the picture of dorian gray by oscar wilde the preface the artist is the creator of beautiful things.to reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. the critic is he who can translate intoanother manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things. the highest as the lowest form of criticismis a mode of autobiography. those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corruptwithout being charming. this is a fault. those who find beautiful meanings in beautifulthings are the cultivated. for these there is hope. they are the elect to whom beautifulthings mean only beauty.
there is no such thing as a moral or an immoralbook. books are well written, or badly written. that is all. the nineteenth century dislike of realismis the rage of caliban seeing his own face in a glass. the nineteenth century dislike of romanticismis the rage of caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. the moral life of man formspart of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfectuse of an imperfect medium. no artist desires to prove anything. even things that are truecan be proved. no artist has ethical sympathies. an ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonablemannerism of style. no artist is ever morbid.
the artist can express everything. thoughtand language are to the artist instruments of an art. vice and virtue are to the artistmaterials for an art. from the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the artof the musician. from the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type. allart is at once surface and symbol. those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.those who read the symbol do so at their peril. it is the spectator, and not life, that artreally mirrors. diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new,complex, and vital. when critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. we canforgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. the only excusefor making a useless thing is that one admires
it intensely.all art is quite useless. oscar wilde chapter 1 the studio was filled with the rich odourof roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there camethrough the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of thepink-flowering thorn. from the corner of the divan of persian saddle-bagson which he was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes, lord henrywotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum,whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able
to bear the burden of a beauty so flamelikeas theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted acrossthe long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kindof momentary japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid, jade-faced paintersof tokyo who, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to conveythe sense of swiftness and motion. the sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way throughthe long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous insistence round the dusty gilt horns of thestraggling woodbine, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. the dim roar of london waslike the bourdon note of a distant organ. in the centre of the room, clamped to an uprighteasel, stood the full-length portrait of a
young man of extraordinary personal beauty,and in front of it, some little distance away, was sitting the artist himself, basil hallward,whose sudden disappearance some years ago caused, at the time, such public excitementand gave rise to so many strange conjectures. as the painter looked at the gracious andcomely form he had so skilfully mirrored in his art, a smile of pleasure passed acrosshis face, and seemed about to linger there. but he suddenly started up, and closing hiseyes, placed his fingers upon the lids, as though he sought to imprison within his brainsome curious dream from which he feared he might awake. "it is your best work, basil, the best thingyou have ever done," said lord henry languidly.
"you must certainly send it next year to thegrosvenor. the academy is too large and too vulgar. whenever i have gone there, therehave been either so many people that i have not been able to see the pictures, which wasdreadful, or so many pictures that i have not been able to see the people, which wasworse. the grosvenor is really the only place." "i don't think i shall send it anywhere,"he answered, tossing his head back in that odd way that used to make his friends laughat him at oxford. "no, i won't send it anywhere." lord henry elevated his eyebrows and lookedat him in amazement through the thin blue wreaths of smoke that curled up in such fancifulwhorls from his heavy, opium-tainted cigarette. "not send it anywhere? my dear fellow, why?have you any reason? what odd chaps you painters
are! you do anything in the world to gaina reputation. as soon as you have one, you seem to want to throw it away. it is sillyof you, for there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and thatis not being talked about. a portrait like this would set you far above all the youngmen in england, and make the old men quite jealous, if old men are ever capable of anyemotion." "i know you will laugh at me," he replied,"but i really can't exhibit it. i have put too much of myself into it." lord henry stretched himself out on the divanand laughed. "yes, i knew you would; but it is quite true,all the same."
"too much of yourself in it! upon my word,basil, i didn't know you were so vain; and i really can't see any resemblance betweenyou, with your rugged strong face and your coal-black hair, and this young adonis, wholooks as if he was made out of ivory and rose-leaves. why, my dear basil, he is a narcissus, andyouâ€”well, of course you have an intellectual expression and all that. but beauty, realbeauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration,and destroys the harmony of any face. the moment one sits down to think, one becomesall nose, or all forehead, or something horrid. look at the successful men in any of the learnedprofessions. how perfectly hideous they are! except, of course, in the church. but thenin the church they don't think. a bishop keeps
on saying at the age of eighty what he wastold to say when he was a boy of eighteen, and as a natural consequence he always looksabsolutely delightful. your mysterious young friend, whose name you have never told me,but whose picture really fascinates me, never thinks. i feel quite sure of that. he is somebrainless beautiful creature who should be always here in winter when we have no flowersto look at, and always here in summer when we want something to chill our intelligence.don't flatter yourself, basil: you are not in the least like him." "you don't understand me, harry," answeredthe artist. "of course i am not like him. i know that perfectly well. indeed, i shouldbe sorry to look like him. you shrug your
shoulders? i am telling you the truth. thereis a fatality about all physical and intellectual distinction, the sort of fatality that seemsto dog through history the faltering steps of kings. it is better not to be differentfrom one's fellows. the ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. they cansit at their ease and gape at the play. if they know nothing of victory, they are atleast spared the knowledge of defeat. they live as we all should liveâ€”undisturbed,indifferent, and without disquiet. they neither bring ruin upon others, nor ever receive itfrom alien hands. your rank and wealth, harry; my brains, such as they areâ€”my art, whateverit may be worth; dorian gray's good looksâ€”we shall all suffer for what the gods have givenus, suffer terribly."
"dorian gray? is that his name?" asked lordhenry, walking across the studio towards basil hallward. "yes, that is his name. i didn't intend totell it to you." "but why not?" "oh, i can't explain. when i like people immensely,i never tell their names to any one. it is like surrendering a part of them. i have grownto love secrecy. it seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvellousto us. the commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it. when i leave town now inever tell my people where i am going. if i did, i would lose all my pleasure. it isa silly habit, i dare say, but somehow it
seems to bring a great deal of romance intoone's life. i suppose you think me awfully foolish about it?" "not at all," answered lord henry, "not atall, my dear basil. you seem to forget that i am married, and the one charm of marriageis that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties. i never know wheremy wife is, and my wife never knows what i am doing. when we meetâ€”we do meet occasionally,when we dine out together, or go down to the duke'sâ€”we tell each other the most absurdstories with the most serious faces. my wife is very good at itâ€”much better, in fact,than i am. she never gets confused over her dates, and i always do. but when she doesfind me out, she makes no row at all. i sometimes
wish she would; but she merely laughs at me." "i hate the way you talk about your marriedlife, harry," said basil hallward, strolling towards the door that led into the garden."i believe that you are really a very good husband, but that you are thoroughly ashamedof your own virtues. you are an extraordinary fellow. you never say a moral thing, and younever do a wrong thing. your cynicism is simply a pose." "being natural is simply a pose, and the mostirritating pose i know," cried lord henry, laughing; and the two young men went out intothe garden together and ensconced themselves on a long bamboo seat that stood in the shadeof a tall laurel bush. the sunlight slipped
over the polished leaves. in the grass, whitedaisies were tremulous. after a pause, lord henry pulled out his watch."i am afraid i must be going, basil," he murmured, "and before i go, i insist on your answeringa question i put to you some time ago." "what is that?" said the painter, keepinghis eyes fixed on the ground. "you know quite well." "i do not, harry." "well, i will tell you what it is. i wantyou to explain to me why you won't exhibit dorian gray's picture. i want the real reason." "i told you the real reason."
"no, you did not. you said it was becausethere was too much of yourself in it. now, that is childish." "harry," said basil hallward, looking himstraight in the face, "every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of theartist, not of the sitter. the sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. it is not he whois revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, revealshimself. the reason i will not exhibit this picture is that i am afraid that i have shownin it the secret of my own soul." lord henry laughed. "and what is that?" heasked. "i will tell you," said hallward; but an expressionof perplexity came over his face.
"i am all expectation, basil," continued hiscompanion, glancing at him. "oh, there is really very little to tell,harry," answered the painter; "and i am afraid you will hardly understand it. perhaps youwill hardly believe it." lord henry smiled, and leaning down, pluckeda pink-petalled daisy from the grass and examined it. "i am quite sure i shall understand it,"he replied, gazing intently at the little golden, white-feathered disk, "and as forbelieving things, i can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible." the wind shook some blossoms from the trees,and the heavy lilac-blooms, with their clustering stars, moved to and fro in the languid air.a grasshopper began to chirrup by the wall,
and like a blue thread a long thin dragon-flyfloated past on its brown gauze wings. lord henry felt as if he could hear basil hallward'sheart beating, and wondered what was coming. "the story is simply this," said the painterafter some time. "two months ago i went to a crush at lady brandon's. you know we poorartists have to show ourselves in society from time to time, just to remind the publicthat we are not savages. with an evening coat and a white tie, as you told me once, anybody,even a stock-broker, can gain a reputation for being civilized. well, after i had beenin the room about ten minutes, talking to huge overdressed dowagers and tedious academicians,i suddenly became conscious that some one was looking at me. i turned half-way roundand saw dorian gray for the first time. when
our eyes met, i felt that i was growing pale.a curious sensation of terror came over me. i knew that i had come face to face with someone whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if i allowed it to do so, it would absorbmy whole nature, my whole soul, my very art itself. i did not want any external influencein my life. you know yourself, harry, how independent i am by nature. i have alwaysbeen my own master; had at least always been so, till i met dorian gray. thenâ€”but i don'tknow how to explain it to you. something seemed to tell me that i was on the verge of a terriblecrisis in my life. i had a strange feeling that fate had in store for me exquisite joysand exquisite sorrows. i grew afraid and turned to quit the room. it was not conscience thatmade me do so: it was a sort of cowardice.
i take no credit to myself for trying to escape." "conscience and cowardice are really the samethings, basil. conscience is the trade-name of the firm. that is all." "i don't believe that, harry, and i don'tbelieve you do either. however, whatever was my motiveâ€”and it may have been pride, fori used to be very proudâ€”i certainly struggled to the door. there, of course, i stumbledagainst lady brandon. 'you are not going to run away so soon, mr. hallward?' she screamedout. you know her curiously shrill voice?" "yes; she is a peacock in everything but beauty,"said lord henry, pulling the daisy to bits with his long nervous fingers.
"i could not get rid of her. she brought meup to royalties, and people with stars and garters, and elderly ladies with gigantictiaras and parrot noses. she spoke of me as her dearest friend. i had only met her oncebefore, but she took it into her head to lionize me. i believe some picture of mine had madea great success at the time, at least had been chattered about in the penny newspapers,which is the nineteenth-century standard of immortality. suddenly i found myself faceto face with the young man whose personality had so strangely stirred me. we were quiteclose, almost touching. our eyes met again. it was reckless of me, but i asked lady brandonto introduce me to him. perhaps it was not so reckless, after all. it was simply inevitable.we would have spoken to each other without
any introduction. i am sure of that. doriantold me so afterwards. he, too, felt that we were destined to know each other." "and how did lady brandon describe this wonderfulyoung man?" asked his companion. "i know she goes in for giving a rapid precis of all herguests. i remember her bringing me up to a truculent and red-faced old gentleman coveredall over with orders and ribbons, and hissing into my ear, in a tragic whisper which musthave been perfectly audible to everybody in the room, the most astounding details. i simplyfled. i like to find out people for myself. but lady brandon treats her guests exactlyas an auctioneer treats his goods. she either explains them entirely away, or tells oneeverything about them except what one wants
to know." "poor lady brandon! you are hard on her, harry!"said hallward listlessly. "my dear fellow, she tried to found a salon,and only succeeded in opening a restaurant. how could i admire her? but tell me, whatdid she say about mr. dorian gray?" "oh, something like, 'charming boyâ€”poordear mother and i absolutely inseparable. quite forget what he doesâ€”afraid heâ€”doesn'tdo anythingâ€”oh, yes, plays the pianoâ€”or is it the violin, dear mr. gray?' neitherof us could help laughing, and we became friends at once." "laughter is not at all a bad beginning fora friendship, and it is far the best ending
for one," said the young lord, plucking anotherdaisy. hallward shook his head. "you don't understandwhat friendship is, harry," he murmuredâ€”"or what enmity is, for that matter. you likeevery one; that is to say, you are indifferent to every one." "how horribly unjust of you!" cried lord henry,tilting his hat back and looking up at the little clouds that, like ravelled skeins ofglossy white silk, were drifting across the hollowed turquoise of the summer sky. "yes;horribly unjust of you. i make a great difference between people. i choose my friends for theirgood looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their goodintellects. a man cannot be too careful in
the choice of his enemies. i have not gotone who is a fool. they are all men of some intellectual power, and consequently theyall appreciate me. is that very vain of me? i think it is rather vain." "i should think it was, harry. but accordingto your category i must be merely an acquaintance." "my dear old basil, you are much more thanan acquaintance." "and much less than a friend. a sort of brother,i suppose?" "oh, brothers! i don't care for brothers.my elder brother won't die, and my younger brothers seem never to do anything else." "harry!" exclaimed hallward, frowning.
"my dear fellow, i am not quite serious. buti can't help detesting my relations. i suppose it comes from the fact that none of us canstand other people having the same faults as ourselves. i quite sympathize with therage of the english democracy against what they call the vices of the upper orders. themasses feel that drunkenness, stupidity, and immorality should be their own special property,and that if any one of us makes an ass of himself, he is poaching on their preserves.when poor southwark got into the divorce court, their indignation was quite magnificent. andyet i don't suppose that ten per cent of the proletariat live correctly." "i don't agree with a single word that youhave said, and, what is more, harry, i feel
sure you don't either." lord henry stroked his pointed brown beardand tapped the toe of his patent-leather boot with a tasselled ebony cane. "how englishyou are basil! that is the second time you have made that observation. if one puts forwardan idea to a true englishmanâ€”always a rash thing to doâ€”he never dreams of consideringwhether the idea is right or wrong. the only thing he considers of any importance is whetherone believes it oneself. now, the value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do withthe sincerity of the man who expresses it. indeed, the probabilities are that the moreinsincere the man is, the more purely intellectual will the idea be, as in that case it willnot be coloured by either his wants, his desires,
or his prejudices. however, i don't proposeto discuss politics, sociology, or metaphysics with you. i like persons better than principles,and i like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world. tell me moreabout mr. dorian gray. how often do you see him?" "every day. i couldn't be happy if i didn'tsee him every day. he is absolutely necessary to me." "how extraordinary! i thought you would nevercare for anything but your art." "he is all my art to me now," said the paintergravely. "i sometimes think, harry, that there are only two eras of any importance in theworld's history. the first is the appearance
of a new medium for art, and the second isthe appearance of a new personality for art also. what the invention of oil-painting wasto the venetians, the face of antinous was to late greek sculpture, and the face of doriangray will some day be to me. it is not merely that i paint from him, draw from him, sketchfrom him. of course, i have done all that. but he is much more to me than a model ora sitter. i won't tell you that i am dissatisfied with what i have done of him, or that hisbeauty is such that art cannot express it. there is nothing that art cannot express,and i know that the work i have done, since i met dorian gray, is good work, is the bestwork of my life. but in some curious wayâ€”i wonder will you understand me?â€”his personalityhas suggested to me an entirely new manner
in art, an entirely new mode of style. i seethings differently, i think of them differently. i can now recreate life in a way that washidden from me before. 'a dream of form in days of thought'â€”who is it who says that?i forget; but it is what dorian gray has been to me. the merely visible presence of thisladâ€”for he seems to me little more than a lad, though he is really over twentyâ€”hismerely visible presenceâ€”ah! i wonder can you realize all that that means? unconsciouslyhe defines for me the lines of a fresh school, a school that is to have in it all the passionof the romantic spirit, all the perfection of the spirit that is greek. the harmony ofsoul and bodyâ€”how much that is! we in our madness have separated the two, and have inventeda realism that is vulgar, an ideality that
is void. harry! if you only knew what doriangray is to me! you remember that landscape of mine, for which agnew offered me such ahuge price but which i would not part with? it is one of the best things i have ever done.and why is it so? because, while i was painting it, dorian gray sat beside me. some subtleinfluence passed from him to me, and for the first time in my life i saw in the plain woodlandthe wonder i had always looked for and always missed." "basil, this is extraordinary! i must seedorian gray." hallward got up from the seat and walked upand down the garden. after some time he came back. "harry," he said, "dorian gray is tome simply a motive in art. you might see nothing
in him. i see everything in him. he is nevermore present in my work than when no image of him is there. he is a suggestion, as ihave said, of a new manner. i find him in the curves of certain lines, in the lovelinessand subtleties of certain colours. that is all." "then why won't you exhibit his portrait?"asked lord henry. "because, without intending it, i have putinto it some expression of all this curious artistic idolatry, of which, of course, ihave never cared to speak to him. he knows nothing about it. he shall never know anythingabout it. but the world might guess it, and i will not bare my soul to their shallow pryingeyes. my heart shall never be put under their
microscope. there is too much of myself inthe thing, harryâ€”too much of myself!" "poets are not so scrupulous as you are. theyknow how useful passion is for publication. nowadays a broken heart will run to many editions." "i hate them for it," cried hallward. "anartist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them.we live in an age when men treat art as if it were meant to be a form of autobiography.we have lost the abstract sense of beauty. some day i will show the world what it is;and for that reason the world shall never see my portrait of dorian gray." "i think you are wrong, basil, but i won'targue with you. it is only the intellectually
lost who ever argue. tell me, is dorian grayvery fond of you?" the painter considered for a few moments."he likes me," he answered after a pause; "i know he likes me. of course i flatter himdreadfully. i find a strange pleasure in saying things to him that i know i shall be sorryfor having said. as a rule, he is charming to me, and we sit in the studio and talk ofa thousand things. now and then, however, he is horribly thoughtless, and seems to takea real delight in giving me pain. then i feel, harry, that i have given away my whole soulto some one who treats it as if it were a flower to put in his coat, a bit of decorationto charm his vanity, an ornament for a summer's day."
"days in summer, basil, are apt to linger,"murmured lord henry. "perhaps you will tire sooner than he will. it is a sad thing tothink of, but there is no doubt that genius lasts longer than beauty. that accounts forthe fact that we all take such pains to over-educate ourselves. in the wild struggle for existence,we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts,in the silly hope of keeping our place. the thoroughly well-informed manâ€”that is themodern ideal. and the mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. itis like a bric-a-brac shop, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its propervalue. i think you will tire first, all the same. some day you will look at your friend,and he will seem to you to be a little out
of drawing, or you won't like his tone ofcolour, or something. you will bitterly reproach him in your own heart, and seriously thinkthat he has behaved very badly to you. the next time he calls, you will be perfectlycold and indifferent. it will be a great pity, for it will alter you. what you have toldme is quite a romance, a romance of art one might call it, and the worst of having a romanceof any kind is that it leaves one so unromantic." "harry, don't talk like that. as long as ilive, the personality of dorian gray will dominate me. you can't feel what i feel. youchange too often." "ah, my dear basil, that is exactly why ican feel it. those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love: it is the faithlesswho know love's tragedies." and lord henry
struck a light on a dainty silver case andbegan to smoke a cigarette with a self-conscious and satisfied air, as if he had summed upthe world in a phrase. there was a rustle of chirruping sparrows in the green lacquerleaves of the ivy, and the blue cloud-shadows chased themselves across the grass like swallows.how pleasant it was in the garden! and how delightful other people's emotions were!â€”muchmore delightful than their ideas, it seemed to him. one's own soul, and the passions ofone's friendsâ€”those were the fascinating things in life. he pictured to himself withsilent amusement the tedious luncheon that he had missed by staying so long with basilhallward. had he gone to his aunt's, he would have been sure to have met lord goodbody there,and the whole conversation would have been
about the feeding of the poor and the necessityfor model lodging-houses. each class would have preached the importance of those virtues,for whose exercise there was no necessity in their own lives. the rich would have spokenon the value of thrift, and the idle grown eloquent over the dignity of labour. it wascharming to have escaped all that! as he thought of his aunt, an idea seemed to strike him.he turned to hallward and said, "my dear fellow, i have just remembered." "remembered what, harry?" "where i heard the name of dorian gray." "where was it?" asked hallward, with a slightfrown.
"don't look so angry, basil. it was at myaunt, lady agatha's. she told me she had discovered a wonderful young man who was going to helpher in the east end, and that his name was dorian gray. i am bound to state that shenever told me he was good-looking. women have no appreciation of good looks; at least, goodwomen have not. she said that he was very earnest and had a beautiful nature. i at oncepictured to myself a creature with spectacles and lank hair, horribly freckled, and trampingabout on huge feet. i wish i had known it was your friend." "i am very glad you didn't, harry." "why?"
"i don't want you to meet him." "you don't want me to meet him?" "no." "mr. dorian gray is in the studio, sir," saidthe butler, coming into the garden. "you must introduce me now," cried lord henry,laughing. the painter turned to his servant, who stoodblinking in the sunlight. "ask mr. gray to wait, parker: i shall be in in a few moments."the man bowed and went up the walk. then he looked at lord henry. "dorian grayis my dearest friend," he said. "he has a simple and a beautiful nature. your aunt wasquite right in what she said of him. don't
spoil him. don't try to influence him. yourinfluence would be bad. the world is wide, and has many marvellous people in it. don'ttake away from me the one person who gives to my art whatever charm it possesses: mylife as an artist depends on him. mind, harry, i trust you." he spoke very slowly, and thewords seemed wrung out of him almost against his will. "what nonsense you talk!" said lord henry,smiling, and taking hallward by the arm, he almost led him into the house. chapter 2 as they entered they saw dorian gray. he wasseated at the piano, with his back to them,
turning over the pages of a volume of schumann's"forest scenes." "you must lend me these, basil," he cried. "i want to learn them. theyare perfectly charming." "that entirely depends on how you sit to-day,dorian." "oh, i am tired of sitting, and i don't wanta life-sized portrait of myself," answered the lad, swinging round on the music-stoolin a wilful, petulant manner. when he caught sight of lord henry, a faint blush colouredhis cheeks for a moment, and he started up. "i beg your pardon, basil, but i didn't knowyou had any one with you." "this is lord henry wotton, dorian, an oldoxford friend of mine. i have just been telling him what a capital sitter you were, and nowyou have spoiled everything."
"you have not spoiled my pleasure in meetingyou, mr. gray," said lord henry, stepping forward and extending his hand. "my aunt hasoften spoken to me about you. you are one of her favourites, and, i am afraid, one ofher victims also." "i am in lady agatha's black books at present,"answered dorian with a funny look of penitence. "i promised to go to a club in whitechapelwith her last tuesday, and i really forgot all about it. we were to have played a duettogetherâ€”three duets, i believe. i don't know what she will say to me. i am far toofrightened to call." "oh, i will make your peace with my aunt.she is quite devoted to you. and i don't think it really matters about your not being there.the audience probably thought it was a duet.
when aunt agatha sits down to the piano, shemakes quite enough noise for two people." "that is very horrid to her, and not verynice to me," answered dorian, laughing. lord henry looked at him. yes, he was certainlywonderfully handsome, with his finely curved scarlet lips, his frank blue eyes, his crispgold hair. there was something in his face that made one trust him at once. all the candourof youth was there, as well as all youth's passionate purity. one felt that he had kepthimself unspotted from the world. no wonder basil hallward worshipped him. "you are too charming to go in for philanthropy,mr. grayâ€”far too charming." and lord henry flung himself down on the divan and openedhis cigarette-case.
the painter had been busy mixing his coloursand getting his brushes ready. he was looking worried, and when he heard lord henry's lastremark, he glanced at him, hesitated for a moment, and then said, "harry, i want to finishthis picture to-day. would you think it awfully rude of me if i asked you to go away?" lord henry smiled and looked at dorian gray."am i to go, mr. gray?" he asked. "oh, please don't, lord henry. i see thatbasil is in one of his sulky moods, and i can't bear him when he sulks. besides, i wantyou to tell me why i should not go in for philanthropy." "i don't know that i shall tell you that,mr. gray. it is so tedious a subject that
one would have to talk seriously about it.but i certainly shall not run away, now that you have asked me to stop. you don't reallymind, basil, do you? you have often told me that you liked your sitters to have some oneto chat to." hallward bit his lip. "if dorian wishes it,of course you must stay. dorian's whims are laws to everybody, except himself." lord henry took up his hat and gloves. "youare very pressing, basil, but i am afraid i must go. i have promised to meet a man atthe orleans. good-bye, mr. gray. come and see me some afternoon in curzon street. iam nearly always at home at five o'clock. write to me when you are coming. i shouldbe sorry to miss you."
"basil," cried dorian gray, "if lord henrywotton goes, i shall go, too. you never open your lips while you are painting, and it ishorribly dull standing on a platform and trying to look pleasant. ask him to stay. i insistupon it." "stay, harry, to oblige dorian, and to obligeme," said hallward, gazing intently at his picture. "it is quite true, i never talk wheni am working, and never listen either, and it must be dreadfully tedious for my unfortunatesitters. i beg you to stay." "but what about my man at the orleans?" the painter laughed. "i don't think therewill be any difficulty about that. sit down again, harry. and now, dorian, get up on theplatform, and don't move about too much, or
pay any attention to what lord henry says.he has a very bad influence over all his friends, with the single exception of myself." dorian gray stepped up on the dais with theair of a young greek martyr, and made a little moue of discontent to lord henry, to whomhe had rather taken a fancy. he was so unlike basil. they made a delightful contrast. andhe had such a beautiful voice. after a few moments he said to him, "have you really avery bad influence, lord henry? as bad as basil says?" "there is no such thing as a good influence,mr. gray. all influence is immoralâ€”immoral from the scientific point of view."
"because to influence a person is to givehim one's own soul. he does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his naturalpassions. his virtues are not real to him. his sins, if there are such things as sins,are borrowed. he becomes an echo of some one else's music, an actor of a part that hasnot been written for him. the aim of life is self-development. to realize one's natureperfectlyâ€”that is what each of us is here for. people are afraid of themselves, nowadays.they have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's self. of course,they are charitable. they feed the hungry and clothe the beggar. but their own soulsstarve, and are naked. courage has gone out of our race. perhaps we never really had it.the terror of society, which is the basis
of morals, the terror of god, which is thesecret of religionâ€”these are the two things that govern us. and yetâ€”" "just turn your head a little more to theright, dorian, like a good boy," said the painter, deep in his work and conscious onlythat a look had come into the lad's face that he had never seen there before. "and yet," continued lord henry, in his low,musical voice, and with that graceful wave of the hand that was always so characteristicof him, and that he had even in his eton days, "i believe that if one man were to live outhis life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to everythought, reality to every dreamâ€”i believe
that the world would gain such a fresh impulseof joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the hellenicidealâ€”to something finer, richer than the hellenic ideal, it may be. but the bravestman amongst us is afraid of himself. the mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in theself-denial that mars our lives. we are punished for our refusals. every impulse that we striveto strangle broods in the mind and poisons us. the body sins once, and has done withits sin, for action is a mode of purification. nothing remains then but the recollectionof a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret. the only way to get rid of a temptation isto yield to it. resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbiddento itself, with desire for what its monstrous
laws have made monstrous and unlawful. ithas been said that the great events of the world take place in the brain. it is in thebrain, and the brain only, that the great sins of the world take place also. you, mr.gray, you yourself, with your rose-red youth and your rose-white boyhood, you have hadpassions that have made you afraid, thoughts that have filled you with terror, day-dreamsand sleeping dreams whose mere memory might stain your cheek with shameâ€”" "stop!" faltered dorian gray, "stop! you bewilderme. i don't know what to say. there is some answer to you, but i cannot find it. don'tspeak. let me think. or, rather, let me try not to think."
for nearly ten minutes he stood there, motionless,with parted lips and eyes strangely bright. he was dimly conscious that entirely freshinfluences were at work within him. yet they seemed to him to have come really from himself.the few words that basil's friend had said to himâ€”words spoken by chance, no doubt,and with wilful paradox in themâ€”had touched some secret chord that had never been touchedbefore, but that he felt was now vibrating and throbbing to curious pulses. music had stirred him like that. music hadtroubled him many times. but music was not articulate. it was not a new world, but ratheranother chaos, that it created in us. words! mere words! how terrible they were! how clear,and vivid, and cruel! one could not escape
from them. and yet what a subtle magic therewas in them! they seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and tohave a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute. mere words! was thereanything so real as words? yes; there had been things in his boyhoodthat he had not understood. he understood them now. life suddenly became fiery-colouredto him. it seemed to him that he had been walking in fire. why had he not known it? with his subtle smile, lord henry watchedhim. he knew the precise psychological moment when to say nothing. he felt intensely interested.he was amazed at the sudden impression that his words had produced, and, remembering abook that he had read when he was sixteen,
a book which had revealed to him much thathe had not known before, he wondered whether dorian gray was passing through a similarexperience. he had merely shot an arrow into the air. had it hit the mark? how fascinatingthe lad was! hallward painted away with that marvellousbold touch of his, that had the true refinement and perfect delicacy that in art, at any ratecomes only from strength. he was unconscious of the silence. "basil, i am tired of standing," cried doriangray suddenly. "i must go out and sit in the garden. the air is stifling here." "my dear fellow, i am so sorry. when i ampainting, i can't think of anything else.
but you never sat better. you were perfectlystill. and i have caught the effect i wantedâ€”the half-parted lips and the bright look in theeyes. i don't know what harry has been saying to you, but he has certainly made you havethe most wonderful expression. i suppose he has been paying you compliments. you mustn'tbelieve a word that he says." "he has certainly not been paying me compliments.perhaps that is the reason that i don't believe anything he has told me." "you know you believe it all," said lord henry,looking at him with his dreamy languorous eyes. "i will go out to the garden with you.it is horribly hot in the studio. basil, let us have something iced to drink, somethingwith strawberries in it."
"certainly, harry. just touch the bell, andwhen parker comes i will tell him what you want. i have got to work up this background,so i will join you later on. don't keep dorian too long. i have never been in better formfor painting than i am to-day. this is going to be my masterpiece. it is my masterpieceas it stands." lord henry went out to the garden and founddorian gray burying his face in the great cool lilac-blossoms, feverishly drinking intheir perfume as if it had been wine. he came close to him and put his hand upon his shoulder."you are quite right to do that," he murmured. "nothing can cure the soul but the senses,just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul."
the lad started and drew back. he was bareheaded,and the leaves had tossed his rebellious curls and tangled all their gilded threads. therewas a look of fear in his eyes, such as people have when they are suddenly awakened. hisfinely chiselled nostrils quivered, and some hidden nerve shook the scarlet of his lipsand left them trembling. "yes," continued lord henry, "that is oneof the great secrets of lifeâ€”to cure the soul by means of the senses, and the sensesby means of the soul. you are a wonderful creation. you know more than you think youknow, just as you know less than you want dorian gray frowned and turned his head away.he could not help liking the tall, graceful young man who was standing by him. his romantic,olive-coloured face and worn expression interested
him. there was something in his low languidvoice that was absolutely fascinating. his cool, white, flowerlike hands, even, had acurious charm. they moved, as he spoke, like music, and seemed to have a language of theirown. but he felt afraid of him, and ashamed of being afraid. why had it been left fora stranger to reveal him to himself? he had known basil hallward for months, but the friendshipbetween them had never altered him. suddenly there had come some one across his life whoseemed to have disclosed to him life's mystery. and, yet, what was there to be afraid of?he was not a schoolboy or a girl. it was absurd to be frightened. "let us go and sit in the shade," said lordhenry. "parker has brought out the drinks,
and if you stay any longer in this glare,you will be quite spoiled, and basil will never paint you again. you really must notallow yourself to become sunburnt. it would be unbecoming." "what can it matter?" cried dorian gray, laughing,as he sat down on the seat at the end of the garden. "it should matter everything to you, mr. gray." "because you have the most marvellous youth,and youth is the one thing worth having." "i don't feel that, lord henry." "no, you don't feel it now. some day, whenyou are old and wrinkled and ugly, when thought
has seared your forehead with its lines, andpassion branded your lips with its hideous fires, you will feel it, you will feel itterribly. now, wherever you go, you charm the world. will it always be so? ... you havea wonderfully beautiful face, mr. gray. don't frown. you have. and beauty is a form of geniusâ€”ishigher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. it is of the great facts of theworld, like sunlight, or spring-time, or the reflection in dark waters of that silver shellwe call the moon. it cannot be questioned. it has its divine right of sovereignty. itmakes princes of those who have it. you smile? ah! when you have lost it you won't smile....people say sometimes that beauty is only superficial. that may be so, but at least it is not sosuperficial as thought is. to me, beauty is
the wonder of wonders. it is only shallowpeople who do not judge by appearances. the true mystery of the world is the visible,not the invisible.... yes, mr. gray, the gods have been good to you. but what the gods givethey quickly take away. you have only a few years in which to live really, perfectly,and fully. when your youth goes, your beauty will go with it, and then you will suddenlydiscover that there are no triumphs left for you, or have to content yourself with thosemean triumphs that the memory of your past will make more bitter than defeats. everymonth as it wanes brings you nearer to something dreadful. time is jealous of you, and warsagainst your lilies and your roses. you will become sallow, and hollow-cheeked, and dull-eyed.you will suffer horribly.... ah! realize your
youth while you have it. don't squander thegold of your days, listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless failure, orgiving away your life to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar. these are the sicklyaims, the false ideals, of our age. live! live the wonderful life that is in you! letnothing be lost upon you. be always searching for new sensations. be afraid of nothing....a new hedonismâ€”that is what our century wants. you might be its visible symbol. withyour personality there is nothing you could not do. the world belongs to you for a season....the moment i met you i saw that you were quite unconscious of what you really are, of whatyou really might be. there was so much in you that charmed me that i felt i must tellyou something about yourself. i thought how
tragic it would be if you were wasted. forthere is such a little time that your youth will lastâ€”such a little time. the commonhill-flowers wither, but they blossom again. the laburnum will be as yellow next june asit is now. in a month there will be purple stars on the clematis, and year after yearthe green night of its leaves will hold its purple stars. but we never get back our youth.the pulse of joy that beats in us at twenty becomes sluggish. our limbs fail, our sensesrot. we degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which wewere too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. youth!youth! there is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!"
dorian gray listened, open-eyed and wondering.the spray of lilac fell from his hand upon the gravel. a furry bee came and buzzed roundit for a moment. then it began to scramble all over the oval stellated globe of the tinyblossoms. he watched it with that strange interest in trivial things that we try todevelop when things of high import make us afraid, or when we are stirred by some newemotion for which we cannot find expression, or when some thought that terrifies us layssudden siege to the brain and calls on us to yield. after a time the bee flew away.he saw it creeping into the stained trumpet of a tyrian convolvulus. the flower seemedto quiver, and then swayed gently to and fro. suddenly the painter appeared at the doorof the studio and made staccato signs for
them to come in. they turned to each otherand smiled. "i am waiting," he cried. "do come in. thelight is quite perfect, and you can bring your drinks." they rose up and sauntered down the walk together.two green-and-white butterflies fluttered past them, and in the pear-tree at the cornerof the garden a thrush began to sing. "you are glad you have met me, mr. gray,"said lord henry, looking at him. "yes, i am glad now. i wonder shall i alwaysbe glad?" "always! that is a dreadful word. it makesme shudder when i hear it. women are so fond of using it. they spoil every romance by tryingto make it last for ever. it is a meaningless
word, too. the only difference between a capriceand a lifelong passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer." as they entered the studio, dorian gray puthis hand upon lord henry's arm. "in that case, let our friendship be a caprice," he murmured,flushing at his own boldness, then stepped up on the platform and resumed his pose. lord henry flung himself into a large wickerarm-chair and watched him. the sweep and dash of the brush on the canvas made the only soundthat broke the stillness, except when, now and then, hallward stepped back to look athis work from a distance. in the slanting beams that streamed through the open doorwaythe dust danced and was golden. the heavy
scent of the roses seemed to brood over everything. after about a quarter of an hour hallwardstopped painting, looked for a long time at dorian gray, and then for a long time at thepicture, biting the end of one of his huge brushes and frowning. "it is quite finished,"he cried at last, and stooping down he wrote his name in long vermilion letters on theleft-hand corner of the canvas. lord henry came over and examined the picture.it was certainly a wonderful work of art, and a wonderful likeness as well. "my dear fellow, i congratulate you most warmly,"he said. "it is the finest portrait of modern times. mr. gray, come over and look at yourself."
the lad started, as if awakened from somedream. "is it really finished?" he murmured, steppingdown from the platform. "quite finished," said the painter. "and youhave sat splendidly to-day. i am awfully obliged to you." "that is entirely due to me," broke in lordhenry. "isn't it, mr. gray?" dorian made no answer, but passed listlesslyin front of his picture and turned towards it. when he saw it he drew back, and his cheeksflushed for a moment with pleasure. a look of joy came into his eyes, as if he had recognizedhimself for the first time. he stood there motionless and in wonder, dimly consciousthat hallward was speaking to him, but not
catching the meaning of his words. the senseof his own beauty came on him like a revelation. he had never felt it before. basil hallward'scompliments had seemed to him to be merely the charming exaggeration of friendship. hehad listened to them, laughed at them, forgotten them. they had not influenced his nature.then had come lord henry wotton with his strange panegyric on youth, his terrible warning ofits brevity. that had stirred him at the time, and now, as he stood gazing at the shadowof his own loveliness, the full reality of the description flashed across him. yes, therewould be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colourless, thegrace of his figure broken and deformed. the scarlet would pass away from his lips andthe gold steal from his hair. the life that
was to make his soul would mar his body. hewould become dreadful, hideous, and uncouth. as he thought of it, a sharp pang of painstruck through him like a knife and made each delicate fibre of his nature quiver. his eyesdeepened into amethyst, and across them came a mist of tears. he felt as if a hand of icehad been laid upon his heart. "don't you like it?" cried hallward at last,stung a little by the lad's silence, not understanding what it meant. "of course he likes it," said lord henry."who wouldn't like it? it is one of the greatest things in modern art. i will give you anythingyou like to ask for it. i must have it." "it is not my property, harry."
"whose property is it?" "dorian's, of course," answered the painter. "he is a very lucky fellow." "how sad it is!" murmured dorian gray withhis eyes still fixed upon his own portrait. "how sad it is! i shall grow old, and horrible,and dreadful. but this picture will remain always young. it will never be older thanthis particular day of june.... if it were only the other way! if it were i who was tobe always young, and the picture that was to grow old! for thatâ€”for thatâ€”i wouldgive everything! yes, there is nothing in the whole world i would not give! i wouldgive my soul for that!"
"you would hardly care for such an arrangement,basil," cried lord henry, laughing. "it would be rather hard lines on your work." "i should object very strongly, harry," saidhallward. dorian gray turned and looked at him. "i believeyou would, basil. you like your art better than your friends. i am no more to you thana green bronze figure. hardly as much, i dare say." the painter stared in amazement. it was sounlike dorian to speak like that. what had happened? he seemed quite angry. his facewas flushed and his cheeks burning. "yes," he continued, "i am less to you thanyour ivory hermes or your silver faun. you
will like them always. how long will you likeme? till i have my first wrinkle, i suppose. i know, now, that when one loses one's goodlooks, whatever they may be, one loses everything. your picture has taught me that. lord henrywotton is perfectly right. youth is the only thing worth having. when i find that i amgrowing old, i shall kill myself." hallward turned pale and caught his hand."dorian! dorian!" he cried, "don't talk like that. i have never had such a friend as you,and i shall never have such another. you are not jealous of material things, are you?â€”youwho are finer than any of them!" "i am jealous of everything whose beauty doesnot die. i am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me. why should it keep whati must lose? every moment that passes takes
something from me and gives something to it.oh, if it were only the other way! if the picture could change, and i could be alwayswhat i am now! why did you paint it? it will mock me some dayâ€”mock me horribly!" thehot tears welled into his eyes; he tore his hand away and, flinging himself on the divan,he buried his face in the cushions, as though he was praying. "this is your doing, harry," said the painterbitterly. lord henry shrugged his shoulders. "it isthe real dorian grayâ€”that is all." "it is not." "if it is not, what have i to do with it?"
