, but we shall reach our goal and shall be Caesars and then we shall give thought to the universal happiness of human beings. And yet even back then you could have taken the sword of Caesar. Why did you reject that final gift? Had you accepted that third counsel of the mighty Spirit, you would have supplied everything that man seeks in the world, that is: someone to bow down before, someone to entrust one's conscience to, and a way of at last uniting everyone into an undisputed, general and consensual ant-heap, for the need of universal union is the third and final torment of human beings. Invariably mankind as a whole has striven to organize itself on a universal basis. Many great peoples have there been, and peoples with great histories, but the loftier those peoples, the more unhappy, for more acutely than others have they been conscious of the need for a universal union of human beings. The great conquerors, the Tamburlaine
s and Genghis Khan
s, hurtled like a whirlwind through the world, striving to conquer the universe
, but even they, though they did so unconsciously, expressed the same great need of mankind for universal and general union. Had you accepted the world and the purple of Caesar
, you would have founded a universal kiingdom and given men universal peace. For who shall reign over human beings if not those who reign over their consciences and in whose hands are their loaves? Well, we took the sword of Caesar
, and of course, in taking it rejected you and followed him
. Oh, centuries yet will pass of the excesses of the free intellect, of their science and anthropophagy
, because, having begun to erect their Tower of Babel without us, they will end in anthropophagy. But then the beast will come crawling to our feet and lick them and sprinkle them with the bloody tears from his eyes. And we will sit upon the beast and raise the cup, and on it will be written: MYSTERY
! But then and only then for human beings will begin the kingdom of peace and happiness
. You are proud of your chosen ones, but all you have are chosen ones, and we shall bring rest to all. And there is more: how many of those chosen ones, of the mighty, who might have become chosen ones, at last grew tired of waiting for you, and have transferred and will yet transfer the energies
of their spirit
s and the fervour of their hearts to a different sphere
and end by raising their free
banner against you. But it was you yourself who raised that banner. In our hands, though, everyone will be happy and will neither mutiny nor destroy one another any more, as they do in your freedom, wherever one turns. Oh, we shall persuade them that they will only become free when they renounce their freedom for us and submit to us. And what does it matter whether we are right or whether we are telling a lie? They themselves will be persuaded we are right for they will remember to what horrors of slavery and confusion
your freedom has brought them. Freedom, the free intellect and science will lead them into such labyrinths and bring them up against such miracles and unfathomable mysteries that some of them, the disobedient and ferocious ones, will destroy themselves; others, disobedient and feeble, will destroy one another, while a third group, those who are left, the feeble and unhappy ones, will come crawling to our feet, and will cry out to us: 'Yes, you were right, you alone were masters of his secret, and we are returning to you, save us from ourselves.' Receiving loaves from us, of course, they will clearly see that what we have done is to take from them the loaves they won with their own hands in order to distribute it to them with out any miracles, they will see that we have not turned stones into loaves, but truly, more than of the bread, they will be glad of the fact that they are receiving it from our hands! For they will be only too aware that in former times, when we were not there, the very loaves they won used merely to turn to stones in their hands, and yet now they have returned to us those very same stones have turned back to loaves again. All too well, all too well will they appreciate what it means to subordinate themselves to us once and for all! And until human beings
understand that they will be unhappy. Who contributed most of all to that lack of understanding, tell me? Who split up the flock and scattered it over the unknown ways? But the flock will once more gather and once more submit and this time it will be for ever. Then we shall give them a quiet, reconciled happiness, the happiness of feeble creatures, such as they were created. Oh, we shall persuade them at last not to be proud, for you bore them up and by doing so taught them to be proud; we shall prove to them that they are feeble, that they are merely patheic children, but that childish happiness is sweeter than all the others
