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Title: Oscar Wilde, a study
Author: Gide, André
Language: English
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                              OSCAR WILDE


                 This Edition consists of 500 copies.
                   Fifty copies have been printed on
                           hand-made paper.


                     [Illustration: 'HOW UTTER.']



                              Oscar Wilde

                                A STUDY

                          FROM THE FRENCH OF

                              ANDRÉ GIDE

               WITH INTRODUCTION, NOTES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

                                  BY

                             STUART MASON



                                Oxford

                          THE HOLYWELL PRESS

                                 MCMV


                   *       *       *       *       *


                                  TO

                         DONALD BRUCE WALLACE,

                             OF NEW YORK,

                  IN MEMORY OF A VISIT LAST SUMMER TO

                           BAGNEUX CEMETERY,

                     A PILGRIMAGE OF LOVE WHEN WE

              WATERED WITH OUR TEARS THE ROSES AND LILIES

                         WITH WHICH WE COVERED

                           THE POET'S GRAVE.



              Oxford,

                 September, 1905.



[The little poem on the opposite page first saw the light in the pages
of the _Dublin University Magazine_ for September, 1876. It has not
been reprinted since. The Greek quotation is taken from the _Agamemnon_
of Æschylos, l. 120. ]



Αἴλινον, αἴινον εἰπὲ,

Τὸ δ᾽ ευ̉ νικάτω

    O well for him who lives at ease
      With garnered gold in wide domain,
      Nor heeds the plashing of the rain,
    The crashing down of forest trees.

    O well for him who ne'er hath known
      The travail of the hungry years,
      A father grey with grief and tears,
    A mother weeping all alone.

    But well for him whose feet hath trod
      The weary road of toil and strife,
      Yet from the sorrows of his life
    Builds ladders to be nearer God.


              Oscar F. O'F. Wills Wilde.


    _S. M. Magdalen College,_

         _Oxford._



                                 NOTE.

M. Gide's Study of Mr. Oscar Wilde (perhaps the best account yet
written of the poet's latter days) appeared first in _L'Ermitage_, a
monthly literary review, in June, 1902. It was afterwards reprinted
with some few slight alterations in a volume of critical essays,
entitled _Prétextes_, by M. Gide. It is now published in English for
the first time, by special arrangement with the author.

S. M.


                               CONTENTS.

                                                          PAGE

  Poem by Oscar Wilde ....................................  xi

  Introductory ...........................................   1

  Inscription on Oscar Wilde's Tombstone .................  11

  Letters from M. André Gide .............................  12

  Oscar Wilde: from the French of André Gide .............  15

  Sonnet 'To Oscar Wilde,' by Augustus M. Moore ..........  89

  List of Published Writings of Oscar Wilde ..............  93

  Bibliographical Notes on The English Editions .......... 107



                        LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

                                                          PAGE

  Cartoon: 'How Utter' .......................... Frontispiece
    (From a Cartoon published by Messrs. Shrimpton at
       Oxford about 1880. By permission of Mr. Hubert
       Giles, 23 Broad St., Oxford).

  Oscar Wilde at Oxford, 1878 ............................  16
    (By permission of Mr. Hubert Giles).

  Oscar Wilde in 1893 ....................................  48
    (From a Photograph by Messrs. Gillman & Co., Oxford).

  The Grave at Bagneux ...................................  80
    (By permission of the Proprietors of _The Sphere_
       and _The Tatler_).

  Reduced Facsimile of the Cover of _'The Woman's World'_   96


                   *       *       *       *       *


                              Oscar Wilde

                             Introductory.


Oscar Fingall O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born at 1 Merrion Square,
North, Dublin, on October 16th, 1854. He was the second son of Sir
William Robert Wilde, Knight, a celebrated surgeon who was President
of the Irish Academy and Chairman of the Census Committee. Sir William
Wilde was born in 1799, and died at the age of seventy-seven years.

Oscar Wilde's mother was Jane Francesca, daughter of Archdeacon Elgee.
She was born in 1826, and married in 1851. She became famous in
literary circles under the pen-names of 'Speranza' and 'John Fenshawe
Ellis,' among her published writings being _Driftwood from Scandinavia_
(1884), _Legends of Ireland_ (1886), and _Social Studies_ (1893). Lady
Wilde died at her residence in Chelsea on February 3rd, 1896[1].

Oscar Wilde received his early education at Portora Royal School,
Enniskillen, which he entered in 1864 at the age of nine years. Here he
remained for seven years, and, winning a Royal scholarship, he entered
Trinity College, Dublin, on October 19th, 1871, being then seventeen
years of age. In the following year he obtained First Class Honours in
Classics in Hilary, Trinity and Michaelmas Terms; he also won the Gold
Medal for Greek[2] and other distinctions. The Trinity College Magazine
_Kottabos_, for the years 1876-9, contains some of his earliest
published poems. In 1874 he obtained a classical scholarship[3], and
went up to Oxford, where, as a demy, he matriculated at Magdalen
College on October 17th, the day after his twentieth birthday. His
career at Oxford was one unbroken success. In Trinity Term (June),
1876, he obtained a First Class in the Honour School of Classical
Moderations (_in literis Græcis et Latinis_), which he followed up two
years later by a similar distinction in 'Greats' or 'Honour Finals'
(_in literis humanioribus_). In this same Trinity Term[4], 1878, he
further distinguished himself by gaining the Sir Roger Newdigate Prize
for English Verse with his poem, 'Ravenna[5],' which he recited at
the Encænia or Annual Commemoration of Benefactors in the Sheldonian
Theatre on June 26th. He proceeded to the degree of B. A. in the
following term[6]. He is described in Foster's _Alumni Oxonienses_ as a
'Professor of Æsthetics and Art critic.'

He afterwards lectured on Art in America[7], 1882, and in the provinces
on his return to England. About this time he wrote his poems, _The
Sphinx_ and _The Harlot's House_ (1883), and his tragedy in blank
verse, _The Duchess of Padua_. The latter was written specially for
Miss Mary Anderson, but she did not produce it. This was, however,
played in America by the late Lawrence Barrett in 1883, as was also
another play in blank verse, entitled _Vera, or the Nihilists_, during
the previous year. He had already published in America and England a
volume of _Poems_, which went through several editions in a few months.

In 1884 Oscar Wilde married[8] Miss Constance Mary Lloyd, a daughter
of the well-known Q. C., by whom he had two sons, born in June, 1885,
and November, 1886, respectively. Mrs. Wilde died in 1898, and his only
brother, William, in March of the following year.

During the next five or six years after his marriage, articles
from his pen appeared in several of the leading reviews, notably
'The Portrait of Mr. W. H.' in _Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine_ for
July, 1889, and those brilliant essays afterwards incorporated in
_Intentions_, in _The Nineteenth Century_ and _The Fortnightly Review_.
In 1888 he was the editor of a monthly journal called _The Woman's
World_. In July, 1890,_ The Picture of Dorian Gray_ appeared in
_Lippincott's Monthly Magazine_. It was the only novel he ever wrote,
and was published in book form with seven additional chapters in the
following year, and is one of the most remarkable books in the English
language.

With the production and immediate success of _Lady Windermere's Fan_
early in 1892, he was at once recognised as a dramatist of the first
rank. This was followed a year later by _A Woman of No Importance_,
and after brief intervals by _An Ideal Husband_ and _The Importance of
Being Earnest_[9]. The two latter were being played in London at the
time of the author's arrest and trial.

Into the melancholy story of his trial it is not proposed to enter here
beyond mentioning the fact that he was condemned by the newspapers,
and, consequently, by the vast majority of the British public, several
weeks before a jury could be found to return a verdict of 'guilty.' On
Saturday, May 25th, 1895, he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment
with hard labour, most of which period was passed at Wandsworth and
Reading.

On his release from Reading on Wednesday, May 19th, 1897, he at once
crossed to France with friends, and a few days later penned that
pathetic letter, pregnant with pity, in which he pleaded for the
kindlier treatment of little children lying in our English gaols. This
letter, with his own name attached, filled over two columns in _The
Daily Chronicle_ of May 28th. It created considerable sensation--a
well-known Catholic weekly comparing it 'in its crushing power to the
letter with which Stevenson shamed the shameless traducer of Father
Damien.' A second letter on the subject of the cruelties of the English
Prison system appeared in the same paper on March 24th, 1898. It was
headed: 'Don't Read This if You Want to be Happy To-day,' and was
signed 'The Author of _The Ballad of Reading Gaol_.' _The Ballad of
Reading Gaol_ was published early in this same year under the _nom
de plume_ 'C.3.3.,' Oscar Wilde's prison number. Its authorship was
acknowledged shortly afterwards in an autograph edition. Since that
time countless editions of this famous work have been issued in England
and America, and translations have appeared in French, German and
Spanish. Of this poem a reviewer in a London journal said,--'The whole
is awful as the pages of Sophocles. That he has rendered with his
fine art so much of the essence of his life and the life of others in
that _inferno_ to the sensitive, is a memorable thing for the social
scientist, but a much more memorable thing for literature. This is a
simple, a poignant, a great ballad, one of the greatest in the English
language.'

Of the sorrows and sufferings of the last few years of his life, his
friend Mr. Robert Harborough Sherard has written in _The Story of an
Unhappy Friendship_, and M. Gide refers to them in the following pages.

After several weeks of intense suffering 'Death the silent pilot' came
at last, and the most brilliant writer of the nineteenth century passed
away on the afternoon of November 30th, 1900, in poverty and almost
alone. The little hotel in Paris--Hotel d'Alsace, 13 rue des Beaux
Arts,--where he died, has become a place of pilgrimage from all parts
of the world for those who admire his genius or pity his sorrows. He
was buried, three days later, in the cemetery at Bagneux, about four
miles out of Paris.

STUART MASON.


[1] In 1890 Lady Wilde received a pension of £50 from the Civil List.

[2] The subject for this year, 1874, was 'The Fragments of the Greek
Comic Poets, as edited by Meineke.' The medal was presented annually,
from a fund left for the purpose by Bishop Berkeley.

[3] The demyship was of the annual value of £95, and was tenable for
five years. Oscar Wilde's success was announced in the _University
Gazette_ (Oxford), July 11, 1874.

[4] On Wednesday, May 1st, Oscar Wilde, dressed as Prince Rupert, was
present at a fancy dress ball given by Mrs. George Herbert Morrell at
Headington Hill Hall.