"you should have gone away when i asked you,"he muttered. "i stayed when you asked me," was lord henry'sanswer. "harry, i can't quarrel with my two best friendsat once, but between you both you have made me hate the finest piece of work i have everdone, and i will destroy it. what is it but canvas and colour? i will not let it comeacross our three lives and mar them." dorian gray lifted his golden head from thepillow, and with pallid face and tear-stained eyes, looked at him as he walked over to thedeal painting-table that was set beneath the high curtained window. what was he doing there?his fingers were straying about among the litter of tin tubes and dry brushes, seekingfor something. yes, it was for the long palette-knife,
with its thin blade of lithe steel. he hadfound it at last. he was going to rip up the canvas. with a stifled sob the lad leaped from thecouch, and, rushing over to hallward, tore the knife out of his hand, and flung it tothe end of the studio. "don't, basil, don't!" he cried. "it would be murder!" "i am glad you appreciate my work at last,dorian," said the painter coldly when he had recovered from his surprise. "i never thoughtyou would." "appreciate it? i am in love with it, basil.it is part of myself. i feel that." "well, as soon as you are dry, you shall bevarnished, and framed, and sent home. then
you can do what you like with yourself." andhe walked across the room and rang the bell for tea. "you will have tea, of course, dorian?and so will you, harry? or do you object to such simple pleasures?" "i adore simple pleasures," said lord henry."they are the last refuge of the complex. but i don't like scenes, except on the stage.what absurd fellows you are, both of you! i wonder who it was defined man as a rationalanimal. it was the most premature definition ever given. man is many things, but he isnot rational. i am glad he is not, after allâ€”though i wish you chaps would not squabble over thepicture. you had much better let me have it, basil. this silly boy doesn't really wantit, and i really do."
"if you let any one have it but me, basil,i shall never forgive you!" cried dorian gray; "and i don't allow people to call me a sillyboy." "you know the picture is yours, dorian. igave it to you before it existed." "and you know you have been a little silly,mr. gray, and that you don't really object to being reminded that you are extremely young." "i should have objected very strongly thismorning, lord henry." "ah! this morning! you have lived since then." there came a knock at the door, and the butlerentered with a laden tea-tray and set it down upon a small japanese table. there was a rattleof cups and saucers and the hissing of a fluted
georgian urn. two globe-shaped china disheswere brought in by a page. dorian gray went over and poured out the tea. the two men saunteredlanguidly to the table and examined what was under the covers. "let us go to the theatre to-night," saidlord henry. "there is sure to be something on, somewhere. i have promised to dine atwhite's, but it is only with an old friend, so i can send him a wire to say that i amill, or that i am prevented from coming in consequence of a subsequent engagement. ithink that would be a rather nice excuse: it would have all the surprise of candour." "it is such a bore putting on one's dress-clothes,"muttered hallward. "and, when one has them
on, they are so horrid." "yes," answered lord henry dreamily, "thecostume of the nineteenth century is detestable. it is so sombre, so depressing. sin is theonly real colour-element left in modern life." "you really must not say things like thatbefore dorian, harry." "before which dorian? the one who is pouringout tea for us, or the one in the picture?" "before either." "i should like to come to the theatre withyou, lord henry," said the lad. "then you shall come; and you will come, too,basil, won't you?" "i can't, really. i would sooner not. i havea lot of work to do."
"well, then, you and i will go alone, mr.gray." "i should like that awfully." the painter bit his lip and walked over, cupin hand, to the picture. "i shall stay with the real dorian," he said, sadly. "is it the real dorian?" cried the originalof the portrait, strolling across to him. "am i really like that?" "yes; you are just like that." "how wonderful, basil!" "at least you are like it in appearance. butit will never alter," sighed hallward. "that
is something." "what a fuss people make about fidelity!"exclaimed lord henry. "why, even in love it is purely a question for physiology. it hasnothing to do with our own will. young men want to be faithful, and are not; old menwant to be faithless, and cannot: that is all one can say." "don't go to the theatre to-night, dorian,"said hallward. "stop and dine with me." "i can't, basil." "because i have promised lord henry wottonto go with him." "he won't like you the better for keepingyour promises. he always breaks his own. i
beg you not to go." dorian gray laughed and shook his head. "i entreat you." the lad hesitated, and looked over at lordhenry, who was watching them from the tea-table with an amused smile. "i must go, basil," he answered. "very well," said hallward, and he went overand laid down his cup on the tray. "it is rather late, and, as you have to dress, youhad better lose no time. good-bye, harry. good-bye, dorian. come and see me soon. cometo-morrow."
"certainly." "you won't forget?" "no, of course not," cried dorian. "and ... harry!" "yes, basil?" "remember what i asked you, when we were inthe garden this morning." "i have forgotten it." "i trust you." "i wish i could trust myself," said lord henry,laughing. "come, mr. gray, my hansom is outside,
and i can drop you at your own place. good-bye,basil. it has been a most interesting afternoon." as the door closed behind them, the painterflung himself down on a sofa, and a look of pain came into his face. chapter 3 at half-past twelve next day lord henry wottonstrolled from curzon street over to the albany to call on his uncle, lord fermor, a genialif somewhat rough-mannered old bachelor, whom the outside world called selfish because itderived no particular benefit from him, but who was considered generous by society ashe fed the people who amused him. his father had been our ambassador at madrid when isabellawas young and prim unthought of, but had retired
from the diplomatic service in a capriciousmoment of annoyance on not being offered the embassy at paris, a post to which he consideredthat he was fully entitled by reason of his birth, his indolence, the good english ofhis dispatches, and his inordinate passion for pleasure. the son, who had been his father'ssecretary, had resigned along with his chief, somewhat foolishly as was thought at the time,and on succeeding some months later to the title, had set himself to the serious studyof the great aristocratic art of doing absolutely nothing. he had two large town houses, butpreferred to live in chambers as it was less trouble, and took most of his meals at hisclub. he paid some attention to the management of his collieries in the midland counties,excusing himself for this taint of industry
on the ground that the one advantage of havingcoal was that it enabled a gentleman to afford the decency of burning wood on his own hearth.in politics he was a tory, except when the tories were in office, during which periodhe roundly abused them for being a pack of radicals. he was a hero to his valet, whobullied him, and a terror to most of his relations, whom he bullied in turn. only england couldhave produced him, and he always said that the country was going to the dogs. his principleswere out of date, but there was a good deal to be said for his prejudices. when lord henry entered the room, he foundhis uncle sitting in a rough shooting-coat, smoking a cheroot and grumbling over the times."well, harry," said the old gentleman, "what
brings you out so early? i thought you dandiesnever got up till two, and were not visible till five." "pure family affection, i assure you, unclegeorge. i want to get something out of you." "money, i suppose," said lord fermor, makinga wry face. "well, sit down and tell me all about it. young people, nowadays, imaginethat money is everything." "yes," murmured lord henry, settling his button-holein his coat; "and when they grow older they know it. but i don't want money. it is onlypeople who pay their bills who want that, uncle george, and i never pay mine. creditis the capital of a younger son, and one lives charmingly upon it. besides, i always dealwith dartmoor's tradesmen, and consequently
they never bother me. what i want is information:not useful information, of course; useless information." "well, i can tell you anything that is inan english blue book, harry, although those fellows nowadays write a lot of nonsense.when i was in the diplomatic, things were much better. but i hear they let them in nowby examination. what can you expect? examinations, sir, are pure humbug from beginning to end.if a man is a gentleman, he knows quite enough, and if he is not a gentleman, whatever heknows is bad for him." "mr. dorian gray does not belong to blue books,uncle george," said lord henry languidly. "mr. dorian gray? who is he?" asked lord fermor,knitting his bushy white eyebrows.
"that is what i have come to learn, unclegeorge. or rather, i know who he is. he is the last lord kelso's grandson. his motherwas a devereux, lady margaret devereux. i want you to tell me about his mother. whatwas she like? whom did she marry? you have known nearly everybody in your time, so youmight have known her. i am very much interested in mr. gray at present. i have only just methim." "kelso's grandson!" echoed the old gentleman."kelso's grandson! ... of course.... i knew his mother intimately. i believe i was ather christening. she was an extraordinarily beautiful girl, margaret devereux, and madeall the men frantic by running away with a penniless young fellowâ€”a mere nobody, sir,a subaltern in a foot regiment, or something
of that kind. certainly. i remember the wholething as if it happened yesterday. the poor chap was killed in a duel at spa a few monthsafter the marriage. there was an ugly story about it. they said kelso got some rascallyadventurer, some belgian brute, to insult his son-in-law in publicâ€”paid him, sir,to do it, paid himâ€”and that the fellow spitted his man as if he had been a pigeon. the thingwas hushed up, but, egad, kelso ate his chop alone at the club for some time afterwards.he brought his daughter back with him, i was told, and she never spoke to him again. oh,yes; it was a bad business. the girl died, too, died within a year. so she left a son,did she? i had forgotten that. what sort of boy is he? if he is like his mother, he mustbe a good-looking chap."
"he is very good-looking," assented lord henry. "i hope he will fall into proper hands," continuedthe old man. "he should have a pot of money waiting for him if kelso did the right thingby him. his mother had money, too. all the selby property came to her, through her grandfather.her grandfather hated kelso, thought him a mean dog. he was, too. came to madrid oncewhen i was there. egad, i was ashamed of him. the queen used to ask me about the englishnoble who was always quarrelling with the cabmen about their fares. they made quitea story of it. i didn't dare show my face at court for a month. i hope he treated hisgrandson better than he did the jarvies." "i don't know," answered lord henry. "i fancythat the boy will be well off. he is not of
age yet. he has selby, i know. he told meso. and ... his mother was very beautiful?" "margaret devereux was one of the loveliestcreatures i ever saw, harry. what on earth induced her to behave as she did, i nevercould understand. she could have married anybody she chose. carlington was mad after her. shewas romantic, though. all the women of that family were. the men were a poor lot, but,egad! the women were wonderful. carlington went on his knees to her. told me so himself.she laughed at him, and there wasn't a girl in london at the time who wasn't after him.and by the way, harry, talking about silly marriages, what is this humbug your fathertells me about dartmoor wanting to marry an american? ain't english girls good enoughfor him?"
"it is rather fashionable to marry americansjust now, uncle george." "i'll back english women against the world,harry," said lord fermor, striking the table with his fist. "the betting is on the americans." "they don't last, i am told," muttered hisuncle. "a long engagement exhausts them, but theyare capital at a steeplechase. they take things flying. i don't think dartmoor has a chance." "who are her people?" grumbled the old gentleman."has she got any?" lord henry shook his head. "american girlsare as clever at concealing their parents,
as english women are at concealing their past,"he said, rising to go. "they are pork-packers, i suppose?" "i hope so, uncle george, for dartmoor's sake.i am told that pork-packing is the most lucrative profession in america, after politics." "is she pretty?" "she behaves as if she was beautiful. mostamerican women do. it is the secret of their charm." "why can't these american women stay in theirown country? they are always telling us that it is the paradise for women."
"it is. that is the reason why, like eve,they are so excessively anxious to get out of it," said lord henry. "good-bye, unclegeorge. i shall be late for lunch, if i stop any longer. thanks for giving me the informationi wanted. i always like to know everything about my new friends, and nothing about myold ones." "where are you lunching, harry?" "at aunt agatha's. i have asked myself andmr. gray. he is her latest protege." "humph! tell your aunt agatha, harry, notto bother me any more with her charity appeals. i am sick of them. why, the good woman thinksthat i have nothing to do but to write cheques for her silly fads."
"all right, uncle george, i'll tell her, butit won't have any effect. philanthropic people lose all sense of humanity. it is their distinguishingcharacteristic." the old gentleman growled approvingly andrang the bell for his servant. lord henry passed up the low arcade into burlington streetand turned his steps in the direction of berkeley square. so that was the story of dorian gray's parentage.crudely as it had been told to him, it had yet stirred him by its suggestion of a strange,almost modern romance. a beautiful woman risking everything for a mad passion. a few wild weeksof happiness cut short by a hideous, treacherous crime. months of voiceless agony, and thena child born in pain. the mother snatched
away by death, the boy left to solitude andthe tyranny of an old and loveless man. yes; it was an interesting background. it posedthe lad, made him more perfect, as it were. behind every exquisite thing that existed,there was something tragic. worlds had to be in travail, that the meanest flower mightblow.... and how charming he had been at dinner the night before, as with startled eyes andlips parted in frightened pleasure he had sat opposite to him at the club, the red candleshadesstaining to a richer rose the wakening wonder of his face. talking to him was like playingupon an exquisite violin. he answered to every touch and thrill of the bow.... there wassomething terribly enthralling in the exercise of influence. no other activity was like it.to project one's soul into some gracious form,
and let it tarry there for a moment; to hearone's own intellectual views echoed back to one with all the added music of passion andyouth; to convey one's temperament into another as though it were a subtle fluid or a strangeperfume: there was a real joy in thatâ€”perhaps the most satisfying joy left to us in an ageso limited and vulgar as our own, an age grossly carnal in its pleasures, and grossly commonin its aims.... he was a marvellous type, too, this lad, whom by so curious a chancehe had met in basil's studio, or could be fashioned into a marvellous type, at any rate.grace was his, and the white purity of boyhood, and beauty such as old greek marbles keptfor us. there was nothing that one could not do with him. he could be made a titan or atoy. what a pity it was that such beauty was
destined to fade! ... and basil? from a psychologicalpoint of view, how interesting he was! the new manner in art, the fresh mode of lookingat life, suggested so strangely by the merely visible presence of one who was unconsciousof it all; the silent spirit that dwelt in dim woodland, and walked unseen in open field,suddenly showing herself, dryadlike and not afraid, because in his soul who sought forher there had been wakened that wonderful vision to which alone are wonderful thingsrevealed; the mere shapes and patterns of things becoming, as it were, refined, andgaining a kind of symbolical value, as though they were themselves patterns of some otherand more perfect form whose shadow they made real: how strange it all was! he rememberedsomething like it in history. was it not plato,
that artist in thought, who had first analyzedit? was it not buonarotti who had carved it in the coloured marbles of a sonnet-sequence?but in our own century it was strange.... yes; he would try to be to dorian gray what,without knowing it, the lad was to the painter who had fashioned the wonderful portrait.he would seek to dominate himâ€”had already, indeed, half done so. he would make that wonderfulspirit his own. there was something fascinating in this son of love and death. suddenly he stopped and glanced up at thehouses. he found that he had passed his aunt's some distance, and, smiling to himself, turnedback. when he entered the somewhat sombre hall, the butler told him that they had gonein to lunch. he gave one of the footmen his
hat and stick and passed into the dining-room. "late as usual, harry," cried his aunt, shakingher head at him. he invented a facile excuse, and having takenthe vacant seat next to her, looked round to see who was there. dorian bowed to himshyly from the end of the table, a flush of pleasure stealing into his cheek. oppositewas the duchess of harley, a lady of admirable good-nature and good temper, much liked byevery one who knew her, and of those ample architectural proportions that in women whoare not duchesses are described by contemporary historians as stoutness. next to her sat,on her right, sir thomas burdon, a radical member of parliament, who followed his leaderin public life and in private life followed
the best cooks, dining with the tories andthinking with the liberals, in accordance with a wise and well-known rule. the poston her left was occupied by mr. erskine of treadley, an old gentleman of considerablecharm and culture, who had fallen, however, into bad habits of silence, having, as heexplained once to lady agatha, said everything that he had to say before he was thirty. hisown neighbour was mrs. vandeleur, one of his aunt's oldest friends, a perfect saint amongstwomen, but so dreadfully dowdy that she reminded one of a badly bound hymn-book. fortunatelyfor him she had on the other side lord faudel, a most intelligent middle-aged mediocrity,as bald as a ministerial statement in the house of commons, with whom she was conversingin that intensely earnest manner which is
the one unpardonable error, as he remarkedonce himself, that all really good people fall into, and from which none of them everquite escape. "we are talking about poor dartmoor, lordhenry," cried the duchess, nodding pleasantly to him across the table. "do you think hewill really marry this fascinating young person?" "i believe she has made up her mind to proposeto him, duchess." "how dreadful!" exclaimed lady agatha. "really,some one should interfere." "i am told, on excellent authority, that herfather keeps an american dry-goods store," said sir thomas burdon, looking supercilious. "my uncle has already suggested pork-packing,sir thomas."
"dry-goods! what are american dry-goods?"asked the duchess, raising her large hands in wonder and accentuating the verb. "american novels," answered lord henry, helpinghimself to some quail. the duchess looked puzzled. "don't mind him, my dear," whispered ladyagatha. "he never means anything that he says." "when america was discovered," said the radicalmemberâ€”and he began to give some wearisome facts. like all people who try to exhausta subject, he exhausted his listeners. the duchess sighed and exercised her privilegeof interruption. "i wish to goodness it never had been discovered at all!" she exclaimed."really, our girls have no chance nowadays.
it is most unfair." "perhaps, after all, america never has beendiscovered," said mr. erskine; "i myself would say that it had merely been detected." "oh! but i have seen specimens of the inhabitants,"answered the duchess vaguely. "i must confess that most of them are extremely pretty. andthey dress well, too. they get all their dresses in paris. i wish i could afford to do thesame." "they say that when good americans die theygo to paris," chuckled sir thomas, who had a large wardrobe of humour's cast-off clothes. "really! and where do bad americans go towhen they die?" inquired the duchess.
"they go to america," murmured lord henry. sir thomas frowned. "i am afraid that yournephew is prejudiced against that great country," he said to lady agatha. "i have travelledall over it in cars provided by the directors, who, in such matters, are extremely civil.i assure you that it is an education to visit it." "but must we really see chicago in order tobe educated?" asked mr. erskine plaintively. "i don't feel up to the journey." sir thomas waved his hand. "mr. erskine oftreadley has the world on his shelves. we practical men like to see things, not to readabout them. the americans are an extremely
interesting people. they are absolutely reasonable.i think that is their distinguishing characteristic. yes, mr. erskine, an absolutely reasonablepeople. i assure you there is no nonsense about the americans." "how dreadful!" cried lord henry. "i can standbrute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. there is something unfair about its use. itis hitting below the intellect." "i do not understand you," said sir thomas,growing rather red. "i do, lord henry," murmured mr. erskine,with a smile. "paradoxes are all very well in their way...."rejoined the baronet. "was that a paradox?" asked mr. erskine. "idid not think so. perhaps it was. well, the
way of paradoxes is the way of truth. to testreality we must see it on the tight rope. when the verities become acrobats, we canjudge them." "dear me!" said lady agatha, "how you menargue! i am sure i never can make out what you are talking about. oh! harry, i am quitevexed with you. why do you try to persuade our nice mr. dorian gray to give up the eastend? i assure you he would be quite invaluable. they would love his playing." "i want him to play to me," cried lord henry,smiling, and he looked down the table and caught a bright answering glance. "but they are so unhappy in whitechapel,"continued lady agatha.
"i can sympathize with everything except suffering,"said lord henry, shrugging his shoulders. "i cannot sympathize with that. it is toougly, too horrible, too distressing. there is something terribly morbid in the modernsympathy with pain. one should sympathize with the colour, the beauty, the joy of life.the less said about life's sores, the better." "still, the east end is a very important problem,"remarked sir thomas with a grave shake of the head. "quite so," answered the young lord. "it isthe problem of slavery, and we try to solve it by amusing the slaves." the politician looked at him keenly. "whatchange do you propose, then?" he asked.
lord henry laughed. "i don't desire to changeanything in england except the weather," he answered. "i am quite content with philosophiccontemplation. but, as the nineteenth century has gone bankrupt through an over-expenditureof sympathy, i would suggest that we should appeal to science to put us straight. theadvantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray, and the advantage of science isthat it is not emotional." "but we have such grave responsibilities,"ventured mrs. vandeleur timidly. "terribly grave," echoed lady agatha. lord henry looked over at mr. erskine. "humanitytakes itself too seriously. it is the world's original sin. if the caveman had known howto laugh, history would have been different."
"you are really very comforting," warbledthe duchess. "i have always felt rather guilty when i came to see your dear aunt, for i takeno interest at all in the east end. for the future i shall be able to look her in theface without a blush." "a blush is very becoming, duchess," remarkedlord henry. "only when one is young," she answered. "whenan old woman like myself blushes, it is a very bad sign. ah! lord henry, i wish youwould tell me how to become young again." he thought for a moment. "can you rememberany great error that you committed in your early days, duchess?" he asked, looking ather across the table. "a great many, i fear," she cried.
"then commit them over again," he said gravely."to get back one's youth, one has merely to repeat one's follies." "a delightful theory!" she exclaimed. "i mustput it into practice." "a dangerous theory!" came from sir thomas'stight lips. lady agatha shook her head, but could not help being amused. mr. erskine listened. "yes," he continued, "that is one of the greatsecrets of life. nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discoverwhen it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes." a laugh ran round the table.
he played with the idea and grew wilful; tossedit into the air and transformed it; let it escape and recaptured it; made it iridescentwith fancy and winged it with paradox. the praise of folly, as he went on, soared intoa philosophy, and philosophy herself became young, and catching the mad music of pleasure,wearing, one might fancy, her wine-stained robe and wreath of ivy, danced like a bacchanteover the hills of life, and mocked the slow silenus for being sober. facts fled beforeher like frightened forest things. her white feet trod the huge press at which wise omarsits, till the seething grape-juice rose round her bare limbs in waves of purple bubbles,or crawled in red foam over the vat's black, dripping, sloping sides. it was an extraordinaryimprovisation. he felt that the eyes of dorian
gray were fixed on him, and the consciousnessthat amongst his audience there was one whose temperament he wished to fascinate seemedto give his wit keenness and to lend colour to his imagination. he was brilliant, fantastic,irresponsible. he charmed his listeners out of themselves, and they followed his pipe,laughing. dorian gray never took his gaze off him, but sat like one under a spell, smileschasing each other over his lips and wonder growing grave in his darkening eyes. at last, liveried in the costume of the age,reality entered the room in the shape of a servant to tell the duchess that her carriagewas waiting. she wrung her hands in mock despair. "how annoying!" she cried. "i must go. i haveto call for my husband at the club, to take
him to some absurd meeting at willis's rooms,where he is going to be in the chair. if i am late he is sure to be furious, and i couldn'thave a scene in this bonnet. it is far too fragile. a harsh word would ruin it. no, imust go, dear agatha. good-bye, lord henry, you are quite delightful and dreadfully demoralizing.i am sure i don't know what to say about your views. you must come and dine with us somenight. tuesday? are you disengaged tuesday?" "for you i would throw over anybody, duchess,"said lord henry with a bow. "ah! that is very nice, and very wrong ofyou," she cried; "so mind you come"; and she swept out of the room, followed by lady agathaand the other ladies. when lord henry had sat down again, mr. erskinemoved round, and taking a chair close to him,
placed his hand upon his arm. "you talk books away," he said; "why don'tyou write one?" "i am too fond of reading books to care towrite them, mr. erskine. i should like to write a novel certainly, a novel that wouldbe as lovely as a persian carpet and as unreal. but there is no literary public in englandfor anything except newspapers, primers, and encyclopaedias. of all people in the worldthe english have the least sense of the beauty of literature." "i fear you are right," answered mr. erskine."i myself used to have literary ambitions, but i gave them up long ago. and now, my dearyoung friend, if you will allow me to call
you so, may i ask if you really meant allthat you said to us at lunch?" "i quite forget what i said," smiled lordhenry. "was it all very bad?" "very bad indeed. in fact i consider you extremelydangerous, and if anything happens to our good duchess, we shall all look on you asbeing primarily responsible. but i should like to talk to you about life. the generationinto which i was born was tedious. some day, when you are tired of london, come down totreadley and expound to me your philosophy of pleasure over some admirable burgundy iam fortunate enough to possess." "i shall be charmed. a visit to treadley wouldbe a great privilege. it has a perfect host, and a perfect library."
"you will complete it," answered the old gentlemanwith a courteous bow. "and now i must bid good-bye to your excellent aunt. i am dueat the athenaeum. it is the hour when we sleep there." "all of you, mr. erskine?" "forty of us, in forty arm-chairs. we arepractising for an english academy of letters." lord henry laughed and rose. "i am going tothe park," he cried. as he was passing out of the door, doriangray touched him on the arm. "let me come with you," he murmured. "but i thought you had promised basil hallwardto go and see him," answered lord henry.
"i would sooner come with you; yes, i feeli must come with you. do let me. and you will promise to talk to me all the time? no onetalks so wonderfully as you do." "ah! i have talked quite enough for to-day,"said lord henry, smiling. "all i want now is to look at life. you may come and lookat it with me, if you care to." chapter 4 one afternoon, a month later, dorian graywas reclining in a luxurious arm-chair, in the little library of lord henry's house inmayfair. it was, in its way, a very charming room, with its high panelled wainscoting ofolive-stained oak, its cream-coloured frieze and ceiling of raised plasterwork, and itsbrickdust felt carpet strewn with silk, long-fringed
persian rugs. on a tiny satinwood table stooda statuette by clodion, and beside it lay a copy of les cent nouvelles, bound for margaretof valois by clovis eve and powdered with the gilt daisies that queen had selected forher device. some large blue china jars and parrot-tulips were ranged on the mantelshelf,and through the small leaded panes of the window streamed the apricot-coloured lightof a summer day in london. lord henry had not yet come in. he was alwayslate on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time. so the ladwas looking rather sulky, as with listless fingers he turned over the pages of an elaboratelyillustrated edition of manon lescaut that he had found in one of the book-cases. theformal monotonous ticking of the louis quatorze
clock annoyed him. once or twice he thoughtof going away. at last he heard a step outside, and the dooropened. "how late you are, harry!" he murmured. "i am afraid it is not harry, mr. gray," answereda shrill voice. he glanced quickly round and rose to his feet."i beg your pardon. i thoughtâ€”" "you thought it was my husband. it is onlyhis wife. you must let me introduce myself. i know you quite well by your photographs.i think my husband has got seventeen of them." "not seventeen, lady henry?" "well, eighteen, then. and i saw you withhim the other night at the opera." she laughed nervously as she spoke, and watched him withher vague forget-me-not eyes. she was a curious
woman, whose dresses always looked as if theyhad been designed in a rage and put on in a tempest. she was usually in love with somebody,and, as her passion was never returned, she had kept all her illusions. she tried to lookpicturesque, but only succeeded in being untidy. her name was victoria, and she had a perfectmania for going to church. "that was at lohengrin, lady henry, i think?" "yes; it was at dear lohengrin. i like wagner'smusic better than anybody's. it is so loud that one can talk the whole time without otherpeople hearing what one says. that is a great advantage, don't you think so, mr. gray?" the same nervous staccato laugh broke fromher thin lips, and her fingers began to play
with a long tortoise-shell paper-knife. dorian smiled and shook his head: "i am afraidi don't think so, lady henry. i never talk during musicâ€”at least, during good music.if one hears bad music, it is one's duty to drown it in conversation." "ah! that is one of harry's views, isn't it,mr. gray? i always hear harry's views from his friends. it is the only way i get to knowof them. but you must not think i don't like good music. i adore it, but i am afraid ofit. it makes me too romantic. i have simply worshipped pianistsâ€”two at a time, sometimes,harry tells me. i don't know what it is about them. perhaps it is that they are foreigners.they all are, ain't they? even those that
are born in england become foreigners aftera time, don't they? it is so clever of them, and such a compliment to art. makes it quitecosmopolitan, doesn't it? you have never been to any of my parties, have you, mr. gray?you must come. i can't afford orchids, but i spare no expense in foreigners. they makeone's rooms look so picturesque. but here is harry! harry, i came in to look for you,to ask you somethingâ€”i forget what it wasâ€”and i found mr. gray here. we have had such apleasant chat about music. we have quite the same ideas. no; i think our ideas are quitedifferent. but he has been most pleasant. i am so glad i've seen him." "i am charmed, my love, quite charmed," saidlord henry, elevating his dark, crescent-shaped
eyebrows and looking at them both with anamused smile. "so sorry i am late, dorian. i went to look after a piece of old brocadein wardour street and had to bargain for hours for it. nowadays people know the price ofeverything and the value of nothing." "i am afraid i must be going," exclaimed ladyhenry, breaking an awkward silence with her silly sudden laugh. "i have promised to drivewith the duchess. good-bye, mr. gray. good-bye, harry. you are dining out, i suppose? so ami. perhaps i shall see you at lady thornbury's." "i dare say, my dear," said lord henry, shuttingthe door behind her as, looking like a bird of paradise that had been out all night inthe rain, she flitted out of the room, leaving a faint odour of frangipanni. then he lita cigarette and flung himself down on the
sofa. "never marry a woman with straw-coloured hair,dorian," he said after a few puffs. "why, harry?" "because they are so sentimental." "but i like sentimental people." "never marry at all, dorian. men marry becausethey are tired; women, because they are curious: both are disappointed." "i don't think i am likely to marry, harry.i am too much in love. that is one of your aphorisms. i am putting it into practice,as i do everything that you say."
"who are you in love with?" asked lord henryafter a pause. "with an actress," said dorian gray, blushing. lord henry shrugged his shoulders. "that isa rather commonplace debut." "you would not say so if you saw her, harry." "who is she?" "her name is sibyl vane." "never heard of her." "no one has. people will some day, however.she is a genius." "my dear boy, no woman is a genius. womenare a decorative sex. they never have anything
to say, but they say it charmingly. womenrepresent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mindover morals." "harry, how can you?" "my dear dorian, it is quite true. i am analysingwomen at present, so i ought to know. the subject is not so abstruse as i thought itwas. i find that, ultimately, there are only two kinds of women, the plain and the coloured.the plain women are very useful. if you want to gain a reputation for respectability, youhave merely to take them down to supper. the other women are very charming. they commitone mistake, however. they paint in order to try and look young. our grandmothers paintedin order to try and talk brilliantly. rouge
and esprit used to go together. that is allover now. as long as a woman can look ten years younger than her own daughter, she isperfectly satisfied. as for conversation, there are only five women in london worthtalking to, and two of these can't be admitted into decent society. however, tell me aboutyour genius. how long have you known her?" "ah! harry, your views terrify me." "never mind that. how long have you knownher?" "about three weeks." "and where did you come across her?" "i will tell you, harry, but you mustn't beunsympathetic about it. after all, it never
would have happened if i had not met you.you filled me with a wild desire to know everything about life. for days after i met you, somethingseemed to throb in my veins. as i lounged in the park, or strolled down piccadilly,i used to look at every one who passed me and wonder, with a mad curiosity, what sortof lives they led. some of them fascinated me. others filled me with terror. there wasan exquisite poison in the air. i had a passion for sensations.... well, one evening aboutseven o'clock, i determined to go out in search of some adventure. i felt that this grey monstrouslondon of ours, with its myriads of people, its sordid sinners, and its splendid sins,as you once phrased it, must have something in store for me. i fancied a thousand things.the mere danger gave me a sense of delight.
i remembered what you had said to me on thatwonderful evening when we first dined together, about the search for beauty being the realsecret of life. i don't know what i expected, but i went out and wandered eastward, soonlosing my way in a labyrinth of grimy streets and black grassless squares. about half-pasteight i passed by an absurd little theatre, with great flaring gas-jets and gaudy play-bills.a hideous jew, in the most amazing waistcoat i ever beheld in my life, was standing atthe entrance, smoking a vile cigar. he had greasy ringlets, and an enormous diamond blazedin the centre of a soiled shirt. 'have a box, my lord?' he said, when he saw me, and hetook off his hat with an air of gorgeous servility. there was something about him, harry, thatamused me. he was such a monster. you will
laugh at me, i know, but i really went inand paid a whole guinea for the stage-box. to the present day i can't make out why idid so; and yet if i hadn'tâ€”my dear harry, if i hadn'tâ€”i should have missed the greatestromance of my life. i see you are laughing. it is horrid of you!" "i am not laughing, dorian; at least i amnot laughing at you. but you should not say the greatest romance of your life. you shouldsay the first romance of your life. you will always be loved, and you will always be inlove with love. a grande passion is the privilege of people who have nothing to do. that isthe one use of the idle classes of a country. don't be afraid. there are exquisite thingsin store for you. this is merely the beginning."
"do you think my nature so shallow?" crieddorian gray angrily. "no; i think your nature so deep." "how do you mean?" "my dear boy, the people who love only oncein their lives are really the shallow people. what they call their loyalty, and their fidelity,i call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination. faithfulness is to theemotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellectâ€”simply a confessionof failure. faithfulness! i must analyse it some day. the passion for property is in it.there are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others mightpick them up. but i don't want to interrupt
you. go on with your story." "well, i found myself seated in a horrid littleprivate box, with a vulgar drop-scene staring me in the face. i looked out from behind thecurtain and surveyed the house. it was a tawdry affair, all cupids and cornucopias, like athird-rate wedding-cake. the gallery and pit were fairly full, but the two rows of dingystalls were quite empty, and there was hardly a person in what i suppose they called thedress-circle. women went about with oranges and ginger-beer, and there was a terribleconsumption of nuts going on." "it must have been just like the palmy daysof the british drama." "just like, i should fancy, and very depressing.i began to wonder what on earth i should do
when i caught sight of the play-bill. whatdo you think the play was, harry?" "i should think 'the idiot boy', or 'dumbbut innocent'. our fathers used to like that sort of piece, i believe. the longer i live,dorian, the more keenly i feel that whatever was good enough for our fathers is not goodenough for us. in art, as in politics, les grandperes ont toujours tort." "this play was good enough for us, harry.it was romeo and juliet. i must admit that i was rather annoyed at the idea of seeingshakespeare done in such a wretched hole of a place. still, i felt interested, in a sortof way. at any rate, i determined to wait for the first act. there was a dreadful orchestra,presided over by a young hebrew who sat at
a cracked piano, that nearly drove me away,but at last the drop-scene was drawn up and the play began. romeo was a stout elderlygentleman, with corked eyebrows, a husky tragedy voice, and a figure like a beer-barrel. mercutiowas almost as bad. he was played by the low-comedian, who had introduced gags of his own and wason most friendly terms with the pit. they were both as grotesque as the scenery, andthat looked as if it had come out of a country-booth. but juliet! harry, imagine a girl, hardlyseventeen years of age, with a little, flowerlike face, a small greek head with plaited coilsof dark-brown hair, eyes that were violet wells of passion, lips that were like thepetals of a rose. she was the loveliest thing i had ever seen in my life. you said to meonce that pathos left you unmoved, but that
beauty, mere beauty, could fill your eyeswith tears. i tell you, harry, i could hardly see this girl for the mist of tears that cameacross me. and her voiceâ€”i never heard such a voice. it was very low at first, with deepmellow notes that seemed to fall singly upon one's ear. then it became a little louder,and sounded like a flute or a distant hautboy. in the garden-scene it had all the tremulousecstasy that one hears just before dawn when nightingales are singing. there were moments,later on, when it had the wild passion of violins. you know how a voice can stir one.your voice and the voice of sibyl vane are two things that i shall never forget. wheni close my eyes, i hear them, and each of them says something different. i don't knowwhich to follow. why should i not love her?
harry, i do love her. she is everything tome in life. night after night i go to see her play. one evening she is rosalind, andthe next evening she is imogen. i have seen her die in the gloom of an italian tomb, suckingthe poison from her lover's lips. i have watched her wandering through the forest of arden,disguised as a pretty boy in hose and doublet and dainty cap. she has been mad, and hascome into the presence of a guilty king, and given him rue to wear and bitter herbs totaste of. she has been innocent, and the black hands of jealousy have crushed her reedlikethroat. i have seen her in every age and in every costume. ordinary women never appealto one's imagination. they are limited to their century. no glamour ever transfiguresthem. one knows their minds as easily as one
knows their bonnets. one can always find them.there is no mystery in any of them. they ride in the park in the morning and chatter attea-parties in the afternoon. they have their stereotyped smile and their fashionable manner.they are quite obvious. but an actress! how different an actress is! harry! why didn'tyou tell me that the only thing worth loving is an actress?" "because i have loved so many of them, dorian." "oh, yes, horrid people with dyed hair andpainted faces." "don't run down dyed hair and painted faces.there is an extraordinary charm in them, sometimes," said lord henry.
"i wish now i had not told you about sibylvane." "you could not have helped telling me, dorian.all through your life you will tell me everything you do." "yes, harry, i believe that is true. i cannothelp telling you things. you have a curious influence over me. if i ever did a crime,i would come and confess it to you. you would understand me." "people like youâ€”the wilful sunbeams oflifeâ€”don't commit crimes, dorian. but i am much obliged for the compliment, all thesame. and now tell meâ€”reach me the matches, like a good boyâ€”thanksâ€”what are your actualrelations with sibyl vane?"
dorian gray leaped to his feet, with flushedcheeks and burning eyes. "harry! sibyl vane is sacred!" "it is only the sacred things that are worthtouching, dorian," said lord henry, with a strange touch of pathos in his voice. "butwhy should you be annoyed? i suppose she will belong to you some day. when one is in love,one always begins by deceiving one's self, and one always ends by deceiving others. thatis what the world calls a romance. you know her, at any rate, i suppose?" "of course i know her. on the first nighti was at the theatre, the horrid old jew came round to the box after the performance wasover and offered to take me behind the scenes
and introduce me to her. i was furious withhim, and told him that juliet had been dead for hundreds of years and that her body waslying in a marble tomb in verona. i think, from his blank look of amazement, that hewas under the impression that i had taken too much champagne, or something." "i am not surprised." "then he asked me if i wrote for any of thenewspapers. i told him i never even read them. he seemed terribly disappointed at that, andconfided to me that all the dramatic critics were in a conspiracy against him, and thatthey were every one of them to be bought." "i should not wonder if he was quite rightthere. but, on the other hand, judging from
their appearance, most of them cannot be atall expensive." "well, he seemed to think they were beyondhis means," laughed dorian. "by this time, however, the lights were being put out inthe theatre, and i had to go. he wanted me to try some cigars that he strongly recommended.i declined. the next night, of course, i arrived at the place again. when he saw me, he mademe a low bow and assured me that i was a munificent patron of art. he was a most offensive brute,though he had an extraordinary passion for shakespeare. he told me once, with an airof pride, that his five bankruptcies were entirely due to 'the bard,' as he insistedon calling him. he seemed to think it a distinction." "it was a distinction, my dear dorianâ€”agreat distinction. most people become bankrupt
through having invested too heavily in theprose of life. to have ruined one's self over poetry is an honour. but when did you firstspeak to miss sibyl vane?" "the third night. she had been playing rosalind.i could not help going round. i had thrown her some flowers, and she had looked at meâ€”atleast i fancied that she had. the old jew was persistent. he seemed determined to takeme behind, so i consented. it was curious my not wanting to know her, wasn't it?" "no; i don't think so." "my dear harry, why?" "i will tell you some other time. now i wantto know about the girl."
"sibyl? oh, she was so shy and so gentle.there is something of a child about her. her eyes opened wide in exquisite wonder wheni told her what i thought of her performance, and she seemed quite unconscious of her power.i think we were both rather nervous. the old jew stood grinning at the doorway of the dustygreenroom, making elaborate speeches about us both, while we stood looking at each otherlike children. he would insist on calling me 'my lord,' so i had to assure sibyl thati was not anything of the kind. she said quite simply to me, 'you look more like a prince.i must call you prince charming.'" "upon my word, dorian, miss sibyl knows howto pay compliments." "you don't understand her, harry. she regardedme merely as a person in a play. she knows
nothing of life. she lives with her mother,a faded tired woman who played lady capulet in a sort of magenta dressing-wrapper on thefirst night, and looks as if she had seen better days." "i know that look. it depresses me," murmuredlord henry, examining his rings. "the jew wanted to tell me her history, buti said it did not interest me." "you were quite right. there is always somethinginfinitely mean about other people's tragedies." "sibyl is the only thing i care about. whatis it to me where she came from? from her little head to her little feet, she is absolutelyand entirely divine. every night of my life i go to see her act, and every night she ismore marvellous."