. They will grow fearful and look at us and press themselves to us in their fear, like nestling to their mother. They will marvel at us and regard us with awe and be proud that we are so powerful and so clever as to be able to pacify such a turbulent, thousand-million-headed flock. They will feebly tremble with fright before our wrath, their minds will grow timid, their eyes will brim with tears, like those of women and children, but just as lightly at a nod from us will they pass over into cheerfulness and laughter, radiant joy and happy children's songs. Yes, we shall make them work, but in their hours of freedom from work we shall arrange their lives like a childish game, with childish songs, in chorus, with innocent dances. Oh, we shall permit them sin
, too, they are weak and powerless, and they will love us like children for letting them sin. We shall tell them that every sin can be redeemed as long as it is committed with our leave; we are allowing them to sin because we love them, and as for the punishment
for those sins, very well, we shall take it upon ourselves. And we shall take it upon ourselves, and they will worship
us as benefactors who have assumed responsibility for their sins before God. And they shall have no secrets from us. We shall permit them or forbid them to live with their wives or paramours, to have or not to have children --- all according to the degree of their obedience -- and they will submit to us with cheeffulness and joy. The most agonizing secrets of their consciences --- all, all will they bring to us, and we shall resolve it all, and they will attend our decision with joy, because it will deliver them from the great anxiety and fearsome present torments of free and individual decision. And all will be happy, all the millions of beings, except for the hundred thousand who govern them. For only we, we, who preserve the mystery, only we shall be unhappy. There will be thousands upon millions of happy babes, and a hundred thousand martyrs
who have taken upon themselves the curse of the knowlegde of good and evil
. Quietly they will die, quietly they will fade away in your name and beyond the tomb
will find only death
. But we shall preserve the secret and for the sake of their happiness will lure them with a heavenly and eternal reward. For if there were anything in the other world
, it goes without saying that it would not be for the likes of them. It is said and prophesied that you will come and prevail anew, will come with your chosen, your proud and mighty ones, but we will say that they have saved only themselves, while we have saved all. It is said that the whore who sits on the beast holding her MYSTERY will be disgraced, that the weak will rise up in mutiny again, that they will tear her purple and render naked her 'desolate' body. But then I shall arise and draw your attention to the thousands upon millions of happy babes, who know not sin. And we, who for the sake of their happiness have taken their sins upon us, we shall stand before you and say: 'Judge us if you can and dare.'
You may as well know that I am not afraid of you. You may as well know that I too was in the wilderness
, that I too nourished myself on roots and locusts, that I too blessed the freedom with which you have blessed human beings, I too prepared myself to join the number of your chosen ones, the number of the strong and the mighty, with a yearning to 'fulfil the number'. But I came to my senses again and was unwilling to serve madness
. I returned and adhered to the crowd of those who have corrected your great deed
. I left the proud and returned to the humble for the sake of their happiness. What I say to you will come to pass, and our kingdom shall be accomplished. I tell you again: tomorrow you will see that obedient flock, which at the first nod of my head will rush to rake up the hot embers to the bonfire on which I am going to burn you for having come to get in our way. For if there ever was one who deserved our bonfire more than anyone else, it is you. Tomorrow I am going to burn you. Dixie
paused. He had grown flushed from talking, and talking with passion
; now that he had stopped, however, he suddenly smiled.
, who had listened to him all this time without saying anything, though towards the end, in a state of extreme agitation, he had several times attempted to interrupt the flow of his brother's speech, but had evidently held himself in check, suddenly began to speak as though he had leapt into motion.