[5] 'The Newdigate was listened to with rapt attention and frequently
applauded.'--_Oxford and Cambridge Undergraduates' Journal_, June 27,
1878.

[6] The degree of B. A. was conferred upon him on Thursday, Novemher
28, 1878.

[7] Amongst the places he visited were New York, Louisville (Kentucky),
Omaha City and California. In the autumn of this same year, 1882, after
leaving the States, Mr. Wilde went to Canada and thence to Nova Scotia,
arriving at Halifax about October 8th.

[8] The announcement in _The Times_ of May 31, 1884, was as
follows:--'May 29, at S. James's Church, Paddington, by the Rev. Walter
Abbott, Vicar, Oscar, younger son of the late Sir William Wilde, M. D.,
of Dublin, to Constance Mary, only daughter of the late Horace Lloyd,
Esq., Q. C.'

[9] Of _The Importance of Being Earnest_ the author is reported to have
said, 'The first act is ingenious, the second beautiful, the third
abominably clever.' It was revived by Mr. George Alexander at the St.
James's Theatre on January 7, 1902; and _Lady Windermere's Fan_ on
November 19, 1904.



                     *       *       *       *       *


                       [Illustration: A cross.]


                                Oscar Wilde

                     OCT. 16TH, 1854--NOV. 30TH, 1900.

                     VERBIS MEIS ADDERE NIHIL AUDEBANT
                     ET SUPER ILLOS STILLABAT ELOQUIUM
                                   MEUM.

                               JOB XXIX, 22

                                 R. I. P.


                 _Inscription on Oscar Wilde's Tombstone._


                     *       *       *       *       *



                     _Letters from M. André Gide._


                                  I.


 CHÂTEAU DE CUVERVILLE,

 PAR CRIQUETOT L'ESNEVAL,

 SNE. INFERIEURE.

 Monsieur,

 Quelque plaisir que j'aurai de voir mon étude sur Wilde traduite en
 anglais, je ne puis vous répondre avant d'avoir correspondu avec mon
 éditeur. L'article en question, après avoir paru dans 'l'Ermitage,'
 a été réunie à d'autres études dans un volume, _Prétextes_, que le
 _Mercure de France_ édita l'an dernier. Un traité me lie à cette
 maison et je ne suis pas libre de décider seul.

 Votre lettre a mis quelque temps à me parvenir ici, où pourtant
 j'habite. Dès que j'aurai la réponse du _Mercure de France_ je
 m'empresserai de vous la faire savoir.

 Veuillez croire, Monsieur, à l'assurance de mes meilleurs sentiments.

                                                     ANDRÉ GIDE.

_Septembre 9, 1904._


                                  II.

 Monsieur,

 Je laisse à mon éditeur le soin de vous écrire au sujet des conditions
 de la publication en anglais de mon étude..... Je désire, comme je
 vous le disais, que la traduction que vous proposez de faire se
 reporte au texte donné par le _Mercure de France_ dans mon volume
 _Prétextes_, et non à celui, fautif, de 'l'Ermitage.'....

 Le texte des contes de Wilde que je cite s'éloigne, ainsi que vous
 pouvez le voir, du texte anglais que Wilde lui-même en a donné. Il
 importe que ce _texte oral_ reste différent du texte écrit de ces
 'poems in prose.' Je crois, si ridicule que cela puisse paraître
 d'abord, qu'il faut retraduire en anglais le texte francais que j'en
 donne (et que j'ai écrit presque sous la dictée de Wilde) et non pas
 citer simplement le texte anglais tel que Wilde le rédigea plus tard.
 L'effet en est très différent.

 Veuillez croire, Monsieur, à l'assurance de mes sentiments les
 meilleurs.

                                                     ANDRÉ GIDE.

_Septembre 14th, 1904._


                   *       *       *       *       *


                              Oscar Wilde

I was at Biskra in December, 1900, when I learned through the
newspapers of the lamentable end of Oscar Wilde. Distance, alas!
prevented me from joining in the meagre procession which followed his
body to the cemetery at Bagneux. It was of no use reproaching myself
that my absence would seem to diminish still further the small number
of friends who remained faithful to him--at least I wanted to write
these few pages at once, but for a considerable period Wilde's name
seemed to become once more the property of the newspapers.

Now that every idle rumour connected with his name, so sadly famous,
is hushed; now that the mob is at last wearied after having praised,
wondered at, and then reviled him, perhaps, a friend may be allowed
to lay, like a wreath on a forsaken grave, these lines of affection,
admiration, and respectful pity.

When the trial, with all its scandal, which so excited the public mind
in England threatened to wreck his life, certain writers and artists
attempted to carry out, in the name of literature and art, a kind of
rescue. It was hoped that by praising the writer the man would be
excused. Unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding here, for it must
be acknowledged that Wilde was not a great writer. The leaden buoy
which was thrown to him helped only to weigh him down; his works, far
from keeping him up, seemed to sink with him. In vain were some hands
stretched out: the torrent of the world overwhelmed him--all was over.

[Illustration: OSCAR WILDE AT OXFORD, 1878.]

It was not possible at that time to think of defending him in any other
way. Instead of trying to shelter the man behind his work, it was
necessary to show forth first the man as an object of admiration--as
I am going to try to do now--and then the work itself illuminated by
his personality. 'I have put all my genius into my life; I have put
only my talent into my works,' said Wilde once. Great writer, no, but
great _viveur_, yes, if one may use the word in the fullest sense of
the French term. Like certain Greek philosophers of old, Wilde did not
write his wisdom, but spoke and lived it, entrusting it rashly to the
fleeting memory of man, thereby writing it as it were on water.

Let those who knew him for a longer time than I did, tell the story of
his life. One of those who listened to him the most eagerly relates
here simply a few personal recollections.



                                  I.

    And the mighty nations would have crowned me, who
         am crownless now and without name,
    And some orient dawn had found me kneeling on the
         threshold of the House of Fame.



                                  I.

Those who became acquainted with Wilde only in the latter years of his
life form a wrong conception of the wonderful creature he formerly was,
if they judge from the enfeebled and crushed being given back to us
from prison, as Ernest Lajeunesse paints him, for instance, in the best
or rather the only passable article on the great reprobate which any
one has had the talent or the courage to write[1].

It was in 1891 that I met him for the first time. Wilde had
then what Thackeray calls 'one of the greatest of a great man's
qualities'--success[2]. His manner and his appearance were triumphant.
His success was so assured that it seemed to go in front of him, and
he had only to advance. His books were causing wonder and delight. All
London was soon to rush to see his plays[3]. He was rich, he was great,
he was handsome, he was loaded with happiness and honours.

Some compared him to an Asiatic Bacchus, others to some Roman Emperor,
and others again to Apollo himself,--in short, he was resplendent.
In Paris his name passed from mouth to mouth as soon as he arrived.
Several absurd sayings went round concerning him, as that after all he
was only the man who smoked gold-tipped cigarettes, and walked about
the streets with a sunflower in his hand. For, skilful in misleading
those who are the heralds of earthly fame, Wilde knew how to hide his
real personality behind an amusing phantom, with which he humorously
deluded the public.

I had heard him talked about at Stéphane Mallarmé's house, where he was
described as a brilliant conversationalist, and I expressed a wish to
know him, little hoping that I should ever do so. A happy chance, or
rather a friend, gave me the opportunity, and to him I made known my
desire. Wilde was invited to dinner. It was at a restaurant. We were a
party of four, but three of us were content to listen. Wilde did not
converse--he told tales. During the whole meal he hardly stopped. He
spoke in a slow, musical tone, and his very voice was wonderful. He
knew French almost perfectly, but pretended, now and then, to hesitate
a little for a word to which he wanted to call our attention. He had
scarcely any accent, at least only what it pleased him to affect when
it might give a somewhat new or strange appearance to a word--for
instance, he used purposely to pronounce _scepticisme_ as skepticisme.
The stories he told us without a break that evening were not of his
best. Uncertain of his audience he was testing us, for, in his wisdom,
or perhaps in his folly, he never betrayed himself into saying anything
which he thought would not be to the taste of his hearers; so he doled
out food to each according to his appetite. Those who expected nothing
from him got nothing, or only a little light froth, and as at first
he used to give himself up to the task of amusing, many of those who
thought they knew him will have known him only as the amuser.

When dinner was over we went out. My two friends walking together,
Wilde took me aside and said quite suddenly, 'You hear with your eyes;
that is why I am going to tell you this story.'

He began:--

 'When Narcissus died, the Flowers of the Fields were plunged in grief,
 and asked the River for drops of water that they might mourn for him.

 '"Oh," replied the River, "if all my drops of water were tears, I
 should not have enough to weep for Narcissus myself--I loved him."

 '"How could you help loving Narcissus?" rejoined the Flowers, "so
 beautiful was he."

 '"Was he beautiful?" asked the River.

 '"And who should know that better than yourself?" said the Flowers,
 "for, every day, lying on your bank, he would mirror his own beauty in
 your waters."'

Wilde stopped for a moment, and then went on:--

 '"If I loved him," replied the River, "it is because when he hung over
 my waters I saw the reflection of my waters in his eyes."'

Then Wilde, drawing himself up, added with a strange outburst of
laughter, 'That is called _The Disciple_.'

We had reached his door, and left him. He asked me to meet him again.
During the course of that year and the next I saw him frequently and
everywhere.

                   *       *       *       *       *

In the presence of others, as I have mentioned, Wilde would put on an
air of showing off in order to astonish, or amuse, or even exasperate
people. He never listened to, and scarcely took any notice of an idea
from the moment it was no longer purely his own. When he was no longer
the only one to shine, he would shut himself up, and emerge again
only when one found oneself alone with him once more. But as soon as
we were alone again he would begin, 'Well, what have you been doing
since yesterday?' Now, as at that time my life was passing uneventfully
enough, the telling of what I had been doing was of no interest. So,
to humour him, I began recounting some trifling incidents, and noticed
while I was speaking that Wilde's face was growing gloomy.

'You really did that?' he said.

'Yes,' I answered.

'And you are speaking the truth?'

'Absolutely.'

'Then why repeat it? You must see that it is not of the slightest
importance. You must understand that there are two worlds--the one
exists and is never talked about; it is called the real world because
there is no need to talk about it in order to see it. The other is the
world of Art; one must talk about that, because otherwise it would not
exist.'

Then he went on:--

 'Once upon a time there was a man who was beloved in his village
 because he used to tell tales. Every morning he left the village, and
 when he returned in the evening all the labourers of the village who
 had been working all the day would crowd round him and say, "Come,
 now, tell us a tale. What have you seen to-day?"

