The Grand Inqisitor
                        from THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV 
                        by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1880)

                     . . . . Do you know, Alyosha- don't laugh I made
a poem about a year ago. If you can waste another ten minutes on me,
I'll tell it to you."
    "You wrote a poem?"
    "Oh, no, I didn't write it," laughed Ivan, and I've never
written two lines of poetry in my life. But I made up this poem in
prose and I remembered it. I was carried away when I made it up. You
will be my first reader- that is listener. Why should an author forego
even one listener?" smiled Ivan. "Shall I tell it to you?"
    "I am all attention." said Alyosha.
    "My poem is called The Grand Inquisitor; it's a ridiculous
thing, but I want to tell it to you.

                              Chapter 5
                         The Grand Inquisitor

    "EVEN this must have a preface- that is, a literary preface,"
laughed Ivan, "and I am a poor hand at making one. You see, my
action takes place in the sixteenth century, and at that time, as
you probably learnt at school, it was customary in poetry to bring
down heavenly powers on earth. Not to speak of Dante, in France,
clerks, as well as the monks in the monasteries, used to give
regular performances in which the Madonna, the saints, the angels,
Christ, and God Himself were brought on the stage. In those days it
was done in all simplicity. In Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris an
edifying and gratuitous spectacle was provided for the people in the
Hotel de Ville of Paris in the reign of Louis XI in honour of the
birth of the dauphin. It was called Le bon jugement de la tres
sainte et gracieuse Vierge Marie, and she appears herself on the stage
and pronounces her bon jugement. Similar plays, chiefly from the Old
Testament, were occasionally performed in Moscow too, up to the
times of Peter the Great. But besides plays there were all sorts of
legends and ballads scattered about the world, in which the saints and
angels and all the powers of Heaven took part when required. In our
monasteries the monks busied themselves in translating, copying, and
even composing such poems- and even under the Tatars. There is, for
instance, one such poem (of course, from the Greek), The Wanderings of
Our Lady through Hell, with descriptions as bold as Dante's. Our
Lady visits hell, and the Archangel Michael leads her through the
torments. She sees the sinners and their punishment. There she sees
among others one noteworthy set of sinners in a burning lake; some
of them sink to the bottom of the lake so that they can't swim out,
and 'these God forgets'- an expression of extraordinary depth and
force. And so Our Lady, shocked and weeping, falls before the throne
of God and begs for mercy for all in hell- for all she has seen there,
indiscriminately. Her conversation with God is immensely
interesting. She beseeches Him, she will not desist, and when God
points to the hands and feet of her Son, nailed to the Cross, and
asks, 'How can I forgive His tormentors?' she bids all the saints, all
the martyrs, all the angels and archangels to fall down with her and
pray for mercy on all without distinction. It ends by her winning from
God a respite of suffering every year from Good Friday till Trinity
Day, and the sinners at once raise a cry of thankfulness from hell,
chanting, 'Thou art just, O Lord, in this judgment.' Well, my poem
would have been of that kind if it had appeared at that time. He comes
on the scene in my poem, but He says nothing, only appears and
passes on. Fifteen centuries have passed since He promised to come
in His glory, fifteen centuries since His prophet wrote, 'Behold, I
come quickly'; 'Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, neither
the Son, but the Father,' as He Himself predicted on earth. But
humanity awaits him with the same faith and with the same love. Oh,
with greater faith, for it is fifteen centuries since man has ceased
to see signs from heaven.

                   No signs from heaven come to-day
                   To add to what the heart doth say.

    There was nothing left but faith in what the heart doth say. It is
true there were many miracles in those days. There were saints who
performed miraculous cures; some holy people, according to their
biographies, were visited by the Queen of Heaven herself. But the
devil did not slumber, and doubts were already arising among men of
the truth of these miracles. And just then there appeared in the north
of Germany a terrible new heresy. 'A huge star like to a torch'
(that is, to a church) 'fell on the sources of the waters and they
became bitter.' These heretics began blasphemously denying miracles.
But those who remained faithful were all the more ardent in their
faith. The tears of humanity rose up to Him as before, awaited His
coming, loved Him, hoped for Him, yearned to suffer and die for Him as
before. And so many ages mankind had prayed with faith and fervour, 'O
Lord our God, hasten Thy coming'; so many ages called upon Him, that
in His infinite mercy He deigned to come down to His servants.