"that is the reason, i suppose, that you neverdine with me now. i thought you must have some curious romance on hand. you have; butit is not quite what i expected." "my dear harry, we either lunch or sup togetherevery day, and i have been to the opera with you several times," said dorian, opening hisblue eyes in wonder. "you always come dreadfully late." "well, i can't help going to see sibyl play,"he cried, "even if it is only for a single act. i get hungry for her presence; and wheni think of the wonderful soul that is hidden away in that little ivory body, i am filledwith awe." "you can dine with me to-night, dorian, can'tyou?"
he shook his head. "to-night she is imogen,"he answered, "and to-morrow night she will be juliet." "when is she sibyl vane?" "never." "i congratulate you." "how horrid you are! she is all the greatheroines of the world in one. she is more than an individual. you laugh, but i tellyou she has genius. i love her, and i must make her love me. you, who know all the secretsof life, tell me how to charm sibyl vane to love me! i want to make romeo jealous. i wantthe dead lovers of the world to hear our laughter
and grow sad. i want a breath of our passionto stir their dust into consciousness, to wake their ashes into pain. my god, harry,how i worship her!" he was walking up and down the room as he spoke. hectic spots ofred burned on his cheeks. he was terribly excited. lord henry watched him with a subtle senseof pleasure. how different he was now from the shy frightened boy he had met in basilhallward's studio! his nature had developed like a flower, had borne blossoms of scarletflame. out of its secret hiding-place had crept his soul, and desire had come to meetit on the way. "and what do you propose to do?" said lordhenry at last.
"i want you and basil to come with me somenight and see her act. i have not the slightest fear of the result. you are certain to acknowledgeher genius. then we must get her out of the jew's hands. she is bound to him for threeyearsâ€”at least for two years and eight monthsâ€”from the present time. i shall have to pay himsomething, of course. when all that is settled, i shall take a west end theatre and bringher out properly. she will make the world as mad as she has made me." "that would be impossible, my dear boy." "yes, she will. she has not merely art, consummateart-instinct, in her, but she has personality also; and you have often told me that it ispersonalities, not principles, that move the
age." "well, what night shall we go?" "let me see. to-day is tuesday. let us fixto-morrow. she plays juliet to-morrow." "all right. the bristol at eight o'clock;and i will get basil." "not eight, harry, please. half-past six.we must be there before the curtain rises. you must see her in the first act, where shemeets romeo." "half-past six! what an hour! it will be likehaving a meat-tea, or reading an english novel. it must be seven. no gentleman dines beforeseven. shall you see basil between this and then? or shall i write to him?"
"dear basil! i have not laid eyes on him fora week. it is rather horrid of me, as he has sent me my portrait in the most wonderfulframe, specially designed by himself, and, though i am a little jealous of the picturefor being a whole month younger than i am, i must admit that i delight in it. perhapsyou had better write to him. i don't want to see him alone. he says things that annoyme. he gives me good advice." lord henry smiled. "people are very fond ofgiving away what they need most themselves. it is what i call the depth of generosity." "oh, basil is the best of fellows, but heseems to me to be just a bit of a philistine. since i have known you, harry, i have discoveredthat."
"basil, my dear boy, puts everything thatis charming in him into his work. the consequence is that he has nothing left for life but hisprejudices, his principles, and his common sense. the only artists i have ever knownwho are personally delightful are bad artists. good artists exist simply in what they make,and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. a great poet, a really greatpoet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. but inferior poets are absolutely fascinating.the worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. the mere fact of having publisheda book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. he lives the poetry thathe cannot write. the others write the poetry that they dare not realize."
"i wonder is that really so, harry?" saiddorian gray, putting some perfume on his handkerchief out of a large, gold-topped bottle that stoodon the table. "it must be, if you say it. and now i am off. imogen is waiting for me.don't forget about to-morrow. good-bye." as he left the room, lord henry's heavy eyelidsdrooped, and he began to think. certainly few people had ever interested him so muchas dorian gray, and yet the lad's mad adoration of some one else caused him not the slightestpang of annoyance or jealousy. he was pleased by it. it made him a more interesting study.he had been always enthralled by the methods of natural science, but the ordinary subject-matterof that science had seemed to him trivial and of no import. and so he had begun by vivisectinghimself, as he had ended by vivisecting others.
human lifeâ€”that appeared to him the onething worth investigating. compared to it there was nothing else of any value. it wastrue that as one watched life in its curious crucible of pain and pleasure, one could notwear over one's face a mask of glass, nor keep the sulphurous fumes from troubling thebrain and making the imagination turbid with monstrous fancies and misshapen dreams. therewere poisons so subtle that to know their properties one had to sicken of them. therewere maladies so strange that one had to pass through them if one sought to understand theirnature. and, yet, what a great reward one received! how wonderful the whole world becameto one! to note the curious hard logic of passion, and the emotional coloured life ofthe intellectâ€”to observe where they met,
and where they separated, at what point theywere in unison, and at what point they were at discordâ€”there was a delight in that!what matter what the cost was? one could never pay too high a price for any sensation. he was consciousâ€”and the thought broughta gleam of pleasure into his brown agate eyesâ€”that it was through certain words of his, musicalwords said with musical utterance, that dorian gray's soul had turned to this white girland bowed in worship before her. to a large extent the lad was his own creation. he hadmade him premature. that was something. ordinary people waited till life disclosed to themits secrets, but to the few, to the elect, the mysteries of life were revealed beforethe veil was drawn away. sometimes this was
the effect of art, and chiefly of the artof literature, which dealt immediately with the passions and the intellect. but now andthen a complex personality took the place and assumed the office of art, was indeed,in its way, a real work of art, life having its elaborate masterpieces, just as poetryhas, or sculpture, or painting. yes, the lad was premature. he was gatheringhis harvest while it was yet spring. the pulse and passion of youth were in him, but he wasbecoming self-conscious. it was delightful to watch him. with his beautiful face, andhis beautiful soul, he was a thing to wonder at. it was no matter how it all ended, orwas destined to end. he was like one of those gracious figures in a pageant or a play, whosejoys seem to be remote from one, but whose
sorrows stir one's sense of beauty, and whosewounds are like red roses. soul and body, body and soulâ€”how mysteriousthey were! there was animalism in the soul, and the body had its moments of spirituality.the senses could refine, and the intellect could degrade. who could say where the fleshlyimpulse ceased, or the psychical impulse began? how shallow were the arbitrary definitionsof ordinary psychologists! and yet how difficult to decide between the claims of the variousschools! was the soul a shadow seated in the house of sin? or was the body really in thesoul, as giordano bruno thought? the separation of spirit from matter was a mystery, and theunion of spirit with matter was a mystery also.
he began to wonder whether we could ever makepsychology so absolute a science that each little spring of life would be revealed tous. as it was, we always misunderstood ourselves and rarely understood others. experience wasof no ethical value. it was merely the name men gave to their mistakes. moralists had,as a rule, regarded it as a mode of warning, had claimed for it a certain ethical efficacyin the formation of character, had praised it as something that taught us what to followand showed us what to avoid. but there was no motive power in experience. it was as littleof an active cause as conscience itself. all that it really demonstrated was that our futurewould be the same as our past, and that the sin we had done once, and with loathing, wewould do many times, and with joy.
it was clear to him that the experimentalmethod was the only method by which one could arrive at any scientific analysis of the passions;and certainly dorian gray was a subject made to his hand, and seemed to promise rich andfruitful results. his sudden mad love for sibyl vane was a psychological phenomenonof no small interest. there was no doubt that curiosity had much to do with it, curiosityand the desire for new experiences, yet it was not a simple, but rather a very complexpassion. what there was in it of the purely sensuous instinct of boyhood had been transformedby the workings of the imagination, changed into something that seemed to the lad himselfto be remote from sense, and was for that very reason all the more dangerous. it wasthe passions about whose origin we deceived
ourselves that tyrannized most strongly overus. our weakest motives were those of whose nature we were conscious. it often happenedthat when we thought we were experimenting on others we were really experimenting onourselves. while lord henry sat dreaming on these things,a knock came to the door, and his valet entered and reminded him it was time to dress fordinner. he got up and looked out into the street. the sunset had smitten into scarletgold the upper windows of the houses opposite. the panes glowed like plates of heated metal.the sky above was like a faded rose. he thought of his friend's young fiery-coloured lifeand wondered how it was all going to end. when he arrived home, about half-past twelveo'clock, he saw a telegram lying on the hall
table. he opened it and found it was fromdorian gray. it was to tell him that he was engaged to be married to sibyl vane. chapter 5 "mother, mother, i am so happy!" whisperedthe girl, burying her face in the lap of the faded, tired-looking woman who, with backturned to the shrill intrusive light, was sitting in the one arm-chair that their dingysitting-room contained. "i am so happy!" she repeated, "and you must be happy, too!" mrs. vane winced and put her thin, bismuth-whitenedhands on her daughter's head. "happy!" she echoed, "i am only happy, sibyl, when i seeyou act. you must not think of anything but
your acting. mr. isaacs has been very goodto us, and we owe him money." the girl looked up and pouted. "money, mother?"she cried, "what does money matter? love is more than money." "mr. isaacs has advanced us fifty pounds topay off our debts and to get a proper outfit for james. you must not forget that, sibyl.fifty pounds is a very large sum. mr. isaacs has been most considerate." "he is not a gentleman, mother, and i hatethe way he talks to me," said the girl, rising to her feet and going over to the window. "i don't know how we could manage withouthim," answered the elder woman querulously.
sibyl vane tossed her head and laughed. "wedon't want him any more, mother. prince charming rules life for us now." then she paused. arose shook in her blood and shadowed her cheeks. quick breath parted the petals of her lips.they trembled. some southern wind of passion swept over her and stirred the dainty foldsof her dress. "i love him," she said simply. "foolish child! foolish child!" was the parrot-phraseflung in answer. the waving of crooked, false-jewelled fingers gave grotesqueness to the words. the girl laughed again. the joy of a cagedbird was in her voice. her eyes caught the melody and echoed it in radiance, then closedfor a moment, as though to hide their secret. when they opened, the mist of a dream hadpassed across them.
thin-lipped wisdom spoke at her from the wornchair, hinted at prudence, quoted from that book of cowardice whose author apes the nameof common sense. she did not listen. she was free in her prison of passion. her prince,prince charming, was with her. she had called on memory to remake him. she had sent hersoul to search for him, and it had brought him back. his kiss burned again upon her mouth.her eyelids were warm with his breath. then wisdom altered its method and spoke ofespial and discovery. this young man might be rich. if so, marriage should be thoughtof. against the shell of her ear broke the waves of worldly cunning. the arrows of craftshot by her. she saw the thin lips moving, and smiled.
suddenly she felt the need to speak. the wordysilence troubled her. "mother, mother," she cried, "why does he love me so much? i knowwhy i love him. i love him because he is like what love himself should be. but what doeshe see in me? i am not worthy of him. and yetâ€”why, i cannot tellâ€”though i feel somuch beneath him, i don't feel humble. i feel proud, terribly proud. mother, did you lovemy father as i love prince charming?" the elder woman grew pale beneath the coarsepowder that daubed her cheeks, and her dry lips twitched with a spasm of pain. sybilrushed to her, flung her arms round her neck, and kissed her. "forgive me, mother. i knowit pains you to talk about our father. but it only pains you because you loved him somuch. don't look so sad. i am as happy to-day
as you were twenty years ago. ah! let me behappy for ever!" "my child, you are far too young to thinkof falling in love. besides, what do you know of this young man? you don't even know hisname. the whole thing is most inconvenient, and really, when james is going away to australia,and i have so much to think of, i must say that you should have shown more consideration.however, as i said before, if he is rich ..." "ah! mother, mother, let me be happy!" mrs. vane glanced at her, and with one ofthose false theatrical gestures that so often become a mode of second nature to a stage-player,clasped her in her arms. at this moment, the door opened and a young lad with rough brownhair came into the room. he was thick-set
of figure, and his hands and feet were largeand somewhat clumsy in movement. he was not so finely bred as his sister. one would hardlyhave guessed the close relationship that existed between them. mrs. vane fixed her eyes onhim and intensified her smile. she mentally elevated her son to the dignity of an audience.she felt sure that the tableau was interesting. "you might keep some of your kisses for me,sibyl, i think," said the lad with a good-natured grumble. "ah! but you don't like being kissed, jim,"she cried. "you are a dreadful old bear." and she ran across the room and hugged him. james vane looked into his sister's face withtenderness. "i want you to come out with me
for a walk, sibyl. i don't suppose i shallever see this horrid london again. i am sure i don't want to." "my son, don't say such dreadful things,"murmured mrs. vane, taking up a tawdry theatrical dress, with a sigh, and beginning to patchit. she felt a little disappointed that he had not joined the group. it would have increasedthe theatrical picturesqueness of the situation. "why not, mother? i mean it." "you pain me, my son. i trust you will returnfrom australia in a position of affluence. i believe there is no society of any kindin the coloniesâ€”nothing that i would call societyâ€”so when you have made your fortune,you must come back and assert yourself in
london." "society!" muttered the lad. "i don't wantto know anything about that. i should like to make some money to take you and sibyl offthe stage. i hate it." "oh, jim!" said sibyl, laughing, "how unkindof you! but are you really going for a walk with me? that will be nice! i was afraid youwere going to say good-bye to some of your friendsâ€”to tom hardy, who gave you thathideous pipe, or ned langton, who makes fun of you for smoking it. it is very sweet ofyou to let me have your last afternoon. where shall we go? let us go to the park." "i am too shabby," he answered, frowning."only swell people go to the park."
"nonsense, jim," she whispered, stroking thesleeve of his coat. he hesitated for a moment. "very well," hesaid at last, "but don't be too long dressing." she danced out of the door. one could hearher singing as she ran upstairs. her little feet pattered overhead. he walked up and down the room two or threetimes. then he turned to the still figure in the chair. "mother, are my things ready?"he asked. "quite ready, james," she answered, keepingher eyes on her work. for some months past she had felt ill at ease when she was alonewith this rough stern son of hers. her shallow secret nature was troubled when their eyesmet. she used to wonder if he suspected anything.
the silence, for he made no other observation,became intolerable to her. she began to complain. women defend themselves by attacking, justas they attack by sudden and strange surrenders. "i hope you will be contented, james, withyour sea-faring life," she said. "you must remember that it is your own choice. you mighthave entered a solicitor's office. solicitors are a very respectable class, and in the countryoften dine with the best families." "i hate offices, and i hate clerks," he replied."but you are quite right. i have chosen my own life. all i say is, watch over sibyl.don't let her come to any harm. mother, you must watch over her." "james, you really talk very strangely. ofcourse i watch over sibyl."
"i hear a gentleman comes every night to thetheatre and goes behind to talk to her. is that right? what about that?" "you are speaking about things you don't understand,james. in the profession we are accustomed to receive a great deal of most gratifyingattention. i myself used to receive many bouquets at one time. that was when acting was reallyunderstood. as for sibyl, i do not know at present whether her attachment is seriousor not. but there is no doubt that the young man in question is a perfect gentleman. heis always most polite to me. besides, he has the appearance of being rich, and the flowershe sends are lovely." "you don't know his name, though," said thelad harshly.
"no," answered his mother with a placid expressionin her face. "he has not yet revealed his real name. i think it is quite romantic ofhim. he is probably a member of the aristocracy." james vane bit his lip. "watch over sibyl,mother," he cried, "watch over her." "my son, you distress me very much. sibylis always under my special care. of course, if this gentleman is wealthy, there is noreason why she should not contract an alliance with him. i trust he is one of the aristocracy.he has all the appearance of it, i must say. it might be a most brilliant marriage forsibyl. they would make a charming couple. his good looks are really quite remarkable;everybody notices them." the lad muttered something to himself anddrummed on the window-pane with his coarse
fingers. he had just turned round to say somethingwhen the door opened and sibyl ran in. "how serious you both are!" she cried. "whatis the matter?" "nothing," he answered. "i suppose one mustbe serious sometimes. good-bye, mother; i will have my dinner at five o'clock. everythingis packed, except my shirts, so you need not trouble." "good-bye, my son," she answered with a bowof strained stateliness. she was extremely annoyed at the tone he hadadopted with her, and there was something in his look that had made her feel afraid. "kiss me, mother," said the girl. her flowerlikelips touched the withered cheek and warmed
its frost. "my child! my child!" cried mrs. vane, lookingup to the ceiling in search of an imaginary gallery. "come, sibyl," said her brother impatiently.he hated his mother's affectations. they went out into the flickering, wind-blownsunlight and strolled down the dreary euston road. the passersby glanced in wonder at thesullen heavy youth who, in coarse, ill-fitting clothes, was in the company of such a graceful,refined-looking girl. he was like a common gardener walking with a rose. jim frowned from time to time when he caughtthe inquisitive glance of some stranger. he
had that dislike of being stared at, whichcomes on geniuses late in life and never leaves the commonplace. sibyl, however, was quiteunconscious of the effect she was producing. her love was trembling in laughter on herlips. she was thinking of prince charming, and, that she might think of him all the more,she did not talk of him, but prattled on about the ship in which jim was going to sail, aboutthe gold he was certain to find, about the wonderful heiress whose life he was to savefrom the wicked, red-shirted bushrangers. for he was not to remain a sailor, or a supercargo,or whatever he was going to be. oh, no! a sailor's existence was dreadful. fancy beingcooped up in a horrid ship, with the hoarse, hump-backed waves trying to get in, and ablack wind blowing the masts down and tearing
the sails into long screaming ribands! hewas to leave the vessel at melbourne, bid a polite good-bye to the captain, and go offat once to the gold-fields. before a week was over he was to come across a large nuggetof pure gold, the largest nugget that had ever been discovered, and bring it down tothe coast in a waggon guarded by six mounted policemen. the bushrangers were to attackthem three times, and be defeated with immense slaughter. or, no. he was not to go to thegold-fields at all. they were horrid places, where men got intoxicated, and shot each otherin bar-rooms, and used bad language. he was to be a nice sheep-farmer, and one evening,as he was riding home, he was to see the beautiful heiress being carried off by a robber on ablack horse, and give chase, and rescue her.
of course, she would fall in love with him,and he with her, and they would get married, and come home, and live in an immense housein london. yes, there were delightful things in store for him. but he must be very good,and not lose his temper, or spend his money foolishly. she was only a year older thanhe was, but she knew so much more of life. he must be sure, also, to write to her byevery mail, and to say his prayers each night before he went to sleep. god was very good,and would watch over him. she would pray for him, too, and in a few years he would comeback quite rich and happy. the lad listened sulkily to her and made noanswer. he was heart-sick at leaving home. yet it was not this alone that made him gloomyand morose. inexperienced though he was, he
had still a strong sense of the danger ofsibyl's position. this young dandy who was making love to her could mean her no good.he was a gentleman, and he hated him for that, hated him through some curious race-instinctfor which he could not account, and which for that reason was all the more dominantwithin him. he was conscious also of the shallowness and vanity of his mother's nature, and inthat saw infinite peril for sibyl and sibyl's happiness. children begin by loving theirparents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them. his mother! he had something on his mind toask of her, something that he had brooded on for many months of silence. a chance phrasethat he had heard at the theatre, a whispered
sneer that had reached his ears one nightas he waited at the stage-door, had set loose a train of horrible thoughts. he rememberedit as if it had been the lash of a hunting-crop across his face. his brows knit together intoa wedge-like furrow, and with a twitch of pain he bit his underlip. "you are not listening to a word i am saying,jim," cried sibyl, "and i am making the most delightful plans for your future. do say something." "what do you want me to say?" "oh! that you will be a good boy and not forgetus," she answered, smiling at him. he shrugged his shoulders. "you are more likelyto forget me than i am to forget you, sibyl."
she flushed. "what do you mean, jim?" sheasked. "you have a new friend, i hear. who is he?why have you not told me about him? he means you no good." "stop, jim!" she exclaimed. "you must notsay anything against him. i love him." "why, you don't even know his name," answeredthe lad. "who is he? i have a right to know." "he is called prince charming. don't you likethe name. oh! you silly boy! you should never forget it. if you only saw him, you wouldthink him the most wonderful person in the world. some day you will meet himâ€”when youcome back from australia. you will like him so much. everybody likes him, and i ... lovehim. i wish you could come to the theatre
to-night. he is going to be there, and i amto play juliet. oh! how i shall play it! fancy, jim, to be in love and play juliet! to havehim sitting there! to play for his delight! i am afraid i may frighten the company, frightenor enthrall them. to be in love is to surpass one's self. poor dreadful mr. isaacs willbe shouting 'genius' to his loafers at the bar. he has preached me as a dogma; to-nighthe will announce me as a revelation. i feel it. and it is all his, his only, prince charming,my wonderful lover, my god of graces. but i am poor beside him. poor? what does thatmatter? when poverty creeps in at the door, love flies in through the window. our proverbswant rewriting. they were made in winter, and it is summer now; spring-time for me,i think, a very dance of blossoms in blue
skies." "he is a gentleman," said the lad sullenly. "a prince!" she cried musically. "what moredo you want?" "he wants to enslave you." "i shudder at the thought of being free." "i want you to beware of him." "to see him is to worship him; to know himis to trust him." "sibyl, you are mad about him." she laughed and took his arm. "you dear oldjim, you talk as if you were a hundred. some
day you will be in love yourself. then youwill know what it is. don't look so sulky. surely you should be glad to think that, thoughyou are going away, you leave me happier than i have ever been before. life has been hardfor us both, terribly hard and difficult. but it will be different now. you are goingto a new world, and i have found one. here are two chairs; let us sit down and see thesmart people go by." they took their seats amidst a crowd of watchers.the tulip-beds across the road flamed like throbbing rings of fire. a white dustâ€”tremulouscloud of orris-root it seemedâ€”hung in the panting air. the brightly coloured parasolsdanced and dipped like monstrous butterflies. she made her brother talk of himself, hishopes, his prospects. he spoke slowly and
with effort. they passed words to each otheras players at a game pass counters. sibyl felt oppressed. she could not communicateher joy. a faint smile curving that sullen mouth was all the echo she could win. aftersome time she became silent. suddenly she caught a glimpse of golden hair and laughinglips, and in an open carriage with two ladies dorian gray drove past. she started to her feet. "there he is!" shecried. "who?" said jim vane. "prince charming," she answered, looking afterthe victoria. he jumped up and seized her roughly by thearm. "show him to me. which is he? point him
out. i must see him!" he exclaimed; but atthat moment the duke of berwick's four-in-hand came between, and when it had left the spaceclear, the carriage had swept out of the park. "he is gone," murmured sibyl sadly. "i wishyou had seen him." "i wish i had, for as sure as there is a godin heaven, if he ever does you any wrong, i shall kill him." she looked at him in horror. he repeated hiswords. they cut the air like a dagger. the people round began to gape. a lady standingclose to her tittered. "come away, jim; come away," she whispered.he followed her doggedly as she passed through the crowd. he felt glad at what he had said.
when they reached the achilles statue, sheturned round. there was pity in her eyes that became laughter on her lips. she shook herhead at him. "you are foolish, jim, utterly foolish; a bad-tempered boy, that is all.how can you say such horrible things? you don't know what you are talking about. youare simply jealous and unkind. ah! i wish you would fall in love. love makes peoplegood, and what you said was wicked." "i am sixteen," he answered, "and i know whati am about. mother is no help to you. she doesn't understand how to look after you.i wish now that i was not going to australia at all. i have a great mind to chuck the wholething up. i would, if my articles hadn't been signed."
"oh, don't be so serious, jim. you are likeone of the heroes of those silly melodramas mother used to be so fond of acting in. iam not going to quarrel with you. i have seen him, and oh! to see him is perfect happiness.we won't quarrel. i know you would never harm any one i love, would you?" "not as long as you love him, i suppose,"was the sullen answer. "i shall love him for ever!" she cried. "and he?" "for ever, too!" "he had better."
she shrank from him. then she laughed andput her hand on his arm. he was merely a boy. at the marble arch they hailed an omnibus,which left them close to their shabby home in the euston road. it was after five o'clock,and sibyl had to lie down for a couple of hours before acting. jim insisted that sheshould do so. he said that he would sooner part with her when their mother was not present.she would be sure to make a scene, and he detested scenes of every kind. in sybil's own room they parted. there wasjealousy in the lad's heart, and a fierce murderous hatred of the stranger who, as itseemed to him, had come between them. yet, when her arms were flung round his neck, andher fingers strayed through his hair, he softened
and kissed her with real affection. therewere tears in his eyes as he went downstairs. his mother was waiting for him below. shegrumbled at his unpunctuality, as he entered. he made no answer, but sat down to his meagremeal. the flies buzzed round the table and crawled over the stained cloth. through therumble of omnibuses, and the clatter of street-cabs, he could hear the droning voice devouringeach minute that was left to him. after some time, he thrust away his plateand put his head in his hands. he felt that he had a right to know. it should have beentold to him before, if it was as he suspected. leaden with fear, his mother watched him.words dropped mechanically from her lips. a tattered lace handkerchief twitched in herfingers. when the clock struck six, he got
up and went to the door. then he turned backand looked at her. their eyes met. in hers he saw a wild appeal for mercy. it enragedhim. "mother, i have something to ask you," hesaid. her eyes wandered vaguely about the room. she made no answer. "tell me the truth.i have a right to know. were you married to my father?" she heaved a deep sigh. it was a sigh of relief.the terrible moment, the moment that night and day, for weeks and months, she had dreaded,had come at last, and yet she felt no terror. indeed, in some measure it was a disappointmentto her. the vulgar directness of the question called for a direct answer. the situationhad not been gradually led up to. it was crude.
it reminded her of a bad rehearsal. "no," she answered, wondering at the harshsimplicity of life. "my father was a scoundrel then!" cried thelad, clenching his fists. she shook her head. "i knew he was not free.we loved each other very much. if he had lived, he would have made provision for us. don'tspeak against him, my son. he was your father, and a gentleman. indeed, he was highly connected." an oath broke from his lips. "i don't carefor myself," he exclaimed, "but don't let sibyl.... it is a gentleman, isn't it, whois in love with her, or says he is? highly connected, too, i suppose."
for a moment a hideous sense of humiliationcame over the woman. her head drooped. she wiped her eyes with shaking hands. "sibylhas a mother," she murmured; "i had none." the lad was touched. he went towards her,and stooping down, he kissed her. "i am sorry if i have pained you by asking about my father,"he said, "but i could not help it. i must go now. good-bye. don't forget that you willhave only one child now to look after, and believe me that if this man wrongs my sister,i will find out who he is, track him down, and kill him like a dog. i swear it." the exaggerated folly of the threat, the passionategesture that accompanied it, the mad melodramatic words, made life seem more vivid to her. shewas familiar with the atmosphere. she breathed
more freely, and for the first time for manymonths she really admired her son. she would have liked to have continued the scene onthe same emotional scale, but he cut her short. trunks had to be carried down and mufflerslooked for. the lodging-house drudge bustled in and out. there was the bargaining withthe cabman. the moment was lost in vulgar details. it was with a renewed feeling ofdisappointment that she waved the tattered lace handkerchief from the window, as herson drove away. she was conscious that a great opportunity had been wasted. she consoledherself by telling sibyl how desolate she felt her life would be, now that she had onlyone child to look after. she remembered the phrase. it had pleased her. of the threatshe said nothing. it was vividly and dramatically
expressed. she felt that they would all laughat it some day. chapter 6 "i suppose you have heard the news, basil?"said lord henry that evening as hallward was shown into a little private room at the bristolwhere dinner had been laid for three. "no, harry," answered the artist, giving hishat and coat to the bowing waiter. "what is it? nothing about politics, i hope! they don'tinterest me. there is hardly a single person in the house of commons worth painting, thoughmany of them would be the better for a little whitewashing." "dorian gray is engaged to be married," saidlord henry, watching him as he spoke.
hallward started and then frowned. "dorianengaged to be married!" he cried. "impossible!" "it is perfectly true." "to whom?" "to some little actress or other." "i can't believe it. dorian is far too sensible." "dorian is far too wise not to do foolishthings now and then, my dear basil." "marriage is hardly a thing that one can donow and then, harry." "except in america," rejoined lord henry languidly."but i didn't say he was married. i said he was engaged to be married. there is a greatdifference. i have a distinct remembrance
of being married, but i have no recollectionat all of being engaged. i am inclined to think that i never was engaged." "but think of dorian's birth, and position,and wealth. it would be absurd for him to marry so much beneath him." "if you want to make him marry this girl,tell him that, basil. he is sure to do it, then. whenever a man does a thoroughly stupidthing, it is always from the noblest motives." "i hope the girl is good, harry. i don't wantto see dorian tied to some vile creature, who might degrade his nature and ruin hisintellect." "oh, she is better than goodâ€”she is beautiful,"murmured lord henry, sipping a glass of vermouth
and orange-bitters. "dorian says she is beautiful,and he is not often wrong about things of that kind. your portrait of him has quickenedhis appreciation of the personal appearance of other people. it has had that excellenteffect, amongst others. we are to see her to-night, if that boy doesn't forget his appointment." "are you serious?" "quite serious, basil. i should be miserableif i thought i should ever be more serious than i am at the present moment." "but do you approve of it, harry?" asked thepainter, walking up and down the room and biting his lip. "you can't approve of it,possibly. it is some silly infatuation."
"i never approve, or disapprove, of anythingnow. it is an absurd attitude to take towards life. we are not sent into the world to airour moral prejudices. i never take any notice of what common people say, and i never interferewith what charming people do. if a personality fascinates me, whatever mode of expressionthat personality selects is absolutely delightful to me. dorian gray falls in love with a beautifulgirl who acts juliet, and proposes to marry her. why not? if he wedded messalina, he wouldbe none the less interesting. you know i am not a champion of marriage. the real drawbackto marriage is that it makes one unselfish. and unselfish people are colourless. theylack individuality. still, there are certain temperaments that marriage makes more complex.they retain their egotism, and add to it many
other egos. they are forced to have more thanone life. they become more highly organized, and to be highly organized is, i should fancy,the object of man's existence. besides, every experience is of value, and whatever one maysay against marriage, it is certainly an experience. i hope that dorian gray will make this girlhis wife, passionately adore her for six months, and then suddenly become fascinated by someone else. he would be a wonderful study." "you don't mean a single word of all that,harry; you know you don't. if dorian gray's life were spoiled, no one would be sorrierthan yourself. you are much better than you pretend to be." lord henry laughed. "the reason we all liketo think so well of others is that we are
all afraid for ourselves. the basis of optimismis sheer terror. we think that we are generous because we credit our neighbour with the possessionof those virtues that are likely to be a benefit to us. we praise the banker that we may overdrawour account, and find good qualities in the highwayman in the hope that he may spare ourpockets. i mean everything that i have said. i have the greatest contempt for optimism.as for a spoiled life, no life is spoiled but one whose growth is arrested. if you wantto mar a nature, you have merely to reform it. as for marriage, of course that wouldbe silly, but there are other and more interesting bonds between men and women. i will certainlyencourage them. they have the charm of being fashionable. but here is dorian himself. hewill tell you more than i can."
"my dear harry, my dear basil, you must bothcongratulate me!" said the lad, throwing off his evening cape with its satin-lined wingsand shaking each of his friends by the hand in turn. "i have never been so happy. of course,it is suddenâ€”all really delightful things are. and yet it seems to me to be the onething i have been looking for all my life." he was flushed with excitement and pleasure,and looked extraordinarily handsome. "i hope you will always be very happy, dorian,"said hallward, "but i don't quite forgive you for not having let me know of your engagement.you let harry know." "and i don't forgive you for being late fordinner," broke in lord henry, putting his hand on the lad's shoulder and smiling ashe spoke. "come, let us sit down and try what
the new chef here is like, and then you willtell us how it all came about." "there is really not much to tell," crieddorian as they took their seats at the small round table. "what happened was simply this.after i left you yesterday evening, harry, i dressed, had some dinner at that littleitalian restaurant in rupert street you introduced me to, and went down at eight o'clock to thetheatre. sibyl was playing rosalind. of course, the scenery was dreadful and the orlando absurd.but sibyl! you should have seen her! when she came on in her boy's clothes, she wasperfectly wonderful. she wore a moss-coloured velvet jerkin with cinnamon sleeves, slim,brown, cross-gartered hose, a dainty little green cap with a hawk's feather caught ina jewel, and a hooded cloak lined with dull
red. she had never seemed to me more exquisite.she had all the delicate grace of that tanagra figurine that you have in your studio, basil.her hair clustered round her face like dark leaves round a pale rose. as for her actingâ€”well,you shall see her to-night. she is simply a born artist. i sat in the dingy box absolutelyenthralled. i forgot that i was in london and in the nineteenth century. i was awaywith my love in a forest that no man had ever seen. after the performance was over, i wentbehind and spoke to her. as we were sitting together, suddenly there came into her eyesa look that i had never seen there before. my lips moved towards hers. we kissed eachother. i can't describe to you what i felt at that moment. it seemed to me that all mylife had been narrowed to one perfect point
of rose-coloured joy. she trembled all overand shook like a white narcissus. then she flung herself on her knees and kissed my hands.i feel that i should not tell you all this, but i can't help it. of course, our engagementis a dead secret. she has not even told her own mother. i don't know what my guardianswill say. lord radley is sure to be furious. i don't care. i shall be of age in less thana year, and then i can do what i like. i have been right, basil, haven't i, to take my loveout of poetry and to find my wife in shakespeare's plays? lips that shakespeare taught to speakhave whispered their secret in my ear. i have had the arms of rosalind around me, and kissedjuliet on the mouth." "yes, dorian, i suppose you were right," saidhallward slowly.
"have you seen her to-day?" asked lord henry. dorian gray shook his head. "i left her inthe forest of arden; i shall find her in an orchard in verona." lord henry sipped his champagne in a meditativemanner. "at what particular point did you mention the word marriage, dorian? and whatdid she say in answer? perhaps you forgot all about it." "my dear harry, i did not treat it as a businesstransaction, and i did not make any formal proposal. i told her that i loved her, andshe said she was not worthy to be my wife. not worthy! why, the whole world is nothingto me compared with her."
"women are wonderfully practical," murmuredlord henry, "much more practical than we are. in situations of that kind we often forgetto say anything about marriage, and they always remind us." hallward laid his hand upon his arm. "don't,harry. you have annoyed dorian. he is not like other men. he would never bring miseryupon any one. his nature is too fine for that." lord henry looked across the table. "dorianis never annoyed with me," he answered. "i asked the question for the best reason possible,for the only reason, indeed, that excuses one for asking any questionâ€”simple curiosity.i have a theory that it is always the women who propose to us, and not we who proposeto the women. except, of course, in middle-class
life. but then the middle classes are notmodern." dorian gray laughed, and tossed his head."you are quite incorrigible, harry; but i don't mind. it is impossible to be angry withyou. when you see sibyl vane, you will feel that the man who could wrong her would bea beast, a beast without a heart. i cannot understand how any one can wish to shame thething he loves. i love sibyl vane. i want to place her on a pedestal of gold and tosee the world worship the woman who is mine. what is marriage? an irrevocable vow. youmock at it for that. ah! don't mock. it is an irrevocable vow that i want to take. hertrust makes me faithful, her belief makes me good. when i am with her, i regret allthat you have taught me. i become different
from what you have known me to be. i am changed,and the mere touch of sibyl vane's hand makes me forget you and all your wrong, fascinating,poisonous, delightful theories." "and those are ...?" asked lord henry, helpinghimself to some salad. "oh, your theories about life, your theoriesabout love, your theories about pleasure. all your theories, in fact, harry." "pleasure is the only thing worth having atheory about," he answered in his slow melodious voice. "but i am afraid i cannot claim mytheory as my own. it belongs to nature, not to me. pleasure is nature's test, her signof approval. when we are happy, we are always good, but when we are good, we are not alwayshappy."
"ah! but what do you mean by good?" criedbasil hallward. "yes," echoed dorian, leaning back in hischair and looking at lord henry over the heavy clusters of purple-lipped irises that stoodin the centre of the table, "what do you mean by good, harry?" "to be good is to be in harmony with one'sself," he replied, touching the thin stem of his glass with his pale, fine-pointed fingers."discord is to be forced to be in harmony with others. one's own lifeâ€”that is theimportant thing. as for the lives of one's neighbours, if one wishes to be a prig ora puritan, one can flaunt one's moral views about them, but they are not one's concern.besides, individualism has really the higher
aim. modern morality consists in acceptingthe standard of one's age. i consider that for any man of culture to accept the standardof his age is a form of the grossest immorality." "but, surely, if one lives merely for one'sself, harry, one pays a terrible price for doing so?" suggested the painter. "yes, we are overcharged for everything nowadays.i should fancy that the real tragedy of the poor is that they can afford nothing but self-denial.beautiful sins, like beautiful things, are the privilege of the rich." "one has to pay in other ways but money." "what sort of ways, basil?"