 'The man said, "I have seen in the forest a Faun playing on a flute
 and making a band of little wood-nymphs dance."

 '"Go on with your story; what did you see?" the men would say.

 '"When I reached the sea-shore, I saw three mermaids beside the waves,
 combing their green hair with golden combs."

 'And the villagers loved him because he used to tell them tales.

 'One morning he left his village as usual, and when he reached the
 sea-shore he saw three mermaids at the water's edge combing their
 green hair with golden combs. And as he passed on his way he saw, near
 a wood, a Faun playing a flute to a band of wood-nymphs.

 'That evening when he returned to his village the people said to him
 as they did every evening, "Come, tell us a tale: what have you seen?"

 'And the man answered, "I have seen nothing."'

Wilde stopped for a moment to allow the effect of the story to sink
into me, and then he continued, 'I do not like your lips; they are
quite straight, like the lips of a man who has never told a lie. I want
you to learn to lie so that your lips may become beautiful and curved
like the lips of an antique mask.

'Do you know what makes the work of art, and what makes the work of
nature? Do you know what the difference is? For the narcissus is as
beautiful as a work of art, so what distinguishes them cannot be merely
beauty. Do you know what it is that distinguishes them? A work of art
is always unique. Nature, who makes nothing durable, is ever repeating
herself, so that nothing she makes may be lost. A single narcissus
produces many blooms--that is why each one lives but a day. Every time
Nature invents a new form she at once makes a _replica_. A sea-monster
in one sea knows that in another sea there is another monster like
itself. When God creates in history a Nero, a Borgia or a Napoleon
He puts another one on one side. No one knows it, but that does not
matter; the important point is that _one_ may be a success. For God
makes man, and man makes the work of art.'

Forestalling what I was on the point of saying, he proceeded, 'Yes,
I know ... one day a great restlessness fell upon the earth, as if,
at last, Nature was going to create something unique, something quite
unique, and Christ is born on earth. Yes, I know, quite well, but
listen:--

 'When Joseph of Arimathæa came down in the evening from Mount Calvary
 where Jesus had just died, he saw on a white stone a young man seated
 weeping. And Joseph went near to him and said, "I understand how great
 thy grief must be, for certainly that Man was a just Man." But the
 young man made answer, "Oh, it is not for that that I am weeping. I am
 weeping because I, too, have wrought miracles. I also have given sight
 to the blind, I have healed the palsied, and I have raised the dead;
 I, too, have caused the barren fig-tree to wither away, and I have
 turned water into wine. And yet they have not crucified me[4]."'

And that Oscar Wilde was convinced of his representative mission was
made quite clear to me on more than one occasion.

The Gospel disturbed and troubled the pagan Wilde. He could not
forgive it its miracles. The pagan miracle lies in the work of Art;
Christianity encroached on it. Every strong departure from realism in
art demands a realism which is convinced in life. His most ingenious
fables, his most alarming ironies were uttered with a view to confront
the two moralities--I mean, pagan naturalism and Christian idealism,
and to put the latter out of countenance in every respect. This is
another of his stories:--

 'When Jesus was minded to return to Nazareth, Nazareth was so changed
 that He no longer recognised His own city. The Nazareth where He had
 lived was full of lamentations and tears; this city was filled with
 outbursts of laughter and song. And Christ entering into the city saw
 some slaves laden with flowers, hastening towards the marble staircase
 of a house of white marble. Christ entered into the house, and at the
 back of a hall of jasper He saw, lying on a purple couch, a man whose
 disordered locks were mingled with red roses, and whose lips were
 red with wine. Christ drew near to him, and laying His hand on his
 shoulder said to him, "Why dost thou lead this life?" The man turned
 round, recognized Him and said, "I was a leper once; Thou didst heal
 me. Why should I live another life? "

 Christ went out of the house, and behold! in the street He saw a woman
 whose face and raiment were painted and whose feet were shod with
 pearls. And behind her walked a man who wore a cloak of two colours,
 and whose eyes were bright with lust. And Christ went up to the man
 and laid His hand on his shoulder, and said to him, "Tell Me why art
 thou following this woman, and why dost thou look at her in such
 wise?" The man turning round recognized Him and said, "I was blind;
 Thou didst heal me; what else should I do with my sight?"

 'And Christ drew near to the woman and said to her, "This road which
 thou art following is the pathway of sin; why follow it?" The woman
 recognized Him, and laughing said, "The way which I follow is a
 pleasant way, and Thou hast pardoned all my sins."

 'Then Christ felt His heart filled with sadness, and He was minded to
 leave the city. But as He was going out of it He saw sitting by the
 bank of the moat of the city, a young man who was weeping. He drew
 near to him, and touching the locks of his hair, said to him, "Friend,
 why dost thou weep?" The young man raised his eyes, recognized Him and
 made answer, "I was dead and Thou hast raised me to life. What else
 should I do with my life?"'

Let me tell this one story more, illustrating one of the strangest
pitfalls into which the imagination can mislead a man, and let any one,
who is able, understand the strange paradox which Wilde here makes use
of:--

 'Then there was a great silence in the Judgment Hall of God. And the
 Soul of the sinner stood naked before God.

 'And God opened the Book of the life of the sinner and said, "Surely
 thy life hath been very evil. Thou hast" (there followed a wonderful,
 a marvellous list of sins[5]). "Since thou hast done all this, surely
 I will send thee to Hell."

 'And the man cried out, "Thou canst not send me to Hell."

 'And God said to the man, "Wherefore can I not send thee to Hell?"

 'And the man made answer and said, "Because in Hell I have always
 lived."

 'And there was a great silence in the Judgment Hall of God.

 'And God spake and said to the man, "Seeing that I may not send thee
 to Hell, I am going to send thee to Heaven."

 '"Thou canst not send me to Heaven."

 'And God said to the man, "Wherefore can I not send thee to Heaven?"

 'And the man said, "Because I have never been able to imagine it."

 'And there was a great silence in the Judgment Hall of God[6].'

One morning Wilde handed me an article in which a sufficiently dense
critic congratulated him on 'knowing how to write pretty stories in
which the better to clothe his thoughts.'

'They think,' began Wilde, 'that all thoughts come naked to the birth.
They do not understand that I _cannot_ think otherwise than in stories.
The sculptor does not try to reproduce his thoughts in marble; _he
thinks in marble_, straight away. Listen:--

 'There was once a man who could think only in bronze. And this man one
 day had an idea, an idea of _The Pleasure that Abideth for a Moment_.
 And he felt that he must give expression to it. But in the whole world
 there was but one single piece of bronze, for men had used it all up.
 And this man felt that he would go mad if he did not give expression
 to his idea. And he remembered a piece of bronze on the tomb of his
 wife, a statue which he had himself fashioned to set on the tomb of
 his wife, the only woman he had ever loved. It was the image of _The
 Sorrow that Endureth for Ever_. And the man felt that he was becoming
 mad, because he could not give expression to his idea. Then he took
 this image of Sorrow, of the _Sorrow that endureth for Ever_, and
 broke it up and melted it and fashioned of it an Image of Pleasure, of
 the _Pleasure that abideth for a Moment_.'

Wilde was a believer in a certain fatality besetting the path of the
artist, and that the _Man_ is at the mercy of the Idea. 'There are,' he
used to say, 'artists of two kinds: some supply answers, and others ask
questions. It is necessary to know if one belongs to those who answer
or to those who ask questions; for the one who asks questions is never
the one who answers them. There are certain works which wait for their
interpretation for a long time. It is because they are giving answers
to questions that have not yet been asked--for the question often comes
a terribly long time after the answer.'

And he added further, 'The soul is born old in the body; it is to
rejuvenate the soul that the body becomes old. Plato is Socrates young
again.'

Then it was three years before I saw him again.


[1] In _La Revue Blanche_.

[2] _Henry Esmond_, Book II, chap. XI. Thackeray puts these words into
the mouth of the famous Mr. Joseph Addison, who continues:--''T is the
result of all the others; 't is a latent power in him which compels the
favour of the gods, and subjugates fortune.'

[3] Oscar Wilde's first play, _Lady Windermere's Fan_, was produced
at the St. James's Theatre on February 20, 1892. This was followed by
_A Woman of No Importance_, April 19, 1893, and _An Ideal Husband_,
January, 3, 1895, at Haymarket; and _The Importance of Being Earnest_,
February 14, 1895, at the St. James's.

[4] This story appeared under the title of 'The Master' with other
Poems in Prose in _The Fortnightly Review_ for July, 1894. Two of them,
'The Disciple' and 'The House of Judgment,' were first published in
_The Spirit Lamp_ in 1893. This was a magazine published at Oxford
under the editorship of Lord Alfred Douglas, who had recently bought it
from the founder and changed its style and form. A complete set of the
fifteen numbers is now exceedingly scarce.

[5] Henri Davray translated these 'Poems in Prose' in _La Revue
Blanche_.

[6] Since Villiers de l'Isle-Adam has betrayed it, every one knows,
alas! the great secret of the Church: _There is no Purgatory!_



                                  II.

    I have made my choice, have lived my poems, and
         though youth is gone in wasted days,
    I have found the lover's crown of myrtle better than
         the poet's crown of bays.



                                  II.

Here tragic reminiscences begin.

A persistent rumour, growing louder and louder with the fame of his
successes (in London his plays were being acted in no less than three
different theatres at the same time[1]), attributed to Wilde strange
habits, on hearing of which, some people tempered their indignation
with a smile, while others were not in the least indignant. It was
claimed, moreover, as regards these alleged habits, that he concealed
them little, and often on the other hand paraded them--some said
courageously, others out of cynicism, and others for a pose. I was
filled with astonishment when I heard these rumours. In no way, all the
time that I had been intimate with him, had he given me the slightest
ground for suspicion. But already out of prudence numbers of his old
friends were deserting him. They did not yet actually cut him, but they
no longer made a point of saying they had met him.

An extraordinary coincidence brought us together again. It was in
January, 1895. I was travelling. A peevish disposition urged me on,
and I sought solitude rather than novelty of scene. The weather was
frightful. I had fled from Algiers to Blidah, and I was about to quit
Blidah for Biskra. Just as I was leaving my hotel, I glanced, through
idle curiosity, at the slate on which visitors' names were inscribed.
What did I see there? By the side of my own name, actually touching it,
was Wilde's. I have said that I was thirsting to be alone, so I took
the sponge and rubbed my name out. Before reaching the railway station,
however, I was not quite sure that a little cowardice did not underlie
that act, so at once retracing my steps I had my bag taken upstairs and
wrote my name on the slate again.