Before that day He had come down, He had visited some holy men,
martyrs, and hermits, as is written in their lives. Among us,
Tyutchev, with absolute faith in the truth of his words, bore
witness that

                   Bearing the Cross, in slavish dress,
                   Weary and worn, the Heavenly King
                   Our mother, Russia, came to bless,
                   And through our land went wandering.

And that certainly was so, I assure you.
    "And behold, He deigned to appear for a moment to the people, to
the tortured, suffering people, sunk in iniquity, but loving Him
like children. My story is laid in Spain, in Seville, in the most
terrible time of the Inquisition, when fires were lighted every day to
the glory of God, and 'in the splendid auto da fe the wicked
heretics were burnt.' Oh, of course, this was not the coming in
which He will appear, according to His promise, at the end of time
in all His heavenly glory, and which will be sudden 'as lightning
flashing from east to west.' No, He visited His children only for a
moment, and there where the flames were crackling round the
heretics. In His infinite mercy He came once more among men in that
human shape in which He walked among men for thirty-three years
fifteen centuries ago. He came down to the 'hot pavements' of the
southern town in which on the day before almost a hundred heretics
had, ad majorem gloriam Dei, been burnt by the cardinal, the Grand
Inquisitor, in a magnificent auto da fe, in the presence of the
king, the court, the knights, the cardinals, the most charming
ladies of the court, and the whole population of Seville.
     "He came softly, unobserved, and yet, strange to say, everyone
recognised Him. That might be one of the best passages in the poem.
I mean, why they recognised Him. The people are irresistibly drawn
to Him, they surround Him, they flock about Him, follow Him. He
moves silently in their midst with a gentle smile of infinite
compassion. The sun of love burns in His heart, and power shine from
His eyes, and their radiance, shed on the people, stirs their hearts
with responsive love. He holds out His hands to them, blesses them,
and a healing virtue comes from contact with Him, even with His
garments. An old man in the crowd, blind from childhood, cries out, 'O
Lord, heal me and I shall see Thee!' and, as it were, scales fall from
his eyes and the blind man sees Him. The crowd weeps and kisses the
earth under His feet. Children throw flowers before Him, sing, and cry
hosannah. 'It is He- it is He!' repeat. 'It must be He, it can be no
one but Him!' He stops at the steps of the Seville cathedral at the
moment when the weeping mourners are bringing in a little open white
coffin. In it lies a child of seven, the only daughter of a
prominent citizen. The dead child lies hidden in flowers. 'He will
raise your child,' the crowd shouts to the weeping mother. The priest,
coming to meet the coffin, looks perplexed, and frowns, but the mother
of the dead child throws herself at His feet with a wail. 'If it is
Thou, raise my child!' she cries, holding out her hands to Him. The
procession halts, the coffin is laid on the steps at His feet. He
looks with compassion, and His lips once more softly pronounce,
'Maiden, arise!' and the maiden arises. The little girl sits up in the
coffin and looks round, smiling with wide-open wondering eyes, holding
a bunch of white roses they had put in her hand.
    "There are cries, sobs, confusion among the people, and at that
moment the cardinal himself, the Grand Inquisitor, passes by the
cathedral. He is an old man, almost ninety, tall and erect, with a
withered face and sunken eyes, in which there is still a gleam of
light. He is not dressed in his gorgeous cardinal's robes, as he was
the day before, when he was burning the enemies of the Roman Church-
at this moment he is wearing his coarse, old, monk's cassock. At a
distance behind him come his gloomy assistants and slaves and the
'holy guard.' He stops at the sight of the crowd and watches it from a
distance. He sees everything; he sees them set the coffin down at
His feet, sees the child rise up, and his face darkens. He knits his
thick grey brows and his eyes gleam with a sinister fire. He holds out
his finger and bids the guards take Him. And such is his power, so
completely are the people cowed into submission and trembling
obedience to him, that the crowd immediately makes way for the guards,
and in the midst of deathlike silence they lay hands on Him and lead
him away. The crowd instantly bows down to the earth, like one man,
before the old Inquisitor. He blesses the people in silence and passes
on' The guards lead their prisoner to the close, gloomy vaulted
prison- in the ancient palace of the Holy, inquisition and shut him in
it. The day passes and is followed by the dark, burning,
'breathless' night of Seville. The air is 'fragrant with laurel and
lemon.' In the pitch darkness the iron door of the prison is
suddenly opened and the Grand Inquisitor himself comes in with a light
in his hand. He is alone; the door is closed at once behind him. He
stands in the doorway and for a minute or two gazes into His face.
