"The worst of it is they don't disguise it; they don't care to stand on ceremony!
And how if you didn't know me at all, did you come to talk to Nikodim Fomitch about
me? So they didn't care to hide that they are tracking me like a pack of dogs. They
simply spit in my face." He was shaking with rage. "Come, strike me openly, don't
play with me like a cat with a mouse. It's hardly civil, Porfiry Petrovitch, but
perhaps I won't allow it! I shall get up and throw the whole truth in your ugly
faces, and you'll see how I despise you." He could hardly breathe. "And what if
it's only my fancy? What if I am mistaken, and through inexperience I get angry
and don't keep up my nasty part? Perhaps it's all unintentional. All their phrases
are the usual ones, but there is something about them…. It all might be said, but
there is something. Why did he say bluntly, 'With her'? Why did Zametov add that
I spoke artfully? Why do they speak in that tone? Yes, the tone…. Razumihin is sitting
here, why does he see nothing? That innocent blockhead never does see anything!
Feverish again! Did Porfiry wink at me just now? Of course it's nonsense! What could
he wink for? Are they trying to upset my nerves or are they teasing me? Either it's
ill fancy or they know! Even Zametov is rude…. Is Zametov rude? Zametov has changed
his mind. I foresaw he would change his mind! He is at home here, while it's my
first visit. Porfiry does not consider him a visitor; sits with his back to him.
They're as thick as thieves, no doubt, over me! Not a doubt they were talking about
me before we came. Do they know about the flat? If only they'd make haste! When
I said that I ran away to take a flat he let it pass…. I put that in cleverly about
a flat, it may be of use afterwards…. Delirious, indeed… ha-ha-ha! He knows all
about last night! He didn't know of my mother's arrival! The hag had written the
date on in pencil! You are wrong, you won't catch me! There are no facts… it's all
supposition! You produce facts! The flat even isn't a fact but delirium. I know
what to say to them…. Do they know about the flat? I won't go without finding out.
What did I come for? But my being angry now, maybe is a fact! Fool, how irritable
I am! Perhaps that's right; to play the invalid…. He is feeling me. He will try
to catch me. Why did I come?"
All this flashed like lightning through his mind.
Porfiry Petrovitch returned quickly. He became suddenly more jovial.
"Your party yesterday, brother, has left my head rather…. And I am out of sorts
altogether," he began in quite a different tone, laughing to Razumihin.
"Was it interesting? I left you yesterday at the most interesting point. Who
got the best of it?"
"Oh, no one, of course. They got on to everlasting questions, floated off into
"Only fancy, Rodya, what we got on to yesterday. Whether there is such a thing
as crime. I told you that we talked our heads off."
"What is there strange? It's an everyday social question," Raskolnikov answered
"The question wasn't put quite like that," observed Porfiry.
"Not quite, that's true," Razumihin agreed at once, getting warm and hurried
as usual. "Listen, Rodion, and tell us your opinion, I want to hear it. I was fighting
tooth and nail with them and wanted you to help me. I told them you were coming….
It began with the socialist doctrine. You know their doctrine; crime is a protest
against the abnormality of the social organization and nothing more, and nothing
more; no other causes admitted!…"
"You are wrong there," cried Porfiry Petrovitch; he was noticeably animated and
kept laughing as he looked at Razumihin which made him more excited than ever.
"Nothing is admitted," Razumihin interrupted with heat.
"I am not wrong. I'll show you their pamphlets. Everything with them is 'the
influence of environment,' and nothing else. Their favourite phrase! From which
it follows that, if society is normally organized, all crime will cease at once,
since there will be nothing to protest against and all men will become righteous
in one instant. Human nature is not taken into account, it is excluded, it's not
supposed to exist! They don't recognise that humanity, developing by a historical
living process, will become at last a normal society, but they believe that a social
system that has come out of some mathematical brain is going to organise all humanity
at once and make it just and sinless in an instant, quicker than any living process!
That's why they instinctively dislike history, 'nothing but ugliness and stupidity
in it,' and they explain it all as stupidity! That's why they so dislike the living
process of life; they don't want a living soul! The living soul demands life, the
soul won't obey the rules of mechanics, the soul is an object of suspicion, the
soul is retrograde! But what they want though it smells of death and can be made
of India-rubber, at least is not alive, has no will, is servile and won't revolt!