In the three years since I had seen him--for I can hardly count a short
meeting in Florence the year before--Wilde had certainly changed.
One felt that there was less tenderness in his look, that there was
something harsh in his laughter and a madness in his joy. He seemed,
at the same time, to be more sure of pleasing and less ambitious to
succeed therein. He had grown reckless, hardened, and conceited.
Strangely enough, he no longer spoke in fables, and during several days
that I tarried there I was not once able to draw the shortest tale from
him. My first impression was one of astonishment at finding him in
Algeria.

'Oh,' he said to me, 'just now I am fleeing from art. I want only to
adore the sun. Have you ever noticed how the sun detests thought? The
sun always causes thought to withdraw itself and take refuge in the
shade. Thought dwelt in Egypt originally, but the sun conquered Egypt;
then it lived for a long time in Greece, and the sun conquered Greece,
then in Italy, and then in France. Nowadays all thought is driven back
as far as Norway and Russia, places where the sun never goes. The sun
is jealous of art.'

To adore the sun, ah! that was--for him--to adore life. Wilde's lyrical
adoration was fast becoming a frenzied madness. A fatality led him
on; he could not and would not withdraw himself from it. He seemed to
devote all his zeal and all his worth to over-rating his destiny, and
over-reaching himself. '_My_ special duty,' he used to say, 'is to
plunge madly into amusement.' He used to make a point of searching for
pleasure as one faces an appointed duty. Nietzsche surprised me less,
on a later occasion, because I had heard Wilde say, 'No, not happiness!
Certainly not happiness! Pleasure. One must always set one's heart upon
the most tragic.'

He would walk about the streets of Algiers preceded, escorted, and
followed by an extraordinary mob of young ruffians. He talked to
them all, regarded them all with equal delight, and threw them money
recklessly. 'I hope to have thoroughly demoralized this town,' he told
me. I thought of Flaubert's saying when he was asked what kind of
reputation he most desired--'that of being a demoralizer,' he replied.
In the face of all this I was filled with astonishment, admiration, and
alarm. I knew of his shaky position, the enmities he had created, and
the attacks which were being made upon him, and I knew what dark unrest
lay hidden beneath his outward pretence of pleasure.

On one of those last evenings in Algiers, Wilde seemed to have made up
his mind not to say a single serious word. At last I became somewhat
annoyed at the exaggerated wit of his paradoxes, and I said to him,
'You have got something better to talk about than this nonsense; you
are talking to me as if I were the public. You ought rather to talk to
the public as you know so well how to talk to your friends. Why is it
your plays are not better? The best that is in you, you talk; why do
you not write it?' 'Oh, well,' he cried immediately, 'my plays are not
good, I know, and I don't trouble about that, but if you only knew how
much amusement they afford! They are nearly all the results of a bet.
So was _Dorian Gray_--I wrote that in a few days because a friend of
mine declared that I could not write a novel. Writing bores me so.'

[Illustration: OSCAR WILDE, 1893.]

Then, turning suddenly towards me, he said, 'Would you like to know the
great drama of my life? It is that I have put my genius into my life--I
have put only my talent into my works.'

It was only too true. The best of his writing is but a poor reflection
of his brilliant conversation. Those who have heard him talk find him
disappointing to read. _Dorian Gray_ in its conception was a wonderful
story, far superior to _La Peau de Chagrin_, and far more significant!
Alas! when written, what a masterpiece spoiled. In his most delightful
tales literary influence makes itself too much felt. However graceful
they may be, one notices too much literary effort; affectation and
delicacy of phrase[2] conceal the beauty of the first conception of
them. One feels in them, and one cannot help feeling in them, the
three periods of their generation. The first idea contained in them is
very beautiful, simple, profound, and certain to make itself heard;
a kind of latent necessity holds the parts firmly together, but from
that point the gift stops. The development of the parts is done in an
artificial manner; there is a lack of arrangement about them, and when
Wilde elaborates his sentences and endeavours to give them their full
value, he does so by overloading them prodigiously with tiny conceits
and quaint and trifling fancies. The result is that one's emotion is
held at bay, and the dazzling of the surface so blinds one's eyes and
mind, that the deep central emotion is lost.

He spoke of returning to London, as a well-known peer was insulting
him, challenging him, and taunting him with running away.

'But if you go back what will happen? 'I asked him. 'Do you know the
risk you are running?'

'It is best never to know,' he answered. 'My friends are
extraordinary--they beg me to be careful. Careful? but can I be
careful? That would be a backward step. I must go on as far as
possible. I cannot go much further. Something is bound to happen ...
something else.'

Here he broke off, and the next day he left for England.

The rest of the story is well-known. That 'something else' was hard
labour.

 [I have invented nothing, nor altered anything, in the last few
 sentences I have quoted. Wilde's words are fixed in my mind, and, I
 might almost say, in my ears. I do not say that Wilde clearly saw the
 prison opening to receive him, but I do assert that the great and
 unexpected event which astonished and upset London, suddenly changing
 Oscar Wilde from accuser into accused, did not cause him any surprise.

 The newspapers, which chose to see in him only a buffoon,
 misrepresented, as far as they could, the position taken up for his
 defence, even to the extent of wresting all meaning from it. Perhaps
 some day in the far future it will be seemly to lift this dreadful
 trial out of the mire--but not yet.]


[1] _An Ideal Husband_ at the Haymarket and _The Importance of Being
Earnest_ at the St. James's. Possibly _Lady Windermere's Fan_ or _A
Woman of No Importance_ was being played at a suburban theatre at the
same time.

[2] M. Gide first wrote _euphuisme_ but altered it to _euphémisme_ on
republishing his 'Study' in _Prétextes_. Euphuism or 'extreme nicety
in language' seems to be more appropriate in the present case than
euphemism or 'a softening of offensive expressions.'



                                 III.

    For the crimson flower of our life is eaten by the cankerworm
         of truth.
    And no hand can gather up the fallen withered petals
         of the rose of youth.



                                 III.

As soon as he came out of prison, Oscar Wilde went back to France. At
Berneval, a quiet little village near Dieppe, a certain 'Sebastian
Melmoth' took up his abode. It was he. As I had been the last of his
French friends to see him, I wanted to be the first to greet him on
his return to liberty, and as soon as I could find out his address I
hastened to him.

I arrived about midday without having previously announced my proposed
visit. M. Melmoth, whom T----[1] with warm cordiality invited to Dieppe
fairly frequently, was not expected back till the evening. He did not
return till midnight.

It was as cold as winter. The weather was atrocious. The whole day I
wandered about the deserted beach in low spirits and bored to death.
How could Wilde have chosen Berneval to live in, I wondered. It was
positively mournful. Night came, and I went back to the hotel to engage
a room, the same hotel where Melmoth was living--indeed it was the only
one in the place. The hotel, which was clean and pleasantly situated,
catered only for second-class boarders, inoffensive folk enough, with
whom I had to dine. Rather poor company for Melmoth, I thought.

Fortunately I had a book to read, but it was a gloomy evening, and at
eleven o'clock I was just going to abandon my intention of waiting up
for him when I heard the rumbling of carriage wheels. M. Melmoth had
arrived, benumbed with cold. He had lost his overcoat on the way. And,
now that he came to think of it, he remembered that a peacock's feather
which his servant had brought him the previous evening was a bad omen,
and had clearly foretold some misfortune about to befall him; luckily
it was no worse. But as he was shivering with cold, the hotel was set
busy to warm some whiskey for him. He hardly said 'How do you do?' to
me. In the presence of others, at least, he did not wish to appear to
be at all moved. And my own emotion was almost immediately stilled on
finding Sebastian Melmoth so plainly like the Oscar Wilde of old--no
longer the frenzied poet of Algeria, but the sweet Wilde of the days
before the crisis; and I found myself taken back not two years, but
four or five. There was the same dreamy look, the same amused smile,
the same voice.

He occupied two rooms, the best in the hotel, and he had arranged them
with great taste. Several books lay on the table, and among them he
showed me my own _Nourritures Terrestres_, which had been published
lately. A pretty Gothic Virgin stood on a high pedestal in a dark
corner.

Presently we sat down near the lamp, Wilde drinking his grog in little
sips. I noticed, now that the light was better, that the skin of his
face had become red and common looking, and his hands even more so,
though they still bore the same rings--one to which he was especially
attached had in a reversible bezel an Egyptian scarabæus in lapis
lazuli. His teeth were dreadfully decayed.

We began chatting, and I reminded him of our last meeting in Algiers,
and asked him if he remembered that I had almost foretold the
approaching catastrophe.

'Did you not know,' I said, 'almost for certain what was awaiting you
in England? You saw the danger and rushed headlong into it, did you
not?'

Here I think I cannot do better than copy out the pages on which I
wrote shortly afterwards as much as I could remember of what he said.

'Oh, naturally,' he replied, 'of course I knew that there would be
a catastrophe, either that or something else; I was expecting it.
There was but one end possible. Just imagine--to go any further was
impossible, and that state of things could not last. That is why there
had to be some end to it, you see. Prison has completely changed me[2].
I was relying on it for that. ---is terrible. He cannot understand
that--he cannot understand that I am not taking up the same existence
again. He accuses the others of having changed me--but one must never
take up the same existence again. My life is like a work of art. An
artist never begins the same work twice, or else it shows that he has
not succeeded. My life before prison was as successful as possible. Now
all that is finished and done with.'

He lighted a cigarette and went on: 'The public is so dreadful that it
knows a man only by the last thing he has done. If I were to go back
to Paris now, people would see in me only the convict. I do not want
to show myself again before I have written a play. Till then I must
be left alone and undisturbed.' And he added abruptly, 'Did I not do
well to come here? My friends wanted me to go to the South to recruit,
because at first I was quite worn out. But I asked them to find me, in
the North of France, a very small place at the seaside, where I should
see no one, where it was very cold and there was hardly ever any sun.
Did I not do well to come and live at Berneval? [Outside the weather
was frightful.] Here every one is most good to me--the Curé especially.
I am so fond of the little church, and, would you believe it, it is
called _Notre Dame de Liesse_[3]! Now, is not that charming? And now
I know that I can never leave Berneval, because only this morning the
Curé offered me a perpetual seat in the choir-stalls.

And the Custom-house men, poor fellows, are so bored here with nothing
to do, that I asked them if they had not anything to read, and now I
am giving them all the elder Dumas' novels. So I must stay here, you
see. And the children, oh, the children they adore me. On the day of
the Queen's Jubilee I gave a grand fête and a big dinner, when I had
forty children from the school, all of them, and the schoolmaster, to
celebrate it. Is not that absolutely charming? You know that I admire
the Queen very much. I always have her portrait with me.'

And he showed me her portrait by Nicholson, pinned on the wall. I
got up to look at it. A small bookshelf was close to it, and I began
glancing at the books. I wanted to lead Wilde on to talk to me in a
more serious vein. I sat down again, and rather timidly asked him if he
had read _Souvenirs de la Maison des Morts_.

He gave me no direct answer, but began:--'Russian writers are
extraordinary. What makes their books so great is the pity they put
into them. You know how fond I used to be of _Madame Bovary_, but
Flaubert would not admit pity into his work, and that is why it has a
petty and restrained character about it. It is sense of pity by means
of which a work gains in expanse, and by which it opens up a boundless
horizon. Do you know, my dear fellow, it was pity that prevented me
from killing myself? During the first six months I was dreadfully
unhappy, so utterly miserable that I wanted to kill myself, but what
kept me from doing so was looking at _the others_, and seeing that they
were as unhappy as I was, and feeling sorry for them. Oh, dear! what a
wonderful thing pity is, and I never knew it.'

He was speaking in a low voice without any excitement.

'Have you ever learned how wonderful a thing pity is? For my part I
thank God every night, yes, on my knees I thank God for having taught
it to me. I went into prison with a heart of stone, thinking only of
my own pleasure, but now my heart is utterly broken--pity has entered
into my heart. I have learned now that pity is the greatest and most
beautiful thing in the world. And that is why I cannot bear ill-will
towards those who caused my suffering and those who condemned me;
no, nor to any one, because without them I should not have known all
that. ---- writes me terrible letters. He says he does not understand
me, that he does not understand that I do not wish every one ill, and
that every one has been horrid to me. No, he does not understand me.
He cannot understand me any more. But I keep on telling him that in
every letter: we cannot follow the same road. He has his, and it is
beautiful--I have mine. His is that of Alcibiades; mine is now that of
St. Francis of Assisi. Do you know St. Francis of Assisi? A wonderful
man! Would you like to give me a great pleasure? Send me the best life
of St. Francis you can find.'

I promised it to him. He went on:

'Yes, afterwards we had a charming prison Governor, oh, quite a
charming man, but for the first six months I was dreadfully unhappy.
There was a Governor of the prison, a Jew, who was very harsh, because
he was entirely lacking in imagination.'

This last expression, spoken very quickly, was irresistibly funny; and,
as I laughed heartily, he laughed too, repeated it, and then said:

'He did not know what to imagine in order to make us suffer. Now, you
shall see what a lack of imagination he showed. You must know that in
prison we are allowed to go out only one hour a day; then, we walk in a
courtyard, round and round, one behind the other, and we are absolutely
forbidden to say a word. Warders watch us, and there are terrible
punishments for any one caught talking. Those who are in prison for the
first time are spotted at once, because they do not know how to speak
without moving their lips. I had already been in prison six weeks and I
had not spoken a word to anyone--not to a soul[4].

'One evening we were walking as usual, one behind the other, during the
hour's exercise, when suddenly behind me I heard my name called. It was
the prisoner who followed me, and he said, "Oscar Wilde, I pity you,
because you must suffer more than we do." Then I made a great effort
not to be noticed (I thought I was going to faint), and I said without
turning round, "No, my friend, we all suffer alike." And from that day
I no longer had a desire to kill myself. We talked in that way for
several days. I knew his name and what he had done. His name was P----;
he was such a good fellow; oh! so good. But I had not yet learned to
speak without moving my lips, and one evening,--"C.3.3." (C.3.3. was
myself), "C.3.3. and A.4.8. step out of the ranks."

'Then we stood out, and the warder said, "You will both have to go
before the Governor." And as pity had already entered into my heart, my
only fear was for him; in fact I was even glad that I might suffer for
his sake. But the Governor was quite terrible. He had P---- in first;
he was going to question us separately, because you must know that the
punishment is not the same for the one who speaks first, and for the
one who answers; the punishment of the one who speaks first is double
that of the other. As a rule the first has fifteen days' solitary
confinement, and the second has eight days only. Then the Governor
wanted to know which of us had spoken first, and naturally P----, good
fellow that he was, said it was he. And afterwards when the Governor
had me in to question me, I, of course, said it was I. Then the
Governor got very red because he could not understand it. "But P----
also says that it was he who began it. I cannot understand it. I cannot
understand it."

'Think of it, my dear fellow, he could =not= understand it. He became
very much embarrassed and said, "But I have already given him fifteen
days," and then he added, "Anyhow, if that is the case, I shall give
you both fifteen days." Is not that extraordinary? That man had not a
spark of imagination[5].'

Wilde was vastly amused at what he was saying, and laughed--he was
happy telling stories. 'And, of course,' he continued, 'after the
fifteen days we were much more anxious to speak to one another than
before. You do not know how sweet that is, to feel that one is
suffering for another. Gradually, as we did not go in the same order
each day, I was able to talk to each of the others, to all of them,
every one of them. I knew each one's name and each one's history, and
when each was due to be released. And to each one I said, "When you get
out of prison, the first thing you must do is to go to the Post Office,
and there you will find a letter for you with some money." And so in
that way I still know them, because I keep up my friendship with them.
And there is something quite delightful in them. Would you believe
it, already three of them have been to see me here? Is not that quite
wonderful?'

'The successor of the harsh Governor was a very charming man--oh!
remarkably so--and most considerate to me. You cannot imagine how much
good it did me in prison that _Salomé_[6] was being played in Paris
just at that time. In prison, it had been entirely forgotten that I
was a literary person, but when they saw that my play was a success in
Paris, they said to one another, "Well, but that is strange; he has
talent, then." And from that moment they let me have all the books I
wanted to read[7]. I thought, at first, that what would please me most
would be Greek literature, so I asked for Sophocles, but I could not
get a relish for it. Then I thought of the Fathers of the Church, but I
found them equally uninteresting. And suddenly I thought of Dante. Oh!
Dante. I read Dante every day, in Italian, and all through, but neither
the _Purgatorio_ nor the _Paradiso_ seemed written for me. It was his
_Inferno_ above all that I read; how could I help liking it? Cannot you
guess? Hell, we were in it--Hell, that was prison!'[8]

That same evening he told me a clever story about Judas, and of his
proposed drama on Pharaoh. Next day he took me to a charming little
house[9], about two hundred yards from the hotel, which he had rented
and was beginning to furnish. It was there that he wanted to write his
plays--his _Pharoah_ first, and then one called _Ahab and Jezebel_ (he
pronounced it 'Isabelle'), which he related to me admirably.

The carriage which was to take me away was waiting, and Wilde got into
it to accompany me part of the way. He began talking to me again about
my book, and praised it, though with some slight reserve, I thought.
At last the carriage stopped; he bade me good-bye, and was just going
to get out, when he suddenly said, 'Listen, my dear friend, you must
promise me one thing. Your _Nourritures Terrestres_ is good, very good,
but promise me you will never write a capital "I" again.' And as I
seemed scarcely to understand what he meant, he finished up by saying,
'In Art, you see, there is no first person.'


[1] A literary friend who, a few years later, in collaboration, with
another, translated _Dorian Gray_ into French.

[2] 'No more beautiful life has any man lived, no more beautiful life
could any man live than Oscar Wilde lived during the short period I
knew him in prison. He wore upon his face an eternal smile; sunshine
was on his face, sunshine of some sort must have been in his heart.
People say he was not sincere: he was the very soul of sincerity when I
knew him. If he did not continue that life after he left prison, then
the forces of evil must have been too strong for him. But he tried, he
honestly tried, and in prison he succeeded.'--_From a Letter written to
the Translator_.

[3] An archaic French word from the Latin _laetitia_.

[4] Within the last few years the stringency of this regulation has
been somewhat relaxed, and it is in the discretion of the Governor to
allow conversation at certain times. The Governor of Reading Prison,
in the appendix to the Report of the Commissioners for the year ending
March 31, 1901, stated: 'The privilege of talking at exercise is much
appreciated by the prisoners. They walk and talk in a quiet and orderly
manner, and there have been no reports for misbehaviour.'

[5] Solitary confinement does not mean in a dark cell. The prisoner
still remains in his own cell, but is debarred from exercising with
the other prisoners, or accompanying them to Divine Service. The
confinement is not consecutive, but applies to every alternate day
only--thus, a prisoner sentenced to seven days' bread and water, or
solitary confinement, does but four days.

[6] _Salome_ was played in Paris early in 1896.

[7] Oscar Wilde found the prison library quite unable to satisfy his
wants, and he was allowed to receive books from outside. Such books
are then added to the prison library. Magazines are forbidden, but
novels allowed. In a letter written from prison early in 1897, Oscar
Wilde said that he felt a horror of returning to the world without
possessing a single volume of his own, and suggested that some of his
friends might like to give him some books. 'You know what kind of books
I want,' he says, 'Flaubert, Stevenson, Baudelaire, Maeterlinck, Dumas
père, Keats, Marlowe, Chatterton, Coleridge, Anatole France, Théophile
Gautier, Dante, and Goethe, and so on.'

[8] During the last three months or so of his imprisonment he did no
work whatever beyond writing _De Profundis_ and keeping his cell clean.
He was allowed gas in his cell up to a late hour, when it was turned
down but not turned out. As everything he wrote was examined by the
Governor, naturally the prison system is not attacked with the same
vehemence in _De Profundis_ as it is in _The Ballad of Reading Gaol_.

[9] This was the Chalet Bourbat where Wilde lived from July to October,
1897.



                                  IV.

    Ah! what else had I to do but love you, God's own
         mother was less dear to me,
    And less dear the Cytheræan rising like an argent lily
         from the sea.



                                  IV.

On returning to Paris I went to give news of him to ----.

---- said to me: 'But all that is quite absurd. He is quite incapable
of bearing the _ennui_. I know him so well. He writes to me every
day. I also am of opinion that he ought to finish his play first, but
after that he will come back here. He has never done anything good in
solitude; he needs to be constantly drawn out of himself. It is by my
side that he has written all his best work. Besides, just look at his
last letter.'

He thereupon read it to me. In it Wilde begged ---- to let him finish
his _Pharaoh_ in peace, but, in effect, the letter implied that as soon
as his play was written he would come back, he would find him again;
and it ended with these boastful words, 'and then I shall be once more
the King of Life.'



                                  V.

    Rudderless, we drift athwart a tempest, and when once
         the storm of youth is past,
    Without lyre, without lute or chorus, Death the silent
         pilot comes at last.


[Illustration: THE GRAVE AT BAGNEUX.]


                                  V.

And a short time afterwards, Wilde went back to Paris.[1]

His play was not written--it will never be written now. Society well
knows what steps to take when it wants to crush a man, and it has
means more subtle than death. Wilde had suffered too grievously for
the last two years, and in too submissive a manner, and his will had
been broken. For the first few months he might still have entertained
illusions, but he soon gave them up. It was as though he had signed his
abdication. Nothing remained in his shattered life but a mouldy ruin,
painful to contemplate, of his former self. At times he seemed to wish
to show that his brain was still active. Humour there was, but it was
far-fetched, forced, and threadbare.

I met him again on two occasions only. One evening on the Boulevards,
where I was walking with G----, I heard my name called. I turned round
and saw Wilde. Ah! how changed he was. 'If I appear again before
writing my play, the world will refuse to see in me anything except
the felon,' he had once said to me. He had appeared again, without his
play, and as he found certain doors closed in his face, he no longer
sought admission anywhere. He prowled.

Friends, at different times, tried to save him[2]. They did all they
could think of, and were for taking him to Italy, but he eluded their
efforts, and began to drift back. Among those who had remained faithful
for the longest time, some had often told me that Wilde was no longer
to be seen, and I was somewhat uneasy, I admit, at seeing him again,
and what is more, in a place where so many people might pass. Wilde was
sitting at a table outside a café. He ordered two cock-tails for G----
and myself. I was going to sit opposite to him in such a way as to turn
my back to the passers-by, but Wilde, noticed this movement, which he
took as an impulse of absurd shame, (he was not entirely mistaken, I
must admit), and said, 'Oh, sit here, near me,' pointing to a chair at
his side, 'I am so much alone just now.'

Wilde was still well-dressed, but his hat was not so glossy; his collar
was of the same shape, but it was not so clean, and the sleeves of his
coat were slightly frayed at the edges.

'When I used to meet Verlaine in days gone by,' he continued with an
outburst of pride, 'I was never ashamed of being seen with him. I was
rich, light-hearted, and covered with glory, but I felt that to be seen
with him was an honour, even when Verlaine was drunk.' Then fearing to
bore G----, I think, he suddenly changed his mood, tried to be witty
and to make jokes. In the effort he became gloomy. My recollections
here are dreadfully sad. At last my friend and I got up. Wilde insisted
on paying for the drinks, and I was about to say good-bye, when he took
me aside, and, with an air of great embarrassment, said in a low voice,
'I say, I must tell you, I am absolutely without a penny[3].

Some days afterwards I saw him again, and for the last time. I do
not want to repeat more than one word of our conversation. He told
me of his troubles, of the impossibility of carrying out, or even of
beginning, a piece of work[4]. Sadly I reminded him of the promise he
had made not to show himself in Paris without having finished one book.
'Ah!' I began, 'why did you leave Berneval so soon, when you ought to
have stayed there so long? I cannot say that I am angry with you, but--'

He interrupted me, laid his hand on mine, looked at me with his most
sorrowful look, and said, 'You must not be angry with _one who has been
crushed_[5].'

                   *       *       *       *       *

Oscar Wilde died in a shabby little hotel in the Rue des Beaux Arts.
Seven persons followed the hearse, and even they did not all accompany
the funeral procession to the end. On the coffin were some flowers
and some artificial wreaths, only one of which, I am told, bore any
inscription. It was from the proprietor of the hotel, and on it were
these words: 'A MON LOCATAIRE.'


[1] The representatives of his family were willing to guarantee Wilde a
very good position if he would consent to certain stipulations, one of
which was that he should never see ---- again. He was either unable or
unwilling to accept the conditions.

[2] In October, 1897, he stayed with friends at the Villa Gindice,
Posillipo, and was in Naples till the end of the year, or the beginning
of 1898, when he went to Paris. In the following year he went to the
South of France (Nice) for the spring, but was back in June or July. He
went also to Switzerland in 1899 and stayed some time at Gland.

[3] M. Gide says that Wilde's words were '_je suis absolument sans
ressources_,' which, I think, need not mean more than a temporary
embarrassment. I have been at some pains to find out what the actual
circumstances were, and I am able to state the following facts on the
authority of Lord Alfred Douglas. When Mr. Wilde came out of prison,
the sum of £800 was subscribed for him by his friends. Lord Alfred
Douglas gave or sent Mr. Wilde, in the last twelve months of his life,
cheques for over £600, as he can show by his bank-book, in addition to
ready money gifts, and several others gave him at various times amounts
totalling up to several hundreds of pounds. 'It is true,' Lord Alfred
Douglas writes, 'he was always hard up and short of money, but that was
because he was incurably extravagant and reckless. I think these facts
ought to be known in justice to myself and many others of his friends,
all poor men.' In another letter Lord Alfred Douglas says that Mr.
Wilde, when he was well off, before his disaster, was the most generous
of men. After 1897 received also large sums of money as advance fees
for plays which he never finished. 'I hope,' Lord Alfred Douglas
continues, 'you will not think that I blame him, or have any grievance
against him on any account. What I gave him I considered I owed him,
as he had often lent and given me money before he came to grief. I was
delighted that he should have it, and I wish I had had time to give him
more.' It was not, however, till after the death of his father, that
Lord Alfred Douglas was in a position to help Mr. Wilde to the extent
that he did, and Mr. Wilde died within a few months of the death of
Lord Queensberry.

Lord Alfred Douglas adds that he thinks 'it is about time that some of
the poisonous nonsense which has been written about Mr. Wilde should be
qualified by a little fact.'

It must be remembered, however, that large as the sums of money were
which Mr. Wilde received during the last few years of his life, they
would not appear so to him, as in the days of his highest success he
was receiving several thousands a year from his plays and other works.

It is since the first sheets of this book passed through the press that
I have been favoured with the information that Lord Alfred Douglas has
been good enough to give me, and I now wish to qualify the statement in
my introductory remarks that Mr. Wilde died 'in poverty.' It would be
more accurate to say 'in comparative poverty.'

[4] Two plays produced in London shortly hefore his death have been
attributed to Oscar Wilde. One of these, _The Tyranny of Tears_, does
not contain a single line of his. The other is _Mr. and Mrs. Daventry_,
the plot of which was originally Oscar Wilde's, and he sketched out
the scenario. The play was then sold to Mr. Frank Harris, who has
always acknowledged Wilde's share in it, but the piece was entirely
transformed, and except one or two of the situations in it there was
very little left of Wilde's idea.

Referring to such works as the translations of _Ce Qui ne Meurt pas_
and the _Satyricon_ which have heen issued under Oscar Wilde's name,
Mr. Robert Ross (the editor of _De Profundis_), writes:--'No one can
produce even a scrap of MS. in the author's handwriting of these
so-called "last works."'

[5] 'Scandals used to lend charm, or at least interest, to a man--now
they crush him.'--_An Ideal Husband_, Act I.



                   *       *       *       *       *


                            TO OSCAR WILDE,

                         AUTHOR OF 'RAVENNA.'

                         BY AUGUSTUS M. MOORE.


    No Marsyas am I, who singing came
        To challenge King Apollo at a Test,
        But a love-wearied singer at the best.
    The myrtle leaves are all that I can claim,
    While on thy brow there burns a crown of flame,
        Upon thy shield Italia's eagle crest;
        Content am I with Lesbian leaves to rest,
    Guard thou thy laurels and thy mother's name.

    I buried Love within the rose I meant
        To deck the fillet of thy Muse's hair;
    I take this wild-flower, grown against her feet,
        And kissing its half-open lips I swear,
    Frail though it be and widowed of its scent,
        I plucked it for your sake and find it sweet.


      MOORE HALL,

        SEPTEMBER, 1878.


              From _The Irish Monthly_, Vol. vi, No. 65.


                   *       *       *       *       *


              LIST OF PUBLISHED WRITINGS OF OSCAR WILDE.


Αἴλινον, αἴινον εἰπὲ, Τὸ δ᾽ ευ̉ νικάτω. _Dublin University Magazine_,
September, 1876.

APOLOGIA. _Poets and Poetry of the Century_, Edited by A. H. Miles,
Vol. viii, 1891, 1898.

ARTIST, THE. In 'Poems in Prose.'

ARTIST'S DREAM, THE. _Green Room_, Routledge's Christmas Annual, 1880.

AVE IMPERATRIX! A POEM ON ENGLAND. _World_, August 25, 1880.

AVE! MARIA. _Kottabos_, Michaelmas Term, 1879.

BALLAD OF READING GAOL, THE. Leonard Smithers, 1898 (February), 7th
Edition, 1899.

BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA, THE. (_Le Figaro Illustré_, Christmas
Number?). In 'A House of Pomegranates.'

CANTERVILLE GHOST, THE. Illustrations by F. H. Townsend. _Court and
Society Review_, February 23, March 2, 1887. In 'Lord Arthur Savile's
Crime and Other Stories.'

CASE OF WARDER MARTIN, THE. _Daily Chronicle_, May 28, 1897.

CHILDREN IN PRISON. Murdoch & Co., 1898 (February).

CHINESE SAGE, A. _Speaker_, February 8, 1890

CONQUEROR OF TIME, THE. _Time_, April, 1879.

CRITIC AS ARTIST, THE. In 'Intentions.'

DE PROFUNDIS. Methuen & Co., 1905 (February 23), 4th Edition, March,
1905.

DECAY OF LYING, THE. A DIALOGUE. _Nineteenth Century_, January, 1889.
In 'Intentions.'

DEVOTED FRIEND, THE. In 'The Happy Prince and Other Tales.'

Δηξίθυμον Ἔρωτος Ἄνθος. _Kottabos_, Trinity Term, 1876.

DISCIPLE, THE. _Spirit Lamp_, June 6, 1893. In 'Poems in Prose.'

DOER OF GOOD, THE. In 'Poems in Prose.'

DOLE OF THE KING'S DAUGHTER, THE. _Dublin University Magazine_, June,
1876.