At last he goes up slowly, sets the light on the table and speaks.
    "'Is it Thou? Thou?' but receiving no answer, he adds at once.
'Don't answer, be silent. What canst Thou say, indeed? I know too well
what Thou wouldst say. And Thou hast no right to add anything to
what Thou hadst said of old. Why, then, art Thou come to hinder us?
For Thou hast come to hinder us, and Thou knowest that. But dost
thou know what will be to-morrow? I know not who Thou art and care not
to know whether it is Thou or only a semblance of Him, but to-morrow I
shall condemn Thee and burn Thee at the stake as the worst of
heretics. And the very people who have to-day kissed Thy feet,
to-morrow at the faintest sign from me will rush to heap up the embers
of Thy fire. Knowest Thou that? Yes, maybe Thou knowest it,' he
added with thoughtful penetration, never for a moment taking his
eyes off the Prisoner."
    "I don't quite understand, Ivan. What does it mean?" Alyosha,
who had been listening in silence, said with a smile. "Is it simply
a wild fantasy, or a mistake on the part of the old man- some
impossible quid pro quo?"
    "Take it as the last," said Ivan, laughing, "if you are so
corrupted by modern realism and can't stand anything fantastic. If you
like it to be a case of mistaken identity, let it be so. It is
true," he went on, laughing, "the old man was ninety, and he might
well be crazy over his set idea. He might have been struck by the
appearance of the Prisoner. It might, in fact, be simply his
ravings, the delusion of an old man of ninety, over-excited by the
auto da fe of a hundred heretics the day before. But does it matter to
us after all whether it was a mistake of identity or a wild fantasy?
All that matters is that the old man should speak out, that he
should speak openly of what he has thought in silence for ninety
    "And the Prisoner too is silent? Does He look at him and not say a
    "That's inevitable in any case," Ivan laughed again. "The old
man has told Him He hasn't the right to add anything to what He has
said of old. One may say it is the most fundamental feature of Roman
Catholicism, in my opinion at least. 'All has been given by Thee to
the Pope,' they say, 'and all, therefore, is still in the Pope's
hands, and there is no need for Thee to come now at all. Thou must not
meddle for the time, at least.' That's how they speak and write too-
the Jesuits, at any rate. I have read it myself in the works of
their theologians. 'Hast Thou the right to reveal to us one of the
mysteries of that world from which Thou hast come?' my old man asks
Him, and answers the question for Him. 'No, Thou hast not; that Thou
mayest not add to what has been said of old, and mayest not take
from men the freedom which Thou didst exalt when Thou wast on earth.
Whatsoever Thou revealest anew will encroach on men's freedom of
faith; for it will be manifest as a miracle, and the freedom of
their faith was dearer to Thee than anything in those days fifteen
hundred years ago. Didst Thou not often say then, "I will make you
free"? But now Thou hast seen these "free" men,' the old man adds
suddenly, with a pensive smile. 'Yes, we've paid dearly for it,' he
goes on, looking sternly at Him, 'but at last we have completed that
work in Thy name. For fifteen centuries we have been wrestling with
Thy freedom, but now it is ended and over for good. Dost Thou not
believe that it's over for good? Thou lookest meekly at me and
deignest not even to be wroth with me. But let me tell Thee that
now, to-day, people are more persuaded than ever that they have
perfect freedom, yet they have brought their freedom to us and laid it
humbly at our feet. But that has been our doing. Was this what Thou
didst? Was this Thy freedom?'"
    "I don't understand again." Alyosha broke in. "Is he ironical,
is he jesting?"
    "Not a bit of it! He claims it as a merit for himself and his
Church that at last they have vanquished freedom and have done so to
make men happy. 'For now' (he is speaking of the Inquisition, of
course) 'for the first time it has become possible to think of the
happiness of men. Man was created a rebel; and how can rebels be
happy? Thou wast warned,' he says to Him. 'Thou hast had no lack of
admonitions and warnings, but Thou didst not listen to those warnings;
Thou didst reject the only way by which men might be made happy.