"oh! i should fancy in remorse, in suffering,in ... well, in the consciousness of degradation." lord henry shrugged his shoulders. "my dearfellow, mediaeval art is charming, but mediaeval emotions are out of date. one can use themin fiction, of course. but then the only things that one can use in fiction are the thingsthat one has ceased to use in fact. believe me, no civilized man ever regrets a pleasure,and no uncivilized man ever knows what a pleasure is." "i know what pleasure is," cried dorian gray."it is to adore some one." "that is certainly better than being adored,"he answered, toying with some fruits. "being adored is a nuisance. women treat us justas humanity treats its gods. they worship
us, and are always bothering us to do somethingfor them." "i should have said that whatever they askfor they had first given to us," murmured the lad gravely. "they create love in ournatures. they have a right to demand it back." "that is quite true, dorian," cried hallward. "nothing is ever quite true," said lord henry. "this is," interrupted dorian. "you must admit,harry, that women give to men the very gold of their lives." "possibly," he sighed, "but they invariablywant it back in such very small change. that is the worry. women, as some witty frenchmanonce put it, inspire us with the desire to
do masterpieces and always prevent us fromcarrying them out." "harry, you are dreadful! i don't know whyi like you so much." "you will always like me, dorian," he replied."will you have some coffee, you fellows? waiter, bring coffee, and fine-champagne, and somecigarettes. no, don't mind the cigarettesâ€”i have some. basil, i can't allow you to smokecigars. you must have a cigarette. a cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure.it is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. what more can one want? yes, dorian, you willalways be fond of me. i represent to you all the sins you have never had the courage tocommit." "what nonsense you talk, harry!" cried thelad, taking a light from a fire-breathing
silver dragon that the waiter had placed onthe table. "let us go down to the theatre. when sibyl comes on the stage you will havea new ideal of life. she will represent something to you that you have never known." "i have known everything," said lord henry,with a tired look in his eyes, "but i am always ready for a new emotion. i am afraid, however,that, for me at any rate, there is no such thing. still, your wonderful girl may thrillme. i love acting. it is so much more real than life. let us go. dorian, you will comewith me. i am so sorry, basil, but there is only room for two in the brougham. you mustfollow us in a hansom." they got up and put on their coats, sippingtheir coffee standing. the painter was silent
and preoccupied. there was a gloom over him.he could not bear this marriage, and yet it seemed to him to be better than many otherthings that might have happened. after a few minutes, they all passed downstairs. he droveoff by himself, as had been arranged, and watched the flashing lights of the littlebrougham in front of him. a strange sense of loss came over him. he felt that doriangray would never again be to him all that he had been in the past. life had come betweenthem.... his eyes darkened, and the crowded flaring streets became blurred to his eyes.when the cab drew up at the theatre, it seemed to him that he had grown years older. chapter 7
for some reason or other, the house was crowdedthat night, and the fat jew manager who met them at the door was beaming from ear to earwith an oily tremulous smile. he escorted them to their box with a sort of pompous humility,waving his fat jewelled hands and talking at the top of his voice. dorian gray loathedhim more than ever. he felt as if he had come to look for miranda and had been met by caliban.lord henry, upon the other hand, rather liked him. at least he declared he did, and insistedon shaking him by the hand and assuring him that he was proud to meet a man who had discovereda real genius and gone bankrupt over a poet. hallward amused himself with watching thefaces in the pit. the heat was terribly oppressive, and the huge sunlight flamed like a monstrousdahlia with petals of yellow fire. the youths
in the gallery had taken off their coats andwaistcoats and hung them over the side. they talked to each other across the theatre andshared their oranges with the tawdry girls who sat beside them. some women were laughingin the pit. their voices were horribly shrill and discordant. the sound of the popping ofcorks came from the bar. "what a place to find one's divinity in!"said lord henry. "yes!" answered dorian gray. "it was herei found her, and she is divine beyond all living things. when she acts, you will forgeteverything. these common rough people, with their coarse faces and brutal gestures, becomequite different when she is on the stage. they sit silently and watch her. they weepand laugh as she wills them to do. she makes
them as responsive as a violin. she spiritualizesthem, and one feels that they are of the same flesh and blood as one's self." "the same flesh and blood as one's self! oh,i hope not!" exclaimed lord henry, who was scanning the occupants of the gallery throughhis opera-glass. "don't pay any attention to him, dorian,"said the painter. "i understand what you mean, and i believe in this girl. any one you lovemust be marvellous, and any girl who has the effect you describe must be fine and noble.to spiritualize one's ageâ€”that is something worth doing. if this girl can give a soulto those who have lived without one, if she can create the sense of beauty in people whoselives have been sordid and ugly, if she can
strip them of their selfishness and lend themtears for sorrows that are not their own, she is worthy of all your adoration, worthyof the adoration of the world. this marriage is quite right. i did not think so at first,but i admit it now. the gods made sibyl vane for you. without her you would have been incomplete." "thanks, basil," answered dorian gray, pressinghis hand. "i knew that you would understand me. harry is so cynical, he terrifies me.but here is the orchestra. it is quite dreadful, but it only lasts for about five minutes.then the curtain rises, and you will see the girl to whom i am going to give all my life,to whom i have given everything that is good in me."
a quarter of an hour afterwards, amidst anextraordinary turmoil of applause, sibyl vane stepped on to the stage. yes, she was certainlylovely to look atâ€”one of the loveliest creatures, lord henry thought, that he had ever seen.there was something of the fawn in her shy grace and startled eyes. a faint blush, likethe shadow of a rose in a mirror of silver, came to her cheeks as she glanced at the crowdedenthusiastic house. she stepped back a few paces and her lips seemed to tremble. basilhallward leaped to his feet and began to applaud. motionless, and as one in a dream, sat doriangray, gazing at her. lord henry peered through his glasses, murmuring, "charming! charming!" the scene was the hall of capulet's house,and romeo in his pilgrim's dress had entered
with mercutio and his other friends. the band,such as it was, struck up a few bars of music, and the dance began. through the crowd ofungainly, shabbily dressed actors, sibyl vane moved like a creature from a finer world.her body swayed, while she danced, as a plant sways in the water. the curves of her throatwere the curves of a white lily. her hands seemed to be made of cool ivory. yet she was curiously listless. she showedno sign of joy when her eyes rested on romeo. the few words she had to speakâ€” good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,which mannerly devotion shows in this; for saints have hands that pilgrims' handsdo touch,
and palm to palm is holy palmers' kissâ€” with the brief dialogue that follows, werespoken in a thoroughly artificial manner. the voice was exquisite, but from the pointof view of tone it was absolutely false. it was wrong in colour. it took away all thelife from the verse. it made the passion unreal. dorian gray grew pale as he watched her. hewas puzzled and anxious. neither of his friends dared to say anything to him. she seemed tothem to be absolutely incompetent. they were horribly disappointed. yet they felt that the true test of any julietis the balcony scene of the second act. they waited for that. if she failed there, therewas nothing in her.
she looked charming as she came out in themoonlight. that could not be denied. but the staginess of her acting was unbearable, andgrew worse as she went on. her gestures became absurdly artificial. she overemphasized everythingthat she had to say. the beautiful passageâ€” thou knowest the mask of night is on my face,else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek for that which thou hast heard me speak to-nightâ€” was declaimed with the painful precision ofa schoolgirl who has been taught to recite by some second-rate professor of elocution.when she leaned over the balcony and came to those wonderful linesâ€” although i joy in thee,i have no joy of this contract to-night:
it is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden;too like the lightning, which doth cease to beere one can say, "it lightens." sweet, good-night! this bud of love by summer's ripening breathmay prove a beauteous flower when next we meetâ€” she spoke the words as though they conveyedno meaning to her. it was not nervousness. indeed, so far from being nervous, she wasabsolutely self-contained. it was simply bad art. she was a complete failure. even the common uneducated audience of thepit and gallery lost their interest in the play. they got restless, and began to talkloudly and to whistle. the jew manager, who
was standing at the back of the dress-circle,stamped and swore with rage. the only person unmoved was the girl herself. when the second act was over, there came astorm of hisses, and lord henry got up from his chair and put on his coat. "she is quitebeautiful, dorian," he said, "but she can't act. let us go." "i am going to see the play through," answeredthe lad, in a hard bitter voice. "i am awfully sorry that i have made you waste an evening,harry. i apologize to you both." "my dear dorian, i should think miss vanewas ill," interrupted hallward. "we will come some other night."
"i wish she were ill," he rejoined. "but sheseems to me to be simply callous and cold. she has entirely altered. last night she wasa great artist. this evening she is merely a commonplace mediocre actress." "don't talk like that about any one you love,dorian. love is a more wonderful thing than art." "they are both simply forms of imitation,"remarked lord henry. "but do let us go. dorian, you must not stay here any longer. it is notgood for one's morals to see bad acting. besides, i don't suppose you will want your wife toact, so what does it matter if she plays juliet like a wooden doll? she is very lovely, andif she knows as little about life as she does
about acting, she will be a delightful experience.there are only two kinds of people who are really fascinatingâ€”people who know absolutelyeverything, and people who know absolutely nothing. good heavens, my dear boy, don'tlook so tragic! the secret of remaining young is never to have an emotion that is unbecoming.come to the club with basil and myself. we will smoke cigarettes and drink to the beautyof sibyl vane. she is beautiful. what more can you want?" "go away, harry," cried the lad. "i want tobe alone. basil, you must go. ah! can't you see that my heart is breaking?" the hot tearscame to his eyes. his lips trembled, and rushing to the back of the box, he leaned up againstthe wall, hiding his face in his hands.
"let us go, basil," said lord henry with astrange tenderness in his voice, and the two young men passed out together. a few moments afterwards the footlights flaredup and the curtain rose on the third act. dorian gray went back to his seat. he lookedpale, and proud, and indifferent. the play dragged on, and seemed interminable. halfof the audience went out, tramping in heavy boots and laughing. the whole thing was afiasco. the last act was played to almost empty benches. the curtain went down on atitter and some groans. as soon as it was over, dorian gray rushedbehind the scenes into the greenroom. the girl was standing there alone, with a lookof triumph on her face. her eyes were lit
with an exquisite fire. there was a radianceabout her. her parted lips were smiling over some secret of their own. when he entered, she looked at him, and anexpression of infinite joy came over her. "how badly i acted to-night, dorian!" shecried. "horribly!" he answered, gazing at her inamazement. "horribly! it was dreadful. are you ill? you have no idea what it was. youhave no idea what i suffered." the girl smiled. "dorian," she answered, lingeringover his name with long-drawn music in her voice, as though it were sweeter than honeyto the red petals of her mouth. "dorian, you should have understood. but you understandnow, don't you?"
"understand what?" he asked, angrily. "why i was so bad to-night. why i shall alwaysbe bad. why i shall never act well again." he shrugged his shoulders. "you are ill, isuppose. when you are ill you shouldn't act. you make yourself ridiculous. my friends werebored. i was bored." she seemed not to listen to him. she was transfiguredwith joy. an ecstasy of happiness dominated her. "dorian, dorian," she cried, "before i knewyou, acting was the one reality of my life. it was only in the theatre that i lived. ithought that it was all true. i was rosalind one night and portia the other. the joy ofbeatrice was my joy, and the sorrows of cordelia
were mine also. i believed in everything.the common people who acted with me seemed to me to be godlike. the painted scenes weremy world. i knew nothing but shadows, and i thought them real. you cameâ€”oh, my beautifullove!â€”and you freed my soul from prison. you taught me what reality really is. to-night,for the first time in my life, i saw through the hollowness, the sham, the silliness ofthe empty pageant in which i had always played. to-night, for the first time, i became consciousthat the romeo was hideous, and old, and painted, that the moonlight in the orchard was false,that the scenery was vulgar, and that the words i had to speak were unreal, were notmy words, were not what i wanted to say. you had brought me something higher, somethingof which all art is but a reflection. you
had made me understand what love really is.my love! my love! prince charming! prince of life! i have grown sick of shadows. youare more to me than all art can ever be. what have i to do with the puppets of a play? wheni came on to-night, i could not understand how it was that everything had gone from me.i thought that i was going to be wonderful. i found that i could do nothing. suddenlyit dawned on my soul what it all meant. the knowledge was exquisite to me. i heard themhissing, and i smiled. what could they know of love such as ours? take me away, dorianâ€”takeme away with you, where we can be quite alone. i hate the stage. i might mimic a passionthat i do not feel, but i cannot mimic one that burns me like fire. oh, dorian, dorian,you understand now what it signifies? even
if i could do it, it would be profanationfor me to play at being in love. you have made me see that." he flung himself down on the sofa and turnedaway his face. "you have killed my love," he muttered. she looked at him in wonder and laughed. hemade no answer. she came across to him, and with her little fingers stroked his hair.she knelt down and pressed his hands to her lips. he drew them away, and a shudder ranthrough him. then he leaped up and went to the door. "yes,"he cried, "you have killed my love. you used to stir my imagination. now you don't evenstir my curiosity. you simply produce no effect.
i loved you because you were marvellous, becauseyou had genius and intellect, because you realized the dreams of great poets and gaveshape and substance to the shadows of art. you have thrown it all away. you are shallowand stupid. my god! how mad i was to love you! what a fool i have been! you are nothingto me now. i will never see you again. i will never think of you. i will never mention yourname. you don't know what you were to me, once. why, once ... oh, i can't bear to thinkof it! i wish i had never laid eyes upon you! you have spoiled the romance of my life. howlittle you can know of love, if you say it mars your art! without your art, you are nothing.i would have made you famous, splendid, magnificent. the world would have worshipped you, and youwould have borne my name. what are you now?
a third-rate actress with a pretty face." the girl grew white, and trembled. she clenchedher hands together, and her voice seemed to catch in her throat. "you are not serious,dorian?" she murmured. "you are acting." "acting! i leave that to you. you do it sowell," he answered bitterly. she rose from her knees and, with a piteousexpression of pain in her face, came across the room to him. she put her hand upon hisarm and looked into his eyes. he thrust her back. "don't touch me!" he cried. a low moan broke from her, and she flung herselfat his feet and lay there like a trampled flower. "dorian, dorian, don't leave me!"she whispered. "i am so sorry i didn't act
well. i was thinking of you all the time.but i will tryâ€”indeed, i will try. it came so suddenly across me, my love for you. ithink i should never have known it if you had not kissed meâ€”if we had not kissed eachother. kiss me again, my love. don't go away from me. i couldn't bear it. oh! don't goaway from me. my brother ... no; never mind. he didn't mean it. he was in jest.... butyou, oh! can't you forgive me for to-night? i will work so hard and try to improve. don'tbe cruel to me, because i love you better than anything in the world. after all, itis only once that i have not pleased you. but you are quite right, dorian. i shouldhave shown myself more of an artist. it was foolish of me, and yet i couldn't help it.oh, don't leave me, don't leave me." a fit
of passionate sobbing choked her. she crouchedon the floor like a wounded thing, and dorian gray, with his beautiful eyes, looked downat her, and his chiselled lips curled in exquisite disdain. there is always something ridiculousabout the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love. sibyl vane seemed to him tobe absurdly melodramatic. her tears and sobs annoyed him. "i am going," he said at last in his calmclear voice. "i don't wish to be unkind, but i can't see you again. you have disappointedme." she wept silently, and made no answer, butcrept nearer. her little hands stretched blindly out, and appeared to be seeking for him. heturned on his heel and left the room. in a
few moments he was out of the theatre. where he went to he hardly knew. he rememberedwandering through dimly lit streets, past gaunt, black-shadowed archways and evil-lookinghouses. women with hoarse voices and harsh laughter had called after him. drunkards hadreeled by, cursing and chattering to themselves like monstrous apes. he had seen grotesquechildren huddled upon door-steps, and heard shrieks and oaths from gloomy courts. as the dawn was just breaking, he found himselfclose to covent garden. the darkness lifted, and, flushed with faint fires, the sky holloweditself into a perfect pearl. huge carts filled with nodding lilies rumbled slowly down thepolished empty street. the air was heavy with
the perfume of the flowers, and their beautyseemed to bring him an anodyne for his pain. he followed into the market and watched themen unloading their waggons. a white-smocked carter offered him some cherries. he thankedhim, wondered why he refused to accept any money for them, and began to eat them listlessly.they had been plucked at midnight, and the coldness of the moon had entered into them.a long line of boys carrying crates of striped tulips, and of yellow and red roses, defiledin front of him, threading their way through the huge, jade-green piles of vegetables.under the portico, with its grey, sun-bleached pillars, loitered a troop of draggled bareheadedgirls, waiting for the auction to be over. others crowded round the swinging doors ofthe coffee-house in the piazza. the heavy
cart-horses slipped and stamped upon the roughstones, shaking their bells and trappings. some of the drivers were lying asleep on apile of sacks. iris-necked and pink-footed, the pigeons ran about picking up seeds. after a little while, he hailed a hansom anddrove home. for a few moments he loitered upon the doorstep, looking round at the silentsquare, with its blank, close-shuttered windows and its staring blinds. the sky was pure opalnow, and the roofs of the houses glistened like silver against it. from some chimneyopposite a thin wreath of smoke was rising. it curled, a violet riband, through the nacre-colouredair. in the huge gilt venetian lantern, spoil ofsome doge's barge, that hung from the ceiling
of the great, oak-panelled hall of entrance,lights were still burning from three flickering jets: thin blue petals of flame they seemed,rimmed with white fire. he turned them out and, having thrown his hat and cape on thetable, passed through the library towards the door of his bedroom, a large octagonalchamber on the ground floor that, in his new-born feeling for luxury, he had just had decoratedfor himself and hung with some curious renaissance tapestries that had been discovered storedin a disused attic at selby royal. as he was turning the handle of the door, his eye fellupon the portrait basil hallward had painted of him. he started back as if in surprise.then he went on into his own room, looking somewhat puzzled. after he had taken the button-holeout of his coat, he seemed to hesitate. finally,
he came back, went over to the picture, andexamined it. in the dim arrested light that struggled through the cream-coloured silkblinds, the face appeared to him to be a little changed. the expression looked different.one would have said that there was a touch of cruelty in the mouth. it was certainlystrange. he turned round and, walking to the window,drew up the blind. the bright dawn flooded the room and swept the fantastic shadows intodusky corners, where they lay shuddering. but the strange expression that he had noticedin the face of the portrait seemed to linger there, to be more intensified even. the quiveringardent sunlight showed him the lines of cruelty round the mouth as clearly as if he had beenlooking into a mirror after he had done some
dreadful thing. he winced and, taking up from the table anoval glass framed in ivory cupids, one of lord henry's many presents to him, glancedhurriedly into its polished depths. no line like that warped his red lips. what did itmean? he rubbed his eyes, and came close to thepicture, and examined it again. there were no signs of any change when he looked intothe actual painting, and yet there was no doubt that the whole expression had altered.it was not a mere fancy of his own. the thing was horribly apparent. he threw himself into a chair and began tothink. suddenly there flashed across his mind
what he had said in basil hallward's studiothe day the picture had been finished. yes, he remembered it perfectly. he had uttereda mad wish that he himself might remain young, and the portrait grow old; that his own beautymight be untarnished, and the face on the canvas bear the burden of his passions andhis sins; that the painted image might be seared with the lines of suffering and thought,and that he might keep all the delicate bloom and loveliness of his then just consciousboyhood. surely his wish had not been fulfilled? such things were impossible. it seemed monstrouseven to think of them. and, yet, there was the picture before him, with the touch ofcruelty in the mouth. cruelty! had he been cruel? it was the girl'sfault, not his. he had dreamed of her as a
great artist, had given his love to her becausehe had thought her great. then she had disappointed him. she had been shallow and unworthy. and,yet, a feeling of infinite regret came over him, as he thought of her lying at his feetsobbing like a little child. he remembered with what callousness he had watched her.why had he been made like that? why had such a soul been given to him? but he had sufferedalso. during the three terrible hours that the play had lasted, he had lived centuriesof pain, aeon upon aeon of torture. his life was well worth hers. she had marred him fora moment, if he had wounded her for an age. besides, women were better suited to bearsorrow than men. they lived on their emotions. they only thought of their emotions. whenthey took lovers, it was merely to have some
one with whom they could have scenes. lordhenry had told him that, and lord henry knew what women were. why should he trouble aboutsibyl vane? she was nothing to him now. but the picture? what was he to say of that?it held the secret of his life, and told his story. it had taught him to love his own beauty.would it teach him to loathe his own soul? would he ever look at it again? no; it was merely an illusion wrought on thetroubled senses. the horrible night that he had passed had left phantoms behind it. suddenlythere had fallen upon his brain that tiny scarlet speck that makes men mad. the picturehad not changed. it was folly to think so. yet it was watching him, with its beautifulmarred face and its cruel smile. its bright
hair gleamed in the early sunlight. its blueeyes met his own. a sense of infinite pity, not for himself, but for the painted imageof himself, came over him. it had altered already, and would alter more. its gold wouldwither into grey. its red and white roses would die. for every sin that he committed,a stain would fleck and wreck its fairness. but he would not sin. the picture, changedor unchanged, would be to him the visible emblem of conscience. he would resist temptation.he would not see lord henry any moreâ€”would not, at any rate, listen to those subtle poisonoustheories that in basil hallward's garden had first stirred within him the passion for impossiblethings. he would go back to sibyl vane, make her amends, marry her, try to love her again.yes, it was his duty to do so. she must have
suffered more than he had. poor child! hehad been selfish and cruel to her. the fascination that she had exercised over him would return.they would be happy together. his life with her would be beautiful and pure. he got up from his chair and drew a largescreen right in front of the portrait, shuddering as he glanced at it. "how horrible!" he murmuredto himself, and he walked across to the window and opened it. when he stepped out on to thegrass, he drew a deep breath. the fresh morning air seemed to drive away all his sombre passions.he thought only of sibyl. a faint echo of his love came back to him. he repeated hername over and over again. the birds that were singing in the dew-drenched garden seemedto be telling the flowers about her.
chapter 8 it was long past noon when he awoke. his valethad crept several times on tiptoe into the room to see if he was stirring, and had wonderedwhat made his young master sleep so late. finally his bell sounded, and victor camein softly with a cup of tea, and a pile of letters, on a small tray of old sevres china,and drew back the olive-satin curtains, with their shimmering blue lining, that hung infront of the three tall windows. "monsieur has well slept this morning," hesaid, smiling. "what o'clock is it, victor?" asked doriangray drowsily. "one hour and a quarter, monsieur."
how late it was! he sat up, and having sippedsome tea, turned over his letters. one of them was from lord henry, and had been broughtby hand that morning. he hesitated for a moment, and then put it aside. the others he openedlistlessly. they contained the usual collection of cards, invitations to dinner, tickets forprivate views, programmes of charity concerts, and the like that are showered on fashionableyoung men every morning during the season. there was a rather heavy bill for a chasedsilver louis-quinze toilet-set that he had not yet had the courage to send on to hisguardians, who were extremely old-fashioned people and did not realize that we live inan age when unnecessary things are our only necessities; and there were several very courteouslyworded communications from jermyn street money-lenders
offering to advance any sum of money at amoment's notice and at the most reasonable rates of interest. after about ten minutes he got up, and throwingon an elaborate dressing-gown of silk-embroidered cashmere wool, passed into the onyx-pavedbathroom. the cool water refreshed him after his long sleep. he seemed to have forgottenall that he had gone through. a dim sense of having taken part in some strange tragedycame to him once or twice, but there was the unreality of a dream about it. as soon as he was dressed, he went into thelibrary and sat down to a light french breakfast that had been laid out for him on a smallround table close to the open window. it was
an exquisite day. the warm air seemed ladenwith spices. a bee flew in and buzzed round the blue-dragon bowl that, filled with sulphur-yellowroses, stood before him. he felt perfectly happy. suddenly his eye fell on the screen that hehad placed in front of the portrait, and he started. "too cold for monsieur?" asked his valet,putting an omelette on the table. "i shut the window?" dorian shook his head. "i am not cold," hemurmured. was it all true? had the portrait really changed?or had it been simply his own imagination
that had made him see a look of evil wherethere had been a look of joy? surely a painted canvas could not alter? the thing was absurd.it would serve as a tale to tell basil some day. it would make him smile. and, yet, how vivid was his recollection ofthe whole thing! first in the dim twilight, and then in the bright dawn, he had seen thetouch of cruelty round the warped lips. he almost dreaded his valet leaving the room.he knew that when he was alone he would have to examine the portrait. he was afraid ofcertainty. when the coffee and cigarettes had been brought and the man turned to go,he felt a wild desire to tell him to remain. as the door was closing behind him, he calledhim back. the man stood waiting for his orders.
dorian looked at him for a moment. "i am notat home to any one, victor," he said with a sigh. the man bowed and retired. then he rose from the table, lit a cigarette,and flung himself down on a luxuriously cushioned couch that stood facing the screen. the screenwas an old one, of gilt spanish leather, stamped and wrought with a rather florid louis-quatorzepattern. he scanned it curiously, wondering if ever before it had concealed the secretof a man's life. should he move it aside, after all? why notlet it stay there? what was the use of knowing? if the thing was true, it was terrible. ifit was not true, why trouble about it? but what if, by some fate or deadlier chance,eyes other than his spied behind and saw the
horrible change? what should he do if basilhallward came and asked to look at his own picture? basil would be sure to do that. no;the thing had to be examined, and at once. anything would be better than this dreadfulstate of doubt. he got up and locked both doors. at leasthe would be alone when he looked upon the mask of his shame. then he drew the screenaside and saw himself face to face. it was perfectly true. the portrait had altered. as he often remembered afterwards, and alwayswith no small wonder, he found himself at first gazing at the portrait with a feelingof almost scientific interest. that such a change should have taken place was incredibleto him. and yet it was a fact. was there some
subtle affinity between the chemical atomsthat shaped themselves into form and colour on the canvas and the soul that was withinhim? could it be that what that soul thought, they realized?â€”that what it dreamed, theymade true? or was there some other, more terrible reason? he shuddered, and felt afraid, and,going back to the couch, lay there, gazing at the picture in sickened horror. one thing, however, he felt that it had donefor him. it had made him conscious how unjust, how cruel, he had been to sibyl vane. it wasnot too late to make reparation for that. she could still be his wife. his unreal andselfish love would yield to some higher influence, would be transformed into some nobler passion,and the portrait that basil hallward had painted
of him would be a guide to him through life,would be to him what holiness is to some, and conscience to others, and the fear ofgod to us all. there were opiates for remorse, drugs that could lull the moral sense to sleep.but here was a visible symbol of the degradation of sin. here was an ever-present sign of theruin men brought upon their souls. three o'clock struck, and four, and the half-hourrang its double chime, but dorian gray did not stir. he was trying to gather up the scarletthreads of life and to weave them into a pattern; to find his way through the sanguine labyrinthof passion through which he was wandering. he did not know what to do, or what to think.finally, he went over to the table and wrote a passionate letter to the girl he had loved,imploring her forgiveness and accusing himself
of madness. he covered page after page withwild words of sorrow and wilder words of pain. there is a luxury in self-reproach. when weblame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. it is the confession,not the priest, that gives us absolution. when dorian had finished the letter, he feltthat he had been forgiven. suddenly there came a knock to the door, andhe heard lord henry's voice outside. "my dear boy, i must see you. let me in at once. ican't bear your shutting yourself up like this." he made no answer at first, but remained quitestill. the knocking still continued and grew louder. yes, it was better to let lord henryin, and to explain to him the new life he
was going to lead, to quarrel with him ifit became necessary to quarrel, to part if parting was inevitable. he jumped up, drewthe screen hastily across the picture, and unlocked the door. "i am so sorry for it all, dorian," said lordhenry as he entered. "but you must not think too much about it." "do you mean about sibyl vane?" asked thelad. "yes, of course," answered lord henry, sinkinginto a chair and slowly pulling off his yellow gloves. "it is dreadful, from one point ofview, but it was not your fault. tell me, did you go behind and see her, after the playwas over?"
"yes." "i felt sure you had. did you make a scenewith her?" "i was brutal, harryâ€”perfectly brutal. butit is all right now. i am not sorry for anything that has happened. it has taught me to knowmyself better." "ah, dorian, i am so glad you take it in thatway! i was afraid i would find you plunged in remorse and tearing that nice curly hairof yours." "i have got through all that," said dorian,shaking his head and smiling. "i am perfectly happy now. i know what conscience is, to beginwith. it is not what you told me it was. it is the divinest thing in us. don't sneer atit, harry, any moreâ€”at least not before
me. i want to be good. i can't bear the ideaof my soul being hideous." "a very charming artistic basis for ethics,dorian! i congratulate you on it. but how are you going to begin?" "by marrying sibyl vane." "marrying sibyl vane!" cried lord henry, standingup and looking at him in perplexed amazement. "but, my dear dorianâ€”" "yes, harry, i know what you are going tosay. something dreadful about marriage. don't say it. don't ever say things of that kindto me again. two days ago i asked sibyl to marry me. i am not going to break my wordto her. she is to be my wife."
"your wife! dorian! ... didn't you get myletter? i wrote to you this morning, and sent the note down by my own man." "your letter? oh, yes, i remember. i havenot read it yet, harry. i was afraid there might be something in it that i wouldn't like.you cut life to pieces with your epigrams." "you know nothing then?" "what do you mean?" lord henry walked across the room, and sittingdown by dorian gray, took both his hands in his own and held them tightly. "dorian," hesaid, "my letterâ€”don't be frightenedâ€”was to tell you that sibyl vane is dead."
a cry of pain broke from the lad's lips, andhe leaped to his feet, tearing his hands away from lord henry's grasp. "dead! sibyl dead!it is not true! it is a horrible lie! how dare you say it?" "it is quite true, dorian," said lord henry,gravely. "it is in all the morning papers. i wrote down to you to ask you not to seeany one till i came. there will have to be an inquest, of course, and you must not bemixed up in it. things like that make a man fashionable in paris. but in london peopleare so prejudiced. here, one should never make one's debut with a scandal. one shouldreserve that to give an interest to one's old age. i suppose they don't know your nameat the theatre? if they don't, it is all right.
did any one see you going round to her room?that is an important point." dorian did not answer for a few moments. hewas dazed with horror. finally he stammered, in a stifled voice, "harry, did you say aninquest? what did you mean by that? did sibylâ€”? oh, harry, i can't bear it! but be quick.tell me everything at once." "i have no doubt it was not an accident, dorian,though it must be put in that way to the public. it seems that as she was leaving the theatrewith her mother, about half-past twelve or so, she said she had forgotten something upstairs.they waited some time for her, but she did not come down again. they ultimately foundher lying dead on the floor of her dressing-room. she had swallowed something by mistake, somedreadful thing they use at theatres. i don't
know what it was, but it had either prussicacid or white lead in it. i should fancy it was prussic acid, as she seems to have diedinstantaneously." "harry, harry, it is terrible!" cried thelad. "yes; it is very tragic, of course, but youmust not get yourself mixed up in it. i see by the standard that she was seventeen. ishould have thought she was almost younger than that. she looked such a child, and seemedto know so little about acting. dorian, you mustn't let this thing get on your nerves.you must come and dine with me, and afterwards we will look in at the opera. it is a pattinight, and everybody will be there. you can come to my sister's box. she has got somesmart women with her."
"so i have murdered sibyl vane," said doriangray, half to himself, "murdered her as surely as if i had cut her little throat with a knife.yet the roses are not less lovely for all that. the birds sing just as happily in mygarden. and to-night i am to dine with you, and then go on to the opera, and sup somewhere,i suppose, afterwards. how extraordinarily dramatic life is! if i had read all this ina book, harry, i think i would have wept over it. somehow, now that it has happened actually,and to me, it seems far too wonderful for tears. here is the first passionate love-letteri have ever written in my life. strange, that my first passionate love-letter should havebeen addressed to a dead girl. can they feel, i wonder, those white silent people we callthe dead? sibyl! can she feel, or know, or
listen? oh, harry, how i loved her once! itseems years ago to me now. she was everything to me. then came that dreadful nightâ€”wasit really only last night?â€”when she played so badly, and my heart almost broke. she explainedit all to me. it was terribly pathetic. but i was not moved a bit. i thought her shallow.suddenly something happened that made me afraid. i can't tell you what it was, but it was terrible.i said i would go back to her. i felt i had done wrong. and now she is dead. my god! mygod! harry, what shall i do? you don't know the danger i am in, and there is nothing tokeep me straight. she would have done that for me. she had no right to kill herself.it was selfish of her." "my dear dorian," answered lord henry, takinga cigarette from his case and producing a
gold-latten matchbox, "the only way a womancan ever reform a man is by boring him so completely that he loses all possible interestin life. if you had married this girl, you would have been wretched. of course, you wouldhave treated her kindly. one can always be kind to people about whom one cares nothing.but she would have soon found out that you were absolutely indifferent to her. and whena woman finds that out about her husband, she either becomes dreadfully dowdy, or wearsvery smart bonnets that some other woman's husband has to pay for. i say nothing aboutthe social mistake, which would have been abjectâ€”which, of course, i would not haveallowedâ€”but i assure you that in any case the whole thing would have been an absolutefailure."
"i suppose it would," muttered the lad, walkingup and down the room and looking horribly pale. "but i thought it was my duty. it isnot my fault that this terrible tragedy has prevented my doing what was right. i rememberyour saying once that there is a fatality about good resolutionsâ€”that they are alwaysmade too late. mine certainly were." "good resolutions are useless attempts tointerfere with scientific laws. their origin is pure vanity. their result is absolutelynil. they give us, now and then, some of those luxurious sterile emotions that have a certaincharm for the weak. that is all that can be said for them. they are simply cheques thatmen draw on a bank where they have no account." "harry," cried dorian gray, coming over andsitting down beside him, "why is it that i
cannot feel this tragedy as much as i wantto? i don't think i am heartless. do you?" "you have done too many foolish things duringthe last fortnight to be entitled to give yourself that name, dorian," answered lordhenry with his sweet melancholy smile. the lad frowned. "i don't like that explanation,harry," he rejoined, "but i am glad you don't think i am heartless. i am nothing of thekind. i know i am not. and yet i must admit that this thing that has happened does notaffect me as it should. it seems to me to be simply like a wonderful ending to a wonderfulplay. it has all the terrible beauty of a greek tragedy, a tragedy in which i took agreat part, but by which i have not been wounded." "it is an interesting question," said lordhenry, who found an exquisite pleasure in
playing on the lad's unconscious egotism,"an extremely interesting question. i fancy that the true explanation is this: it oftenhappens that the real tragedies of life occur in such an inartistic manner that they hurtus by their crude violence, their absolute incoherence, their absurd want of meaning,their entire lack of style. they affect us just as vulgarity affects us. they give usan impression of sheer brute force, and we revolt against that. sometimes, however, atragedy that possesses artistic elements of beauty crosses our lives. if these elementsof beauty are real, the whole thing simply appeals to our sense of dramatic effect. suddenlywe find that we are no longer the actors, but the spectators of the play. or ratherwe are both. we watch ourselves, and the mere
wonder of the spectacle enthralls us. in thepresent case, what is it that has really happened? some one has killed herself for love of you.i wish that i had ever had such an experience. it would have made me in love with love forthe rest of my life. the people who have adored meâ€”there have not been very many, but therehave been someâ€”have always insisted on living on, long after i had ceased to care for them,or they to care for me. they have become stout and tedious, and when i meet them, they goin at once for reminiscences. that awful memory of woman! what a fearful thing it is! andwhat an utter intellectual stagnation it reveals! one should absorb the colour of life, butone should never remember its details. details are always vulgar."
"i must sow poppies in my garden," sigheddorian. "there is no necessity," rejoined his companion."life has always poppies in her hands. of course, now and then things linger. i oncewore nothing but violets all through one season, as a form of artistic mourning for a romancethat would not die. ultimately, however, it did die. i forget what killed it. i thinkit was her proposing to sacrifice the whole world for me. that is always a dreadful moment.it fills one with the terror of eternity. wellâ€”would you believe it?â€”a week ago,at lady hampshire's, i found myself seated at dinner next the lady in question, and sheinsisted on going over the whole thing again, and digging up the past, and raking up thefuture. i had buried my romance in a bed of
asphodel. she dragged it out again and assuredme that i had spoiled her life. i am bound to state that she ate an enormous dinner,so i did not feel any anxiety. but what a lack of taste she showed! the one charm ofthe past is that it is the past. but women never know when the curtain has fallen. theyalways want a sixth act, and as soon as the interest of the play is entirely over, theypropose to continue it. if they were allowed their own way, every comedy would have a tragicending, and every tragedy would culminate in a farce. they are charmingly artificial,but they have no sense of art. you are more fortunate than i am. i assure you, dorian,that not one of the women i have known would have done for me what sibyl vane did for you.ordinary women always console themselves.
some of them do it by going in for sentimentalcolours. never trust a woman who wears mauve, whatever her age may be, or a woman over thirty-fivewho is fond of pink ribbons. it always means that they have a history. others find a greatconsolation in suddenly discovering the good qualities of their husbands. they flaunt theirconjugal felicity in one's face, as if it were the most fascinating of sins. religionconsoles some. its mysteries have all the charm of a flirtation, a woman once told me,and i can quite understand it. besides, nothing makes one so vain as being told that one isa sinner. conscience makes egotists of us all. yes; there is really no end to the consolationsthat women find in modern life. indeed, i have not mentioned the most important one."
"what is that, harry?" said the lad listlessly. "oh, the obvious consolation. taking someone else's admirer when one loses one's own. in good society that always whitewashes awoman. but really, dorian, how different sibyl vane must have been from all the women onemeets! there is something to me quite beautiful about her death. i am glad i am living ina century when such wonders happen. they make one believe in the reality of the things weall play with, such as romance, passion, and love." "i was terribly cruel to her. you forget that." "i am afraid that women appreciate cruelty,downright cruelty, more than anything else.
they have wonderfully primitive instincts.we have emancipated them, but they remain slaves looking for their masters, all thesame. they love being dominated. i am sure you were splendid. i have never seen you reallyand absolutely angry, but i can fancy how delightful you looked. and, after all, yousaid something to me the day before yesterday that seemed to me at the time to be merelyfanciful, but that i see now was absolutely true, and it holds the key to everything." "what was that, harry?" "you said to me that sibyl vane representedto you all the heroines of romanceâ€”that she was desdemona one night, and ophelia theother; that if she died as juliet, she came
to life as imogen." "she will never come to life again now," mutteredthe lad, burying his face in his hands. "no, she will never come to life. she hasplayed her last part. but you must think of that lonely death in the tawdry dressing-roomsimply as a strange lurid fragment from some jacobean tragedy, as a wonderful scene fromwebster, or ford, or cyril tourneur. the girl never really lived, and so she has never reallydied. to you at least she was always a dream, a phantom that flitted through shakespeare'splays and left them lovelier for its presence, a reed through which shakespeare's music soundedricher and more full of joy. the moment she touched actual life, she marred it, and itmarred her, and so she passed away. mourn
for ophelia, if you like. put ashes on yourhead because cordelia was strangled. cry out against heaven because the daughter of brabantiodied. but don't waste your tears over sibyl vane. she was less real than they are." there was a silence. the evening darkenedin the room. noiselessly, and with silver feet, the shadows crept in from the garden.the colours faded wearily out of things. after some time dorian gray looked up. "youhave explained me to myself, harry," he murmured with something of a sigh of relief. "i feltall that you have said, but somehow i was afraid of it, and i could not express it tomyself. how well you know me! but we will not talk again of what has happened. it hasbeen a marvellous experience. that is all.
i wonder if life has still in store for meanything as marvellous." "life has everything in store for you, dorian.there is nothing that you, with your extraordinary good looks, will not be able to do." "but suppose, harry, i became haggard, andold, and wrinkled? what then?" "ah, then," said lord henry, rising to go,"then, my dear dorian, you would have to fight for your victories. as it is, they are broughtto you. no, you must keep your good looks. we live in an age that reads too much to bewise, and that thinks too much to be beautiful. we cannot spare you. and now you had betterdress and drive down to the club. we are rather late, as it is."