DON'T READ THIS IF YOU WANT TO BE HAPPY TO-DAY. _Daily Chronicle_,
March 24, 1898.

DUCHESS OF PADUA, THE. Privately printed for the Author; America,
1883[1].

ENGLISH POETESSES. _Queen_, December 8, 1888.

ENGLISH RENAISSANCE, LECTURE ON THE. G. Munro's _Seaside library_, Vol.
58, No. 1183. New York, January 19, 1882.

ETHICS OF JOURNALISM, THE. _Pall Mall Gazette_, September 20, 25, 1894.

FASCINATING BOOK, A. _Womans World_, November, 1888.

FISHERMAN AND HIS SOUL, THE. In 'A House of Pomegranates.'

FRAGMENT FROM THE AGAMEMNON OF ÆSCHYLOS, A. _Kottabos_, Hilary Term,
1877.

FROM SPRING DAYS TO WINTER (for Music). _Dublin University Magazine_,
January, 1876.

GRAFFITI D'ITALIA (Arona. Lago Maggiore). _Month and Catholic Review_,
September, 1876.

GRAFFITI D'ITALIA (San Miniato). _Dublin University Magazine_, March,
1876.

GRAVE OF KEATS, THE. _Burlington_, January, 1881.

'GREEN CARNATION, THE.' _Pall Mall Gazette_, Oct. 2, 1894.

GROSVENOR GALLERY, THE. _Dublin University Magazine_, July, 1877.

GUIDO FERRANTI (Selection from 'The Duchess of Padua'). Werner's
_Readings and Recitations_, New York, 1891.

HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES, THE. David Nutt, 1888 (May), 1889
(January), 1902 (February).

HELAS! _Poets and Poetry of the Century_. Edited by A. H. Miles, Vol.
viii, 1891, 1898.

HARLOT'S HOUSE, THE. 1885[2]

HEU MISERANDE PUER! See 'Tomb of Keats, The.'

HOUSE OF JUDGMENT, THE. _Spirit Lamp_, February 17, 1893. In 'Poems in
Prose.'

HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES, A. Osgood, McIlvaine & Co., 1891 (November).

HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES, A (Reply to Criticism of). _Speaker_, December
5, 1891.

IDEAL HUSBAND, AN. Leonard Smithers & Co., 1899 (July)

IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, THE. Leonard Smithers & Co., 1899
(February).

IMPRESSION DE MATIN. _World_, March 2, 1881[3].

INTENTIONS. Osgood, McIlvaine & Co., 1891 (May). New Edition, 1894[4].

KEATS' LOVE LETTERS, SONNET ON THE RECENT SALE BY AUCTION OF. _Dramatic
Review_, January 23, 1886.

KEATS' SONNET ON BLUE. _Century Guild Hobby Horse_, July, 1886.

LA BELLE MARGUERITE. Ballade du Moyen Age. _Kottabos_, Hilary Term,
1879.

LA FUITE DE LA LUNE. _Poems and Lyrics of Nature_, Edited by E. W.
Rinder, Walter Scott, 1894 (May 9).

[Illustration: 'THE WOMAN'S WORLD.'
Edited by Oscar Wilde from November, 1887, to September, 1889.
Reduced facsimile of the Cover (12 by 9-1/4).]

LADY ALROY. _World_, May 25, 1887. In 'Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and
other Stories.'

LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN. Elkin Mathews & John Lane, 1893 (November 8).

LE JARDIN DES TUILERIES. _In a Good Cause_, Wells Gardner, Darton &
Co., 1885 (June).

L'ENVOI. _Rose Leaf and Apple Leaf_, by Rennell Rodd. J. M. Stoddart &
Co., Philadelphia, 1882.

LE REVEILLON. _Poems and Lyrics of Nature_. Edited by E. W. Rinder.
Walter Scott, 1894 (May 9).

LES SILHOUETTES. _Poems and Lyrics of Nature_. Edited by E. W. Rinder.
Walter Scott, 1894 (May 9).

LIBEL ACTION AGAINST LORD QUEENSBERRY, THE. _Evening News_, April 5,
1895.

LIBERTATIS SACRA FAMES. _World_, November 10, 1880[5].

LITERARY AND OTHER NOTES. _Woman's World_, November, December, 1887;
January to March, 1888.

LONDON MODELS. Illustrations by Harper Pennington. _English Illustrated
Magazine_, January, 1889.

LORD ARTHUR SAVILE'S CRIME. A story of Cheiromancy. Illustrations by F.
H. Townsend. _Court and Society Review_, May 11, 18, 25, 1887. In 'Lord
Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories.'

_Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and other Stories_. Osgood, McIlvaine &
Co., 1891 (July).

LOTUS LEAVES. _Irish Monthly_, February, 1877.

MAGDALEN WALKS. _Irish Monthly_, April, 1878.

MASTER, THE. In 'Poems and Prose.'

MODEL MILLIONAIRE, THE. _World_, June 22, 1887. In 'Lord Arthur
Savile's Crime and other Stories.'

MORE RADICAL IDEAS ON DRESS REFORM. _Pall Mall Gazette_, November 11,
1884.

MR. PATER'S LAST VOLUME. _Speaker_, March 22, 1890.

MR. WHISTLER'S TEN O'CLOCK. _Pall Mall Gazette_, February 21, 1885.

NEW HELEN, THE. _Time_, July, 1879.

NEW REMORSE, THE. _Spirit Lamp_, December 6, 1892.

NIGHT VISION, A. _Kottabos_, Hilary Term, 1877.

NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE, THE. _La Plume_, December 15, 1900. In 'The
Happy Prince and Other Tales.'

NOTE ON SOME MODERN POETS, A. _Woman's World_, December, 1888.

OH! BEAUTIFUL STAR. (Three verses of 'Under the Balcony'). Set to music
by Lawrence Kellie. Robert Cocks & Co., 1892.

ON CRITICISM; WITH SOME REMARKS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF DOING NOTHING.
_Nineteenth Century_, July, September, 1890. In 'Intentions.'

PEN, PENCIL, AND POISON: A STUDY. _Fortnightly Review_, January, 1889.
In 'Intentions.'

PHRASES AND PHILOSOPHIES FOR THE USE OF THE YOUNG. _Chameleon_, 1894
(December).

PHÊDRE. See 'To Sarah Bernhardt.'

PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, THE (13 Chapters)._ Lippincott's Monthly
Magazine_, July, 1890.

PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, THE (20 Chapters). Ward, Lock & Co., 1891 (July
1). New Edition, 1894 (October 1).

PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, THE. (Replies to Criticism of). _Daily
Chronicle_, July 2, 1890. _Scots Observer_, July 12, August 2, 16, 1890.

POEMS. David Bogue, 1881 (July). 5th Edition, 1882. Elkin Mathews &
John Lane, 1892 (May 26).

POEMS IN PROSE. _Fortnightly Review_, July, 1894.

Πόντος Ἀτρύγετος. _Irish Monthly_, December, 1877.

PORTIA. _World_, January 14, 1880.

PORTRAIT OF MR. W. H., THE. _Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine_, July,
1889[6].

PREFACE TO 'DORIAN GRAY,' A. _Fortnightly Review_, March, 1891.

PUPPETS AND ACTORS. _Daily Telegraph_, February?, 1892[7].

QUEEN HENRIETTA MARIA (_Charles I., act iii._). _World_, July 16, 1879.

RAVENNA. T. Shrimpton & Son, Oxford, 1878 (June).

REMARKABLE ROCKET, THE. In 'The Happy Prince and Other Tales.'

REQUIESCAT. _Dublin Verses_, by Members of Trinity College. Elkin
Mathews, 1895.

RISE OF HISTORICAL CRITICISM, THE. Privately printed. America, 1905[8].

ROSE OF LOVE AND WITH A ROSE'S THORNS. See Δηξίθυμον Ἔρωτος Ἄνθος.

ROSES AND RUE. _Midsummer Dreams_, Summer Number of _Society_, July,
1885.

SALOMÉ (French Edition.) Librairie de l'Art Indépendant, Paris, 1893
(February 22).

SALOME (English Edition). Elkin Mathews & John Lane, 1894 (February 9).

SALVE SATURNIA TELLUS. _Irish Monthly_, June, 1877.

SELFISH GIANT, THE. In 'The Happy Prince and Other Tales.'

SEN ARTYSTY; OR, THE ARTIST'S DREAM. See 'Artist's Dream, The.'

SHAKESPEARE AND STAGE COSTUME. _Nineteenth Century_, May, 1885. In
'Intentions.'

SOME CRUELTIES OF PRISON LIFE. See 'Case of Warder Martin, The,' and
'Children in Prison.'

SOME LITERARY NOTES. _Woman's World_, January to June, 1889.

RELATION OF DRESS TO ART, THE. _Pall Mall Gazette_, February 28, 1885.

SOUL OF MAN UNDER SOCIALISM, THE. _Fortnightly Review_, February,
1891[9].

SPHINX, THE. Elkin Mathews & John Lane, 1894 (September 29).

SPHINX WITHOUT A SECRET, THE. See 'Lady Alroy.'

STAR-CHILD, THE. In 'A House of Pomegranates.'

TEACHER OF WISDOM, THE. In 'Poems in Prose.'

THEOCRITUS. _Ballades and Rondeaus_. Selected by Gleeson White. Walter
Scott Publishing Co., 1889 (June 30)[10].

Θρηνῳδία. _Kottabos_, Michaelmas Term, 1876.

TO MILTON. _Poets and Poetry of the Century_, Edited by A. H. Miles,
Vol. viii, 1891, 1898.

TO MY WIFE: WITH A COPY OF MY POEMS. _Book-Song_, Elliot Stock, 1893.

TO SARAH BERNHARDT. _World_, June 11, 1879.

TOMB OF KEATS, THE. _Irish Monthly_, July, 1877.

TRUE FUNCTION AND VALUE OF CRITICISM, THE. See 'Critic as Artist, The,'
and 'On Criticism.'

TRUE KNOWLEDGE, THE. _Irish Monthly_, September, 1876[11].

TRUTH OF MASKS, THE. See 'Shakespeare and Stage Costume.'

UNDER THE BALCONY. _Shaksperean Show-Book_ (May 29, 1884). See 'Oh!
Beautiful Star!'

UN AMANT DE NOS JOURS. _Court and Society Review_, December 13, 1887.
See 'New Remorse, The.'