But, fortunately, departing Thou didst hand on the work to us. Thou
hast promised, Thou hast established by Thy word, Thou hast given to
us the right to bind and to unbind, and now, of course, Thou canst not
think of taking it away. Why, then, hast Thou come to hinder us?'"
    "And what's the meaning of 'no lack of admonitions and warnings'?"
asked Alyosha.
    "Why, that's the chief part of what the old man must say.
    "'The wise and dread spirit, the spirit of self-destruction and
non-existence,' the old man goes on, great spirit talked with Thee
in the wilderness, and we are told in the books that he "tempted"
Thee. Is that so? And could anything truer be said than what he
revealed to Thee in three questions and what Thou didst reject, and
what in the books is called "the temptation"? And yet if there has
ever been on earth a real stupendous miracle, it took place on that
day, on the day of the three temptations. The statement of those three
questions was itself the miracle. If it were possible to imagine
simply for the sake of argument that those three questions of the
dread spirit had perished utterly from the books, and that we had to
restore them and to invent them anew, and to do so had gathered
together all the wise men of the earth- rulers, chief priests, learned
men, philosophers, poets- and had set them the task to invent three
questions, such as would not only fit the occasion, but express in
three words, three human phrases, the whole future history of the
world and of humanity- dost Thou believe that all the wisdom of the
earth united could have invented anything in depth and force equal
to the three questions which were actually put to Thee then by the
wise and mighty spirit in the wilderness? From those questions
alone, from the miracle of their statement, we can see that we have
here to do not with the fleeting human intelligence, but with the
absolute and eternal. For in those three questions the whole
subsequent history of mankind is, as it were, brought together into
one whole, and foretold, and in them are united all the unsolved
historical contradictions of human nature. At the time it could not be
so clear, since the future was unknown; but now that fifteen hundred
years have passed, we see that everything in those three questions was
so justly divined and foretold, and has been so truly fulfilled,
that nothing can be added to them or taken from them.
    "Judge Thyself who was right- Thou or he who questioned Thee then?
Remember the first question; its meaning, in other words, was this:
"Thou wouldst go into the world, and art going with empty hands,
with some promise of freedom which men in their simplicity and their
natural unruliness cannot even understand, which they fear and
dread- for nothing has ever been more insupportable for a man and a
human society than freedom. But seest Thou these stones in this
parched and barren wilderness? Turn them into bread, and mankind
will run after Thee like a flock of sheep, grateful and obedient,
though for ever trembling, lest Thou withdraw Thy hand and deny them
Thy bread." But Thou wouldst not deprive man of freedom and didst
reject the offer, thinking, what is that freedom worth if obedience is
bought with bread? Thou didst reply that man lives not by bread alone.
But dost Thou know that for the sake of that earthly bread the
spirit of the earth will rise up against Thee and will strive with
Thee and overcome Thee, and all will follow him, crying, "Who can
compare with this beast? He has given us fire from heaven!" Dost
Thou know that the ages will pass, and humanity will proclaim by the
lips of their sages that there is no crime, and therefore no sin;
there is only hunger? "Feed men, and then ask of them virtue!"
that's what they'll write on the banner, which they will raise against
Thee, and with which they will destroy Thy temple. Where Thy temple
stood will rise a new building; the terrible tower of Babel will be
built again, and though, like the one of old, it will not be finished,
yet Thou mightest have prevented that new tower and have cut short the
sufferings of men for a thousand years; for they will come back to
us after a thousand years of agony with their tower. They will seek us
again, hidden underground in the catacombs, for we shall be again
persecuted and tortured. They will find us and cry to us, "Feed us,
for those who have promised us fire from heaven haven't given it!" And
then we shall finish building their tower, for he finishes the
building who feeds them. And we alone shall feed them in Thy name,
declaring falsely that it is in Thy name. Oh, never, never can they
feed themselves without us! No science will give them bread so long as
they remain free. In the end they will lay their freedom at our
feet, and say to us, "Make us your slaves, but feed us." They will
understand themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for
all are inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able
to share between them! They will be convinced, too, that they can
never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless, and
rebellious. Thou didst promise them the bread of Heaven, but, I repeat
again, can it compare with earthly bread in the eyes of the weak, ever
sinful and ignoble race of man? And if for the sake of the bread of
Heaven thousands shall follow Thee, what is to become of the
millions and tens of thousands of millions of creatures who will not
have the strength to forego the earthly bread for the sake of the
heavenly? Or dost Thou care only for the tens of thousands of the
great and strong, while the millions, numerous as the sands of the
sea, who are weak but love Thee, must exist only for the sake of the
great and strong? No, we care for the weak too. They are sinful and
rebellious, but in the end they too will become obedient. They will
marvel at us and look on us as gods, because we are ready to endure
the freedom which they have found so dreadful and to rule over them-
so awful it will seem to them to be free. But we shall tell them
that we are Thy servants and rule them in Thy name. We shall deceive
them again, for we will not let Thee come to us again. That
deception will be our suffering, for we shall be forced to lie.