And it comes in the end to their reducing everything to the building of walls and
the planning of rooms and passages in a phalanstery! The phalanstery is ready, indeed,
but your human nature is not ready for the phalanstery– it wants life, it hasn't
completed its vital process, it's too soon for the graveyard! You can't skip over
nature by logic. Logic presupposes three possibilities, but there are millions!
Cut away a million, and reduce it all to the question of comfort! That's the easiest
solution of the problem! It's seductively clear and you musn't think about it. That's
the great thing, you mustn't think! The whole secret of life in two pages of print!"
"Now he is off, beating the drum! Catch hold of him, do!" laughed Porfiry. "Can
you imagine," he turned to Raskolnikov, "six people holding forth like that last
night, in one room, with punch as a preliminary! No, brother, you are wrong, environment
accounts for a great deal in crime; I can assure you of that."
"Oh, I know it does, but just tell me: a man of forty violates a child of ten;
was it environment drove him to it?"
"Well, strictly speaking, it did," Porfiry observed with noteworthy gravity;
"a crime of that nature may be very well ascribed to the influence of environment."
Razumihin was almost in a frenzy. "Oh, if you like," he roared. "I'll prove to
you that your white eyelashes may very well be ascribed to the Church of Ivan the
Great's being two hundred and fifty feet high, and I will prove it clearly, exactly,
progressively, and even with a Liberal tendency! I undertake to! Will you bet on
"Done! Let's hear, please, how he will prove it!"
"He is always humbugging, confound him," cried Razumihin, jumping up and gesticulating.
"What's the use of talking to you! He does all that on purpose; you don't know him,
Rodion! He took their side yesterday, simply to make fools of them. And the things
he said yesterday! And they were delighted! He can keep it up for a fortnight together.
Last year he persuaded us that he was going into a monastery: he stuck to it for
two months. Not long ago he took it into his head to declare he was going to get
married, that he had everything ready for the wedding. He ordered new clothes indeed.
We all began to congratulate him. There was no bride, nothing, all pure fantasy!"
"Ah, you are wrong! I got the clothes before. It was the new clothes in fact
that made me think of taking you in."
"Are you such a good dissembler?" Raskolnikov asked carelessly.
"You wouldn't have supposed it, eh? Wait a bit, I shall take you in, too. Ha-ha-ha!
No, I'll tell you the truth. All these questions about crime, environment, children,
recall to my mind an article of yours which interested me at the time. 'On Crime'…
or something of the sort, I forget the title, I read it with pleasure two months
ago in the Periodical Review."
"My article? In the Periodical Review?" Raskolnikov asked in astonishment. "I
certainly did write an article upon a book six months ago when I left the university,
but I sent it to the Weekly Review."
"But it came out in the Periodical."
"And the Weekly Review ceased to exist, so that's why it wasn't printed at the
"That's true; but when it ceased to exist, the Weekly Review was amalgamated
with the Periodical, and so your article appeared two months ago in the latter.
Didn't you know?"
Raskolnikov had not known.
"Why, you might get some money out of them for the article! What a strange person
you are! You lead such a solitary life that you know nothing of matters that concern
you directly. It's a fact, I assure you."
"Bravo, Rodya! I knew nothing about it either!" cried Razumihin. "I'll run to-day
to the reading-room and ask for the number. Two months ago? What was the date? It
doesn't matter though, I will find it. Think of not telling us!"
"How did you find out that the article was mine? It's only signed with an initial."
"I only learnt it by chance, the other day. Through the editor; I know him….
I was very much interested."
"It analysed, if I remember, the psychology of a criminal before and after the
"Yes, and you maintained that the perpetration of a crime is always accompanied
by illness. Very, very original, but… it was not that part of your article that
interested me so much, but an idea at the end of the article which I regret to say
you merely suggested without working it out clearly. There is, if you recollect,
a suggestion that there are certain persons who can… that is, not precisely are
able to, but have a perfect right to commit breaches of morality and crimes, and
that the law is not for them."
Raskolnikov smiled at the exaggerated and intentional distortion of his idea.