"i think i shall join you at the opera, harry.i feel too tired to eat anything. what is the number of your sister's box?" "twenty-seven, i believe. it is on the grandtier. you will see her name on the door. but i am sorry you won't come and dine." "i don't feel up to it," said dorian listlessly."but i am awfully obliged to you for all that you have said to me. you are certainly mybest friend. no one has ever understood me as you have." "we are only at the beginning of our friendship,dorian," answered lord henry, shaking him by the hand. "good-bye. i shall see you beforenine-thirty, i hope. remember, patti is singing."
as he closed the door behind him, dorian graytouched the bell, and in a few minutes victor appeared with the lamps and drew the blindsdown. he waited impatiently for him to go. the man seemed to take an interminable timeover everything. as soon as he had left, he rushed to the screenand drew it back. no; there was no further change in the picture. it had received thenews of sibyl vane's death before he had known of it himself. it was conscious of the eventsof life as they occurred. the vicious cruelty that marred the fine lines of the mouth had,no doubt, appeared at the very moment that the girl had drunk the poison, whatever itwas. or was it indifferent to results? did it merely take cognizance of what passed withinthe soul? he wondered, and hoped that some
day he would see the change taking place beforehis very eyes, shuddering as he hoped it. poor sibyl! what a romance it had all been!she had often mimicked death on the stage. then death himself had touched her and takenher with him. how had she played that dreadful last scene? had she cursed him, as she died?no; she had died for love of him, and love would always be a sacrament to him now. shehad atoned for everything by the sacrifice she had made of her life. he would not thinkany more of what she had made him go through, on that horrible night at the theatre. whenhe thought of her, it would be as a wonderful tragic figure sent on to the world's stageto show the supreme reality of love. a wonderful tragic figure? tears came to his eyes as heremembered her childlike look, and winsome
fanciful ways, and shy tremulous grace. hebrushed them away hastily and looked again at the picture. he felt that the time had really come formaking his choice. or had his choice already been made? yes, life had decided that forhimâ€”life, and his own infinite curiosity about life. eternal youth, infinite passion,pleasures subtle and secret, wild joys and wilder sinsâ€”he was to have all these things.the portrait was to bear the burden of his shame: that was all. a feeling of pain crept over him as he thoughtof the desecration that was in store for the fair face on the canvas. once, in boyish mockeryof narcissus, he had kissed, or feigned to
kiss, those painted lips that now smiled socruelly at him. morning after morning he had sat before the portrait wondering at its beauty,almost enamoured of it, as it seemed to him at times. was it to alter now with every moodto which he yielded? was it to become a monstrous and loathsome thing, to be hidden away ina locked room, to be shut out from the sunlight that had so often touched to brighter goldthe waving wonder of its hair? the pity of it! the pity of it! for a moment, he thought of praying that thehorrible sympathy that existed between him and the picture might cease. it had changedin answer to a prayer; perhaps in answer to a prayer it might remain unchanged. and yet,who, that knew anything about life, would
surrender the chance of remaining always young,however fantastic that chance might be, or with what fateful consequences it might befraught? besides, was it really under his control? had it indeed been prayer that hadproduced the substitution? might there not be some curious scientific reason for it all?if thought could exercise its influence upon a living organism, might not thought exercisean influence upon dead and inorganic things? nay, without thought or conscious desire,might not things external to ourselves vibrate in unison with our moods and passions, atomcalling to atom in secret love or strange affinity? but the reason was of no importance.he would never again tempt by a prayer any terrible power. if the picture was to alter,it was to alter. that was all. why inquire
too closely into it? for there would be a real pleasure in watchingit. he would be able to follow his mind into its secret places. this portrait would beto him the most magical of mirrors. as it had revealed to him his own body, so it wouldreveal to him his own soul. and when winter came upon it, he would still be standing wherespring trembles on the verge of summer. when the blood crept from its face, and left behinda pallid mask of chalk with leaden eyes, he would keep the glamour of boyhood. not oneblossom of his loveliness would ever fade. not one pulse of his life would ever weaken.like the gods of the greeks, he would be strong, and fleet, and joyous. what did it matterwhat happened to the coloured image on the
canvas? he would be safe. that was everything. he drew the screen back into its former placein front of the picture, smiling as he did so, and passed into his bedroom, where hisvalet was already waiting for him. an hour later he was at the opera, and lord henrywas leaning over his chair. chapter 9 as he was sitting at breakfast next morning,basil hallward was shown into the room. "i am so glad i have found you, dorian," hesaid gravely. "i called last night, and they told me you were at the opera. of course,i knew that was impossible. but i wish you had left word where you had really gone to.i passed a dreadful evening, half afraid that
one tragedy might be followed by another.i think you might have telegraphed for me when you heard of it first. i read of it quiteby chance in a late edition of the globe that i picked up at the club. i came here at onceand was miserable at not finding you. i can't tell you how heart-broken i am about the wholething. i know what you must suffer. but where were you? did you go down and see the girl'smother? for a moment i thought of following you there. they gave the address in the paper.somewhere in the euston road, isn't it? but i was afraid of intruding upon a sorrow thati could not lighten. poor woman! what a state she must be in! and her only child, too! whatdid she say about it all?" "my dear basil, how do i know?" murmured doriangray, sipping some pale-yellow wine from a
delicate, gold-beaded bubble of venetian glassand looking dreadfully bored. "i was at the opera. you should have come on there. i metlady gwendolen, harry's sister, for the first time. we were in her box. she is perfectlycharming; and patti sang divinely. don't talk about horrid subjects. if one doesn't talkabout a thing, it has never happened. it is simply expression, as harry says, that givesreality to things. i may mention that she was not the woman's only child. there is ason, a charming fellow, i believe. but he is not on the stage. he is a sailor, or something.and now, tell me about yourself and what you are painting." "you went to the opera?" said hallward, speakingvery slowly and with a strained touch of pain
in his voice. "you went to the opera whilesibyl vane was lying dead in some sordid lodging? you can talk to me of other women being charming,and of patti singing divinely, before the girl you loved has even the quiet of a graveto sleep in? why, man, there are horrors in store for that little white body of hers!" "stop, basil! i won't hear it!" cried dorian,leaping to his feet. "you must not tell me about things. what is done is done. what ispast is past." "you call yesterday the past?" "what has the actual lapse of time got todo with it? it is only shallow people who require years to get rid of an emotion. aman who is master of himself can end a sorrow
as easily as he can invent a pleasure. i don'twant to be at the mercy of my emotions. i want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominatethem." "dorian, this is horrible! something has changedyou completely. you look exactly the same wonderful boy who, day after day, used tocome down to my studio to sit for his picture. but you were simple, natural, and affectionatethen. you were the most unspoiled creature in the whole world. now, i don't know whathas come over you. you talk as if you had no heart, no pity in you. it is all harry'sinfluence. i see that." the lad flushed up and, going to the window,looked out for a few moments on the green, flickering, sun-lashed garden. "i owe a greatdeal to harry, basil," he said at last, "more
than i owe to you. you only taught me to bevain." "well, i am punished for that, dorianâ€”orshall be some day." "i don't know what you mean, basil," he exclaimed,turning round. "i don't know what you want. what do you want?" "i want the dorian gray i used to paint,"said the artist sadly. "basil," said the lad, going over to him andputting his hand on his shoulder, "you have come too late. yesterday, when i heard thatsibyl vane had killed herselfâ€”" "killed herself! good heavens! is there nodoubt about that?" cried hallward, looking up at him with an expression of horror.
"my dear basil! surely you don't think itwas a vulgar accident? of course she killed herself." the elder man buried his face in his hands."how fearful," he muttered, and a shudder ran through him. "no," said dorian gray, "there is nothingfearful about it. it is one of the great romantic tragedies of the age. as a rule, people whoact lead the most commonplace lives. they are good husbands, or faithful wives, or somethingtedious. you know what i meanâ€”middle-class virtue and all that kind of thing. how differentsibyl was! she lived her finest tragedy. she was always a heroine. the last night she playedâ€”thenight you saw herâ€”she acted badly because
she had known the reality of love. when sheknew its unreality, she died, as juliet might have died. she passed again into the sphereof art. there is something of the martyr about her. her death has all the pathetic uselessnessof martyrdom, all its wasted beauty. but, as i was saying, you must not think i havenot suffered. if you had come in yesterday at a particular momentâ€”about half-past five,perhaps, or a quarter to sixâ€”you would have found me in tears. even harry, who was here,who brought me the news, in fact, had no idea what i was going through. i suffered immensely.then it passed away. i cannot repeat an emotion. no one can, except sentimentalists. and youare awfully unjust, basil. you come down here to console me. that is charming of you. youfind me consoled, and you are furious. how
like a sympathetic person! you remind me ofa story harry told me about a certain philanthropist who spent twenty years of his life in tryingto get some grievance redressed, or some unjust law alteredâ€”i forget exactly what it was.finally he succeeded, and nothing could exceed his disappointment. he had absolutely nothingto do, almost died of ennui, and became a confirmed misanthrope. and besides, my dearold basil, if you really want to console me, teach me rather to forget what has happened,or to see it from a proper artistic point of view. was it not gautier who used to writeabout la consolation des arts? i remember picking up a little vellum-covered book inyour studio one day and chancing on that delightful phrase. well, i am not like that young manyou told me of when we were down at marlow
together, the young man who used to say thatyellow satin could console one for all the miseries of life. i love beautiful thingsthat one can touch and handle. old brocades, green bronzes, lacquer-work, carved ivories,exquisite surroundings, luxury, pompâ€”there is much to be got from all these. but theartistic temperament that they create, or at any rate reveal, is still more to me. tobecome the spectator of one's own life, as harry says, is to escape the suffering oflife. i know you are surprised at my talking to you like this. you have not realized howi have developed. i was a schoolboy when you knew me. i am a man now. i have new passions,new thoughts, new ideas. i am different, but you must not like me less. i am changed, butyou must always be my friend. of course, i
am very fond of harry. but i know that youare better than he is. you are not strongerâ€”you are too much afraid of lifeâ€”but you arebetter. and how happy we used to be together! don't leave me, basil, and don't quarrel withme. i am what i am. there is nothing more to be said." the painter felt strangely moved. the ladwas infinitely dear to him, and his personality had been the great turning point in his art.he could not bear the idea of reproaching him any more. after all, his indifferencewas probably merely a mood that would pass away. there was so much in him that was good,so much in him that was noble. "well, dorian," he said at length, with asad smile, "i won't speak to you again about
this horrible thing, after to-day. i onlytrust your name won't be mentioned in connection with it. the inquest is to take place thisafternoon. have they summoned you?" dorian shook his head, and a look of annoyancepassed over his face at the mention of the word "inquest." there was something so crudeand vulgar about everything of the kind. "they don't know my name," he answered. "but surely she did?" "only my christian name, and that i am quitesure she never mentioned to any one. she told me once that they were all rather curiousto learn who i was, and that she invariably told them my name was prince charming. itwas pretty of her. you must do me a drawing
of sibyl, basil. i should like to have somethingmore of her than the memory of a few kisses and some broken pathetic words." "i will try and do something, dorian, if itwould please you. but you must come and sit to me yourself again. i can't get on withoutyou." "i can never sit to you again, basil. it isimpossible!" he exclaimed, starting back. the painter stared at him. "my dear boy, whatnonsense!" he cried. "do you mean to say you don't like what i did of you? where is it?why have you pulled the screen in front of it? let me look at it. it is the best thingi have ever done. do take the screen away, dorian. it is simply disgraceful of your servanthiding my work like that. i felt the room
looked different as i came in." "my servant has nothing to do with it, basil.you don't imagine i let him arrange my room for me? he settles my flowers for me sometimesâ€”thatis all. no; i did it myself. the light was too strong on the portrait." "too strong! surely not, my dear fellow? itis an admirable place for it. let me see it." and hallward walked towards the corner ofthe room. a cry of terror broke from dorian gray's lips,and he rushed between the painter and the screen. "basil," he said, looking very pale,"you must not look at it. i don't wish you to."
"not look at my own work! you are not serious.why shouldn't i look at it?" exclaimed hallward, laughing. "if you try to look at it, basil, on my wordof honour i will never speak to you again as long as i live. i am quite serious. i don'toffer any explanation, and you are not to ask for any. but, remember, if you touch thisscreen, everything is over between us." hallward was thunderstruck. he looked at doriangray in absolute amazement. he had never seen him like this before. the lad was actuallypallid with rage. his hands were clenched, and the pupils of his eyes were like disksof blue fire. he was trembling all over. "dorian!"
"don't speak!" "but what is the matter? of course i won'tlook at it if you don't want me to," he said, rather coldly, turning on his heel and goingover towards the window. "but, really, it seems rather absurd that i shouldn't see myown work, especially as i am going to exhibit it in paris in the autumn. i shall probablyhave to give it another coat of varnish before that, so i must see it some day, and why notto-day?" "to exhibit it! you want to exhibit it?" exclaimeddorian gray, a strange sense of terror creeping over him. was the world going to be shownhis secret? were people to gape at the mystery of his life? that was impossible. somethingâ€”hedid not know whatâ€”had to be done at once.
"yes; i don't suppose you will object to that.georges petit is going to collect all my best pictures for a special exhibition in the ruede seze, which will open the first week in october. the portrait will only be away amonth. i should think you could easily spare it for that time. in fact, you are sure tobe out of town. and if you keep it always behind a screen, you can't care much aboutit." dorian gray passed his hand over his forehead.there were beads of perspiration there. he felt that he was on the brink of a horribledanger. "you told me a month ago that you would never exhibit it," he cried. "why haveyou changed your mind? you people who go in for being consistent have just as many moodsas others have. the only difference is that
your moods are rather meaningless. you can'thave forgotten that you assured me most solemnly that nothing in the world would induce youto send it to any exhibition. you told harry exactly the same thing." he stopped suddenly,and a gleam of light came into his eyes. he remembered that lord henry had said to himonce, half seriously and half in jest, "if you want to have a strange quarter of an hour,get basil to tell you why he won't exhibit your picture. he told me why he wouldn't,and it was a revelation to me." yes, perhaps basil, too, had his secret. he would ask himand try. "basil," he said, coming over quite closeand looking him straight in the face, "we have each of us a secret. let me know yours,and i shall tell you mine. what was your reason
for refusing to exhibit my picture?" the painter shuddered in spite of himself."dorian, if i told you, you might like me less than you do, and you would certainlylaugh at me. i could not bear your doing either of those two things. if you wish me neverto look at your picture again, i am content. i have always you to look at. if you wishthe best work i have ever done to be hidden from the world, i am satisfied. your friendshipis dearer to me than any fame or reputation." "no, basil, you must tell me," insisted doriangray. "i think i have a right to know." his feeling of terror had passed away, and curiosityhad taken its place. he was determined to find out basil hallward's mystery.
"let us sit down, dorian," said the painter,looking troubled. "let us sit down. and just answer me one question. have you noticed inthe picture something curious?â€”something that probably at first did not strike you,but that revealed itself to you suddenly?" "basil!" cried the lad, clutching the armsof his chair with trembling hands and gazing at him with wild startled eyes. "i see you did. don't speak. wait till youhear what i have to say. dorian, from the moment i met you, your personality had themost extraordinary influence over me. i was dominated, soul, brain, and power, by you.you became to me the visible incarnation of that unseen ideal whose memory haunts us artistslike an exquisite dream. i worshipped you.
i grew jealous of every one to whom you spoke.i wanted to have you all to myself. i was only happy when i was with you. when you wereaway from me, you were still present in my art.... of course, i never let you know anythingabout this. it would have been impossible. you would not have understood it. i hardlyunderstood it myself. i only knew that i had seen perfection face to face, and that theworld had become wonderful to my eyesâ€”too wonderful, perhaps, for in such mad worshipsthere is peril, the peril of losing them, no less than the peril of keeping them....weeks and weeks went on, and i grew more and more absorbed in you. then came a new development.i had drawn you as paris in dainty armour, and as adonis with huntsman's cloak and polishedboar-spear. crowned with heavy lotus-blossoms
you had sat on the prow of adrian's barge,gazing across the green turbid nile. you had leaned over the still pool of some greek woodlandand seen in the water's silent silver the marvel of your own face. and it had all beenwhat art should beâ€”unconscious, ideal, and remote. one day, a fatal day i sometimes think,i determined to paint a wonderful portrait of you as you actually are, not in the costumeof dead ages, but in your own dress and in your own time. whether it was the realismof the method, or the mere wonder of your own personality, thus directly presented tome without mist or veil, i cannot tell. but i know that as i worked at it, every flakeand film of colour seemed to me to reveal my secret. i grew afraid that others wouldknow of my idolatry. i felt, dorian, that
i had told too much, that i had put too muchof myself into it. then it was that i resolved never to allow the picture to be exhibited.you were a little annoyed; but then you did not realize all that it meant to me. harry,to whom i talked about it, laughed at me. but i did not mind that. when the picturewas finished, and i sat alone with it, i felt that i was right.... well, after a few daysthe thing left my studio, and as soon as i had got rid of the intolerable fascinationof its presence, it seemed to me that i had been foolish in imagining that i had seenanything in it, more than that you were extremely good-looking and that i could paint. evennow i cannot help feeling that it is a mistake to think that the passion one feels in creationis ever really shown in the work one creates.
art is always more abstract than we fancy.form and colour tell us of form and colourâ€”that is all. it often seems to me that art concealsthe artist far more completely than it ever reveals him. and so when i got this offerfrom paris, i determined to make your portrait the principal thing in my exhibition. it neveroccurred to me that you would refuse. i see now that you were right. the picture cannotbe shown. you must not be angry with me, dorian, for what i have told you. as i said to harry,once, you are made to be worshipped." dorian gray drew a long breath. the colourcame back to his cheeks, and a smile played about his lips. the peril was over. he wassafe for the time. yet he could not help feeling infinite pity for the painter who had justmade this strange confession to him, and wondered
if he himself would ever be so dominated bythe personality of a friend. lord henry had the charm of being very dangerous. but thatwas all. he was too clever and too cynical to be really fond of. would there ever besome one who would fill him with a strange idolatry? was that one of the things thatlife had in store? "it is extraordinary to me, dorian," saidhallward, "that you should have seen this in the portrait. did you really see it?" "i saw something in it," he answered, "somethingthat seemed to me very curious." "well, you don't mind my looking at the thingnow?" dorian shook his head. "you must not ask methat, basil. i could not possibly let you
stand in front of that picture." "you will some day, surely?" "well, perhaps you are right. and now good-bye,dorian. you have been the one person in my life who has really influenced my art. whateveri have done that is good, i owe to you. ah! you don't know what it cost me to tell youall that i have told you." "my dear basil," said dorian, "what have youtold me? simply that you felt that you admired me too much. that is not even a compliment." "it was not intended as a compliment. it wasa confession. now that i have made it, something seems to have gone out of me. perhaps oneshould never put one's worship into words."
"it was a very disappointing confession." "why, what did you expect, dorian? you didn'tsee anything else in the picture, did you? there was nothing else to see?" "no; there was nothing else to see. why doyou ask? but you mustn't talk about worship. it is foolish. you and i are friends, basil,and we must always remain so." "you have got harry," said the painter sadly. "oh, harry!" cried the lad, with a rippleof laughter. "harry spends his days in saying what is incredible and his evenings in doingwhat is improbable. just the sort of life i would like to lead. but still i don't thinki would go to harry if i were in trouble.
i would sooner go to you, basil." "you will sit to me again?" "impossible!" "you spoil my life as an artist by refusing,dorian. no man comes across two ideal things. few come across one." "i can't explain it to you, basil, but i mustnever sit to you again. there is something fatal about a portrait. it has a life of itsown. i will come and have tea with you. that will be just as pleasant." "pleasanter for you, i am afraid," murmuredhallward regretfully. "and now good-bye. i
am sorry you won't let me look at the pictureonce again. but that can't be helped. i quite understand what you feel about it." as he left the room, dorian gray smiled tohimself. poor basil! how little he knew of the true reason! and how strange it was that,instead of having been forced to reveal his own secret, he had succeeded, almost by chance,in wresting a secret from his friend! how much that strange confession explained tohim! the painter's absurd fits of jealousy, his wild devotion, his extravagant panegyrics,his curious reticencesâ€”he understood them all now, and he felt sorry. there seemed tohim to be something tragic in a friendship so coloured by romance.
he sighed and touched the bell. the portraitmust be hidden away at all costs. he could not run such a risk of discovery again. ithad been mad of him to have allowed the thing to remain, even for an hour, in a room towhich any of his friends had access. chapter 10 when his servant entered, he looked at himsteadfastly and wondered if he had thought of peering behind the screen. the man wasquite impassive and waited for his orders. dorian lit a cigarette and walked over tothe glass and glanced into it. he could see the reflection of victor's face perfectly.it was like a placid mask of servility. there was nothing to be afraid of, there. yet hethought it best to be on his guard.
speaking very slowly, he told him to tellthe house-keeper that he wanted to see her, and then to go to the frame-maker and askhim to send two of his men round at once. it seemed to him that as the man left theroom his eyes wandered in the direction of the screen. or was that merely his own fancy? after a few moments, in her black silk dress,with old-fashioned thread mittens on her wrinkled hands, mrs. leaf bustled into the library.he asked her for the key of the schoolroom. "the old schoolroom, mr. dorian?" she exclaimed."why, it is full of dust. i must get it arranged and put straight before you go into it. itis not fit for you to see, sir. it is not, indeed."
"i don't want it put straight, leaf. i onlywant the key." "well, sir, you'll be covered with cobwebsif you go into it. why, it hasn't been opened for nearly five yearsâ€”not since his lordshipdied." he winced at the mention of his grandfather.he had hateful memories of him. "that does not matter," he answered. "i simply want tosee the placeâ€”that is all. give me the key." "and here is the key, sir," said the old lady,going over the contents of her bunch with tremulously uncertain hands. "here is thekey. i'll have it off the bunch in a moment. but you don't think of living up there, sir,and you so comfortable here?" "no, no," he cried petulantly. "thank you,leaf. that will do."
she lingered for a few moments, and was garrulousover some detail of the household. he sighed and told her to manage things as she thoughtbest. she left the room, wreathed in smiles. as the door closed, dorian put the key inhis pocket and looked round the room. his eye fell on a large, purple satin coverletheavily embroidered with gold, a splendid piece of late seventeenth-century venetianwork that his grandfather had found in a convent near bologna. yes, that would serve to wrapthe dreadful thing in. it had perhaps served often as a pall for the dead. now it was tohide something that had a corruption of its own, worse than the corruption of death itselfâ€”somethingthat would breed horrors and yet would never die. what the worm was to the corpse, hissins would be to the painted image on the
canvas. they would mar its beauty and eataway its grace. they would defile it and make it shameful. and yet the thing would stilllive on. it would be always alive. he shuddered, and for a moment he regrettedthat he had not told basil the true reason why he had wished to hide the picture away.basil would have helped him to resist lord henry's influence, and the still more poisonousinfluences that came from his own temperament. the love that he bore himâ€”for it was reallyloveâ€”had nothing in it that was not noble and intellectual. it was not that mere physicaladmiration of beauty that is born of the senses and that dies when the senses tire. it wassuch love as michelangelo had known, and montaigne, and winckelmann, and shakespeare himself.yes, basil could have saved him. but it was
too late now. the past could always be annihilated.regret, denial, or forgetfulness could do that. but the future was inevitable. therewere passions in him that would find their terrible outlet, dreams that would make theshadow of their evil real. he took up from the couch the great purple-and-goldtexture that covered it, and, holding it in his hands, passed behind the screen. was theface on the canvas viler than before? it seemed to him that it was unchanged, and yet hisloathing of it was intensified. gold hair, blue eyes, and rose-red lipsâ€”they all werethere. it was simply the expression that had altered. that was horrible in its cruelty.compared to what he saw in it of censure or rebuke, how shallow basil's reproaches aboutsibyl vane had been!â€”how shallow, and of
what little account! his own soul was lookingout at him from the canvas and calling him to judgement. a look of pain came across him,and he flung the rich pall over the picture. as he did so, a knock came to the door. hepassed out as his servant entered. "the persons are here, monsieur." he felt that the man must be got rid of atonce. he must not be allowed to know where the picture was being taken to. there wassomething sly about him, and he had thoughtful, treacherous eyes. sitting down at the writing-tablehe scribbled a note to lord henry, asking him to send him round something to read andreminding him that they were to meet at eight-fifteen that evening.
"wait for an answer," he said, handing itto him, "and show the men in here." in two or three minutes there was anotherknock, and mr. hubbard himself, the celebrated frame-maker of south audley street, came inwith a somewhat rough-looking young assistant. mr. hubbard was a florid, red-whiskered littleman, whose admiration for art was considerably tempered by the inveterate impecuniosity ofmost of the artists who dealt with him. as a rule, he never left his shop. he waitedfor people to come to him. but he always made an exception in favour of dorian gray. therewas something about dorian that charmed everybody. it was a pleasure even to see him. "what can i do for you, mr. gray?" he said,rubbing his fat freckled hands. "i thought
i would do myself the honour of coming roundin person. i have just got a beauty of a frame, sir. picked it up at a sale. old florentine.came from fonthill, i believe. admirably suited for a religious subject, mr. gray." "i am so sorry you have given yourself thetrouble of coming round, mr. hubbard. i shall certainly drop in and look at the frameâ€”thoughi don't go in much at present for religious artâ€”but to-day i only want a picture carriedto the top of the house for me. it is rather heavy, so i thought i would ask you to lendme a couple of your men." "no trouble at all, mr. gray. i am delightedto be of any service to you. which is the work of art, sir?"
"this," replied dorian, moving the screenback. "can you move it, covering and all, just as it is? i don't want it to get scratchedgoing upstairs." "there will be no difficulty, sir," said thegenial frame-maker, beginning, with the aid of his assistant, to unhook the picture fromthe long brass chains by which it was suspended. "and, now, where shall we carry it to, mr.gray?" "i will show you the way, mr. hubbard, ifyou will kindly follow me. or perhaps you had better go in front. i am afraid it isright at the top of the house. we will go up by the front staircase, as it is wider." he held the door open for them, and they passedout into the hall and began the ascent. the
elaborate character of the frame had madethe picture extremely bulky, and now and then, in spite of the obsequious protests of mr.hubbard, who had the true tradesman's spirited dislike of seeing a gentleman doing anythinguseful, dorian put his hand to it so as to help them. "something of a load to carry, sir," gaspedthe little man when they reached the top landing. and he wiped his shiny forehead. "i am afraid it is rather heavy," murmureddorian as he unlocked the door that opened into the room that was to keep for him thecurious secret of his life and hide his soul from the eyes of men.
he had not entered the place for more thanfour yearsâ€”not, indeed, since he had used it first as a play-room when he was a child,and then as a study when he grew somewhat older. it was a large, well-proportioned room,which had been specially built by the last lord kelso for the use of the little grandsonwhom, for his strange likeness to his mother, and also for other reasons, he had alwayshated and desired to keep at a distance. it appeared to dorian to have but little changed.there was the huge italian cassone, with its fantastically painted panels and its tarnishedgilt mouldings, in which he had so often hidden himself as a boy. there the satinwood book-casefilled with his dog-eared schoolbooks. on the wall behind it was hanging the same raggedflemish tapestry where a faded king and queen
were playing chess in a garden, while a companyof hawkers rode by, carrying hooded birds on their gauntleted wrists. how well he rememberedit all! every moment of his lonely childhood came back to him as he looked round. he recalledthe stainless purity of his boyish life, and it seemed horrible to him that it was herethe fatal portrait was to be hidden away. how little he had thought, in those dead days,of all that was in store for him! but there was no other place in the houseso secure from prying eyes as this. he had the key, and no one else could enter it. beneathits purple pall, the face painted on the canvas could grow bestial, sodden, and unclean. whatdid it matter? no one could see it. he himself would not see it. why should he watch thehideous corruption of his soul? he kept his
youthâ€”that was enough. and, besides, mightnot his nature grow finer, after all? there was no reason that the future should be sofull of shame. some love might come across his life, and purify him, and shield him fromthose sins that seemed to be already stirring in spirit and in fleshâ€”those curious unpicturedsins whose very mystery lent them their subtlety and their charm. perhaps, some day, the cruellook would have passed away from the scarlet sensitive mouth, and he might show to theworld basil hallward's masterpiece. no; that was impossible. hour by hour, andweek by week, the thing upon the canvas was growing old. it might escape the hideousnessof sin, but the hideousness of age was in store for it. the cheeks would become hollowor flaccid. yellow crow's feet would creep
round the fading eyes and make them horrible.the hair would lose its brightness, the mouth would gape or droop, would be foolish or gross,as the mouths of old men are. there would be the wrinkled throat, the cold, blue-veinedhands, the twisted body, that he remembered in the grandfather who had been so stern tohim in his boyhood. the picture had to be concealed. there was no help for it. "bring it in, mr. hubbard, please," he said,wearily, turning round. "i am sorry i kept you so long. i was thinking of something else." "always glad to have a rest, mr. gray," answeredthe frame-maker, who was still gasping for breath. "where shall we put it, sir?"
"oh, anywhere. here: this will do. i don'twant to have it hung up. just lean it against the wall. thanks." "might one look at the work of art, sir?" dorian started. "it would not interest you,mr. hubbard," he said, keeping his eye on the man. he felt ready to leap upon him andfling him to the ground if he dared to lift the gorgeous hanging that concealed the secretof his life. "i shan't trouble you any more now. i am much obliged for your kindness incoming round." "not at all, not at all, mr. gray. ever readyto do anything for you, sir." and mr. hubbard tramped downstairs, followed by the assistant,who glanced back at dorian with a look of
shy wonder in his rough uncomely face. hehad never seen any one so marvellous. when the sound of their footsteps had diedaway, dorian locked the door and put the key in his pocket. he felt safe now. no one wouldever look upon the horrible thing. no eye but his would ever see his shame. on reaching the library, he found that itwas just after five o'clock and that the tea had been already brought up. on a little tableof dark perfumed wood thickly incrusted with nacre, a present from lady radley, his guardian'swife, a pretty professional invalid who had spent the preceding winter in cairo, was lyinga note from lord henry, and beside it was a book bound in yellow paper, the cover slightlytorn and the edges soiled. a copy of the third
edition of the st. james's gazette had beenplaced on the tea-tray. it was evident that victor had returned. he wondered if he hadmet the men in the hall as they were leaving the house and had wormed out of them whatthey had been doing. he would be sure to miss the pictureâ€”had no doubt missed it already,while he had been laying the tea-things. the screen had not been set back, and a blankspace was visible on the wall. perhaps some night he might find him creeping upstairsand trying to force the door of the room. it was a horrible thing to have a spy in one'shouse. he had heard of rich men who had been blackmailed all their lives by some servantwho had read a letter, or overheard a conversation, or picked up a card with an address, or foundbeneath a pillow a withered flower or a shred
of crumpled lace. he sighed, and having poured himself out sometea, opened lord henry's note. it was simply to say that he sent him round the eveningpaper, and a book that might interest him, and that he would be at the club at eight-fifteen.he opened the st. james's languidly, and looked through it. a red pencil-mark on the fifthpage caught his eye. it drew attention to the following paragraph: inquest on an actress.â€”an inquest was heldthis morning at the bell tavern, hoxton road, by mr. danby, the district coroner, on thebody of sibyl vane, a young actress recently engaged at the royal theatre, holborn. a verdictof death by misadventure was returned. considerable
sympathy was expressed for the mother of thedeceased, who was greatly affected during the giving of her own evidence, and that ofdr. birrell, who had made the post-mortem examination of the deceased. he frowned, and tearing the paper in two,went across the room and flung the pieces away. how ugly it all was! and how horriblyreal ugliness made things! he felt a little annoyed with lord henry for having sent himthe report. and it was certainly stupid of him to have marked it with red pencil. victormight have read it. the man knew more than enough english for that. perhaps he had read it and had begun to suspectsomething. and, yet, what did it matter? what
had dorian gray to do with sibyl vane's death?there was nothing to fear. dorian gray had not killed her. his eye fell on the yellow book that lordhenry had sent him. what was it, he wondered. he went towards the little, pearl-colouredoctagonal stand that had always looked to him like the work of some strange egyptianbees that wrought in silver, and taking up the volume, flung himself into an arm-chairand began to turn over the leaves. after a few minutes he became absorbed. it was thestrangest book that he had ever read. it seemed to him that in exquisite raiment, and to thedelicate sound of flutes, the sins of the world were passing in dumb show before him.things that he had dimly dreamed of were suddenly
made real to him. things of which he had neverdreamed were gradually revealed. it was a novel without a plot and with onlyone character, being, indeed, simply a psychological study of a certain young parisian who spenthis life trying to realize in the nineteenth century all the passions and modes of thoughtthat belonged to every century except his own, and to sum up, as it were, in himselfthe various moods through which the world-spirit had ever passed, loving for their mere artificialitythose renunciations that men have unwisely called virtue, as much as those natural rebellionsthat wise men still call sin. the style in which it was written was that curious jewelledstyle, vivid and obscure at once, full of argot and of archaisms, of technical expressionsand of elaborate paraphrases, that characterizes
the work of some of the finest artists ofthe french school of symbolistes. there were in it metaphors as monstrous as orchids andas subtle in colour. the life of the senses was described in the terms of mystical philosophy.one hardly knew at times whether one was reading the spiritual ecstasies of some mediaevalsaint or the morbid confessions of a modern sinner. it was a poisonous book. the heavyodour of incense seemed to cling about its pages and to trouble the brain. the mere cadenceof the sentences, the subtle monotony of their music, so full as it was of complex refrainsand movements elaborately repeated, produced in the mind of the lad, as he passed fromchapter to chapter, a form of reverie, a malady of dreaming, that made him unconscious ofthe falling day and creeping shadows.
cloudless, and pierced by one solitary star,a copper-green sky gleamed through the windows. he read on by its wan light till he couldread no more. then, after his valet had reminded him several times of the lateness of the hour,he got up, and going into the next room, placed the book on the little florentine table thatalways stood at his bedside and began to dress for dinner. it was almost nine o'clock before he reachedthe club, where he found lord henry sitting alone, in the morning-room, looking very muchbored. "i am so sorry, harry," he cried, "but reallyit is entirely your fault. that book you sent me so fascinated me that i forgot how thetime was going."
"yes, i thought you would like it," repliedhis host, rising from his chair. "i didn't say i liked it, harry. i said itfascinated me. there is a great difference." "ah, you have discovered that?" murmured lordhenry. and they passed into the dining-room. chapter 11 for years, dorian gray could not free himselffrom the influence of this book. or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he neversought to free himself from it. he procured from paris no less than nine large-paper copiesof the first edition, and had them bound in different colours, so that they might suithis various moods and the changing fancies of a nature over which he seemed, at times,to have almost entirely lost control. the
hero, the wonderful young parisian in whomthe romantic and the scientific temperaments were so strangely blended, became to him akind of prefiguring type of himself. and, indeed, the whole book seemed to him to containthe story of his own life, written before he had lived it. in one point he was more fortunate than thenovel's fantastic hero. he never knewâ€”never, indeed, had any cause to knowâ€”that somewhatgrotesque dread of mirrors, and polished metal surfaces, and still water which came uponthe young parisian so early in his life, and was occasioned by the sudden decay of a beauthat had once, apparently, been so remarkable. it was with an almost cruel joyâ€”and perhapsin nearly every joy, as certainly in every
pleasure, cruelty has its placeâ€”that heused to read the latter part of the book, with its really tragic, if somewhat overemphasized,account of the sorrow and despair of one who had himself lost what in others, and the world,he had most dearly valued. for the wonderful beauty that had so fascinatedbasil hallward, and many others besides him, seemed never to leave him. even those whohad heard the most evil things against himâ€”and from time to time strange rumours about hismode of life crept through london and became the chatter of the clubsâ€”could not believeanything to his dishonour when they saw him. he had always the look of one who had kepthimself unspotted from the world. men who talked grossly became silent when dorian grayentered the room. there was something in the
purity of his face that rebuked them. hismere presence seemed to recall to them the memory of the innocence that they had tarnished.they wondered how one so charming and graceful as he was could have escaped the stain ofan age that was at once sordid and sensual. often, on returning home from one of thosemysterious and prolonged absences that gave rise to such strange conjecture among thosewho were his friends, or thought that they were so, he himself would creep upstairs tothe locked room, open the door with the key that never left him now, and stand, with amirror, in front of the portrait that basil hallward had painted of him, looking now atthe evil and aging face on the canvas, and now at the fair young face that laughed backat him from the polished glass. the very sharpness
of the contrast used to quicken his senseof pleasure. he grew more and more enamoured of his own beauty, more and more interestedin the corruption of his own soul. he would examine with minute care, and sometimes witha monstrous and terrible delight, the hideous lines that seared the wrinkling forehead orcrawled around the heavy sensual mouth, wondering sometimes which were the more horrible, thesigns of sin or the signs of age. he would place his white hands beside the coarse bloatedhands of the picture, and smile. he mocked the misshapen body and the failing limbs. there were moments, indeed, at night, when,lying sleepless in his own delicately scented chamber, or in the sordid room of the littleill-famed tavern near the docks which, under
an assumed name and in disguise, it was hishabit to frequent, he would think of the ruin he had brought upon his soul with a pity thatwas all the more poignant because it was purely selfish. but moments such as these were rare.that curiosity about life which lord henry had first stirred in him, as they sat togetherin the garden of their friend, seemed to increase with gratification. the more he knew, themore he desired to know. he had mad hungers that grew more ravenous as he fed them. yet he was not really reckless, at any ratein his relations to society. once or twice every month during the winter, and on eachwednesday evening while the season lasted, he would throw open to the world his beautifulhouse and have the most celebrated musicians
of the day to charm his guests with the wondersof their art. his little dinners, in the settling of which lord henry always assisted him, werenoted as much for the careful selection and placing of those invited, as for the exquisitetaste shown in the decoration of the table, with its subtle symphonic arrangements ofexotic flowers, and embroidered cloths, and antique plate of gold and silver. indeed,there were many, especially among the very young men, who saw, or fancied that they saw,in dorian gray the true realization of a type of which they had often dreamed in eton oroxford days, a type that was to combine something of the real culture of the scholar with allthe grace and distinction and perfect manner of a citizen of the world. to them he seemedto be of the company of those whom dante describes
as having sought to "make themselves perfectby the worship of beauty." like gautier, he was one for whom "the visible world existed." and, certainly, to him life itself was thefirst, the greatest, of the arts, and for it all the other arts seemed to be but a preparation.fashion, by which what is really fantastic becomes for a moment universal, and dandyism,which, in its own way, is an attempt to assert the absolute modernity of beauty, had, ofcourse, their fascination for him. his mode of dressing, and the particular styles thatfrom time to time he affected, had their marked influence on the young exquisites of the mayfairballs and pall mall club windows, who copied him in everything that he did, and tried toreproduce the accidental charm of his graceful,
though to him only half-serious, fopperies. for, while he was but too ready to acceptthe position that was almost immediately offered to him on his coming of age, and found, indeed,a subtle pleasure in the thought that he might really become to the london of his own daywhat to imperial neronian rome the author of the satyricon once had been, yet in hisinmost heart he desired to be something more than a mere arbiter elegantiarum, to be consultedon the wearing of a jewel, or the knotting of a necktie, or the conduct of a cane. hesought to elaborate some new scheme of life that would have its reasoned philosophy andits ordered principles, and find in the spiritualizing of the senses its highest realization.
the worship of the senses has often, and withmuch justice, been decried, men feeling a natural instinct of terror about passionsand sensations that seem stronger than themselves, and that they are conscious of sharing withthe less highly organized forms of existence. but it appeared to dorian gray that the truenature of the senses had never been understood, and that they had remained savage and animalmerely because the world had sought to starve them into submission or to kill them by pain,instead of aiming at making them elements of a new spirituality, of which a fine instinctfor beauty was to be the dominant characteristic. as he looked back upon man moving throughhistory, he was haunted by a feeling of loss. so much had been surrendered! and to suchlittle purpose! there had been mad wilful
rejections, monstrous forms of self-tortureand self-denial, whose origin was fear and whose result was a degradation infinitelymore terrible than that fancied degradation from which, in their ignorance, they had soughtto escape; nature, in her wonderful irony, driving out the anchorite to feed with thewild animals of the desert and giving to the hermit the beasts of the field as his companions. yes: there was to be, as lord henry had prophesied,a new hedonism that was to recreate life and to save it from that harsh uncomely puritanismthat is having, in our own day, its curious revival. it was to have its service of theintellect, certainly, yet it was never to accept any theory or system that would involvethe sacrifice of any mode of passionate experience.