'But . . . that is preposterous!' he exclaimed, turning red. 'Your poem is a eullogy of Jesus
, not a vilification of him, as you intended it. And who will listen to you on the subject of freedom
? That is a fine way, a fine way to understand it! That is not how it's understood in the Orthodox faith
. That's Rome
, and not even Rome completely, either, that isn't true --- it's the worst elements in Catholicism
, the inquisitors, the Jesuits
! . . . And in any case, a fantastic character like your Inquisitor could not possibly have existed. What are these sins of human beings that have been taken by others upon themselves? Who are these beareers of mystery who have taken upon themselves some kind of curse
for the sake of human happiness? Whoever heard of such people? We know the Jesuits, bad things are said of them, but they're not as they appear in your poem, are they? They're not all like that, in no way like that . . . They are simply a Roman army for a future universal earthly kingdom, with an emperor --- the Pontiff of Rome at their head . . . That is their ideal, but without any mysteries or exalted melancholy . . . The most straightforward desire
, for sordid earthly bless
ings, for enslavement
. . . like a future law of serf-ownership, with themselves as the owners . . . that's all they care about. Why, they probably don't even believe in God
. Your suffering Inquisitor is only a fantasy
. . .'
'Hold on, hold on,' Ivan said, laughing. 'What a temper you're in. A fantasy, you say --- very well! All right, it's a fantasy. But wait a moment: do you really suppose that the whole of that Catholic
movement of recent centuries is nothing but a desire for power in order to attain earthly comfort? That wouldn't be something Father Paisy taught you, would it?'
'No, no, on the contrary, Father Paisy did actually once say something that was slightly similar to your idea . . . but of course it wasn't the same, not the same at all,' Alyosha suddenly remembered.
'A valuable piece of information, nevertheless, in spite of your, "not the same at all". The question I want to ask you is why have your Jesuits and inquisitors joined together for the sole purpose of attaining wretched material comfort? Why may there not be among them a single martyr
, tormented by a great Weltschmerz
and loving mankind? Look: suppose that out of all those who desire nothing but sordid material comfort there is just one --- just one, like my aged Inquisitor --- who has himself eaten roots in the wilderness and raged like one possessed
as he conquered his flesh in order to make himself free and perfect, thugh all his life he has loved mankind
and has suddenly had his eyes opened and seen that there is not much moral beatitude in attaining perfect freedom if at the same time on is convinced that millions of the rest of God's creatures have been stitched together as a mere bad joke, that they will never have the strength to cope with their freedom, that from pathetic mutineers there will never grow giants
to complete the building of the Tower, that not for such geese did the great idealist dream of his harmony. Having understood all that, he returned and joined forces with . . . the clever people
. Could that really not happen?'
'A fine lot of people he joined! How can one call them clever?' Alyosha exclaimed, almost reckless in his passion
. 'They have no intelligence, nor do they have any mysteries or secrets . . . Except perhaps atheism
--- that is their only secret. Your Inquisitor doesn't believe in God, that's his whole secret!'
'So what if even that is true? At last you've realized it! And indeed it is true, that is indeed the only secret, but is that not suffering, even for a man such as he, who has wasted his entire life on a heroic feat in the wilderness, and has not been cured of his love for mankind? In the decline of his days he becomes clearly persuaded that only the counsel of the terrible Spirit could in any way reconstitute in tolerable order the feeble mutineers, "imperfect, trial creatures, who were created as a bad joke". And lo, persuaded of this, he sees that it is necessary to proceed according to the indication of the clever Spirit, the terrible Spirit of death
, and to such end accept deceit and falsehood and lead people consciously to death and destruction
and deceive them moreover all of the way, so that they do not notice whither they are being led, so that at least on the way those pathetic blind creatures shall believe themsleves happy. And note that it is deceit in the name of the One in whose ideal the old man had all his life so passionately believed! Is that not a misfortune? And even if there were only one such man at the head of this entire army, "thirsting for power for the sake of mere sordid earthly blessings", then would not one such man be enough to produce a tragedy
? Not only that: one such man, standing at their head, would be enough in order to establish at last the whole guiding idea of the Roman cause with all its armies and Jesuits, the loftiest idea of that cause. I declare to you outright that I firmly believe that these unique men have never been hard to find among those who stand at the head of the movement. Who can say --- perhaps there have been such unique men even among the Roman pontiffs? Who can say --- perhaps that accursed old man who loved mankind with such a stubborn, original love exists even now in the form of a whole crowd of such unique old men and not by mere accident but as a secret alliance, formed long ago for the preservation of the mystery, for its preservation from feeble and unhappy human beings, in order to make them happy. That is certainly the case, and must be so. I fancy even among the Masons
there is something of the same sort of mystery at the basis of their movement and that the Catholics
hate the Freemasons
so much because they see them as rivals, a division of the unity of the idea, while there must be one flock and one shepherd . . . As a matter of fact, in defending my thesis like this, I feel like an author who is unable to withstand your criticism. Enough of this.'
