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Oscar Wilde
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/4/20

Sir Richard Somers Travers Christmas Humphreys (4 August 1867 – 20 February 1956) was a noted British barrister and judge who, during a sixty-year legal career, was involved in the cases of Oscar Wilde and the murderers Hawley Harvey Crippen, George Joseph Smith and John George Haigh, the 'Acid Bath Murderer', among many others.

Travers Humphreys was born in Doughty Street in Bloomsbury in London, the fourth son and sixth child of solicitor Charles Octavius Humphreys, and his wife, Harriet Ann (née Grain), the sister of the entertainer Richard Corney Grain. Humphreys was educated at Shrewsbury School and at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, graduating BA in 1889. He was called to the Bar from the Inner Temple in 1889 and entered the chambers of E. T. E. Besley, where he concentrated on practice in the criminal courts.

On 1 March 1895 Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas and Robbie Ross approached [his father] Charles Octavius Humphreys with the intention of suing the Marquess of Queensberry, Douglas' father, for criminal libel. Humphreys applied for a warrant for Queensberry's arrest and approached Sir Edward Clarke and Charles Willie Mathews to represent Wilde. Travers Humphreys appeared as a Junior Counsel for the prosecution in the subsequent case of Wilde vs Queensbury.

On 28 May 1896 Humphreys married the actress Zoë Marguerite (1872–1953), the daughter of Henri Philippe Neumans, an artist from Antwerp. In 1895 she had appeared in An Artist's Model with Marie Tempest, Marie Studholme, Letty Lind and Hayden Coffin. They had two sons, the elder of whom, Richard Grain Humphreys (1897-28 September 1917) was killed in France in the Third Battle of Ypres during World War I; the younger son was the noted barrister and judge Christmas Humphreys, who prosecuted Ruth Ellis for the murder of her lover David Blakely in 1955 [and Founder of The Buddhist Society]

-- Travers Humphreys, by Wikipedia

James Martineau, by Wikipedia: (Unitarian): Oscar Wilde references him in his prose.


George Bernard Shaw, by Wikipedia: Of contemporary dramatists writing for the West End stage he rated Oscar Wilde above the rest: "... our only thorough playwright. He plays with everything: with wit, with philosophy, with drama, with actors and audience, with the whole theatre".


W.B. Yeats, by Wikipedia: The influence of Oscar Wilde is evident in Yeats's theory of aesthetics, especially in his stage plays, and runs like a motif through his early works. The theory of masks, developed by Wilde in his polemic The Decay of Lying can clearly be seen in Yeats's play The Player Queen, while the more sensual characterisation of Salomé, in Wilde's play of the same name, provides the template for the changes Yeats made in his later plays, especially in On Baile's Strand (1904), Deirdre (1907), and his dance play The King of the Great Clock Tower (1934).


Julius Evola, by Wikipedia: In his teenage years, Evola immersed himself in painting—which he considered one of his natural talents—and literature, including Oscar Wilde and Gabriele d'Annunzio.


Robert Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Earl of Lytton, by Wikipedia: Oscar Wilde dedicated his play Lady Windermere's Fan to him.


Florence Farr [Mary Lester], by Wikipedia: Beatrice Emery (née) Farr was a British West End leading actress, composer and director. She was also a women's rights activist, journalist, educator, singer, novelist, and leader of the occult order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. She was a friend and collaborator of Nobel laureate William Butler Yeats, poet Ezra Pound, playwright Oscar Wilde, artists Aubrey Beardsley and Pamela Colman Smith, Masonic scholar Arthur Edward Waite, theatrical producer Annie Horniman, and many other literati of London's Fin de siècle era.


John Ruskin, by Wikipedia: Most controversial, from the point of view of the University authorities, spectators and the national press, was the digging scheme on Ferry Hinksey Road at North Hinksey, near Oxford, instigated by Ruskin in 1874, and continuing into 1875, which involved undergraduates in a road-mending scheme. The scheme was motivated in part by a desire to teach the virtues of wholesome manual labour. Some of the diggers, which included Oscar Wilde, Alfred Milner and Ruskin's future secretary and biographer, W. G. Collingwood, were profoundly influenced by the experience: notably Arnold Toynbee, Leonard Montefiore and Alexander Robertson MacEwen.


Max Stirner [Johann Kaspar Schmidt], by Wikipedia: Stirner's main work is The Ego and Its Own (Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum), which appeared in Leipzig in October 1844, with as year of publication mentioned 1845. In The Ego And Its Own, Stirner launches a radical anti-authoritarian and individualist critique of contemporary Prussian society and modern western society as such. He offers an approach to human existence in which he depicts himself as "the unique one", a "creative nothing", beyond the ability of language to fully express:

If I concern myself for myself, the unique one, then my concern rests on its transitory, mortal creator, who consumes himself, and I may say: All things are nothing to me.

The book proclaims that all religions and ideologies rest on empty concepts. The same holds true for society's institutions that claim authority over the individual, be it the state, legislation, the church, or the systems of education such as universities…

In the time of spirits thoughts grew till they overtopped my head, whose offspring they yet were; they hovered about me and convulsed me like fever-phantasies – an awful power. The thoughts had become corporeal on their own account, were ghosts, e. g. God, Emperor, Pope, Fatherland, etc. If I destroy their corporeity, then I take them back into mine, and say: "I alone am corporeal." And now I take the world as what it is to me, as mine, as my property; I refer all to myself…

Oscar Wilde's The Soul of Man Under Socialism has caused some historians to speculate that Wilde (who could read German) was familiar with the book.


-- Jawaharlal Nehru: An Autobiography, 1936: My general attitude to life at the time was a vague kind of cyrenaicism, partly natural to youth, partly the influence of Oscar Wilde and Walter Pater. It is easy and gratifying to give a long Greek name to the desire for a soft life and pleasant experiences. But there was something more in it than that for I was not particularly attracted to a soft life. Not having the religious temper and disliking the repressions of religion, It was natural for me to seek some other standard. I was superficial and did not go deep down into anything. And so the aesthetic side of life appealed to me, and the idea of going through life worthily, not indulging it in the vulgar way, but still making the most of it and living a full and many-sided life attracted me. I enjoyed life and I refused to see why I should consider it a thing of sin. At the same time risk and adventure fascinated me; I was always, like my father, a bit of a gambler, at first with money and then for higher stakes, with the bigger issues of life. Indian politics in 1907 and 1908 were in a state of upheaval and I wanted to play a brave part in them, and this was not likely to lead to a soft life. All these mixed and sometimes conflicting desires led to a medley in my mind. Vague and confused it was but I did not worry, for the time for any decision was yet far distant. Meanwhile, life was pleasant, both physically and intellectually, fresh horizons were ever coming into sight, there was so much to be done, so much to be seen, so many fresh avenues to explore. And we would sit by the fireside in the long winter evenings and talk and discuss unhurriedly deep into the night till the dying fire drove us shivering to our beds. And sometimes, during our discussions, our voices would lose their even tenor and would grow loud and excited in heated argument. But it was all make-believe. We played with the problems of human life in a mock-serious way; for they had not become real problems for us yet, and we had not been caught in the coils of the world's affairs. It was the pre-war world of the early twentieth century. Soon this world was to die, yielding place to another, full of death and destruction and anguish and heart-sickness for the world's youth. But the veil of the future hid this and we saw around us an assured and advancing order of things and this was pleasant for those who could afford it.

I write of cyrenaicism and the like and of various ideas that influenced me then. But it would be wrong to imagine that I thought clearly on these subjects then or even that I thought it necessary to try to be clear and definite about them. They were just vague fancies that floated in my mind and in this process left their impress in a greater or less degree. I did not worry myself at all about these speculations. Work and games and amusements filled my life and the only thing that disturbed me sometimes was the political struggle in India.

Oscar Wilde
Wilde in 1882
Born: Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde, 16 October 1854, Dublin, Ireland
Died: 30 November 1900 (aged 46), Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, France
Buried: Père Lachaise Cemetery
Occupation: Author, poet, playwright
Language: English, French, Greek
Nationality: Irish
Education: Portora Royal School
Alma mater: Trinity College, Dublin; Magdalen College, Oxford
Period: Victorian era
Genre: Epigram, drama, short story, criticism, journalism
Literary movement: Aesthetic movement; Decadent movement
Notable works: The Picture of Dorian Gray; The Importance of Being Earnest
Spouse: Constance Lloyd (m. 1884; died 1898)
Children: Cyril Holland; Vyvyan Holland
Relatives: Sir William Wilde (father); Lady Jane Wilde (mother); Willie Wilde (brother); Isola Wilde (Sister)

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, the early 1890s saw him become one of the most popular playwrights in London. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the circumstances of his criminal conviction for gross indecency for consensual homosexual acts, imprisonment, and early death at age 46.

Wilde's parents were Anglo-Irish intellectuals in Dublin.
A young Wilde learned to speak fluent French and German. At university, Wilde read Greats; he demonstrated himself to be an exceptional classicist, first at Trinity College Dublin, then at Oxford. He became associated with the emerging philosophy of aestheticism, led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin. After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles.

As a spokesman for aestheticism, he tried his hand at various literary activities: he published a book of poems, lectured in the United States and Canada on the new "English Renaissance in Art" and interior decoration, and then returned to London where he worked prolifically as a journalist. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress and glittering conversational skill, Wilde became one of the best-known personalities of his day. At the turn of the 1890s, he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays, and incorporated themes of decadence, duplicity, and beauty into what would be his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). The opportunity to construct aesthetic details precisely, and combine them with larger social themes, drew Wilde to write drama. He wrote Salome (1891) in French while in Paris but it was refused a licence for England due to an absolute prohibition on the portrayal of Biblical subjects on the English stage.

Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late-Victorian London.

At the height of his fame and success, while The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) was still being performed in London, Wilde prosecuted the Marquess of Queensberry for criminal libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. The libel trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with men. After two more trials he was convicted and sentenced to two years' hard labour, the maximum penalty, and was jailed from 1895 to 1897. During his last year in prison, he wrote De Profundis (published posthumously in 1905), a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. On his release, he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life.

Early life

The Wilde family home on Merrion Square

Oscar Wilde was born at 21 Westland Row, Dublin (now home of the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College), the second of three children born to an Anglo-Irish couple: Jane, née Elgee and Sir William Wilde. Oscar was two years younger than his brother, William (Willie) Wilde.

Jane Wilde was a niece (by marriage) of the novelist, playwright and clergyman Charles Maturin (1780 – 1824), who may have influenced her own literary career. She had distant Italian ancestry,[1] and under the pseudonym "Speranza" (the Italian word for 'hope'), she wrote poetry for the revolutionary Young Irelanders in 1848; she was a lifelong Irish nationalist.[2] Jane Wilde read the Young Irelanders' poetry to Oscar and Willie, inculcating a love of these poets in her sons.[3] Her interest in the neo-classical revival showed in the paintings and busts of ancient Greece and Rome in her home.[3]

Jane Francesca Agnes, Lady Wilde (née Elgee; 27 December 1821 – 3 February 1896) was an Irish poet under the pen name "Speranza" and supporter of the nationalist movement. Lady Wilde had a special interest in Irish folktales, which she helped to gather.

She married Sir William Wilde, an eye and ear surgeon (and also a researcher of folklore)

The Rosicrucians searched and studied the Gospels, particularly that of St. John, from the point of view of their esoteric teachings, and found content for meditation in their wisdom. They taught by means of pictures and symbols, appealing to imagination rather than intellect. They can only be understood if the student himself is able to develop imaginative faculties. The Rosicrucians tried to evoke imaginative effort and ability in all sorts of ways, not only through pictures and tablets, but through a wealth of fairy tales, legends proverbs and songs -- even to children's games and acrobatic feats. By all these means, they were able to bring the content of esoteric wisdom to the people, in the form of picture and parable, and at the same time to educate in the people the faculties needed to understand them. By thus educating the individual imagination of ordinary folk, they developed initiative and resource, abilities very necessary to deal with the new experiences brought by scientific discoveries to ordinary men.

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, it was essential to hide religious and philosophical ideas if they did not coincide with the dogmas of the Church, for this was the era of the Inquisition. Here was another reason for the need to hide the new spiritual teachings in parables and allegory. Hieronymus Bosch had cause to fear the Inquisition which took an ever firmer grip on the people of the Netherlands in his time. He was one of the most important transmitters of Rosicrucian teachings.

Beside his imaginations and symbols, there appears many a "sign" in which he characterises the spiritual difficulties of his time, or answers the persecutors. One can recognise throughout a sort of secret language through which the intimate members of the Rosicrucian brotherhood communicated.

-- The Pictorial Language of Hieronymus Bosch, by Clement A. Wertheim Aymes

on 12 November 1851 in St. Peter's church in Dublin, and they had three children: William Charles Kingsbury Wilde (26 September 1852 – 13 March 1899), Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900), and Isola Francesca Emily Wilde (2 April 1857 – 23 February 1867). Her eldest son William Wilde became a journalist and poet, her younger son Oscar Wilde became a prolific and famous writer, and her daughter Isola Wilde died in childhood.

Jane was the last of the four children of Charles Elgee (1783–1824), a Wexford solicitor, and his wife Sarah (née Kingsbury, d. 1851). Her great-grandfather was an Italian who had come to Wexford in the 18th century. Lady Wilde, who was the niece of Charles Maturin, wrote for the Young Ireland movement of the 1840s, publishing poems in The Nation under the pseudonym of Speranza. Her works included pro-Irish independence and anti-British writing; she was sometimes known as "Speranza of the Nation". Charles Gavan Duffy was the editor when "Speranza" wrote commentary calling for armed revolution in Ireland. The authorities at Dublin Castle shut down the paper and brought the editor to court. Duffy refused to name who had written the offending article. "Speranza" reputedly stood up in court and claimed responsibility for the article. The confession was ignored by the authorities. But in any event the newspaper was permanently shut down by the authorities.

Young Ireland was a political, cultural and social movement of the mid-19th century. It began as a tendency within Daniel O'Connell's Repeal Association, associated with The Nation newspaper, but eventually split to found the Irish Confederation in 1847. Young Ireland led changes in Irish nationalism, including an abortive rebellion known as the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. Many of the rebellion's leaders were tried for sedition and sentenced to penal transportation to Van Diemen's Land. From its beginnings in the late 1830s, Young Ireland grew in influence and inspired following generations of Irish nationalists. Some of the junior members of the movement went on to found the Irish Republican Brotherhood...

The Irish Republican Brotherhood was a secret oath-bound fraternal organisation dedicated to the establishment of an "independent democratic republic" in Ireland between 1858 and 1924. Its counterpart in the United States of America was initially the Fenian Brotherhood, but from the 1870s it was Clan na Gael. The members of both wings of the movement are often referred to as "Fenians". The IRB played an important role in the history of Ireland, as the chief advocate of republicanism during the campaign for Ireland's independence from the United Kingdom, successor to movements such as the United Irishmen of the 1790s and the Young Irelanders of the 1840s.

As part of the New Departure of the 1870s–80s, IRB members attempted to democratise the Home Rule League, and its successor, the Irish Parliamentary Party, as well as taking part in the Land War. The IRB staged the Easter Rising in 1916, which led to the establishment of the first Dáil Éireann in 1919. The suppression of Dáil Éireann precipitated the Irish War of Independence and the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, ultimately leading to the establishment of the Irish Free State, which excluded the territory of Northern Ireland.

-- Irish Republican Brotherhood, by Wikipedia

Young Ireland traced its origins to the new College Historical Society, founded on 29 March 1839, at a meeting at Francis Kearney's chambers, 27 College. Among the members of this new society were Charles Gavan Duffy; Jane Wilde; Margaret Callan; John Mitchel; Thomas Meagher; William Smith O'Brien; John Blake Dillon, Thomas MacNevin, William Eliot Hudson and Thomas Davis, who was elected its president in 1840. While still at Trinity College, Davis had addressed the Dublin Historical Society, which met at the Dorset Institute in Upper Sackville Street from 1836 to 1838. Davis became president and gave two lectures. (Available from the National Library of Ireland, the lectures clearly show that Davis had become a convinced Irish nationalist by this period.

-- Young Ireland, by Wikipedia

She was an early advocate of women's rights, and campaigned for better education for women. She invited the suffragist Millicent Fawcett to her home to speak on female liberty. She praised the passing of the Married Women's Property Act of 1883, which prevented a woman from having to enter marriage 'as a bond slave, disenfranchised of all rights over her fortune'.

William Wilde was knighted in January 1864, but the family celebrations were short-lived, for in the same year Sir William and Lady Wilde were at the centre of a sensational Dublin court case regarding a young woman called Mary Travers, the daughter of a colleague of Sir William's, who claimed that he had seduced her and who then brought an action against Lady Wilde for libel. Mary Travers won the case and costs of £2,000 were awarded against Lady Wilde. Then on 23 February 1867, their daughter Isola died of fever at the age of nine. In 1871 the two illegitimate daughters of Sir William burned to death in an accident and in 1876 Sir William himself died. The family discovered that he was virtually bankrupt.

Lady Wilde left Dublin for London in 1879, where she joined her two sons, Willie, a journalist, and Oscar, who was making a name for himself in literary circles. She lived with her older son in poverty, supplementing their meagre income by writing for fashionable magazines and producing books based on the researches of her late husband into Irish folklore.

Lady Wilde contracted bronchitis in January 1896 and, dying, asked for permission to see Oscar, who was in prison. Her request was refused. It was claimed that her "fetch" (i.e. her apparition) appeared in Oscar's prison cell as she died at her home, 146 Oakley Street, Chelsea, on 3 February 1896. Willie Wilde, her older son, was penniless, so Oscar paid for her funeral, which was held on 5 February at Kensal Green Cemetery in London.[10] A headstone proved too expensive and she was buried anonymously in common ground.

-- Jane Wilde, by Wikipedia

Annie Besant (née Wood; 1 October 1847 – 20 September 1933) was a British socialist, theosophist, women's rights activist, writer, orator, educationist, and philanthropist. Regarded as a champion of human freedom, she was an ardent supporter of both Irish and Indian self-rule....

Her mother was an Irish Catholic, from a family of more modest means. Besant would go on to make much of her Irish ancestry and supported the cause of Irish self-rule throughout her adult life. Her cousin Kitty O'Shea (born Katharine Wood) was noted for having an affair with Charles Stewart Parnell [an Irish nationalist politician who served as Leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party from 1882 to 1891 and Leader of the Home Rule League from 1880 to 1882.], leading to his downfall...

In 1867, at age twenty, she married 26-year-old clergyman Frank Besant (1840–1917), younger brother of Walter Besant. He was an evangelical Anglican who seemed to share many of her concerns. On the eve of her marriage, she had become more politicised through a visit to friends in Manchester, who brought her into contact with both English radicals and the Manchester Martyrs of the Irish Republican Fenian Brotherhood, as well as with the conditions of the urban poor...

The Fenian Brotherhood (Irish: Bráithreachas na bhFíníní) was an Irish republican organisation founded in the United States in 1858 by John O'Mahony and Michael Doheny. It was a precursor to Clan na Gael, a sister organisation to the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Members were commonly known as "Fenians". O'Mahony, who was a Gaelic scholar, named his organisation after the Fianna, the legendary band of Irish warriors led by Fionn mac Cumhaill.

The Fenian Brotherhood trace their origins back to 1790s, in the rebellion, seeking an end to British rule in Ireland initially for self-government and then the establishment of an Irish Republic. The rebellion was suppressed, but the principles of the United Irishmen were to have a powerful influence on the course of Irish history.

-- Fenian Brotherhood, by Wikipedia

Besant built close contacts with the Irish Home Rulers and supported them in her newspaper columns during what are considered crucial years, when the Irish nationalists were forming an alliance with Liberals and Radicals. Besant met the leaders of the Irish home rule movement. In particular, she got to know Michael Davitt, who wanted to mobilise the Irish peasantry through a Land War, a direct struggle against the landowners. She spoke and wrote in favour of Davitt and his Land League many times over the coming decades...

In 1916 Besant launched the All India Home Rule League along with Lokmanya Tilak, once again modelling demands for India on Irish nationalist practices.

-- Annie Besant, by Wikipedia

William Wilde was Ireland's leading oto-ophthalmologic (ear and eye) surgeon and was knighted in 1864 for his services as medical adviser and assistant commissioner to the censuses of Ireland.[4] He also wrote books about Irish archaeology and peasant folklore. A renowned philanthropist, his dispensary for the care of the city's poor at the rear of Trinity College, Dublin, was the forerunner of the Dublin Eye and Ear Hospital, now located at Adelaide Road.[4] On his father's side Wilde was descended from a Dutchman, Colonel de Wilde, who went to Ireland with King William of Orange's invading army in 1690, and numerous Anglo-Irish ancestors. On his mother's side, Wilde's ancestors included a bricklayer from County Durham, who emigrated to Ireland sometime in the 1770s.[5][6]

Wilde was baptised as an infant in St. Mark's Church, Dublin, the local Church of Ireland (Anglican) church. When the church was closed, the records were moved to the nearby St. Ann's Church, Dawson Street.[7] Davis Coakley mentions a second baptism by a Catholic priest, Father Prideaux Fox, who befriended Oscar's mother circa 1859. According to Fox's testimony in Donahoe's Magazine in 1905, Jane Wilde would visit his chapel in Glencree, County Wicklow, for Mass and would take her sons with her. She asked Father Fox in this period to baptise her sons.[8]

Fox described it in this way:

"I am not sure if she ever became a Catholic herself but it was not long before she asked me to instruct two of her children, one of them being the future erratic genius, Oscar Wilde. After a few weeks I baptized these two children, Lady Wilde herself being present on the occasion.

In addition to his children with his wife, Sir William Wilde was the father of three children born out of wedlock before his marriage: Henry Wilson, born in 1838 to one woman, and Emily and Mary Wilde, born in 1847 and 1849, respectively, to a second woman. Sir William acknowledged paternity of his illegitimate or "natural" children and provided for their education, arranging for them to be reared by his relatives rather than with his legitimate children in his family household with his wife.[9]

In 1855, the family moved to No. 1 Merrion Square, where Wilde's sister, Isola, was born in 1857. The Wildes' new home was larger. With both his parents' success and delight in social life, the house soon became the site of a "unique medical and cultural milieu". Guests at their salon included Sheridan Le Fanu, Charles Lever, George Petrie, Isaac Butt, William Rowan Hamilton and Samuel Ferguson.[3]

Until he was nine, Oscar Wilde was educated at home, where a French nursemaid and a German governess taught him their languages.[10] He attended Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, from 1864 to 1871.[11] Until his early twenties, Wilde summered at the villa, Moytura House, which his father had built in Cong, County Mayo.[12] There the young Wilde and his brother Willie played with George Moore.

Isola died at age nine of meningitis. Wilde's poem "Requiescat" is written to her memory.[13]

"Tread lightly, she is near
Under the snow
Speak gently, she can hear
the daisies grow"

University education: 1870s

Trinity College, Dublin

Wilde left Portora with a royal scholarship to read classics at Trinity College, Dublin, from 1871 to 1874,[14] sharing rooms with his older brother Willie Wilde. Trinity, one of the leading classical schools, placed him with scholars such as R. Y. Tyrell, Arthur Palmer, Edward Dowden and his tutor, Professor J. P. Mahaffy, who inspired his interest in Greek literature. As a student Wilde worked with Mahaffy on the latter's book Social Life in Greece.[15] Wilde, despite later reservations, called Mahaffy "my first and best teacher" and "the scholar who showed me how to love Greek things".[16] For his part, Mahaffy boasted of having created Wilde; later, he said Wilde was "the only blot on my tutorship".[17]

Oscar Wilde was a student of [John Pentland Mahaff] at Trinity and he is said to have influenced Wilde’s conversational style. The two were close for a time, visiting Greece together; Wilde proofread the first edition of Mahaffy’s Social Life in Greece (1874), which contained a remarkably open consideration of Greek homosexuality (removed from later editions). But the friendship cooled over political and aesthetic differences, and after Wilde’s conviction Mahaffy declined to refer to him and refused to sign a petition calling for his early release.

-- Battle of wits – An Irishman’s Diary on Trinity and John Pentland Mahaffy, by Brian Maye, The Irish Times, 4/23/19

The University Philosophical Society also provided an education, as members discussed intellectual and artistic subjects such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne weekly. Wilde quickly became an established member -– the members' suggestion book for 1874 contains two pages of banter (sportingly) mocking Wilde's emergent aestheticism. He presented a paper titled "Aesthetic Morality".[18] At Trinity, Wilde established himself as an outstanding student: he came first in his class in his first year, won a scholarship by competitive examination in his second and, in his finals, won the Berkeley Gold Medal in Greek, the University's highest academic award.[19] He was encouraged to compete for a demyship to Magdalen College, Oxford –- which he won easily, having already studied Greek for over nine years.

Magdalen College, Oxford

At Magdalen, he read Greats from 1874 to 1878, and from there he applied to join the Oxford Union, but failed to be elected.[20]

Oscar Wilde at Oxford

Attracted by its dress, secrecy, and ritual, Wilde petitioned the Apollo Masonic Lodge at Oxford, and was soon raised to the "Sublime Degree of Master Mason".[21] During a resurgent interest in Freemasonry in his third year, he commented he "would be awfully sorry to give it up if I secede from the Protestant Heresy".[22] Wilde's active involvement in Freemasonry lasted only for the time he spent at Oxford; he allowed his membership of the Apollo University Lodge to lapse after failing to pay subscriptions.[23]

Apollo University Lodge No 357 is a Masonic Lodge based at the University of Oxford aimed at past and present members of the university. It was consecrated in 1819, and its members have met continuously since then.

Membership of the lodge is restricted to those who have matriculated as members of the University of Oxford. The Lodge's historic records, from its foundation until 2005, are housed in the university's Bodleian Library. The lodge is primarily a part of university social life, but is also involved in other areas of university life through projects such as the Apollo Bursary, administered by the university, through which lodge members provide financial support to certain students.

Due to its association with the university it has had famous members such as Cecil Rhodes, Oscar Wilde, and Albert Edward, Prince of Wales.

-- Apollo University Lodge, by Wikipedia

Catholicism deeply appealed to him, especially its rich liturgy, and he discussed converting to it with clergy several times. In 1877, Wilde was left speechless after an audience with Pope Pius IX in Rome.[24] He eagerly read the books of Cardinal Newman, a noted Anglican priest who had converted to Catholicism and risen in the church hierarchy. He became more serious in 1878, when he met the Reverend Sebastian Bowden, a priest in the Brompton Oratory who had received some high-profile converts. Neither his father, who threatened to cut off his funds, nor Mahaffy thought much of the plan; but Wilde, the supreme individualist, balked at the last minute from pledging himself to any formal creed, and on the appointed day of his baptism, sent Father Bowden a bunch of altar lilies instead. Wilde did retain a lifelong interest in Catholic theology and liturgy.[25]

While at Magdalen College, Wilde became particularly well known for his role in the aesthetic and decadent movements. He wore his hair long, openly scorned "manly" sports though he occasionally boxed,[21] and he decorated his rooms with peacock feathers, lilies, sunflowers, blue china and other objets d'art. He once remarked to friends, whom he entertained lavishly, "I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china."[26] The line quickly became famous, accepted as a slogan by aesthetes but used against them by critics who sensed in it a terrible vacuousness.[26]
Some elements disdained the aesthetes, but their languishing attitudes and showy costumes became a recognised pose.[27] Wilde was once physically attacked by a group of four fellow students, and dealt with them single-handedly, surprising critics.[28] By his third year Wilde had truly begun to develop himself and his myth, and considered his learning to be more expansive than what was within the prescribed texts. This attitude resulted in his being rusticated for one term, after he had returned late to a college term from a trip to Greece with Mahaffy.[29]

Wilde did not meet Walter Pater until his third year, but had been enthralled by his Studies in the History of the Renaissance, published during Wilde's final year in Trinity.[30] Pater argued that man's sensibility to beauty should be refined above all else, and that each moment should be felt to its fullest extent. Years later, in De Profundis, Wilde described Pater's Studies... as "that book that has had such a strange influence over my life".[31] He learned tracts of the book by heart, and carried it with him on travels in later years. Pater gave Wilde his sense of almost flippant devotion to art, though he gained a purpose for it through the lectures and writings of critic John Ruskin.[32] Ruskin despaired at the self-validating aestheticism of Pater, arguing that the importance of art lies in its potential for the betterment of society. Ruskin admired beauty, but believed it must be allied with, and applied to, moral good. When Wilde eagerly attended Ruskin's lecture series The Aesthetic and Mathematic Schools of Art in Florence, he learned about aesthetics as the non-mathematical elements of painting. Despite being given to neither early rising nor manual labour, Wilde volunteered for Ruskin's project to convert a swampy country lane into a smart road neatly edged with flowers.[32]

Wilde won the 1878 Newdigate Prize for his poem "Ravenna", which reflected on his visit there the year before, and he duly read it at Encaenia.[33] In November 1878, he graduated with a double first in his B.A. of Classical Moderations and Literae Humaniores (Greats). Wilde wrote to a friend, "The dons are 'astonied' beyond words – the Bad Boy doing so well in the end!"[34][35]

Apprenticeship of an aesthete: 1880s

1881 caricature in Punch, the caption reads: "O.W.", "Oh, I eel just as happy as a bright sunflower, Lays of Christy Minstrelsy, "Æsthete of Æsthetes!/What's in a name!/The Poet is Wilde/But his poetry's tame." "The Big Sunflower'" was a time-honoured blackface minstrel song. W. Sheppard of the Original Christy Minstrels made it famous and other performers sang it for decades afterwards.[36]

Debut in society

After graduation from Oxford, Wilde returned to Dublin, where he met again Florence Balcombe, a childhood sweetheart. She became engaged to Bram Stoker and they married in 1878.[37] Wilde was disappointed but stoic: he wrote to her, remembering "the two sweet years – the sweetest years of all my youth" during which they had been close.[38] He also stated his intention to "return to England, probably for good." This he did in 1878, only briefly visiting Ireland twice after that.[38][39]

Unsure of his next step, Wilde wrote to various acquaintances enquiring about Classics positions at Oxford or Cambridge.[40] The Rise of Historical Criticism was his submission for the Chancellor's Essay prize of 1879, which, though no longer a student, he was still eligible to enter. Its subject, "Historical Criticism among the Ancients" seemed ready-made for Wilde –- with both his skill in composition and ancient learning -– but he struggled to find his voice with the long, flat, scholarly style.[41] Unusually, no prize was awarded that year.[41][note 1]

With the last of his inheritance from the sale of his father's houses, he set himself up as a bachelor in London.[43] The 1881 British Census listed Wilde as a boarder at 1 (now 44) Tite Street, Chelsea, where Frank Miles, a society painter, was the head of the household.[44] Wilde spent the next six years in London and Paris, and in the United States, where he travelled to deliver lectures.

He had been publishing lyrics and poems in magazines since entering Trinity College, especially in Kottabos and the Dublin University Magazine. In mid-1881, at 27 years old, he published Poems, which collected, revised and expanded his poems.[45]

The book was generally well received, and sold out its first print run of 750 copies. Punch was less enthusiastic, saying "The poet is Wilde, but his poetry's tame". By a tight vote, the Oxford Union condemned the book for alleged plagiarism. The librarian, who had requested the book for the library, returned the presentation copy to Wilde with a note of apology.[46][47] Biographer Richard Ellmann argues that Wilde's poem "Hélas!" was a sincere, though flamboyant, attempt to explain the dichotomies the poet saw in himself; one line reads: "To drift with every passion till my soul / Is a stringed lute on which all winds can play".[48]

The book had further printings in 1882. It was bound in a rich, enamel parchment cover (embossed with gilt blossom) and printed on hand-made Dutch paper; over the next few years, Wilde presented many copies to the dignitaries and writers who received him during his lecture tours.[49]

America: 1882

Aestheticism was sufficiently in vogue to be caricatured by Gilbert and Sullivan in Patience (1881). Richard D'Oyly Carte, an English impresario, invited Wilde to make a lecture tour of North America, simultaneously priming the pump for the US tour of Patience and selling this most charming aesthete to the American public. Wilde journeyed on the SS Arizona, arriving 2 January 1882, and disembarking the following day.[50][note 2] Originally planned to last four months, it continued for almost a year due to the commercial success.[52] Wilde sought to transpose the beauty he saw in art into daily life.[36] This was a practical as well as philosophical project: in Oxford he had surrounded himself with blue china and lilies, and now one of his lectures was on interior design.

When asked to explain reports that he had paraded down Piccadilly in London carrying a lily, long hair flowing, Wilde replied, "It's not whether I did it or not that's important, but whether people believed I did it".[36] Wilde believed that the artist should hold forth higher ideals, and that pleasure and beauty would replace utilitarian ethics.[53]

Wilde and aestheticism were both mercilessly caricatured and criticised in the press; the Springfield Republican, for instance, commented on Wilde's behaviour during his visit to Boston to lecture on aestheticism, suggesting that Wilde's conduct was more a bid for notoriety rather than devotion to beauty and the aesthetic. T. W. Higginson, a cleric and abolitionist, wrote in "Unmanly Manhood" of his general concern that Wilde, "whose only distinction is that he has written a thin volume of very mediocre verse", would improperly influence the behaviour of men and women.[54]

Keller cartoon from the Wasp of San Francisco depicting Wilde on the occasion of his visit there in 1882

According to biographer Michèle Mendelssohn, Wilde was the subject of anti-Irish caricature and was portrayed as a monkey, a blackface performer and a Christy's Minstrel throughout his career.[36] "Harper's Weekly put a sunflower-worshipping monkey dressed as Wilde on the front of the January 1882 issue. The magazine didn't let its reputation for quality impede its expression of what are now considered odious ethnic and racial ideologies. The drawing stimulated other American maligners and, in England, had a full-page reprint in the Lady's Pictorial. ... When the National Republican discussed Wilde, it was to explain 'a few items as to the animal's pedigree.' And on 22 January 1882 the Washington Post illustrated the Wild Man of Borneo alongside Oscar Wilde of England and asked 'How far is it from this to this?'"[36] Though his press reception was hostile, Wilde was well received in diverse settings across America; he drank whiskey with miners in Leadville, Colorado, and was fêted at the most fashionable salons in many cities he visited.[55]

London life and marriage

His earnings, plus expected income from The Duchess of Padua, allowed him to move to Paris between February and mid-May 1883. While there he met Robert Sherard, whom he entertained constantly. "We are dining on the Duchess tonight", Wilde would declare before taking him to an expensive restaurant.[56]

The Duchess of Padua is a play by Oscar Wilde. It is a five-act melodramatic tragedy set in Padua and written in blank verse. It was written for the actress Mary Anderson in early 1883 while in Paris. After she turned it down, it was abandoned until its first performance at the Broadway Theatre in New York City under the title Guido Ferranti on 26 January 1891, where it ran for three weeks. It has been rarely revived or studied.

-- The Duchess of Padua, by Wikipedia

In August he briefly returned to New York for the production of Vera, his first play, after it was turned down in London. He reportedly entertained the other passengers with "Ave Imperatrix!, A Poem on England", about the rise and fall of empires. E. C. Stedman, in Victorian Poets, describes this "lyric to England" as "manly verse – a poetic and eloquent invocation".[57][note 3]

Wilde had to return to England, where he continued to lecture on topics including Personal Impressions of America, The Value of Art in Modern Life, and Dress.

No. 34 Tite Street, Chelsea, the Wilde family home from 1884 to his arrest in 1895. In Wilde's time this was No. 16 – the houses have been renumbered.[60]

In London, he had been introduced in 1881 to Constance Lloyd, daughter of Horace Lloyd, a wealthy Queen's Counsel, and his wife. She happened to be visiting Dublin in 1884, when Wilde was lecturing at the Gaiety Theatre. He proposed to her, and they married on 29 May 1884 at the Anglican St James's Church, Paddington, in London.[61][62] Although Constance had an annual allowance of £250, which was generous for a young woman (equivalent to about £26,300 in current value), the Wildes had relatively luxurious tastes. They had preached to others for so long on the subject of design that people expected their home to set new standards.[63] No. 16, Tite Street was duly renovated in seven months at considerable expense. The couple had two sons together, Cyril (1885) and Vyvyan (1886). Wilde became the sole literary signatory of George Bernard Shaw's petition for a pardon of the anarchists arrested (and later executed) after the Haymarket massacre in Chicago in 1886.[64]

Robert Ross at twenty-four

Robert Ross had read Wilde's poems before they met at Oxford in 1886. He seemed unrestrained by the Victorian prohibition against homosexuality, and became estranged from his family. By Richard Ellmann's account, he was a precocious seventeen-year-old who "so young and yet so knowing, was determined to seduce Wilde".[65]According to Daniel Mendelsohn, Wilde, who had long alluded to Greek love, was "initiated into homosexual sex" by Ross, while his "marriage had begun to unravel after his wife's second pregnancy, which left him physically repelled".[66]

Prose writing: 1886–91

Journalism and editorship: 1886–89

Wilde reclining with Poems, by Napoleon Sarony in New York in 1882. Wilde often liked to appear idle, though in fact he worked hard; by the late 1880s he was a father, an editor, and a writer.[67]

Criticism over artistic matters in The Pall Mall Gazette provoked a letter in self-defence, and soon Wilde was a contributor to that and other journals during 1885–87. He enjoyed reviewing and journalism; the form suited his style. He could organise and share his views on art, literature and life, yet in a format less tedious than lecturing. Buoyed up, his reviews were largely chatty and positive.[68] Wilde, like his parents before him, also supported the cause of Irish nationalism. When Charles Stewart Parnell was falsely accused of inciting murder, Wilde wrote a series of astute columns defending him in the Daily Chronicle.[64]

Charles Stewart Parnell (27 June 1846 – 6 October 1891) was an Irish nationalist politician who served as Leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party from 1882 to 1891 and Leader of the Home Rule League from 1880 to 1882. He served as a member of parliament (MP) from 1875 to 1891. His party held the balance of power in the House of Commons during the Home Rule debates of 1885–1890...

Parnell's leadership was first put to the test in February 1886, when he forced the candidature of Captain William O'Shea, who had negotiated the Kilmainham Treaty, for a Galway by-election. Parnell rode roughshod over his lieutenants Healy, Dillon and O'Brien who were not in favour of O'Shea. Galway was the harbinger of the fatal crisis to come. O'Shea had already separated from his wife Katharine O'Shea [born Katharine Wood, cousin of Annie Wood Besant], but would not divorce her as she was expecting a substantial inheritance. Mrs. O'Shea acted as liaison in 1885 with Gladstone during proposals for the First Home Rule Bill. Parnell later took up residence with her in Eltham, Kent, in the summer of 1886, and was a known overnight visitor at the O'Shea house in Brockley, London. When Mrs O'Shea's aunt died in 1889, her money was left in trust.

On 24 December 1889, Captain O'Shea filed for divorce, citing Parnell as co-respondent, although the case did not come for trial until 15 November 1890. The two-day trial revealed that Parnell had been the long-term lover of Mrs. O'Shea and had fathered three of her children. Meanwhile, Parnell assured the Irish Party that there was no need to fear the verdict because he would be exonerated. During January 1890, resolutions of confidence in his leadership were passed throughout the country. Parnell did not contest the divorce action at a hearing on 15 November, to ensure that it would be granted and he could marry Mrs O'Shea, so Captain O'Shea's allegations went unchallenged. A divorce decree was granted on 17 November 1890, but Parnell's two surviving children were placed in O'Shea's custody.