its aim, indeed, was to be experience itself,and not the fruits of experience, sweet or bitter as they might be. of the asceticismthat deadens the senses, as of the vulgar profligacy that dulls them, it was to knownothing. but it was to teach man to concentrate himself upon the moments of a life that isitself but a moment. there are few of us who have not sometimeswakened before dawn, either after one of those dreamless nights that make us almost enamouredof death, or one of those nights of horror and misshapen joy, when through the chambersof the brain sweep phantoms more terrible than reality itself, and instinct with thatvivid life that lurks in all grotesques, and that lends to gothic art its enduring vitality,this art being, one might fancy, especially
the art of those whose minds have been troubledwith the malady of reverie. gradually white fingers creep through the curtains, and theyappear to tremble. in black fantastic shapes, dumb shadows crawl into the corners of theroom and crouch there. outside, there is the stirring of birds among the leaves, or thesound of men going forth to their work, or the sigh and sob of the wind coming down fromthe hills and wandering round the silent house, as though it feared to wake the sleepers andyet must needs call forth sleep from her purple cave. veil after veil of thin dusky gauzeis lifted, and by degrees the forms and colours of things are restored to them, and we watchthe dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern. the wan mirrors get back their mimiclife. the flameless tapers stand where we
had left them, and beside them lies the half-cutbook that we had been studying, or the wired flower that we had worn at the ball, or theletter that we had been afraid to read, or that we had read too often. nothing seemsto us changed. out of the unreal shadows of the night comes back the real life that wehad known. we have to resume it where we had left off, and there steals over us a terriblesense of the necessity for the continuance of energy in the same wearisome round of stereotypedhabits, or a wild longing, it may be, that our eyelids might open some morning upon aworld that had been refashioned anew in the darkness for our pleasure, a world in whichthings would have fresh shapes and colours, and be changed, or have other secrets, a worldin which the past would have little or no
place, or survive, at any rate, in no consciousform of obligation or regret, the remembrance even of joy having its bitterness and thememories of pleasure their pain. it was the creation of such worlds as thesethat seemed to dorian gray to be the true object, or amongst the true objects, of life;and in his search for sensations that would be at once new and delightful, and possessthat element of strangeness that is so essential to romance, he would often adopt certain modesof thought that he knew to be really alien to his nature, abandon himself to their subtleinfluences, and then, having, as it were, caught their colour and satisfied his intellectualcuriosity, leave them with that curious indifference that is not incompatible with a real ardourof temperament, and that, indeed, according
to certain modern psychologists, is oftena condition of it. it was rumoured of him once that he was aboutto join the roman catholic communion, and certainly the roman ritual had always a greatattraction for him. the daily sacrifice, more awful really than all the sacrifices of theantique world, stirred him as much by its superb rejection of the evidence of the sensesas by the primitive simplicity of its elements and the eternal pathos of the human tragedythat it sought to symbolize. he loved to kneel down on the cold marble pavement and watchthe priest, in his stiff flowered dalmatic, slowly and with white hands moving aside theveil of the tabernacle, or raising aloft the jewelled, lantern-shaped monstrance with thatpallid wafer that at times, one would fain
think, is indeed the "panis caelestis," thebread of angels, or, robed in the garments of the passion of christ, breaking the hostinto the chalice and smiting his breast for his sins. the fuming censers that the graveboys, in their lace and scarlet, tossed into the air like great gilt flowers had theirsubtle fascination for him. as he passed out, he used to look with wonder at the black confessionalsand long to sit in the dim shadow of one of them and listen to men and women whisperingthrough the worn grating the true story of their lives. but he never fell into the error of arrestinghis intellectual development by any formal acceptance of creed or system, or of mistaking,for a house in which to live, an inn that
is but suitable for the sojourn of a night,or for a few hours of a night in which there are no stars and the moon is in travail. mysticism,with its marvellous power of making common things strange to us, and the subtle antinomianismthat always seems to accompany it, moved him for a season; and for a season he inclinedto the materialistic doctrines of the darwinismus movement in germany, and found a curious pleasurein tracing the thoughts and passions of men to some pearly cell in the brain, or somewhite nerve in the body, delighting in the conception of the absolute dependence of thespirit on certain physical conditions, morbid or healthy, normal or diseased. yet, as hasbeen said of him before, no theory of life seemed to him to be of any importance comparedwith life itself. he felt keenly conscious
of how barren all intellectual speculationis when separated from action and experiment. he knew that the senses, no less than thesoul, have their spiritual mysteries to reveal. and so he would now study perfumes and thesecrets of their manufacture, distilling heavily scented oils and burning odorous gums fromthe east. he saw that there was no mood of the mind that had not its counterpart in thesensuous life, and set himself to discover their true relations, wondering what therewas in frankincense that made one mystical, and in ambergris that stirred one's passions,and in violets that woke the memory of dead romances, and in musk that troubled the brain,and in champak that stained the imagination; and seeking often to elaborate a real psychologyof perfumes, and to estimate the several influences
of sweet-smelling roots and scented, pollen-ladenflowers; of aromatic balms and of dark and fragrant woods; of spikenard, that sickens;of hovenia, that makes men mad; and of aloes, that are said to be able to expel melancholyfrom the soul. at another time he devoted himself entirelyto music, and in a long latticed room, with a vermilion-and-gold ceiling and walls ofolive-green lacquer, he used to give curious concerts in which mad gipsies tore wild musicfrom little zithers, or grave, yellow-shawled tunisians plucked at the strained stringsof monstrous lutes, while grinning negroes beat monotonously upon copper drums and, crouchingupon scarlet mats, slim turbaned indians blew through long pipes of reed or brass and charmedâ€”orfeigned to charmâ€”great hooded snakes and
horrible horned adders. the harsh intervalsand shrill discords of barbaric music stirred him at times when schubert's grace, and chopin'sbeautiful sorrows, and the mighty harmonies of beethoven himself, fell unheeded on hisear. he collected together from all parts of the world the strangest instruments thatcould be found, either in the tombs of dead nations or among the few savage tribes thathave survived contact with western civilizations, and loved to touch and try them. he had themysterious juruparis of the rio negro indians, that women are not allowed to look at andthat even youths may not see till they have been subjected to fasting and scourging, andthe earthen jars of the peruvians that have the shrill cries of birds, and flutes of humanbones such as alfonso de ovalle heard in chile,
and the sonorous green jaspers that are foundnear cuzco and give forth a note of singular sweetness. he had painted gourds filled withpebbles that rattled when they were shaken; the long clarin of the mexicans, into whichthe performer does not blow, but through which he inhales the air; the harsh ture of theamazon tribes, that is sounded by the sentinels who sit all day long in high trees, and canbe heard, it is said, at a distance of three leagues; the teponaztli, that has two vibratingtongues of wood and is beaten with sticks that are smeared with an elastic gum obtainedfrom the milky juice of plants; the yotl-bells of the aztecs, that are hung in clusters likegrapes; and a huge cylindrical drum, covered with the skins of great serpents, like theone that bernal diaz saw when he went with
cortes into the mexican temple, and of whosedoleful sound he has left us so vivid a description. the fantastic character of these instrumentsfascinated him, and he felt a curious delight in the thought that art, like nature, hasher monsters, things of bestial shape and with hideous voices. yet, after some time,he wearied of them, and would sit in his box at the opera, either alone or with lord henry,listening in rapt pleasure to "tannhauser" and seeing in the prelude to that great workof art a presentation of the tragedy of his own soul. on one occasion he took up the study of jewels,and appeared at a costume ball as anne de joyeuse, admiral of france, in a dress coveredwith five hundred and sixty pearls. this taste
enthralled him for years, and, indeed, maybe said never to have left him. he would often spend a whole day settling and resettlingin their cases the various stones that he had collected, such as the olive-green chrysoberylthat turns red by lamplight, the cymophane with its wirelike line of silver, the pistachio-colouredperidot, rose-pink and wine-yellow topazes, carbuncles of fiery scarlet with tremulous,four-rayed stars, flame-red cinnamon-stones, orange and violet spinels, and amethysts withtheir alternate layers of ruby and sapphire. he loved the red gold of the sunstone, andthe moonstone's pearly whiteness, and the broken rainbow of the milky opal. he procuredfrom amsterdam three emeralds of extraordinary size and richness of colour, and had a turquoisede la vieille roche that was the envy of all
the connoisseurs. he discovered wonderful stories, also, aboutjewels. in alphonso's clericalis disciplina a serpent was mentioned with eyes of realjacinth, and in the romantic history of alexander, the conqueror of emathia was said to havefound in the vale of jordan snakes "with collars of real emeralds growing on their backs."there was a gem in the brain of the dragon, philostratus told us, and "by the exhibitionof golden letters and a scarlet robe" the monster could be thrown into a magical sleepand slain. according to the great alchemist, pierre de boniface, the diamond rendered aman invisible, and the agate of india made him eloquent. the cornelian appeased anger,and the hyacinth provoked sleep, and the amethyst
drove away the fumes of wine. the garnet castout demons, and the hydropicus deprived the moon of her colour. the selenite waxed andwaned with the moon, and the meloceus, that discovers thieves, could be affected onlyby the blood of kids. leonardus camillus had seen a white stone taken from the brain ofa newly killed toad, that was a certain antidote against poison. the bezoar, that was foundin the heart of the arabian deer, was a charm that could cure the plague. in the nests ofarabian birds was the aspilates, that, according to democritus, kept the wearer from any dangerby fire. the king of ceilan rode through his city witha large ruby in his hand, as the ceremony of his coronation. the gates of the palaceof john the priest were "made of sardius,
with the horn of the horned snake inwrought,so that no man might bring poison within." over the gable were "two golden apples, inwhich were two carbuncles," so that the gold might shine by day and the carbuncles by night.in lodge's strange romance 'a margarite of america', it was stated that in the chamberof the queen one could behold "all the chaste ladies of the world, inchased out of silver,looking through fair mirrours of chrysolites, carbuncles, sapphires, and greene emeraults."marco polo had seen the inhabitants of zipangu place rose-coloured pearls in the mouths ofthe dead. a sea-monster had been enamoured of the pearl that the diver brought to kingperozes, and had slain the thief, and mourned for seven moons over its loss. when the hunslured the king into the great pit, he flung
it awayâ€”procopius tells the storyâ€”norwas it ever found again, though the emperor anastasius offered five hundred-weight ofgold pieces for it. the king of malabar had shown to a certain venetian a rosary of threehundred and four pearls, one for every god that he worshipped. when the duke de valentinois, son of alexandervi, visited louis xii of france, his horse was loaded with gold leaves, according tobrantome, and his cap had double rows of rubies that threw out a great light. charles of englandhad ridden in stirrups hung with four hundred and twenty-one diamonds. richard ii had acoat, valued at thirty thousand marks, which was covered with balas rubies. hall describedhenry viii, on his way to the tower previous
to his coronation, as wearing "a jacket ofraised gold, the placard embroidered with diamonds and other rich stones, and a greatbauderike about his neck of large balasses." the favourites of james i wore ear-rings ofemeralds set in gold filigrane. edward ii gave to piers gaveston a suit of red-goldarmour studded with jacinths, a collar of gold roses set with turquoise-stones, anda skull-cap parseme with pearls. henry ii wore jewelled gloves reaching to the elbow,and had a hawk-glove sewn with twelve rubies and fifty-two great orients. the ducal hatof charles the rash, the last duke of burgundy of his race, was hung with pear-shaped pearlsand studded with sapphires. how exquisite life had once been! how gorgeousin its pomp and decoration! even to read of
the luxury of the dead was wonderful. then he turned his attention to embroideriesand to the tapestries that performed the office of frescoes in the chill rooms of the northernnations of europe. as he investigated the subjectâ€”and he always had an extraordinaryfaculty of becoming absolutely absorbed for the moment in whatever he took upâ€”he wasalmost saddened by the reflection of the ruin that time brought on beautiful and wonderfulthings. he, at any rate, had escaped that. summer followed summer, and the yellow jonquilsbloomed and died many times, and nights of horror repeated the story of their shame,but he was unchanged. no winter marred his face or stained his flowerlike bloom. howdifferent it was with material things! where
had they passed to? where was the great crocus-colouredrobe, on which the gods fought against the giants, that had been worked by brown girlsfor the pleasure of athena? where the huge velarium that nero had stretched across thecolosseum at rome, that titan sail of purple on which was represented the starry sky, andapollo driving a chariot drawn by white, gilt-reined steeds? he longed to see the curious table-napkinswrought for the priest of the sun, on which were displayed all the dainties and viandsthat could be wanted for a feast; the mortuary cloth of king chilperic, with its three hundredgolden bees; the fantastic robes that excited the indignation of the bishop of pontus andwere figured with "lions, panthers, bears, dogs, forests, rocks, huntersâ€”all, in fact,that a painter can copy from nature"; and
the coat that charles of orleans once wore,on the sleeves of which were embroidered the verses of a song beginning "madame, je suistout joyeux," the musical accompaniment of the words being wrought in gold thread, andeach note, of square shape in those days, formed with four pearls. he read of the roomthat was prepared at the palace at rheims for the use of queen joan of burgundy andwas decorated with "thirteen hundred and twenty-one parrots, made in broidery, and blazoned withthe king's arms, and five hundred and sixty-one butterflies, whose wings were similarly ornamentedwith the arms of the queen, the whole worked in gold." catherine de medicis had a mourning-bedmade for her of black velvet powdered with crescents and suns. its curtains were of damask,with leafy wreaths and garlands, figured upon
a gold and silver ground, and fringed alongthe edges with broideries of pearls, and it stood in a room hung with rows of the queen'sdevices in cut black velvet upon cloth of silver. louis xiv had gold embroidered caryatidesfifteen feet high in his apartment. the state bed of sobieski, king of poland, was madeof smyrna gold brocade embroidered in turquoises with verses from the koran. its supports wereof silver gilt, beautifully chased, and profusely set with enamelled and jewelled medallions.it had been taken from the turkish camp before vienna, and the standard of mohammed had stoodbeneath the tremulous gilt of its canopy. and so, for a whole year, he sought to accumulatethe most exquisite specimens that he could find of textile and embroidered work, gettingthe dainty delhi muslins, finely wrought with
gold-thread palmates and stitched over withiridescent beetles' wings; the dacca gauzes, that from their transparency are known inthe east as "woven air," and "running water," and "evening dew"; strange figured clothsfrom java; elaborate yellow chinese hangings; books bound in tawny satins or fair blue silksand wrought with fleurs-de-lis, birds and images; veils of lacis worked in hungary point;sicilian brocades and stiff spanish velvets; georgian work, with its gilt coins, and japanesefoukousas, with their green-toned golds and their marvellously plumaged birds. he had a special passion, also, for ecclesiasticalvestments, as indeed he had for everything connected with the service of the church.in the long cedar chests that lined the west
gallery of his house, he had stored away manyrare and beautiful specimens of what is really the raiment of the bride of christ, who mustwear purple and jewels and fine linen that she may hide the pallid macerated body thatis worn by the suffering that she seeks for and wounded by self-inflicted pain. he possesseda gorgeous cope of crimson silk and gold-thread damask, figured with a repeating pattern ofgolden pomegranates set in six-petalled formal blossoms, beyond which on either side wasthe pine-apple device wrought in seed-pearls. the orphreys were divided into panels representingscenes from the life of the virgin, and the coronation of the virgin was figured in colouredsilks upon the hood. this was italian work of the fifteenth century. another cope wasof green velvet, embroidered with heart-shaped
groups of acanthus-leaves, from which spreadlong-stemmed white blossoms, the details of which were picked out with silver thread andcoloured crystals. the morse bore a seraph's head in gold-thread raised work. the orphreyswere woven in a diaper of red and gold silk, and were starred with medallions of many saintsand martyrs, among whom was st. sebastian. he had chasubles, also, of amber-colouredsilk, and blue silk and gold brocade, and yellow silk damask and cloth of gold, figuredwith representations of the passion and crucifixion of christ, and embroidered with lions andpeacocks and other emblems; dalmatics of white satin and pink silk damask, decorated withtulips and dolphins and fleurs-de-lis; altar frontals of crimson velvet and blue linen;and many corporals, chalice-veils, and sudaria.
in the mystic offices to which such thingswere put, there was something that quickened his imagination. for these treasures, and everything that hecollected in his lovely house, were to be to him means of forgetfulness, modes by whichhe could escape, for a season, from the fear that seemed to him at times to be almost toogreat to be borne. upon the walls of the lonely locked room where he had spent so much ofhis boyhood, he had hung with his own hands the terrible portrait whose changing featuresshowed him the real degradation of his life, and in front of it had draped the purple-and-goldpall as a curtain. for weeks he would not go there, would forget the hideous paintedthing, and get back his light heart, his wonderful
joyousness, his passionate absorption in mereexistence. then, suddenly, some night he would creep out of the house, go down to dreadfulplaces near blue gate fields, and stay there, day after day, until he was driven away. onhis return he would sit in front of the picture, sometimes loathing it and himself, but filled,at other times, with that pride of individualism that is half the fascination of sin, and smilingwith secret pleasure at the misshapen shadow that had to bear the burden that should havebeen his own. after a few years he could not endure to belong out of england, and gave up the villa that he had shared at trouville with lordhenry, as well as the little white walled-in house at algiers where they had more thanonce spent the winter. he hated to be separated
from the picture that was such a part of hislife, and was also afraid that during his absence some one might gain access to theroom, in spite of the elaborate bars that he had caused to be placed upon the door. he was quite conscious that this would tellthem nothing. it was true that the portrait still preserved, under all the foulness andugliness of the face, its marked likeness to himself; but what could they learn fromthat? he would laugh at any one who tried to taunt him. he had not painted it. whatwas it to him how vile and full of shame it looked? even if he told them, would they believeit? yet he was afraid. sometimes when he was downat his great house in nottinghamshire, entertaining
the fashionable young men of his own rankwho were his chief companions, and astounding the county by the wanton luxury and gorgeoussplendour of his mode of life, he would suddenly leave his guests and rush back to town tosee that the door had not been tampered with and that the picture was still there. whatif it should be stolen? the mere thought made him cold with horror. surely the world wouldknow his secret then. perhaps the world already suspected it. for, while he fascinated many, there werenot a few who distrusted him. he was very nearly blackballed at a west end club of whichhis birth and social position fully entitled him to become a member, and it was said thaton one occasion, when he was brought by a
friend into the smoking-room of the churchill,the duke of berwick and another gentleman got up in a marked manner and went out. curiousstories became current about him after he had passed his twenty-fifth year. it was rumouredthat he had been seen brawling with foreign sailors in a low den in the distant partsof whitechapel, and that he consorted with thieves and coiners and knew the mysteriesof their trade. his extraordinary absences became notorious, and, when he used to reappearagain in society, men would whisper to each other in corners, or pass him with a sneer,or look at him with cold searching eyes, as though they were determined to discover hissecret. of such insolences and attempted slights he,of course, took no notice, and in the opinion
of most people his frank debonair manner,his charming boyish smile, and the infinite grace of that wonderful youth that seemednever to leave him, were in themselves a sufficient answer to the calumnies, for so they termedthem, that were circulated about him. it was remarked, however, that some of those whohad been most intimate with him appeared, after a time, to shun him. women who had wildlyadored him, and for his sake had braved all social censure and set convention at defiance,were seen to grow pallid with shame or horror if dorian gray entered the room. yet these whispered scandals only increasedin the eyes of many his strange and dangerous charm. his great wealth was a certain elementof security. societyâ€”civilized society,
at leastâ€”is never very ready to believeanything to the detriment of those who are both rich and fascinating. it feels instinctivelythat manners are of more importance than morals, and, in its opinion, the highest respectabilityis of much less value than the possession of a good chef. and, after all, it is a verypoor consolation to be told that the man who has given one a bad dinner, or poor wine,is irreproachable in his private life. even the cardinal virtues cannot atone for half-coldentrees, as lord henry remarked once, in a discussion on the subject, and there is possiblya good deal to be said for his view. for the canons of good society are, or should be,the same as the canons of art. form is absolutely essential to it. it should have the dignityof a ceremony, as well as its unreality, and
should combine the insincere character ofa romantic play with the wit and beauty that make such plays delightful to us. is insinceritysuch a terrible thing? i think not. it is merely a method by which we can multiply ourpersonalities. such, at any rate, was dorian gray's opinion.he used to wonder at the shallow psychology of those who conceive the ego in man as athing simple, permanent, reliable, and of one essence. to him, man was a being withmyriad lives and myriad sensations, a complex multiform creature that bore within itselfstrange legacies of thought and passion, and whose very flesh was tainted with the monstrousmaladies of the dead. he loved to stroll through the gaunt cold picture-gallery of his countryhouse and look at the various portraits of
those whose blood flowed in his veins. herewas philip herbert, described by francis osborne, in his memoires on the reigns of queen elizabethand king james, as one who was "caressed by the court for his handsome face, which kepthim not long company." was it young herbert's life that he sometimes led? had some strangepoisonous germ crept from body to body till it had reached his own? was it some dim senseof that ruined grace that had made him so suddenly, and almost without cause, give utterance,in basil hallward's studio, to the mad prayer that had so changed his life? here, in gold-embroideredred doublet, jewelled surcoat, and gilt-edged ruff and wristbands, stood sir anthony sherard,with his silver-and-black armour piled at his feet. what had this man's legacy been?had the lover of giovanna of naples bequeathed
him some inheritance of sin and shame? werehis own actions merely the dreams that the dead man had not dared to realize? here, fromthe fading canvas, smiled lady elizabeth devereux, in her gauze hood, pearl stomacher, and pinkslashed sleeves. a flower was in her right hand, and her left clasped an enamelled collarof white and damask roses. on a table by her side lay a mandolin and an apple. there werelarge green rosettes upon her little pointed shoes. he knew her life, and the strange storiesthat were told about her lovers. had he something of her temperament in him? these oval, heavy-liddedeyes seemed to look curiously at him. what of george willoughby, with his powdered hairand fantastic patches? how evil he looked! the face was saturnine and swarthy, and thesensual lips seemed to be twisted with disdain.
delicate lace ruffles fell over the lean yellowhands that were so overladen with rings. he had been a macaroni of the eighteenth century,and the friend, in his youth, of lord ferrars. what of the second lord beckenham, the companionof the prince regent in his wildest days, and one of the witnesses at the secret marriagewith mrs. fitzherbert? how proud and handsome he was, with his chestnut curls and insolentpose! what passions had he bequeathed? the world had looked upon him as infamous. hehad led the orgies at carlton house. the star of the garter glittered upon his breast. besidehim hung the portrait of his wife, a pallid, thin-lipped woman in black. her blood, also,stirred within him. how curious it all seemed! and his mother with her lady hamilton faceand her moist, wine-dashed lipsâ€”he knew
what he had got from her. he had got fromher his beauty, and his passion for the beauty of others. she laughed at him in her loosebacchante dress. there were vine leaves in her hair. the purple spilled from the cupshe was holding. the carnations of the painting had withered, but the eyes were still wonderfulin their depth and brilliancy of colour. they seemed to follow him wherever he went. yet one had ancestors in literature as wellas in one's own race, nearer perhaps in type and temperament, many of them, and certainlywith an influence of which one was more absolutely conscious. there were times when it appearedto dorian gray that the whole of history was merely the record of his own life, not ashe had lived it in act and circumstance, but
as his imagination had created it for him,as it had been in his brain and in his passions. he felt that he had known them all, thosestrange terrible figures that had passed across the stage of the world and made sin so marvellousand evil so full of subtlety. it seemed to him that in some mysterious way their liveshad been his own. the hero of the wonderful novel that had soinfluenced his life had himself known this curious fancy. in the seventh chapter he tellshow, crowned with laurel, lest lightning might strike him, he had sat, as tiberius, in agarden at capri, reading the shameful books of elephantis, while dwarfs and peacocks struttedround him and the flute-player mocked the swinger of the censer; and, as caligula, hadcaroused with the green-shirted jockeys in
their stables and supped in an ivory mangerwith a jewel-frontleted horse; and, as domitian, had wandered through a corridor lined withmarble mirrors, looking round with haggard eyes for the reflection of the dagger thatwas to end his days, and sick with that ennui, that terrible taedium vitae, that comes onthose to whom life denies nothing; and had peered through a clear emerald at the redshambles of the circus and then, in a litter of pearl and purple drawn by silver-shod mules,been carried through the street of pomegranates to a house of gold and heard men cry on nerocaesar as he passed by; and, as elagabalus, had painted his face with colours, and pliedthe distaff among the women, and brought the moon from carthage and given her in mysticmarriage to the sun.
over and over again dorian used to read thisfantastic chapter, and the two chapters immediately following, in which, as in some curious tapestriesor cunningly wrought enamels, were pictured the awful and beautiful forms of those whomvice and blood and weariness had made monstrous or mad: filippo, duke of milan, who slew hiswife and painted her lips with a scarlet poison that her lover might suck death from the deadthing he fondled; pietro barbi, the venetian, known as paul the second, who sought in hisvanity to assume the title of formosus, and whose tiara, valued at two hundred thousandflorins, was bought at the price of a terrible sin; gian maria visconti, who used houndsto chase living men and whose murdered body was covered with roses by a harlot who hadloved him; the borgia on his white horse,
with fratricide riding beside him and hismantle stained with the blood of perotto; pietro riario, the young cardinal archbishopof florence, child and minion of sixtus iv, whose beauty was equalled only by his debauchery,and who received leonora of aragon in a pavilion of white and crimson silk, filled with nymphsand centaurs, and gilded a boy that he might serve at the feast as ganymede or hylas; ezzelin,whose melancholy could be cured only by the spectacle of death, and who had a passionfor red blood, as other men have for red wineâ€”the son of the fiend, as was reported, and onewho had cheated his father at dice when gambling with him for his own soul; giambattista cibo,who in mockery took the name of innocent and into whose torpid veins the blood of threelads was infused by a jewish doctor; sigismondo
malatesta, the lover of isotta and the lordof rimini, whose effigy was burned at rome as the enemy of god and man, who strangledpolyssena with a napkin, and gave poison to ginevra d'este in a cup of emerald, and inhonour of a shameful passion built a pagan church for christian worship; charles vi,who had so wildly adored his brother's wife that a leper had warned him of the insanitythat was coming on him, and who, when his brain had sickened and grown strange, couldonly be soothed by saracen cards painted with the images of love and death and madness;and, in his trimmed jerkin and jewelled cap and acanthuslike curls, grifonetto baglioni,who slew astorre with his bride, and simonetto with his page, and whose comeliness was suchthat, as he lay dying in the yellow piazza
of perugia, those who had hated him couldnot choose but weep, and atalanta, who had cursed him, blessed him. there was a horrible fascination in them all.he saw them at night, and they troubled his imagination in the day. the renaissance knewof strange manners of poisoningâ€”poisoning by a helmet and a lighted torch, by an embroideredglove and a jewelled fan, by a gilded pomander and by an amber chain. dorian gray had beenpoisoned by a book. there were moments when he looked on evil simply as a mode throughwhich he could realize his conception of the beautiful. chapter 12
it was on the ninth of november, the eve ofhis own thirty-eighth birthday, as he often remembered afterwards. he was walking home about eleven o'clock fromlord henry's, where he had been dining, and was wrapped in heavy furs, as the night wascold and foggy. at the corner of grosvenor square and south audley street, a man passedhim in the mist, walking very fast and with the collar of his grey ulster turned up. hehad a bag in his hand. dorian recognized him. it was basil hallward. a strange sense offear, for which he could not account, came over him. he made no sign of recognition andwent on quickly in the direction of his own house.
but hallward had seen him. dorian heard himfirst stopping on the pavement and then hurrying after him. in a few moments, his hand wason his arm. "dorian! what an extraordinary piece of luck!i have been waiting for you in your library ever since nine o'clock. finally i took pityon your tired servant and told him to go to bed, as he let me out. i am off to paris bythe midnight train, and i particularly wanted to see you before i left. i thought it wasyou, or rather your fur coat, as you passed me. but i wasn't quite sure. didn't you recognizeme?" "in this fog, my dear basil? why, i can'teven recognize grosvenor square. i believe my house is somewhere about here, but i don'tfeel at all certain about it. i am sorry you
are going away, as i have not seen you forages. but i suppose you will be back soon?" "no: i am going to be out of england for sixmonths. i intend to take a studio in paris and shut myself up till i have finished agreat picture i have in my head. however, it wasn't about myself i wanted to talk. herewe are at your door. let me come in for a moment. i have something to say to you." "i shall be charmed. but won't you miss yourtrain?" said dorian gray languidly as he passed up the steps and opened the door with hislatch-key. the lamplight struggled out through the fog,and hallward looked at his watch. "i have heaps of time," he answered. "the train doesn'tgo till twelve-fifteen, and it is only just
eleven. in fact, i was on my way to the clubto look for you, when i met you. you see, i shan't have any delay about luggage, asi have sent on my heavy things. all i have with me is in this bag, and i can easily getto victoria in twenty minutes." dorian looked at him and smiled. "what a wayfor a fashionable painter to travel! a gladstone bag and an ulster! come in, or the fog willget into the house. and mind you don't talk about anything serious. nothing is seriousnowadays. at least nothing should be." hallward shook his head, as he entered, andfollowed dorian into the library. there was a bright wood fire blazing in the large openhearth. the lamps were lit, and an open dutch silver spirit-case stood, with some siphonsof soda-water and large cut-glass tumblers,
on a little marqueterie table. "you see your servant made me quite at home,dorian. he gave me everything i wanted, including your best gold-tipped cigarettes. he is amost hospitable creature. i like him much better than the frenchman you used to have.what has become of the frenchman, by the bye?" dorian shrugged his shoulders. "i believehe married lady radley's maid, and has established her in paris as an english dressmaker. anglomaniais very fashionable over there now, i hear. it seems silly of the french, doesn't it?butâ€”do you know?â€”he was not at all a bad servant. i never liked him, but i had nothingto complain about. one often imagines things that are quite absurd. he was really verydevoted to me and seemed quite sorry when
he went away. have another brandy-and-soda?or would you like hock-and-seltzer? i always take hock-and-seltzer myself. there is sureto be some in the next room." "thanks, i won't have anything more," saidthe painter, taking his cap and coat off and throwing them on the bag that he had placedin the corner. "and now, my dear fellow, i want to speak to you seriously. don't frownlike that. you make it so much more difficult for me." "what is it all about?" cried dorian in hispetulant way, flinging himself down on the sofa. "i hope it is not about myself. i amtired of myself to-night. i should like to be somebody else."
"it is about yourself," answered hallwardin his grave deep voice, "and i must say it to you. i shall only keep you half an hour." dorian sighed and lit a cigarette. "half anhour!" he murmured. "it is not much to ask of you, dorian, andit is entirely for your own sake that i am speaking. i think it right that you shouldknow that the most dreadful things are being said against you in london." "i don't wish to know anything about them.i love scandals about other people, but scandals about myself don't interest me. they havenot got the charm of novelty." "they must interest you, dorian. every gentlemanis interested in his good name. you don't
want people to talk of you as something vileand degraded. of course, you have your position, and your wealth, and all that kind of thing.but position and wealth are not everything. mind you, i don't believe these rumours atall. at least, i can't believe them when i see you. sin is a thing that writes itselfacross a man's face. it cannot be concealed. people talk sometimes of secret vices. thereare no such things. if a wretched man has a vice, it shows itself in the lines of hismouth, the droop of his eyelids, the moulding of his hands even. somebodyâ€”i won't mentionhis name, but you know himâ€”came to me last year to have his portrait done. i had neverseen him before, and had never heard anything about him at the time, though i have hearda good deal since. he offered an extravagant
price. i refused him. there was somethingin the shape of his fingers that i hated. i know now that i was quite right in whati fancied about him. his life is dreadful. but you, dorian, with your pure, bright, innocentface, and your marvellous untroubled youthâ€”i can't believe anything against you. and yeti see you very seldom, and you never come down to the studio now, and when i am awayfrom you, and i hear all these hideous things that people are whispering about you, i don'tknow what to say. why is it, dorian, that a man like the duke of berwick leaves theroom of a club when you enter it? why is it that so many gentlemen in london will neithergo to your house or invite you to theirs? you used to be a friend of lord staveley.i met him at dinner last week. your name happened
to come up in conversation, in connectionwith the miniatures you have lent to the exhibition at the dudley. staveley curled his lip andsaid that you might have the most artistic tastes, but that you were a man whom no pure-mindedgirl should be allowed to know, and whom no chaste woman should sit in the same room with.i reminded him that i was a friend of yours, and asked him what he meant. he told me. hetold me right out before everybody. it was horrible! why is your friendship so fatalto young men? there was that wretched boy in the guards who committed suicide. you werehis great friend. there was sir henry ashton, who had to leave england with a tarnishedname. you and he were inseparable. what about adrian singleton and his dreadful end? whatabout lord kent's only son and his career?
i met his father yesterday in st. james'sstreet. he seemed broken with shame and sorrow. what about the young duke of perth? what sortof life has he got now? what gentleman would associate with him?" "stop, basil. you are talking about thingsof which you know nothing," said dorian gray, biting his lip, and with a note of infinitecontempt in his voice. "you ask me why berwick leaves a room when i enter it. it is becausei know everything about his life, not because he knows anything about mine. with such bloodas he has in his veins, how could his record be clean? you ask me about henry ashton andyoung perth. did i teach the one his vices, and the other his debauchery? if kent's sillyson takes his wife from the streets, what
is that to me? if adrian singleton writeshis friend's name across a bill, am i his keeper? i know how people chatter in england.the middle classes air their moral prejudices over their gross dinner-tables, and whisperabout what they call the profligacies of their betters in order to try and pretend that theyare in smart society and on intimate terms with the people they slander. in this country,it is enough for a man to have distinction and brains for every common tongue to wagagainst him. and what sort of lives do these people, who pose as being moral, lead themselves?my dear fellow, you forget that we are in the native land of the hypocrite." "dorian," cried hallward, "that is not thequestion. england is bad enough i know, and
english society is all wrong. that is thereason why i want you to be fine. you have not been fine. one has a right to judge ofa man by the effect he has over his friends. yours seem to lose all sense of honour, ofgoodness, of purity. you have filled them with a madness for pleasure. they have gonedown into the depths. you led them there. yes: you led them there, and yet you can smile,as you are smiling now. and there is worse behind. i know you and harry are inseparable.surely for that reason, if for none other, you should not have made his sister's namea by-word." "take care, basil. you go too far." "i must speak, and you must listen. you shalllisten. when you met lady gwendolen, not a
breath of scandal had ever touched her. isthere a single decent woman in london now who would drive with her in the park? why,even her children are not allowed to live with her. then there are other storiesâ€”storiesthat you have been seen creeping at dawn out of dreadful houses and slinking in disguiseinto the foulest dens in london. are they true? can they be true? when i first heardthem, i laughed. i hear them now, and they make me shudder. what about your country-houseand the life that is led there? dorian, you don't know what is said about you. i won'ttell you that i don't want to preach to you. i remember harry saying once that every manwho turned himself into an amateur curate for the moment always began by saying that,and then proceeded to break his word. i do
want to preach to you. i want you to leadsuch a life as will make the world respect you. i want you to have a clean name and afair record. i want you to get rid of the dreadful people you associate with. don'tshrug your shoulders like that. don't be so indifferent. you have a wonderful influence.let it be for good, not for evil. they say that you corrupt every one with whom you becomeintimate, and that it is quite sufficient for you to enter a house for shame of somekind to follow after. i don't know whether it is so or not. how should i know? but itis said of you. i am told things that it seems impossible to doubt. lord gloucester was oneof my greatest friends at oxford. he showed me a letter that his wife had written to himwhen she was dying alone in her villa at mentone.
your name was implicated in the most terribleconfession i ever read. i told him that it was absurdâ€”that i knew you thoroughly andthat you were incapable of anything of the kind. know you? i wonder do i know you? beforei could answer that, i should have to see your soul." "to see my soul!" muttered dorian gray, startingup from the sofa and turning almost white from fear. "yes," answered hallward gravely, and withdeep-toned sorrow in his voice, "to see your soul. but only god can do that." a bitter laugh of mockery broke from the lipsof the younger man. "you shall see it yourself,
to-night!" he cried, seizing a lamp from thetable. "come: it is your own handiwork. why shouldn't you look at it? you can tell theworld all about it afterwards, if you choose. nobody would believe you. if they did believeyou, they would like me all the better for it. i know the age better than you do, thoughyou will prate about it so tediously. come, i tell you. you have chattered enough aboutcorruption. now you shall look on it face to face." there was the madness of pride in every wordhe uttered. he stamped his foot upon the ground in his boyish insolent manner. he felt a terriblejoy at the thought that some one else was to share his secret, and that the man whohad painted the portrait that was the origin
of all his shame was to be burdened for therest of his life with the hideous memory of what he had done. "yes," he continued, coming closer to himand looking steadfastly into his stern eyes, "i shall show you my soul. you shall see thething that you fancy only god can see." hallward started back. "this is blasphemy,dorian!" he cried. "you must not say things like that. they are horrible, and they don'tmean anything." "you think so?" he laughed again. "i know so. as for what i said to you to-night,i said it for your good. you know i have been always a stanch friend to you."
"don't touch me. finish what you have to say." a twisted flash of pain shot across the painter'sface. he paused for a moment, and a wild feeling of pity came over him. after all, what righthad he to pry into the life of dorian gray? if he had done a tithe of what was rumouredabout him, how much he must have suffered! then he straightened himself up, and walkedover to the fire-place, and stood there, looking at the burning logs with their frostlike ashesand their throbbing cores of flame. "i am waiting, basil," said the young manin a hard clear voice. he turned round. "what i have to say is this,"he cried. "you must give me some answer to these horrible charges that are made againstyou. if you tell me that they are absolutely
untrue from beginning to end, i shall believeyou. deny them, dorian, deny them! can't you see what i am going through? my god! don'ttell me that you are bad, and corrupt, and shameful." dorian gray smiled. there was a curl of contemptin his lips. "come upstairs, basil," he said quietly. "i keep a diary of my life from dayto day, and it never leaves the room in which it is written. i shall show it to you if youcome with me." "i shall come with you, dorian, if you wishit. i see i have missed my train. that makes no matter. i can go to-morrow. but don't askme to read anything to-night. all i want is a plain answer to my question."
"that shall be given to you upstairs. i couldnot give it here. you will not have to read long." chapter 13 he passed out of the room and began the ascent,basil hallward following close behind. they walked softly, as men do instinctively atnight. the lamp cast fantastic shadows on the wall and staircase. a rising wind madesome of the windows rattle. when they reached the top landing, dorianset the lamp down on the floor, and taking out the key, turned it in the lock. "you insiston knowing, basil?" he asked in a low voice. "i am delighted," he answered, smiling. thenhe added, somewhat harshly, "you are the one
man in the world who is entitled to know everythingabout me. you have had more to do with my life than you think"; and, taking up the lamp,he opened the door and went in. a cold current of air passed them, and the light shot upfor a moment in a flame of murky orange. he shuddered. "shut the door behind you," hewhispered, as he placed the lamp on the table. hallward glanced round him with a puzzledexpression. the room looked as if it had not been lived in for years. a faded flemish tapestry,a curtained picture, an old italian cassone, and an almost empty book-caseâ€”that was allthat it seemed to contain, besides a chair and a table. as dorian gray was lighting ahalf-burned candle that was standing on the mantelshelf, he saw that the whole place wascovered with dust and that the carpet was
in holes. a mouse ran scuffling behind thewainscoting. there was a damp odour of mildew. "so you think that it is only god who seesthe soul, basil? draw that curtain back, and you will see mine." the voice that spoke was cold and cruel. "youare mad, dorian, or playing a part," muttered hallward, frowning. "you won't? then i must do it myself," saidthe young man, and he tore the curtain from its rod and flung it on the ground. an exclamation of horror broke from the painter'slips as he saw in the dim light the hideous face on the canvas grinning at him. therewas something in its expression that filled
him with disgust and loathing. good heavens!it was dorian gray's own face that he was looking at! the horror, whatever it was, hadnot yet entirely spoiled that marvellous beauty. there was still some gold in the thinninghair and some scarlet on the sensual mouth. the sodden eyes had kept something of theloveliness of their blue, the noble curves had not yet completely passed away from chisellednostrils and from plastic throat. yes, it was dorian himself. but who had done it? heseemed to recognize his own brushwork, and the frame was his own design. the idea wasmonstrous, yet he felt afraid. he seized the lighted candle, and held it to the picture.in the left-hand corner was his own name, traced in long letters of bright vermilion.
it was some foul parody, some infamous ignoblesatire. he had never done that. still, it was his own picture. he knew it, and he feltas if his blood had changed in a moment from fire to sluggish ice. his own picture! whatdid it mean? why had it altered? he turned and looked at dorian gray with the eyes ofa sick man. his mouth twitched, and his parched tongue seemed unable to articulate. he passedhis hand across his forehead. it was dank with clammy sweat. the young man was leaning against the mantelshelf,watching him with that strange expression that one sees on the faces of those who areabsorbed in a play when some great artist is acting. there was neither real sorrow init nor real joy. there was simply the passion
of the spectator, with perhaps a flicker oftriumph in his eyes. he had taken the flower out of his coat, and was smelling it, or pretendingto do so. "what does this mean?" cried hallward, atlast. his own voice sounded shrill and curious in his ears. "years ago, when i was a boy," said doriangray, crushing the flower in his hand, "you met me, flattered me, and taught me to bevain of my good looks. one day you introduced me to a friend of yours, who explained tome the wonder of youth, and you finished a portrait of me that revealed to me the wonderof beauty. in a mad moment that, even now, i don't know whether i regret or not, i madea wish, perhaps you would call it a prayer...."
"i remember it! oh, how well i remember it!no! the thing is impossible. the room is damp. mildew has got into the canvas. the paintsi used had some wretched mineral poison in them. i tell you the thing is impossible." "ah, what is impossible?" murmured the youngman, going over to the window and leaning his forehead against the cold, mist-stainedglass. "you told me you had destroyed it." "i was wrong. it has destroyed me." "i don't believe it is my picture." "can't you see your ideal in it?" said dorianbitterly.
"my ideal, as you call it..." "as you called it." "there was nothing evil in it, nothing shameful.you were to me such an ideal as i shall never meet again. this is the face of a satyr." "it is the face of my soul." "christ! what a thing i must have worshipped!it has the eyes of a devil." "each of us has heaven and hell in him, basil,"cried dorian with a wild gesture of despair. hallward turned again to the portrait andgazed at it. "my god! if it is true," he exclaimed, "and this is what you have done with yourlife, why, you must be worse even than those
who talk against you fancy you to be!" heheld the light up again to the canvas and examined it. the surface seemed to be quiteundisturbed and as he had left it. it was from within, apparently, that the foulnessand horror had come. through some strange quickening of inner life the leprosies ofsin were slowly eating the thing away. the rotting of a corpse in a watery grave wasnot so fearful. his hand shook, and the candle fell from itssocket on the floor and lay there sputtering. he placed his foot on it and put it out. thenhe flung himself into the rickety chair that was standing by the table and buried his facein his hands. "good god, dorian, what a lesson! what anawful lesson!" there was no answer, but he
could hear the young man sobbing at the window."pray, dorian, pray," he murmured. "what is it that one was taught to say in one's boyhood?'lead us not into temptation. forgive us our sins. wash away our iniquities.' let us saythat together. the prayer of your pride has been answered. the prayer of your repentancewill be answered also. i worshipped you too much. i am punished for it. you worshippedyourself too much. we are both punished." dorian gray turned slowly around and lookedat him with tear-dimmed eyes. "it is too late, basil," he faltered. "it is never too late, dorian. let us kneeldown and try if we cannot remember a prayer. isn't there a verse somewhere, 'though yoursins be as scarlet, yet i will make them as
white as snow'?" "those words mean nothing to me now." "hush! don't say that. you have done enoughevil in your life. my god! don't you see that accursed thing leering at us?" dorian gray glanced at the picture, and suddenlyan uncontrollable feeling of hatred for basil hallward came over him, as though it had beensuggested to him by the image on the canvas, whispered into his ear by those grinning lips.the mad passions of a hunted animal stirred within him, and he loathed the man who wasseated at the table, more than in his whole life he had ever loathed anything. he glancedwildly around. something glimmered on the
top of the painted chest that faced him. hiseye fell on it. he knew what it was. it was a knife that he had brought up, some daysbefore, to cut a piece of cord, and had forgotten to take away with him. he moved slowly towardsit, passing hallward as he did so. as soon as he got behind him, he seized it and turnedround. hallward stirred in his chair as if he was going to rise. he rushed at him anddug the knife into the great vein that is behind the ear, crushing the man's head downon the table and stabbing again and again. there was a stifled groan and the horriblesound of some one choking with blood. three times the outstretched arms shot up convulsively,waving grotesque, stiff-fingered hands in the air. he stabbed him twice more, but theman did not move. something began to trickle
on the floor. he waited for a moment, stillpressing the head down. then he threw the knife on the table, and listened. he could hear nothing, but the drip, dripon the threadbare carpet. he opened the door and went out on the landing. the house wasabsolutely quiet. no one was about. for a few seconds he stood bending over the balustradeand peering down into the black seething well of darkness. then he took out the key andreturned to the room, locking himself in as he did so. the thing was still seated in the chair, strainingover the table with bowed head, and humped back, and long fantastic arms. had it notbeen for the red jagged tear in the neck and
the clotted black pool that was slowly wideningon the table, one would have said that the man was simply asleep. how quickly it had all been done! he feltstrangely calm, and walking over to the window, opened it and stepped out on the balcony.the wind had blown the fog away, and the sky was like a monstrous peacock's tail, starredwith myriads of golden eyes. he looked down and saw the policeman going his rounds andflashing the long beam of his lantern on the doors of the silent houses. the crimson spotof a prowling hansom gleamed at the corner and then vanished. a woman in a flutteringshawl was creeping slowly by the railings, staggering as she went. now and then she stoppedand peered back. once, she began to sing in
a hoarse voice. the policeman strolled overand said something to her. she stumbled away, laughing. a bitter blast swept across thesquare. the gas-lamps flickered and became blue, and the leafless trees shook their blackiron branches to and fro. he shivered and went back, closing the window behind him. having reached the door, he turned the keyand opened it. he did not even glance at the murdered man. he felt that the secret of thewhole thing was not to realize the situation. the friend who had painted the fatal portraitto which all his misery had been due had gone out of his life. that was enough. then he remembered the lamp. it was a rathercurious one of moorish workmanship, made of
dull silver inlaid with arabesques of burnishedsteel, and studded with coarse turquoises. perhaps it might be missed by his servant,and questions would be asked. he hesitated for a moment, then he turned back and tookit from the table. he could not help seeing the dead thing. how still it was! how horriblywhite the long hands looked! it was like a dreadful wax image. having locked the door behind him, he creptquietly downstairs. the woodwork creaked and seemed to cry out as if in pain. he stoppedseveral times and waited. no: everything was still. it was merely the sound of his ownfootsteps. when he reached the library, he saw the bagand coat in the corner. they must be hidden
away somewhere. he unlocked a secret pressthat was in the wainscoting, a press in which he kept his own curious disguises, and putthem into it. he could easily burn them afterwards. then he pulled out his watch. it was twentyminutes to two. he sat down and began to think. every yearâ€”everymonth, almostâ€”men were strangled in england for what he had done. there had been a madnessof murder in the air. some red star had come too close to the earth.... and yet, what evidencewas there against him? basil hallward had left the house at eleven. no one had seenhim come in again. most of the servants were at selby royal. his valet had gone to bed....paris! yes. it was to paris that basil had gone, and by the midnight train, as he hadintended. with his curious reserved habits,
it would be months before any suspicions wouldbe roused. months! everything could be destroyed long before then. a sudden thought struck him. he put on hisfur coat and hat and went out into the hall. there he paused, hearing the slow heavy treadof the policeman on the pavement outside and seeing the flash of the bull's-eye reflectedin the window. he waited and held his breath. after a few moments he drew back the latchand slipped out, shutting the door very gently behind him. then he began ringing the bell.in about five minutes his valet appeared, half-dressed and looking very drowsy. "i am sorry to have had to wake you up, francis,"he said, stepping in; "but i had forgotten
my latch-key. what time is it?" "ten minutes past two, sir," answered theman, looking at the clock and blinking. "ten minutes past two? how horribly late!you must wake me at nine to-morrow. i have some work to do." "all right, sir." "did any one call this evening?" "mr. hallward, sir. he stayed here till eleven,and then he went away to catch his train." "oh! i am sorry i didn't see him. did he leaveany message?" "no, sir, except that he would write to youfrom paris, if he did not find you at the
club." "that will do, francis. don't forget to callme at nine to-morrow." "no, sir." the man shambled down the passage in his slippers. dorian gray threw his hat and coat upon thetable and passed into the library. for a quarter of an hour he walked up and down the room,biting his lip and thinking. then he took down the blue book from one of the shelvesand began to turn over the leaves. "alan campbell, 152, hertford street, mayfair." yes; thatwas the man he wanted. chapter 14
at nine o'clock the next morning his servantcame in with a cup of chocolate on a tray and opened the shutters. dorian was sleepingquite peacefully, lying on his right side, with one hand underneath his cheek. he lookedlike a boy who had been tired out with play, or study. the man had to touch him twice on the shoulderbefore he woke, and as he opened his eyes a faint smile passed across his lips, as thoughhe had been lost in some delightful dream. yet he had not dreamed at all. his night hadbeen untroubled by any images of pleasure or of pain. but youth smiles without any reason.it is one of its chiefest charms. he turned round, and leaning upon his elbow,began to sip his chocolate. the mellow november
sun came streaming into the room. the skywas bright, and there was a genial warmth in the air. it was almost like a morning inmay. gradually the events of the preceding nightcrept with silent, blood-stained feet into his brain and reconstructed themselves therewith terrible distinctness. he winced at the memory of all that he had suffered, and fora moment the same curious feeling of loathing for basil hallward that had made him killhim as he sat in the chair came back to him, and he grew cold with passion. the dead manwas still sitting there, too, and in the sunlight now. how horrible that was! such hideous thingswere for the darkness, not for the day. he felt that if he brooded on what he hadgone through he would sicken or grow mad.
there were sins whose fascination was morein the memory than in the doing of them, strange triumphs that gratified the pride more thanthe passions, and gave to the intellect a quickened sense of joy, greater than any joythey brought, or could ever bring, to the senses. but this was not one of them. it wasa thing to be driven out of the mind, to be drugged with poppies, to be strangled lestit might strangle one itself. when the half-hour struck, he passed his handacross his forehead, and then got up hastily and dressed himself with even more than hisusual care, giving a good deal of attention to the choice of his necktie and scarf-pinand changing his rings more than once. he spent a long time also over breakfast, tastingthe various dishes, talking to his valet about
some new liveries that he was thinking ofgetting made for the servants at selby, and going through his correspondence. at someof the letters, he smiled. three of them bored him. one he read several times over and thentore up with a slight look of annoyance in his face. "that awful thing, a woman's memory!"as lord henry had once said. after he had drunk his cup of black coffee,he wiped his lips slowly with a napkin, motioned to his servant to wait, and going over tothe table, sat down and wrote two letters. one he put in his pocket, the other he handedto the valet. "take this round to 152, hertford street,francis, and if mr. campbell is out of town, get his address."
as soon as he was alone, he lit a cigaretteand began sketching upon a piece of paper, drawing first flowers and bits of architecture,and then human faces. suddenly he remarked that every face that he drew seemed to havea fantastic likeness to basil hallward. he frowned, and getting up, went over to thebook-case and took out a volume at hazard. he was determined that he would not thinkabout what had happened until it became absolutely necessary that he should do so. when he had stretched himself on the sofa,he looked at the title-page of the book. it was gautier's emaux et camees, charpentier'sjapanese-paper edition, with the jacquemart etching. the binding was of citron-green leather,with a design of gilt trellis-work and dotted
pomegranates. it had been given to him byadrian singleton. as he turned over the pages, his eye fell on the poem about the hand oflacenaire, the cold yellow hand "du supplice encore mal lavee," with its downy red hairsand its "doigts de faune." he glanced at his own white taper fingers, shuddering slightlyin spite of himself, and passed on, till he came to those lovely stanzas upon venice: sur une gamme chromatique,le sein de peries ruisselant, la venus de l'adriatiquesort de l'eau son corps rose et blanc. les domes, sur l'azur des ondessuivant la phrase au pur contour, s'enflent comme des gorges rondesque souleve un soupir d'amour.
l'esquif aborde et me depose,jetant son amarre au pilier, devant une facade rose,sur le marbre d'un escalier. how exquisite they were! as one read them,one seemed to be floating down the green water-ways of the pink and pearl city, seated in a blackgondola with silver prow and trailing curtains. the mere lines looked to him like those straightlines of turquoise-blue that follow one as one pushes out to the lido. the sudden flashesof colour reminded him of the gleam of the opal-and-iris-throated birds that flutterround the tall honeycombed campanile, or stalk, with such stately grace, through the dim,dust-stained arcades. leaning back with half-closed eyes, he kept saying over and over to himself:
"devant une facade rose,sur le marbre d'un escalier." the whole of venice was in those two lines.he remembered the autumn that he had passed there, and a wonderful love that had stirredhim to mad delightful follies. there was romance in every place. but venice, like oxford, hadkept the background for romance, and, to the true romantic, background was everything,or almost everything. basil had been with him part of the time, and had gone wild overtintoret. poor basil! what a horrible way for a man to die! he sighed, and took up the volume again, andtried to forget. he read of the swallows that fly in and out of the little cafe at smyrnawhere the hadjis sit counting their amber
beads and the turbaned merchants smoke theirlong tasselled pipes and talk gravely to each other; he read of the obelisk in the placede la concorde that weeps tears of granite in its lonely sunless exile and longs to beback by the hot, lotus-covered nile, where there are sphinxes, and rose-red ibises, andwhite vultures with gilded claws, and crocodiles with small beryl eyes that crawl over thegreen steaming mud; he began to brood over those verses which, drawing music from kiss-stainedmarble, tell of that curious statue that gautier compares to a contralto voice, the "monstrecharmant" that couches in the porphyry-room of the louvre. but after a time the book fellfrom his hand. he grew nervous, and a horrible fit of terror came over him. what if alancampbell should be out of england? days would
elapse before he could come back. perhapshe might refuse to come. what could he do then? every moment was of vital importance. they had been great friends once, five yearsbeforeâ€”almost inseparable, indeed. then the intimacy had come suddenly to an end.when they met in society now, it was only dorian gray who smiled: alan campbell neverdid. he was an extremely clever young man, thoughhe had no real appreciation of the visible arts, and whatever little sense of the beautyof poetry he possessed he had gained entirely from dorian. his dominant intellectual passionwas for science. at cambridge he had spent a great deal of his time working in the laboratory,and had taken a good class in the natural
science tripos of his year. indeed, he wasstill devoted to the study of chemistry, and had a laboratory of his own in which he usedto shut himself up all day long, greatly to the annoyance of his mother, who had set herheart on his standing for parliament and had a vague idea that a chemist was a person whomade up prescriptions. he was an excellent musician, however, as well, and played boththe violin and the piano better than most amateurs. in fact, it was music that had firstbrought him and dorian gray togetherâ€”music and that indefinable attraction that dorianseemed to be able to exercise whenever he wishedâ€”and, indeed, exercised often withoutbeing conscious of it. they had met at lady berkshire's the night that rubinstein playedthere, and after that used to be always seen
together at the opera and wherever good musicwas going on. for eighteen months their intimacy lasted. campbell was always either at selbyroyal or in grosvenor square. to him, as to many others, dorian gray was the type of everythingthat is wonderful and fascinating in life. whether or not a quarrel had taken place betweenthem no one ever knew. but suddenly people remarked that they scarcely spoke when theymet and that campbell seemed always to go away early from any party at which doriangray was present. he had changed, tooâ€”was strangely melancholy at times, appeared almostto dislike hearing music, and would never himself play, giving as his excuse, when hewas called upon, that he was so absorbed in science that he had no time left in whichto practise. and this was certainly true.
every day he seemed to become more interestedin biology, and his name appeared once or twice in some of the scientific reviews inconnection with certain curious experiments. this was the man dorian gray was waiting for.every second he kept glancing at the clock. as the minutes went by he became horriblyagitated. at last he got up and began to pace up and down the room, looking like a beautifulcaged thing. he took long stealthy strides. his hands were curiously cold. the suspense became unbearable. time seemedto him to be crawling with feet of lead, while he by monstrous winds was being swept towardsthe jagged edge of some black cleft of precipice. he knew what was waiting for him there; sawit, indeed, and, shuddering, crushed with
dank hands his burning lids as though he wouldhave robbed the very brain of sight and driven the eyeballs back into their cave. it wasuseless. the brain had its own food on which it battened, and the imagination, made grotesqueby terror, twisted and distorted as a living thing by pain, danced like some foul puppeton a stand and grinned through moving masks. then, suddenly, time stopped for him. yes:that blind, slow-breathing thing crawled no more, and horrible thoughts, time being dead,raced nimbly on in front, and dragged a hideous future from its grave, and showed it to him.he stared at it. its very horror made him stone. at last the door opened and his servant entered.he turned glazed eyes upon him.
"mr. campbell, sir," said the man. a sigh of relief broke from his parched lips,and the colour came back to his cheeks. "ask him to come in at once, francis." hefelt that he was himself again. his mood of cowardice had passed away. the man bowed and retired. in a few moments,alan campbell walked in, looking very stern and rather pale, his pallor being intensifiedby his coal-black hair and dark eyebrows. "alan! this is kind of you. i thank you forcoming." "i had intended never to enter your houseagain, gray. but you said it was a matter of life and death." his voice was hard andcold. he spoke with slow deliberation. there
was a look of contempt in the steady searchinggaze that he turned on dorian. he kept his hands in the pockets of his astrakhan coat,and seemed not to have noticed the gesture with which he had been greeted. "yes: it is a matter of life and death, alan,and to more than one person. sit down." campbell took a chair by the table, and doriansat opposite to him. the two men's eyes met. in dorian's there was infinite pity. he knewthat what he was going to do was dreadful. after a strained moment of silence, he leanedacross and said, very quietly, but watching the effect of each word upon the face of himhe had sent for, "alan, in a locked room at the top of this house, a room to which nobodybut myself has access, a dead man is seated
at a table. he has been dead ten hours now.don't stir, and don't look at me like that. who the man is, why he died, how he died,are matters that do not concern you. what you have to do is thisâ€”" "stop, gray. i don't want to know anythingfurther. whether what you have told me is true or not true doesn't concern me. i entirelydecline to be mixed up in your life. keep your horrible secrets to yourself. they don'tinterest me any more." "alan, they will have to interest you. thisone will have to interest you. i am awfully sorry for you, alan. but i can't help myself.you are the one man who is able to save me. i am forced to bring you into the matter.i have no option. alan, you are scientific.
you know about chemistry and things of thatkind. you have made experiments. what you have got to do is to destroy the thing thatis upstairsâ€”to destroy it so that not a vestige of it will be left. nobody saw thisperson come into the house. indeed, at the present moment he is supposed to be in paris.he will not be missed for months. when he is missed, there must be no trace of him foundhere. you, alan, you must change him, and everything that belongs to him, into a handfulof ashes that i may scatter in the air." "you are mad, dorian." "ah! i was waiting for you to call me dorian." "you are mad, i tell youâ€”mad to imaginethat i would raise a finger to help you, mad
to make this monstrous confession. i willhave nothing to do with this matter, whatever it is. do you think i am going to peril myreputation for you? what is it to me what devil's work you are up to?" "it was suicide, alan." "i am glad of that. but who drove him to it?you, i should fancy." "do you still refuse to do this for me?" "of course i refuse. i will have absolutelynothing to do with it. i don't care what shame comes on you. you deserve it all. i shouldnot be sorry to see you disgraced, publicly disgraced. how dare you ask me, of all menin the world, to mix myself up in this horror?
i should have thought you knew more aboutpeople's characters. your friend lord henry wotton can't have taught you much about psychology,whatever else he has taught you. nothing will induce me to stir a step to help you. youhave come to the wrong man. go to some of your friends. don't come to me." "alan, it was murder. i killed him. you don'tknow what he had made me suffer. whatever my life is, he had more to do with the makingor the marring of it than poor harry has had. he may not have intended it, the result wasthe same." "murder! good god, dorian, is that what youhave come to? i shall not inform upon you. it is not my business. besides, without mystirring in the matter, you are certain to
be arrested. nobody ever commits a crime withoutdoing something stupid. but i will have nothing to do with it." "you must have something to do with it. wait,wait a moment; listen to me. only listen, alan. all i ask of you is to perform a certainscientific experiment. you go to hospitals and dead-houses, and the horrors that youdo there don't affect you. if in some hideous dissecting-room or fetid laboratory you foundthis man lying on a leaden table with red gutters scooped out in it for the blood toflow through, you would simply look upon him as an admirable subject. you would not turna hair. you would not believe that you were doing anything wrong. on the contrary, youwould probably feel that you were benefiting
the human race, or increasing the sum of knowledgein the world, or gratifying intellectual curiosity, or something of that kind. what i want youto do is merely what you have often done before. indeed, to destroy a body must be far lesshorrible than what you are accustomed to work at. and, remember, it is the only piece ofevidence against me. if it is discovered, i am lost; and it is sure to be discoveredunless you help me." "i have no desire to help you. you forgetthat. i am simply indifferent to the whole thing. it has nothing to do with me." "alan, i entreat you. think of the positioni am in. just before you came i almost fainted with terror. you may know terror yourselfsome day. no! don't think of that. look at
the matter purely from the scientific pointof view. you don't inquire where the dead things on which you experiment come from.don't inquire now. i have told you too much as it is. but i beg of you to do this. wewere friends once, alan." "don't speak about those days, dorianâ€”theyare dead." "the dead linger sometimes. the man upstairswill not go away. he is sitting at the table with bowed head and outstretched arms. alan!alan! if you don't come to my assistance, i am ruined. why, they will hang me, alan!don't you understand? they will hang me for what i have done." "there is no good in prolonging this scene.i absolutely refuse to do anything in the
matter. it is insane of you to ask me." "you refuse?" "i entreat you, alan." "it is useless." the same look of pity came into dorian gray'seyes. then he stretched out his hand, took a piece of paper, and wrote something on it.he read it over twice, folded it carefully, and pushed it across the table. having donethis, he got up and went over to the window. campbell looked at him in surprise, and thentook up the paper, and opened it. as he read it, his face became ghastly pale and he fellback in his chair. a horrible sense of sickness
came over him. he felt as if his heart wasbeating itself to death in some empty hollow. after two or three minutes of terrible silence,dorian turned round and came and stood behind him, putting his hand upon his shoulder. "i am so sorry for you, alan," he murmured,"but you leave me no alternative. i have a letter written already. here it is. you seethe address. if you don't help me, i must send it. if you don't help me, i will sendit. you know what the result will be. but you are going to help me. it is impossiblefor you to refuse now. i tried to spare you. you will do me the justice to admit that.you were stern, harsh, offensive. you treated me as no man has ever dared to treat meâ€”noliving man, at any rate. i bore it all. now
it is for me to dictate terms." campbell buried his face in his hands, anda shudder passed through him. "yes, it is my turn to dictate terms, alan.you know what they are. the thing is quite simple. come, don't work yourself into thisfever. the thing has to be done. face it, and do it." a groan broke from campbell's lips and heshivered all over. the ticking of the clock on the mantelpiece seemed to him to be dividingtime into separate atoms of agony, each of which was too terrible to be borne. he feltas if an iron ring was being slowly tightened round his forehead, as if the disgrace withwhich he was threatened had already come upon
him. the hand upon his shoulder weighed likea hand of lead. it was intolerable. it seemed to crush him. "come, alan, you must decide at once." "i cannot do it," he said, mechanically, asthough words could alter things. "you must. you have no choice. don't delay." he hesitated a moment. "is there a fire inthe room upstairs?" "yes, there is a gas-fire with asbestos." "i shall have to go home and get some thingsfrom the laboratory." "no, alan, you must not leave the house. writeout on a sheet of notepaper what you want
and my servant will take a cab and bring thethings back to you." campbell scrawled a few lines, blotted them,and addressed an envelope to his assistant. dorian took the note up and read it carefully.then he rang the bell and gave it to his valet, with orders to return as soon as possibleand to bring the things with him. as the hall door shut, campbell started nervously,and having got up from the chair, went over to the chimney-piece. he was shivering witha kind of ague. for nearly twenty minutes, neither of the men spoke. a fly buzzed noisilyabout the room, and the ticking of the clock was like the beat of a hammer. as the chime struck one, campbell turned round,and looking at dorian gray, saw that his eyes
were filled with tears. there was somethingin the purity and refinement of that sad face that seemed to enrage him. "you are infamous,absolutely infamous!" he muttered. "hush, alan. you have saved my life," saiddorian. "your life? good heavens! what a life thatis! you have gone from corruption to corruption, and now you have culminated in crime. in doingwhat i am going to doâ€”what you force me to doâ€”it is not of your life that i am thinking." "ah, alan," murmured dorian with a sigh, "iwish you had a thousandth part of the pity for me that i have for you." he turned awayas he spoke and stood looking out at the garden. campbell made no answer.
after about ten minutes a knock came to thedoor, and the servant entered, carrying a large mahogany chest of chemicals, with along coil of steel and platinum wire and two rather curiously shaped iron clamps. "shall i leave the things here, sir?" he askedcampbell. "yes," said dorian. "and i am afraid, francis,that i have another errand for you. what is the name of the man at richmond who suppliesselby with orchids?" "harden, sir." "yesâ€”harden. you must go down to richmondat once, see harden personally, and tell him to send twice as many orchids as i ordered,and to have as few white ones as possible.
in fact, i don't want any white ones. it isa lovely day, francis, and richmond is a very pretty placeâ€”otherwise i wouldn't botheryou about it." "no trouble, sir. at what time shall i beback?" dorian looked at campbell. "how long willyour experiment take, alan?" he said in a calm indifferent voice. the presence of athird person in the room seemed to give him extraordinary courage. campbell frowned and bit his lip. "it willtake about five hours," he answered. "it will be time enough, then, if you areback at half-past seven, francis. or stay: just leave my things out for dressing. youcan have the evening to yourself. i am not
dining at home, so i shall not want you." "thank you, sir," said the man, leaving theroom. "now, alan, there is not a moment to be lost.how heavy this chest is! i'll take it for you. you bring the other things." he spokerapidly and in an authoritative manner. campbell felt dominated by him. they left the roomtogether. when they reached the top landing, doriantook out the key and turned it in the lock. then he stopped, and a troubled look cameinto his eyes. he shuddered. "i don't think i can go in, alan," he murmured. "it is nothing to me. i don't require you,"said campbell coldly.
dorian half opened the door. as he did so,he saw the face of his portrait leering in the sunlight. on the floor in front of itthe torn curtain was lying. he remembered that the night before he had forgotten, forthe first time in his life, to hide the fatal canvas, and was about to rush forward, whenhe drew back with a shudder. what was that loathsome red dew that gleamed,wet and glistening, on one of the hands, as though the canvas had sweated blood? how horribleit was!â€”more horrible, it seemed to him for the moment, than the silent thing thathe knew was stretched across the table, the thing whose grotesque misshapen shadow onthe spotted carpet showed him that it had not stirred, but was still there, as he hadleft it.
he heaved a deep breath, opened the door alittle wider, and with half-closed eyes and averted head, walked quickly in, determinedthat he would not look even once upon the dead man. then, stooping down and taking upthe gold-and-purple hanging, he flung it right over the picture. there he stopped, feeling afraid to turn round,and his eyes fixed themselves on the intricacies of the pattern before him. he heard campbellbringing in the heavy chest, and the irons, and the other things that he had requiredfor his dreadful work. he began to wonder if he and basil hallward had ever met, and,if so, what they had thought of each other. "leave me now," said a stern voice behindhim.
he turned and hurried out, just consciousthat the dead man had been thrust back into the chair and that campbell was gazing intoa glistening yellow face. as he was going downstairs, he heard the key being turnedin the lock. it was long after seven when campbell cameback into the library. he was pale, but absolutely calm. "i have done what you asked me to do,"he muttered. "and now, good-bye. let us never see each other again." "you have saved me from ruin, alan. i cannotforget that," said dorian simply. as soon as campbell had left, he went upstairs.there was a horrible smell of nitric acid in the room. but the thing that had been sittingat the table was gone.
chapter 15 that evening, at eight-thirty, exquisitelydressed and wearing a large button-hole of parma violets, dorian gray was ushered intolady narborough's drawing-room by bowing servants. his forehead was throbbing with maddened nerves,and he felt wildly excited, but his manner as he bent over his hostess's hand was aseasy and graceful as ever. perhaps one never seems so much at one's ease as when one hasto play a part. certainly no one looking at dorian gray that night could have believedthat he had passed through a tragedy as horrible as any tragedy of our age. those finely shapedfingers could never have clutched a knife for sin, nor those smiling lips have criedout on god and goodness. he himself could
not help wondering at the calm of his demeanour,and for a moment felt keenly the terrible pleasure of a double life. it was a small party, got up rather in a hurryby lady narborough, who was a very clever woman with what lord henry used to describeas the remains of really remarkable ugliness. she had proved an excellent wife to one ofour most tedious ambassadors, and having buried her husband properly in a marble mausoleum,which she had herself designed, and married off her daughters to some rich, rather elderlymen, she devoted herself now to the pleasures of french fiction, french cookery, and frenchesprit when she could get it. dorian was one of her especial favourites,and she always told him that she was extremely
glad she had not met him in early life. "iknow, my dear, i should have fallen madly in love with you," she used to say, "and thrownmy bonnet right over the mills for your sake. it is most fortunate that you were not thoughtof at the time. as it was, our bonnets were so unbecoming, and the mills were so occupiedin trying to raise the wind, that i never had even a flirtation with anybody. however,that was all narborough's fault. he was dreadfully short-sighted, and there is no pleasure intaking in a husband who never sees anything." her guests this evening were rather tedious.the fact was, as she explained to dorian, behind a very shabby fan, one of her marrieddaughters had come up quite suddenly to stay with her, and, to make matters worse, hadactually brought her husband with her. "i
think it is most unkind of her, my dear,"she whispered. "of course i go and stay with them every summer after i come from homburg,but then an old woman like me must have fresh air sometimes, and besides, i really wakethem up. you don't know what an existence they lead down there. it is pure unadulteratedcountry life. they get up early, because they have so much to do, and go to bed early, becausethey have so little to think about. there has not been a scandal in the neighbourhoodsince the time of queen elizabeth, and consequently they all fall asleep after dinner. you shan'tsit next either of them. you shall sit by me and amuse me." dorian murmured a graceful compliment andlooked round the room. yes: it was certainly
a tedious party. two of the people he hadnever seen before, and the others consisted of ernest harrowden, one of those middle-agedmediocrities so common in london clubs who have no enemies, but are thoroughly dislikedby their friends; lady ruxton, an overdressed woman of forty-seven, with a hooked nose,who was always trying to get herself compromised, but was so peculiarly plain that to her greatdisappointment no one would ever believe anything against her; mrs. erlynne, a pushing nobody,with a delightful lisp and venetian-red hair; lady alice chapman, his hostess's daughter,a dowdy dull girl, with one of those characteristic british faces that, once seen, are never remembered;and her husband, a red-cheeked, white-whiskered creature who, like so many of his class, wasunder the impression that inordinate joviality
can atone for an entire lack of ideas. he was rather sorry he had come, till ladynarborough, looking at the great ormolu gilt clock that sprawled in gaudy curves on themauve-draped mantelshelf, exclaimed: "how horrid of henry wotton to be so late! i sentround to him this morning on chance and he promised faithfully not to disappoint me." it was some consolation that harry was tobe there, and when the door opened and he heard his slow musical voice lending charmto some insincere apology, he ceased to feel bored. but at dinner he could not eat anything. plateafter plate went away untasted. lady narborough
kept scolding him for what she called "aninsult to poor adolphe, who invented the menu specially for you," and now and then lordhenry looked across at him, wondering at his silence and abstracted manner. from time totime the butler filled his glass with champagne. he drank eagerly, and his thirst seemed toincrease. "dorian," said lord henry at last, as thechaud-froid was being handed round, "what is the matter with you to-night? you are quiteout of sorts." "i believe he is in love," cried lady narborough,"and that he is afraid to tell me for fear i should be jealous. he is quite right. icertainly should." "dear lady narborough," murmured dorian, smiling,"i have not been in love for a whole weekâ€”not,
in fact, since madame de ferrol left town." "how you men can fall in love with that woman!"exclaimed the old lady. "i really cannot understand "it is simply because she remembers you whenyou were a little girl, lady narborough," said lord henry. "she is the one link betweenus and your short frocks." "she does not remember my short frocks atall, lord henry. but i remember her very well at vienna thirty years ago, and how decolleteeshe was then." "she is still decolletee," he answered, takingan olive in his long fingers; "and when she is in a very smart gown she looks like anedition de luxe of a bad french novel. she is really wonderful, and full of surprises.her capacity for family affection is extraordinary.
when her third husband died, her hair turnedquite gold from grief." "how can you, harry!" cried dorian. "it is a most romantic explanation," laughedthe hostess. "but her third husband, lord henry! you don't mean to say ferrol is thefourth?" "certainly, lady narborough." "i don't believe a word of it." "well, ask mr. gray. he is one of her mostintimate friends." "is it true, mr. gray?" "she assures me so, lady narborough," saiddorian. "i asked her whether, like marguerite
de navarre, she had their hearts embalmedand hung at her girdle. she told me she didn't, because none of them had had any hearts atall." "four husbands! upon my word that is tropde zele." "trop d'audace, i tell her," said dorian. "oh! she is audacious enough for anything,my dear. and what is ferrol like? i don't know him." "the husbands of very beautiful women belongto the criminal classes," said lord henry, sipping his wine. lady narborough hit him with her fan. "lordhenry, i am not at all surprised that the
world says that you are extremely wicked." "but what world says that?" asked lord henry,elevating his eyebrows. "it can only be the next world. this world and i are on excellentterms." "everybody i know says you are very wicked,"cried the old lady, shaking her head. lord henry looked serious for some moments."it is perfectly monstrous," he said, at last, "the way people go about nowadays saying thingsagainst one behind one's back that are absolutely and entirely true." "isn't he incorrigible?" cried dorian, leaningforward in his chair. "i hope so," said his hostess, laughing. "butreally, if you all worship madame de ferrol
in this ridiculous way, i shall have to marryagain so as to be in the fashion." "you will never marry again, lady narborough,"broke in lord henry. "you were far too happy. when a woman marries again, it is becauseshe detested her first husband. when a man marries again, it is because he adored hisfirst wife. women try their luck; men risk theirs." "narborough wasn't perfect," cried the oldlady. "if he had been, you would not have lovedhim, my dear lady," was the rejoinder. "women love us for our defects. if we have enoughof them, they will forgive us everything, even our intellects. you will never ask meto dinner again after saying this, i am afraid,
lady narborough, but it is quite true." "of course it is true, lord henry. if we womendid not love you for your defects, where would you all be? not one of you would ever be married.you would be a set of unfortunate bachelors. not, however, that that would alter you much.nowadays all the married men live like bachelors, and all the bachelors like married men." "fin de siecle," murmured lord henry. "fin du globe," answered his hostess. "i wish it were fin du globe," said dorianwith a sigh. "life is a great disappointment." "ah, my dear," cried lady narborough, puttingon her gloves, "don't tell me that you have
exhausted life. when a man says that one knowsthat life has exhausted him. lord henry is very wicked, and i sometimes wish that i hadbeen; but you are made to be goodâ€”you look so good. i must find you a nice wife. lordhenry, don't you think that mr. gray should get married?" "i am always telling him so, lady narborough,"said lord henry with a bow. "well, we must look out for a suitable matchfor him. i shall go through debrett carefully to-night and draw out a list of all the eligibleyoung ladies." "with their ages, lady narborough?" askeddorian. "of course, with their ages, slightly edited.but nothing must be done in a hurry. i want
it to be what the morning post calls a suitablealliance, and i want you both to be happy." "what nonsense people talk about happy marriages!"exclaimed lord henry. "a man can be happy with any woman, as long as he does not loveher." "ah! what a cynic you are!" cried the oldlady, pushing back her chair and nodding to lady ruxton. "you must come and dine withme soon again. you are really an admirable tonic, much better than what sir andrew prescribesfor me. you must tell me what people you would like to meet, though. i want it to be a delightfulgathering." "i like men who have a future and women whohave a past," he answered. "or do you think that would make it a petticoat party?"
"i fear so," she said, laughing, as she stoodup. "a thousand pardons, my dear lady ruxton," she added, "i didn't see you hadn't finishedyour cigarette." "never mind, lady narborough. i smoke a greatdeal too much. i am going to limit myself, for the future." "pray don't, lady ruxton," said lord henry."moderation is a fatal thing. enough is as bad as a meal. more than enough is as goodas a feast." lady ruxton glanced at him curiously. "youmust come and explain that to me some afternoon, lord henry. it sounds a fascinating theory,"she murmured, as she swept out of the room. "now, mind you don't stay too long over yourpolitics and scandal," cried lady narborough
from the door. "if you do, we are sure tosquabble upstairs." the men laughed, and mr. chapman got up solemnlyfrom the foot of the table and came up to the top. dorian gray changed his seat andwent and sat by lord henry. mr. chapman began to talk in a loud voice about the situationin the house of commons. he guffawed at his adversaries. the word doctrinaireâ€”word fullof terror to the british mindâ€”reappeared from time to time between his explosions.an alliterative prefix served as an ornament of oratory. he hoisted the union jack on thepinnacles of thought. the inherited stupidity of the raceâ€”sound english common sense hejovially termed itâ€”was shown to be the proper bulwark for society.
a smile curved lord henry's lips, and he turnedround and looked at dorian. "are you better, my dear fellow?" he asked."you seemed rather out of sorts at dinner." "i am quite well, harry. i am tired. thatis all." "you were charming last night. the littleduchess is quite devoted to you. she tells me she is going down to selby." "she has promised to come on the twentieth." "is monmouth to be there, too?" "oh, yes, harry." "he bores me dreadfully, almost as much ashe bores her. she is very clever, too clever
for a woman. she lacks the indefinable charmof weakness. it is the feet of clay that make the gold of the image precious. her feet arevery pretty, but they are not feet of clay. white porcelain feet, if you like. they havebeen through the fire, and what fire does not destroy, it hardens. she has had experiences." "how long has she been married?" asked dorian. "an eternity, she tells me. i believe, accordingto the peerage, it is ten years, but ten years with monmouth must have been like eternity,with time thrown in. who else is coming?" "oh, the willoughbys, lord rugby and his wife,our hostess, geoffrey clouston, the usual set. i have asked lord grotrian."
"i like him," said lord henry. "a great manypeople don't, but i find him charming. he atones for being occasionally somewhat overdressedby being always absolutely over-educated. he is a very modern type." "i don't know if he will be able to come,harry. he may have to go to monte carlo with his father." "ah! what a nuisance people's people are!try and make him come. by the way, dorian, you ran off very early last night. you leftbefore eleven. what did you do afterwards? did you go straight home?" dorian glanced at him hurriedly and frowned.
