Crime And Punishment Page-142

Crime And Punishment

increase among the lower classes during the last five years, not to speak of the cases of robbery and arson everywhere, what strikes me as the strangest thing is that in the higher classes, too, crime is increasing proportionately. In one place one hears of a student’s robbing the mail on the high road; in another place people of good social position forge false banknotes; in Moscow of late a whole gang has been captured who used to forge lottery tickets, and one of the ringleaders was a lecturer in universal history; then our secretary abroad was murdered from some obscure motive of gain.... And if this old woman, the pawnbroker, has been murdered by someone of a higher class in society—for peasants don’t pawn gold trinkets—how are we to explain this demoralisation of the civilised part of our society?” “There are many economic changes,” put in Zossimov. “How are we to explain it?” Razumihin caught him up. “It might be explained by our inveterate impracticality.” “How do you mean?” “What answer had your lecturer in Moscow to make to the question why he was forging notes? ‘Everybody is getting rich one way or another, so I want to make haste to get rich too.’ I don’t remember the exact words, but the upshot was that he wants money for nothing, without waiting or working! We’ve grown used to having everything ready-made, to walking on crutches, to having our food chewed for us. Then the great hour struck,[*] and every man showed himself in his true colours.” [*] The emancipation of the serfs in 1861 is meant. —TRANSLATOR’S NOTE. “But morality? And so to speak, principles...” “But why do you worry about it?” Raskolnikov interposed suddenly. “It’s in accordance with your theory!” “In accordance with my theory?” “Why, carry out logically the theory you were advocating just now, and it follows that people may be killed...” “Upon my word!” cried Luzhin. “No, that’s not so,” put in Zossimov. Raskolnikov lay with a white face and twitching upper lip, breathing painfully. “There’s a measure in all things,” Luzhin went on superciliously. “Economic ideas are not an incitement to murder, and one has but to suppose...” “And is it true,” Raskolnikov interposed once more suddenly, again in a voice