News of the long-standing adultery created a huge public scandal. The Irish National League passed a resolution to confirm his leadership. The Catholic Church hierarchy in Ireland was shocked by Parnell's immorality and feared that he would wreck the cause of Home Rule. Besides the issue of tolerating immorality, the bishops sought to keep control of Irish Catholic politics, and they no longer trusted Parnell as an ally. The chief Catholic leader, Archbishop Walsh of Dublin, came under heavy pressure from politicians, his fellow bishops, and Cardinal Manning; Walsh finally declared against Parnell. Larkin (1961) says, "For the first time in Irish history, the two dominant forces of Nationalism and Catholicism came to a parting of the ways.

In England one strong base of Liberal Party support was Nonconformist Protestantism, such as the Methodists; the 'nonconformist conscience' rebelled against having an adulterer play a major role in the Liberal Party. Gladstone warned that if Parnell retained the leadership, it would mean the loss of the next election, the end of their alliance, and also of Home Rule. With Parnell obdurate, the alliance collapsed in bitterness...

Parnell next became the centre of public attention when in March and April 1887 he found himself accused by the British newspaper The Times of supporting the brutal murders in May 1882 of the newly appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish, and the Permanent Under-Secretary, Thomas Henry Burke, in Dublin's Phoenix Park, and of the general involvement of his movement with crime (i.e., with illegal organisations such as the IRB [Irish Republican Brotherhood]). Letters were published which suggested Parnell was complicit in the murders...

However, a Commission of Enquiry, which Parnell had requested, revealed in February 1889, after 128 sessions that the letters were a fabrication created by Richard Pigott, a disreputable anti-Parnellite rogue journalist. Pigott broke down under cross-examination after the letter was shown to be a forgery by him with his characteristic spelling mistakes. He fled to Madrid where he committed suicide. Parnell was vindicated, to the disappointment of the Tories and the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury.

-- Charles Stewart Parnell, by Wikipedia

Her mother was an Irish Catholic, from a family of more modest means. Besant would go on to make much of her Irish ancestry and supported the cause of Irish self-rule throughout her adult life. Her cousin Kitty O'Shea (born Katharine Wood) was noted for having an affair with Charles Stewart Parnell, leading to his downfall.

-- Annie Besant, by Wikipedia

His flair, having previously been put mainly into socialising, suited journalism and rapidly attracted notice. With his youth nearly over, and a family to support, in mid-1887 Wilde became the editor of The Lady's World magazine, his name prominently appearing on the cover.[69] He promptly renamed it as The Woman's World and raised its tone, adding serious articles on parenting, culture, and politics, while keeping discussions of fashion and arts. Two pieces of fiction were usually included, one to be read to children, the other for the ladies themselves. Wilde worked hard to solicit good contributions from his wide artistic acquaintance, including those of Lady Wilde and his wife Constance, while his own "Literary and Other Notes" were themselves popular and amusing.[70]

The initial vigour and excitement which he brought to the job began to fade as administration, commuting and office life became tedious.[71] At the same time as Wilde's interest flagged, the publishers became concerned anew about circulation: sales, at the relatively high price of one shilling, remained low.[72] Increasingly sending instructions to the magazine by letter, Wilde began a new period of creative work and his own column appeared less regularly.[73][74] In October 1889, Wilde had finally found his voice in prose and, at the end of the second volume, Wilde left The Woman's World.[75] The magazine outlasted him by one issue.[73]

If Wilde's period at the helm of the magazine was a mixed success from an organizational point of view, it played a pivotal role in his development as a writer and facilitated his ascent to fame. Whilst Wilde the journalist supplied articles under the guidance of his editors, Wilde the editor was forced to learn to manipulate the literary marketplace on his own terms.[76]

Wilde in 1889

During the late 1880s, Wilde was a close friend of the artist James McNeill Whistler and they dined together on many occasions. At one of these dinners, Whistler said a bon mot that Wilde found particularly witty, Wilde exclaimed that he wished that he had said it, and Whistler retorted "You will, Oscar, you will".[77] Herbert Vivian—a mutual friend of Wilde and Whistler— attended the dinner and recorded it in his article The Reminiscences of a Short Life which appeared in The Sun in 1889. The article alleged that Wilde had a habit of passing off other people's witticisms as his own—especially Whistler's. Wilde considered Vivian's article to be a scurrilous betrayal, and it directly caused the broken friendship between Wilde and Whistler.[78] The Reminiscences also caused great acrimony between Wilde and Vivian, Wilde accusing Vivian of "the inaccuracy of an eavesdropper with the method of a blackmailer"[79] and banishing Vivian from his circle.[78]
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Shorter fiction

Main articles: The Happy Prince and Other Tales, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories, A House of Pomegranates, and The Portrait of Mr. W. H.

Wilde published The Happy Prince and Other Tales in 1888, and had been regularly writing fairy stories for magazines. In 1891 he published two more collections, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories, and in September A House of Pomegranates was dedicated "To Constance Mary Wilde".[80] "The Portrait of Mr. W. H.", which Wilde had begun in 1887, was first published in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine in July 1889.[81] It is a short story, which reports a conversation, in which the theory that Shakespeare's sonnets were written out of the poet's love of the boy actor "Willie Hughes", is advanced, retracted, and then propounded again. The only evidence for this is two supposed puns within the sonnets themselves.[82]

The anonymous narrator is at first sceptical, then believing, finally flirtatious with the reader: he concludes that "there is really a great deal to be said of the Willie Hughes theory of Shakespeare's sonnets."[83] By the end fact and fiction have melded together.[84] Arthur Ransome wrote that Wilde "read something of himself into Shakespeare's sonnets" and became fascinated with the "Willie Hughes theory" despite the lack of biographical evidence for the historical William Hughes' existence.[85] Instead of writing a short but serious essay on the question, Wilde tossed the theory amongst the three characters of the story, allowing it to unfold as background to the plot. The story thus is an early masterpiece of Wilde's combining many elements that interested him: conversation, literature and the idea that to shed oneself of an idea one must first convince another of its truth.[86] Ransome concludes that Wilde succeeds precisely because the literary criticism is unveiled with such a deft touch.

Though containing nothing but "special pleading", it would not, he says "be possible to build an airier castle in Spain than this of the imaginary William Hughes" we continue listening nonetheless to be charmed by the telling.[87] "You must believe in Willie Hughes," Wilde told an acquaintance, "I almost do, myself."[84]

Essays and dialogues

Main articles: The Soul of Man under Socialism, The Decay of Lying, and The Critic as Artist

Sheet music cover, 1880s

Wilde, having tired of journalism, had been busy setting out his aesthetic ideas more fully in a series of longer prose pieces which were published in the major literary-intellectual journals of the day. In January 1889, The Decay of Lying: A Dialogue appeared in The Nineteenth Century, and Pen, Pencil and Poison, a satirical biography of Thomas Griffiths Wainewright, in The Fortnightly Review, edited by Wilde's friend Frank Harris.[88] Two of Wilde's four writings on aesthetics are dialogues: though Wilde had evolved professionally from lecturer to writer, he retained an oral tradition of sorts. Having always excelled as a wit and raconteur, he often composed by assembling phrases, bons mots and witticisms into a longer, cohesive work.[89]

Wilde was concerned about the effect of moralising on art; he believed in art's redemptive, developmental powers: "Art is individualism, and individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. There lies its immense value. For what it seeks is to disturb monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine."[90] In his only political text, The Soul of Man Under Socialism, he argued political conditions should establish this primacy –- private property should be abolished, and cooperation should be substituted for competition. At the same time, he stressed that the government most amenable to artists was no government at all. Wilde envisioned a society where mechanisation has freed human effort from the burden of necessity, effort which can instead be expended on artistic creation. George Orwell summarised, "In effect, the world will be populated by artists, each striving after perfection in the way that seems best to him."[91]

This point of view did not align him with the Fabians, intellectual socialists who advocated using state apparatus to change social conditions, nor did it endear him to the monied classes whom he had previously entertained.[92][93] Hesketh Pearson, introducing a collection of Wilde's essays in 1950, remarked how The Soul of Man Under Socialism had been an inspirational text for revolutionaries in Tsarist Russia but laments that in the Stalinist era "it is doubtful whether there are any uninspected places in which it could now be hidden".[93]

Wilde considered including this pamphlet and The Portrait of Mr. W.H., his essay-story on Shakespeare's sonnets, in a new anthology in 1891, but eventually decided to limit it to purely aesthetic subjects. Intentions packaged revisions of four essays: The Decay of Lying; Pen, Pencil and Poison; The Truth of Masks (first published 1885); and The Critic as Artist in two parts.[94] For Pearson the biographer, the essays and dialogues exhibit every aspect of Wilde's genius and character: wit, romancer, talker, lecturer, humanist and scholar and concludes that "no other productions of his have as varied an appeal".[95] 1891 turned out to be Wilde's annus mirabilis; apart from his three collections he also produced his only novel.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Main article: The Picture of Dorian Gray

The first version of The Picture of Dorian Gray was published as the lead story in the July 1890 edition of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, along with five others.[96] The story begins with a man painting a picture of Gray. When Gray, who has a "face like ivory and rose leaves", sees his finished portrait, he breaks down. Distraught that his beauty will fade while the portrait stays beautiful, he inadvertently makes a Faustian bargain in which only the painted image grows old while he stays beautiful and young. For Wilde, the purpose of art would be to guide life as if beauty alone were its object. As Gray's portrait allows him to escape the corporeal ravages of his hedonism, Wilde sought to juxtapose the beauty he saw in art with daily life.[97]

Reviewers immediately criticised the novel's decadence and homosexual allusions; The Daily Chronicle for example, called it "unclean", "poisonous", and "heavy with the mephitic odours of moral and spiritual putrefaction".
[98] Wilde vigorously responded, writing to the editor of the Scots Observer, in which he clarified his stance on ethics and aesthetics in art –- "If a work of art is rich and vital and complete, those who have artistic instincts will see its beauty and those to whom ethics appeal more strongly will see its moral lesson."[99] He nevertheless revised it extensively for book publication in 1891: six new chapters were added, some overtly decadent passages and homo-eroticism excised, and a preface was included consisting of twenty two epigrams, such as "Books are well written, or badly written. That is all."[100][101]

Contemporary reviewers and modern critics have postulated numerous possible sources of the story, a search Jershua McCormack argues is futile because Wilde "has tapped a root of Western folklore so deep and ubiquitous that the story has escaped its origins and returned to the oral tradition."[102] Wilde claimed the plot was "an idea that is as old as the history of literature but to which I have given a new form".[103] Modern critic Robin McKie considered the novel to be technically mediocre, saying that the conceit of the plot had guaranteed its fame, but the device is never pushed to its full.[104] On the other hand, Robert McCrum of The Guardian deemed it the 27th best novel ever written in English, calling it "an arresting, and slightly camp, exercise in late-Victorian gothic."[105]

Theatrical career: 1892–95

Jokanaan and Salome. Illustration by Aubrey Beardsley for the 1893 edition of Salome.


Main article: Salome (play)

The 1891 census records the Wildes' residence at 16 Tite Street,[106] where he lived with his wife Constance and two sons. Wilde though, not content with being better known than ever in London, returned to Paris in October 1891, this time as a respected writer. He was received at the salons littéraires, including the famous mardis of Stéphane Mallarmé, a renowned symbolist poet of the time.[107]

Stéphane Mallarmé, 18 March 1842 – 9 September 1898), pen name of Étienne Mallarmé, was a French poet and critic. He was a major French symbolist poet, and his work anticipated and inspired several revolutionary artistic schools of the early 20th century, such as Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism, and Surrealism.

Stéphane Mallarmé was born in Paris. He was a boarder at the Pensionnat des Frères des écoles chrétiennes à Passy between 6[4] or 9 October 1852 and March 1855.[5] He worked as an English teacher and spent much of his life in relative poverty but was famed for his salons, occasional gatherings of intellectuals at his house on the rue de Rome for discussions of poetry, art and philosophy. The group became known as les Mardistes, because they met on Tuesdays (in French, mardi), and through it Mallarmé exerted considerable influence on the work of a generation of writers. For many years, those sessions, where Mallarmé held court as judge, jester, and king, were considered the heart of Paris intellectual life. Regular visitors included W.B. Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, Paul Valéry, Stefan George, Paul Verlaine, and many others...

Mallarmé's earlier work owes a great deal to the style of Charles Baudelaire who was recognised as the forerunner of literary Symbolism. Mallarmé's later fin de siècle style, on the other hand, anticipates many of the fusions between poetry and the other arts that were to blossom in the next century. Most of this later work explored the relationship between content and form, between the text and the arrangement of words and spaces on the page. This is particularly evident in his last major poem, Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard ('A roll of the dice will never abolish chance') of 1897.

-- Stéphane Mallarmé, by Wikipedia

Wilde's two plays during the 1880s, Vera; or, The Nihilists and The Duchess of Padua, had not met with much success.

Vera; or, The Nihilists is a play by Oscar Wilde. It is a melodramatic tragedy set in Russia and is loosely based on the life of Vera Zasulich. It was Wilde's first play, and the first to be performed. In 1880, with only a few copies privately printed, arrangements were made with noted actresses for a production in the United Kingdom, but this never materialized. The first public performance was in New York City in 1883 at the Union Square Theatre, based on revisions made by Wilde while lecturing in America in 1882. The play was not a success and folded after only one week. It is rarely revived...

Vera is a barmaid in her father's tavern, which is situated along a road to the prison camps in Siberia. A gang of prisoners stop at the tavern. Vera immediately recognises her brother Dmitri as one of the prisoners. He begs her to go to Moscow and join the Nihilists, a terrorist group trying to assassinate the Czar, and avenge his imprisonment. She and her father's manservant Michael leave to join the Nihilists.

Five years later, Vera has become the Nihilists' top assassin, and is wanted across Europe. She is in love with a fellow Nihilist named Alexis: however, Nihilists are sworn never to marry. A Nihilist meeting is nearly broken up by soldiers, but Alexis thwarts the soldiers by revealing his true identity: he is the Tsarevich, heir to the Russian throne. This act earns him the further admiration of Vera and the hatred of the Nihilists.

At a council meeting, Tsar Ivan and his cruel epigrammatic minister Prince Paul Maraloffski criticise Tsarovitch Alexis's democratic leanings, but the Tsar is assassinated by Michael after the Tsarovitch opens the window.

Alexis ascends the throne and exiles Prince Paul Maraloffski, not to Siberia, but to Paris. Maraloffski joins the Nihilists to kill Alexis. The task of assassinating the Tsar is given to Vera. She must infiltrate the palace, stab the Tsar and throw the dagger out the window as a signal to Nihilist agents below. If she does not, the agents will break in and kill him. Vera is reluctant to kill the man she loves, though.

Alexis returns to the palace after his coronation, intending to end injustice in Russia during his reign. Vera enters the palace, knife at the ready. Alexis asks her to marry him. She accepts, but then she hears the agents outside crying out for the signal. She stabs herself and throws the dagger out the window, and the agent departs satisfied.

Alexis: Vera, what have you done?

Vera: I have saved Russia. [dies]

-- Vera; or, The Nihilists, by Wikipedia

He had continued his interest in the theatre and now, after finding his voice in prose, his thoughts turned again to the dramatic form as the biblical iconography of Salome filled his mind.[108] One evening, after discussing depictions of Salome throughout history, he returned to his hotel and noticed a blank copybook lying on the desk, and it occurred to him to write in it what he had been saying. The result was a new play, Salomé, written rapidly and in French.[109]

A tragedy, it tells the story of Salome, the stepdaughter of the tetrarch Herod Antipas, who, to her stepfather's dismay but mother's delight, requests the head of Jokanaan (John the Baptist) on a silver platter as a reward for dancing the Dance of the Seven Veils. When Wilde returned to London just before Christmas the Paris Echo referred to him as "le great event" of the season.[110] Rehearsals of the play, starring Sarah Bernhardt, began but the play was refused a licence by the Lord Chamberlain, since it depicted biblical characters.[111] Salome was published jointly in Paris and London in 1893, but was not performed until 1896 in Paris, during Wilde's later incarceration.[112]

Comedies of society

Main articles: Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, and An Ideal Husband

Wilde, who had first set out to irritate Victorian society with his dress and talking points, then outrage it with Dorian Gray, his novel of vice hidden beneath art, finally found a way to critique society on its own terms. Lady Windermere's Fan was first performed on 20 February 1892 at St James's Theatre, packed with the cream of society. On the surface a witty comedy, there is subtle subversion underneath: "it concludes with collusive concealment rather than collective disclosure".[113] The audience, like Lady Windermere, are forced to soften harsh social codes in favour of a more nuanced view. The play was enormously popular, touring the country for months, but largely trashed by conservative critics.[114] It was followed by A Woman of No Importance in 1893, another Victorian comedy, revolving around the spectre of illegitimate births, mistaken identities and late revelations.[115] Wilde was commissioned to write two more plays and An Ideal Husband, written in 1894,[116] followed in January 1895.[117]

Peter Raby said these essentially English plays were well-pitched, "Wilde, with one eye on the dramatic genius of Ibsen, and the other on the commercial competition in London's West End, targeted his audience with adroit precision".[118]

Queensberry family

Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas in 1893

In mid-1891 Lionel Johnson introduced Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas, Johnson's cousin and an undergraduate at Oxford at the time.[119]


Lionel Pigot Johnson (15 March 1867 – 4 October 1902) was an English poet, essayist, and critic.

Johnson was born in Broadstairs, Kent, England in 1867 and educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford, graduating in 1890. He became a Catholic convert in June 1891. Also in June 1891 Johnson introduced his cousin Lord Alfred Douglas to his friend Oscar Wilde. He later repudiated Wilde in "The Destroyer of a Soul" (1892), deeply regretting initiating what became the highly scandalous love affair between the two men.

The Destroyer of a Soul
by Lionel Pigot Johnson

I HATE you with a necessary hate.
First, I sought patience: passionate was she:
My patience turned in very scorn of me,
That I should dare forgive a sin so great,
As this, through which I sit disconsolate;
Mourning for that live soul, I used to see;
Soul of a saint, whose friend I used to be:
Till you came by! a cold, corrupting, fate.
Why come you now? You, whom I cannot cease
With pure and perfect hate to hate? Go, ring
The death-bell with a deep, triumphant toll!
Say you, my friend sits by me still? Ah, peace!
Call you this thing my friend? this nameless thing?
This living body, hiding its dead soul?

In 1893 he published what some would consider his greatest work, "Dark Angel". During his lifetime were published: The Art of Thomas Hardy (1894), Poems (1895), and Ireland and Other Poems (1897).

He was one of the Rhymers' Club, and cousin to Olivia Shakespear (who dedicated her novel The False Laurel to him). Johnson lived a solitary life in London, struggling with alcoholism and repressed homosexuality. He died of a stroke in 1902, after either a fall in the street, or a fall from a barstool in the Green Dragon on Fleet Street.

-- Lionel Johnson, by Wikipedia

Known to his family and friends as "Bosie", he was a handsome and spoilt young man. An intimate friendship sprang up between Wilde and Douglas and by 1893 Wilde was infatuated with Douglas and they consorted together regularly in a tempestuous affair. If Wilde was relatively indiscreet, even flamboyant, in the way he acted, Douglas was reckless in public. Wilde, who was earning up to £100 a week from his plays (his salary at The Woman's World had been £6), indulged Douglas's every whim: material, artistic, or sexual.


Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas (22 October 1870 – 20 March 1945) was a British poet and journalist best known as the lover of Oscar Wilde.

While studying at Oxford, he edited an undergraduate journal, The Spirit Lamp, which carried a homoerotic subtext, and met Wilde, with whom he started a close but stormy relationship. Douglas' father, the Marquess of Queensberry, disapproved strongly of the affair, and set out to humiliate Wilde, publicly accusing him of homosexuality. Wilde sued him for criminal libel, but some of his intimate notes were discovered, and he was duly jailed. On his release, Wilde briefly lived with Douglas in Naples, but they were separated by the time Wilde died in 1900.

Douglas married Olive Custance in 1902, and they had a son, Raymond. Converting to Roman Catholicism in 1911, he openly repudiated Wilde’s homosexuality, and in a High-Catholic magazine, Plain English, he expressed views that were openly anti-Semitic, though he rejected the policies of Nazi Germany. He was also jailed for libeling Winston Churchill over claims of wartime misconduct.

Douglas wrote several books of verse, some of it classified in the homoerotic Uranian genre.

The Uranians were a small and clandestine group of male homosexual poets who published works between 1858, when William Johnson Cory published Ionica, and 1930. Although most of them were English, they had counterparts in the United States and France.

The work of the Uranian poets was characterized by an idealised appeal to the history of Ancient Greece and a "sentimental infatuation" of older men for adolescent boys, as well as by a use of conservative verse forms.

The chief poets of this clique were William Johnson Cory, Lord Alfred Douglas, Montague Summers, John Francis Bloxam, Charles Kains Jackson, John Gambril Nicholson, E. E. Bradford, John Addington Symonds, Edmund John, John Moray Stuart-Young, Charles Edward Sayle, Fabian S. Woodley, and several pseudonymous authors such as "Philebus" (John Leslie Barford) and "A. Newman" (Francis Edwin Murray). The flamboyantly eccentric novelist Frederick Rolfe (also known as "Baron Corvo") was a unifying presence in their social network, both within and without Venice.

Historian Neil McKenna has argued that Uranian poetry had a central role in the upper-class homosexual subcultures of the Victorian period. He insisted that poetry was the main medium through which writers such as Oscar Wilde, George Ives and Rennell Rodd, 1st Baron Rennell sought to challenge the anti-homosexual prejudices of the age.

Marginally associated with their world were more famous writers such as Edward Carpenter, as well as the obscure but prophetic poet-printer Ralph Chubb. His majestic volumes of lithographs celebrated the adolescent boy as an Ideal. The Uranian quest to revive the Greek notion of paiderastia was not successful.

-- Uranian poetry, by Wikipedia

The phrase "The love that dare not speak its name" came from one of Douglas' poems, though it is widely misattributed to Wilde.

-- Lord Alfred Douglas, by Wikipedia

Douglas soon initiated Wilde into the Victorian underground of gay prostitution and Wilde was introduced to a series of young working-class male prostitutes from 1892 onwards by Alfred Taylor.

Alfred Waterhouse Somerset Taylor, the son of a cocoa manufacturer, was born in 1863. He was educated by a private tutor at Preston Village, near Brighton, and at Marlborough College. After finishing his education he joined the 4th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers.

On the death of his father in 1883 he inherited ₤45,000. He later admitted that after he came "into a fortune I have since that time had no occupation but have lived a life of pleasure." 1894 Taylor and Arthur Marling, a female impersonator, were arrested for wearing female clothing at a party given by John Preston on Fitzroy Street.

Taylor met Oscar Wilde and it is claimed that he introduced him to several young men. In 1895 the 9th Marquess of Queensberry, discovered that his son, Alfred Douglas, was having a sexual relationship with Wilde. He planned to disrupt the opening night of The Importance of Being Earnest, at St James's Theatre on 14th February, 1895, by throwing a bouquet of rotten vegetables at the playwright when he took his bow at the end of the show. Wilde learned of the plan and arranged for policemen to bar his entrance.

Two weeks later, Queensbury left his card at Wilde's club, the Albemarle, accusing him of being a "somdomite". Wilde, Douglas and Robert Ross approached solicitor Charles Octavius Humphreys with the intention of suing Queensberry for criminal libel. Humphreys asked Wilde directly whether there was any truth to Queensberry's allegations of homosexual activity between Wilde and Douglas. Wilde claimed he was innocent of the charge and Humphreys applied for a warrant for Queensberry's arrest.

Queensberry entered a plea of justification on 30th March. Owen Dudley Edwards has pointed out: "Having belatedly assembled evidence found for Queensberry by very recent recruits, it declared Wilde to have committed a number of sexual acts with male persons at dates and places named. None was evidence of sodomy, nor was Wilde ever charged with it. Queensberry's trial at the central criminal court, Old Bailey, on 3–5 April before Mr Justice Richard Henn Collins ended in Wilde's attempt to withdraw the prosecution after Queensberry's counsel, Edward Carson QC MP, sustained brilliant repartee from Wilde in the witness-box on questions about immorality in his works and then crushed Wilde with questions on his relations to male youths whose lower-class background was much stressed." Richard Ellmann, the author of Oscar Wilde (1988), has argued that Wilde abandoned the case rather than call Douglas as a witness.

Queensberry was found not guilty and his solicitors sent its evidence to the public prosecutor. Wilde was arrested on 5th April and taken to Holloway Prison. The following day, Alfred Taylor was also arrested. Taylor refused to give evidence against Wilde and both men were charged with offences under the Criminal Law Amendment Act (1885). The police found a considerable collection of female clothing in his room. Taylor refused to turn Queen’s Evidence against Wilde, and the two men were tried together.

The trial of Wilde and Taylor began before Justice Arthur Charles on 26th April. Of the ten alleged sexual partners Queensberry's plea had named, five were omitted from the Wilde indictment. The trial under Charles ended in jury disagreement after four hours. The second trial, under Justice Alfred Wills, began on 22nd May. Douglas was not called to give evidence at either trial, but his letters to Wilde were entered into evidence, as was his poem, Two Loves. Called on to explain its concluding line - "I am the love that dares not speak its name" Wilde answered that it meant the "affection of an elder for a younger man".

Both men were found guilty and sentenced to two years' penal servitude with hard labour. The two known persons with whom Oscar Wilde was found guilty of gross indecency were male prostitutes, Wood and Parker. Wilde was also found guilty on two counts charging gross indecency with a person unknown on two separate occasions in the Savoy Hotel. These may in fact have related to acts committed by Douglas, who had also been Wood's lover.

On release Taylor emigrated to the United States where nothing is known of him except that in the 1920s he was working as a waiter in Chicago.

-- Alfred Taylor, by Spartacus Educational

These infrequent rendezvous usually took the same form: Wilde would meet the boy, offer him gifts, dine him privately and then take him to a hotel room. Unlike Wilde's idealised relations with Ross, John Gray, and Douglas, all of whom remained part of his aesthetic circle, these consorts were uneducated and knew nothing of literature. Soon his public and private lives had become sharply divided; in De Profundis he wrote to Douglas that "It was like feasting with panthers; the danger was half the excitement... I did not know that when they were to strike at me it was to be at another's piping and at another's pay."[120]

Explicit documents prepared for the Oscar Wilde libel case have come to light, offering a revealing new glimpse of the double life led by the celebrated Irish writer.
The shocking witness statements, previously unseen, were drawn up by employees at Day Russell of the Strand, solicitors for the defence in Wilde's disastrous 1895 legal action against the Marquis of Queensberry. Most of the papers were filed away and never used in court.

While Wilde is remembered today as the dandy-about-town, sporting bespoke suits and habitually wearing a green carnation in his buttonhole, these statements -- from chamber-maids, valets, bell-boys and even a lamp-wick seller portray his private life in lurid detail.

Seedy descriptions of Wilde's bedroom are included in the damaging file
, which was instrumental in Wilde's downfall and formed the background for one of the most famous cases in British legal history.

Wilde took legal action against the Marquis, father of his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, after he found a visiting card left by Queensberry at the Albermarle club. It was inscribed with the words: 'For Oscar Wilde posing Somdomite [ sic ]' [Sodomite].

The 52 pages of statements from 32 witnesses have never been published and are hand-written on heavy sheets of paper. They were picked up in a London junk shop for a pittance during the Fifties by a private collector whose widow is now selling them at Christie's on 6 June. The historic bundle, wrapped in pink string, is expected to fetch £12,000.

Among the more sordid details are those revealed by Margaret Cotta, a chambermaid at the Savoy Hotel, a favourite rendezvous for Wilde and his series of young male 'renters'. Describing a prolonged visit to the hotel by Wilde and Alfred Douglas, who was affectionately known as Bosie, Miss Cotta said she found a 'common boy, rough looking, about 14 years of age' in Wilde's bed, the sheets of which 'were always in a most disgusting state... [with] traces of vaseline, soil and semen'.

Instructions were given that the linen should be kept apart and washed separately. Miss Cotta added that a stream of page boys delivering letters were usually kissed by Wilde, who then tipped them two shillings and sixpence for their trouble.

Thomas Venning, a manuscripts specialist at Christie's, said the documents provided a new account of Wilde's undoing and had 'very detailed sexual content which was only mentioned in the trial euphemistically'.

The statements also show Wilde's carefree attitude to discovery. Wallis Grainger, an apprentice electrician from Oxford, told how Wilde took him to a cottage in nearby Goring-on-Thames which he had rented and where he wrote An Ideal Husband.

On the second or third night, said Grainger, Wilde 'came into my bedroom and woke me up and told me to come into his bedroom which was next door... he worked me up with his hand and made me spend in his mouth'. The former butler of the Marquis of Queensberry was in the next room.

On another occasion, during the Goring regatta, Gertrude Simmons, governess to Wilde's two sons, reported seeing him 'holding the arm of a boat boy called George Hughes and patting him very familiarly'. During the same visit she came across a carelessly discarded letter to Wilde from Bosie which was signed 'your own loving darling boy to do what you like with'.

Another statement came from a 20-year-old called Fred Atkins, who Wilde had met at the Café Royale. Atkins said Wilde 'took me to the hairdresser and had my hair curled'. Wilde later took him off to Paris as his secretary, Atkins said. The job involved 'writing out only half a page of a manuscript which took about 10 minutes' after which Wilde 'made improper proposals'.

Queensberry had used detectives to track down a circle of male prostitutes, and some of their statements are among those being sold. Wilde's action against Queensberry opened on 3 April 1895 at the Old Bailey but collapsed with a not guilty verdict. At noon on 5 April, the evidence gathered by solicitor Charles Russell was immediately forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions and Wilde was arrested on a charge of gross indecency.

On 24 May, after two further trials, he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour, which broke his health. After his release he lived abroad as a bankrupt under the pseudonym Sebastian Melmoth. He died in Paris on 30 November 1900.

-- Wilde's sex life exposed in explicit court files: Under the hammer: unpublished witness statements tell of 'rough' teenage boys and soiled sheets, by Vanessa Thorpe and Simon de Burton, May 5, 2001,

While he is one of the most celebrated Irish writers, many experts and academics express concern about his lack of morality when it came to sex.

Professor Colbert Kearney, expert on Irish writers, said the young boys he hired as prostitutes were from the poorest section of society.

“Oscar and his friends had a predilection for young boys. These young boys were not from the upper classes. They were from the lower classes, the very poor,” said the former head of the Department of English at University College Cork.

“He actually said once that there was a special pleasure in danger. That was true but his love of danger was his undoing.”

Historian Pat Liddy said his sexual encounters with 16-year-old and 17-year-old boys were laid bare during his criminal trial for gross indecency.

Dr Noreen Doody, head of the English Department at St Patrick’s College, said the writer had even coined a phrase for his encounters with the young prostitutes:

“Wilde talks of his appetite for affairs with young male prostitutes as ‘feasting with panthers’, a wonderful phrase he used to express his dangerous desires.”

-- Wilde’s lust for young boys in the spotlight, by

Douglas and some Oxford friends founded a journal, The Chameleon, to which Wilde "sent a page of paradoxes originally destined for the Saturday Review".[121] "Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young" was to come under attack six months later at Wilde's trial, where he was forced to defend the magazine to which he had sent his work.[122] In any case, it became unique: The Chameleon was not published again.

Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young
by Oscar Wilde

• The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible. What the second duty is no one has as yet discovered.
• Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others.
• If the poor only had profiles there would be no difficulty in solving the problem of poverty.
• Those who see any difference between soul and body have neither.
• A really well-made buttonhole is the only link between Art and Nature.
• Religions die when they are proved to be true. Science is the record of dead religions.
• The well-bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.
• Nothing that actually occurs is of the smallest importance.
• Dullness is the coming of age of seriousness.
• In all unimportant matters, style, not sincerity, is the essential. In all important matters, style, not sincerity, is the essential.
• If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out.
• Pleasure is the only thing one should live for. Nothing ages like happiness.
• It is only by not paying one's bills that one can hope to live in the memory of the commercial classes.
• No crime is vulgar, but all vulgarity is crime. Vulgarity is the conduct of others.
• Only the shallow know themselves.
• Time is a waste of money.
• One should always be a little improbable.
• There is a fatality about all good resolutions. They are invariably made too soon.
• The only way to atone for being occasionally a little over-dressed is by being always absolutely over-educated.
• To be premature is to be perfect.
• Any preoccupation with ideas of what is right and wrong in conduct shows an arrested intellectual development.
• Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.
• A truth ceases to be true when more than one person believes in it.
• In examinations the foolish ask questions that the wise cannot answer.
• Greek dress was in its essence inartistic. Nothing should reveal the body but the body.
• One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.
• It is only the superficial qualities that last. Man's deeper nature is soon found out.
• Industry is the root of all ugliness.
• The ages live in history through their anachronisms.
• It is only the gods who taste of death. Apollo has passed away, but Hyacinth, whom men say he slew, lives on. Nero and Narcissus are always with us.
• The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything: the young know everything.
• The condition of perfection is idleness: the aim of perfection is youth.
• Only the great masters of style ever succeed in being obscure.
• There is something tragic about the enormous number of young men there are in England at the present moment who start life with perfect profiles, and end by adopting some useful profession.
• To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.

Lord Alfred's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, was known for his outspoken atheism, brutish manner and creation of the modern rules of boxing.[note 4]

John Douglas was born in Florence, Italy, the eldest son of Conservative politician Archibald, Viscount Drumlanrig, and Caroline Margaret Clayton. He had three brothers, Francis, Archibald, and James, and two sisters, Gertrude and Florence. He was briefly styled Viscount Drumlanrig following his father's succession in 1856, and on the latter's death in 1858 he inherited the Marquessate of Queensberry. The 9th Marquess was educated in the training ships Illustrious and Britannia at Portsmouth, and served in the Royal Navy until resigning in 1864. He was Lieutenant-Colonel commanding the 1st Dumfriesshire Rifle Volunteers from 1869 to 1871.

In 1864, Lord Queensberry entered Magdalene College, Cambridge, which he left two years later without taking a degree. He was more distinguished in sport, playing college cricket as well as running, hunting, and steeplechasing. He married Sibyl Montgomery in 1866. They had four sons and a daughter; his wife successfully sued for divorce in 1887 on the grounds of his adultery.
She survived him to the age of 90, dying in 1935. Queensberry married Ethel Weeden in 1893 but this marriage was annulled the following year...

He died, two months after a stroke, and after a period of mental decline believed to be caused by syphilis, in his club room in Welbeck Street, west London, aged 55, nearly a year before Oscar Wilde's death...

His eldest son and heir apparent was Francis, Viscount Drumlanrig, who was rumored to have been engaged in a homosexual relationship with the Liberal Prime Minister, The 5th Earl of Rosebery. Lord Drumlanrig died from a gunshot wound, unmarried and without children.

Douglas's second son, Lord Percy Douglas (1868–1920), succeeded to the peerage instead.[6] Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas, his third son, was a close friend of famous author and poet Oscar Wilde. Eventually it became known that Lord Alfred and Wilde had engaged in sexual intercourse on multiple occasions, severely damaging the reputation of both men and enraging Queensberry. Queensberry's efforts to end that relationship ultimately lead to his famous dispute with Wilde, which would cumulate to Wilde's eventual imprisonment, decline, and fall.

-- John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry, by Wikipedia

Queensberry, who feuded regularly with his son, confronted Wilde and Lord Alfred about the nature of their relationship several times, but Wilde was able to mollify him. In June 1894, he called on Wilde at 16 Tite Street, without an appointment, and clarified his stance: "I do not say that you are it, but you look it, and pose at it, which is just as bad. And if I catch you and my son again in any public restaurant I will thrash you," to which Wilde responded: "I don't know what the Queensberry rules are, but the Oscar Wilde rule is to shoot on sight".[124] His account in De Profundis was less triumphant: "It was when, in my library at Tite Street, waving his small hands in the air in epileptic fury, your father... stood uttering every foul word his foul mind could think of, and screaming the loathsome threats he afterwards with such cunning carried out".[125][126] Queensberry only described the scene once, saying Wilde had "shown him the white feather", meaning he had acted in a cowardly way.[126] Though trying to remain calm, Wilde saw that he was becoming ensnared in a brutal family quarrel. He did not wish to bear Queensberry's insults, but he knew to confront him could lead to disaster were his liaisons disclosed publicly.

Limited Omniscient. The narrator that is limited in omniscience presents the thoughts or feelings of only one of the characters, usually the main character. This method presents an appearance of objectivity. However, by focusing on only one character and on that character’s inner life, the narrator can make readers more sympathetic to that character, or if needed, more skeptical toward that character.

-- The Narrator and Point of View, by Lyman Grant

The Importance of Being Earnest

Main article: The Importance of Being Earnest

Wilde's final play again returns to the theme of switched identities: the play's two protagonists engage in "bunburying" (the maintenance of alternative personas in the town and country) which allows them to escape Victorian social mores.[97] Earnest is even lighter in tone than Wilde's earlier comedies. While their characters often rise to serious themes in moments of crisis, Earnest lacks the by-now stock Wildean characters: there is no "woman with a past", the principals are neither villainous nor cunning, simply idle cultivés, and the idealistic young women are not that innocent. Mostly set in drawing rooms and almost completely lacking in action or violence, Earnest lacks the self-conscious decadence found in The Picture of Dorian Gray and Salome.[127]

The play, now considered Wilde's masterpiece, was rapidly written in Wilde's artistic maturity in late 1894.[128] It was first performed on 14 February 1895, at St James's Theatre in London, Wilde's second collaboration with George Alexander, the actor-manager. Both author and producer assiduously revised, prepared and rehearsed every line, scene and setting in the months before the premiere, creating a carefully constructed representation of late-Victorian society, yet simultaneously mocking it.[129] During rehearsal Alexander requested that Wilde shorten the play from four acts to three, which the author did. Premieres at St James's seemed like "brilliant parties", and the opening of The Importance of Being Earnest was no exception. Allan Aynesworth (who played Algernon) recalled to Hesketh Pearson, "In my fifty-three years of acting, I never remember a greater triumph than [that] first night."[130] Earnest's immediate reception as Wilde's best work to date finally crystallised his fame into a solid artistic reputation.[131] The Importance of Being Earnest remains his most popular play.[132]

Wilde's professional success was mirrored by an escalation in his feud with Queensberry. Queensberry had planned to insult Wilde publicly by throwing a bouquet of rotting vegetables onto the stage; Wilde was tipped off and had Queensberry barred from entering the theatre.[133] Fifteen weeks later Wilde was in prison.


The Marquess of Queensberry's calling card with the handwritten offending inscription "For Oscar Wilde posing Somdomite [sic]" [Sodomite]. The card was marked as exhibit 'A' in Wilde's libel action.

Wilde v. Queensberry

On 18 February 1895, the Marquess left his calling card at Wilde's club, the Albemarle, inscribed: "For Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite" [sodomite][sic].[134][note 5] Wilde, encouraged by Douglas and against the advice of his friends, initiated a private prosecution against Queensberry for libel, since the note amounted to a public accusation that Wilde had committed the crime of sodomy.

Queensberry was arrested for criminal libel; a charge carrying a possible sentence of up to two years in prison. Under the 1843 Libel Act, Queensberry could avoid conviction for libel only by demonstrating that his accusation was in fact true, and furthermore that there was some "public benefit" to having made the accusation openly.[135] Queensberry's lawyers thus hired private detectives to find evidence of Wilde's homosexual liaisons.[136]

Wilde's friends had advised him against the prosecution at a Saturday Review meeting at the Café Royal on 24 March 1895; Frank Harris warned him that "they are going to prove sodomy against you" and advised him to flee to France.[137]

Frank Harris (14 February 1855 – 26 August 1931) was an Irish-American editor, novelist, short story writer, journalist and publisher, who was friendly with many well-known figures of his day.

Born in Ireland, he emigrated to the United States early in life, working in a variety of unskilled jobs before attending the University of Kansas to read (study) law. After graduation, he quickly tired of his legal career and returned to Europe in 1882. He traveled on continental Europe before settling in London to pursue a career in journalism. In 1921, in his sixties, he became a US citizen. Though he attracted much attention during his life for his irascible, aggressive personality, editorship of famous periodicals, and friendship with the talented and famous, he is remembered mainly for his multiple-volume memoir My Life and Loves, which was banned in countries around the world for its sexual explicitness...

In 1922 he travelled to Berlin to publish his best-known work, his autobiography My Life and Loves (published in four volumes, 1922–1927). It is notorious for its graphic descriptions of Harris' purported sexual encounters and for its exaggeration of the scope of his adventures and his role in history. Years later, Time magazine reflected in its 21 March 1960 issue "Had he not been a thundering liar, Frank Harris would have been a great autobiographer ... he had the crippling disqualification that he told the truth, as Max Beerbohm remarked, only 'when his invention flagged'."...

Harris also wrote short stories and novels, two books on Shakespeare, a series of biographical sketches in five volumes under the title Contemporary Portraits and biographies of his friends Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw...

Married three times, Harris died in Nice aged 75 on 26 August 1931, of a heart attack.

-- Frank Harris, by Wikipedia

Wilde and Douglas walked out in a huff, Wilde saying "it is at such moments as these that one sees who are one's true friends". The scene was witnessed by George Bernard Shaw who recalled it to Arthur Ransome a day or so before Ransome's trial for libelling Douglas in 1913. To Ransome it confirmed what he had said in his 1912 book on Wilde; that Douglas's rivalry for Wilde with Robbie Ross and his arguments with his father had resulted in Wilde's public disaster; as Wilde wrote in De Profundis. Douglas lost his case. Shaw included an account of the argument between Harris, Douglas and Wilde in the preface to his play The Dark Lady of the Sonnets.[138][139]

The libel trial became a cause célèbre as salacious details of Wilde's private life with Taylor and Douglas began to appear in the press. A team of private detectives had directed Queensberry's lawyers, led by Edward Carson QC, to the world of the Victorian underground. Wilde's association with blackmailers and male prostitutes, cross-dressers and homosexual brothels was recorded, and various persons involved were interviewed, some being coerced to appear as witnesses since they too were accomplices to the crimes of which Wilde was accused.[140]

The trial opened on 3 April 1895 before Justice Richard Henn Collins amid scenes of near hysteria both in the press and the public galleries. The extent of the evidence massed against Wilde forced him to declare meekly, "I am the prosecutor in this case".[141] Wilde's lawyer, Sir Edward George Clarke, opened the case by pre-emptively asking Wilde about two suggestive letters Wilde had written to Douglas, which the defence had in its possession. He characterised the first as a "prose sonnet" and admitted that the "poetical language" might seem strange to the court but claimed its intent was innocent. Wilde stated that the letters had been obtained by blackmailers who had attempted to extort money from him, but he had refused, suggesting they should take the £60 (equal to £7,000 today) offered, "unusual for a prose piece of that length". He claimed to regard the letters as works of art rather than something of which to be ashamed.[142]

Wilde was represented by Sir Edward Clarke, Q.C., M.P., Mr. Charles Mathews, and Mr. Travers Humphreys. The Marquess of Queensberry was defended by Mr. Edward Carson, Q.C., M.P., and a former classmate of Wilde's at Trinity College, Dublin, by Mr. Charles Gill, and Mr. Arthur Gill. The defense counsels were instructed by Mr. Charles Russell. Mr. Besley, Q.C., and Mr. Monckton were also present in Court to observe the case on behalf of Lord Douglas of Hawick...

The defense also planned to introduce into evidence two letters written by Wilde to Lord Douglas, both of which had been used in failed attempts to blackmail Wilde. In a tactical maneuver calculated to defuse any possible impact that might arise from a more dramatic presentation by the defense, Clarke elected to introduce one of the letters first. The letter, described as a "prose sonnet," read as follows:

My own boy, Your sonnet is quite lovely, and it is a marvel that those red roseleaf lips of yours should have been made no less for music of song than for madness of kissing. Your slim gilt soul walks between passion and poetry. I think Hyacinthus, whom Apollo loved so madly, was you in Greek days.

Why are you alone in London, and when do you go to Salisbury? Do go there, and cool your hands in the grey twilight of Gothic things, and come here whenever you like. It is a lovely place -- it only lacks you: but go to Salisbury first. Always, with undying love, yours, Oscar.

Clarke admitted that the wording of the letter might appear extravagant to those more accustomed to writing "ordinary letters" or commercial correspondence, but argued that Wilde was in no way ashamed of this letter or of the poetical feelings that were expressed within it. Clarke's differentiation between the "artistic" and "literary" qualities of Wilde's letter and the pedestrian prose that characterized the "ordinary" letters of the average person was intended to give the jury pause over the vast cultural gulf that separated them from Wilde, and to call into question the Court's ability to interpret "works of art." At the conclusion of his opening statement, Clarke challenged Carson to "get from [the literary evidence] anything that in the remotest degree suggests anything hostile to the moral character of Mr. Wilde."

-- The Trials of Oscar Wilde: Deviance, Morality, and Late-Victorian Society, by Michael S. Foldy

Carson, a fellow Dubliner who had attended Trinity College, Dublin at the same time as Wilde, cross-examined Wilde on how he perceived the moral content of his works. Wilde replied with characteristic wit and flippancy, claiming that works of art are not capable of being moral or immoral but only well or poorly made, and that only "brutes and illiterates", whose views on art "are incalculably stupid", would make such judgements about art. Carson, a leading barrister, diverged from the normal practice of asking closed questions. Carson pressed Wilde on each topic from every angle, squeezing out nuances of meaning from Wilde's answers, removing them from their aesthetic context and portraying Wilde as evasive and decadent. While Wilde won the most laughs from the court, Carson scored the most legal points.[143] To undermine Wilde's credibility, and to justify Queensberry's description of Wilde as a "posing somdomite", Carson drew from the witness an admission of his capacity for "posing", by demonstrating that he had lied about his age on oath. Playing on this, he returned to the topic throughout his cross-examination.[144] Carson also tried to justify Queensberry's characterisation by quoting from Wilde's novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, referring in particular to a scene in the second chapter, in which Lord Henry Wotton explains his decadent philosophy to Dorian, an "innocent young man", in Carson's words.[145]

Carson then moved to the factual evidence and questioned Wilde about his friendships with younger, lower-class men. Wilde admitted being on a first-name basis and lavishing gifts upon them, but insisted that nothing untoward had occurred and that the men were merely good friends of his. Carson repeatedly pointed out the unusual nature of these relationships and insinuated that the men were prostitutes. Wilde replied that he did not believe in social barriers, and simply enjoyed the society of young men. Then Carson asked Wilde directly whether he had ever kissed a certain servant boy, Wilde responded, "Oh, dear no. He was a particularly plain boy -– unfortunately ugly -– I pitied him for it."[146] Carson pressed him on the answer, repeatedly asking why the boy's ugliness was relevant. Wilde hesitated, then for the first time became flustered: "You sting me and insult me and try to unnerve me; and at times one says things flippantly when one ought to speak more seriously."[146]

In his opening speech for the defence, Carson announced that he had located several male prostitutes who were to testify that they had had sex with Wilde. On the advice of his lawyers, Wilde dropped the prosecution. Queensberry was found not guilty, as the court declared that his accusation that Wilde was "posing as a Somdomite [sic]" was justified, "true in substance and in fact".[147] Under the Libel Act 1843, Queensberry's acquittal rendered Wilde legally liable for the considerable expenses Queensberry had incurred in his defence, which left Wilde bankrupt.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Part 3 of 3

Regina v. Wilde

After Wilde left the court, a warrant for his arrest was applied for on charges of sodomy and gross indecency. Robbie Ross found Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel,[148] Pont Street, Knightsbridge, with Reginald Turner; both men advised Wilde to go at once to Dover and try to get a boat to France; his mother advised him to stay and fight. Wilde, lapsing into inaction, could only say, "The train has gone. It's too late."[149] On 6 April 1895, Wilde was arrested for "gross indecency" under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, a term meaning homosexual acts not amounting to buggery (an offence under a separate statute).[150][151] At Wilde's instruction, Ross and Wilde's butler forced their way into the bedroom and library of 16 Tite Street, packing some personal effects, manuscripts, and letters.[152] Wilde was then imprisoned on remand at Holloway, where he received daily visits from Douglas.

Wilde in the dock, from The Illustrated Police News, 4 May 1895

Events moved quickly and his prosecution opened on 26 April 1895, before Mr Justice Charles. Wilde pleaded not guilty. He had already begged Douglas to leave London for Paris, but Douglas complained bitterly, even wanting to give evidence; he was pressed to go and soon fled to the Hotel du Monde. Fearing persecution, Ross and many others also left the United Kingdom during this time. Under cross examination Wilde was at first hesitant, then spoke eloquently:

Charles Gill (prosecuting): What is "the love that dare not speak its name"?

Wilde: "The love that dare not speak its name" in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as "the love that dare not speak its name", and on that account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an older and a younger man, when the older man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it, and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it.

This response was counter-productive in a legal sense as it only served to reinforce the charges of homosexual behaviour.

The trial ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict. Wilde's counsel, Sir Edward Clarke, was finally able to get a magistrate to allow Wilde and his friends to post bail.[155] The Reverend Stewart Headlam put up most of the £5,000 surety required by the court, having disagreed with Wilde's treatment by the press and the courts.[156]

Stewart Duckworth Headlam (1847–1924) was an English Anglican priest who was involved in frequent controversy in the final decades of the nineteenth century. Headlam was a pioneer and publicist of Christian socialism, on which he wrote a pamphlet for the Fabian Society, and a supporter of Georgism. He is noted for his role as the founder and warden of the Guild of St Matthew and for helping to bail Oscar Wilde from prison at the time of his trials...

The Guild of St Matthew was an English high-church Christian socialist association led by Stewart Headlam from its establishment in Bethnal Green on 29 June 1877 to its dissolution in 1909. While the guild never had a membership of more than about 400 people, it was "the pioneer Christian socialist society of the revival period in Britain", breaking the ground for other Christian socialist organisations yet to come, such as the Christian Social Union. Kenneth Leech described it as "the first explicitly socialist group in Britain". For many years, it published the periodical The Church Reformer.

-- Guild of St Matthew, by Wikipedia

From 1860-65 (ages 13–18) Headlam attended Eton College. There he was influenced by a teacher, William Johnson, who was a disciple of the Christian Socialism of Frederick Denison Maurice and Charles Kingsley.

When he attended Cambridge University, Headlam was taught by the Professor of Moral Theology, F. D. Maurice, the primary influence in his life. Headlam came to agree with Maurice that God's Kingdom on earth would replace a "competitive, unjust society with a co-operative and egalitarian social order."

Maurice's teaching and example shaped Headlam's life, starting with his decision to be ordained. Years later, Headlam told colleagues in the Fabian Society: that he had been delivered from "the belief that a large proportion of the human race are doomed to endless misery" by Maurice's teachings. Maurice instilled a "Christian humanism" in Headlam. In his Fabian Society Tract on "Christian Socialism," Headlam wrote, "I learnt the principles and was familiar with the title of 'Christian Socialism' from Maurice and Kingsley."...

In 1873, after leaving St John's, Headlam received a curacy from Septimus Hansard, the rector of St Matthew's Church in Bethnal Green in London's East End, where poverty was the intrusive fact of social life. His response, in the form of a synthesis of ideas going back a generation to the Oxford Movement with socialist thinking, was startling although not entirely original. He attributed it in part to Charles Kingsley, but more especially to F. D. Maurice, whose incarnational theology he embraced while a student at Cambridge University. He added to the ideas of these early Christian Socialists a profound commitment to the creeds and to sacramental worship which he drew from the Anglo-Catholic ritualists whose work in the London slums he deeply admired. He was also a harsh critic of evangelicalism, condemning it as individualistic and otherworldly. He befriended working-class secularists and their leader, Charles Bradlaugh, even as he fought secularism itself....

In December 1886, Headlam joined the Fabian Society and for several years served on the society's executive committee. In 1888, he and Annie Besant were elected to the London School Board as members of Progressive Party, a broad coalition of London liberals, radicals and socialists.
In 1902 the Conservative government abolished school boards across England and transferred their responsibilities to the county councils. Although this was a reform designed in large part by his fellow Fabian, Sidney Webb, and endorsed by the Fabian Society, Headlam, like many others on the Left, denounced it as undemocratic. The new Education Act spared the London School Board, but only temporarily. It was also abolished in 1904. Despite his expectation that he would be able run as a Progressive candidate for the London County Council that year and be given a seat on the education committee, the Progressives did not nominate him, perhaps because of pressure from Webb and his allies. It was not until 1907 that he was elected to the council where he continued to be a tireless advocate for working-class children and their teachers. In the same year he published The Socialist's Church. He continued as a political figure for the rest of his life.

On 3 April 1895 the first trial of Oscar Wilde began. This trial ended with a jury deadlocked on most of the charges. A second trial was scheduled in three weeks. During the interim, Wilde could be released if his bail requirements were met.

Bail for the three weeks of freedom "on his own recognizance" between criminal trials was set at a total of £5,000. Headlam, who did not know Wilde personally, put up half the £5,000 bail required for Wilde's release. Headlam stated his motive as "concern for the arts and freedom".

At his second trial, Wilde was found guilty, and sentenced to two years of hard labor. When Wilde was released after serving his sentence, Headlam was there to meet him at six o'clock in the morning on 19 May 1897.

Headlam did not condone homosexuality. However, his willingness to help Wilde may have been connected with the fact that "others close to him had been caught in similar sexual tangles". Headlam's own short-lived marriage in 1878 had been to a lesbian, Beatrice Pennington.

Headlam's close relations with other homosexuals included his Eton master William Johnson and his friend C. J. Vaughan.

-- Stewart Headlam, by Wikipedia

Wilde was freed from Holloway and, shunning attention, went into hiding at the house of Ernest and Ada Leverson, two of his firm friends. Edward Carson approached Frank Lockwood QC, the Solicitor General and asked "Can we not let up on the fellow now?"[154] Lockwood answered that he would like to do so, but feared that the case had become too politicised to be dropped.

The final trial was presided over by Mr Justice Wills. On 25 May 1895 Wilde and Alfred Taylor were convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to two years' hard labour.[155] The judge described the sentence, the maximum allowed, as "totally inadequate for a case such as this", and that the case was "the worst case I have ever tried".[157] Wilde's response "And I? May I say nothing, my Lord?" was drowned out in cries of "Shame" in the courtroom.[158]


When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. Now I am advised by others to try on my release to forget that I have ever been in a prison at all. I know that would be equally fatal. It would mean that I would always be haunted by an intolerable sense of disgrace, and that those things that are meant for me as much as for anybody else – the beauty of the sun and moon, the pageant of the seasons, the music of daybreak and the silence of great nights, the rain falling through the leaves, or the dew creeping over the grass and making it silver – would all be tainted for me, and lose their healing power, and their power of communicating joy. To regret one's own experiences is to arrest one's own development. To deny one's own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one's own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.

-- De Profundis

Further information: De Profundis (letter)

Wilde was incarcerated from 25 May 1895 to 18 May 1897.

He first entered Newgate Prison in London for processing, then was moved to Pentonville Prison, where the "hard labour" to which he had been sentenced consisted of many hours of walking a treadmill and picking oakum (separating the fibres in scraps of old navy ropes),[159] and where prisoners were allowed to read only the Bible and The Pilgrim's Progress.[160]

A few months later he was moved to Wandsworth Prison in London. Inmates there also followed the regimen of "hard labour, hard fare and a hard bed", which wore harshly on Wilde's delicate health.[161] In November he collapsed during chapel from illness and hunger. His right ear drum was ruptured in the fall, an injury that later contributed to his death.[162][163] He spent two months in the infirmary.[162][31]

Richard B. Haldane, the Liberal MP and reformer, visited Wilde and had him transferred in November to Reading Gaol, 30 miles (48 km) west of London[164] on 23 November 1895. The transfer itself was the lowest point of his incarceration, as a crowd jeered and spat at him on the railway platform.[162] He spent the remainder of his sentence there, addressed and identified only as "C.3.3" – the occupant of the third cell on the third floor of C ward.

Wilde's cell in Reading Gaol as it appears today

About five months after Wilde arrived at Reading Gaol, Charles Thomas Wooldridge, a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards, was brought to Reading to await his trial for murdering his wife on 29 March 1896; on 17 June Wooldridge was sentenced to death and returned to Reading for his execution, which took place on Tuesday, 7 July 1896 -– the first hanging at Reading in 18 years. From Wooldridge's hanging, Wilde later wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

Wilde was not, at first, even allowed paper and pen but Haldane eventually succeeded in allowing access to books and writing materials.[165] Wilde requested, among others: the Bible in French; Italian and German grammars; some Ancient Greek texts, Dante's Divine Comedy, Joris-Karl Huysmans's new French novel about Christian redemption En route, and essays by St Augustine, Cardinal Newman and Walter Pater.[166]

Between January and March 1897 Wilde wrote a 50,000-word letter to Douglas. He was not allowed to send it, but was permitted to take it with him when released from prison.[167] In reflective mode, Wilde coldly examines his career to date, how he had been a colourful agent provocateur in Victorian society, his art, like his paradoxes, seeking to subvert as well as sparkle. His own estimation of himself was: one who "stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age".[168] It was from these heights that his life with Douglas began, and Wilde examines that particularly closely, repudiating him for what Wilde finally sees as his arrogance and vanity: he had not forgotten Douglas' remark, when he was ill, "When you are not on your pedestal you are not interesting."[169] Wilde blamed himself, though, for the ethical degradation of character that he allowed Douglas to bring about in him and took responsibility for his own fall, "I am here for having tried to put your father in prison."[131] The first half concludes with Wilde forgiving Douglas, for his own sake as much as Douglas's. The second half of the letter traces Wilde's spiritual journey of redemption and fulfilment through his prison reading. He realised that his ordeal had filled his soul with the fruit of experience, however bitter it tasted at the time.

... I wanted to eat of the fruit of all the trees in the garden of the world ... And so, indeed, I went out, and so I lived. My only mistake was that I confined myself so exclusively to the trees of what seemed to me the sun-lit side of the garden, and shunned the other side for its shadow and its gloom.[170]

Wilde was released from prison on 19 May 1897[171] and sailed that evening for Dieppe, France.[172] He never returned to the UK.

On his release, he gave the manuscript to Ross, who may or may not have carried out Wilde's instructions to send a copy to Douglas (who later denied having received it). The letter was partially published in 1905 as De Profundis; its complete and correct publication first occurred in 1962 in The Letters of Oscar Wilde.[note 6]

Decline: 1897–1900


See also: The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Oscar Wilde's visiting card after his release from gaol

Though Wilde's health had suffered greatly from the harshness and diet of prison, he had a feeling of spiritual renewal. He immediately wrote to the Society of Jesus requesting a six-month Catholic retreat; when the request was denied, Wilde wept.[173] "I intend to be received into the Catholic Church before long", Wilde told a journalist who asked about his religious intentions.[174]

The Society of Jesus (SJ; Latin: Societas Iesu) is a religious order of the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome. It was founded by Ignatius of Loyola and six companions with the approval of Pope Paul III in 1540. The members are called Jesuits (/ˈdʒɛzjuɪt/; Latin: Iesuitæ). The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.

The Society of Jesus is consecrated under the patronage of Madonna Della Strada, a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it is led by a Superior General. The headquarters of the society, its General Curia, is in Rome. The historic curia of Ignatius is now part of the Collegio del Gesù attached to the Church of the Gesù, the Jesuit mother church.

The Society of Jesus as a congregation had some militaristic tendencies. This was so because St. Ignatius who was its leading founder was a nobleman who had a military background. An example of these military tendencies is that members of the society were expected to accept orders to go anywhere in the world, where they might be required to live in extreme conditions. Accordingly, the opening lines of the founding document declared that the society was founded for "whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God[a] to strive especially for the defence and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine". Jesuits are thus sometimes referred to colloquially as "God's soldiers", "God's marines", or "the Company", which evolved from references to Ignatius' history as a soldier and the society's commitment to accepting orders anywhere and to endure any conditions. The society participated in the Counter-Reformation and, later, in the implementation of the Second Vatican Council.

-- Society of Jesus, by Wikipedia

[b]He spent his last three years impoverished and in exile. He took the name "Sebastian Melmoth", after Saint Sebastian...

Saint Sebastian (c. AD 256 – 288) was an early Christian saint and martyr. According to traditional belief, he was killed during the Roman emperor Diocletian's persecution of Christians. He was initially tied to a post or tree and shot with arrows, though this did not kill him. He was, according to tradition, rescued and healed by Saint Irene of Rome, which became a popular subject in 17th-century painting. In all versions of the story, shortly after his recovery he went to Diocletian to warn him about his sins, and as a result was clubbed to death. He is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

-- Saint Sebastian, by Wikipedia

and the titular character of Melmoth the Wanderer (a Gothic novel by Charles Maturin, Wilde's great-uncle).[175]

Melmoth the Wanderer is an 1820 Gothic novel by Irish playwright, novelist and clergyman Charles Maturin. The novel's titular character is a scholar who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for 150 extra years of life, and searches the world for someone who will take over the pact for him, in a manner reminiscent of the Wandering Jew.

The novel is composed of a series of nested stories, gradually revealing the story of Melmoth's life. The novel offers social commentary on early-19th-century England, and denounces Roman Catholicism in favour of the virtues of Protestantism.

-- Melmoth the Wanderer, by Wikipedia

Wilde wrote two long letters to the editor of the Daily Chronicle, describing the brutal conditions of English prisons and advocating penal reform. His discussion of the dismissal of Warder Martin for giving biscuits to an anaemic child prisoner repeated the themes of the corruption and degeneration of punishment that he had earlier outlined in The Soul of Man under Socialism.[176]

Wilde spent mid-1897 with Robert Ross in the seaside village of Berneval-le-Grand in northern France, where he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, narrating the execution of Charles Thomas Wooldridge, who murdered his wife in a rage at her infidelity. It moves from an objective story-telling to symbolic identification with the prisoners.[177] No attempt is made to assess the justice of the laws which convicted them but rather the poem highlights the brutalisation of the punishment that all convicts share. Wilde juxtaposes the executed man and himself with the line "Yet each man kills the thing he loves".[178] He adopted the proletarian ballad form and the author was credited as "C33", Wilde's cell number in Reading Gaol. He suggested that it be published in Reynolds' Magazine, "because it circulates widely among the criminal classes –- to which I now belong –- for once I will be read by my peers -– a new experience for me".[179] It was an immediate roaring commercial success, going through seven editions in less than two years, only after which "[Oscar Wilde]" was added to the title page, though many in literary circles had known Wilde to be the author.[180][181] It brought him a small amount of money.

Although Douglas had been the cause of his misfortunes, he and Wilde were reunited in August 1897 at Rouen. This meeting was disapproved of by the friends and families of both men. Constance Wilde was already refusing to meet Wilde or allow him to see their sons, though she sent him money -– three pounds a week. During the latter part of 1897, Wilde and Douglas lived together near Naples for a few months until they were separated by their families under the threat of cutting off all funds.[182]

Wilde's final address was at the dingy Hôtel d'Alsace (now known as L'Hôtel), on rue des Beaux-Arts in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris. "This poverty really breaks one's heart: it is so sale [filthy], so utterly depressing, so hopeless. Pray do what you can" he wrote to his publisher.[183] He corrected and published An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, the proofs of which, according to Ellmann, show a man "very much in command of himself and of the play" but he refused to write anything else: "I can write, but have lost the joy of writing".[184]

He wandered the boulevards alone and spent what little money he had on alcohol.[172] A series of embarrassing chance encounters with hostile English visitors, or Frenchmen he had known in better days, drowned his spirit. Soon Wilde was sufficiently confined to his hotel to joke, on one of his final trips outside, "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One of us has got to go".[185] On 12 October 1900 he sent a telegram to Ross: "Terribly weak. Please come".[186] His moods fluctuated; Max Beerbohm relates how their mutual friend Reginald 'Reggie' Turner had found Wilde very depressed after a nightmare. "I dreamt that I had died, and was supping with the dead!" "I am sure", Turner replied, "that you must have been the life and soul of the party."[187][188] Turner was one of the few of the old circle who remained with Wilde to the end and was at his bedside when he died.

Reginald "Reggie" Turner was an English author, an aesthete and a member of the circle of Oscar Wilde. He worked as a journalist, wrote twelve novels, and his correspondence has been published, but he is best known as one of the few friends who remained loyal to Wilde when he was imprisoned, and who supported him after his release.

Turner never knew who his parents were, but was an illegitimate member of, and raised by, the Levy-Lawson family, owners of the newspaper, The Daily Telegraph. He was educated at Hurstpierpoint College and Merton College, Oxford. On leaving Oxford he trained briefly as a barrister under Travers Humphreys, but was too lazy for the Law; having a leaning towards writing he joined The Daily Telegraph, where he inaugurated the paper's gossip column. Between 1901 and 1911 he published a dozen novels...

Turner numbered among his friends Max Beerbohm, Lord Alfred Douglas, H. G. Wells, Arnold Bennett, Somerset Maugham, D. H. Lawrence, Oscar Wilde, Osbert Sitwell and others of the London literary scene during the late 19th and early 20th century. S. N. Behrman said of him, "He was one of those men who talk like angels and write like pedestrians". Harold Acton agreed, writing of Turner's conversation, "One forgot to eat while he spun his fantasies." Beerbohm said, "He would be eloquent even were he dumb," and Maugham wrote, "Reggie Turner was, on the whole, the most amusing man I have known."...

Turner was one of the very few of the old circle who remained with Wilde after his release from prison, and he was at his bedside when he died. Beerbohm relates how, a few days before Wilde's death, Turner had found Wilde very depressed after a nightmare. "I dreamt that I had died, and was supping with the dead!" said Wilde. "I am sure", Turner replied, "that you must have been the life and soul of the party." Turner, with Robbie Ross and Frank Harris, supported Wilde to the end...

After Wilde's death, Turner, who was homosexual, felt few ties to England. Weintraub writes, "He felt alienated from an England which had driven Oscar to his death, and realised that some of the hostility toward Wilde might now continue to be directed toward those who had stood by him, and were similarly suspect." Turner thereafter lived abroad for much of the time. His royalties from his novels were modest, but together with his income from the Levy-Lawson family, they supported him in Paris and in French resorts. In his later years he lived in Florence, where he died at the age of 69 and was buried in the Cimitero Evangelico degli Allori.

-- Reginald Turner, by Wikipedia


By 25 November 1900 Wilde had developed meningitis, then called "cerebral meningitis". Robbie Ross arrived on 29 November, sent for a priest, and Wilde was conditionally baptised into the Catholic Church by Fr Cuthbert Dunne, a Passionist priest from Dublin,[189][190] Wilde having been baptised in the Church of Ireland and having moreover a recollection of Catholic baptism as a child, a fact later attested to by the minister of the sacrament, Fr Lawrence Fox.[191] Fr Dunne recorded the baptism,

As the voiture rolled through the dark streets that wintry night, the sad story of Oscar Wilde was in part repeated to me... Robert Ross knelt by the bedside, assisting me as best he could while I administered conditional baptism, and afterwards answering the responses while I gave Extreme Unction to the prostrate man and recited the prayers for the dying. As the man was in a semi-comatose condition, I did not venture to administer the Holy Viaticum; still I must add that he could be roused and was roused from this state in my presence. When roused, he gave signs of being inwardly conscious... Indeed I was fully satisfied that he understood me when told that I was about to receive him into the Catholic Church and gave him the Last Sacraments... And when I repeated close to his ear the Holy Names, the Acts of Contrition, Faith, Hope and Charity, with acts of humble resignation to the Will of God, he tried all through to say the words after me.[192][note 7]

Wilde died of meningitis on 30 November 1900.[194] Different opinions are given as to the cause of the disease: Richard Ellmann claimed it was syphilitic; Merlin Holland, Wilde's grandson, thought this to be a misconception, noting that Wilde's meningitis followed a surgical intervention, perhaps a mastoidectomy; Wilde's physicians, Dr Paul Cleiss and A'Court Tucker, reported that the condition stemmed from an old suppuration of the right ear (from the prison injury, see above) treated for several years (une ancienne suppuration de l'oreille droite d'ailleurs en traitement depuis plusieurs années) and made no allusion to syphilis.[195]


Main article: Oscar Wilde's tomb

The tomb of Oscar Wilde in Père Lachaise Cemetery

Wilde was initially buried in the Cimetière de Bagneux outside Paris; in 1909 his remains were disinterred and transferred to Père Lachaise Cemetery, inside the city.[196] His tomb there was designed by Sir Jacob Epstein.[note 8] It was commissioned by Robert Ross, who asked for a small compartment to be made for his own ashes, which were duly transferred in 1950. The modernist angel depicted as a relief on the tomb was originally complete with male genitalia, which were initially censored by French Authorities with a golden leaf. The genitals have since been vandalised; their current whereabouts are unknown. In 2000, Leon Johnson, a multimedia artist, installed a silver prosthesis to replace them.[197] In 2011, the tomb was cleaned of the many lipstick marks left there by admirers and a glass barrier was installed to prevent further marks or damage.[198]

The epitaph is a verse from The Ballad of Reading Gaol,

And alien tears will fill for him
Pity's long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.[199]

Posthumous pardon

In 2017, Wilde was among an estimated 50,000 men who were pardoned for homosexual acts that were no longer considered offences under the Policing and Crime Act 2017. The Act is known informally as the Alan Turing law.[200]

The "Alan Turing law" is an informal term for the law in the United Kingdom, contained in the Policing and Crime Act 2017, which serves as an amnesty law to pardon men who were cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts. The provision is named after Alan Turing, the World War II codebreaker and computing pioneer, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952. Turing received a royal pardon (posthumously) in 2013. The law applies in England and Wales...

The law only provides pardons for men convicted of acts that are no longer offences; those convicted under the same laws of offences that would now be classified as cottaging, underage sex, or rape will not be pardoned.

-- Alan Turing law, by Wikipedia


In 2014 Wilde was one of the inaugural honorees in the Rainbow Honor Walk, a walk of fame in San Francisco's Castro neighbourhood noting LGBTQ people who have "made significant contributions in their fields."[201][202][203]

The Oscar Wilde Temple, an installation by visual artists McDermott & McGough, opened in 2017 in cooperation with Church of the Village in New York City,[204] then moved to Studio Voltaire in London the next year.[205][206]


Main article: Biographies of Oscar Wilde

A Conversation with Oscar Wilde – a civic monument to Wilde by Maggi Hambling, on Adelaide Street, near Trafalgar Square, London

Wilde's life has been the subject of numerous biographies since his death. The earliest were memoirs by those who knew him: often they are personal or impressionistic accounts which can be good character sketches, but are sometimes factually unreliable.[207] Frank Harris, his friend and editor, wrote a biography, Oscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions (1916); though prone to exaggeration and sometimes factually inaccurate, it offers a good literary portrait of Wilde.[208] Lord Alfred Douglas wrote two books about his relationship with Wilde. Oscar Wilde and Myself (1914), largely ghost-written by T. W. H. Crosland, vindictively reacted to Douglas's discovery that De Profundis was addressed to him and defensively tried to distance him from Wilde's scandalous reputation. Both authors later regretted their work.[209] Later, in Oscar Wilde: A Summing Up (1939) and his Autobiography he was more sympathetic to Wilde. Of Wilde's other close friends, Robert Sherard; Robert Ross, his literary executor; and Charles Ricketts variously published biographies, reminiscences or correspondence. The first more or less objective biography of Wilde came about when Hesketh Pearson wrote Oscar Wilde: His Life and Wit (1946).[210] In 1954 Wilde's son Vyvyan Holland published his memoir Son of Oscar Wilde, which recounts the difficulties Wilde's wife and children faced after his imprisonment.[211] It was revised and updated by Merlin Holland in 1989.

Oscar Wilde, a critical study by Arthur Ransome was published in 1912. The book only briefly mentioned Wilde's life, but subsequently Ransome (and The Times Book Club) were sued for libel by Lord Alfred Douglas. In April 1913 Douglas lost the libel action after a reading of De Profundis refuted his claims.[212][213][214]

Richard Ellmann wrote his 1987 biography Oscar Wilde, for which he posthumously won a National (USA) Book Critics Circle Award in 1988[215] and a Pulitzer Prize in 1989.[216] The book was the basis for the 1997 film Wilde, directed by Brian Gilbert and starring Stephen Fry as the title character.[217]

Neil McKenna's 2003 biography, The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde, offers an exploration of Wilde's sexuality. Often speculative in nature, it was widely criticised for its pure conjecture and lack of scholarly rigour.[218][219] Thomas Wright's Oscar's Books (2008) explores Wilde's reading from his childhood in Dublin to his death in Paris.[220] After tracking down many books that once belonged to Wilde's Tite Street library (dispersed at the time of his trials), Wright was the first to examine Wilde's marginalia.

Later on, I think everyone will recognise his achievements; his plays and essays will endure. Of course, you may think with others that his personality and conversation were far more wonderful than anything he wrote, so that his written works give only a pale reflection of his power. Perhaps that is so, and of course, it will be impossible to reproduce what is gone forever.

-- Robert Ross, 23 December 1900[221]

In 2018, Matthew Sturgis' "Oscar: A Life," was published in London. The book incorporates rediscovered letters and other documents and is the most extensively researched biography of Wilde to appear since 1988.[222]

Parisian literati, also produced several biographies and monographs on him. André Gide wrote In Memoriam, Oscar Wilde and Wilde also features in his journals.[223] Thomas Louis, who had earlier translated books on Wilde into French, produced his own L'esprit d'Oscar Wilde in 1920.[224] Modern books include Philippe Jullian's Oscar Wilde,[225] and L'affaire Oscar Wilde, ou, Du danger de laisser la justice mettre le nez dans nos draps (The Oscar Wilde Affair, or, On the Danger of Allowing Justice to put its Nose in our Sheets) by Odon Vallet, a French religious historian.[226]

Selected works

For a more comprehensive list, see Oscar Wilde bibliography.

• Ravenna (1878)
• Poems (1881)
• The Happy Prince and Other Stories (1888, fairy stories)
• Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories (1891, stories)
• A House of Pomegranates (1891, fairy stories)
• Intentions (1891, essays and dialogues on aesthetics)
• The Picture of Dorian Gray (first published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine July 1890, in book form in 1891; novel)
• The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891, political essay)
• Lady Windermere's Fan (1892, play)
• A Woman of No Importance (1893, play)
• An Ideal Husband (performed 1895, published 1898; play)
• The Importance of Being Earnest (performed 1895, published 1898; play)
• De Profundis (written 1897, published variously 1905, 1908, 1949, 1962; epistle)
• The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898, poem)

See also

• Oscar Wilde Memorial Sculpture


1. The essay was later published in "Miscellanies", the final section of the 1908 edition of Wilde's collected works.[42]
2. Wilde reputedly told a customs officer that "I have nothing to declare except my genius", although the first recording of this remark was many years later, and Wilde's best lines were often quoted immediately in the press.[51]
3. Ave Imperatrix had been first published in The World, an American magazine, in 1880, having first been intended for Time magazine. Apparently the editor liked the verse, so switched it to the other magazine so as to attain "a larger and better audience". It was revised for inclusion in Poems the next year.[58] The play was initially well received by the audience, but when the critics wrote lukewarm reviews, attendance fell sharply and the play closed a week after it had opened.[59]
4. Queensberry's oldest son, Francis Douglas, Viscount Drumlanrig, possibly had an intimate association with Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, the Prime Minister to whom he was private secretary, which ended with Drumlanrig's death in an unexplained shooting accident. In any case the Marquess of Queensberry came to believe his sons had been corrupted by older homosexuals or, as he phrased it in a letter in the aftermath of Drumlanrig's death: "Montgomerys, The Snob Queers like Rosebery and certainly Christian Hypocrite like Gladstone and the whole lot of you".[123]
5. Queensberry's handwriting was almost indecipherable: The hall porter initially read "ponce and sodomite", but Queensberry himself claimed that he'd written "posing 'as' a sodomite", an easier accusation to defend in court. Merlin Holland concludes that "what Queensberry almost certainly wrote was "posing somdomite [sic]".[134]
6. Ross published a version of the letter expurgated of all references to Douglas in 1905 with the title De Profundis, expanding it slightly for an edition of Wilde's collected works in 1908, and then donated it to the British Museum on the understanding that it would not be made public until 1960. In 1949, Wilde's son Vyvyan Holland published it again, including parts formerly omitted, but relying on a faulty typescript bequeathed to him by Ross. Ross's typescript had contained several hundred errors, including typist's mistakes, Ross's "improvements" and other inexplicable omissions.[167]
7. Robert Ross, in his letter to More Adey (dated 14 December 1900), described a similar scene: "(Wilde) was conscious that people were in the room, and raised his hand when I asked him whether he understood. He pressed our hands. I then went in search of a priest and with great difficulty found Fr Cuthbert Dunne, of the Passionists, who came with me at once and administered Baptism and Extreme Unction – Oscar could not take the Eucharist".[193]
8. Epstein produced the design with architect Charles Holden, for whom Epstein produced several controversial commissions in London.



1. Hesketh Pearson, The Life of Oscar Wilde, reprinted by Penguin Books, 1985. p. 18.
2. "Literary Encyclopedia – Oscar Wilde". 25 January 2001. Retrieved 3 April 2009.
3. Sandulescu, pp. 53.
4. McGeachie, James (2004). "Wilde, Sir William Robert Wills (1815–1876)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
5. Pearce, Joseph (2004). "Mask of Mysteries". The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-58617-026-4.
6. Google Books link to Pearce, Joseph The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde
7. "St. Ann's Church website". Retrieved 15 May 2014.
8. Davis Coakley. The Importance of Being Irish. 1994. pp 113–14.
9. Ellmann, pp. 13.
10. Ellmann, pp. 18.
11. Ellmann, pp. 20.
12. Sandulescu, pp. 55-56.
13. Poems: Oscar Wilde. (1881) p. 37.
14. Ellmann, pp. 25.
15. Sandulescu, pp. 59.
16. Ellmann, pp. 26.
17. Ellmann, pp. 27.
18. Ellmann, pp. 29.
19. Sandulescu, pp. 154.
20. Toughill, pp. 183-185.
21. Ellmann, pp. 39.
22. Ellmann, pp. 65.
23. "OSCAR WILDE A University Mason". PS Review of Freemasonry.
24. Ellmann, pp. 70.
25. Sandulescu, pp. 375-376.
26. Ellmann, pp. 43-44.
27. Breen (1977, 2000) pp22–23
28. Ellmann, pp. 44.
29. Ellmann, pp. 78.
30. Ellmann, pp. 46.
31. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 735.
32. Ellmann, pp. 95.
33. Ellmann, pp. 93.
34. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 70.
35. Ellmann, pp. 94.
36. Mendelssohn, Michèle (2018). Making Oscar Wilde. Oxford University Press. p. 285. ISBN 978-0-19-880236-5.
37. Kifeather (2005), page 101
38. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 71.
39. Ellmann, pp. 99.
40. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 72-78.
41. Ellmann, pp. 102.
42. Mason, pp. 486.
43. Ellmann, pp. 105.
44. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1881 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. Source Citation: Class: RG11; Piece: 78; Folio: 56; Page: 46; GSU roll: 1341017. Retrieved 2 March 2010.
45. Ellmann, pp. 131.
46. Morley, pp. 36.
47. Hyde 1948, pp. 39.
48. Ellmann, pp. 132-133.
49. Mason, pp. 282.
50. Cooper, John. "S.S. Arizona". Oscar Wilde in America. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
51. Cooper, John. "Attribution of 'I have nothing to declare except my genius'". Oscar Wilde in America. Retrieved 12 August2012.)
52. Cooper, John. "The Lecture Tour of North America 1882". Oscar Wilde in America. Archived from the original on 16 October 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
53. Kiberd 2000, pp. 329–330.
54. Higginson, Thomas Wentworth (4 February 1882). "Unmanly Manhood". Woman's Journal. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
55. King, Steve. "Wilde in America". Today in Literature. Retrieved 14 April 2010. Regarding Wilde's visit to Leadville, Colorado, 24 December 1881.
56. Ellmann, pp. 205.
57. Mason, pp. 232.
58. Mason, pp. 233.
59. Ellmann, pp. 228.
60. Bristow, Joseph (2009). Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press. p. xli. ISBN 978-0-8214-1837-6.
61. "Oscar & Constance Wilde". Saint James, Sussex Gardens, London. Archived from the original on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
62. Fitzsimons, Eleanor (26 September 2017). Wilde's Women: How Oscar Wilde Was Shaped by the Women He Knew. The Overlook Press. ISBN 978-1-4683-1326-0. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
63. UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
64. Ellmann, pp. 273.
65. Ellmann, pp. 275.
66. Mendelsohn, Daniel (2008). "The two Oscar Wildes". How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken: Essays By Daniel Mendelsohn. New York: HarperCollins. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-06-145644-2.
67. Ellmann, pp. 289.
68. Ellmann, pp. 247-248.
69. Mason, pp. 219.
70. Ellmann, pp. 276.
71. Clayworth, pp. 91.
72. Clayworth, pp. 95.
73. Mason, pp. 202.
74. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 404.
75. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 413.
76. Clayworth, pp. 85, 86.
77. Raby.
78. Ellmann.
79. Spoo, pp. 31.
80. Mason, pp. 360-362.
81. Mason, pp. 6.
82. Lezard, Nicholas (29 March 2003). "Oscar Wilde's other portrait". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
83. Raby, pp. 109.
84. Ellmann, pp. 280.
85. Ransome, pp. 101.
86. Ransome, pp. 102.
87. Ransome.
88. Mason, pp. 71.
89. Raby, pp. 98.
90. Wilde, O. The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, Collins.
91. Orwell, George Review: The Soul of Man under Socialism by Oscar Wilde Archived 29 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine The Observer 8 May 1948. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
92. Kiberd 1996, pp. Ch. 2.
93. Pearson, H. Essays of Oscar Wilde London: Meuthen & Co (1950:xi) Catalogue no:5328/u
94. Mason, pp. 355-357.
95. Pearson, H. Essays of Oscar Wilde London: Meuthen & Co (1950:x) Catalogue no:5328/u
96. Mason, pp. 105.
97. Mendelsohn, Daniel (10 October 2002). "The Two Oscar Wildes". New York Review of Books. Vol. 49 no. 15. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
98. Ross, Alex (1 August 2011). "Deceptive Picture: How Oscar Wilde painted over "Dorian Gray"". The New Yorker. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
99. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 433, 435, 438, 441, 446.
100. "Preface". The Picture of Dorian Gray. From Project Gutenberg transcription. October 1994.
101. Mason, pp. 341.
102. Raby, pp. 111.
103. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 435.
104. McKie, Robin (25 January 2009). "Classics Corner: The Picture of Dorian Gray". The Guardian (London).
105. McCrum, Robert (24 March 2014). "The 100 best novels: No 27 – The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891)". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
106. "Registrar General Records". Wilde, Oscar O'Flahertie Wills (1856–1900), author. National Archives. Retrieved 12 March2010.
107. Ellmann, pp. 316.
108. Ellmann, pp. 322.
109. Ellmann, pp. 323.
110. Ellmann, pp. 326.
111. Mason, pp. 371.
112. Mason, pp. 369.
113. Ellmann, pp. 344.
114. Ellmann, pp. 347.
115. Ellmann, pp. 360.
116. Wilde, Oscar. An ideal husband. Act III: London: typescript with extensive autograph revisions, 1894. OCLC 270589204.
117. Ellmann, pp. 404.
118. Raby, pp. 146.
119. Riley, Kathleen; Blanshard, Alastair; Manny, Iarla (2018). Oscar Wilde and classical antiquity (First ed.). Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-878926-0. OCLC 986815031.
120. Holland & Hart-Davis.
121. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 702.
122. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 703.
123. Ellmann, pp. 402.
124. Ellmann, pp. 421.
125. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 699-700.
126. Ellmann, pp. 396.
127. Raby, pp. 166-167.
128. Ellmann, pp. 398.
129. Raby, pp. 161.
130. Pearson (1946:257)
131. Wheatcroft, G. "Not Green, Not Red, Not Pink" The Atlantic Monthly, May 2003.
132. Raby, pp. 165.
133. Morley, pp. 102.
134. Holland 2004, pp. 300.
135. Moran, Leslie (2002). The Homosexual(ity) of law. Routledge. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-134-89645-5.
136. Frankel, Nicholas (2017). Oscar Wilde: The Unrepentant Years. Harvard University Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-674-98202-4.
137. Belford 2000, p. 251.
138. The Autobiography of Arthur Ransome pp 151–152 (1976, Jonathan Cape, London) ISBN 0-224-01245-2
139. The Life of Arthur Ransome by Hugh Brogan p85 (1984, Jonathan Cape, London) ISBN 0-224-02010-2
140. Ellmann, pp. 415.
141. Ellmann, pp. 418.
142. Foldy, pp. 3.
143. Foldy, pp. 8.
144. Marjoribanks, Edward (1932). Carson the Advocate. London: Macmillan. p. 213. OCLC 679460. Carson had again and again used the word "pose" with ironic emphasis.
145. Stern (2017):758. "Carson began by emphasizing that at this point in the novel, Dorian is an 'innocent young man'.")
146. Foldy, pp. 17.
147. Foldy, pp. 19.
148. (5 April 2013). The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel – 6 April 1895. Hartlepool Mail. British Newspaper Archive. Bloomington, Indiana.
149. Ellmann, pp. 455.
150. See Offences Against the Person Act 1861, ss 61, 62
151. Hyde 1948, pp. 5.
152. Ellmann, pp. 429.
153. Transcript of Wilde's trial, published online by University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School Archived 23 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine
154. Ellmann, pp. 435.
155. Old Bailey Proceedings Online (accessed 22 April 2010), Trial of Oscar Fingal O'Fflahartie Wills Wilde, Alfred Waterhouse Somerset Taylor. (t18950520-425, 22 April 1895).
156. Foldy, pp. 40.
157. Foldy, pp. 47.
158. Sentencing Statement of Justice Wills.
159. Ellmann, pp. 769.
160. Ellmann, pp. 777.
161. Ellmann, pp. 474.
162. Ellmann, pp. 465.
163. Medina, John J. (1997). The Clock of Ages: Why We Age, How We Age, Winding Back the Clock. Cambridge University Press. p. 250. ISBN 978-0-521-59456-1.
164. Ellmann, pp. 456.
165. Ellmann, pp. 475.
166. Ellmann, pp. 477-478.
167. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 683.
168. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 737–738.
169. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 700.
170. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 739.
171. Ellmann, Richard (1988). Oscar Wilde. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 527. ISBN 978-0-394-55484-6.
172. Ellmann, pp. 528.
173. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 841-842.
174. Pearce, Joseph The Picture of Dorian Gray (Introduction), p. X, Ignatius Press, 2008.
175. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 842.
176. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 847–855.
177. Sandulescu, pp. 308.
178. Sandulescu, pp. 310.
179. Kiberd 2000, pp. 336.
180. Mason, pp. 408-410.
181. Ellmann, pp. 526.
182. Hyde 1948, pp. 308.
183. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 1092.
184. Ellmann, pp. 527.
185. Ellmann, pp. 546.
186. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 1119.
187. M. Beerbohm (1946) "Mainly on the Air"
188. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 1213.
189. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 1224.
190. Cavill, Paul, Heather Ward, Matthew Baynham, and Andrew Swinford, The Christian tradition in English literature: poetry, plays, and shorter prose, p. 337, Zondervan 2007.
191. Pearce, Joseph, The unmasking of Oscar Wilde, pp. 28–29, Ignatius Press, 2004
192. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 1223.
193. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 1219–1220.
194. "DEATH OF OSCAR WILDE; He Expires at an Obscure Hotel in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Is Said to Have Died from Meningitis, but There Is a Rumor that He Committed Suicide". The New York Times. 1 December 1900. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
195. Ellmann, pp. 92, 582.
196. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 1230.
197. Johnson, Leon (2000). "(Re)membering Wilde". Archived from the original on 21 October 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
198. John Tagliabue (15 December 2011) "Walling Off Oscar Wilde's Tomb From Admirers' Kisses", The New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
199. Ellmann, pp. 553.
200. "Turing's Law: Oscar Wilde among 50,000 convicted gay men granted posthumous pardons". The Daily Telegraph. 31 January 2017.
201. Shelter, Scott (14 March 2016). "The Rainbow Honor Walk: San Francisco's LGBT Walk of Fame". Quirky Travel Guy. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
202. "Castro's Rainbow Honor Walk Dedicated Today: SFist". SFist – San Francisco News, Restaurants, Events, & Sports. 2 September 2014. Archived from the original on 10 August 2019. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
203. Carnivele, Gary (2 July 2016). "Second LGBT Honorees Selected for San Francisco's Rainbow Honor Walk". We The People. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
204. "McDermott & McGough to Open Temple Dedicated to Oscar Wilde in New York's Church of the Village". ArtNews. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
205. "Oscar Wilde: Gay martyr with complex faith journey honored in art". Q Spirit. 30 November 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
206. Oscar Wilde Temple
207. Raby, pp. 6, 10.
208. Raby, pp. 9.
209. Raby, pp. 8.
210. Raby, pp. 5.
211. "Great Britain: A Life of Concealment". Time. 27 September 1954. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
212. The Autobiography of Arthur Ransome, pp. 146–154 (1976, Jonathan Cape, London) ISBN 0-224-01245-2.
213. The Life of Arthur Ransome by Hugh Brogan, pp. 77–90 (1984, Jonathan Cape, London) ISBN 0-224-02010-2
214. The Last Englishman by Roland Chambers pp 61–69 (2009, Faber and Faber, London) ISBN 978-0-571-22261-2.
215. "All Past National Book Critics Circle Award Winners and Finalists: 1988 Awards". National Book Critics Circle. Archived from the original on 4 June 2019. Retrieved 22 February 2010..
216. "Autobiography or Biography". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
217. Ebert, Roger (12 June 1998). "Wilde". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2 April 2010.
218. Bedell, Geraldine (26 October 2003). "It was all Greek to Oscar". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
219. Parker, Peter (26 October 2003). "The Secret Life of Oscar". The Times. London. Retrieved 22 February 2010. (subscription required)
220. Dugdale, John (26 September 2009). "Oscar's Books by Thomas Wright". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 February2010.
221. Holland & Hart-Davis, pp. 1229.
222. Quinn, Anthony (1 October 2018). "Oscar: A Life by Matthew Sturgis". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
223. Gide, André (1905). In Memoriam, Oscar Wilde. Paris: Editions Mercure De France.
224. Louis, Thomas. L'esprit d'Oscar Wilde. Collection Anglia (4th ed.). Paris: G. Crès & Cie. OCLC 3243250.
225. Jullian, Philippe (6 April 2000). Oscar Wilde. Paris: Editions Christian de Bartillat. ISBN 978-2-84100-220-7.
226. Vallet, Odon (1995). L'affaire Oscar Wilde ou Du danger de laisser la justice mettre le nez dans nos draps. Paris: Editions Albin Michel. ISBN 978-2-226-07952-7.


• Breen, Richard (2000). Oxford, Oddfellows & Funny Tales. London: Penny Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1-901374-00-1.
• Belford, Barbara (2000). Oscar Wilde: A Certain Genius. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-45734-3.
• Clayworth, Anna (Summer 1997). "'The Woman's World': Oscar Wilde as Editor: 1996 Vanarsdel Prize". Victorian Periodicals Review. 30 (2): 84–101. JSTOR 20082977.
• Coakley, Davis (1994). Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Irish. Dublin: Town House. ISBN 978-0-948524-97-4.
• Cox, Devon (2015). The Street of Wonderful Possibilities: Whistler, Wilde and Sargent in Tite Street. London: Frances Lincoln. ISBN 978-0-7112-3673-8.
• Ellmann, Richard (1988). Oscar Wilde. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-394-75984-5.
• Foldy, Michael S. (1997). The Trials of Oscar Wilde Deviance, Morality and Late-Victorian Society. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07112-4.
• Igoe, Vivien (1994). A Literary Guide to Dublin: Writers in Dublin, Literary Associations and Anecdotes. London: Methuen. ISBN 978-0-413-67420-3.
• Holland, Merlin; Hart-Davis, Rupert (2000). The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde. New York: Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 978-0-8050-5915-1.
• Holland, Merlin, ed. (2003). The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. London: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-00-714436-5.
• Holland, Merlin (2004). The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-00-715805-8.
• Hyde, H. Montgomery (1948). The Trials of Oscar Wilde.
• Hyde, H. Montgomery (1963). Famous Trials: Oscar Wilde. Baltimore: Penguin Books.
• Hyde, H. Montgomery (1964). Oscar Wilde: The Aftermath. New York: Farrar Straus Ltd.
• Kiberd, Declan (1996). Inventing Ireland: The Literature of a Modern Nation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-46363-9.
• Kiberd, Declan (2000). Irish Classics. Granta Books. ISBN 9781862073869..
• Kilfeather, Siobhán Marie (2005). Dublin, a Cultural History. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-518202-6.
• Mason, Stuart (1914). Bibliography of Oscar Wilde (1972 ed.). Rota pub; Haskell House Pub. ISBN 978-0-8383-1378-7..
• Morley, Sheridan (1976). Oscar Wilde. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-297-77160-9.
• Raby, Peter, ed. (1997). The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde. London: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-47987-5.
• Ransome, Arthur (1912). Oscar Wilde: A Critical Study. New York: Mitchell Kennerly.
• Spoo, Robert (2018). Modernism and the Law. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4742-7580-4.
• Stern, Simon (2017). "Wilde's Obscenity Effect: Influence and Immorality in the Picture of Dorian Gray". The Review of English Studies. 68 (286): 756–772. doi:10.1093/res/hgx035.
• Sandulescu, C. George, ed. (1994). Rediscovering Oscar Wilde. Gerrards Cross, England: C. Smythe. ISBN 978-0-86140-376-9.
• Toughill, Thomas (2008). The Ripper Code. The History Press.

Further reading

• Beckson, Karl E. (1998). The Oscar Wilde Encyclopedia. AMS Studies in the Nineteenth Century, no. 18. New York: AMS Press. ISBN 978-0-404-61498-0. Detailed reference work on Wilde, the majority of entries discuss his works; his biography, times, and contemporary literary movements are also covered.
• Ellmann, Richard (1988). Oscar Wilde. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0-394-55484-1.
• Gal, Michalle. Aestheticism: Deep Formalism and the Emergence of Modernist Aesthetics. Peter Lang AG International Academic Publishers, 2015.
• Ghosal, Sukriti (2015). Theorist Under-rated: Oscar Wilde the Critic. New Delhi, Sarup Book Publishers (P) Ltd. ISBN 978-93-5208-004-5.
• Harris, Frank (1916). Oscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions. New York: Printed and published by the author.
• Holland, Merlin, ed. (2003). Irish Peacock and Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde. London: Fourth Estate.
• Mendelssohn, Michèle (2007). Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
• Sturgis, Matthew (2018). Oscar: A Life. London: Head of Zeus Ltd. ISBN 9781788545976.

External links

Historical societies

• The Oscar Wilde Society (UK)

Historical notes

• Record of Wilde's indictment and conviction – official Old Bailey website.
• Details including court transcriptions of the trials of Wilde
• Oscar Wilde in America including The American Lecture Tour 1882
• References to Oscar Wilde in historic European newspapers
• "Archival material relating to Oscar_Wilde". UK National Archives.
• Archival material at Leeds University Library
• Newspaper clippings about Oscar Wilde in the 20th Century Press Archives of the ZBW
Radio programmes[edit]
• Oscar Wilde on In Our Time at the BBC
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Apollo University Lodge
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/5/20

Logo of the Apollo University Lodge, Oxford, depicting the classical god Apollo.

Apollo University Lodge No 357 is a Masonic Lodge based at the University of Oxford aimed at past and present members of the university.[1] It was consecrated in 1819, and its members have met continuously since then.

University of Oxford


Membership of the lodge is restricted to those who have matriculated as members of the University of Oxford. The Lodge's historic records, from its foundation until 2005, are housed in the university's Bodleian Library.[2] The lodge is primarily a part of university social life, but is also involved in other areas of university life through projects such as the Apollo Bursary, administered by the university, through which lodge members provide financial support to certain students.[3]

Due to its association with the university it has had famous members such as Cecil Rhodes, Oscar Wilde, and Albert Edward, Prince of Wales.[4]

To celebrate the bicentenary of the Lodge in 2019, a comprehensive history book was written.[5] It was published in February 2019 by the Bodleian Library, Oxford.[6] Entitled "Oxford Freemasons: A Social History of the Apollo University Lodge", the book is co-authored by Professor J. Mordaunt Crook, an architectural historian, former Slade Professor and Waynflete Lecturer at the University of Oxford, and former Public Orator and Professor of Architectural History at the University of London (who is not a Freemason), and Dr James Daniel, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, who has been a member of the Lodge for over fifty years, and is also a former Grand Secretary (chief executive) of the United Grand Lodge of England.



The Lodge (together with the parallel Isaac Newton University Lodge in Cambridge University) has traditionally enjoyed certain privileges, including the right to initiate matriculated members of the University regardless of their age (other Lodges in England and Wales are restricted to candidates aged 21 or older, except by special permission), and the right to initiate candidates in large groups (other lodges are restricted to a maximum of two candidates at a time, except by special permission). In 2005 the Universities Scheme was established, inspired by the long success of Apollo University Lodge and Isaac Newton University Lodge,[7] and now brings similar privileges to more than seventy university masonic lodges in universities across England and Wales.

Other lodges

Apollo University Lodge is the principal masonic lodge for members of the University of Oxford. Other Oxford University lodges include Churchill Lodge No 478 (consecrated 1841) for senior members of the university, St Mary Magdalen Lodge No 1523 (consecrated 1875) for members of Magdalen College, Oxford,[8] and Aedes Christi Lodge No 9304 (consecrated 1989) for members of Christ Church, Oxford.[9] The Oxford and Cambridge University Lodge No 1118 (consecrated 1866) is a London-based lodge for members of both universities.[10]

Notable members

• Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, later Monarch of the United Kingdom
• Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, 11th Baronet, educational reformer and politician
• Richard Acland, Labour politician and founder of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
• William Anstruther-Gray, Baron Kilmany, Unionist politician
• Aretas Akers-Douglas, 1st Viscount Chilston, Conservative Home Secretary
• Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, philanthropist and social reformer
• Joseph Russell Bailey, 1st Baron Glanusk, Conservative politician
• Jonathan Baker, Anglican Bishop of Fulham
• Augustus Bampfylde, 2nd Baron Poltimore, Liberal politician
• Henry Barnes, 2nd Baron Gorell, British Army officer
• Evelyn Baring, 1st Baron Howick of Glendale, colonial governor of Southern Rhodesia and Kenya
• John Baring, 7th Baron Ashburton, chairman of BP
• Charles Bathurst, 1st Viscount Bledisloe, Governor-General of New Zealand
• Bramston Beach, Conservative politician and Father of the House
• Sir Michael Hicks Beach, 8th Baronet, Conservative politician
• Michael Hicks Beach, 1st Earl St Aldwyn, Conservative politician, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Father of the House
• Tim Beaumont, Green politician and Anglican clergyman
• William Kirkpatrick Riland Bedford, Anglican clergyman and antiquary
• Sir Henry Bellingham, 4th Baronet, Anglo-Irish Conservative politician
• Henry Beresford, 3rd Marquess of Waterford, Anglo-Irish peer and first to "Paint the Town Red"
• Seymour Berry, 2nd Viscount Camrose, newspaperman
• John Edward Courtenay Bodley, civil servant
• Edward Bootle-Wilbraham, 1st Earl of Lathom, Conservative politician and Lord Chamberlain
• Robin Bourne-Taylor, Olympic rower
• George Boscawen, 2nd Earl of Falmouth, Irish peer
• William Brabazon, 11th Earl of Meath, Whig politician
• Thomas Brassey, 1st Earl Brassey, Governor of Victoria
• Lionel Brett, justice on the Supreme Court of Nigeria
• Edward George Bruton, architect
• John Buchan, 2nd Baron Tweedsmuir, naturalist
• Ulick de Burgh, 1st Marquess of Clanricarde, Whig politician and Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard
• William Burdett-Coutts, Conservative politician
• Peter Butler, Conservative politician
• Sir Edward Buxton, 2nd Baronet, Liberal politician
• Harold Caccia, Baron Caccia, Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
• Ian Campbell, 11th Duke of Argyll, Scottish peer and socialite
• Charles Canning, 1st Earl Canning, Governor-General of India
• Robert Carew, 2nd Baron Carew, Irish Whig politician
• Lewis Cave, judge on the Queen's Bench
• Peter Cazalet, cricketeer, jockey, and racehorse trainer
• William Champneys, Anglican clergyman and author
• Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, 19th Earl of Shrewsbury, Conservative politician and Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms
• Victor Child Villiers, 7th Earl of Jersey, banker, Conservative politician, and Governor of New South Wales
• George Child Villiers, 9th Earl of Jersey, peer who donated Osterley Park to the National Trust
• Esmé Chinnery, cricketeer and aviator
• William Cholmondeley, 3rd Marquess of Cholmondeley, Conservative politician
• Lionel Cohen, Baron Cohen, High Court Judge
• Arthur Collins, courtier and Gentleman Usher
• Francis Cowper, 7th Earl Cowper, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
• Albert Curtis Clark, Corpus Christi Professor of Latin
• Robert Curzon, 14th Baron Zouche, traveller across the Near East
• Sir Jervoise Clarke-Jervoise, 2nd Baronet, Liberal politician
• Tubby Clayton, founder of Toc H
• John Stanhope Collings-Wells VC, soldier
• St Vincent Cotton, gambler, sportsman, socialite, and soldier
• Arthur Cowley, Bodley's Librarian
• William Craven, 2nd Earl of Craven, peer
• John Crichton, 4th Earl Erne, Conservative politician
• George Bernard Cronshaw, Principal of St Edmund Hall, Oxford
• Harry Crookshank, Conservative politician and Minister for Health
• Robert Dillon, 3rd Baron Clonbrock, peer
• Luke Dillon, 4th Baron Clonbrock, peer
• Douglas Dodds-Parker, Conservative politician and expert in irregular warfare
• Claude Gordon Douglas, physiologist
• George Douglas-Hamilton, 10th Earl of Selkirk, Conservative politician and First Lord of the Admiralty
• Charles Duncombe, 2nd Earl of Feversham, Conservative politician and soldier
• David Dundas, Liberal politician and agricultural improver
• Hugh Alexander Dunn, Australian diplomat
• Francis Egerton, 1st Earl of Ellesmere, Conservative politician, Chief Secretary for Ireland, and namesake for Ellesmere Island, Canada
• William Ellison-Macartney, Governor of Tasmania and Western Australia
• Godfrey Elton, historian
• Walter Erskine, Earl of Mar and Kellie, peer
• William John Evelyn, Conservative politician
• Geoffrey Faber, publisher and poet
• Sir James Fergusson, 6th Baronet, Conservative politician Governor-General of New Zealand and South Australia
• Sir Edmund Filmer, 8th Baronet, Conservative politician
• George Finch, chemist and mountaineer, the first man to climb over 8,000 meters
• Charles FitzGerald, 4th Duke of Leinster, peer
• Charles FitzRoy, 3rd Baron Southampton, peer
• Sir Henry Ralph Fletcher-Vane, 4th Baronet, peer
• Adrian Flook, Conservative politician
• Sir Samuel Fludyer, 3rd Baronet, peer
• Richard Fort, Liberal politician
• Hubert Freakes, South African rugby player
• Gerald Gardiner, Baron Gardiner, Labour politician and Lord Chancellor
• Sir William Geary, 3rd Baronet, Conservative politician
• Alban Gibbs, 2nd Baron Aldenham, Conservative politician
• Philip Glazebrook, Conservative politician
• George Glyn, 2nd Baron Wolverton, Liberal politician and Paymaster General
• Sir Alexander Grant, 10th Baronet, historian and Principal of the University of Edinburgh
Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Liberal politician and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
• Leslie Green, philosopher of law
• Frederick William Hall, classicist and President of St John's College, Oxford
• Frederick Halsey, Conservative politician
• James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Abercorn, Conservative politician and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
• James Hamilton, 2nd Duke of Abercorn, peer and socialite
• William Hamilton, 11th Duke of Hamilton, peer
• Walter Kerr Hamilton, Bishop of Salisbury
• Basil Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 4th Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, Conservative politician
• Stuart Hampson, chairman of John Lewis Partnership
• William Harcourt, 2nd Viscount Harcourt, businessman
• Harold B. Hartley, physical chemist
• Charles Harris, Church of England Bishop of Gibraltar
• Edmund Samuel Hayes Irish Conservative politician
• Roger Fleetwood-Hesketh, Conservative politician
• John Hely-Hutchinson, 5th Earl of Donoughmore, Irish peer
• John Hely-Hutchinson, 7th Earl of Donoughmore, Conservative politician
• Henry Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon, Conservative politician, Secretary of State for the Colonies, and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
• Robert Hermon-Hodge, 1st Baron Wyfold, Conservative politician
• Edward Hewetson, cricketeer
• James Hewitt, 4th Viscount Lifford, Irish peer
• Samuel Reynolds Hole, Anglican clergyman and horticulturist
• Gordon Honeycombe, newscaster for ITN
• Sir Archibald Philip Hope, 17th Baronet, aviator
• Henry Tufton, 1st Baron Hothfield, Liberal politician
• Henry Howard, 3rd Earl of Effingham, peer
• George Ward Hunt, Conservative politician and Chancellor of the Exchequer
• Harry Irving, chemist
• Thomas Graham Jackson, architect
• Walter James, 1st Baron Northbourne, Conservative politician
• Douglas Jardine, captain of the England cricket team
• Sir Frederick Johnstone, 7th Baronet, Conservative politician
• Sir Frederick Johnstone, 8th Baronet, Conservative politician
• Sir Love Jones-Parry, 1st Baronet, founder of Y Wladfa
• Edmund Hegan Kennard, Conservative politician
• Anthony Kershaw, Conservative politician
• Henry Kingsley, novelist
• Thomas Kilner, plastic surgeon
• Edward Knatchbull-Hugessen, 2nd Baron Brabourne, Liberal politician
• Geoffrey Hugo Lampe, theologian
• Osbert Lancaster, cartoonist
• Lambert Blackwell Larking, antiquarian
• Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, youngest son of Queen Victoria
• Sir Edmund Lechmere, 3rd Baronet, Conservative politician
• George Legh, Conservative politician
• Francis Leighton, Warden of All Souls College, Oxford
• Sir Baldwyn Leighton, 8th Baronet, Conservative politician
• Alan Lennox-Boyd, 1st Viscount Boyd of Merton, Conservative politician and Secretary of State for the Colonies
• Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville, Liberal politician and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
• Richard Lewis, Bishop of Llandaff
• John Llewellin, 1st Baron Llewellin, Conservative politician, President of the Board of Trade, and Governor-General of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland
• Walter Long, 1st Viscount Long, Irish Unionist politician, Secretary of State for the Colonies, and First Lord of the Admiralty
• Robert Lowe, Liberal politician, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Home Secretary
• Roger Lumley, 11th Earl of Scarbrough, Conservative politician, British Army general, and Governor of Bombay
• Richard Lumley, 12th Earl of Scarbrough, peer and soldier
• Charles Lyell, Liberal politician
• Duncan Mackinnon, rower who won gold at the 1908 Summer Olympics
• Angus Macnab, perennialist philosopher
• William Macrorie, Bishop of Pietermaritzburg
• David Maddock, Bishop of Dunwich
• John Malcolm, 1st Baron Malcolm, Conservative politician
• John Malcolm, 1st Baron Malcolm of Poltalloch, Conservative politician
• Sir Alexander Malet, 2nd Baronet, diplomat and writer
• Tony Marchington, biotechnologist and owner of the LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman
• Walter Marcon, cricketeer
• Roger Makins, British ambassador to the United States
• David Frederick Markham, Canon of Windsor
• James Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Gold Coast
• Nevil Story Maskelyne, geologist and mineralogist
• John Cecil Masterman, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford and spymaster in charge of the Double-Cross System
• Schomberg Kerr McDonnell, Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
• Sir Henry Meux, 2nd Baronet, Conservative politician and owner of the Horse Shoe Brewery
• Bobby Milburn, Anglican priest and dean of Worcester Cathedral
• Charles Thomas Mills, Conservative politician and Baby of the House
• Eric Archibald McNair VC, soldier
• George Monckton-Arundell, 7th Viscount Galway, Conservative politician
• William Monsell, 1st Baron Emly, Liberal politician and President of the Board of Health
• Leonard Montefiore[disambiguation needed], philanthropist
• Archibald Montgomerie, 17th Earl of Eglinton, peer
• Henry Moseley, physicist who provided the physical justification for the atomic number and discovered Moseley's law
• Charles Mott-Radclyffe, Conservative politician
• Francis Needham, 3rd Earl of Kilmorey, Conservative politician
• Alexander Nicoll, Regius Professor of Hebrew
• Henry Northcote, 1st Baron Northcote, Conservative politician, Governors of Bombay, and Governor-General of Australia
• John Norwood VC, soldier
• Frederick Oakeley, Church of England Canon of Westminster before converting to the Roman Catholic Church
• James Adey Ogle, physician
• Ralph T. O'Neal, Premier of the Virgin Islands
• George Osborne, 8th Duke of Leeds, peer
• Frank Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford, Labour Party politician, Leader of the House of Lords, and Secretary of State for the Colonies
• Walter Parratt, organist and composer
• William D.M. Paton, pharmacologist
• Henry Pelham-Clinton, 5th Duke of Newcastle, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
• Henry Pelham-Clinton, 6th Duke of Newcastle, peer
• Charles Perceval, 7th Earl of Egmont, Conservative politician
• Henry Percy, 7th Duke of Northumberland, Conservative politician, Lord High Steward, and Treasurer of the Household
• William Pery, 3rd Earl of Limerick, Conservative politician and Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard
• Sir Henry Peyton, 3rd Baronet, Conservative politician
• John Platts-Mills, Labour politician who helped form the Labour Independent Group
• Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie, 4th Earl of Radnor, peer
• Frederick Pottinger, police inspector in New South Wales who fought the Bushrangers
• Arthur Porritt, Baron Porritt, physician, sportsman who won a bronze medal in the 100 m sprint at the 1924 Summer Olympics, and Governor-General of New Zealand
• Thomas Powys, 4th Baron Lilford, ornithologist
• Arthur Purey-Cust, Church of England priest and author
Cecil Rhodes, imperialist, Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, and mining magnate
• Matthew White Ridley, 2nd Viscount Ridley, Conservative politician
• Arthur Rivers, dean of St David's Cathedral, Hobart
• Ellis Robins, 1st Baron Robins, buisnessman
• John Rous, 4th Earl of Stradbroke, peer
• George Rushout, 3rd Baron Northwick, Conservative politician
• Oliver Russell, 2nd Baron Ampthill, imperial administrator, Governor of Madras and Viceroy of India
• William Russell, 8th Duke of Bedford, Whig politician
• Bulmer de Sales La Terriere, soldier
• Daniel Sandford, classicist
• Duncan Sandys, Conservative politician, Secretary of State for Defence, and Secretary of State for the Colonies
• James Edwards Sewell, Warden of New College, Oxford
• Ernest Hamilton Sharp, barrister in Hong Kong
• Walter Francis Short, clergyman and schoolmaster
• Sir John Simeon, 3rd Baronet, Liberal politician and president of the Canterbury Association
• William Somerville, 1st Baron Athlumney, Liberal politician and Chief Secretary for Ireland
• Henry Southwell, Bishop of Lewes
• Frederick Smith, 2nd Earl of Birkenhead, historian
• George Spencer, Bishop of Madras
• John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough, Conservative politician, Lord President of the Council, and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
• Krishnan Srinivasan, Indian diplomat and civil servant, Foreign Secretary of India, and Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General
• Haldane Stewart, composer and cricketeer
• Randolph Stewart, 9th Earl of Galloway, Lord Lieutenant of Kirkcudbright
• Alan Stewart, 10th Earl of Galloway, Irish peer and Conservative politician
• Ernest Swinton, soldier who developed the term tank and Chichele Professor of Military History at All Souls College, Oxford
• Thomas Taylour, Earl of Bective, Conservative politician
• Lord Alexander Thynne, Conservative politician
• Henry Tizard, chemist, President of Imperial College London, and helped develop radar
• Henry James Tollemache, Conservative politician
• Hugh Trevor-Roper, historian and Regius Professor of History
• Charles Arthur Turner, Chief Justice of the Madras High Court
• Henry Baker Tristram, parson-naturalist, ornithologist, and traveller across North Africa and the Near East
• Richard St John Tyrwhitt, Church of England clergyman and art critic
• George Upton, 3rd Viscount Templetown, Anglo-Irish soldier and peer
• George Vane-Tempest, 5th Marquess of Londonderry, Conservative politician and diplomat
• Henry de Vere Vane, 9th Baron Barnard, peer
• Sir Harry Vernon, 1st Baronet, Liberal politician
• Walter Wardle, Archdeacon of Gloucester
• George Warren, 2nd Baron de Tabley, Liberal politician and Treasurer of the Household
• Thomas Dewar Weldon, philosopher
Oscar Wilde, poet and playwright
• Robert Williams, Conservative politician
• Watkin Williams, Bishop of Bangor
• Walter Bradford Woodgate, sportsman who founded Vincent's Club and invented the coxless four
• John Wolfenden, Baron Wolfenden, educationalist who wrote the Wolfenden report
• Edward Murray Wrong, historian and Vice-President of Magdalen College, Oxford
• Windham Wyndham-Quin, 4th Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, Irish Conservative politician and soldier, Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and founder of the Irish Reform Association


2. Catalogue of Apollo papers at Bodleian Library website.
3. Apollo Bursary at the University of Oxford funding webpages.
4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-06-06. Retrieved 2016-01-05.
5. Crook, Joe Mordaunt; Daniel, James W. (2019). Oxford Freemasons: A Social History of the Apollo University Lodge (First ed.). Oxford: Bodleian Library. ISBN 9781851244676.
6. "Oxford Freemasons". Bodleian Libraries Shop. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
7. See "About the Scheme" at the Universities Scheme official website Archived 2016-01-13 at the Wayback Machine.
8. Lodge details at Lane's Masonic Records.
9. See the Lodge's official website.
10. See lodge entry in the Universities Scheme Archived 2016-01-28 at the Wayback Machine.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed Aug 05, 2020 9:16 am

Stewart Duckworth Headlam
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/5/20

To some of those who joined the Society in its early days Christian Socialism opened the way of salvation. The "Christian Socialist" was established by a band of persons [John Malcolm Forbes Ludlow] some of whom were not Socialist and others not Christian. It claimed to be the spiritual child of the Christian Socialist movement of 1848-52, which again was Socialist only on its critical side, and constructively was merely Co-operative Production by voluntary associations of workmen. Under the guidance of the Rev. Stewart D. Headlam its policy of the revived movement was Land Reform, particularly on the lines of the Single Tax. The introductory article boldly claims the name of Socialist, as used by [Frederick Denison] Maurice and [Charles] Kingsley: the July number contains a long article by Henry George. In September a formal report is given of the work of the Democratic Federation. In November Christianity and Socialism are said to be convertible terms, and in January, 1884, the clerical view of usury is set forth in an article on the morality of interest. In March Mr. H.H. Champion explains "surplus value," and in April we find a sympathetic review of the "Historic Basis of Socialism." In April, 1885, appears a long and full report of a lecture by Bernard Shaw to the Liberal and Social Union. The greater part of the paper is filled with Land Nationalisation, Irish affairs—the land agitation in Ireland was then at its height—and the propaganda of Henry George: whilst much space is devoted to the religious aspect of the social problem. Sydney Olivier, before he joined the Fabian Society, was one of the managing group, and amongst others concerned in it were the Rev. C.L. Marson and the Rev. W.E. Moll. At a later period a Christian Socialist Society was formed; but our concern here is with the factors which contributed to the Fabian Society at its start, and it is not necessary to touch on other periods of the movement.

-- The History of the Fabian Society, by Edward R. Pease

Stewart Headlam
Born: Stewart Duckworth Headlam, 12 January 1847, Wavertree, Liverpool, England
Died: 18 November 1924 (aged 77), St Margaret's-on-Thames, Middlesex, England
Movement: Christian socialism; Anglo-Catholicism
Ecclesiastical career
Religion: Christianity (Anglican)
Church: Church of England
Ordained: 1869 (deacon)1871 (priest)

Stewart Duckworth Headlam (1847–1924) was an English Anglican priest who was involved in frequent controversy in the final decades of the nineteenth century. Headlam was a pioneer and publicist of Christian socialism, on which he wrote a pamphlet for the Fabian Society, and a supporter of Georgism.[1] He is noted for his role as the founder and warden of the Guild of St Matthew and for helping to bail Oscar Wilde from prison at the time of his trials.

The Guild of St Matthew was an English high-church Christian socialist association led by Stewart Headlam from its establishment in Bethnal Green on 29 June 1877 to its dissolution in 1909. While the guild never had a membership of more than about 400 people, it was "the pioneer Christian socialist society of the revival period in Britain", breaking the ground for other Christian socialist organisations yet to come, such as the Christian Social Union. Kenneth Leech described it as "the first explicitly socialist group in Britain". For many years, it published the periodical The Church Reformer.

-- Guild of St Matthew, by Wikipedia

Early years and education

Headlam was born on 12 January 1847 in Wavertree, near Liverpool, the elder son and third of four children of Thomas Duckworth Headlam, underwriter of Liverpool [and his wife Latitia née Simpson (1822-1869).]

Legatee of £500 under the will of the Hon. James Stewart and awardee in two awards on the Islington estate in St Mary, Jamaica with his brother T. Duckworth Headlam, and the Rev. John Twells and Philip Twells (all of whom q.v.), who were possibly trustees for similar awards to the Headlams' sisters, Eliza and Dora.

The 1830 Chancery suit of Stewart v Garnett [Hon. James Stewart vs. Rev. James Garnett Headlam] between the owner of Islington, Robert Stewart, and Elizabeth Garnett and others, implies a family connection between Rev. James Garnett Headlam and the estate. The will of the Hon. James Stewart left £500 each to 'the children of my daughter-in-law' Thomas, James, Robert, Dora and Eliza Headlam.

Stewart v. Garnett, 3 Simons 398, March 1830. Will of James Stewart, "late of Jamaica:" "I give, devise and bequeath one moiety of the rents, issues and profits of my estate, named Islington and Cove's Pen, ... to be divided equally amongst..." At the time of his death, March 25, 1824, the testator was "seised of a real estate called Islington ... in Jamaica, containing 700 acres of land, with buildings and machinery for carrying on the manufacture of sugar and rum, and also of a pen called Cove's Pen, being an appendage of the Islington estate, also in the same parish, containing 300 acres, and that the testator was also at his decease possessed of or entitled to 246 negroes on his estate called Islington, and 25 negroes on Cove's Pen."

-- Judicial Cases Concerning American Slavery and the Negro, edited by Helen Tunnicliff Catterall (Mrs. Ralph C.H. Catterall), Cases from the Courts of England, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky, Published by the Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1926, University of Florida Digital Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries

Elsewhere in the summary of the case the 'daughter-in-law' appears to be referred to as Dorothy Headlam and two of the children as James Garnett Headlam and Thomas Duckworth Headlam. LBS has inferred that Dorothy Headlam was the Hon. James Stewart's step-daughter Dorothy Brooming Headlam nee Colburne, the daughter of John Colburn[e] and Ann Mary Law.

In 1861 Rev James Garnett Headlam was living unmarried at 2 York Terrace Tunbridge Wells aged 58 born Bath with his sister Eliza aged 53, also unmarried, 'fundholder' (born Liverpool). In 1881 his address was given as York Road Tonbridge, and he was shown as aged 73 a clergyman with Eliza aged 67 'dividends', other details the same. Will of James Garnett Headlam of 8 York Road Tunbridge Wells who died 09/02/1891 was proved 20/03/1891 by his nephew and niece, the children of T. Duckworth Headlam.

Caribbeana shows Robert Stewart, son of the Hon. James Stewart, marrying Mary [sic] Headlam of Ryton Grove. LBS is sceptical of this.


T71/856 St Mary Nos. 135 and 136, where he is given as Rev. J.G. Headlam. There was no entry for him in the CCEd [database online] when accessed 22/06/2011.

Reports of Cases decided in Chancery 1832 Volume 3 p. 402, 1830 Stewart v Garnett. The parents of Thomas Duckworth Headlam are shown as Thomas and Dorothy Blooming [sic] Headlam in, London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 [database online] and, London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 [database online]. Dorothy Brooming, the widow of Thomas Headlam of Aigburth Liverpool died at Marlow Buckinghamshire Jan 4 1836 [Gentleman's Magazine 1836 Vol. 5 p. 331]. At the baptism of her son Robert Neadlam [sic] at St Michael Aigburth on 05/11/1815 she was described as 'formerly Colburne', ... -1839.html [accessed 22/06/2011].

1861 and 1881 censuses online (where he is transcribed as James Garrett Headlam); National Probate Calendar 1891.

Vere Langford Oliver, Caribbeana being miscellaneous papers relating to the history, genealogy, topography, and antiquities of the British West Indies (6 vols., London, Mitchell, Hughes and Clarke, 1910-1919), Vol. III 'Stewart of Trelawney Jamaica', pp. 272-3.

-- Rev. James Garnett Headlam, Profile & Legacies Summary, 1803 - 9th Feb 1891, by Legacies of British Slave-ownership,

His parental home was strictly evangelical, though not narrow or severe, but Headlam rejected with horror the doctrine of eternal punishment.[2]

From 1860-65 (ages 13–18) Headlam attended Eton College. There he was influenced by a teacher, William Johnson, who was a disciple of the Christian Socialism of Frederick Denison Maurice and Charles Kingsley.[3]

When he attended Cambridge University, Headlam was taught by the Professor of Moral Theology, F. D. Maurice, the primary influence in his life.[3] Headlam came to agree with Maurice that God's Kingdom on earth would replace a "competitive, unjust society with a co-operative and egalitarian social order."[4]

Maurice's teaching and example shaped Headlam's life, starting with his decision to be ordained.[5] Years later, Headlam told colleagues in the Fabian Society: that he had been delivered from "the belief that a large proportion of the human race are doomed to endless misery" by Maurice's teachings.[6] Maurice instilled a "Christian humanism" in Headlam. In his Fabian Society Tract on "Christian Socialism," Headlam wrote, "I learnt the principles and was familiar with the title of 'Christian Socialism' from Maurice and Kingsley."[5]

Ordination and parish ministry

After Headlam took his degree from Cambridge in 1868, his father arranged with an Evangelical cleric, Herbert James, to give further training before ordination. But Headlam was not open to the teaching. James said, it was "impossible to budge" Headlam from his convictions based on Maurice's teachings.[7]

Headlam received another years training under Charles Vaughan who recommended him for ordination as a deacon and found him a curacy at St John's, Drury Lane, London.[8] Headlam was ordained deacon by Bishop John Jackson in 1869 and in 1871 as priest.[9] His ordination as a priest was delayed by Jackson because of his reservations about Headlam's beliefs.[2]

Headlam had five parish assignments, but he was dismissed from all of them. He was never "beneficed" and after being "constantly dismissed" with no curacy he could hold services only when friendly clergy invited him.[10]

St John's Church, Drury Lane: 1869–1873

Hedlam's first curacy was at St John's Church in Drury Lane.[3] William Graham Maul was the vicar from 1855 to 1882.[11]

Maul and Headlam had much in common. They were both friends of the Christian socialists F. D. Maurice and Charles Kingsley who had attracted them to Christian socialism.[8]

At St John's, Headlam's special ministries were "church catechist" and making pastoral visits.[8] The parishioners to whom Headlam ministered included "working people, actors, actresses, and artisans".[3] Among these people, there were "music-hall dancers". These parishioners, Headlam observed, were "the victims of prejudice" and often "cold-shouldered" by other parishioners.[12] Headlam, who was "notorious for his defence of the down-trodden of every sort," set out to remedy the situation by making dancing socially acceptable.[13]

Headlam recognized that social acceptance of dance depended on "an appreciation of ballet as an autonomous aesthetic form". He adopted a threefold strategy to accomplish this goal: (1) provide an "authoritative exposition of the dance technique itself", (2) form the Church and Stage Guild, and (3) formulate a theology of dance.[14]

In spite of what they had in common, Headlam fell foul of Maul who asked him to leave the parish in 1873. It was not only, or even mainly, a matter of dogma. He outraged respectable Victorian society by his public championing of the poor and his denunciations of the uncaring rich.[2]

St Matthew's, Bethnal Green: 1873–1878

In 1873, Headlam left Drury Lane for St Matthew's, Bethnal Green.[3] Bethnal Green was an area of extreme poverty and Headlam was assigned to the most impoverished area.[15]

The rector of the church, Septimus Hansard, was another Christian socialist who influenced the ideas of Headlam.[4] Working with Hansard gave added "practical content" to Headlam's "socialist ideas".[5]

The clergy usually lived outside St Matthew's parish, but Headlam "rented a flat in a working-class building."[16] Although Headlam lived "among" his people, he did not live "like" them. His "independent means" enabled him to furnish his rooms in an "individual style."[17]

By 1875, "men and their needs now became the centre of [Headlam's] Christianity".[5] Living near the church Headlam saw the "degradation and suffering" of the workers. Having seen this, Headlam told the St Matthew's congregation that when people are "not fed so as to grow up and healthily", it is a "witness against the Church" that she has "neglected her primary duty".[18]

Poor attendance at church; good attendance at theatres; Headlam's defence

St. Matthew's, Bethnal Green, was noted for poor attendance. "The poor of Bethnal Green spent their Sunday mornings sleeping and the remainder of the day at the dancing room, the music hall, or the beer shop." "Headlam was determined to win them back for Christ, beginning with the young people." He made Sunday School more interesting and made it coeducational.[16]

Headlam also went to see the "cheap theatres" his parishioners attended rather than church services. This research was documented in a pamphlet.[19] The problem for Headlam was that his "defence of the Music Hall and the ballet as being worthy occupations and uplifting pastimes" was an "anathema" to the puritan and political climate.[13] In the face of opposition, Headlam gave a lecture on "Theatres and Music-Halls"[14] in which he expounded a positive Christian view of theatre and the theatrical profession. The speech inflamed Headlam's opponents and led to his bishop removing him from his curacy at St Matthew's.[3]

The Guild of St Matthew

See also: Guild of St Matthew below

Inspired by Maurice's Christian socialism Headlam was determined to do all he could to reduce working class suffering. Disturbed by the appalling living conditions of his parishioners Headlam used his sermons to attack the wide gap between rich and poor. He presented Jesus Christ as a revolutionary and when John Jackson, the Bishop of London who had long been concerned about Headlam's teaching, heard about this, he threatened Headlam with dismissal. Headlam refused to change his views.[20]

In his efforts for the working class, in 1877, Headlam founded the Guild of St Matthew and led it to national prominence.[3] Its original purpose was to increase attendance at early Eucharist.[21]

Headlam challenged workers to unite to strike down "the customs and circumstances" that make them "mere hands" for the production of goods. He not only issued verbal challenges, Headlam worked with the trade union movement, especially the Women's Trade Union League. However, Headlam had no specific proposals until he read Henry George's Progress and Poverty (D. Appleton & Co., 1879). From then on George replaced Maurice as the major influence in Headlam's thinking.[22]

1878: Dismissal and marriage

Early in 1878, Headlam was dismissed from St Matthew's.[21] His socialism was only one of Headlam's conflicts with authorities. The immediate cause of his dismissal was his "lecture in praise of the theatre and music halls."[9] In June, he received a testimonial of 100 guineas raised by supporters.[23]

Given the fact Headlam that "could never keep a job", it was fortunate that his father and grandfather were underwriters in Liverpool. From them, he inherited private means on which to live when unemployed.[24]

On 24 January 1878, Headlam married Beatrice Pennington at St. Augustine's Church, Queensgate.[25] The marriage was dissolved in a very short time.[26] He discovered his wife was a lesbian.[27]

Headlam was left with no prospect for employment, but in 1879 he was offered a curacy by John Rodgers, vicar of St Thomas's Charterhouse.[27]

St Thomas's Charterhouse: 1878–1880

In 1878, Headlam became a curate at St Thomas's under the vicar, the Revd John Rodgers. Rodgers was "the most understanding incumbent" under whom Headlam would serve and even defended him in letters to Bishop Jackson.[28] While at St Thomas's, Headlam continued his defence of theatre and ballet by forming the Church and Stage Guild.[29] The death of Rodgers on 25 October 1879 ended Headlam's curacy at St Thomas's. Rodgers had served on the London School Board as Headlam was to do later.[30]

St Michael's Shoreditch: 1880–1882

Headlam's curacy at St Michael's Shoreditch was brief because the parishioners strongly opposed his positions.[9]

From 1882 until its demise in 1903, Headlam sat on the London School Board. He took an active role in the promotion of evening classes for adults, especially as chairman of the Evening Continuation Schools Committee from 1897.[31]

St George's Botolph: 1884

A trial curacy in 1884 ended when Headlam, at a rally, called for the abolition of the House of Lords.[9]

In 1884, Headlam used own money to buy and later to finance a newspaper, The Church Reformer: An Organ of Christian Socialism and Church Reform, that became virtually the voice of the Guild of Saint Matthew.[21] The Church Reformer was published for eleven years. It supported land reform as advocated by Henry George.[31]

End of parish ministry

After leaving St. George's Botolph in 1884, Headlam asked Bishop Jackson for a general licence to officiate in the diocese, but Jackson refused. Jackson's successor Frederick Temple also refused.[9] Although his licence was eventually reinstated in 1898, he was never again to hold permanent office in the Church of England.[31] After being "constantly dismissed" with no curacy, Headlam was reduced to holding services only when friendly clergy invited him.[10]

Beginning with his ordination, Headlam's "beliefs and actions" led to constant conflict with his ecclesiastical superiors and removal from curacies until he finally "abandoned of the idea of a parish ministry." From then on, Headlam "devoted his time propagating Socialism" through his Guild of St. Matthew (until its demise in 1909) and membership in the Fabian Society and membership on the London County Council.[15]


In 1873, after leaving St John's, Headlam received a curacy from Septimus Hansard, the rector of St Matthew's Church in Bethnal Green in London's East End, where poverty was the intrusive fact of social life. His response, in the form of a synthesis of ideas going back a generation to the Oxford Movement with socialist thinking, was startling although not entirely original. He attributed it in part to Charles Kingsley, but more especially to F. D. Maurice, whose incarnational theology he embraced while a student at Cambridge University. He added to the ideas of these early Christian Socialists a profound commitment to the creeds and to sacramental worship which he drew from the Anglo-Catholic ritualists whose work in the London slums he deeply admired. He was also a harsh critic of evangelicalism, condemning it as individualistic and otherworldly. He befriended working-class secularists and their leader, Charles Bradlaugh, even as he fought secularism itself. He also championed the arts in a broad sense, including the theatre, at a time when many clergy regarded it as morally suspect, and more scandalous still, the music hall, and ballerinas danced in flesh-coloured tights. Politically, from the time he left Cambridge, Headlam regarded himself as a socialist of sorts. While he was in Bethnal Green his politics took a more radical turn, and in the years that followed he joined his socialism to an enthusiastic support for Henry George's 'single tax', a policy that was gaining support in the Liberal Party. Yet because of his belief in individual liberty and his hostility to political sectarianism, he remained a member of the Liberal Party. He was elected to the London County Council as a Liberal Party–backed Progressive candidate for Bethnal Green South West latterly in opposition to Labour candidates. These ideas formed a heady mixture and his preaching of it, in a form often directed frankly against 'the rich', kept open the quarrel with Bishop Jackson and would inspire yet another with Jackson's successor, Frederick Temple.

Guild of St Matthew

Headlam formed the Guild of St Matthew on 29 June 1877 (St Peter's Day). It began as a guild within St Matthew's Church, Bethnal Green, East London.[32] However, in addition to parishioners, the Guild included other "London curates with radical views", so it soon grew to forty members.[9]

The Guild's initial purpose was increasing attendance at early Eucharist. Its stated objects were: (1) better observance of the "rules of worship" in the Book of Common Prayer, (2) removal of prejudices against the sacraments, and (3) promote "friendly intercourse, recreation and education" among its members.[33]

When Headlam was dismissed from St Matthew's in 1878, he took the Guild with him.[9] No longer merely a parish guild, the Guild became organised on a national basis with local branches[21] The Guild's aims widened to include "the promulgation of those elements in Christian social doctrine that would ameliorate the conditions of the poor through the creation of a just and equal society."[9]

As a national organisation, the Guild linked Christian Socialists and Anglo-Catholics.[34] This combination was incorporated in the Guild's three objectives:

1. "to get rid, by every possible means, of existing prejudices, especially on the part of 'secularists' against the Church, her sacraments and doctrines, and to endeavor to justify God to the people."[35]
2. "to promote frequent and reverend worship in the Holy Communion, and a better observance of the teaching of the Church of England as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer."[35]
3. "to promote the study of social and political questions in the light of the Incarnation."[35]

The work of the Guild got off to a slow start as an extra-parochial society. However, by 1884 its work was in "full swing". The Guild published a list of 24 lecturers willing to speak on 130 subjects. At its annual meeting, the Guild adopted resolutions endorsing socialism and Henry George's "theory of Land Nationalization". Headlam and other Guild members put their words into action by working in the English Land Reclamation League.[36]

In 1884, Headlam used his own money to buy and edit a newspaper, The Church Reformer: An Organ of Christian Socialism and Church Reform, which became "virtually (though never officially) the mouthpiece of the Guild".[21] The Church Reformer went bankrupt and published its last issue in December 1895.[37]

In the early 1890s, the Guild reached its peak membership of 364, of whom 99 were Anglican priests.[38] Writing on behalf of the Guild, Headlam, in 1890, appealed that the "evils of poverty" be not "alleviated by Christian charity, but that they may be prevented by Christian justice."[39]

In the Guild's doctrines, the goals of Christian justice included "(a) to restore to the people the value they gave to the land" where they worked, "(b) to bring about a better distribution of the wealth created by labour", and (c) "to give to the whole body of the people a voice in their own government", and (d) "to abolish false standard of worth and dignity".[40]

The Guild's 1892 annual report showed that the old battle against secularism ended with the death of Charles Bradlaugh in 1891.
Most of the activity of the Guild was redirected toward "election campaigns".[41]

In the 1893 annual meeting, whether to characterise the Guild as "socialist" was discussed with a decision in the negative. As explained by Headlam, although the Guild was composed of "socialists who claim that socialism is Christian", to use the name officially would be "misleading and confusing both to friend and foe".[42]

In spite of Headlam's resistance to the term, scholars characterise the Guild of St Matthew as "socialist". Kenneth Leech says that the Guild was "the first explicitly socialist group in Britain"[43] and Peter d'Alroy Jones describes the Guild as "the pioneer Christian socialist society of the revival period in Britain."[44]

Before 1895, dissatisfied members usually withdrew and joined the larger Christian Social Union. In this year, increased dissatisfaction with Headlam as warden of the Guild resulted in a "large defection".[45] In spite of dissatisfaction and defections in the membership, Headlam acted as warden of the Guild throughout its existence and his beliefs were reflected in its "proceedings and policies". He did not consult with others and acted as if the Guild should act according to his ideas. Headlam's arrogating control of the Guild constituted the primary reason for the dissatisfaction and defections.[46]

In 1909, the Guild of St Matthew ceased to exist.[44]

Norman describes the Guild as "a clerical, sacramentalist, Anglican and Socialist organization, existing largely for propagandistic purposes.[21] Regardless of the immediate effects of its propaganda, the Guild molded "the radicalism of a number of Christian Socialists" who in the following decades played roles in the Anglican church's "social discourse. These people included Conrad Noel, Percy Dearmer, J. G. Adderley, P. E. T. Widdrington, F. L. Donaldson, C. W. Stubbs, Charles Marson, and Frank Weston.[47][48]

'Church and Stage'

See also: Antitheatricality § 19th and early 20th century

Headlam, in his lecture entitled Theatres and Music Halls and delivered on 7 October 1877 at the Commonwealth Club, Bethnal Green, said many religious people would think him wrong to speak of theatres and music halls except in condemnation; and even more would think him wrong to do so on a Sunday night. He recalled two women, members of his congregation in Drury Lane, who kept their profession as actresses a secret for many months, fearing that he, as a clergyman, would despise them. Conversely, he declared a deep respect for all those who "minister to our amusements" and said their work was as sacred as any other. In the introduction to the second edition of his published lecture he said, "I hold as an eternal truth that the Incarnation and Real Presence of Jesus Christ sanctifies all human things, not excluding human passion, mirth, and beauty."

He also believed good theatre could teach morality. "I defy anyone to see one of Shakespeare's great tragedies fairly well acted without having most tremendous moral lessons brought home to him," Furthermore, he believed even unsophisticated entertainment could be beneficial and that theatregoing, in moderation, had "a brightening, educating effect". To "gloomy religious people" he said, "you do much more harm by a sweeping condemnation of a place than by a discriminating judgment. Recognise the good in any place or person, and then you have a right, and a power too, to go against the evil with some chance of success".

More recently, he had come to see that even music halls had value. Managers were not to blame for the faults of their clientele, be they coarse or low, or loose women; the fault lay rather with "modern civilisation". He was, however, critical of the quality of music hall songs.

John Jackson, Bishop of London, responding to a summary of the lecture in The Era, wrote to Headlam, "It is, of course, vain to argue with one who prefers so unhesitatingly his own judgment backed by the approval of actors and proprietors of Music Halls to that of his Incumbent and his Bishop, neither of whom can well be considered Puritan: but I do pray earnestly that you may not have lo meet before the Judgment Seat those whom your encouragement first led to places where they lost the blush of shame and took the first downward step towards vice and misery."[49]

At St Thomas's on 30 May 1879, Headlam continued his defence of popular theatre, and especially the ballet, by forming the Church and Stage Guild.[29] Within a year it had more than 470 members with at least 91 clergy and 172 professional theatre people. Its mission included breaking down "the prejudice against theatres, actors, music hall artists, stage singers, and dancers."[50]

Fabian Society

In his Fabian Society Tract No. 42, Headlam wrote that the Christian Church "is intended to be a society not merely for teaching a number of elaborate doctrines . . . ; but mainly and chiefly for doing on a large scale throughout the world those secular, socialistic works which Christ did on a small scale in Palestine.".[3]

In December 1886, Headlam joined the Fabian Society and for several years served on the society's executive committee. In 1888, he and Annie Besant were elected to the London School Board as members of Progressive Party, a broad coalition of London liberals, radicals and socialists. In 1902 the Conservative government abolished school boards across England and transferred their responsibilities to the county councils. Although this was a reform designed in large part by his fellow Fabian, Sidney Webb, and endorsed by the Fabian Society, Headlam, like many others on the Left, denounced it as undemocratic. The new Education Act spared the London School Board, but only temporarily. It was also abolished in 1904. Despite his expectation that he would be able run as a Progressive candidate for the London County Council that year and be given a seat on the education committee, the Progressives did not nominate him, perhaps because of pressure from Webb and his allies. It was not until 1907 that he was elected to the council where he continued to be a tireless advocate for working-class children and their teachers. In the same year he published The Socialist's Church. He continued as a political figure for the rest of his life.

Oscar Wilde's bailer

On 3 April 1895 the first trial of Oscar Wilde began. This trial ended with a jury deadlocked on most of the charges. A second trial was scheduled in three weeks. During the interim, Wilde could be released if his bail requirements were met.[51]

Bail for the three weeks of freedom "on his own recognizance" between criminal trials was set at a total of £5,000.[52] Headlam, who did not know Wilde personally, put up half the £5,000 bail required for Wilde's release. Headlam stated his motive as "concern for the arts and freedom".[53]

At his second trial, Wilde was found guilty, and sentenced to two years of hard labor.[54] When Wilde was released after serving his sentence, Headlam was there to meet him at six o'clock in the morning on 19 May 1897.[55]

'Homosexuals in Headlam's life'

Headlam did not condone homosexuality.[56] However, his willingness to help Wilde may have been connected with the fact that "others close to him had been caught in similar sexual tangles". Headlam's own short-lived marriage in 1878 had been to a lesbian, Beatrice Pennington.[20][57]

Headlam's close relations with other homosexuals included his Eton master William Johnson and his friend C. J. Vaughan.[58]

Post-curacy years

Beginning with his ordination as a deacon in 1869, Headlam was repeatedly in conflict with his ecclesiastical superiors that led to removal from curacies until he finally "abandoned of the idea of a parish ministry" in 1884. However, he continued to be active in social reform until shortly before his death in 1924. Central to Headlam's activity was his work within the voluntary organisations of his Guild of St Matthew (until its demise in 1909) and the Fabian Society.[59]


Headlam addressed the 3rd Lambeth Conference in 1888 arguing that Christian socialism is biblical, but the bishops gave him "little heed".[60]

In January 1898, Headlam was granted a general licence to preach by the new Bishop of London, Mandell Creighton. From then until his dying days, Headlam celebrated Mass every Sunday at All Souls Church in Haliburton Road.[20]

This complicated interrelationship of family connections by no means exhausts the links between the families that made up the Cecil Bloc as it existed in the period 1886-1900, when Milner was brought into it by Goschen. Nor would any picture of this Bloc be complete without some mention of the persons without family connections who were brought into the Bloc by Lord Salisbury. Most of these persons were recruited from All Souls and, like Arthur Balfour, Lord Robert Cecil, Baron Quickswood, Sir Evelyn Cecil, and others, frequently served an apprenticeship in a secretarial capacity to Lord Salisbury. Many of these persons later married into the Cecil Bloc. In recruiting his proteges from All Souls, Salisbury created a precedent that was followed later by the Milner Group, although the latter went much further than the former in the degree of its influence on All Souls.

All Souls is the most peculiar of Oxford Colleges. It has no undergraduates, and its postgraduate members are not generally in pursuit of a higher degree. Essentially, it consists of a substantial endowment originally set up in 1437 by Henry Chichele, sometime Fellow of New College and later Archbishop of Canterbury, from revenues of suppressed priories. From this foundation incomes were established originally for a warden, forty fellows, and two chaplains. This has been modified at various times, until at present twenty-one fellowships worth £300 a year for seven years are filled from candidates who have passed a qualifying examination. This group usually join within a year or two of receiving the bachelor's degree. In addition, there are eleven fellowships without emolument, to be held by the incumbents of various professorial chairs at Oxford. These include the Chichele Chairs of International Law, of Modern History, of Economic History, of Social and Political Theory, and of the History of War; the Drummond Chair of Political Economy; the Gladstone Chair of Government; the Regius Chair of Civil Law; the Vinerian Chair of English Law; the Marshal Foch Professorship of French Literature; and the Chair of Social Anthropology. There are ten Distinguished Persons fellowships without emolument, to be held for seven years by persons who have attained fame in law, humanities, science, or public affairs. These are usually held by past Fellows. There are a varying number of research fellowships and teaching fellowships, good for five to seven years, with annual emoluments of £300 to £600. There are also twelve seven-year fellowships with annual emoluments of £50 for past Fellows. And lastly, there are six fellowships to be held by incumbents of certain college or university offices.

The total number of Fellows at any one time is generally no more than fifty and frequently considerably fewer. Until 1910 there were usually fewer than thirty-five, but the number has slowly increased in the twentieth century, until by 1947 there were fifty-one. In the whole period of the twentieth century from 1900 to 1947, there was a total of 149 Fellows. This number, although small, was illustrious and influential. It includes such names as Lord Acton, Leopold Amery, Sir William Anson, Sir Harold Butler, G. N. Clark, G. D. H. Cole, H. W. C. Davis, A. V. Dicey, Geoffrey Faber, Keith Feiling, Lord Chelmsford, Sir Maurice Gwyer, Lord Halifax, W. K. Hancock, Sir Arthur Hardinge, Sir William Holdsworth, T. E. Lawrence, C. A. Macartney, Friedrich Max Muller, Viscount Morley of Blackburn, Sir Charles Oman, A. F. Pollard, Sir Charles Grant Robertson, Sir James Arthur Salter, Viscount Simon, Sir Donald Somervell, Sir Arthur Ramsay Steel-Maitland, Sir Ernest Swinton, K. C. Wheare, E. L. Woodward, Francis de Zulueta, etc. In addition, there were to be numbered among those who were fellows before 1900 such illustrious persons as Lord Curzon, Lord Ernie, Sir Robert Herbert, Sir Edmund Monson, Lord Phillimore, Viscount Ridley, and Lord Salisbury. Most of these persons were elected to fellowships in All Souls at the age of twenty-two or twenty-three years, at a time when their great exploits were yet in the future. There is some question whether this ability of the Fellows of All Souls to elect as their younger colleagues men with brilliant futures is to be explained by their ability to discern greatness at an early age or by the fact that election to the fellowship opens the door to achievement in public affairs. There is some reason to believe that the second of these two alternatives is of greater weight. As the biographer of Viscount Halifax has put it, "It is safe to assert that the Fellow of All Souls is a man marked out for a position of authority in public life, and there is no surprise if he reaches the summit of power, but only disappointment if he falls short of the opportunities that are set out before him. (1)

One Fellow of All Souls has confessed in a published work that his career was based on his membership in this college. The Right Reverend Herbert Hensley Henson, who rose from humble origins to become Bishop of Durham, wrote in his memoirs: "My election to a fellowship, against all probability, and certainly against all expectation, had decisive influence on my subsequent career. It brought me within the knowledge of the late Lord Salisbury, who subsequently recommended me to the Crown for appointment to a Canonry of Westminister.... It is to All Souls College that all the 'success' [!] of my career is mainly due." (2)

It would appear that the College of All Souls is largely influenced not by the illustrious persons whose names we have listed above (since they are generally busy elsewhere) but by another group within the college. This appears when we realize that the Fellows whose fellowships are renewed for one appointment after another are not generally the ones with famous names. The realization is increased when we see that these persons with the power to obtain renewing appointments are members of a shadowy group with common undergraduate associations, close personal relationships, similar interests and ideas, and surprisingly similar biographical experience. It is this shadowy group which includes the All Souls members of the Milner Group.

In the nineteenth century, Lord Salisbury made little effort to influence All Souls, although it was a period when influence (especially in elections to fellowships) was more important than later. He contented himself with recruiting proteges from the college and apparently left the wielding of influence to others, especially to Sir William Anson. In the twentieth century, the Milner Group has recruited from and influenced All Souls. This influence has not extended to the elections to the twenty-one competitive fellowships. There, merit has unquestionably been the decisive factor. But it has been exercised in regard to the seventeen ex-officio fellowships, the ten Distinguished Persons fellowships, and the twelve re-elective fellowships. And it has also been important in contributing to the general direction and policy of the college.

This does not mean that the Milner Group is identical with All Souls, but merely that it is the chief, if not the controlling, influence in it, especially in recent years. Many members of the Milner Group are not members of All Souls, and many members of All Souls are not members of the Milner Group.

The fact that All Souls is influenced by some outside power has been recognized by others, but no one so far as I know has succeeded in identifying this influence. The erratic Christopher Hobhouse, in his recent book on Oxford, has come closer than most when he wrote: "The senior common room at All Souls is distinguished above all others by the great brains which meet there and by the singular unfruitfulness of their collaboration.... But it is not these who make the running. Rather is it the Editor of The Times and his circle of associates — men whom the public voice has called to no office and entrusted with no responsibility. These individuals elect to consider themselves the powers behind the scenes. The duty of purveying honest news is elevated in their eyes into the prerogative of dictating opinion. It is at All Souls that they meet to decide just how little they will let their readers know; and their newspaper has been called the All Souls Parish Magazine." (3) The inaccuracy and bitterness of this statement is caused by the scorn which a devotee of the humanities feels toward the practitioners of the social sciences, but the writer was shrewd enough to see that an outside group dominates All Souls. He was also able to see the link between All Souls and The Times, although quite mistaken in his conclusion that the latter controls the former. As we shall see, the Milner Group dominates both.

In the present chapter we are concerned only with the relationship between the Cecil Bloc and All Souls and shall reserve our consideration of the relationships between the Milner Group and the college to a later chapter. The former relationship can be observed in the following list of names, a list which is by no means complete:

Name / College / Fellow of All Souls

C. A. Alington, 1872- / Trinity, Oxford 1891-1895 / 1896-1903
W. R. Anson, 1843-1914 / Balliol 1862-1866 / 1867-1914; Warden 1881-1914
G. N. Curzon, 1859-1925 / Balliol 1878-1822 / 1883-1890
A. H. Hardinge, 1859-1933 / Balliol 1878-1881 / 1881-
A. C. [Arthur Cayley] Headlam, 1862- / New College 1881-1885 / 1885-1897, 1924-
H. H. Henson, 1863- / Non-Collegiate 1881-1884 / 1884-1891, 1896-1903; 1939
C. G. Lang, 1864-1945 / Balliol 1882-1886 / 1888-1928
F. W. Pember, 1862- / Balliol 1880-1884 / 1884-1910- Warden, 1914-1932
W. G. F. Phillimore, 1845-1929 / Christ Church 1863-1867 / -
R. E. Prothero, 1852-1937 / Balliol 1871-1875 / 1875-1891
E. Ridley, 1843-1928 / Corpus Christi 1862-1866 / 1866-1882
M. W. Ridley, 1842-1904 / Balliol 1861-1865 / 1865-1874
J. Simon, 1873- / Wadham 1892-1896 / 1897-
F. J. N. Thesiger, 1868-1933 / Magdalen 1887-1891 / 1892-1899, 1929-1933

-- The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, by Carroll Quigley


Headlam became increasingly involved with "educational reform".[31]

Education was one of the two top priorities for Headlam in post-curacy years. He had long viewed education as essential for social transformation, So in 1882, he was elected to the London School Board, an activity that he continued the rest of his life. The London School Board was absorbed into the London County Council in 1903, so Headlam ran for and was elected to the London County Council for the Progressive Party in 1907 as a way of continuing his work in educational reform. He sat on the council until his death.[61]

Land Question

The "Land Question" was the other issue that occupied Headlam in his mature years.[62] The Land Question was about "the use and ownership of land" and "landlordism" and many remedies were proposed.[63]

Lectures offered by the Guild of St Matthew emphasised "the land question as fundamental" for Christian socialists.[45] After reading Henry George's Progress and Poverty (1886), Headlam asserted that "Land Nationalization is a necessary corollary of Christian Socialism."[64]‹See TfM›[failed verification]

In 1906, Headlam began the Anti-Puritan League, but it gained only few members.[53]

In 1907, Headlam published The Socialist's Church.


After years of conflict with and dismissals by his ecclesiastical superiors, Headlam was vindicated at the end of his life.

In October 1924, during his terminal illness, Headlam received a letter from Randall Davidson the Archbishop of Canterbury.

My dear Headlam,

I hear a report that you are unwell. I hope that it is not serious and work can go on, for I fear that your absence in some circles, educational and other, would be bad for 'affairs' in the country. You, at least, whatever be said about the rest of us, have been consistent in your devotion to the cause or causes for which you care. God keep and bless you.

Most truly yours, Randall Cantaur

Headlam immediately replied with a "heartfelt letter of thanks". He later commented, "Now I feel I can say that I have won."[20]


Within a month, more heart attacks led to Headlam's death at his home, "Wavertree", Peter's Road, St Margaret's-on-Thames, Middlesex, on 18 November 1924.[31]

His funeral was held at All Souls in St Margarets and he was buried at East Sheen Cemetery on 24 November.[20]


"Despite Headlam's energy, his rebellious character and his unusual combination of socialism with Christian sacramentalism deprived him of much permanent influence either in the church or in the political world. His practical achievements were limited. He was a prophetic figure, whose passion for social justice was to inspire the small group of Anglican clergy exploring the political application of Christian social concern in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."[31]


• The Church Catechism and the Emancipation of Labour (London: 1875)
• Theatres & Music Halls: a Lecture Given at the Commonwealth Club, Bethnal Green, on Sunday, October 7, 1877 (Westminster: Women's Printing Society, 2nd Ed; rprt Forgotten Books, 2015)
• Priestcraft and Progress: Being Sermons and Lectures (London: Hodges, 1878)
• The Service of Humanity and Other Sermons (London: J. Hodges, 1882 )
• The Sure Foundation: An Address Given before the Guild of S. Matthew, At the Annual Meeting, 1883 (London: F. Verinder, 1883)
• Lessons from the Cross: Addresses Given on Good Friday (London: F. Verinder, 1886)
• The Aggressive Archangel: a Sermon (London: F. Verinder, 1887)
• The Theory of Theatrical Dancing with a Chapter on Pantomime: Edited from Carlo Blasis' Code of Terpsichore with the Original Plates (London: F. Verinder, 1888)
• The Laws of Eternal Life Being Studies in the Church Catechism (London: William Reeves, 1888; rprt Elibron Classics, 2005)
• The Function of the Stage (London: F. Verinder, 1889).
• The Ballet (London, 1894)
• Christian Socialism: A Lecture Fabian Tract No. 42 (London: The Fabian Society, 1894.)
• The Guild of St. Matthew: What it is and who should join it (London: Guild of St Matthews, 1895.)
• Classical Poetry (London: 1898)
• The Place of the Bible in Secular Education: An Open Letter to the Teachers under the London School Board (London: S. C. Brown, Langham, and Co., 1903)
• The Meaning of the Mass: Five Lectures and Other Sermons and Addresses (London: S. C. Brown, Langham and Co., 1905; rprt Forgotten Books, 2015))
• Preface to The Mother Kate, Old Soho Days and Other Memories (London: Mowbray & Co., 1906; rprt Leopold Classic Library, 2015))
• Socialism and Religion Fabian Socialist Series, No 1 (London: Fifield, 1908.)
• Fabianism and Land Values: A Lecture delivered to the Fabian Society on October 23, 1908 (London: Office of the English League for the Taxation of Land Values, 1908)
• The Socialist's Church (London: G. Allen, 1907).

Publication information not found

• The Secular Work of Jesus Christ and His Apostles: An Address to the Society of Secularists.
• Salvation Through Christ: A Sermon Preached for the Guild of St. Matthew (London: F. Verinder)
• The Clergy as Public Leaders: A Paper Read before the Junior Clergy Society of London
• Some Old Words on the War



1. Haggard 2001, p. 87.
2. Levin 1993.
3. Sachs 1976.
4. Simkin, John (2014) [1997]. "Stewart Headlam". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
5. Norman 2002, p. 102.
6. Jones 1968, p. 13.
7. Orens 2003, p. 13.
8. Orens 2003, p. 17.
9. Beeson 2013, p. 32.
10. Jones 1968, p. 96.
11. "Obituary for 1895". The Eagle: A Magazine Supported by Members of St John's College. Vol. 19. Cambridge, England: E. Johnson. 1896. p. 199. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
12. Beukel 2005, p. 145.
13. "History". London: St Matthew's, Bethnal Green. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
14. Beukel 2005, pp. 145–146.
15. Beeson 2013, p. 31.
16. Orens 2003, p. 20.
17. Jones 1968, p. 145.
18. Orens 2003, p. 21.
19. Stanton, Theodore (2 September 1886). "Free Thought in England". The Index. 18 (871). Boston, Massachusetts. p. 113. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
20. Day, Martyn (14 April 2009). "The Turbulent Priest from St Peters Road". St Margarets Community Website. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
21. Norman 2002, p. 104.
22. Orens 2003, pp. 21, 50.
23. "The Headlam Testimonial". The Era. 23 June 1878. p. 14.
24. Jones 1968, p. 100.
25. "Marriages". London Evening Standard. 29 January 1878. p. 1.
26. Norman 2002, p. 103.
27. Orens 2003, p. 37.
28. Orens 2003, pp. 37–38.
29. Jones 1968, p. 102.
30. The Sunday Magazine for Family Reading. Vol. 9. London: Isbister and Company. 1880. p. 860.
31. Morris 2004.
32. Woodworth 1903, pp. 100–101.
33. Norman 2002, p. 104; Woodworth 1903, pp. 100–101.
34. Hennel 1977, p. 525.
35. Woodworth 1903, p. 104.
36. Woodworth 1903, pp. 114–115.
37. Jones 1968, p. 155.
38. Beeson 2013, p. 33; Norman 2002, p. 104.
39. Headlam, Stewart D. (1890). The Guild of St. Matthew: An Appeal to Churchmen. London. p. 13. Quoted in Woodworth 1903, p. 114.
40. Woodworth 1903, pp. 115–116.
41. Woodworth 1903, p. 120.
42. Woodworth 1903, pp. 122–123.
43. Leech 1989, p. 3.
44. Jones 1968, p. 99.
45. Woodworth 1903, p. 123.
46. Norman 2002, pp. 104, 106.
47. Norman 2002, p. 104; Porter 2004, p. 234.
48. Studies in History, Economics, and Public Law, Issues 325–326 (Columbia University Press, 1930), 231.
49. Headlam 1877, p. v.
50. Condon 2007, p. 148.
51. Linder 2007.
52. Harris 2007, p. 154.
53. Beeson 2013, p. 33.
54. "Oscar Wilde Arrested – April 6, 1895". This Day in History. History. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
55. Jones 1968, p. 148.
56. Orens 2003, p. 124.
57. Jones 1968, p. 147.
58. Orens 2003, p. 120.
59. Beeson 2013, pp. 31, 33.
60. Orens 2003, p. 97.
61. Morris 2004; Norman 2002, pp. 113–115.
62. Norman 2002, p. 115.
63. Cragoe & Readman 2010.
64. Woodworth 1903, pp. 160–161.

Works cited

Beeson, Trevor (2013). Priests and Politics: The Church Speaks Out. London: SCM Press.
Beukel, Karlien van den (2005). "Arthur Symon's Night Life". In Tinkler-Villani, Valeria (ed.). Babylon or New Jerusalem? Perceptions of the City in Literature. DQR Studies in Literature. 32. Amsterdam: Rodopi. ISBN 978-90-420-1873-0. ISSN 0921-2507.
Condon, Joey A. (2007). An Examination into the History and Present Interrelationship between the Church and the Theatre Exemplified by the Manhattan Church of the Nazarene, the Lambs Club, and the Lamb's Theatre Company as a Possible Paradigm (MA thesis). Kansas City, Missouri: University of Missouri–Kansas City. Retrieved 19 December 2017 – via ProQuest.
Cragoe, Matthew; Readman, Paul, eds. (2010). The Land Question in Britain, 1750–1950. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1057/9780230248472. ISBN 978-0-230-24847-2.
Haggard, Robert F. (2001). The Persistence of Victorian Liberalism: The Politics of Social Reform in Britain, 1870–1900. Contributions to the Study of World History. 77. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-31305-9. ISSN 0885-9159.
Harris, Frank (2007) [1910]. Oscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions. Ware, England: Wordsworth Editions. ISBN 978-1-84022-554-9.
Headlam, Stewart D. (1877). Theatres & Music Halls: A Lecture Given at the Commonwealth Club, Bethnal Green, on Sunday, October 7, 1877 (2nd ed.). London: Women's Printing Society. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
Hennel, Michael (1977). "The Oxford Movement". The History of Christianity. Berkhamsted, England: Lion Publishing.
Jones, Peter d'Alroy (1968). Christian Socialist Revival, 1877–1914: Religion, Class, and Social Conscience in Late-Victorian England. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press (published 2015). ISBN 978-1-4008-7697-6.
Leech, Kenneth (1989). The Radical Anglo-Catholic Social Vision. Discussion Papers. 2. Edinburgh: Centre for Theology and Public Issues. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
Levin, Bernard (1993). "Headlam, Stewart Duckworth (1847–1924)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.
Linder, Douglas O. (2007). The Trials of Oscar Wilde: An Account. doi:10.2139/ssrn.1023971.
Morris, Jeremy (2004). "Headlam, Stewart Duckworth (1847–1924)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/37527. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8.
Norman, Edward R. (2002). The Victorian Christian Socialists. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Orens, John Richard (2003). Stewart Headlam's Radical Anglicanism: The Mass, the Masses, and the Music Hall. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press.
Porter, Andrew (2004). Religion Versus Empire? British Protestant Missionaries and Overseas Expansion, 1700–1914. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Sachs, William L. (1976). "Stewart Headlam and the Fabian Society". Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Historical Society of the Episcopal Church. 45 (2): 201–210. ISSN 2377-5289. JSTOR 42973507.
Woodworth, Arthur V. (1903). Christian Socialism in England. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co. Retrieved 19 December 2017.

Further reading

Bettany, Frederick George (1926). Stewart Headlam: A Biography.
Leech, Kenneth (1968). "Stewart Headlam". In Reckitt, Maurice B. (ed.). For Christ and the People: Studies of Four Socialist Priests and Prophets of the Church of England Between 1870 and 1930. London: SPCK. OCLC 575522841.

External links

• Profile on the St Margaret's Community website
• Profile on the Headlam Genealogy website
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Part 1 of 2

The Soul of Man under Socialism
by Oscar Wilde

The chief advantage that would result from the establishment of Socialism is, undoubtedly, the fact that Socialism would relieve us from that sordid necessity of living for others which, in the present condition of things, presses so hardly upon almost everybody. In fact, scarcely anyone at all escapes.

Now and then, in the course of the century, a great man of science, like Darwin; a great poet, like Keats; a fine critical spirit, like M. Renan; a supreme artist, like Flaubert, has been able to isolate himself, to keep himself out of reach of the clamorous claims of others, to stand ‘under the shelter of the wall,’ as Plato puts it, and so to realise the perfection of what was in him, to his own incomparable gain, and to the incomparable and lasting gain of the whole world. These, however, are exceptions. The majority of people spoil their lives by an unhealthy and exaggerated altruism – are forced, indeed, so to spoil them. They find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation. It is inevitable that they should be strongly moved by all this. The emotions of man are stirred more quickly than man’s intelligence; and, as I pointed out some time ago in an article on the function of criticism, it is much more easy to have sympathy with suffering than it is to have sympathy with thought. Accordingly, with admirable, though misdirected intentions, they very seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see. But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it. Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease.

They try to solve the problem of poverty, for instance, by keeping the poor alive; or, in the case of a very advanced school, by amusing the poor.

But this is not a solution: it is an aggravation of the difficulty. The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible. And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim. Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good; and at last we have had the spectacle of men who have really studied the problem and know the life –- educated men who live in the East End -– coming forward and imploring the community to restrain its altruistic impulses of charity, benevolence, and the like. They do so on the ground that such charity degrades and demoralises. They are perfectly right. Charity creates a multitude of sins.

Emile de Lavelaye was quite correct in attributing significance to the publication of "Progress and Poverty," though the seed sown by Henry George took root, not in the slums and alleys of our cities—no intellectual seed of any sort can germinate in the sickly, sunless atmosphere of slums—but in the minds of people who had sufficient leisure and education to think of other things than breadwinning. Henry George proposed to abolish poverty by political action: that was the new gospel which came from San Francisco in the early eighties... It proposed to redress the wrongs suffered by the working classes as a whole: the poverty it considered was the poverty of the wage workers as a class, not the destitution of the unfortunate and downtrodden individuals. It did not merely propose, like philanthropy and the Poor Law, to relieve the acute suffering of the outcasts of civilisation, those condemned to wretchedness by the incapacity, the vice, the folly, or the sheer misfortune of themselves or their relations. It suggested a method by which wealth would correspond approximately with worth; by which the reward of labour would go to those that laboured; the idleness alike of rich and poor would cease; the abundant wealth created by modern industry would be distributed with something like fairness and even equality, amongst those who contributed to its production. Above all, this tremendous revolution was to be accomplished by a political method, applicable by a majority of the voters, and capable of being drafted as an Act of Parliament by any competent lawyer.

To George belongs the extraordinary merit of recognising the right way of social salvation.

-- The History of the Fabian Society, by Edward R. Pease

There is also this to be said. It is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property. It is both immoral and unfair.

Under Socialism all this will, of course, be altered. There will be no people living in fetid dens and fetid rags, and bringing up unhealthy, hunger-pinched children in the midst of impossible and absolutely repulsive surroundings.
The security of society will not depend, as it does now, on the state of the weather. If a frost comes we shall not have a hundred thousand men out of work, tramping about the streets in a state of disgusting misery, or whining to their neighbours for alms, or crowding round the doors of loathsome shelters to try and secure a hunch of bread and a night’s unclean lodging. Each member of the society will share in the general prosperity and happiness of the society, and if a frost comes no one will practically be anything the worse.

Upon the other hand, Socialism itself will be of value simply because it will lead to Individualism.

Socialism, Communism, or whatever one chooses to call it, by converting private property into public wealth, and substituting co-operation for competition, will restore society to its proper condition of a thoroughly healthy organism, and insure the material well-being of each member of the community. It will, in fact, give Life its proper basis and its proper environment. But for the full development of Life to its highest mode of perfection, something more is needed. What is needed is Individualism. If the Socialism is Authoritarian; if there are Governments armed with economic power as they are now with political power; if, in a word, we are to have Industrial Tyrannies, then the last state of man will be worse than the first. At present, in consequence of the existence of private property, a great many people are enabled to develop a certain very limited amount of Individualism. They are either under no necessity to work for their living, or are enabled to choose the sphere of activity that is really congenial to them, and gives them pleasure. These are the poets, the philosophers, the men of science, the men of culture -– in a word, the real men, the men who have realised themselves, and in whom all Humanity gains a partial realisation. Upon the other hand, there are a great many people who, having no private property of their own, and being always on the brink of sheer starvation, are compelled to do the work of beasts of burden, to do work that is quite uncongenial to them, and to which they are forced by the peremptory, unreasonable, degrading Tyranny of want. These are the poor, and amongst them there is no grace of manner, or charm of speech, or civilisation, or culture, or refinement in pleasures, or joy of life. From their collective force Humanity gains much in material prosperity. But it is only the material result that it gains, and the man who is poor is in himself absolutely of no importance. He is merely the infinitesimal atom of a force that, so far from regarding him, crushes him: indeed, prefers him crushed, as in that case he is far more obedient.

Of course, it might be said that the Individualism generated under conditions of private property is not always, or even as a rule, of a fine or wonderful type, and that the poor, if they have not culture and charm, have still many virtues. Both these statements would be quite true. The possession of private property is very often extremely demoralising, and that is, of course, one of the reasons why Socialism wants to get rid of the institution. In fact, property is really a nuisance. Some years ago people went about the country saying that property has duties. They said it so often and so tediously that, at last, the Church has begun to say it. One hears it now from every pulpit. It is perfectly true. Property not merely has duties, but has so many duties that its possession to any large extent is a bore. It involves endless claims upon one, endless attention to business, endless bother. If property had simply pleasures, we could stand it; but its duties make it unbearable. In the interest of the rich we must get rid of it. The virtues of the poor may be readily admitted, and are much to be regretted. We are often told that the poor are grateful for charity. Some of them are, no doubt, but the best amongst the poor are never grateful. They are ungrateful, discontented, disobedient, and rebellious. They are quite right to be so. Charity they feel to be a ridiculously inadequate mode of partial restitution, or a sentimental dole, usually accompanied by some impertinent attempt on the part of the sentimentalist to tyrannise over their private lives. Why should they be grateful for the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table? They should be seated at the board, and are beginning to know it. As for being discontented, a man who would not be discontented with such surroundings and such a low mode of life would be a perfect brute. Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion. Sometimes the poor are praised for being thrifty. But to recommend thrift to the poor is both grotesque and insulting. It is like advising a man who is starving to eat less. For a town or country labourer to practise thrift would be absolutely immoral. Man should not be ready to show that he can live like a badly-fed animal. He should decline to live like that, and should either steal or go on the rates, which is considered by many to be a form of stealing. As for begging, it is safer to beg than to take, but it is finer to take than to beg. No: a poor man who is ungrateful, unthrifty, discontented, and rebellious, is probably a real personality, and has much in him. He is at any rate a healthy protest. As for the virtuous poor, one can pity them, of course, but one cannot possibly admire them. They have made private terms with the enemy, and sold their birthright for very bad pottage. They must also be extraordinarily stupid. I can quite understand a man accepting laws that protect private property, and admit of its accumulation, as long as he himself is able under those conditions to realise some form of beautiful and intellectual life. But it is almost incredible to me how a man whose life is marred and made hideous by such laws can possibly acquiesce in their continuance.

However, the explanation is not really difficult to find. It is simply this. Misery and poverty are so absolutely degrading, and exercise such a paralysing effect over the nature of men, that no class is ever really conscious of its own suffering. They have to be told of it by other people, and they often entirely disbelieve them. What is said by great employers of labour against agitators is unquestionably true. Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community, and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilisation. Slavery was put down in America, not in consequence of any action on the part of the slaves, or even any express desire on their part that they should be free. It was put down entirely through the grossly illegal conduct of certain agitators in Boston and elsewhere, who were not slaves themselves, nor owners of slaves, nor had anything to do with the question really. It was, undoubtedly, the Abolitionists who set the torch alight, who began the whole thing. And it is curious to note that from the slaves themselves they received, not merely very little assistance, but hardly any sympathy even; and when at the close of the war the slaves found themselves free, found themselves indeed so absolutely free that they were free to starve, many of them bitterly regretted the new state of things. To the thinker, the most tragic fact in the whole of the French Revolution is not that Marie Antoinette was killed for being a queen, but that the starved peasant of the Vendee voluntarily went out to die for the hideous cause of feudalism.

It is clear, then, that no Authoritarian Socialism will do. For while under the present system a very large number of people can lead lives of a certain amount of freedom and expression and happiness, under an industrial-barrack system, or a system of economic tyranny, nobody would be able to have any such freedom at all. It is to be regretted that a portion of our community should be practically in slavery, but to propose to solve the problem by enslaving the entire community is childish. Every man must be left quite free to choose his own work. No form of compulsion must be exercised over him. If there is, his work will not be good for him, will not be good in itself, and will not be good for others. And by work I simply mean activity of any kind.

I hardly think that any Socialist, nowadays, would seriously propose that an inspector should call every morning at each house to see that each citizen rose up and did manual labour for eight hours. Humanity has got beyond that stage, and reserves such a form of life for the people whom, in a very arbitrary manner, it chooses to call criminals. But I confess that many of the socialistic views that I have come across seem to me to be tainted with ideas of authority, if not of actual compulsion. Of course, authority and compulsion are out of the question. All association must be quite voluntary. It is only in voluntary associations that man is fine.

But it may be asked how Individualism, which is now more or less dependent on the existence of private property for its development, will benefit by the abolition of such private property.
The answer is very simple. It is true that, under existing conditions, a few men who have had private means of their own, such as Byron, Shelley, Browning, Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, and others, have been able to realise their personality more or less completely. Not one of these men ever did a single day’s work for hire. They were relieved from poverty. They had an immense advantage. The question is whether it would be for the good of Individualism that such an advantage should be taken away. Let us suppose that it is taken away. What happens then to Individualism? How will it benefit?

It will benefit in this way. Under the new conditions Individualism will be far freer, far finer, and far more intensified than it is now. I am not talking of the great imaginatively-realised Individualism of such poets as I have mentioned, but of the great actual Individualism latent and potential in mankind generally. For the recognition of private property has really harmed Individualism, and obscured it, by confusing a man with what he possesses. It has led Individualism entirely astray. It has made gain not growth its aim. So that man thought that the important thing was to have, and did not know that the important thing is to be. The true perfection of man lies, not in what man has, but in what man is.

Private property has crushed true Individualism, and set up an Individualism that is false. It has debarred one part of the community from being individual by starving them. It has debarred the other part of the community from being individual by putting them on the wrong road, and encumbering them. Indeed, so completely has man’s personality been absorbed by his possessions that the English law has always treated offences against a man’s property with far more severity than offences against his person, and property is still the test of complete citizenship. The industry necessary for the making money is also very demoralising. In a community like ours, where property confers immense distinction, social position, honour, respect, titles, and other pleasant things of the kind, man, being naturally ambitious, makes it his aim to accumulate this property, and goes on wearily and tediously accumulating it long after he has got far more than he wants, or can use, or enjoy, or perhaps even know of. Man will kill himself by overwork in order to secure property, and really, considering the enormous advantages that property brings, one is hardly surprised. One’s regret is that society should be constructed on such a basis that man has been forced into a groove in which he cannot freely develop what is wonderful, and fascinating, and delightful in him –- in which, in fact, he misses the true pleasure and joy of living. He is also, under existing conditions, very insecure. An enormously wealthy merchant may be –- often is -– at every moment of his life at the mercy of things that are not under his control. If the wind blows an extra point or so, or the weather suddenly changes, or some trivial thing happens, his ship may go down, his speculations may go wrong, and he finds himself a poor man, with his social position quite gone. Now, nothing should be able to harm a man except himself. Nothing should be able to rob a man at all. What a man really has, is what is in him. What is outside of him should be a matter of no importance.

With the abolition of private property, then, we shall have true, beautiful, healthy Individualism. Nobody will waste his life in accumulating things, and the symbols for things. One will live. To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

Wilde's final address was at the dingy Hôtel d'Alsace (now known as L'Hôtel), on rue des Beaux-Arts in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris. "This poverty really breaks one's heart: it is so sale [filthy], so utterly depressing, so hopeless. Pray do what you can" he wrote to his publisher. He corrected and published An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, the proofs of which, according to Ellmann, show a man "very much in command of himself and of the play" but he refused to write anything else: "I can write, but have lost the joy of writing".

-- Oscar Wilde, by Wikipedia

It is a question whether we have ever seen the full expression of a personality, except on the imaginative plane of art. In action, we never have. Caesar, says Mommsen, was the complete and perfect man. But how tragically insecure was Caesar! Wherever there is a man who exercises authority, there is a man who resists authority. Caesar was very perfect, but his perfection travelled by too dangerous a road. Marcus Aurelius was the perfect man, says Renan. Yes; the great emperor was a perfect man. But how intolerable were the endless claims upon him! He staggered under the burden of the empire. He was conscious how inadequate one man was to bear the weight of that Titan and too vast orb. What I mean by a perfect man is one who develops under perfect conditions; one who is not wounded, or worried or maimed, or in danger. Most personalities have been obliged to be rebels. Half their strength has been wasted in friction. Byron’s personality, for instance, was terribly wasted in its battle with the stupidity, and hypocrisy, and Philistinism of the English. Such battles do not always intensify strength: they often exaggerate weakness. Byron was never able to give us what he might have given us. Shelley escaped better. Like Byron, he got out of England as soon as possible. But he was not so well known. If the English had had any idea of what a great poet he really was, they would have fallen on him with tooth and nail, and made his life as unbearable to him as they possibly could. But he was not a remarkable figure in society, and consequently he escaped, to a certain degree. Still, even in Shelley the note of rebellion is sometimes too strong. The note of the perfect personality is not rebellion, but peace.

It will be a marvellous thing -– the true personality of man -– when we see it. It will grow naturally and simply, flowerlike, or as a tree grows. It will not be at discord. It will never argue or dispute. It will not prove things. It will know everything. And yet it will not busy itself about knowledge. It will have wisdom. Its value will not be measured by material things. It will have nothing. And yet it will have everything, and whatever one takes from it, it will still have, so rich will it be. It will not be always meddling with others, or asking them to be like itself. It will love them because they will be different. And yet while it will not meddle with others, it will help all, as a beautiful thing helps us, by being what it is. The personality of man will be very wonderful. It will be as wonderful as the personality of a child.

In its development it will be assisted by Christianity, if men desire that; but if men do not desire that, it will develop none the less surely. For it will not worry itself about the past, nor care whether things happened or did not happen. Nor will it admit any laws but its own laws; nor any authority but its own authority. Yet it will love those who sought to intensify it, and speak often of them. And of these Christ was one.

‘Know thyself’ was written over the portal of the antique world. Over the portal of the new world, ‘Be thyself’ shall be written. And the message of Christ to man was simply ‘Be thyself.’ That is the secret of Christ.

When Jesus talks about the poor he simply means personalities, just as when he talks about the rich he simply means people who have not developed their personalities. Jesus moved in a community that allowed the accumulation of private property just as ours does, and the gospel that he preached was not that in such a community it is an advantage for a man to live on scanty, unwholesome food, to wear ragged, unwholesome clothes, to sleep in horrid, unwholesome dwellings, and a disadvantage for a man to live under healthy, pleasant, and decent conditions. Such a view would have been wrong there and then, and would, of course, be still more wrong now and in England
; for as man moves northward the material necessities of life become of more vital importance, and our society is infinitely more complex, and displays far greater extremes of luxury and pauperism than any society of the antique world. What Jesus meant, was this. He said to man, ‘You have a wonderful personality. Develop it. Be yourself. Don’t imagine that your perfection lies in accumulating or possessing external things. Your affection is inside of you. If only you could realise that, you would not want to be rich. Ordinary riches can be stolen from a man. Real riches cannot. In the treasury-house of your soul, there are infinitely precious things, that may not be taken from you. And so, try to so shape your life that external things will not harm you. And try also to get rid of personal property. It involves sordid preoccupation, endless industry, continual wrong. Personal property hinders Individualism at every step.’ It is to be noted that Jesus never says that impoverished people are necessarily good, or wealthy people necessarily bad. That would not have been true. Wealthy people are, as a class, better than impoverished people, more moral, more intellectual, more well-behaved. There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else. That is the misery of being poor. What Jesus does say is that man reaches his perfection, not through what he has, not even through what he does, but entirely through what he is. And so the wealthy young man who comes to Jesus is represented as a thoroughly good citizen, who has broken none of the laws of his state, none of the commandments of his religion. He is quite respectable, in the ordinary sense of that extraordinary word. Jesus says to him, ‘You should give up private property. It hinders you from realising your perfection. It is a drag upon you. It is a burden. Your personality does not need it. It is within you, and not outside of you, that you will find what you really are, and what you really want.’ To his own friends he says the same thing. He tells them to be themselves, and not to be always worrying about other things. What do other things matter? Man is complete in himself. When they go into the world, the world will disagree with them. That is inevitable. The world hates Individualism. But that is not to trouble them. They are to be calm and self-centred. If a man takes their cloak, they are to give him their coat, just to show that material things are of no importance. If people abuse them, they are not to answer back. What does it signify? The things people say of a man do not alter a man. He is what he is. Public opinion is of no value whatsoever. Even if people employ actual violence, they are not to be violent in turn. That would be to fall to the same low level. After all, even in prison, a man can be quite free. His soul can be free. His personality can be untroubled. He can be at peace. And, above all things, they are not to interfere with other people or judge them in any way. Personality is a very mysterious thing. A man cannot always be estimated by what he does. He may keep the law, and yet be worthless. He may break the law, and yet be fine. He may be bad, without ever doing anything bad. He may commit a sin against society, and yet realise through that sin his true perfection.

There was a woman who was taken in adultery. We are not told the history of her love, but that love must have been very great; for Jesus said that her sins were forgiven her, not because she repented, but because her love was so intense and wonderful. Later on, a short time before his death, as he sat at a feast, the woman came in and poured costly perfumes on his hair. His friends tried to interfere with her, and said that it was an extravagance, and that the money that the perfume cost should have been expended on charitable relief of people in want, or something of that kind. Jesus did not accept that view. He pointed out that the material needs of Man were great and very permanent, but that the spiritual needs of Man were greater still, and that in one divine moment, and by selecting its own mode of expression, a personality might make itself perfect. The world worships the woman, even now, as a saint.

Yes; there are suggestive things in Individualism. Socialism annihilates family life, for instance. With the abolition of private property, marriage in its present form must disappear. This is part of the programme. Individualism accepts this and makes it fine. It converts the abolition of legal restraint into a form of freedom that will help the full development of personality, and make the love of man and woman more wonderful, more beautiful, and more ennobling. Jesus knew this. He rejected the claims of family life, although they existed in his day and community in a very marked form. ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ he said, when he was told that they wished to speak to him. When one of his followers asked leave to go and bury his father, ‘Let the dead bury the dead,’ was his terrible answer. He would allow no claim whatsoever to be made on personality.

And so he who would lead a Christlike life is he who is perfectly and absolutely himself. He may be a great poet, or a great man of science; or a young student at a University, or one who watches sheep upon a moor; or a maker of dramas, like Shakespeare, or a thinker about God, like Spinoza; or a child who plays in a garden, or a fisherman who throws his net into the sea. It does not matter what he is, as long as he realises the perfection of the soul that is within him. All imitation in morals and in life is wrong. Through the streets of Jerusalem at the present day crawls one who is mad and carries a wooden cross on his shoulders. He is a symbol of the lives that are marred by imitation. Father Damien was Christlike when he went out to live with the lepers, because in such service he realised fully what was best in him. But he was not more Christlike than Wagner when he realised his soul in music; or than Shelley, when he realised his soul in song. There is no one type for man. There are as many perfections as there are imperfect men. And while to the claims of charity a man may yield and yet be free, to the claims of conformity no man may yield and remain free at all.

Individualism, then, is what through Socialism we are to attain to. As a natural result the State must give up all idea of government. It must give it up because, as a wise man once said many centuries before Christ, there is such a thing as leaving mankind alone; there is no such thing as governing mankind. All modes of government are failures.
Despotism is unjust to everybody, including the despot, who was probably made for better things. Oligarchies are unjust to the many, and ochlocracies are unjust to the few. High hopes were once formed of democracy; but democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people. It has been found out. I must say that it was high time, for all authority is quite degrading. It degrades those who exercise it, and degrades those over whom it is exercised. When it is violently, grossly, and cruelly used, it produces a good effect, by creating, or at any rate bringing out, the spirit of revolt and Individualism that is to kill it. When it is used with a certain amount of kindness, and accompanied by prizes and rewards, it is dreadfully demoralising. People, in that case, are less conscious of the horrible pressure that is being put on them, and so go through their lives in a sort of coarse comfort, like petted animals, without ever realising that they are probably thinking other people’s thoughts, living by other people’s standards, wearing practically what one may call other people’s second-hand clothes, and never being themselves for a single moment. ‘He who would be free,’ says a fine thinker, ‘must not conform.’ And authority, by bribing people to conform, produces a very gross kind of over-fed barbarism amongst us.

With authority, punishment will pass away. This will be a great gain -– a gain, in fact, of incalculable value. As one reads history, not in the expurgated editions written for school-boys and passmen, but in the original authorities of each time, one is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted; and a community is infinitely more brutalised by the habitual employment of punishment, than it is by the occurrence of crime. It obviously follows that the more punishment is inflicted the more crime is produced, and most modern legislation has clearly recognised this, and has made it its task to diminish punishment as far as it thinks it can. Wherever it has really diminished it, the results have always been extremely good. The less punishment, the less crime. When there is no punishment at all, crime will either cease to exist, or, if it occurs, will be treated by physicians as a very distressing form of dementia, to be cured by care and kindness. For what are called criminals nowadays are not criminals at all. Starvation, and not sin, is the parent of modern crime. That indeed is the reason why our criminals are, as a class, so absolutely uninteresting from any psychological point of view. They are not marvellous Macbeths and terrible Vautrins. They are merely what ordinary, respectable, commonplace people would be if they had not got enough to eat. When private property is abolished there will be no necessity for crime, no demand for it; it will cease to exist. Of course, all crimes are not crimes against property, though such are the crimes that the English law, valuing what a man has more than what a man is, punishes with the harshest and most horrible severity, if we except the crime of murder, and regard death as worse than penal servitude, a point on which our criminals, I believe, disagree. But though a crime may not be against property, it may spring from the misery and rage and depression produced by our wrong system of property-holding, and so, when that system is abolished, will disappear. When each member of the community has sufficient for his wants, and is not interfered with by his neighbour, it will not be an object of any interest to him to interfere with anyone else. Jealousy, which is an extraordinary source of crime in modern life, is an emotion closely bound up with our conceptions of property, and under Socialism and Individualism will die out. It is remarkable that in communistic tribes jealousy is entirely unknown.

Now as the State is not to govern, it may be asked what the State is to do. The State is to be a voluntary association that will organise labour, and be the manufacturer and distributor of necessary commodities. The State is to make what is useful. The individual is to make what is beautiful. And as I have mentioned the word labour, I cannot help saying that a great deal of nonsense is being written and talked nowadays about the dignity of manual labour. There is nothing necessarily dignified about manual labour at all, and most of it is absolutely degrading. It is mentally and morally injurious to man to do anything in which he does not find pleasure, and many forms of labour are quite pleasureless activities, and should be regarded as such. To sweep a slushy crossing for eight hours, on a day when the east wind is blowing is a disgusting occupation. To sweep it with mental, moral, or physical dignity seems to me to be impossible. To sweep it with joy would be appalling. Man is made for something better than disturbing dirt. All work of that kind should be done by a machine.

And I have no doubt that it will be so. Up to the present, man has been, to a certain extent, the slave of machinery, and there is something tragic in the fact that as soon as man had invented a machine to do his work he began to starve. This, however, is, of course, the result of our property system and our system of competition. One man owns a machine which does the work of five hundred men. Five hundred men are, in consequence, thrown out of employment, and, having no work to do, become hungry and take to thieving. The one man secures the produce of the machine and keeps it, and has five hundred times as much as he should have, and probably, which is of much more importance, a great deal more than he really wants. Were that machine the property of all, every one would benefit by it. It would be an immense advantage to the community. All unintellectual labour, all monotonous, dull labour, all labour that deals with dreadful things, and involves unpleasant conditions, must be done by machinery. Machinery must work for us in coal mines, and do all sanitary services, and be the stoker of steamers, and clean the streets, and run messages on wet days, and do anything that is tedious or distressing. At present machinery competes against man. Under proper conditions machinery will serve man. There is no doubt at all that this is the future of machinery, and just as trees grow while the country gentleman is asleep, so while Humanity will be amusing itself, or enjoying cultivated leisure -– which, and not labour, is the aim of man –- or making beautiful things, or reading beautiful things, or simply contemplating the world with admiration and delight, machinery will be doing all the necessary and unpleasant work. The fact is, that civilisation requires slaves. The Greeks were quite right there. Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralising. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends. And when scientific men are no longer called upon to go down to a depressing East End and distribute bad cocoa and worse blankets to starving people, they will have delightful leisure in which to devise wonderful and marvellous things for their own joy and the joy of everyone else. There will be great storages of force for every city, and for every house if required, and this force man will convert into heat, light, or motion, according to his needs. Is this Utopian? A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias.

Now, I have said that the community by means of organisation of machinery will supply the useful things, and that the beautiful things will be made by the individual. This is not merely necessary, but it is the only possible way by which we can get either the one or the other. An individual who has to make things for the use of others, and with reference to their wants and their wishes, does not work with interest, and consequently cannot put into his work what is best in him. Upon the other hand, whenever a community or a powerful section of a community, or a government of any kind, attempts to dictate to the artist what he is to do, Art either entirely vanishes, or becomes stereotyped, or degenerates into a low and ignoble form of craft. A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is. It has nothing to do with the fact that other people want what they want. Indeed, the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or a dishonest tradesman. He has no further claim to be considered as an artist. Art is the most intense mode of Individualism that the world has known. I am inclined to say that it is the only real mode of Individualism that the world has known. Crime, which, under certain conditions, may seem to have created Individualism, must take cognisance of other people and interfere with them. It belongs to the sphere of action. But alone, without any reference to his neighbours, without any interference, the artist can fashion a beautiful thing; and if he does not do it solely for his own pleasure, he is not an artist at all.

And it is to be noted that it is the fact that Art is this intense form of Individualism that makes the public try to exercise over it in an authority that is as immoral as it is ridiculous, and as corrupting as it is contemptible. It is not quite their fault. The public has always, and in every age, been badly brought up. They are continually asking Art to be popular, to please their want of taste, to flatter their absurd vanity, to tell them what they have been told before, to show them what they ought to be tired of seeing, to amuse them when they feel heavy after eating too much, and to distract their thoughts when they are wearied of their own stupidity. Now Art should never try to be popular. The public should try to make itself artistic. There is a very wide difference. If a man of science were told that the results of his experiments, and the conclusions that he arrived at, should be of such a character that they would not upset the received popular notions on the subject, or disturb popular prejudice, or hurt the sensibilities of people who knew nothing about science; if a philosopher were told that he had a perfect right to speculate in the highest spheres of thought, provided that he arrived at the same conclusions as were held by those who had never thought in any sphere at all -– well, nowadays the man of science and the philosopher would be considerably amused. Yet it is really a very few years since both philosophy and science were subjected to brutal popular control, to authority -– in fact the authority of either the general ignorance of the community, or the terror and greed for power of an ecclesiastical or governmental class. Of course, we have to a very great extent got rid of any attempt on the part of the community, or the Church, or the Government, to interfere with the individualism of speculative thought, but the attempt to interfere with the individualism of imaginative art still lingers. In fact, it does more than linger; it is aggressive, offensive, and brutalising.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Wed Aug 05, 2020 9:18 am

Part 2 of 2

In England, the arts that have escaped best are the arts in which the public take no interest. Poetry is an instance of what I mean. We have been able to have fine poetry in England because the public do not read it, and consequently do not influence it. The public like to insult poets because they are individual, but once they have insulted them, they leave them alone. In the case of the novel and the drama, arts in which the public do take an interest, the result of the exercise of popular authority has been absolutely ridiculous. No country produces such badly-written fiction, such tedious, common work in the novel form, such silly, vulgar plays as England. It must necessarily be so. The popular standard is of such a character that no artist can get to it. It is at once too easy and too difficult to be a popular novelist. It is too easy, because the requirements of the public as far as plot, style, psychology, treatment of life, and treatment of literature are concerned are within the reach of the very meanest capacity and the most uncultivated mind. It is too difficult, because to meet such requirements the artist would have to do violence to his temperament, would have to write not for the artistic joy of writing, but for the amusement of half-educated people, and so would have to suppress his individualism, forget his culture, annihilate his style, and surrender everything that is valuable in him. In the case of the drama, things are a little better: the theatre-going public like the obvious, it is true, but they do not like the tedious; and burlesque and farcical comedy, the two most popular forms, are distinct forms of art. Delightful work may be produced under burlesque and farcical conditions, and in work of this kind the artist in England is allowed very great freedom. It is when one comes to the higher forms of the drama that the result of popular control is seen. The one thing that the public dislike is novelty. Any attempt to extend the subject-matter of art is extremely distasteful to the public; and yet the vitality and progress of art depend in a large measure on the continual extension of subject-matter. The public dislike novelty because they are afraid of it. It represents to them a mode of Individualism, an assertion on the part of the artist that he selects his own subject, and treats it as he chooses. The public are quite right in their attitude. Art is Individualism, and Individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. Therein lies its immense value. For what it seeks to disturb is monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine. In Art, the public accept what has been, because they cannot alter it, not because they appreciate it. They swallow their classics whole, and never taste them. They endure them as the inevitable, and as they cannot mar them, they mouth about them. Strangely enough, or not strangely, according to one’s own views, this acceptance of the classics does a great deal of harm. The uncritical admiration of the Bible and Shakespeare in England is an instance of what I mean. With regard to the Bible, considerations of ecclesiastical authority enter into the matter, so that I need not dwell upon the point. But in the case of Shakespeare it is quite obvious that the public really see neither the beauties nor the defects of his plays. If they saw the beauties, they would not object to the development of the drama; and if they saw the defects, they would not object to the development of the drama either. The fact is, the public make use of the classics of a country as a means of checking the progress of Art. They degrade the classics into authorities. They use them as bludgeons for preventing the free expression of Beauty in new forms. They are always asking a writer why he does not write like somebody else, or a painter why he does not paint like somebody else, quite oblivious of the fact that if either of them did anything of the kind he would cease to be an artist. A fresh mode of Beauty is absolutely distasteful to them, and whenever it appears they get so angry, and bewildered that they always use two stupid expressions -– one is that the work of art is grossly unintelligible; the other, that the work of art is grossly immoral. What they mean by these words seems to me to be this. When they say a work is grossly unintelligible, they mean that the artist has said or made a beautiful thing that is new; when they describe a work as grossly immoral, they mean that the artist has said or made a beautiful thing that is true. The former expression has reference to style; the latter to subject-matter. But they probably use the words very vaguely, as an ordinary mob will use ready-made paving-stones. There is not a single real poet or prose-writer of this century, for instance, on whom the British public have not solemnly conferred diplomas of immorality, and these diplomas practically take the place, with us, of what in France, is the formal recognition of an Academy of Letters, and fortunately make the establishment of such an institution quite unnecessary in England. Of course, the public are very reckless in their use of the word. That they should have called Wordsworth an immoral poet, was only to be expected. Wordsworth was a poet. But that they should have called Charles Kingsley an immoral novelist is extraordinary. Kingsley’s prose was not of a very fine quality. Still, there is the word, and they use it as best they can. An artist is, of course, not disturbed by it. The true artist is a man who believes absolutely in himself, because he is absolutely himself. But I can fancy that if an artist produced a work of art in England that immediately on its appearance was recognised by the public, through their medium, which is the public press, as a work that was quite intelligible and highly moral, he would begin to seriously question whether in its creation he had really been himself at all, and consequently whether the work was not quite unworthy of him, and either of a thoroughly second-rate order, or of no artistic value whatsoever.

Perhaps, however, I have wronged the public in limiting them to such words as ‘immoral,’ ‘unintelligible,’ ‘exotic,’ and ‘unhealthy.’ There is one other word that they use. That word is ‘morbid.’ They do not use it often. The meaning of the word is so simple that they are afraid of using it. Still, they use it sometimes, and, now and then, one comes across it in popular newspapers. It is, of course, a ridiculous word to apply to a work of art. For what is morbidity but a mood of emotion or a mode of thought that one cannot express? The public are all morbid, because the public can never find expression for anything. The artist is never morbid. He expresses everything. He stands outside his subject, and through its medium produces incomparable and artistic effects. To call an artist morbid because he deals with morbidity as his subject-matter is as silly as if one called Shakespeare mad because he wrote ‘King Lear.’

On the whole, an artist in England gains something by being attacked. His individuality is intensified. He becomes more completely himself. Of course, the attacks are very gross, very impertinent, and very contemptible. But then no artist expects grace from the vulgar mind, or style from the suburban intellect. Vulgarity and stupidity are two very vivid facts in modern life. One regrets them, naturally. But there they are. They are subjects for study, like everything else. And it is only fair to state, with regard to modern journalists, that they always apologise to one in private for what they have written against one in public.

Within the last few years two other adjectives, it may be mentioned, have been added to the very limited vocabulary of art-abuse that is at the disposal of the public. One is the word ‘unhealthy,’ the other is the word ‘exotic.’ The latter merely expresses the rage of the momentary mushroom against the immortal, entrancing, and exquisitely lovely orchid. It is a tribute, but a tribute of no importance. The word ‘unhealthy,’ however, admits of analysis. It is a rather interesting word. In fact, it is so interesting that the people who use it do not know what it means.

What does it mean? What is a healthy, or an unhealthy work of art? All terms that one applies to a work of art, provided that one applies them rationally, have reference to either its style or its subject, or to both together. From the point of view of style, a healthy work of art is one whose style recognises the beauty of the material it employs, be that material one of words or of bronze, of colour or of ivory, and uses that beauty as a factor in producing the aesthetic effect. From the point of view of subject, a healthy work of art is one the choice of whose subject is conditioned by the temperament of the artist, and comes directly out of it. In fine, a healthy work of art is one that has both perfection and personality. Of course, form and substance cannot be separated in a work of art; they are always one. But for purposes of analysis, and setting the wholeness of aesthetic impression aside for a moment, we can intellectually so separate them. An unhealthy work of art, on the other hand, is a work whose style is obvious, old-fashioned, and common, and whose subject is deliberately chosen, not because the artist has any pleasure in it, but because he thinks that the public will pay him for it. In fact, the popular novel that the public calls healthy is always a thoroughly unhealthy production; and what the public call an unhealthy novel is always a beautiful and healthy work of art.

I need hardly say that I am not, for a single moment, complaining that the public and the public press misuse these words. I do not see how, with their lack of comprehension of what Art is, they could possibly use them in the proper sense. I am merely pointing out the misuse; and as for the origin of the misuse and the meaning that lies behind it all, the explanation is very simple. It comes from the barbarous conception of authority. It comes from the natural inability of a community corrupted by authority to understand or appreciate Individualism. In a word, it comes from that monstrous and ignorant thing that is called Public Opinion, which, bad and well-meaning as it is when it tries to control action, is infamous and of evil meaning when it tries to control Thought or Art.

Indeed, there is much more to be said in favour of the physical force of the public than there is in favour of the public’s opinion. The former may be fine. The latter must be foolish. It is often said that force is no argument. That, however, entirely depends on what one wants to prove. Many of the most important problems of the last few centuries, such as the continuance of personal government in England, or of feudalism in France, have been solved entirely by means of physical force. The very violence of a revolution may make the public grand and splendid for a moment. It was a fatal day when the public discovered that the pen is mightier than the paving-stone, and can be made as offensive as the brickbat. They at once sought for the journalist, found him, developed him, and made him their industrious and well-paid servant. It is greatly to be regretted, for both their sakes. Behind the barricade there may be much that is noble and heroic. But what is there behind the leading-article but prejudice, stupidity, cant, and twaddle? And when these four are joined together they make a terrible force, and constitute the new authority.

In old days men had the rack. Now they have the press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralising. Somebody -– was it Burke? -- called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time, no doubt. But at the present moment it really is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism. In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs for ever and ever. Fortunately in America Journalism has carried its authority to the grossest and most brutal extreme. As a natural consequence it has begun to create a spirit of revolt. People are amused by it, or disgusted by it, according to their temperaments. But it is no longer the real force it was. It is not seriously treated. In England, Journalism, not, except in a few well-known instances, having been carried to such excesses of brutality, is still a great factor, a really remarkable power. The tyranny that it proposes to exercise over people’s private lives seems to me to be quite extraordinary. The fact is, that the public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands. In centuries before ours the public nailed the ears of journalists to the pump. That was quite hideous. In this century journalists have nailed their own ears to the keyhole. That is much worse. And what aggravates the mischief is that the journalists who are most to blame are not the amusing journalists who write for what are called Society papers. The harm is done by the serious, thoughtful, earnest journalists, who solemnly, as they are doing at present, will drag before the eyes of the public some incident in the private life of a great statesman, of a man who is a leader of political thought as he is a creator of political force, and invite the public to discuss the incident, to exercise authority in the matter, to give their views, and not merely to give their views, but to carry them into action, to dictate to the man upon all other points, to dictate to his party, to dictate to his country; in fact, to make themselves ridiculous, offensive, and harmful. The private lives of men and women should not be told to the public. The public have nothing to do with them at all. In France they manage these things better. There they do not allow the details of the trials that take place in the divorce courts to be published for the amusement or criticism of the public. All that the public are allowed to know is that the divorce has taken place and was granted on petition of one or other or both of the married parties concerned. In France, in fact, they limit the journalist, and allow the artist almost perfect freedom. Here we allow absolute freedom to the journalist, and entirely limit the artist. English public opinion, that is to say, tries to constrain and impede and warp the man who makes things that are beautiful in effect, and compels the journalist to retail things that are ugly, or disgusting, or revolting in fact, so that we have the most serious journalists in the world, and the most indecent newspapers. It is no exaggeration to talk of compulsion. There are possibly some journalists who take a real pleasure in publishing horrible things, or who, being poor, look to scandals as forming a sort of permanent basis for an income. But there are other journalists, I feel certain, men of education and cultivation, who really dislike publishing these things, who know that it is wrong to do so, and only do it because the unhealthy conditions under which their occupation is carried on oblige them to supply the public with what the public wants, and to compete with other journalists in making that supply as full and satisfying to the gross popular appetite as possible. It is a very degrading position for any body of educated men to be placed in, and I have no doubt that most of them feel it acutely.

However, let us leave what is really a very sordid side of the subject, and return to the question of popular control in the matter of Art, by which I mean Public Opinion dictating to the artist the form which he is to use, the mode in which he is to use it, and the materials with which he is to work. I have pointed out that the arts which have escaped best in England are the arts in which the public have not been interested. They are, however, interested in the drama, and as a certain advance has been made in the drama within the last ten or fifteen years, it is important to point out that this advance is entirely due to a few individual artists refusing to accept the popular want of taste as their standard, and refusing to regard Art as a mere matter of demand and supply. With his marvellous and vivid personality, with a style that has really a true colour-element in it, with his extraordinary power, not over mere mimicry but over imaginative and intellectual creation, Mr Irving, had his sole object been to give the public what they wanted, could have produced the commonest plays in the commonest manner, and made as much success and money as a man could possibly desire. But his object was not that. His object was to realise his own perfection as an artist, under certain conditions, and in certain forms of Art. At first he appealed to the few: now he has educated the many. He has created in the public both taste and temperament. The public appreciate his artistic success immensely. I often wonder, however, whether the public understand that that success is entirely due to the fact that he did not accept their standard, but realised his own. With their standard the Lyceum would have been a sort of second-rate booth, as some of the popular theatres in London are at present. Whether they understand it or not the fact however remains, that taste and temperament have, to a certain extent been created in the public, and that the public is capable of developing these qualities. The problem then is, why do not the public become more civilised? They have the capacity. What stops them?

The thing that stops them, it must be said again, is their desire to exercise authority over the artist and over works of art.
To certain theatres, such as the Lyceum and the Haymarket, the public seem to come in a proper mood. In both of these theatres there have been individual artists, who have succeeded in creating in their audiences -– and every theatre in London has its own audience -– the temperament to which Art appeals. And what is that temperament? It is the temperament of receptivity. That is all.

If a man approaches a work of art with any desire to exercise authority over it and the artist, he approaches it in such a spirit that he cannot receive any artistic impression from it at all. The work of art is to dominate the spectator: the spectator is not to dominate the work of art. The spectator is to be receptive. He is to be the violin on which the master is to play. And the more completely he can suppress his own silly views, his own foolish prejudices, his own absurd ideas of what Art should be, or should not be, the more likely he is to understand and appreciate the work of art in question. This is, of course, quite obvious in the case of the vulgar theatre-going public of English men and women. But it is equally true of what are called educated people. For an educated person’s ideas of Art are drawn naturally from what Art has been, whereas the new work of art is beautiful by being what Art has never been; and to measure it by the standard of the past is to measure it by a standard on the rejection of which its real perfection depends. A temperament capable of receiving, through an imaginative medium, and under imaginative conditions, new and beautiful impressions, is the only temperament that can appreciate a work of art. And true as this is in the case of the appreciation of sculpture and painting, it is still more true of the appreciation of such arts as the drama. For a picture and a statue are not at war with Time. They take no count of its succession. In one moment their unity may be apprehended. In the case of literature it is different. Time must be traversed before the unity of effect is realised. And so, in the drama, there may occur in the first act of the play something whose real artistic value may not be evident to the spectator till the third or fourth act is reached. Is the silly fellow to get angry and call out, and disturb the play, and annoy the artists? No. The honest man is to sit quietly, and know the delightful emotions of wonder, curiosity, and suspense. He is not to go to the play to lose a vulgar temper. He is to go to the play to realise an artistic temperament. He is to go to the play to gain an artistic temperament. He is not the arbiter of the work of art. He is one who is admitted to contemplate the work of art, and, if the work be fine, to forget in its contemplation and the egotism that mars him -– the egotism of his ignorance, or the egotism of his information. This point about the drama is hardly, I think, sufficiently recognised. I can quite understand that were ‘Macbeth’ produced for the first time before a modern London audience, many of the people present would strongly and vigorously object to the introduction of the witches in the first act, with their grotesque phrases and their ridiculous words. But when the play is over one realises that the laughter of the witches in ‘Macbeth’ is as terrible as the laughter of madness in ‘Lear,’ more terrible than the laughter of Iago in the tragedy of the Moor. No spectator of art needs a more perfect mood of receptivity than the spectator of a play. The moment he seeks to exercise authority he becomes the avowed enemy of Art and of himself. Art does not mind. It is he who suffers.

With the novel it is the same thing. Popular authority and the recognition of popular authority are fatal. Thackeray’s ‘Esmond’ is a beautiful work of art because he wrote it to please himself. In his other novels, in ‘Pendennis,’ in ‘Philip,’ in ‘Vanity Fair’ even, at times, he is too conscious of the public, and spoils his work by appealing directly to the sympathies of the public, or by directly mocking at them. A true artist takes no notice whatever of the public. The public are to him non-existent. He has no poppied or honeyed cakes through which to give the monster sleep or sustenance. He leaves that to the popular novelist. One incomparable novelist we have now in England, Mr George Meredith. There are better artists in France, but France has no one whose view of life is so large, so varied, so imaginatively true. There are tellers of stories in Russia who have a more vivid sense of what pain in fiction may be. But to him belongs philosophy in fiction. His people not merely live, but they live in thought. One can see them from myriad points of view. They are suggestive. There is soul in them and around them. They are interpretative and symbolic. And he who made them, those wonderful quickly-moving figures, made them for his own pleasure, and has never asked the public what they wanted, has never cared to know what they wanted, has never allowed the public to dictate to him or influence him in any way but has gone on intensifying his own personality, and producing his own individual work. At first none came to him. That did not matter. Then the few came to him. That did not change him. The many have come now. He is still the same. He is an incomparable novelist. With the decorative arts it is not different. The public clung with really pathetic tenacity to what I believe were the direct traditions of the Great Exhibition of international vulgarity, traditions that were so appalling that the houses in which people lived were only fit for blind people to live in. Beautiful things began to be made, beautiful colours came from the dyer’s hand, beautiful patterns from the artist’s brain, and the use of beautiful things and their value and importance were set forth. The public were really very indignant. They lost their temper. They said silly things. No one minded. No one was a whit the worse. No one accepted the authority of public opinion. And now it is almost impossible to enter any modern house without seeing some recognition of good taste, some recognition of the value of lovely surroundings, some sign of appreciation of beauty. In fact, people’s houses are, as a rule, quite charming nowadays. People have been to a very great extent civilised. It is only fair to state, however, that the extraordinary success of the revolution in house-decoration and furniture and the like has not really been due to the majority of the public developing a very fine taste in such matters. It has been chiefly due to the fact that the craftsmen of things so appreciated the pleasure of making what was beautiful, and woke to such a vivid consciousness of the hideousness and vulgarity of what the public had previously wanted, that they simply starved the public out. It would be quite impossible at the present moment to furnish a room as rooms were furnished a few years ago, without going for everything to an auction of second-hand furniture from some third-rate lodging-house. The things are no longer made. However they may object to it, people must nowadays have something charming in their surroundings. Fortunately for them, their assumption of authority in these art-matters came to entire grief.

It is evident, then, that all authority in such things is bad. People sometimes inquire what form of government is most suitable for an artist to live under. To this question there is only one answer. The form of government that is most suitable to the artist is no government at all. Authority over him and his art is ridiculous. It has been stated that under despotisms artists have produced lovely work. This is not quite so. Artists have visited despots, not as subjects to be tyrannised over, but as wandering wonder-makers, as fascinating vagrant personalities, to be entertained and charmed and suffered to be at peace, and allowed to create. There is this to be said in favour of the despot, that he, being an individual, may have culture, while the mob, being a monster, has none. One who is an Emperor and King may stoop down to pick up a brush for a painter, but when the democracy stoops down it is merely to throw mud. And yet the democracy have not so far to stoop as the emperor. In fact, when they want to throw mud they have not to stoop at all. But there is no necessity to separate the monarch from the mob; all authority is equally bad.

There are three kinds of despots. There is the despot who tyrannises over the body. There is the despot who tyrannises over the soul. There is the despot who tyrannises over the soul and body alike. The first is called the Prince. The second is called the Pope. The third is called the People. The Prince may be cultivated. Many Princes have been. Yet in the Prince there is danger. One thinks of Dante at the bitter feast in Verona, of Tasso in Ferrara’s madman’s cell. It is better for the artist not to live with Princes. The Pope may be cultivated. Many Popes have been; the bad Popes have been. The bad Popes loved Beauty, almost as passionately, nay, with as much passion as the good Popes hated Thought. To the wickedness of the Papacy humanity owes much. The goodness of the Papacy owes a terrible debt to humanity. Yet, though the Vatican has kept the rhetoric of its thunders, and lost the rod of its lightning, it is better for the artist not to live with Popes. It was a Pope who said of Cellini to a conclave of Cardinals that common laws and common authority were not made for men such as he; but it was a Pope who thrust Cellini into prison, and kept him there till he sickened with rage, and created unreal visions for himself, and saw the gilded sun enter his room, and grew so enamoured of it that he sought to escape, and crept out from tower to tower, and falling through dizzy air at dawn, maimed himself, and was by a vine-dresser covered with vine leaves, and carried in a cart to one who, loving beautiful things, had care of him. There is danger in Popes. And as for the People, what of them and their authority? Perhaps of them and their authority one has spoken enough. Their authority is a thing blind, deaf, hideous, grotesque, tragic, amusing, serious, and obscene. It is impossible for the artist to live with the People. All despots bribe. The people bribe and brutalise. Who told them to exercise authority? They were made to live, to listen, and to love. Someone has done them a great wrong. They have marred themselves by imitation of their inferiors. They have taken the sceptre of the Prince. How should they use it? They have taken the triple tiara of the Pope. How should they carry its burden? They are as a clown whose heart is broken. They are as a priest whose soul is not yet born. Let all who love Beauty pity them. Though they themselves love not Beauty, yet let them pity themselves. Who taught them the trick of tyranny?

There are many other things that one might point out. One might point out how the Renaissance was great, because it sought to solve no social problem, and busied itself not about such things, but suffered the individual to develop freely, beautifully, and naturally, and so had great and individual artists, and great and individual men. One might point out how Louis XIV., by creating the modern state, destroyed the individualism of the artist, and made things monstrous in their monotony of repetition, and contemptible in their conformity to rule, and destroyed throughout all France all those fine freedoms of expression that had made tradition new in beauty, and new modes one with antique form.
But the past is of no importance. The present is of no importance. It is with the future that we have to deal. For the past is what man should not have been. The present is what man ought not to be. The future is what artists are.

It will, of course, be said that such a scheme as is set forth here is quite unpractical, and goes against human nature. This is perfectly true. It is unpractical, and it goes against human nature. This is why it is worth carrying out, and that is why one proposes it. For what is a practical scheme? A practical scheme is either a scheme that is already in existence, or a scheme that could be carried out under existing conditions. But it is exactly the existing conditions that one objects to; and any scheme that could accept these conditions is wrong and foolish. The conditions will be done away with, and human nature will change. The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes. Change is the one quality we can predicate of it. The systems that fail are those that rely on the permanency of human nature, and not on its growth and development. The error of Louis XIV. was that he thought human nature would always be the same. The result of his error was the French Revolution. It was an admirable result. All the results of the mistakes of governments are quite admirable.

It is to be noted also that Individualism does not come to man with any sickly cant about duty, which merely means doing what other people want because they want it; or any hideous cant about self-sacrifice, which is merely a survival of savage mutilation. In fact, it does not come to man with any claims upon him at all. It comes naturally and inevitably out of man. It is the point to which all development tends. It is the differentiation to which all organisms grow. It is the perfection that is inherent in every mode of life, and towards which every mode of life quickens. And so Individualism exercises no compulsion over man. On the contrary, it says to man that he should suffer no compulsion to be exercised over him. It does not try to force people to be good. It knows that people are good when they are let alone. Man will develop Individualism out of himself. Man is now so developing Individualism. To ask whether Individualism is practical is like asking whether Evolution is practical. Evolution is the law of life, and there is no evolution except towards Individualism. Where this tendency is not expressed, it is a case of artificially-arrested growth, or of disease, or of death.

Individualism will also be unselfish and unaffected. It has been pointed out that one of the results of the extraordinary tyranny of authority is that words are absolutely distorted from their proper and simple meaning, and are used to express the obverse of their right signification. What is true about Art is true about Life. A man is called affected, nowadays, if he dresses as he likes to dress. But in doing that he is acting in a perfectly natural manner. Affectation, in such matters, consists in dressing according to the views of one’s neighbour, whose views, as they are the views of the majority, will probably be extremely stupid. Or a man is called selfish if he lives in the manner that seems to him most suitable for the full realisation of his own personality; if, in fact, the primary aim of his life is self-development. But this is the way in which everyone should live. Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognises infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it. It is not selfish to think for oneself. A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. It is grossly selfish to require of ones neighbour that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he cannot think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind from him. A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses. Under Individualism people will be quite natural and absolutely unselfish, and will know the meanings of the words, and realise them in their free, beautiful lives. Nor will men be egotistic as they are now. For the egotist is he who makes claims upon others, and the Individualist will not desire to do that. It will not give him pleasure. When man has realised Individualism, he will also realise sympathy and exercise it freely and spontaneously. Up to the present man has hardly cultivated sympathy at all. He has merely sympathy with pain, and sympathy with pain is not the highest form of sympathy. All sympathy is fine, but sympathy with suffering is the least fine mode. It is tainted with egotism. It is apt to become morbid. There is in it a certain element of terror for our own safety. We become afraid that we ourselves might be as the leper or as the blind, and that no man would have care of us. It is curiously limiting, too. One should sympathise with the entirety of life, not with life’s sores and maladies merely, but with life’s joy and beauty and energy and health and freedom. The wider sympathy is, of course, the more difficult. It requires more unselfishness. Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature -– it requires, in fact, the nature of a true Individualist -– to sympathise with a friend’s success.

In the modern stress of competition and struggle for place, such sympathy is naturally rare, and is also very much stifled by the immoral ideal of uniformity of type and conformity to rule which is so prevalent everywhere, and is perhaps most obnoxious in England.

Sympathy with pain there will, of course, always be. It is one of the first instincts of man. The animals which are individual, the higher animals, that is to say, share it with us. But it must be remembered that while sympathy with joy intensifies the sum of joy in the world, sympathy with pain does not really diminish the amount of pain. It may make man better able to endure evil, but the evil remains. Sympathy with consumption does not cure consumption; that is what Science does. And when Socialism has solved the problem of poverty, and Science solved the problem of disease, the area of the sentimentalists will be lessened, and the sympathy of man will be large, healthy, and spontaneous. Man will have joy in the contemplation of the joyous life of others.

For it is through joy that the Individualism of the future will develop itself. Christ made no attempt to reconstruct society, and consequently the Individualism that he preached to man could be realised only through pain or in solitude. The ideals that we owe to Christ are the ideals of the man who abandons society entirely, or of the man who resists society absolutely. But man is naturally social. Even the Thebaid became peopled at last. And though the cenobite realises his personality, it is often an impoverished personality that he so realises. Upon the other hand, the terrible truth that pain is a mode through which man may realise himself exercises a wonderful fascination over the world. Shallow speakers and shallow thinkers in pulpits and on platforms often talk about the world’s worship of pleasure, and whine against it. But it is rarely in the world’s history that its ideal has been one of joy and beauty. The worship of pain has far more often dominated the world. Mediaevalism, with its saints and martyrs, its love of self-torture, its wild passion for wounding itself, its gashing with knives, and its whipping with rods -– Mediaevalism is real Christianity, and the mediaeval Christ is the real Christ. When the Renaissance dawned upon the world, and brought with it the new ideals of the beauty of life and the joy of living, men could not understand Christ. Even Art shows us that. The painters of the Renaissance drew Christ as a little boy playing with another boy in a palace or a garden, or lying back in his mother’s arms, smiling at her, or at a flower, or at a bright bird; or as a noble, stately figure moving nobly through the world; or as a wonderful figure rising in a sort of ecstasy from death to life. Even when they drew him crucified they drew him as a beautiful God on whom evil men had inflicted suffering. But he did not preoccupy them much. What delighted them was to paint the men and women whom they admired, and to show the loveliness of this lovely earth. They painted many religious pictures –- in fact, they painted far too many, and the monotony of type and motive is wearisome, and was bad for art. It was the result of the authority of the public in art-matters, and is to be deplored. But their soul was not in the subject. Raphael was a great artist when he painted his portrait of the Pope. When he painted his Madonnas and infant Christs, he is not a great artist at all. Christ had no message for the Renaissance, which was wonderful because it brought an ideal at variance with his, and to find the presentation of the real Christ we must go to mediaeval art. There he is one maimed and marred; one who is not comely to look on, because Beauty is a joy; one who is not in fair raiment, because that may be a joy also: he is a beggar who has a marvellous soul; he is a leper whose soul is divine; he needs neither property nor health; he is a God realising his perfection through pain.

The evolution of man is slow. The injustice of men is great. It was necessary that pain should be put forward as a mode of self-realisation. Even now, in some places in the world, the message of Christ is necessary. No one who lived in modern Russia could possibly realise his perfection except by pain. A few Russian artists have realised themselves in Art; in a fiction that is mediaeval in character, because its dominant note is the realisation of men through suffering. But for those who are not artists, and to whom there is no mode of life but the actual life of fact, pain is the only door to perfection. A Russian who lives happily under the present system of government in Russia must either believe that man has no soul, or that, if he has, it is not worth developing. A Nihilist who rejects all authority, because he knows authority to be evil, and welcomes all pain, because through that he realises his personality, is a real Christian. To him the Christian ideal is a true thing.

And yet, Christ did not revolt against authority. He accepted the imperial authority of the Roman Empire and paid tribute. He endured the ecclesiastical authority of the Jewish Church, and would not repel its violence by any violence of his own. He had, as I said before, no scheme for the reconstruction of society. But the modern world has schemes. It proposes to do away with poverty and the suffering that it entails. It desires to get rid of pain, and the suffering that pain entails. It trusts to Socialism and to Science as its methods. What it aims at is an Individualism expressing itself through joy. This Individualism will be larger, fuller, lovelier than any Individualism has ever been. Pain is not the ultimate mode of perfection. It is merely provisional and a protest. It has reference to wrong, unhealthy, unjust surroundings. When the wrong, and the disease, and the injustice are removed, it will have no further place. It will have done its work. It was a great work, but it is almost over. Its sphere lessens every day.

Nor will man miss it. For what man has sought for is, indeed, neither pain nor pleasure, but simply Life. Man has sought to live intensely, fully, perfectly. When he can do so without exercising restraint on others, or suffering it ever, and his activities are all pleasurable to him, he will be saner, healthier, more civilised, more himself. Pleasure is Nature’s test, her sign of approval. When man is happy, he is in harmony with himself and his environment. The new Individualism, for whose service Socialism, whether it wills it or not, is working, will be perfect harmony. It will be what the Greeks sought for, but could not, except in Thought, realise completely, because they had slaves, and fed them; it will be what the Renaissance sought for, but could not realise completely except in Art, because they had slaves, and starved them. It will be complete, and through it each man will attain to his perfection. The new Individualism is the new Hellenism.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:21 am

Malthusian League
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 8/5/20

The Malthusian League was a British organisation which advocated the practice of contraception and the education of the public about the importance of family planning. It was established in 1877 and was dissolved in 1927. The organisation was secular, utilitarian, individualistic, and "above all malthusian." [1] The organisation maintained that it was concerned about the poverty of the British working class and held that over-population was the chief cause of poverty.


The league was initially founded during the "Knowlton trial" of Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh in July 1877.[2] They were prosecuted for publishing Charles Knowlton's Fruits of Philosophy which explained various methods of birth control.[3] The League was formed as a permanent body to advocate for the elimination of penalties for promoting birth control as well as to promote public education in matters of contraception. The trial demonstrated that the public was interested in the topic of contraception and sales of the book surged during the trial.[4]


The first president was Charles Robert Drysdale, who was succeeded by his free union partner Alice Vickery. The league initially restricted itself primarily to an "educative role" which emphasised the importance of Malthus' economic arguments rather than practical information about birth control. The league had an increasingly socially and economically conservative tone as the 19th century wore on. Thus some earlier agreement between Malthusians and social reformers was replaced by mutual distrust. The league believed that the sole cause of poverty was an excess of births, and therefore opposed socialism, considered strikes and reforms of labour laws to be "useless."[4] League members were primarily middle class and did not make many serious efforts to communicate with the working class aside from some debates with socialists during the 1880s. Although the league doctrine as a whole was hostile to socialism, some members were indeed socialists who were sympathetic to arguments in favour of birth control. The league also maintained some overlap with the women's rights movement, which was concerned with birth control. The League began plans for a birth control clinic in 1917 but these stalled until they received funds from the philanthropist Sir John Sumner and finally the clinic opened on 9 November 1921 at 153a East Street, Walworth with Norman Haire as their honorary medical officer, three afternoons a week. Marie Stopes and her husband had opened their clinic nine months earlier. Stopes’ clinic was the first in the British Empire (but not the first in the world) and the League always emphasised that theirs was the first English clinic where birth control instruction was given under medical supervision.[5]

International Movements

Similar leagues were founded in several other European countries including Germany, France, and the Netherlands in the following years. In 1892, the Dutch league became the first to set up a medical clinic to provide information directly to the poor.[6]

The period of the league's activity coincided with a substantial drop in the birth rate in Britain, and many European countries. Some have credited its activities, but others have disputed this conclusion, citing the general fall in birth rates even in countries without active league activity.[7]

The Malthusian League forms part of the society within Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World.

See also

• List of population concern organizations


1. Simms, Madeleine (27 January 1977). "Revie w: A History of the Malthusian League 1877-1927". New Scientist.
2. D'Arcy, F. (November 1977). "The Malthusian League and the resistance to birth control propaganda in late Victorian Britain". Population Studies: A Journal of Demography. 31 (3): 429–448. doi:10.1080/00324728.1977.10412759. JSTOR 2173367.
3. Knowlton, Charles (October 1891) [1840]. Besant, Annie; Bradlaugh, Charles (eds.). Fruits of philosophy: a treatise on the population question. San Francisco: Reader's Library. OCLC 626706770. A publication about birth control. View original copy.
4. McLaren, Angus (1978). Birth control in nineteenth-century England. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9780856645044.
5. Diana Wyndham. (2012) "Norman Haire and the Study of Sex". Foreword by the Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG. (Sydney: "Sydney University Press)"., p. 77
6. Sanger, Margaret (2003). The selected papers of Margaret Sanger, Volume 1. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 9780252027376.
7. McLaren, Angus (1978). Birth control in nineteenth-century England. Taylor & Francis. p. 107. ISBN 9780856645044.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Aug 07, 2020 6:21 am

Part 1 of 2

The Decay of Lying
by Oscar Wilde
1905 [1889]

Persons: Cyril and Vivian.
Scene: the library of a country house in Nottinghamshire.

CYRIL (coming in through the open window from the terrace). My dear Vivian, don't coop yourself up all day in the library. It is a perfectly lovely afternoon. The air is exquisite. There is a mist upon the woods like the purple bloom upon a plum. Let us go and lie on the grass, and smoke cigarettes, and enjoy Nature.

VIVIAN. Enjoy Nature! I am glad to say that I have entirely lost that faculty. People tell us that Art makes us love Nature more than we loved her before; that it reveals her secrets to us; and that after a careful study of Corot and Constable we see things in her that had escaped our observation. My own experience is that the more we study Art, the less we care for Mature. What Art really reveals to us is Nature's lack of design, her curious crudities, her extraordinary monotony, her absolutely unfinished condition. Nature has good intentions, of course, but, as Aristotle once said, she cannot carry them out. When I look at a landscape I cannot help seeing all its defects. It is fortunate for us, however, that Nature is so imperfect, as otherwise we should have had no art at all. Art is our spirited protest, our gallant attempt to teach Nature her proper place. As for the infinite variety of Nature, that is a pure myth. It is not to be found in Nature herself. It resides in the imagination, or fancy, or cultivated blindness of the man who looks at her.

CYRIL. Well, you need not look at the landscape. You can lie on the grass and smoke and talk.

VIVIAN. But Nature is so uncomfortable. Grass is hard and dumpy and damp, and full of dreadful black insects. Why, even Morris' poorest workman could make you a more comfortable seat than the whole of Nature can. Nature pales before the furniture of "the street which from Oxford has borrowed its name," as the poet you love so much once vilely phrased it. I don't complain. If Nature had been comfortable, mankind would never have invented architecture, and I prefer houses to the open air. In a house we all feel of the proper proportions. Everything is subordinated to us, fashioned for our use and our pleasure. Egotism itself, which is so necessary to a proper sense of human dignity' is entirely the result of indoor life. Out of doors one becomes abstract and impersonal. One's individuality absolutely leaves one. And then

Nature is so indifferent, so unappreciative. Whenever I am walking in the park here, I always feel that I am no more to her than the cattle that browse on the slope, or the burdock that blooms in the ditch. Nothing is more evident than that Nature hates Mind
. Thinking is the most unhealthy thing in the world, and people die of it just as they die of any other disease. Fortunately, in England at any rate, thought is not catching. Our splendid physique as a people is entirely due to our national stupidity. I only hope we shall be able to keep this great historic bulwark of our happiness for many years to come; but I am afraid that we are beginning to be overeducated; at least everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching -- that is really what our enthusiasm for education has come to. In the meantime, you had better go back to your wearisome, uncomfortable Nature, and leave me to correct my proofs.

CYRIL. Writing an article! That is not very consistent after what you have just said.

VIVIAN Who wants to be consistent? The dullard and the doctrinaire, the tedious people who carry out their principles to the bitter end of action, to the reductio ad absurdum of practice. Not I. Like Emerson, I write over the door of my library the word " Whim." Besides, my article is really a most salutary and valuable warning. If it is attended to, there may be a new Renaissance of Art.

CYRIL. What is the subject?

VIVIAN. I intend to call it "The Decay of Lying: A Protest."

CYRIL. Lying! I should have thought that our politicians kept up that habit.

VIVIAN. I assure you that they do not. They never rise beyond the level of misrepresentation, and actually condescend to prove, to discuss, to argue. How different from the temper of the true liar, with his frank, fearless statements, his superb responsibility, his healthy, natural disdain of proof of any kind! After all, what is a fine lie? Simply that which is its own evidence. If a man is sufficiently unimaginative to produce evidence in support of a lie, he might just as well speak the truth at once. No, the politicians won't do. Something may, perhaps, be urged on behalf of the Bar.
The mantle of the Sophist has fallen on its members. Their feigned ardours and unreal rhetoric are delightful. They can make the worse appear the better cause, as though they were fresh from Leontine schools, and have been known to wrest from reluctant juries triumphant verdicts of acquittal for their clients, even when those clients, as often happens, were clearly and unmistakeably innocent. But they are briefed by the prosaic, and are not ashamed to appeal to precedent. In spite of their endeavours, the truth will out. Newspapers, even, have degenerated. They may now be absolutely relied upon. One feels it as one wades through their columns. It is always the unreadable that occurs. I am afraid that there is not much to be said in favour of either the lawyer or the journalist. Besides what I am pleading for is Lying in art. Shall I read you what I have written? It might do you a great deal of good.

CYRIL. Certainly, if you give, me a cigarette. Thanks. By the way, what magazine do you intend it for?

VIVIAN. For the Retrospective Review. I think I told you that the elect had revived it.

CYRIL. Whom do you mean by "the elect"?

VIVIAN. Oh, The Tired Hedonists of course. It is a club to which I belong. We are supposed to wear faded roses in our buttonholes when we meet, and to have a sort of cult for Domitian. I am afraid you are not eligible. You are too fond of simple pleasures.

CYRIL. I should be blackballed on the ground of animal spirits, I suppose?

VIVIAN. Probably. Besides, you are little too old. We don't admit anybody who is of the usual age.

CYRIL. Well, I should fancy you are all a good deal bored with each other.

VIVIAN. We are. That is one of the objects of the club. Now, if you promise not to interrupt too often, I will read you my article.

CYRIL. You will find me all attention.

VIVIAN (reading in a very clear, musical voice). "THE DECAY OF LYING: A PROTEST. -- One of the chief causes that can be assigned for the curiously commonplace character of most of the literature of our age is undoubtedly the decay of Lying as an art, a science, and a social pleasure. The ancient historians gave us delightful fiction in the form of fact; the modern novelist presents us with dull facts under the guise of fiction. The BlueBook is rapidly becoming his ideal both for method and manner. He has his tedious ' document humain,' his miserable little 'coin de la creation,' into which he peers with his microscope. He is to be found at the Librairie Nationale, or at the British Museum, shamelessly reading up his subject. He has not even the courage of other people's ideas, but insists on going directly to life for everything' and ultimately, between encyclopaedias and personal experience, he comes to the ground, having drawn his types from the family circle or from the weekly washerwoman, and having acquired an amount of useful information from which never, even in his most meditative moments, can he thoroughly free himself.

"The loss that results to literature in general from this false ideal of our time can hardly be overestimated. People have a careless way of talking about a 'born liar,' just as they talk about a 'born poet.' But in both cases they are wrong. Lying and poetry are arts -- arts, as Plato saw, not unconnected with each other -- and they require the most careful study, the most disinterested devotion. Indeed, they have their technique, just as the more material arts of painting and sculpture have, their subtle secrets of form and colour, their craft mysteries, their deliberate artistic methods. As one knows the poet by his fine music, so one can recognize the liar by his rich rhythmic utterance, and in neither case will the casual inspiration of the moment suffice. Here, as elsewhere, practice must precede perfection. But in modern days while the fashion of writing poetry has become far too common, and should, if possible, be discouraged, the fashion of lying has almost fallen into disrepute. Many a young man starts in life with a natural gift for exaggeration which, if nurtured in congenial and sympathetic surroundings, or by the imitation of the best models, might grow into something really great and wonderful. But, as a rule, he comes to nothing. He either falls into careless habits of accuracy "

CYRIL. My dear fellow!

VIVIAN. Please don't interrupt in the middle of a sentence. "He either falls into careless habits of accuracy, or takes to frequenting the society of the aged and the well-informed. Both things are equally fatal to his imagination, as indeed they would be fatal to the imagination of anybody, and in a short time he develops a morbid and unhealthy faculty of truth-telling, begins to verify all statements made in his presence, has no hesitation in contradicting people who are much younger than himself, and often ends by writing novels which are so like life that no one can possibly believe in their probability. This is no isolated instance that we are giving. It is simply one example out of many; and if something cannot be done to check, or at least to modify, our monstrous worship of facts, Art will become sterile and Beauty will pass away from the land.

"Even Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson, that delightful master of delicate and fanciful prose, is tainted with this modern vice, for we know positively no other name for it. There is such a thing as robbing a story of its reality by trying to make it too true, and The Black Arrow is so inartistic as not to contain a single anachronism to boast of, while the transformation of Dr. Jekyll reads dangerously like an experiment out of the Lancet. As for Mr. Rider Haggard, who really has, or had once, the makings of a perfectly magnificent liar, he is now so afraid of being suspected of genius that when he does tell us anything marvellous, he feels bound to invent a personal reminiscence, and to put it into a footnote as a kind of cowardly corroboration. Nor are our other novelists much better. Mr. Henry James writes fiction as if it were a painful duty, and wastes upon mean motives and imperceptible 'points of view' his neat literary style, his felicitous phrases, his swift and caustic satire. Mr. Hall Caine, it is true, aims at the grandiose, but then he writes at the top of his voice. He is so loud that one cannot hear what he says. Mr. James Payn is an adept in the art of concealing what is not worth finding. He hunts down the obvious with the enthusiasm of a shortsighted detective. As one turns over the pages, the suspense of 'the author becomes almost unbearable. The horses of Mr. William Black's phaeton do not soar towards the sun. They merely frighten the sky at evening into violent chromolithographic effects. On seeing them approach, the peasants take refuge in dialect. Mrs. Oliphant prattles pleasantly about curates, lawn-tennis parties, domesticity, and other wearisome things. Mr. Marion Crawford has immolated himself upon the altar of local colour. He is like the lady in the French comedy who keeps talking about 'le beau ciel d'Italie.' Besides, he has fallen into a bad habit of uttering moral platitudes. He is always telling us that to be good is to be good, and that to be bad is to be wicked. At times he is almost edifying. Robert Elsmere is of course a masterpiece -- a masterpiece of the 'genre ennuyeux,' the one form of literature that the English people seem to thoroughly enjoy. A thoughtful young friend of ours once told us that it reminded him of the sort of conversation that goes on at a meat tea in the house of a serious Noncomformist family, and we can quite believe it. Indeed it is only in England that such a book could be produced. England is the home of lost ideas. As for that great and daily increasing school of novelists for whom the sun always rises in the East-End, the only thing that can be said about them is that they find life crude, and leave it raw.

"In France, though nothing so deliberately tedious as Robert Elsmere has been produced, things are not much better. M. Guy de Maupassant, with his keen mordant irony and his hard vivid style, strips life of the few poor rags that still cover her, and shows us foul sore and festering wound. He writes lurid little tragedies in which everybody is ridiculous; bitter comedies at which one cannot laugh for very tears. M. Zola, true to the lofty principle that he lays down in one of his pronunciamientos on literature, ' L'homme de Genie n'a jamais d'esprit,' is determined to show that, if he has not got genius, he can at least be dull. And how well he succeeds! He is not without power. Indeed at times, as in Germinal, there is something almost epic in his work. But his work is entirely wrong from beginning to end, and wrong not on the ground of morals, but on the ground of art. From any ethical standpoint it is just what it should be. The author is perfectly truthful, and describes things exactly as they happen. What more can any moralist desire? We have no sympathy at all with the moral indignation of our time against M. Zola. It is simply the indignation of Tartuffe on being exposed. But from the standpoint of art, what can be said in favour of the author of L'Assommoir, [Vane, and PotBouille? Nothing. Mr. Ruskin once described the characters in George Eliot's novels as being like the sweepings of a Pentonville omnibus, but M. Zola's characters are much worse. They have their dreary vices, and their drearier virtues. The record of their lives is absolutely without interest. Who cares what happens to them? In literature we require distinction, charm, beauty, and imaginative power. We don't want to be harrowed and disgusted with an account of the doings of the lower orders. M. Daudet is better. He has wit, a light touch, and an amusing style. But he has lately committed literary suicide. Nobody can possibly care for Delobelle with his 'II faut lutter pour l'art,' or for Valmajour with his eternal refrain about the nightingale, or for the poet in Jack with his 'moss cruels,' now that we have learned from Vingt Ans de ma Vie Litéraire that these characters were taken directly from life. To us they seem to have suddenly lost all their vitality, all the few qualities they ever possessed. The only real people are the people who never existed, and if a novelist is base enough to go to life for his personages he should at least pretend that they are creations, and not boast of them as copies. The justification of a character in a novel is not that other persons are what they are, but that the author is what he is. Otherwise the novel is not a work of art. As for M Paul Bourget, the master of the 'roman psychologique,' he commits the error of imagining that the men and women of modern life are capable of being infinitely analysed for an innumerable series of chapters. In point of fact what is interesting about people in good society -- and M. Bourget rarely moves out of the Faubourg St. Germain, except to come to London, -- is the mask that each one of them wears, not the reality that lies behind the mask. It is a humiliating confession, but we are all of us made out of the same stuff. In Falstaff there is something of Hamlet, in Hamlet there is not a little of Falstaff. The fat knight has his moods of melancholy, and the young prince his moments of coarse humour. Where we differ from each other is purely in accidentals: in dress, manner, tone of voice, religious opinions, personal appearance, tricks of habit, and the like. The more one analyses people, the more all reasons for analysis disappear. Sooner or later one comes to that dreadful universal thing called human nature. Indeed, as any one who has ever worked among the poor knows only too well, the brotherhood of man is no mere poet's dream, it is a most depressing and humiliating reality; and if a writer insists upon analysing the upper classes, he might just as well write of matchgirls and costermongers at once." However, my dear Cyril, I will not detain you any further just here. I quite admit that modern novels have many good points. All I insist on is that, as a class, they are quite unreadable.

CYRIL. That is certainly a very grave qualification, but I must say that I think you are rather unfair in some of your strictures. I like The Deemster, and The Daughter of Heth, and Le Disciple, and Mr. Isaacs, and as for Robert Elsmere I am quite devoted to it.

Not that I can look upon it as a serious work. As a statement of the problems that confront the earnest Christian it is ridiculous and antiquated. It is simply Arnold's Literature and Dogma with the literature left out. It is as much behind the age as Paley's Evidences, or Colenso's method of Biblical exegesis. Nor could anything be less impressive than the unfortunate hero gravely heralding a dawn that rose long ago, and so completely missing its true significance that he proposes to carry on the business of the old firm under the new name. On the other hand, it contains several clever caricatures, and a heap of delightful quotations, and Green's philosophy very pleasantly sugars the somewhat bitter pill of the author's fiction. I also cannot help expressing my surprise that you have said nothing about the two novelists whom you are always reading, Balzac and George Meredith. Surely they are realists, both of them?

VIVIAN. Ah! Meredith! Who can define him? His style is chaos illumined by flashes of lightning. As a writer he has mastered everything except language: as a novelist he can do everything, except tell a story: as an artist he is everything, except articulate. Somebody in Shakespeare -- Touchstone, I think -- talks about a man who is always breaking his shins over his own wit, and it seems to me that this might serve as the basis for a criticism of Meredith's method. But whatever he is, he is not a realist. Or rather I would say that he is a child of realism who is not on speaking terms with his father. By deliberate choice he has made himself a romanticist. He has refused to bow the knee to Baal, and after all, even if the man's fine spirit did not revolt against the noisy assertions of realism, his style would be quite sufficient of itself to keep life at a respectful distance. By its means he has planted round his garden a hedge full of thorns, and red with wonderful roses. As for Balzac, he was a most wonderful combination of the artistic temperament with the scientific spirit. The latter he bequeathed to his disciples: the former was entirely his own. The difference between such a book as M. Zola's L'Assommoir and Balzac's Illusions Perdues is the difference between unimaginative realism and imaginative reality. "All Balzac's characters," said Baudelaire, "are gifted with the same ardour of life that animated himself. All his fictions are as deeply coloured as dreams. Each mind is a weapon loaded to the muzzle with will. The very scullions have genius." A steady course of Balzac reduces our living friends to shadows, and our acquaintances to the shadows of shades. His characters have a kind of fervent fiery-coloured existence. They dominate us, and defy scepticism. One of the greatest tragedies of my life is the death of Lucien de Rubempre'. It is a grief from which I have never been able to completely rid myself. It haunts me in my moments of pleasure. I remember it when I laugh. But Balzac is no more a realist than Holbein was. He created life, he did not copy it. I admit; however, that he set far too high a value on modernity of form and that, consequently, there is no book of his that, as an artistic masterpiece, can rank with Salammbô or Esmond, or The Cloister and the Hearth, or the Vicomte de Bragelonne.

CYRIL. Do you object to modernity of form, then?

VIVIAN. Yes. It is a huge price to pay for a very poor result. Pure modernity of form is always somewhat vulgarising. It cannot help being so. The public imagine that, because they are interested in their immediate surroundings, Art should be interested in them also, and should take them as her subject matter. But the mere fact that they are interested in these things makes them unsuitable subjects for Art. The only beautiful things, as somebody once said, are the things that do not concern us. As long as a thing is useful or necessary to us, or affects us in any way, either for pain or for pleasure, or appeals strongly to our sympathies, or is a vital part of the environment in which we live, it is outside the proper sphere of art. To art's subject-matter we should be more or less indifferent. We should, at any rate, have no preferences, no prejudices, no partisan feeling of any kind. It is exactly because Hecuba is nothing to us that her sorrows are such an admirable motive for a tragedy. I do not know anything in the whole history of literature sadder than the artistic career of Charles Reade. He wrote one beautiful book, The Cloister and the Hearth, a book as much above Romola as Romola is above Daniel Deronda, and wasted the rest of his life in a foolish attempt to be modern, to draw public attention to the state of our convict prisons, and the management of our private lunatic asylums. Charles Dickens was depressing enough in all conscience when he tried to arouse our sympathy for the victims of the poor-law administration; but Charles Reade, an artist, a scholar, a man with a true sense of beauty, raging and roaring over the abuses of contemporary life like a common pamphleteer or a sensational journalist, is really a sight for the angels to weep over. Believe me, my dear Cyril, modernity of form and modernity of subject matter are entirely and absolutely wrong. We have mistaken the common livery of the age for the vesture of the Muses' and spend our days in the sordid streets and hideous suburbs of our vile cities when we should be out on the hillside with Apollo. Certainly we are a degraded race, and have sold our birthright for a mess of facts.

CYRIL. There is something in what you say, and there is no doubt that whatever amusement we may find in reading a purely modern novel, we have rarely any artistic pleasure in rereading it. And this is perhaps the best rough test of what is literature and what is not. If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use reading it at all. But what do you say about the return to Life and Nature? This is the panacea that is always being recommended to us.

VIVIAN. I will read you what I say on that subject. The passage comes later on in the article, but I may as well give it to you now: --

"The popular cry of our time is ' Let us return to Life and Nature; they will recreate Art for us, and send the red blood coursing through her veins; they will shoe her feet with swiftness and make her hand strong.' But, alas! we are mistaken in our amiable and weII-meaning efforts. Nature is always behind the age. And as for Life, she is the solvent that breaks up Art, the enemy that lays waste her house."

CYRIL. What do you mean by saying that Nature is always behind the age?

VIVIAN. Well, perhaps that is rather cryptic. What I mean is this. If we take Nature to mean natural simple instinct as opposed to self-conscious culture, the work produced under this influence is always old-fashioned, antiquated, and out of date. One touch of Nature may make the whole world kin, but two touches of Nature will destroy any work of Art. If, on the other hand, we regard Nature as the collection of phenomena external to man, people only discover in her what they bring to her. She has no suggestions of her own. Wordsworth went to the lakes, but he was never a lake poet. He found in stones the sermons he had already hidden there. He went moralizing about the district, but his good work was produced when he returned, not to Nature but to poetry. Poetry gave him Laodamia, and the fine sonnets, and the great Ode, such as it is. Nature gave him Martha Ray and Peter Bell, and the address to Mr. Wilkinson's spade.

CYRIL. I think that view might be questioned. I am rather inclined to believe in the "impulse from a vernal wood," though of course the artistic value of such an impulse depends entirely on the kind of temperament that receives it, so that the return to Nature would come to mean simply the advance to a great personality. You would agree with that, I fancy. However, proceed with your article.

VIVIAN (reading). "Art begins with abstract decoration with purely imaginative and pleasurable work dealing with what is unreal and non existent. This is the first stage. Then Life becomes fascinated with this new wonder, and asks to be admitted into the charmed circle. Art takes life as part of her rough material, recreates it, and refashions it in fresh forms, is absolutely indifferent to fact, invents, imagines, dreams, and keeps between herself and reality the impenetrable barrier of beautiful style, of decorative or ideal treatment. The third stage is when Life gets the upper hand, and drives Art out into the wilderness. This is the true decadence, and it is from this that we are now suffering.

"Take the case of the English drama. At first in the hands of the monks Dramatic Art was abstract, decorative, and mythological. Then she enlisted Life in her service, and using some of life's external forms, she created an entirely new race of beings, whose sorrows were more terrible than any sorrow man has ever felt, whose joys were keener than lover's joys, who had the rage of the Titans and the calm of the gods, who had monstrous and marvellous sins, monstrous and marvellous virtues. To them she gave a language different from that of actual use, a language full of resonant music and sweet rhythm, made stately by solemn cadence, or made delicate by fanciful rhyme, jewelled with wonderful words, and enriched with lofty diction. She clothed her children in strange raiment and gave them masks, and at her bidding the antique world rose from its marble tomb. A new Caesar stalked through the streets of risen Rome, and with purple sail and fluteled oars another Cleopatra passed up the river to Antioch. Old myth and legend and dream took shape and substance. History was entirely rewritten, and there was hardly one of the dramatists who did not recognize that the object of Art is not simple truth but complex beauty. In this they were perfectly right. Art itself is really a form of exaggeration; and selection, which is the very spirit of art, is nothing more than an intensified mode of overemphasis.

"But Life soon shattered the perfection of the form. Even in Shakespeare we can see the beginning of the end. It shows itself by the gradual breaking up of the blank verse in the later plays, by the predominance given to prose, and by the over-importance assigned to characterisation. The passages in Shakespeare -- and they are many -- where the language is uncouth, vulgar, exaggerated, fantastic, obscene even, are entirely due to Life calling for an echo of her own voice, and rejecting the intervention of beautiful style, through which alone should Life be suffered to find expression. Shakespeare is not by any means a flawless artist. He is too fond of going directly to life, and borrowing life's natural utterance. He forgets that when Art surrenders her imaginative medium she surrenders everything Goethe says, somewhere -- In der Beschränkung zeigt sich erst der Meister, 'It is in working within limits that the master reveals himself,' and the limitation, the very condition for of any art is style. However, we need not liege' any longer over Shakespeare's realism. The Tempest is the most perfect of palinodes. All that magnificent work of the Elizabethan and Jacobean artists contained within itself the seeds of its own dissolution, and that, if it drew some of its strength from using life as rough material, it drew all its weakness from using life as an artistic method. As the inevitable result of this substitution of an imitative for a creative medium, this surrender of an imaginative form, we have the modern English melodrama. The characters in these plays talk on the stage exactly as they would talk off it; they have neither aspirations nor aspirates; they are taken directly from life and reproduce its vulgarity down to the smallest detail; they present the gait, manner, costume, and accent of real people; they would pass unnoticed in a third-class railway carriage. And yet how wearisome the plays are! They do not succeed in producing even that impression of reality at which they aim, and which is their only reason for existing. As a method, realism is a complete failure.

"What is true about the drama and the novel is no less true about those arts that we call the decorative arts. The whole history of these arts in Europe is the record of the struggle between Orientalism, with its frank rejection of imitation, its love of artistic convention, its dislike to the actual representation of any object in Nature, and our own imitative spirit. Wherever the former has been paramount, as in Byzantium, Sicily, and Spain, by actual contact, or in the rest of Europe by the influence of the Crusades, we have had beautiful and imaginative work in which the visible things of life are transmuted into artistic conventions, and the things that Life has not are invented and fashioned for her delight. But wherever we have returned to Life and Nature, our work has always become vulgar, common, and uninteresting. Modern tapestry, with its aerial effects, its elaborate perspective, its broad expanses of waste sky, its faithful and laborious realism, has no beauty whatsoever. The pictorial glass of Germany is absolutely detestable. We are beginning to weave possible carpets in England, but only because we have returned to the method and spirit of the East. Our rugs and carpets of twenty years ago, with their solemn depressing truths, their inane worship of Nature, their sordid, reproductions of visible objects, have become, even to the Philistine, a source of laughter. A cultured Mahomedan once remarked to us, 'You Christian are so occupied in misinterpreting the fourth commandment that you have never thought of making an artistic application of the second.' He was perfectly right, and the whole truth of the matter is this: The proper school to learn art in is not Life but Art."

And now let me read you a passage which seems to me to settle the question very completely.

"It was not always thus. We need not say anything about the poets, for they, with the unfortunate exception of Mr. Wordsworth, have been really faithful to their high mission, and are universally recognized as being absolutely unreliable. But in the works of Herodotus, who, in spite of the shallow and ungenerous attempts of modern sciolists to verify his history, may justly be called the 'Father of Lies'; in the published speeches of Cicero and the biographies of Suetonius; in Tacitus at his best; in Pliny's Natural History in Hanno's Periplus; in all the early chronicles; in the Lives of the Saints; in Froissart and Sir Thomas Mallory; in the travels of Marco Polo; in Olaus Magnus, and Aldrovandus, and Conrad Lycosthenes, with his magnificent Prodigiorum et Ostentorum Chronicon; in the autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini; in the memoirs of Casanuova; in Defoe's History of the Plague; in Boswell's Life of Johnson; in Napoleon's despatches, and in the works of our own Carlyle, whose French Revolution is one of the most fascinating historical novels ever written, facts are either kept in their proper subordinate position, or else entirely excluded on the general ground of dulness. Now, everything is changed. Facts are not merely finding a footing-place in history, but they are usurping the domain of Fancy, and have invaded the kingdom of Romance. Their chilling touch is over everything. They are vulgarising mankind. The crude commercialism of America, its materialising spirit, its indifference to the poetical side of things, and its lack of imagination and of high unattainable ideals, are entirely due to that country having adopted for its national hero a man, who according to his own confession, was incapable of telling a lie, and it is not too much to say that the story of George Washington and the cherrytree has done more harm, and in a shorter space of time, than any other moral tale in the whole of literature."
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Aug 07, 2020 6:22 am

Part 2 of 2

CYRIL. My dear boy!

VIVIAN. I assure you it is the case, and the amusing part of the whole thing is that the story of the cherrytree is an absolute myth. However, you must not think that I am too despondent about the artistic future either of America or of our own country. Listen to this:--

"That some change will take place before this century has drawn to its close we have no doubt whatsoever. Bored by the tedious and improving conversation of those who have neither the wit to exaggerate nor the genius to romance, tired of the intelligent person whose reminiscences are always based upon memory, whose statements are invariably limited by probability, and who is at any time liable to be corroborated by the merest Philistine who happens to be present, Society sooner or later must return to its lost leader, the cultured and fascinating liar. Who he was who first, without ever having gone out to the rude chase, told the wondering cavemen at sunset how he had dragged the Megatherium from the purple darkness of its jasper cave, or slain the Mammoth in single combat and brought back its gilded tusks, we cannot tell, and not one of our modern anthropologists, for all their much-boasted science, has had the ordinary courage to tell us. Whatever was his name or race, he certainly was the true founder of social intercourse. For the aim of the liar is simply to charm, to delight, to give pleasure. He is the very basis of civilized society, and without him a dinner party, even at the mansions of the great, is as dull as a lecture at the Royal Society, or a debate at the Incorporated Authors, or one of Mr. Burnand's farcical comedies.

"Nor will he be welcomed by society alone. Art, breaking from the prison-house of realism, will run to greet him, and will kiss his false, beautiful lips, knowing that he alone is in possession of the great secret of all her manifestations, the secret that Truth is entirely and absolutely a matter of style; while Life -- poor, probable, uninteresting human life -- tired of repeating herself for the benefit of Mr. Herbert Spencer, scientific historians, and the compilers of statistics in general, will follow meekly after him, and try to reproduce, in her own simple and untutored way, some of the marvels of which he talks.

"No doubt there will always be critics who, like a certain writer in the Saturday Review, will gravely censure the teller of fairy tales for his defective knowledge of natural history, who will measure imaginative work by their own lack of any imaginative faculty, and will hold up their ink-stained hands in horror if some honest gentleman who has never been farther than the yewtrees of his own garden, pens a fascinating book of travels like Sir John Mandeville, or, like great Raleigh, writes a whole history of the world, without knowing anything whatsoever about the past. To excuse themselves they will try end sheller under the shield of him who made Prospero the magician, and gave him Caliban and Ariel as his servants, who heard the Tritons blowing their horns round the coral reefs of the Enchanted Isle, and the fairies singing to each other in a wood near Athens, who led the phantom kings in dim procession across the misty Scottish heath, and hid Hecate in a cave with the weird sister. They will call upon Shakespeare -- they always do -- and will quote that hackneyed passage about Art holding the mirror up to Nature, forgetting that this unfortunate aphorism is deliberately said by Hamlet in order to convince the bystanders of his absolute insanity in all art-matters."

CYRIL. Ahem! Another cigarette, please.

VIVIAN. My dear fellow, whatever you may say, it is merely a dramatic utterance, and no more represents Shakespeare's real views upon art than the speeches of Iago represent his real views upon morals. But let me get to the end of the passage:

"Art finds her own perfection within, and not outside of, herself. She is not to be judged by any external standard of resemblance. She is a veil, rather than a mirror. She has flowers that no forests know of, birds that no woodland possesses. She makes and unmakes many worlds, and can draw the moon from heaven with a scarlet thread. Hers are the 'forms more real than living man,' and hers the great archetypes of which things that have existence are but unfinished copies. Nature has, in her eyes, no laws, no uniformity. She can work miracles at her will, and when she calls monsters from the deep they come. She can bid the almond tree blossom in winter, and send the snow upon the ripe cornfield. At her word the frost lays its silver finger on the burning mouth of June, and the winged lions creep out from the hollows of the Lydian hills. The dryads peer from the thicket as she passes by, and the brown fauns smile strangely at her when she comes near them. She has hawkfaced gods that worship her, and the centaurs gallop at her side."

CYRIL. I like that. I can see it. Is that the end?

VIVIAN. No. There is one more passage, but it is purely practical. It simply suggests some methods by which we could revive this lost art of Lying.

CYRIL. Well, before you read it to me, I should like to ask you a question. What do you mean by saying that life, "poor, probable, uninteresting human life," will try to reproduce the marvels of art? I can quite understand your objection to art being treated as a mirror. You think it would reduce genius to the position of a cracked Iooking-glass. But you don't mean to say that you seriously believe that Life imitates Art, that Life in fact is the mirror, and Art the reality?

VIVIAN. Certainly I do. Paradox though it may seem -- and paradoxes are always dangerous things -- it is none the less true that Life imitates art far more than Art imitates life. We have all seen in our own day in England how a certain curious and fascinating type of beauty, invented and emphasised by two imaginative painters, has so influenced Life that whenever one goes to a private view or to an artistic salon one sees, here the mystic eyes of Rossetti's dream, the long ivory throat, the strange squarecut jaw, the loosened shadowy hair that he so ardently loved, there the sweet maidenhood of The Golden Stair, the blossomlike mouth and weary loveliness of the Laus Amoris, the passionpale face of Andromeda, the thin hands and lithe beauty of the Vivien in Merlin's Dream. And it has always been so. A great artist invents a type, and Life tries to copy it, to reproduce it in a popular form, like an enterprising publisher. Neither Holbein nor Vandyck found in England what they have given us. They brought their types with them, and Life, with her keen imitative faculty, set herself to supply the master with models. The Greeks, with their quick artistic instinct, understood this, and set in the bride's chamber the statue of Hermes or of Apollo, that she might bear children as lovely as the works of art that she looked at in her rapture or her pain. They knew that Life gains from Art not merely spirituality, depth of thought and feeling, soul-turmoil or soul-peace, but that she can form herself on the very lines and colours of art and can reproduce the dignity of Pheidias as well as the grace of Praxiteles. Hence came their objection to realism. They disliked it on purely social grounds. They felt that it inevitably makes people ugly, and they were perfectly right. We try to improve the conditions of the race by means of good air, free sunlight, wholesome water, and hideous bare buildings for the better housing of the lower orders. But these things merely produce health; they do not produce beauty. For this, Art is required, and the true disciples of the great artist are not his studio imitators, but those who become like his works of art, be they plastic as in Greek days, or pictorial as in modern times; in a word, Life is Art's best, Art's only pupil.

As it is with the visible arts, so it is with literature. The most obvious and the vulgarest form in which this is shown is in the case of the silly boys who, after reading the adventures of Jack Sheppard or Dick Turpin, pillage the stalls of unfortunate apple-women, break into sweet shops at night, and alarm old gentlemen who are returning home from the city by leaping out on them in suburban lanes, with black masks and unloaded revolvers. This interesting phenomenon, which always occurs after the appearance of a new edition of either of the books I have alluded to, is usually attributed to the influence of literature on the imagination. But this is a mistake. The imagination is essentially creative and always seeks for new form. The boy burglar is simply the inevitable result of life's imitative instinct. He is Fact, occupied as Fact usually is with trying to reproduce Fiction, and what we see in him is repeated on an extended scale throughout the whole of life. Schopenhauer has analysed the pessimism that characterises modern thought, but Hamlet invented it. The world has become sad because a puppet was once melancholy. The Nihilist, that strange martyr who has no faith, who goes to the stake without enthusiasm, and dies for what he does not believe in, is a purely literary product. He was invented by Tourgenieff, and completed by Dostoieffski. Robespierre came out of the pages of Rousseau as surely as the People's Palace rose out debris of a novel. Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but moulds it to its purpose. The nineteenth century, as we know it, is largely an invention of Balzac. Our Luciens de Rubempre, our Rastignacs, and De Marsays made their first appearance on the stage of the Comedie Humaine. We are merely carrying out, with footnotes and unnecessary additions, the whim or fancy or creative vision of a great novelist. I once asked a lady, who knew Thackeray intimately, whether he had had any model for Becky Sharp. She told me that Becky was an invention, but that the idea of the character had been partly suggested by a governess who lived in the neighbourhood of Kensington Square, and was the companion of a very selfish and rich old woman. I inquired what became of the governess, and she replied that, oddly enough, some years after the appearance of Vanity Fair, she ran away with the nephew of the lady with whom she was living, and for a short time made a great splash in society, quite in Mrs. Rawdon Crawley's style, and entirely by Mrs. Rawdon Crawley's methods. Ultimately she came to grief, disappeared to the Continent, and used to be occasionally seen at Monte Carlo and other gambling-places. The noble gentleman from whom the same great sentimentalist drew Colonel Newcome died, a few months after The Newcomes had reached a fourth edition, with the word "Adsum" on his lips. Shortly after Mr. Stevenson published his curious psychological story of transformation, a friend of mine, called Mr. Hyde, was in the north of London, and being anxious to get to a railway station, took what he thought would be a short cut, lost his way, and found himself in a network of mean, evil-looking streets. Feeling rather nervous he began to walk extremely fast, when suddenly out of an archway ran a child right between his legs. It fell on the pavement, he tripped over it, and trampled upon it. Being of course very much frightened and a little hurt, it began to scream, and in a few seconds the whole street was full of rough people who came pouring out of the houses like ants. They surrounded him, and asked him his name. He was just about to give it when he suddenly remembered the opening incident in Mr. Stevenson's story. He was so filled with horror at having realized in his own person that terrible and well written scene, and at having done accidentally, though in fact, what the Mr. Hyde of fiction had done with deliberate intent, that he ran away as hard as he could go. He was, however, very closely followed, and finally he took refuge in a surgery, the door of which happened to be open, where he explained to a young assistant, who was serving there, exactly what had occurred. The humanitarian crowd were induced to go away on his giving them a small sum of money, and as soon as the coast was quite clear he left. As he passed out, the name on the brass doorplate of the surgery caught his eye. It was "Jekyll." At least it should have been.

Here the imitation, as far as it went, was of course accidental. In the following case the imitation was self-conscious. In the year 1879, just after I had left Oxford, I met at a reception at the house of one of the Foreign Ministers a woman of very curious exotic beauty. We became great friends, and were constantly together. And yet what interested most in her was not her beauty, but her character, her entire vagueness of character. She seemed to have no personality at all, but simply the possibility of many types. Sometimes she would give herself up entirely to art, turn her drawing-room into a studio, and spend two or three days a week at picture galleries or museums. Then she would take to attending race-meetings, wear the most horsey clothes, and talk about nothing but betting. She abandoned religion for mesmerism, mesmerism for politics, and politics for thematic excitements of philanthropy. In fact, she was a kind of Proteus, and as much a failure in all her transformations as was that wondrous sea-god when Odysseus laid hold of him. One day a serial began in one of the French magazines. At that time I used to read serial stories, and I well remember the shock of surprise I felt when I came to the description of the heroine. She was so like my friend that I brought her the magazine, and she recognized herself in it immediately, and seemed fascinated by the resemblance. I should tell you, by the way, that the story was translated from some dead Russian writer, so that the author had not taken his type from my friend. Well, to put the matter briefly, some months afterwards I was in Venice, and finding the magazine in the reading-room of the hotel, I took it up casually to see what had become of the heroine. It was a most piteous tale, as the girl had ended by running away with a man absolutely inferior to her, not merely in social station, but in character and intellect also. I wrote to my friend that evening about my views on John Bellini, and the admirable ices at Florio's, and the artistic value of gondolas, but added a postscript to the effect that her double in the story had behaved in a very silly manner. I don't know why I added that, but I remember I had a sort of dread over me that she might do the same thing. Before my letter had reached her, she had run away with a man who deserted her in six months. I saw her in 1884 in Paris, where she was living with her mother, and I asked her whether the story had had anything to do with her action. She told me that she had felt an absolutely irresistible impulse to follow the heroine step by step in her strange and fatal progress, and that it was with a feeling of real terror that she had looked forward to the last few chapters of the story. When they appeared, it seemed to her that she was compelled to reproduce them in life, and she did so. It was a most clear example of this imitative instinct of which I was speaking, and an extremely tragic one.

However, I do not wish to dwell any further upon individual instances. Personal experience is a most vicious and limited circle. All that I desire to point out is the general principle that Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life, and I feel sure that if you think seriously about it you will find that it is true. Life holds the mirror up to Art, and either reproduces some strange type imagined by painter or sculptor, or realizes in fact what has been dreamed in fiction. Scientifically speaking, the basis of life-- the energy of life, as Aristotle would call it -- is simply the desire for expression, and Art is always presenting various forms through which this expression can be attained. Life seizes on them and uses them, even if they be to her own hurt. Young men have committed suicide because Rolla did so, have died by their own hand because by his own hand Werther died. Think of what we owe to the imitation of Christ, of what we owe to the imitation of Caesar.

CYRIL. The theory is certainly a very curious one, but to make it complete you must show that Nature, no less than Life, is an imitation of Art. Are you prepared to prove that?

VIVIAN. My dear fellow, I am prepared to prove anything.

CYRIL. Nature follows the landscape painter then, and takes her effects from him?

VIVIAN. Certainly.
Where, if not from the Impressionists, do we get those wonderful brown fogs that come creeping down our streets, blurring the gas-lamps and changing the houses into monstrous shadows? To whom, if not to them and their master, do we owe the lovely silver mists that brood over our river, and turn to faint forms of fading grace curved bridge and swaying barge? The extraordinary change that has taken place in the climate of London during the last ten years is entirely due to this particular school of Art. You smile. Consider the matter from a scientific or a metaphysical point of view, and you will find that I am right. For what is Nature? Nature is no great mother who has borne us. She is our creation. It is in our brain that she quickens to life. Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the Arts that have influenced us. To look at a thing is very different from seeing a thing. One does not see anything until one sees its beauty. Then, and then only, does it come into existence. At present, people see fogs, not because there are fogs, but because poets and painters have taught them the mysterious loveliness of such effects. There may have been fogs for centuries in London. I dare say there were. But no one saw them, and so we do not know anything about them. They did not exist till Art had invented them. Now, it must be admitted, fogs are carried to excess. They have become the mere mannerism of a clique, and the exaggerated realism of their method gives dull people bronchitis. Where the cultured catch an effect, the uncultured catch cold. And so, let us be humane, and invite Art to turn her wonderful eyes elsewhere. She has done so already, indeed. That white quivering sunlight that one sees now in France, with its strange blotches of mauve, and its restless violet shadows, is her latest fancy, and, on the whole, Nature reproduces it quite admirably. Where she used to give us Corots and Daubignys, she gives us now exquisite Monets and entrancing Pisaros. Indeed there are moments, rare, it is true, but still to be observed from time to time, when Nature becomes absolutely modern. Of course she is not always to be relied upon. The fact is that she is in this unfortunate position. Art creates an incomparable and unique effect, and, having done so, passes on to other things. Nature, upon the other hand, forgetting that imitation can be made the sincerest form of insult, keeps on repeating this effect until we all become absolutely wearied of it. Nobody of any real culture, for instance, ever talks nowadays about the beauty of a sunset. Sunsets are quite old fashioned. They belong to the time when Turner was the last note in art. To admire them is a distinct sign of provincialism of temperament. Upon the other hand they go on. Yesterday evening Mrs. Arundel insisted on my coming to the window, and looking at the glorious sky, as she called it. Of course I had to look at it. She is one of those absurdly pretty Philistines, to whom one can deny nothing. And what was it? It was simply a very second-rate Turner, a Turner of a bad period, with all the painter's worst faults exaggerated and overemphasized. Of course, I am quite ready to admit that Life very often commits the same error. She produces her false Renes and her sham Vautrins, just as Nature gives us, on one day a doubtful Cuyp, and on another a more than questionable Rousseau. Still, Nature irritates one more when she does things of that kind. It seems so stupid, so obvious, so unnecessary. A false Vautrin might be delightful. A doubtful Cuyp is unbearable. However, I don't want to be too hard on Nature. I wish the Channel, especially at Hastings, did not look quite so often like a Henry Moore, grey pearl with yellow lights, but then, when Art is more varied, Nature will, no doubt, be more varied also. That she imitates Art, I don't think even her worst enemy would deny now. It is the one thing that keeps her in touch with civilized man. But have I proved my theory to your satisfaction?

CYRIL. You have proved it to my dissatisfaction, which is better. But even admitting this strange imitative instinct in Life and Nature, surely you would acknowledge that Art expresses the temper of its age, the spirit of its time, the moral and social conditions that surround it, and under whose influence it is produced.

VIVIAN. Certainly not! Art never expresses anything but itself. This is the principle of my new a aesthetics; and it is this, more than that vital connection between form and substance, on which Mr. Pater dwells, that makes music the type of all the arts. Of course, nations and individuals, with that healthy, natural vanity which is the secret of existence, are always under the impression that it is of them that the Muses are talking, always trying to find in the calm dignity of imaginative art some mirror of their own turbid passions, always forgetting that the singer of Life is not Apollo, but Marsyas. Remote from reality, and with her eyes turned away from the shadows of the cave, Art reveals her own perfection, and the wondering crowd that watches the opening of the marvellous, many-petalled rose fancies that it is its own history that is being told to it, its own spirit that is finding expression in a new form. But it is not so. The highest art rejects the burden of the human spirit, and gains more from a new medium or a fresh material than she does from any enthusiasm for art, or from any lofty passion, or from any great awakening of the human consciousness. She develops purely on her own lines. She is not symbolic of any age. It is the ages that are her symbols.

Even those who hold that Art is representative of time and place and people, cannot help admitting that the more imitative an art is, the less it represents to us the spirit of its age. The evil faces of the Roman emperors look out at us from the foul porphyry and spotted jasper in which the realistic artists of the day delighted to work, and we fancy that in those cruel lips and heavy sensual jaws we can find the secret of the ruin of the Empire. But it was not so. The vices of Tiberius could not destroy that supreme civilization, any more than the virtues of the Antonines could save it. It fell for other, for less interesting reasons. The sibyls and prophets of the Sistine may indeed serve to interpret for some that new birth of the emancipated spirit that we call the Renaissance; but what do the drunken boors and brawling peasants of Dutch art tell us about the great soul of Holland? The more abstract, the more ideal an art is, the more it reveals to us the temper of its age. If we wish to understand a nation by means of its art, let us look at its architecture or its music.

CYRIL. I quite agree with you there. The spirit of an age may be best expressed in the abstract ideal arts, for the spirit itself is abstract arid ideal. Upon the other hand, for the visible aspect of an age, for its look, as the phrase goes, we must of course go to the arts of imitation.

VIVIAN. I don't think so. After all, what the imitative arts really give us are merely the various styles of particular artists, or of certain schools of artists. Surely you don't imagine that the people of the Middle Ages bore any resemblance at all to the figures on mediaeval stained glass or in mediaeval stone and wood carving, or on mediaeval metalwork, or tapestries, or illuminated MSS. They were probabIy very ordinary-looking people, with nothing grotesque, or remarkable, or fantastic in their appearance. The Middle Ages, as we know them in art, are simply a definite form of style, and there is no reason at all why an artist with this style should not be produced in the nineteenth century. No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. Take an example from our own day. I know that you are fond of Japanese things. Now, do you really imagine that the Japanese people, as they are presented to us in art, have any existence? If you do, you have never understood Japanese art at all. The Japanese people are the deliberate self-conscious creation of certain individual artists. If you set a picture by Hokusai, or Hokkei, or any of the great native painters, beside a real Japanese gentleman or lady, you will see that there is not the slightest resemblance between them. The actual people who live in Japan are not unlike the general run of English people; that is to say, they are extremely commonplace, and have nothing curious or extraordinary about them. In fact the whole of Japan is a pure invention. There is no such country, there are no such people. One of our most charming painters went recently to the Land of the Chrysanthemum in the foolish hope of seeing the Japanese. All he saw, all he had the chance of painting, were a few lanterns and some fans. He was quite unable to discover the inhabitants, as his delightful exhibition at Messrs. Dowdeswell's Gallery showed only too well. He did not know that the Japanese people are, as I have said, simply a mode of style, an exquisite fancy of art. And so, if you desire to see a Japanese effect, you will not behave like a tourist and go to Tokio. On the contrary, you will stay at home, and steep yourself in the work of certain Japanese artists, and then, when you have absorbed the spirit of their style, and caught their imaginative manner of vision, you will go some afternoon and sit in the Park or stroll down Piccadilly, and if you cannot see an absolutely Japanese effect there, you will not see it anywhere. Or, to return again to the past, take as another instance the ancient Greeks. Do you think that Greek art ever tells us what the Greek people were like? Do you believe that the Athenian women were like the stately dignified figures of the Parthenon frieze, or like those marvellous goddesses who sat in the triangular pediments of the same building? If you judge from the art, they certainly were so. But read an authority, like Aristophanes for instance. You will find that the Athenian ladies laced tightly, wore high-heeled shoes, died their hair yellow, painted and rouged their faces, and were exactly like any silly fashionable or fallen creature of our own day. The fact is that we look back on the ages entirely through the medium of Art, and Art, very fortunately, has never once told us the truth.

CYRIL. But modern portraits by English painters, what of them? Surely they are like the people they pretend to represent?

VIVIAN. Quite so. They are so like them that a hundred years from now no one will believe in them. The only portraits in which one believes are portraits where there is very little of the sitter and a very great deal of the artist. Holbein's drawings of the men and women of his time impress us with a sense of their absolute reality. But this is simply because Holbein compelled life to accept his conditions, to restrain itself within his limitations, to reproduce his type, and to appear as he wished it to appear. It is style that makes us believe in a thing -- nothing but style. Most of our modern portrait painters are doomed to absolute oblivion. They never paint what they see. They paint what the public sees, and the public never sees anything.

CYRIL. Well, after that I think I should like to hear the end of your article.

VIVIAN. With pleasure. Whether it will do any good I really cannot say. Ours is certainly the dullest and most prosaic century possible. Why, even Sleep has played us false, and has closed up the gates of ivory, and opened the gates of horn. The dreams of the great middle classes of this country, as recorded in Mr. Myers's two bulky volumes on the subject and in the Transactions of the Psychical Society, are the most depressing things that I have ever read. There is not even a fine nightmare among them. They are commonplace, sordid, and tedious. As for the Church I cannot conceive anything better for the culture of a country than the presence in it of a body of men whose duty it is to believe in the supernatural, to perform daily miracles, and to keep alive that mythopoetic faculty which is so essential for the imagination. But in the English Church a man succeeds, not through his capacity for belief but through his capacity for disbelief. Ours is the only Church where the sceptic stands at the altar, and where St. Thomas is regarded as the ideal apostle. Many a worthy clergyman, who passes his life in admirable works of kindly charity, lives and dies unnoticed and unknown; but it is sufficient for some shallow uneducated passman out of either University to get up in his pulpit and express his doubts about Noah's ark, or Balaam's ass, or Jonah and the whale, for half of London to flock to hear him, and to sit open-mouthed in rapt admiration at his superb intellect. The growth of common sense in the English Church is a thing very much to be regretted. It is really a degrading concession to a low form of realism. It is silly, too. It springs from an entire ignorance of psychology. Man can believe the impossible, but man can never believe the improbable. However, I must read the end of my article:--

"What we have to do, what at any rate it is our duty to do, is to revive this old art of Lying. Much of course may be done, in the way of educating the public, by amateurs in the domestic circle, at literary lunches, and at afternoon teas. But this is merely the light and graceful side of Iying, such as was probably heard at Cretan dinner parties. There are many other forms. Lying for the sake of gaining some immediate personal advantage, for instance -- lying with a moral purpose, as it is usually called -- though of late it has been rather looked down upon, was extremely popular with the antique world. Athena laughs when Odysseus tells her 'his words of sly devising,' as Mr. William Morris phrases it, and the glory of mendacity illumines the pale brow of the stainless hero of Euripidean tragedy, and sets among the noble women of the past the young bride of one of Horace's most exquisite odes. Later on, what at first had been merely a natural instinct was elevated into a self-conscious science. Elaborate rules were laid down for the guidance of mankind, and an important school of literature grew up round the subject. Indeed, when one remembers the excellent philosophical treatise of Sanchez on the whole question one cannot help regretting that no one has ever thought of publishing a cheap and condensed edition of the works of that great casuist. A short primer, 'When to Lie and How,' if brought out in an attractive and not too expensive a form, would no doubt command a large sale, and would prove of real practical service to many earnest and deep-thinking people. Lying for the sake of the improvement of the young, which is the basis of home education, still lingers amongst us, and its advantages are so admirably set forth in the early books of Plato's Republic that it is unnecessary to dwell upon them here. It is a mode of Iying for which all good mothers have peculiar capabilities, but it is capable of still further development, and has been sadly overlooked by the School Board. Lying for the sake of a monthly salary is of course well known in Fleet Street, and the profession of a political leader-writer is not without its advantages. But it is said to be a somewhat dull occupation, and it certainly does not lead to much beyond a kind of ostentatious obscurity. The only form of Iying that is absolutely beyond reproach is Lying for its own sake, and the highest development of this is, as we have already pointed out, Lying in Art. Just as those who do not love Plato more than Truth cannot pass beyond the threshold of the Academe, so those who do not love Beauty more than Truth never know the inmost shrine of Art. The solid stolid British intellect lies in the desert sands like the Sphinx in Flaubert's marvellous tale, and fantasy La Chimere, dances round it, and calls to it with her false, flute-toned voice. It may not hear her now, but surely some day, when we are all bored to death with the commonplace character of modern fiction, it will hearken to her and try to borrow her wings.

"And when that day dawns, or sunset reddens how joyous we shall all be! Facts will be regarded as discreditable, Truth will be found mourning over her fetters, and Romance, with her temper of wonder, will return to the land. The very aspect of the world will change to our startled eyes. Out of the sea will rise Behemoth and Leviathan and sail round the high-pooped galleys, as they do on the delightful maps of those ages when books on geography were actually readable. Dragons will wander about the waste places, and the phoenix will soar from her nest of fire into the air. We shall lay our hands upon the basilisk, and see the jewel in the toad's head. Champing his gilded oats, the Hippogriff will stand in our stalls, and over our heads will float the Blue Bird singing of beautiful and impossible things, of things that are lovely and that never happened, of things that are not and that should be. But before this comes to pass we must cultivate the lost art of Lying."

CYRIL. Then we must certainly cultivate it at once. But in order to avoid making any error I want you to tell me briefly the doctrines of the new aesthetics.

VIVIAN. Briefly, then, they are these. Art never expresses anything but itself. It has an independent life, just as Thought has, and develops purely on its own lines. It is not necessarily realistic in an age of realism, nor spiritual in an age of faith. So far from being the creation of its time, it is usually in direct opposition to it, and the only history that it preserves for us is the history of its own progress. Sometimes it returns upon its footsteps, and revives some antique form, as happened in the archaistic movement of late Greek Art, and in the pre-Raphaelite movement of our own day. At other times it entirely anticipates its age, and produces in one century work that it takes another century to understand, to appreciate, and to enjoy. In no case does it reproduce its age. To pass from the art of a time to the time itself is the great mistake that all historians commit.

The second doctrine is this. All bad art comes from returning to Life and Nature, and elevating them into ideals. Life and Nature may sometimes be used as part of Art's rough material, but before they are of any real service to art they must be translated into artistic conventions. The moment Art surrenders its imaginative medium it surrenders everything. As a method Realism is a complete failure, and the two things that every artist should avoid are modernity of form and modernity of subject-matter. To us, who live in the nineteenth century, any century is a suitable subject for art except our own. The only beautiful things are the things that do not concern us. It is, to have the pleasure of quoting myself, exactly because Hecuba is nothing to us that her sorrows are so suitable a motive for a tragedy. Besides, it is only the modern that ever becomes old-fashioned. M. Zola sits down to give us a picture of the Second Empire. Who cares for the Second Empire now? It is out of date. Life goes faster than Realism, but Romanticism is always in front of Life.

The third doctrine is that Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life. This results not merely from Life's imitative instinct, but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and that Art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realize that energy. It is a theory that has never been put forward before, but it is extremely fruitful, and throws an entirely new light upon the history of Art.

It follows, as a corollary from this, that external Nature also imitates Art. The only effects that she can show us are effects that we have already seen through poetry, or in paintings. This is the secret of Nature's charm, as well as the explanation of Nature's weakness.

The final revelation is that Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art. But of this I think I have spoken at sufficient length. And now let us go out on the terrace, where "droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost," while the evening star "washes the dusk with silver." At twilight nature becomes a wonderfully suggestive effect, and is not without loveliness, though perhaps its chief use is to illustrate quotations from the poets. Come! We have talked long enough.
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