    "'This is the significance of the first question in the
wilderness, and this is what Thou hast rejected for the sake of that
freedom which Thou hast exalted above everything. Yet in this question
lies hid the great secret of this world. Choosing "bread," Thou
wouldst have satisfied the universal and everlasting craving of
humanity- to find someone to worship. So long as man remains free he
strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone
to worship. But man seeks to worship what is established beyond
dispute, so that all men would agree at once to worship it. For
these pitiful creatures are concerned not only to find what one or the
other can worship, but to find community of worship is the chief
misery of every man individually and of all humanity from the
beginning of time. For the sake of common worship they've slain each
other with the sword. They have set up gods and challenged one
another, "Put away your gods and come and worship ours, or we will
kill you and your gods!" And so it will be to the end of the world,
even when gods disappear from the earth; they will fall down before
idols just the same. Thou didst know, Thou couldst not but have known,
this fundamental secret of human nature, but Thou didst reject the one
infallible banner which was offered Thee to make all men bow down to
Thee alone- the banner of earthly bread; and Thou hast rejected it for
the sake of freedom and the bread of Heaven. Behold what Thou didst
further. And all again in the name of freedom! I tell Thee that man is
tormented by no greater anxiety than to find someone quickly to whom
he can hand over that gift of freedom with which the ill-fated
creature is born. But only one who can appease their conscience can
take over their freedom. In bread there was offered Thee an invincible
banner; give bread, and man will worship thee, for nothing is more
certain than bread. But if someone else gains possession of his
conscience- Oh! then he will cast away Thy bread and follow after
him who has ensnared his conscience. In that Thou wast right. For
the secret of man's being is not only to live but to have something to
live for. Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would
not consent to go on living, and would rather destroy himself than
remain on earth, though he had bread in abundance. That is true. But
what happened? Instead of taking men's freedom from them, Thou didst
make it greater than ever! Didst Thou forget that man prefers peace,
and even death, to freedom of choice in the knowledge of good and
evil? Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of
conscience, but nothing is a greater cause of suffering. And behold,
instead of giving a firm foundation for setting the conscience of
man at rest for ever, Thou didst choose all that is exceptional, vague
and enigmatic; Thou didst choose what was utterly beyond the
strength of men, acting as though Thou didst not love them at all-
Thou who didst come to give Thy life for them! Instead of taking
possession of men's freedom, Thou didst increase it, and burdened
the spiritual kingdom of mankind with its sufferings for ever. Thou
didst desire man's free love, that he should follow Thee freely,
enticed and taken captive by Thee. In place of the rigid ancient
law, man must hereafter with free heart decide for himself what is
good and what is evil, having only Thy image before him as his
guide. But didst Thou not know that he would at last reject even Thy
image and Thy truth, if he is weighed down with the fearful burden
of free choice? They will cry aloud at last that the truth is not in
Thee, for they could not have been left in greater confusion and
suffering than Thou hast caused, laying upon them so many cares and
unanswerable problems.
    "'So that, in truth, Thou didst Thyself lay the foundation for the
destruction of Thy kingdom, and no one is more to blame for it. Yet
what was offered Thee? There are three powers, three powers alone,
able to conquer and to hold captive for ever the conscience of these
impotent rebels for their happiness those forces are miracle,
mystery and authority. Thou hast rejected all three and hast set the
example for doing so. When the wise and dread spirit set Thee on the
pinnacle of the temple and said to Thee, "If Thou wouldst know whether
Thou art the Son of God then cast Thyself down, for it is written: the
angels shall hold him up lest he fall and bruise himself, and Thou
shalt know then whether Thou art the Son of God and shalt prove then
how great is Thy faith in Thy Father." But Thou didst refuse and
wouldst not cast Thyself down. Oh, of course, Thou didst proudly and
well, like God; but the weak, unruly race of men, are they gods? Oh,
Thou didst know then that in taking one step, in making one movement
to cast Thyself down, Thou wouldst be tempting God and have lost all
Thy faith in Him, and wouldst have been dashed to pieces against
that earth which Thou didst come to save. And the wise spirit that
tempted Thee would have rejoiced. But I ask again, are there many like
Thee? And couldst Thou believe for one moment that men, too, could
face such a temptation? Is the nature of men such, that they can
reject miracle, and at the great moments of their life, the moments of
their deepest, most agonising spiritual difficulties, cling only to
the free verdict of the heart? Oh, Thou didst know that Thy deed would
be recorded in books, would be handed down to remote times and the
utmost ends of the earth, and Thou didst hope that man, following
Thee, would cling to God and not ask for a miracle. But Thou didst not
know that when man rejects miracle he rejects God too; for man seeks
not so much God as the miraculous. And as man cannot bear to be
without the miraculous, he will create new miracles of his own for
himself, and will worship deeds of sorcery and witchcraft, though he
might be a hundred times over a rebel, heretic and infidel. Thou didst
not come down from the Cross when they shouted to Thee, mocking and
reviling Thee, "Come down from the cross and we will believe that Thou
art He." Thou didst not come down, for again Thou wouldst not
enslave man by a miracle, and didst crave faith given freely, not
based on miracle. Thou didst crave for free love and not the base
raptures of the slave before the might that has overawed him for ever.
But Thou didst think too highly of men therein, for they are slaves,
of course, though rebellious by nature. Look round and judge;
fifteen centuries have passed, look upon them. Whom hast Thou raised
up to Thyself? I swear, man is weaker and baser by nature than Thou
hast believed him! Can he, can he do what Thou didst? By showing him
so much respect, Thou didst, as it were, cease to feel for him, for
Thou didst ask far too much from him- Thou who hast loved him more
than Thyself! Respecting him less, Thou wouldst have asked less of
him. That would have been more like love, for his burden would have
been lighter. He is weak and vile. What though he is everywhere now
rebelling against our power, and proud of his rebellion? It is the
pride of a child and a schoolboy. They are little children rioting and
barring out the teacher at school. But their childish delight will
end; it will cost them dear. Mankind as a whole has always striven
to organise a universal state. There have been many great nations with
great histories, but the more highly they were developed the more
unhappy they were, for they felt more acutely than other people the
craving for world-wide union. The great conquerors, Timours and
Ghenghis-Khans, whirled like hurricanes over the face of the earth
striving to subdue its people, and they too were but the unconscious
expression of the same craving for universal unity. Hadst Thou taken
the world and Caesar's purple, Thou wouldst have founded the universal
state and have given universal peace. For who can rule men if not he
who holds their conscience and their bread in his hands? We have taken
the sword of Caesar, and in taking it, of course, have rejected Thee
and followed him. Oh, ages are yet to come of the confusion of free
thought, of their science and cannibalism. For having begun to build
their tower of Babel without us, they will end, of course, with
cannibalism. But then the beast will crawl to us and lick our feet and
spatter them with tears of blood. And we shall sit upon the beast
and raise the cup, and on it will be written, "Mystery." But then, and
only then, the reign of peace and happiness will come for men. Thou
art proud of Thine elect, but Thou hast only the elect, while we
give rest to all. And besides, how many of those elect, those mighty
ones who could become elect, have grown weary waiting for Thee, and
have transferred and will transfer the powers of their spirit and
the warmth of their heart to the other camp, and end by raising
their free banner against Thee. Thou didst Thyself lift up that
banner. But with us all will be happy and will no more rebel nor
destroy one another as under Thy freedom. Oh, we shall persuade them
that they will only become free when they renounce their freedom to us
and submit to us. And shall we be right or shall we be lying? They
will be convinced that we are right, for they will remember the
horrors of slavery and confusion to which Thy freedom brought them.
Freedom, free thought, and science will lead them into such straits
and will bring them face to face with such marvels and insoluble
mysteries, that some of them, the fierce and rebellious, will
destroy themselves, others, rebellious but weak, will destroy one
another, while the rest, weak and unhappy, will crawl fawning to our
feet and whine to us: "Yes, you were right, you alone possess His
mystery, and we come back to you, save us from ourselves!"
    "'Receiving bread from us, they will see clearly that we take
the bread made by their hands from them, to give it to them, without
any miracle. They will see that we do not change the stones to
bread, but in truth they will be more thankful for taking it from
our hands than for the bread itself! For they will remember only too
well that in old days, without our help, even the bread they made
turned to stones in their hands, while since they have come back to
us, the very stones have turned to bread in their hands. Too, too well
will they know the value of complete submission! And until men know
that, they will be unhappy. Who is most to blame for their not knowing
it?-speak! Who scattered the flock and sent it astray on unknown
paths? But the flock will come together again and will submit once
more, and then it will be once for all. Then we shall give them the
quiet humble happiness of weak creatures such as they are by nature.
Oh, we shall persuade them at last not to be proud, for Thou didst
lift them up and thereby taught them to be proud. We shall show them
that they are weak, that they are only pitiful children, but that
childlike happiness is the sweetest of all. They will become timid and
will look to us and huddle close to us in fear, as chicks to the
hen. They will marvel at us and will be awe-stricken before us, and
will be proud at our being so powerful and clever that we have been
able to subdue such a turbulent flock of thousands of millions. They
will tremble impotently before our wrath, their minds will grow
fearful, they will be quick to shed tears like women and children, but
they will be just as ready at a sign from us to pass to laughter and
rejoicing, to happy mirth and childish song. Yes, we shall set them to
work, but in their leisure hours we shall make their life like a
child's game, with children's songs and innocent dance. Oh, we shall
allow them even sin, they are weak and helpless, and they will love us
like children because we allow them to sin. We shall tell them that
every sin will be expiated, if it is done with our permission, that we
allow them to sin because we love them, and the punishment for these
sins we take upon ourselves. And we shall take it upon ourselves,
and they will adore us as their saviours who have taken on
themselves their sins before God. And they will have no secrets from
us. We shall allow or forbid them to live with their wives and
mistresses, to have or not to have children according to whether
they have been obedient or disobedient- and they will submit to us
gladly and cheerfully. The most painful secrets of their conscience,
all, all they will bring to us, and we shall have an answer for all.
And they will be glad to believe our answer, for it will save them
from the great anxiety and terrible agony they endure at present in
making a free decision for themselves. And all will be happy, all
the millions of creatures except the hundred thousand who rule over
them. For only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be unhappy. There
will be thousands of millions of happy babes, and a hundred thousand
sufferers who have taken upon themselves the curse of the knowledge of
good and evil. Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire
in Thy name, and beyond the grave they will find nothing but death.
But we shall keep the secret, and for their happiness we shall
allure them with the reward of heaven and eternity. Though if there
were anything in the other world, it certainly would not be for such
as they. It is prophesied that Thou wilt come again in victory, Thou
wilt come with Thy chosen, the proud and strong, but we will say
that they have only saved themselves, but we have saved all. We are
told that the harlot who sits upon the beast, and holds in her hands
the mystery, shall be put to shame, that the weak will rise up
again, and will rend her royal purple and will strip naked her
loathsome body. But then I will stand up and point out to Thee the
thousand millions of happy children who have known no sin. And we
who have taken their sins upon us for their happiness will stand up
before Thee and say: "Judge us if Thou canst and darest." Know that
I fear Thee not. Know that I too have been in the wilderness, I too
have lived on roots and locusts, I too prized the freedom with which
Thou hast blessed men, and I too was striving to stand among Thy
elect, among the strong and powerful, thirsting "to make up the
number." But I awakened and would not serve madness. I turned back and
joined the ranks of those who have corrected Thy work. I left the
proud and went back to the humble, for the happiness of the humble.
What I say to Thee will come to pass, and our dominion will be built
up. I repeat, to-morrow Thou shalt see that obedient flock who at a
sign from me will hasten to heap up the hot cinders about the pile
on which I shall burn Thee for coming to hinder us. For if anyone
has ever deserved our fires, it is Thou. To-morrow I shall burn
Thee. Dixi.'"*

    * I have spoken.

                             . . . .