'I think you are a Freemason yourself!' Alyosha suddenly let out. 'You don't believe in God,' he added, this time with extreme sorrow. It seemed to him, moreover, that his brother was gazing at him with mockery. 'How does your poem end?'
'I was going to end it like this: when the Inquisitor falls silent, he waits for a certain amount of time to hear what his Captive will say in response. He finds His silence difficult to bear. He has seen that the Prisoner has listened to him all this time with quiet emotion, gazing straight into his eyes and evidently not wishing to raise any objection. The old man would like the Other to say something to him, even if it is bitter, terrible. But He suddenly draws near to the old man without saying anything and quietly kisses him on his bloodless, ninety-year-old lips. That is His only response. The old man shudders. Something has stirred at the corners of his mouth; he goes to the door, opens it and says to Him: "Go and do not come back . . . do not come back at all . . . ever . . . ever!" And he releases him into "the town's dark streets and squares." The Captive departs.'
'And the old man?'
'The kiss burns in his heart, but the old man remains with his former idea.'
'And you along with him, you too?' Alyosha exclaimed sadly. Ivan laughed.
'Oh, Alyosha, why, you know, it's nonsense --- it's just an incoherent poema
by an incoherent student who has never so much as put two lines of verse to a paper. Why are you taking it so seriously? Surely you don't think that now I shall go straight there, to the Jesuits, in order to join the crowd of people who are correcting His great deed? Oh Lord
, what do I care about that? I mean, I told you: all I want to do is hold out until I'm thirty, and then --- dash the cup to the floor!'
'And the sticky leaf-buds, and the beloved tombs, and the blue sky, and the woman you love? How are you going to live, what are you going to love them with?' Alyosha exclaimed sadly. 'With a hell
like that in your breast and your head, is it possible? No, of course you're going to join them . . . and if you don't, you'll kill yourself
, you won't be able to endure!'
'There is a power
that can endure everything!' Ivan said, with a cold, ironic smile now.
'The Karamazovian power . . . the power of Karamazovian baseness.'
'You mean, to drown in depravity
, to crush the life from your soul
, is that it, is that it?'
'Possibly that too . . . Only perhaps when I'm thirty, I shall escape, and then . . .'
'But how will you escape? With what means will you escape? With your ideas it's impossible.'
'Again, the Karamazov
'So that "all things are lawful"? All things are lawful, is that what you mean, is that it?'
Ivan frowned and suddenly turned strangely pale.
'Ah, you've got hold of the little remark I made yesterday at which Miusov took such offence . . . and which brother Dmitry
was so naïve as to butt in and repeat? he said, smiling a crooked smile. 'Yes, perhaps: "all things are lawful", since the remark has been made. I do not disown it. And dear Mitya's version of it is not so bad either.'
Alyosha stared at him without saying anything.
'In leaving, brother, I had imagined that in all the world I have only you,' Ivan said suddenly, with unexpected emotion, 'but now I see that in your heart there is no room for me, my dear hermit. I do not disown the formula "all things are lawful", but, I mean, are you going to disown me because of it --- eh? eh?'
Alyosha rose, walked over to him, and without saying anything kissed him quietly on the lips.
'Literary thieving!' Ivan exclaimed, suddenly passing into a kind of ecstasy
. 'You stole that from my poema
! But never mind, I thank you. Come Alyosha, let us go, it is time both for you and for me.'
The Grand Inquisitor
from The Brothers Karamazov
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky