Text - "The Brothers Karamazov" Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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It happened that the old lady died soon after this, but she left the boys
in her will a thousand roubles each "for their instruction, and so that
all be spent on them exclusively, with the condition that it be so
portioned out as to last till they are twenty-one, for it is more than
adequate provision for such children. If other people think fit to throw
away their money, let them." I have not read the will myself, but I heard
there was something queer of the sort, very whimsically expressed. The
principal heir, Yefim Petrovitch Polenov, the Marshal of Nobility of the
province, turned out, however, to be an honest man. Writing to Fyodor
Pavlovitch, and discerning at once that he could extract nothing from him
for his children's education (though the latter never directly refused but
only procrastinated as he always did in such cases, and was, indeed, at
times effusively sentimental), Yefim Petrovitch took a personal interest
in the orphans. He became especially fond of the younger, Alexey, who
lived for a long while as one of his family. I beg the reader to note this
from the beginning. And to Yefim Petrovitch, a man of a generosity and
humanity rarely to be met with, the young people were more indebted for
their education and bringing up than to any one. He kept the two thousand
roubles left to them by the general's widow intact, so that by the time
they came of age their portions had been doubled by the accumulation of
interest. He educated them both at his own expense, and certainly spent
far more than a thousand roubles upon each of them. I won't enter into a
detailed account of their boyhood and youth, but will only mention a few
of the most important events. Of the elder, Ivan, I will only say that he
grew into a somewhat morose and reserved, though far from timid boy. At
ten years old he had realized that they were living not in their own home
but on other people's charity, and that their father was a man of whom it
was disgraceful to speak. This boy began very early, almost in his infancy
(so they say at least), to show a brilliant and unusual aptitude for
learning. I don't know precisely why, but he left the family of Yefim
Petrovitch when he was hardly thirteen, entering a Moscow gymnasium, and
boarding with an experienced and celebrated teacher, an old friend of
Yefim Petrovitch. Ivan used to declare afterwards that this was all due to
the "ardor for good works" of Yefim Petrovitch, who was captivated by the
idea that the boy's genius should be trained by a teacher of genius. But
neither Yefim Petrovitch nor this teacher was living when the young man
finished at the gymnasium and entered the university. As Yefim Petrovitch
had made no provision for the payment of the tyrannical old lady's legacy,
which had grown from one thousand to two, it was delayed, owing to
formalities inevitable in Russia, and the young man was in great straits
for the first two years at the university, as he was forced to keep
himself all the time he was studying. It must be noted that he did not
even attempt to communicate with his father, perhaps from pride, from
contempt for him, or perhaps from his cool common sense, which told him
that from such a father he would get no real assistance. However that may
have been, the young man was by no means despondent and succeeded in
getting work, at first giving sixpenny lessons and afterwards getting
paragraphs on street incidents into the newspapers under the signature of
"Eye-Witness." These paragraphs, it was said, were so interesting and
piquant that they were soon taken. This alone showed the young man's
practical and intellectual superiority over the masses of needy and
unfortunate students of both sexes who hang about the offices of the
newspapers and journals, unable to think of anything better than
everlasting entreaties for copying and translations from the French.
Having once got into touch with the editors Ivan Fyodorovitch always kept
up his connection with them, and in his latter years at the university he
published brilliant reviews of books upon various special subjects, so
that he became well known in literary circles. But only in his last year
he suddenly succeeded in attracting the attention of a far wider circle of
readers, so that a great many people noticed and remembered him. It was
rather a curious incident. When he had just left the university and was
preparing to go abroad upon his two thousand roubles, Ivan Fyodorovitch
published in one of the more important journals a strange article, which
attracted general notice, on a subject of which he might have been
supposed to know nothing, as he was a student of natural science. The
article dealt with a subject which was being debated everywhere at the
time - the position of the ecclesiastical courts. After discussing several
opinions on the subject he went on to explain his own view. What was most
striking about the article was its tone, and its unexpected conclusion.
Many of the Church party regarded him unquestioningly as on their side.
And yet not only the secularists but even atheists joined them in their
applause. Finally some sagacious persons opined that the article was
nothing but an impudent satirical burlesque. I mention this incident
particularly because this article penetrated into the famous monastery in
our neighborhood, where the inmates, being particularly interested in the
question of the ecclesiastical courts, were completely bewildered by it.
Learning the author's name, they were interested in his being a native of
the town and the son of "that Fyodor Pavlovitch." And just then it was
that the author himself made his appearance among us.

Why Ivan Fyodorovitch had come amongst us I remember asking myself at the
time with a certain uneasiness. This fateful visit, which was the first
step leading to so many consequences, I never fully explained to myself.
It seemed strange on the face of it that a young man so learned, so proud,
and apparently so cautious, should suddenly visit such an infamous house
and a father who had ignored him all his life, hardly knew him, never
thought of him, and would not under any circumstances have given him
money, though he was always afraid that his sons Ivan and Alexey would
also come to ask him for it. And here the young man was staying in the
house of such a father, had been living with him for two months, and they
were on the best possible terms. This last fact was a special cause of
wonder to many others as well as to me. Pyotr Alexandrovitch MiĆ¼sov, of
whom we have spoken already, the cousin of Fyodor Pavlovitch's first wife,
happened to be in the neighborhood again on a visit to his estate. He had
come from Paris, which was his permanent home. I remember that he was more
surprised than any one when he made the acquaintance of the young man, who
interested him extremely, and with whom he sometimes argued and not
without an inner pang compared himself in acquirements.

"He is proud," he used to say, "he will never be in want of pence; he has
got money enough to go abroad now. What does he want here? Every one can
see that he hasn't come for money, for his father would never give him
any. He has no taste for drink and dissipation, and yet his father can't
do without him. They get on so well together!"

That was the truth; the young man had an unmistakable influence over his
father, who positively appeared to be behaving more decently and even
seemed at times ready to obey his son, though often extremely and even
spitefully perverse.

It was only later that we learned that Ivan had come partly at the request
of, and in the interests of, his elder brother, Dmitri, whom he saw for
the first time on this very visit, though he had before leaving Moscow
been in correspondence with him about an important matter of more concern
to Dmitri than himself. What that business was the reader will learn fully
in due time. Yet even when I did know of this special circumstance I still
felt Ivan Fyodorovitch to be an enigmatic figure, and thought his visit
rather mysterious.

I may add that Ivan appeared at the time in the light of a mediator
between his father and his elder brother Dmitri, who was in open quarrel
with his father and even planning to bring an action against him.

The family, I repeat, was now united for the first time, and some of its
members met for the first time in their lives. The younger brother,
Alexey, had been a year already among us, having been the first of the
three to arrive. It is of that brother Alexey I find it most difficult to
speak in this introduction. Yet I must give some preliminary account of
him, if only to explain one queer fact, which is that I have to introduce
my hero to the reader wearing the cassock of a novice. Yes, he had been
for the last year in our monastery, and seemed willing to be cloistered
there for the rest of his life.