"What? What do you mean? A right to crime? But not because of the influence of
environment?" Razumihin inquired with some alarm even.
"No, not exactly because of it," answered Porfiry. "In his article all men are
divided into 'ordinary' and 'extraordinary.' Ordinary men have to live in submission,
have no right to transgress the law, because, don't you see, they are ordinary.
But extraordinary men have a right to commit any crime and to transgress the law
in any way, just because they are extraordinary. That was your idea, if I am not
"What do you mean? That can't be right?" Razumihin muttered in bewilderment.
Raskolnikov smiled again. He saw the point at once, and knew where they wanted
to drive him. He decided to take up the challenge.
"That wasn't quite my contention," he began simply and modestly. "Yet I admit
that you have stated it almost correctly; perhaps, if you like, perfectly so." (It
almost gave him pleasure to admit this.) "The only difference is that I don't contend
that extraordinary people are always bound to commit breaches of morals, as you
call it. In fact, I doubt whether such an argument could be published. I simply
hinted that an 'extraordinary' man has the right… that is not an official right,
but an inner right to decide in his own conscience to overstep… certain obstacles,
and only in case it is essential for the practical fulfilment of his idea (sometimes,
perhaps, of benefit to the whole of humanity). You say that my article isn't definite;
I am ready to make it as clear as I can. Perhaps I am right in thinking you want
me to; very well. I maintain that if the discoveries of Kepler and Newton could
not have been made known except by sacrificing the lives of one, a dozen, a hundred,
or more men, Newton would have had the right, would indeed have been in duty bound…
to eliminate the dozen or the hundred men for the sake of making his discoveries
known to the whole of humanity. But it does not follow from that that Newton had
a right to murder people right and left and to steal every day in the market. Then,
I remember, I maintain in my article that all… well, legislators and leaders of
men, such as Lycurgus, Solon, Mahomet, Napoleon, and so on, were all without exception
criminals, from the very fact that, making a new law, they transgressed the ancient
one, handed down from their ancestors and held sacred by the people, and they did
not stop short at bloodshed either, if that bloodshed– often of innocent persons
fighting bravely in defence of ancient law– were of use to their cause. It's remarkable,
in fact, that the majority, indeed, of these benefactors and leaders of humanity
were guilty of terrible carnage. In short, I maintain that all great men or even
men a little out of the common, that is to say capable of giving some new word,
must from their very nature be criminals– more or less, of course. Otherwise it's
hard for them to get out of the common rut; and to remain in the common rut is what
they can't submit to, from their very nature again, and to my mind they ought not,
indeed, to submit to it. You see that there is nothing particularly new in all that.
The same thing has been printed and read a thousand times before. As for my division
of people into ordinary and extraordinary, I acknowledge that it's somewhat arbitrary,
but I don't insist upon exact numbers. I only believe in my leading idea that men
are in general divided by a law of nature into two categories, inferior (ordinary),
that is, so to say, material that serves only to reproduce its kind, and men who
have the gift or the talent to utter a new word. There are, of course, innumerable
sub-divisions, but the distinguishing features of both categories are fairly well
marked. The first category, generally speaking, are men conservative in temperament
and law-abiding; they live under control and love to be controlled. To my thinking
it is their duty to be controlled, because that's their vocation, and there is nothing
humiliating in it for them. The second category all transgress the law; they are
destroyers or disposed to destruction according to their capacities. The crimes
of these men are of course relative and varied; for the most part they seek in very
varied ways the destruction of the present for the sake of the better. But if such
a one is forced for the sake of his idea to step over a corpse or wade through blood,
he can, I maintain, find within himself, in his conscience, a sanction for wading
through blood– that depends on the idea and its dimensions, note that. It's only
in that sense I speak of their right to crime in my article (you remember it began
with the legal question). There's no need for such anxiety, however; the masses
will scarcely ever admit this right, they punish them or hang them (more or less),
and in doing so fulfil quite justly their conservative vocation. But the same masses
set these criminals on a pedestal in the next generation and worship them (more
or less). The first category is always the man of the present, the second the man
of the future. The first preserve the world and people it, the second move the world
and lead it to its goal. Each class has an equal right to exist. In fact, all have
equal rights with me– and vive la guerre eternelle– till the New Jerusalem, of course!"