Chapter 3   -   The Medical Experts and a Pound of Nuts

    THE evidence of the medical experts, too, was of little use to the

prisoner. And it appeared later that Fetyukovitch had not reckoned

much upon it. The medical line of defence had only been taken up

through the insistence of Katerina Ivanovna, who had sent for a

celebrated doctor from Moscow on purpose. The case for the defence

could, of course, lose nothing by it and might, with luck, gain

something from it. There was, however, an element of comedy about

it, through the difference of opinion of the doctors. The medical

experts were the famous doctor from Moscow, our doctor, Herzenstube,

and the young doctor, Varvinsky. The two latter appeared also as

witnesses for the prosecution.

    The first to be called in the capacity of expert was Doctor

Herzenstube. He was a grey and bald old man of seventy, of middle

height and sturdy build. He was much esteemed and respected by

everyone in the town. He was a conscientious doctor and an excellent

and pious man, a Hernguter or Moravian brother, I am not quite sure

which. He had been living amongst us for many years and behaved with

wonderful dignity. He was a kind-hearted and humane man. He treated

the sick poor and peasants for nothing, visited them in their slums

and huts, and left money for medicine, but he was as obstinate as a

mule. If once he had taken an idea into his head, there was no shaking

it. Almost everyone in the town was aware, by the way, that the famous

doctor had, within the first two or three days of his presence among

us, uttered some extremely offensive allusions to Doctor Herzenstube's

qualifications. Though the Moscow doctor asked twenty-five roubles for

a visit, several people in the town were glad to take advantage of his

arrival, and rushed to consult him regardless of expense. All these

had, of course, been previously patients of Doctor Herzenstube, and

the celebrated doctor had criticised his treatment with extreme

harshness. Finally, he had asked the patients as soon as he saw

them, "Well, who has been cramming you with nostrums? Herzenstube?

He he!" Doctor Herzenstube, of course, heard all this, and now all the

three doctors made their appearance, one after another, to be


    Doctor Herzenstube roundly declared that the abnormality of the

prisoner's mental faculties was self-evident. Then giving his

grounds for this opinion, which I omit here, he added that the

abnormality was not only evident in many of the prisoner's actions

in the past, but was apparent even now at this very moment. When he

was asked to explain how it was apparent now at this moment, the old

doctor, with simple-hearted directness, pointed out that the

prisoner had "an extraordinary air, remarkable in the

circumstances"; that he had "marched in like a soldier, looking

straight before him, though it would have been more natural for him to

look to the left where, among the public, the ladies were sitting,

seeing that he was a great admirer of the fair sex and must be

thinking much of what the ladies are saying of him now," the old man

concluded in his peculiar language.

    I must add that he spoke Russian readily, but every phrase was

formed in German style, which did not, however, trouble him, for it

had always been a weakness of his to believe that he spoke Russian

perfectly, better indeed than Russians. And he was very fond of

using Russian proverbs, always declaring that the Russian proverbs

were the best and most expressive sayings in the whole world. I may

remark, too, that in conversation, through absent-mindedness he

often forgot the most ordinary words, which sometimes went out of

his head, though he knew them perfectly. The same thing happened,

though, when he spoke German, and at such times he always waved his

hand before his face as though trying to catch the lost word, and no

one could induce him to go on speaking till he had found the missing

word. His remark that the prisoner ought to have looked at the

ladies on entering roused a whisper of amusement in the audience.

All our ladies were very fond of our old doctor; they knew, too,

that having been all his life a bachelor and a religious man of

exemplary conduct, he looked upon women as lofty creatures. And so his

unexpected observation struck everyone as very queer.

    The Moscow doctor, being questioned in his turn, definitely and

emphatically repeated that he considered the prisoner's mental

condition abnormal in the highest degree. He talked at length and with

erudition of "aberration" and "mania," and argued that, from all the

facts collected, the prisoner had undoubtedly been in a condition of

aberration for several days before his arrest, and, if the crime had

been committed by him, it must, even if he were conscious of it,

have been almost involuntary, as he had not the power to control the

morbid impulse that possessed him.

    But apart from temporary aberration, the doctor diagnosed mania,

which promised, in his words, to lead to complete insanity in the

future. (It must be noted that I report this in my own words, the

doctor made use of very learned and professional language.) "All his

actions are in contravention of common sense and logic," he continued.

"Not to refer to what I have not seen, that is, the crime itself and

the whole catastrophe, the day before yesterday, while he was

talking to me, he had an unaccountably fixed look in his eye. He

laughed unexpectedly when there was nothing to laugh at. He showed

continual and inexplicable irritability, using strange words,

'Bernard!' 'Ethics!' and others equally inappropriate." But the doctor

detected mania, above all, in the fact that the prisoner could not

even speak of the three thousand roubles, of which he considered

himself to have been cheated, without extraordinary irritation, though

he could speak comparatively lightly of other misfortunes and

grievances. According to all accounts, he had even in the past,

whenever the subject of the three thousand roubles was touched on,

flown into a perfect frenzy, and yet he was reported to be a

disinterested and not grasping man.

    "As to the opinion of my learned colleague," the Moscow doctor

added ironically in conclusion "that the prisoner would, entering

the court, have naturally looked at the ladies and not straight before

him, I will only say that, apart from the playfulness of this

theory, it is radically unsound. For though I fully agree that the

prisoner, on entering the court where his fate will be decided,

would not naturally look straight before him in that fixed way, and

that that may really be a sign of his abnormal mental condition, at

the same time I maintain that he would naturally not look to the

left at the ladies, but, on the contrary, to the right to find his

legal adviser, on whose help all his hopes rest and on whose defence

all his future depends." The doctor expressed his opinion positively

and emphatically.