VERA, OR THE NIHILISTS. Privately printed for the Author; America, 1882.

VITA NUOVA. See Πόντος Ἀτρύγετος.

WASTED DAYS (From a Picture Painted by Miss V. T.). _Kottabos_,
Michaelmas Term, 1877.

WHISTLER, CORRESPONDENCE WITH. _World_, November 14, 1883; February 25,
1885; November 24, 1886. _Truth_, January 9, 1890.

WHISTLER'S LECTURES REVIEWED. See 'Mr. Whistler's Ten O'Clock 'and
'Relation of Dress to Art, The.'

WITH A COPY OF 'A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES.' _Book-Song_, Elliot Stock,
1893.

WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE, A. John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1894 (October 9).

WOMAN'S WORLD, THE. Edited by Oscar Wilde, 1887-9. Cassell & Co.

YOUNG KING, THE. Illustrations by Bernard Partridge. _Lady's
Pictorial_, Christmas Number, 1888. In 'A House of Pomegranates.'


[1] The title-page reads:--The Duchess of Padua A Tragedy of the XVI
Century by Oscar Wilde Author of "Vera," etc. Written in Paris in the
XIX Century. Privately printed as Manuscript. March 15, 1883 A. D.

The cover is inscribed 'Op. II.' Twenty copies were printed, of which
one only is known to exist in England, the property of Mr. Robert Ross.
It is in grey paper wrappers, 8vo., pp. 122. The play was acted in
America in 1883 by the late Lawrence Barrett, shortly before his death.
It is sometimes known as _Guido Ferranti_.

[2] The original publication of 'The Harlot's House' has not yet been
traced. The approximate date is known by a parody on the poem, called
'The Public House, 'which appeared in _The Sporting Times_ of June 13,
1885. In 1904 a privately printed edition, on folio paper, with five
illustrations by Althea Gyles, was issued by 'The Mathurin Press,'
London. In 1905 another edition was privately printed in London, pp. 8,
wrappers.

[3] See _Notes and Queries_, Series ix., vol. xii., page 85.

[4] Continental Edition issued by Messrs. Heinemann and Balestier in
'The English Library,' No. 54. 1891.

[5] See _Sonnets of this Century_. Edited by William Sharp. Walter
Scott Publishing Co., 1888 (March 22).

[6] Early in 1894, Messrs. Elkin Mathews and John Lane announced as
being in preparation, 'The incomparable and ingenious history of Mr. W.
H., being the true secret of Shakespear's sonnets, now for the first
time here fully set forth. With initial letters and cover design by
Charles Ricketts.' On the evening of his arrest, April 5, 1895, the
publishers returned the MS. to Mr. Wilde's house, and it is said to
have been stolen from there a few hours later.

[7] See _Saturday Review_, July 2, 1892.

[8] The authenticity of this work is not vouched for.

[9] It was the author's wish that 'The Soul of Man under Socialism'
should be known as 'The Soul of Man,' and by this title he himself
refers to it in _De Profundis_. A privately printed edition was
published by Mr. Arthur L. Humphreys under this title in 1895, and
again in 1904 in 'Sebastian Melmoth.' It appeared also in _Wilshire's
Magazine_, Toronto, Canada, for June, 1902; and, under its original
title, in a pirated edition issued in London, 1904; and in a beautiful
edition published by Mr. Thos. B. Mosher, of Portland, Maine, U.S.A.,
April, 1905.

[10] See _Literature_, December 8, 1900.

[11] Re-printed in _Dublin Verses_, 1895; and _The Tablet_, December 8,
1900.


                   *       *       *       *       *


                                 NOTE.


In the foregoing list the following particulars are given:--

(1) Titles of books with name of publisher and date of publication of
each edition.

(2) Contributions to magazines and periodicals whether re-printed in
book-form later or not.

(3) Poems which have been re-printed in collections of verse of later
date than Bogue's edition of the 'Poems,' 1881. These will be found
under their respective titles, but when a poem has been included in
more than one such collection the reference is given, as a rule, to the
book of earliest date.

The publications of Messrs. Elkin Mathews and John Lane, and of Mr.
John Lane, were issued simultaneously in America by Messrs. Copeland
and Day, of Boston. _De Profundis_ was published in America by Messrs.
G. P. Putnam's Sons, of New York. Seven editions have been issued. _The
Decay of Lying, The Portrait of Mr. W. H._, and _The Soul of Man under
Socialism_, appeared in the 'Eclectic Magazine' of New York a few weeks
after publication in this country.

No notice is taken in this Bibliography of many unauthorised and
pirated reprints, and those works which have been falsely attributed to
Mr. Wilde by unscrupulous publishers are all rejected. Of the latter
'The Priest and the Acolyte,' and translations of 'Ce Qui ne Meurt pas'
and the 'Satyricon' of Petronius are examples.


                   *       *       *       *       *


     _Books containing Selections from the Works of Oscar Wilde._


BEST OF OSCAR WILDE, THE. (Collection of Poems and Prose Extracts).
Collected by C. Herrmann. Brentano, New York, 1905 (March).

EPIGRAMS AND APHORISMS. Edited by G. H. Sargent. John W. Luce & Co.,
Boston, U.S.A., 1905 (July).

ESSAYS, CRITICISMS AND REVIEWS. Now first collected. (From _The Woman's
World_). Privately printed. London, 1901.

OSCARIANA. EPIGRAMS. Arthur Humphreys, 1895[1].

SEBASTIAN MELMOTH (Selection from Prose Writings; and 'The Soul of
Man'). Arthur L. Humphreys, 1904 (September).


[1] Only one copy bore the publisher's name. The rest were issued as
'privately printed.' The edition consisted of 25 copies only, but
forged reprints are numerous. The selection of epigrams is said to have
been made by Mrs. Wilde.


                   *       *       *       *       *


           _Bibliographical Notes on the English Editions._


A HOUSE OF POMEGRANATES.

The following is the author's own description of 'the decorative
designs that make lovely' this book of 'beautiful tales,' and of 'the
delicate dreams that separate and herald each story':--

'Mr. Shannon is the drawer of the dreams, and Mr. Ricketts is the
subtle and fantastic decorator. Indeed, it is to Mr. Ricketts that
the entire decorative design of the book is due, from the selection
of the type and the placing of the ornamentation, to the completely
beautiful cover that encloses the whole.... The artistic beauty of
the cover resides in the delicate tracing, arabesques, and massing of
many coral-red lines on a ground of white ivory, the colour effect
culminating in certain high gilt notes, and being made still more
pleasurable by the overlapping band of moss-green cloth that holds the
book together.'

THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL.

1st edition, 8vo, pp. 31, 800 copies on hand-made paper, and 30 on
Japan vellum, February, 1898. Before the 2nd edition was published, in
March, the author made several alterations in the text. The 3rd edition
was 99 copies only, each signed by the author; bound in purple cloth
sides, 4to. Editions 4, 5, and 6 (1898) are similar to the 2nd edition
and the number of each edition is printed on the back of title-page.
The 7th edition (1899) bears the author's name on the title-page. It is
the last of Smithers' editions on hand-made paper. All his subsequent
editions are printed in a new type from stereotyped plates, on thick
wove paper, and bear no number to distinguish the edition. They are all
dated 1899.

DE PROFUNDIS.

Of the 1st edition 200 copies were printed on hand-made paper at 21/-
and 50 on Japan vellum at 42/-. Of the ordinary 5/- edition four
impressions were issued within a month of publication.

THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES.

Of the 1st edition 75 copies (65 for sale) were printed on large paper
with the plates in two states. Of the small paper copies the 1st
edition was published at 5/-, the 2nd and 3rd at 3/6 each.

AN IDEAL HUSBAND AND THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.

Each edition consists of 1000 copies, 7/6 net, and 100 on large paper,
21/- net. Twelve copies of each, signed by the author, were issued on
Japan vellum. Of this edition No. 4 of each play is in the British
Museum.

INTENTIONS.

1st edition, 1891, 7/6; new edition, 1894, 3/6.

LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN AND A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE.

With a specially designed binding to each volume by Charles Shannon.
500 copies, sm. 4to, 7/6 net, and 50 copies large paper, 15/- net.

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY.

Of the 1st edition 250 copies on hand-made paper, signed by the author,
were issued at 21/-, dated 1891. The small paper editions are not
dated. The 2nd (1894) can be distinguished from the 1st (1891) by the
publisher's name, Ward, Lock and Bowden, Limited, on the title-page.
The published price of each was 6/-.

POEMS.

Bogue's 1st, 2nd and 3rd editions are dated 1881, pp. 236. The 4th and
5th editions (1882) have several alterations made by the author in
the text, and contain 234 pages only. The edition published by Elkin
Mathews and John Lane in 1892 consisted of 220 copies (200 for sale),
on hand-made paper, with cover design by Charles Ricketts, price 15/-.
The text is a reprint of Bogue's 1882 editions.

RAVENNA.

Forged imitations of Messrs. Shrimpton and Son's edition are common.
They can be distinguished from the originals by the omission of the
Arras of Oxford University on cover and title-page.

SALOMÉ.

The edition in French, limited to 600 copies (500 for sale), printed
in Paris, was published by the Librairie de l'Art Indépendant, Paris,
and Messrs. Matthews and Lane, London; pp. 84, purple wrappers lettered
in silver, 5/- net. The English edition was translated by Lord Alfred
Douglas and pictured by Aubrey Beardsley with 10 illustrations,
title-page, tail-piece, and cover design. 500 copies, small 4to, 15/-
net; 100 copies large paper, 30/- net.

THE SPHINX.

Decorated throughout in line and colour and bound in a design by
Charles Ricketts. 250 copies at £2/2/- net, and 25 on large paper at
£5/5/- net.


                   *       *       *       *       *


Translations of many of Oscar Wilde's works have appeared in French,
German, Polish, Hungarian, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and other foreign
languages. Full particulars of all editions will be included in 'A
Bibliography of Oscar Wilde' by Walter Ledger and Stuart Mason, now in
preparation.



                            IN PREPARATION.


                                  The

                        Sonnets of Oscar Wilde

                         Now First Collected.

                        EDITED, WITH NOTES, BY

                             STUART MASON.



                           Views and Reviews

                  The Uncollected Prose Writings and

                        Letters of Oscar Wilde.

                               EDITED BY

                             STUART MASON.



                                  The

                      Bibliography of Oscar Wilde

                                  BY

                    Walter Ledger and Stuart Mason.





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