    But the unexpected pronouncement of Doctor Varvinsky gave the last

touch of comedy to the difference of opinion between the experts. In

his opinion the prisoner was now, and had been all along, in a

perfectly normal condition, and, although he certainly must have

been in a nervous and exceedingly excited state before his arrest,

this might have been due to several perfectly obvious causes,

jealousy, anger, continual drunkenness, and so on. But this nervous

condition would not involve the mental abberation of which mention had

just been made. As to the question whether the prisoner should have

looked to the left or to the right on entering the court, "in his

modest opinion," the prisoner would naturally look straight before him

on entering the court, as he had in fact done, as that was where the

judges, on whom his fate depended, were sitting. So that it was just

by looking straight before him that he showed his perfectly normal

state of mind at the present. The young doctor concluded his

"modest" testimony with some heat.

    "Bravo, doctor!" cried Mitya, from his seat, "just so!"

    Mitya, of course, was checked, but the young doctor's opinion

had a decisive influence on the judges and on the public, and, as

appeared afterwards, everyone agreed with him. But Doctor Herzenstube,

when called as a witness, was quite unexpectedly of use to Mitya. As

an old resident in the town, who had known the Karamazov family for

years, he furnished some facts of great value for the prosecution, and

suddenly, as though recalling something, he added:

    "But the poor young man might have had a very different life,

for he had a good heart both in childhood and after childhood, that

I know. But the Russian proverb says, 'If a man has one head, it's

good, but if another clever man comes to visit him, it would be better

still, for then there will be two heads and not only one."'

    "One head is good, but two are better," the prosecutor put in

impatiently. He knew the old man's habit of talking slowly and

deliberately, regardless of the impression he was making and of the

delay he was causing, and highly prizing his flat, dull and always

gleefully complacent German wit. The old man was fond of making jokes.

    "Oh, yes, that's what I say," he went on stubbornly. "One head

is good, but two are much better, but he did not meet another head

with wits, and his wits went. Where did they go? I've forgotten the

word." He went on, passing his hand before his eyes, "Oh, yes,


    * Promenading.


    "Oh, yes, wandering, that's what I say. Well, his wits went

wandering and fell in such a deep hole that he lost himself. And yet

he was a grateful and sensitive boy. Oh, I remember him very well, a

little chap so high, left neglected by his father in the back yard,

when he ran about without boots on his feet, and his little breeches

hanging by one button."

    A note of feeling and tenderness suddenly came into the honest old

man's voice. Fetyukovitch positively started, as though scenting

something, and caught at it instantly.

    "Oh, yes, I was a young man then.... I was... well, I was

forty-five then, and had only just come here. And I was so sorry for

the boy then; I asked myself why shouldn't I buy him a pound of... a

pound of what? I've forgotten what it's called. A pound of what

children are very fond of, what is it, what is it?" The doctor began

waving his hands again. "It grows on a tree and is gathered and

given to everyone..."


    "Oh, no, no. You have a dozen of apples, not a pound.... No, there

are a lot of them, and call little. You put them in the mouth and


    "Quite so, nuts, I say so." The doctor repeated in the calmest way

as though he had been at no loss for a word. "And I bought him a pound

of nuts, for no one had ever bought the boy a pound of nuts before.

And I lifted my finger and said to him, 'Boy, Gott der Vater.' He

laughed and said, 'Gott der Vater'... 'Gott der Sohn.' He laughed

again and lisped 'Gott der Sohn.' 'Gott der heilige Geist.' Then he

laughed and said as best he could, 'Gott der heilige Geist.' I went

away, and two days after I happened to be passing, and he shouted to

me of himself, 'Uncle, Gott der Vater, Gott der Sohn,' and he had only

forgotten 'Gott der heilige Geist.' But I reminded him of it and I

felt very sorry for him again. But he was taken away, and I did not

see him again. Twenty-three years passed. I am sitting one morning

in my study, a white-haired old man, when there walks into the room

a blooming young man, whom I should never have recognised, but he held

up his finger and said, laughing, 'Gott der Vater, Gott der Sohn,

and Gott der heilige Geist. I have just arrived and have come to thank

you for that pound of nuts, for no one else ever bought me a pound

of nuts; you are the only one that ever did.' then I remembered my

happy youth and the poor child in the yard, without boots on his feet,

and my heart was touched and I said, 'You are a grateful young man,

for you have remembered all your life the pound of nuts I bought you

in your childhood.' And I embraced him and blessed him. And I shed

tears. He laughed, but he shed tears, too... for the Russian often

laughs when he ought to be weeping. But he did weep; I saw it. And

now, alas!..."

    "And I am weeping now, German, I am weeping now, too, you

saintly man," Mitya cried suddenly.

    In any case the anecdote made a certain favourable impression on

the public. But the chief sensation in Mitya's favour was created by

the evidence of Katerina Ivanovna, which I will describe directly.

Indeed, when the witnesses a decharge, that is, called the defence,

began giving evidence, fortune seemed all at once markedly more

favourable to Mitya, and what was particularly striking, this was a

surprise even to the counsel for the defence. But before Katerina

Ivanovna was called, Alyosha was examined, and he recalled a fact

which seemed to furnish positive evidence against one important

point made by the prosecution.