"no, harry," he said at last, "i did not gethome till nearly three." "did you go to the club?" "yes," he answered. then he bit his lip. "no,i don't mean that. i didn't go to the club. i walked about. i forget what i did.... howinquisitive you are, harry! you always want to know what one has been doing. i alwayswant to forget what i have been doing. i came in at half-past two, if you wish to know theexact time. i had left my latch-key at home, and my servant had to let me in. if you wantany corroborative evidence on the subject, you can ask him." lord henry shrugged his shoulders. "my dearfellow, as if i cared! let us go up to the
drawing-room. no sherry, thank you, mr. chapman.something has happened to you, dorian. tell me what it is. you are not yourself to-night." "don't mind me, harry. i am irritable, andout of temper. i shall come round and see you to-morrow, or next day. make my excusesto lady narborough. i shan't go upstairs. i shall go home. i must go home." "all right, dorian. i dare say i shall seeyou to-morrow at tea-time. the duchess is coming." "i will try to be there, harry," he said,leaving the room. as he drove back to his own house, he was conscious that the senseof terror he thought he had strangled had
come back to him. lord henry's casual questioninghad made him lose his nerve for the moment, and he wanted his nerve still. things thatwere dangerous had to be destroyed. he winced. he hated the idea of even touching them. yet it had to be done. he realized that, andwhen he had locked the door of his library, he opened the secret press into which he hadthrust basil hallward's coat and bag. a huge fire was blazing. he piled another log onit. the smell of the singeing clothes and burning leather was horrible. it took himthree-quarters of an hour to consume everything. at the end he felt faint and sick, and havinglit some algerian pastilles in a pierced copper brazier, he bathed his hands and foreheadwith a cool musk-scented vinegar.
suddenly he started. his eyes grew strangelybright, and he gnawed nervously at his underlip. between two of the windows stood a large florentinecabinet, made out of ebony and inlaid with ivory and blue lapis. he watched it as thoughit were a thing that could fascinate and make afraid, as though it held something that helonged for and yet almost loathed. his breath quickened. a mad craving came over him. helit a cigarette and then threw it away. his eyelids drooped till the long fringed lashesalmost touched his cheek. but he still watched the cabinet. at last he got up from the sofaon which he had been lying, went over to it, and having unlocked it, touched some hiddenspring. a triangular drawer passed slowly out. his fingers moved instinctively towardsit, dipped in, and closed on something. it
was a small chinese box of black and gold-dustlacquer, elaborately wrought, the sides patterned with curved waves, and the silken cords hungwith round crystals and tasselled in plaited metal threads. he opened it. inside was agreen paste, waxy in lustre, the odour curiously heavy and persistent. he hesitated for some moments, with a strangelyimmobile smile upon his face. then shivering, though the atmosphere of the room was terriblyhot, he drew himself up and glanced at the clock. it was twenty minutes to twelve. heput the box back, shutting the cabinet doors as he did so, and went into his bedroom. as midnight was striking bronze blows uponthe dusky air, dorian gray, dressed commonly,
and with a muffler wrapped round his throat,crept quietly out of his house. in bond street he found a hansom with a good horse. he hailedit and in a low voice gave the driver an address. the man shook his head. "it is too far forme," he muttered. "here is a sovereign for you," said dorian."you shall have another if you drive fast." "all right, sir," answered the man, "you willbe there in an hour," and after his fare had got in he turned his horse round and droverapidly towards the river. chapter 16 a cold rain began to fall, and the blurredstreet-lamps looked ghastly in the dripping mist. the public-houses were just closing,and dim men and women were clustering in broken
groups round their doors. from some of thebars came the sound of horrible laughter. in others, drunkards brawled and screamed. lying back in the hansom, with his hat pulledover his forehead, dorian gray watched with listless eyes the sordid shame of the greatcity, and now and then he repeated to himself the words that lord henry had said to himon the first day they had met, "to cure the soul by means of the senses, and the sensesby means of the soul." yes, that was the secret. he had often tried it, and would try it againnow. there were opium dens where one could buy oblivion, dens of horror where the memoryof old sins could be destroyed by the madness of sins that were new.
the moon hung low in the sky like a yellowskull. from time to time a huge misshapen cloud stretched a long arm across and hidit. the gas-lamps grew fewer, and the streets more narrow and gloomy. once the man losthis way and had to drive back half a mile. a steam rose from the horse as it splashedup the puddles. the sidewindows of the hansom were clogged with a grey-flannel mist. "to cure the soul by means of the senses,and the senses by means of the soul!" how the words rang in his ears! his soul, certainly,was sick to death. was it true that the senses could cure it? innocent blood had been spilled.what could atone for that? ah! for that there was no atonement; but though forgiveness wasimpossible, forgetfulness was possible still,
and he was determined to forget, to stampthe thing out, to crush it as one would crush the adder that had stung one. indeed, whatright had basil to have spoken to him as he had done? who had made him a judge over others?he had said things that were dreadful, horrible, not to be endured. on and on plodded the hansom, going slower,it seemed to him, at each step. he thrust up the trap and called to the man to drivefaster. the hideous hunger for opium began to gnaw at him. his throat burned and hisdelicate hands twitched nervously together. he struck at the horse madly with his stick.the driver laughed and whipped up. he laughed in answer, and the man was silent.
the way seemed interminable, and the streetslike the black web of some sprawling spider. the monotony became unbearable, and as themist thickened, he felt afraid. then they passed by lonely brickfields. thefog was lighter here, and he could see the strange, bottle-shaped kilns with their orange,fanlike tongues of fire. a dog barked as they went by, and far away in the darkness somewandering sea-gull screamed. the horse stumbled in a rut, then swerved aside and broke intoa gallop. after some time they left the clay road andrattled again over rough-paven streets. most of the windows were dark, but now and thenfantastic shadows were silhouetted against some lamplit blind. he watched them curiously.they moved like monstrous marionettes and
made gestures like live things. he hated them.a dull rage was in his heart. as they turned a corner, a woman yelled something at themfrom an open door, and two men ran after the hansom for about a hundred yards. the driverbeat at them with his whip. it is said that passion makes one think ina circle. certainly with hideous iteration the bitten lips of dorian gray shaped andreshaped those subtle words that dealt with soul and sense, till he had found in themthe full expression, as it were, of his mood, and justified, by intellectual approval, passionsthat without such justification would still have dominated his temper. from cell to cellof his brain crept the one thought; and the wild desire to live, most terrible of allman's appetites, quickened into force each
trembling nerve and fibre. ugliness that hadonce been hateful to him because it made things real, became dear to him now for that veryreason. ugliness was the one reality. the coarse brawl, the loathsome den, the crudeviolence of disordered life, the very vileness of thief and outcast, were more vivid, intheir intense actuality of impression, than all the gracious shapes of art, the dreamyshadows of song. they were what he needed for forgetfulness. in three days he wouldbe free. suddenly the man drew up with a jerk at thetop of a dark lane. over the low roofs and jagged chimney-stacks of the houses rose theblack masts of ships. wreaths of white mist clung like ghostly sails to the yards.
"somewhere about here, sir, ain't it?" heasked huskily through the trap. dorian started and peered round. "this willdo," he answered, and having got out hastily and given the driver the extra fare he hadpromised him, he walked quickly in the direction of the quay. here and there a lantern gleamedat the stern of some huge merchantman. the light shook and splintered in the puddles.a red glare came from an outward-bound steamer that was coaling. the slimy pavement lookedlike a wet mackintosh. he hurried on towards the left, glancing backnow and then to see if he was being followed. in about seven or eight minutes he reacheda small shabby house that was wedged in between two gaunt factories. in one of the top-windowsstood a lamp. he stopped and gave a peculiar
knock. after a little time he heard steps in thepassage and the chain being unhooked. the door opened quietly, and he went in withoutsaying a word to the squat misshapen figure that flattened itself into the shadow as hepassed. at the end of the hall hung a tattered green curtain that swayed and shook in thegusty wind which had followed him in from the street. he dragged it aside and entereda long low room which looked as if it had once been a third-rate dancing-saloon. shrillflaring gas-jets, dulled and distorted in the fly-blown mirrors that faced them, wereranged round the walls. greasy reflectors of ribbed tin backed them, making quiveringdisks of light. the floor was covered with
ochre-coloured sawdust, trampled here andthere into mud, and stained with dark rings of spilled liquor. some malays were crouchingby a little charcoal stove, playing with bone counters and showing their white teeth asthey chattered. in one corner, with his head buried in his arms, a sailor sprawled overa table, and by the tawdrily painted bar that ran across one complete side stood two haggardwomen, mocking an old man who was brushing the sleeves of his coat with an expressionof disgust. "he thinks he's got red ants on him," laughed one of them, as dorian passedby. the man looked at her in terror and began to whimper. at the end of the room there was a littlestaircase, leading to a darkened chamber.
as dorian hurried up its three rickety steps,the heavy odour of opium met him. he heaved a deep breath, and his nostrils quivered withpleasure. when he entered, a young man with smooth yellow hair, who was bending over alamp lighting a long thin pipe, looked up at him and nodded in a hesitating manner. "you here, adrian?" muttered dorian. "where else should i be?" he answered, listlessly."none of the chaps will speak to me now." "i thought you had left england." "darlington is not going to do anything. mybrother paid the bill at last. george doesn't speak to me either.... i don't care," he addedwith a sigh. "as long as one has this stuff,
one doesn't want friends. i think i have hadtoo many friends." dorian winced and looked round at the grotesquethings that lay in such fantastic postures on the ragged mattresses. the twisted limbs,the gaping mouths, the staring lustreless eyes, fascinated him. he knew in what strangeheavens they were suffering, and what dull hells were teaching them the secret of somenew joy. they were better off than he was. he was prisoned in thought. memory, like ahorrible malady, was eating his soul away. from time to time he seemed to see the eyesof basil hallward looking at him. yet he felt he could not stay. the presence of adriansingleton troubled him. he wanted to be where no one would know who he was. he wanted toescape from himself.
"i am going on to the other place," he saidafter a pause. "on the wharf?" "that mad-cat is sure to be there. they won'thave her in this place now." dorian shrugged his shoulders. "i am sickof women who love one. women who hate one are much more interesting. besides, the stuffis better." "much the same." "i like it better. come and have somethingto drink. i must have something." "i don't want anything," murmured the youngman. "never mind."
adrian singleton rose up wearily and followeddorian to the bar. a half-caste, in a ragged turban and a shabby ulster, grinned a hideousgreeting as he thrust a bottle of brandy and two tumblers in front of them. the women sidledup and began to chatter. dorian turned his back on them and said something in a low voiceto adrian singleton. a crooked smile, like a malay crease, writhedacross the face of one of the women. "we are very proud to-night," she sneered. "for god's sake don't talk to me," cried dorian,stamping his foot on the ground. "what do you want? money? here it is. don't ever talkto me again." two red sparks flashed for a moment in thewoman's sodden eyes, then flickered out and
left them dull and glazed. she tossed herhead and raked the coins off the counter with greedy fingers. her companion watched herenviously. "it's no use," sighed adrian singleton. "idon't care to go back. what does it matter? i am quite happy here." "you will write to me if you want anything,won't you?" said dorian, after a pause. "perhaps." "good night, then." "good night," answered the young man, passingup the steps and wiping his parched mouth with a handkerchief.
dorian walked to the door with a look of painin his face. as he drew the curtain aside, a hideous laugh broke from the painted lipsof the woman who had taken his money. "there goes the devil's bargain!" she hiccoughed,in a hoarse voice. "curse you!" he answered, "don't call me that." she snapped her fingers. "prince charmingis what you like to be called, ain't it?" she yelled after him. the drowsy sailor leaped to his feet as shespoke, and looked wildly round. the sound of the shutting of the hall door fell on hisear. he rushed out as if in pursuit. dorian gray hurried along the quay throughthe drizzling rain. his meeting with adrian
singleton had strangely moved him, and hewondered if the ruin of that young life was really to be laid at his door, as basil hallwardhad said to him with such infamy of insult. he bit his lip, and for a few seconds hiseyes grew sad. yet, after all, what did it matter to him? one's days were too brief totake the burden of another's errors on one's shoulders. each man lived his own life andpaid his own price for living it. the only pity was one had to pay so often for a singlefault. one had to pay over and over again, indeed. in her dealings with man, destinynever closed her accounts. there are moments, psychologists tell us,when the passion for sin, or for what the world calls sin, so dominates a nature thatevery fibre of the body, as every cell of
the brain, seems to be instinct with fearfulimpulses. men and women at such moments lose the freedom of their will. they move to theirterrible end as automatons move. choice is taken from them, and conscience is eitherkilled, or, if it lives at all, lives but to give rebellion its fascination and disobedienceits charm. for all sins, as theologians weary not of reminding us, are sins of disobedience.when that high spirit, that morning star of evil, fell from heaven, it was as a rebelthat he fell. callous, concentrated on evil, with stainedmind, and soul hungry for rebellion, dorian gray hastened on, quickening his step as hewent, but as he darted aside into a dim archway, that had served him often as a short cut tothe ill-famed place where he was going, he
felt himself suddenly seized from behind,and before he had time to defend himself, he was thrust back against the wall, witha brutal hand round his throat. he struggled madly for life, and by a terribleeffort wrenched the tightening fingers away. in a second he heard the click of a revolver,and saw the gleam of a polished barrel, pointing straight at his head, and the dusky form ofa short, thick-set man facing him. "what do you want?" he gasped. "keep quiet," said the man. "if you stir,i shoot you." "you are mad. what have i done to you?" "you wrecked the life of sibyl vane," wasthe answer, "and sibyl vane was my sister.
she killed herself. i know it. her death isat your door. i swore i would kill you in return. for years i have sought you. i hadno clue, no trace. the two people who could have described you were dead. i knew nothingof you but the pet name she used to call you. i heard it to-night by chance. make your peacewith god, for to-night you are going to die." dorian gray grew sick with fear. "i neverknew her," he stammered. "i never heard of her. you are mad." "you had better confess your sin, for as sureas i am james vane, you are going to die." there was a horrible moment. dorian did notknow what to say or do. "down on your knees!" growled the man. "i give you one minute tomake your peaceâ€”no more. i go on board to-night
for india, and i must do my job first. oneminute. that's all." dorian's arms fell to his side. paralysedwith terror, he did not know what to do. suddenly a wild hope flashed across his brain. "stop,"he cried. "how long ago is it since your sister died? quick, tell me!" "eighteen years," said the man. "why do youask me? what do years matter?" "eighteen years," laughed dorian gray, witha touch of triumph in his voice. "eighteen years! set me under the lamp and look at myface!" james vane hesitated for a moment, not understandingwhat was meant. then he seized dorian gray and dragged him from the archway.
dim and wavering as was the wind-blown light,yet it served to show him the hideous error, as it seemed, into which he had fallen, forthe face of the man he had sought to kill had all the bloom of boyhood, all the unstainedpurity of youth. he seemed little more than a lad of twenty summers, hardly older, ifolder indeed at all, than his sister had been when they had parted so many years ago. itwas obvious that this was not the man who had destroyed her life. he loosened his hold and reeled back. "mygod! my god!" he cried, "and i would have murdered you!" dorian gray drew a long breath. "you havebeen on the brink of committing a terrible
crime, my man," he said, looking at him sternly."let this be a warning to you not to take vengeance into your own hands." "forgive me, sir," muttered james vane. "iwas deceived. a chance word i heard in that damned den set me on the wrong track." "you had better go home and put that pistolaway, or you may get into trouble," said dorian, turning on his heel and going slowly downthe street. james vane stood on the pavement in horror.he was trembling from head to foot. after a little while, a black shadow that had beencreeping along the dripping wall moved out into the light and came close to him withstealthy footsteps. he felt a hand laid on
his arm and looked round with a start. itwas one of the women who had been drinking at the bar. "why didn't you kill him?" she hissed out,putting haggard face quite close to his. "i knew you were following him when you rushedout from daly's. you fool! you should have killed him. he has lots of money, and he'sas bad as bad." "he is not the man i am looking for," he answered,"and i want no man's money. i want a man's life. the man whose life i want must be nearlyforty now. this one is little more than a boy. thank god, i have not got his blood uponmy hands." the woman gave a bitter laugh. "little morethan a boy!" she sneered. "why, man, it's
nigh on eighteen years since prince charmingmade me what i am." "you lie!" cried james vane. she raised her hand up to heaven. "beforegod i am telling the truth," she cried. "before god?" "strike me dumb if it ain't so. he is theworst one that comes here. they say he has sold himself to the devil for a pretty face.it's nigh on eighteen years since i met him. he hasn't changed much since then. i have,though," she added, with a sickly leer. "you swear this?" "i swear it," came in hoarse echo from herflat mouth. "but don't give me away to him,"
she whined; "i am afraid of him. let me havesome money for my night's lodging." he broke from her with an oath and rushedto the corner of the street, but dorian gray had disappeared. when he looked back, thewoman had vanished also. chapter 17 a week later dorian gray was sitting in theconservatory at selby royal, talking to the pretty duchess of monmouth, who with her husband,a jaded-looking man of sixty, was amongst his guests. it was tea-time, and the mellowlight of the huge, lace-covered lamp that stood on the table lit up the delicate chinaand hammered silver of the service at which the duchess was presiding. her white handswere moving daintily among the cups, and her
full red lips were smiling at something thatdorian had whispered to her. lord henry was lying back in a silk-draped wicker chair,looking at them. on a peach-coloured divan sat lady narborough, pretending to listento the duke's description of the last brazilian beetle that he had added to his collection.three young men in elaborate smoking-suits were handing tea-cakes to some of the women.the house-party consisted of twelve people, and there were more expected to arrive onthe next day. "what are you two talking about?" said lordhenry, strolling over to the table and putting his cup down. "i hope dorian has told youabout my plan for rechristening everything, gladys. it is a delightful idea."
"but i don't want to be rechristened, harry,"rejoined the duchess, looking up at him with her wonderful eyes. "i am quite satisfiedwith my own name, and i am sure mr. gray should be satisfied with his." "my dear gladys, i would not alter eithername for the world. they are both perfect. i was thinking chiefly of flowers. yesterdayi cut an orchid, for my button-hole. it was a marvellous spotted thing, as effective asthe seven deadly sins. in a thoughtless moment i asked one of the gardeners what it was called.he told me it was a fine specimen of robinsoniana, or something dreadful of that kind. it isa sad truth, but we have lost the faculty of giving lovely names to things. names areeverything. i never quarrel with actions.
my one quarrel is with words. that is thereason i hate vulgar realism in literature. the man who could call a spade a spade shouldbe compelled to use one. it is the only thing he is fit for." "then what should we call you, harry?" sheasked. "his name is prince paradox," said dorian. "i recognize him in a flash," exclaimed theduchess. "i won't hear of it," laughed lord henry,sinking into a chair. "from a label there is no escape! i refuse the title." "royalties may not abdicate," fell as a warningfrom pretty lips.
"you wish me to defend my throne, then?" "i give the truths of to-morrow." "i prefer the mistakes of to-day," she answered. "you disarm me, gladys," he cried, catchingthe wilfulness of her mood. "of your shield, harry, not of your spear." "i never tilt against beauty," he said, witha wave of his hand. "that is your error, harry, believe me. youvalue beauty far too much." "how can you say that? i admit that i thinkthat it is better to be beautiful than to be good. but on the other hand, no one ismore ready than i am to acknowledge that it
is better to be good than to be ugly." "ugliness is one of the seven deadly sins,then?" cried the duchess. "what becomes of your simile about the orchid?" "ugliness is one of the seven deadly virtues,gladys. you, as a good tory, must not underrate them. beer, the bible, and the seven deadlyvirtues have made our england what she is." "you don't like your country, then?" she asked. "i live in it." "that you may censure it the better." "would you have me take the verdict of europeon it?" he inquired.
"what do they say of us?" "that tartuffe has emigrated to england andopened a shop." "is that yours, harry?" "i give it to you." "i could not use it. it is too true." "you need not be afraid. our countrymen neverrecognize a description." "they are practical." "they are more cunning than practical. whenthey make up their ledger, they balance stupidity by wealth, and vice by hypocrisy."
"still, we have done great things." "great things have been thrust on us, gladys." "we have carried their burden." "only as far as the stock exchange." she shook her head. "i believe in the race,"she cried. "it represents the survival of the pushing." "it has development." "decay fascinates me more." "what of art?" she asked.
"it is a malady." "love?" "an illusion." "religion?" "the fashionable substitute for belief." "you are a sceptic." "never! scepticism is the beginning of faith." "what are you?" "to define is to limit."
"give me a clue." "threads snap. you would lose your way inthe labyrinth." "you bewilder me. let us talk of some oneelse." "our host is a delightful topic. years agohe was christened prince charming." "ah! don't remind me of that," cried doriangray. "our host is rather horrid this evening,"answered the duchess, colouring. "i believe he thinks that monmouth married me on purelyscientific principles as the best specimen he could find of a modern butterfly." "well, i hope he won't stick pins into you,duchess," laughed dorian.
"oh! my maid does that already, mr. gray,when she is annoyed with me." "and what does she get annoyed with you about,duchess?" "for the most trivial things, mr. gray, iassure you. usually because i come in at ten minutes to nine and tell her that i must bedressed by half-past eight." "how unreasonable of her! you should giveher warning." "i daren't, mr. gray. why, she invents hatsfor me. you remember the one i wore at lady hilstone's garden-party? you don't, but itis nice of you to pretend that you do. well, she made it out of nothing. all good hatsare made out of nothing." "like all good reputations, gladys," interruptedlord henry. "every effect that one produces
gives one an enemy. to be popular one mustbe a mediocrity." "not with women," said the duchess, shakingher head; "and women rule the world. i assure you we can't bear mediocrities. we women,as some one says, love with our ears, just as you men love with your eyes, if you everlove at all." "it seems to me that we never do anythingelse," murmured dorian. "ah! then, you never really love, mr. gray,"answered the duchess with mock sadness. "my dear gladys!" cried lord henry. "how canyou say that? romance lives by repetition, and repetition converts an appetite into anart. besides, each time that one loves is the only time one has ever loved. differenceof object does not alter singleness of passion.
it merely intensifies it. we can have in lifebut one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experienceas often as possible." "even when one has been wounded by it, harry?"asked the duchess after a pause. "especially when one has been wounded by it,"answered lord henry. the duchess turned and looked at dorian graywith a curious expression in her eyes. "what do you say to that, mr. gray?" she inquired. dorian hesitated for a moment. then he threwhis head back and laughed. "i always agree with harry, duchess." "even when he is wrong?"
"harry is never wrong, duchess." "and does his philosophy make you happy?" "i have never searched for happiness. whowants happiness? i have searched for pleasure." "and found it, mr. gray?" "often. too often." the duchess sighed. "i am searching for peace,"she said, "and if i don't go and dress, i shall have none this evening." "let me get you some orchids, duchess," crieddorian, starting to his feet and walking down the conservatory.
"you are flirting disgracefully with him,"said lord henry to his cousin. "you had better take care. he is very fascinating." "if he were not, there would be no battle." "greek meets greek, then?" "i am on the side of the trojans. they foughtfor a woman." "they were defeated." "there are worse things than capture," sheanswered. "you gallop with a loose rein." "pace gives life," was the riposte.
"i shall write it in my diary to-night." "what?" "that a burnt child loves the fire." "i am not even singed. my wings are untouched." "you use them for everything, except flight." "courage has passed from men to women. itis a new experience for us." "you have a rival." "who?" he laughed. "lady narborough," he whispered."she perfectly adores him."
"you fill me with apprehension. the appealto antiquity is fatal to us who are romanticists." "romanticists! you have all the methods ofscience." "men have educated us." "but not explained you." "describe us as a sex," was her challenge. "sphinxes without secrets." she looked at him, smiling. "how long mr.gray is!" she said. "let us go and help him. i have not yet told him the colour of my frock." "ah! you must suit your frock to his flowers,gladys."
"that would be a premature surrender." "romantic art begins with its climax." "i must keep an opportunity for retreat." "in the parthian manner?" "they found safety in the desert. i couldnot do that." "women are not always allowed a choice," heanswered, but hardly had he finished the sentence before from the far end of the conservatorycame a stifled groan, followed by the dull sound of a heavy fall. everybody started up.the duchess stood motionless in horror. and with fear in his eyes, lord henry rushed throughthe flapping palms to find dorian gray lying
face downwards on the tiled floor in a deathlikeswoon. he was carried at once into the blue drawing-roomand laid upon one of the sofas. after a short time, he came to himself and looked roundwith a dazed expression. "what has happened?" he asked. "oh! i remember.am i safe here, harry?" he began to tremble. "my dear dorian," answered lord henry, "youmerely fainted. that was all. you must have overtired yourself. you had better not comedown to dinner. i will take your place." "no, i will come down," he said, strugglingto his feet. "i would rather come down. i must not be alone." he went to his room and dressed. there wasa wild recklessness of gaiety in his manner
as he sat at table, but now and then a thrillof terror ran through him when he remembered that, pressed against the window of the conservatory,like a white handkerchief, he had seen the face of james vane watching him. chapter 18 the next day he did not leave the house, and,indeed, spent most of the time in his own room, sick with a wild terror of dying, andyet indifferent to life itself. the consciousness of being hunted, snared, tracked down, hadbegun to dominate him. if the tapestry did but tremble in the wind, he shook. the deadleaves that were blown against the leaded panes seemed to him like his own wasted resolutionsand wild regrets. when he closed his eyes,
he saw again the sailor's face peering throughthe mist-stained glass, and horror seemed once more to lay its hand upon his heart. but perhaps it had been only his fancy thathad called vengeance out of the night and set the hideous shapes of punishment beforehim. actual life was chaos, but there was something terribly logical in the imagination.it was the imagination that set remorse to dog the feet of sin. it was the imaginationthat made each crime bear its misshapen brood. in the common world of fact the wicked werenot punished, nor the good rewarded. success was given to the strong, failure thrust uponthe weak. that was all. besides, had any stranger been prowling round the house, he would havebeen seen by the servants or the keepers.
had any foot-marks been found on the flower-beds,the gardeners would have reported it. yes, it had been merely fancy. sibyl vane's brotherhad not come back to kill him. he had sailed away in his ship to founder in some wintersea. from him, at any rate, he was safe. why, the man did not know who he was, could notknow who he was. the mask of youth had saved him. and yet if it had been merely an illusion,how terrible it was to think that conscience could raise such fearful phantoms, and givethem visible form, and make them move before one! what sort of life would his be if, dayand night, shadows of his crime were to peer at him from silent corners, to mock him fromsecret places, to whisper in his ear as he
sat at the feast, to wake him with icy fingersas he lay asleep! as the thought crept through his brain, he grew pale with terror, and theair seemed to him to have become suddenly colder. oh! in what a wild hour of madnesshe had killed his friend! how ghastly the mere memory of the scene! he saw it all again.each hideous detail came back to him with added horror. out of the black cave of time,terrible and swathed in scarlet, rose the image of his sin. when lord henry came inat six o'clock, he found him crying as one whose heart will break. it was not till the third day that he venturedto go out. there was something in the clear, pine-scented air of that winter morning thatseemed to bring him back his joyousness and
his ardour for life. but it was not merelythe physical conditions of environment that had caused the change. his own nature hadrevolted against the excess of anguish that had sought to maim and mar the perfectionof its calm. with subtle and finely wrought temperaments it is always so. their strongpassions must either bruise or bend. they either slay the man, or themselves die. shallowsorrows and shallow loves live on. the loves and sorrows that are great are destroyed bytheir own plenitude. besides, he had convinced himself that he had been the victim of a terror-strickenimagination, and looked back now on his fears with something of pity and not a little ofcontempt. after breakfast, he walked with the duchessfor an hour in the garden and then drove across
the park to join the shooting-party. the crispfrost lay like salt upon the grass. the sky was an inverted cup of blue metal. a thinfilm of ice bordered the flat, reed-grown lake. at the corner of the pine-wood he caught sightof sir geoffrey clouston, the duchess's brother, jerking two spent cartridges out of his gun.he jumped from the cart, and having told the groom to take the mare home, made his waytowards his guest through the withered bracken and rough undergrowth. "have you had good sport, geoffrey?" he asked. "not very good, dorian. i think most of thebirds have gone to the open. i dare say it
will be better after lunch, when we get tonew ground." dorian strolled along by his side. the keenaromatic air, the brown and red lights that glimmered in the wood, the hoarse cries ofthe beaters ringing out from time to time, and the sharp snaps of the guns that followed,fascinated him and filled him with a sense of delightful freedom. he was dominated bythe carelessness of happiness, by the high indifference of joy. suddenly from a lumpy tussock of old grasssome twenty yards in front of them, with black-tipped ears erect and long hinder limbs throwingit forward, started a hare. it bolted for a thicket of alders. sir geoffrey put hisgun to his shoulder, but there was something
in the animal's grace of movement that strangelycharmed dorian gray, and he cried out at once, "don't shoot it, geoffrey. let it live." "what nonsense, dorian!" laughed his companion,and as the hare bounded into the thicket, he fired. there were two cries heard, thecry of a hare in pain, which is dreadful, the cry of a man in agony, which is worse. "good heavens! i have hit a beater!" exclaimedsir geoffrey. "what an ass the man was to get in front of the guns! stop shooting there!"he called out at the top of his voice. "a man is hurt." the head-keeper came running up with a stickin his hand.
"where, sir? where is he?" he shouted. atthe same time, the firing ceased along the line. "here," answered sir geoffrey angrily, hurryingtowards the thicket. "why on earth don't you keep your men back? spoiled my shooting forthe day." dorian watched them as they plunged into thealder-clump, brushing the lithe swinging branches aside. in a few moments they emerged, dragginga body after them into the sunlight. he turned away in horror. it seemed to him that misfortunefollowed wherever he went. he heard sir geoffrey ask if the man was really dead, and the affirmativeanswer of the keeper. the wood seemed to him to have become suddenly alive with faces.there was the trampling of myriad feet and
the low buzz of voices. a great copper-breastedpheasant came beating through the boughs overhead. after a few momentsâ€”that were to him, inhis perturbed state, like endless hours of painâ€”he felt a hand laid on his shoulder.he started and looked round. "dorian," said lord henry, "i had better tellthem that the shooting is stopped for to-day. it would not look well to go on." "i wish it were stopped for ever, harry,"he answered bitterly. "the whole thing is hideous and cruel. is the man ...?" he could not finish the sentence. "i am afraid so," rejoined lord henry. "hegot the whole charge of shot in his chest.
he must have died almost instantaneously.come; let us go home." they walked side by side in the directionof the avenue for nearly fifty yards without speaking. then dorian looked at lord henryand said, with a heavy sigh, "it is a bad omen, harry, a very bad omen." "what is?" asked lord henry. "oh! this accident,i suppose. my dear fellow, it can't be helped. it was the man's own fault. why did he getin front of the guns? besides, it is nothing to us. it is rather awkward for geoffrey,of course. it does not do to pepper beaters. it makes people think that one is a wild shot.and geoffrey is not; he shoots very straight. but there is no use talking about the matter."
dorian shook his head. "it is a bad omen,harry. i feel as if something horrible were going to happen to some of us. to myself,perhaps," he added, passing his hand over his eyes, with a gesture of pain. the elder man laughed. "the only horriblething in the world is ennui, dorian. that is the one sin for which there is no forgiveness.but we are not likely to suffer from it unless these fellows keep chattering about this thingat dinner. i must tell them that the subject is to be tabooed. as for omens, there is nosuch thing as an omen. destiny does not send us heralds. she is too wise or too cruel forthat. besides, what on earth could happen to you, dorian? you have everything in theworld that a man can want. there is no one
who would not be delighted to change placeswith you." "there is no one with whom i would not changeplaces, harry. don't laugh like that. i am telling you the truth. the wretched peasantwho has just died is better off than i am. i have no terror of death. it is the comingof death that terrifies me. its monstrous wings seem to wheel in the leaden air aroundme. good heavens! don't you see a man moving behind the trees there, watching me, waitingfor me?" lord henry looked in the direction in whichthe trembling gloved hand was pointing. "yes," he said, smiling, "i see the gardener waitingfor you. i suppose he wants to ask you what flowers you wish to have on the table to-night.how absurdly nervous you are, my dear fellow!
you must come and see my doctor, when we getback to town." dorian heaved a sigh of relief as he saw thegardener approaching. the man touched his hat, glanced for a moment at lord henry ina hesitating manner, and then produced a letter, which he handed to his master. "her gracetold me to wait for an answer," he murmured. dorian put the letter into his pocket. "tellher grace that i am coming in," he said, coldly. the man turned round and went rapidly in thedirection of the house. "how fond women are of doing dangerous things!"laughed lord henry. "it is one of the qualities in them that i admire most. a woman will flirtwith anybody in the world as long as other people are looking on."
"how fond you are of saying dangerous things,harry! in the present instance, you are quite astray. i like the duchess very much, buti don't love her." "and the duchess loves you very much, butshe likes you less, so you are excellently matched." "you are talking scandal, harry, and thereis never any basis for scandal." "the basis of every scandal is an immoralcertainty," said lord henry, lighting a cigarette. "you would sacrifice anybody, harry, for thesake of an epigram." "the world goes to the altar of its own accord,"was the answer. "i wish i could love," cried dorian gray witha deep note of pathos in his voice. "but i
seem to have lost the passion and forgottenthe desire. i am too much concentrated on myself. my own personality has become a burdento me. i want to escape, to go away, to forget. it was silly of me to come down here at all.i think i shall send a wire to harvey to have the yacht got ready. on a yacht one is safe." "safe from what, dorian? you are in some trouble.why not tell me what it is? you know i would help you." "i can't tell you, harry," he answered sadly."and i dare say it is only a fancy of mine. this unfortunate accident has upset me. ihave a horrible presentiment that something of the kind may happen to me."
"what nonsense!" "i hope it is, but i can't help feeling it.ah! here is the duchess, looking like artemis in a tailor-made gown. you see we have comeback, duchess." "i have heard all about it, mr. gray," sheanswered. "poor geoffrey is terribly upset. and it seems that you asked him not to shootthe hare. how curious!" "yes, it was very curious. i don't know whatmade me say it. some whim, i suppose. it looked the loveliest of little live things. but iam sorry they told you about the man. it is a hideous subject." "it is an annoying subject," broke in lordhenry. "it has no psychological value at all.
now if geoffrey had done the thing on purpose,how interesting he would be! i should like to know some one who had committed a realmurder." "how horrid of you, harry!" cried the duchess."isn't it, mr. gray? harry, mr. gray is ill again. he is going to faint." dorian drew himself up with an effort andsmiled. "it is nothing, duchess," he murmured; "my nerves are dreadfully out of order. thatis all. i am afraid i walked too far this morning. i didn't hear what harry said. wasit very bad? you must tell me some other time. i think i must go and lie down. you will excuseme, won't you?" they had reached the great flight of stepsthat led from the conservatory on to the terrace.
as the glass door closed behind dorian, lordhenry turned and looked at the duchess with his slumberous eyes. "are you very much inlove with him?" he asked. she did not answer for some time, but stoodgazing at the landscape. "i wish i knew," she said at last. he shook his head. "knowledge would be fatal.it is the uncertainty that charms one. a mist makes things wonderful." "one may lose one's way." "all ways end at the same point, my dear gladys." "what is that?"
"disillusion." "it was my debut in life," she sighed. "it came to you crowned." "i am tired of strawberry leaves." "they become you." "only in public." "you would miss them," said lord henry. "i will not part with a petal." "monmouth has ears."
"old age is dull of hearing." "has he never been jealous?" "i wish he had been." he glanced about as if in search of something."what are you looking for?" she inquired. "the button from your foil," he answered."you have dropped it." she laughed. "i have still the mask." "it makes your eyes lovelier," was his reply. she laughed again. her teeth showed like whiteseeds in a scarlet fruit. upstairs, in his own room, dorian gray waslying on a sofa, with terror in every tingling
fibre of his body. life had suddenly becometoo hideous a burden for him to bear. the dreadful death of the unlucky beater, shotin the thicket like a wild animal, had seemed to him to pre-figure death for himself also.he had nearly swooned at what lord henry had said in a chance mood of cynical jesting. at five o'clock he rang his bell for his servantand gave him orders to pack his things for the night-express to town, and to have thebrougham at the door by eight-thirty. he was determined not to sleep another night at selbyroyal. it was an ill-omened place. death walked there in the sunlight. the grass of the foresthad been spotted with blood. then he wrote a note to lord henry, tellinghim that he was going up to town to consult
his doctor and asking him to entertain hisguests in his absence. as he was putting it into the envelope, a knock came to the door,and his valet informed him that the head-keeper wished to see him. he frowned and bit hislip. "send him in," he muttered, after some moments' hesitation. as soon as the man entered, dorian pulledhis chequebook out of a drawer and spread it out before him. "i suppose you have come about the unfortunateaccident of this morning, thornton?" he said, taking up a pen. "yes, sir," answered the gamekeeper.
"was the poor fellow married? had he any peopledependent on him?" asked dorian, looking bored. "if so, i should not like them to be leftin want, and will send them any sum of money you may think necessary." "we don't know who he is, sir. that is whati took the liberty of coming to you about." "don't know who he is?" said dorian, listlessly."what do you mean? wasn't he one of your men?" "no, sir. never saw him before. seems likea sailor, sir." the pen dropped from dorian gray's hand, andhe felt as if his heart had suddenly stopped beating. "a sailor?" he cried out. "did yousay a sailor?" "yes, sir. he looks as if he had been a sortof sailor; tattooed on both arms, and that
kind of thing." "was there anything found on him?" said dorian,leaning forward and looking at the man with startled eyes. "anything that would tell hisname?" "some money, sirâ€”not much, and a six-shooter.there was no name of any kind. a decent-looking man, sir, but rough-like. a sort of sailorwe think." dorian started to his feet. a terrible hopefluttered past him. he clutched at it madly. "where is the body?" he exclaimed. "quick!i must see it at once." "it is in an empty stable in the home farm,sir. the folk don't like to have that sort of thing in their houses. they say a corpsebrings bad luck."
"the home farm! go there at once and meetme. tell one of the grooms to bring my horse round. no. never mind. i'll go to the stablesmyself. it will save time." in less than a quarter of an hour, doriangray was galloping down the long avenue as hard as he could go. the trees seemed to sweeppast him in spectral procession, and wild shadows to fling themselves across his path.once the mare swerved at a white gate-post and nearly threw him. he lashed her acrossthe neck with his crop. she cleft the dusky air like an arrow. the stones flew from herhoofs. at last he reached the home farm. two menwere loitering in the yard. he leaped from the saddle and threw the reins to one of them.in the farthest stable a light was glimmering.
something seemed to tell him that the bodywas there, and he hurried to the door and put his hand upon the latch. there he paused for a moment, feeling thathe was on the brink of a discovery that would either make or mar his life. then he thrustthe door open and entered. on a heap of sacking in the far corner waslying the dead body of a man dressed in a coarse shirt and a pair of blue trousers.a spotted handkerchief had been placed over the face. a coarse candle, stuck in a bottle,sputtered beside it. dorian gray shuddered. he felt that his couldnot be the hand to take the handkerchief away, and called out to one of the farm-servantsto come to him.
"take that thing off the face. i wish to seeit," he said, clutching at the door-post for support. when the farm-servant had done so, he steppedforward. a cry of joy broke from his lips. the man who had been shot in the thicket wasjames vane. he stood there for some minutes looking atthe dead body. as he rode home, his eyes were full of tears, for he knew he was safe. chapter 19 "there is no use your telling me that youare going to be good," cried lord henry, dipping his white fingers into a red copper bowl filledwith rose-water. "you are quite perfect. pray,
don't change." dorian gray shook his head. "no, harry, ihave done too many dreadful things in my life. i am not going to do any more. i began mygood actions yesterday." "where were you yesterday?" "in the country, harry. i was staying at alittle inn by myself." "my dear boy," said lord henry, smiling, "anybodycan be good in the country. there are no temptations there. that is the reason why people who liveout of town are so absolutely uncivilized. civilization is not by any means an easy thingto attain to. there are only two ways by which man can reach it. one is by being cultured,the other by being corrupt. country people
have no opportunity of being either, so theystagnate." "culture and corruption," echoed dorian. "ihave known something of both. it seems terrible to me now that they should ever be found together.for i have a new ideal, harry. i am going to alter. i think i have altered." "you have not yet told me what your good actionwas. or did you say you had done more than one?" asked his companion as he spilled intohis plate a little crimson pyramid of seeded strawberries and, through a perforated, shell-shapedspoon, snowed white sugar upon them. "i can tell you, harry. it is not a storyi could tell to any one else. i spared somebody. it sounds vain, but you understand what imean. she was quite beautiful and wonderfully
like sibyl vane. i think it was that whichfirst attracted me to her. you remember sibyl, don't you? how long ago that seems! well,hetty was not one of our own class, of course. she was simply a girl in a village. but ireally loved her. i am quite sure that i loved her. all during this wonderful may that wehave been having, i used to run down and see her two or three times a week. yesterday shemet me in a little orchard. the apple-blossoms kept tumbling down on her hair, and she waslaughing. we were to have gone away together this morning at dawn. suddenly i determinedto leave her as flowerlike as i had found her." "i should think the novelty of the emotionmust have given you a thrill of real pleasure,
dorian," interrupted lord henry. "but i canfinish your idyll for you. you gave her good advice and broke her heart. that was the beginningof your reformation." "harry, you are horrible! you mustn't saythese dreadful things. hetty's heart is not broken. of course, she cried and all that.but there is no disgrace upon her. she can live, like perdita, in her garden of mintand marigold." "and weep over a faithless florizel," saidlord henry, laughing, as he leaned back in his chair. "my dear dorian, you have the mostcuriously boyish moods. do you think this girl will ever be really content now withany one of her own rank? i suppose she will be married some day to a rough carter or agrinning ploughman. well, the fact of having
met you, and loved you, will teach her todespise her husband, and she will be wretched. from a moral point of view, i cannot say thati think much of your great renunciation. even as a beginning, it is poor. besides, how doyou know that hetty isn't floating at the present moment in some starlit mill-pond,with lovely water-lilies round her, like ophelia?" "i can't bear this, harry! you mock at everything,and then suggest the most serious tragedies. i am sorry i told you now. i don't care whatyou say to me. i know i was right in acting as i did. poor hetty! as i rode past the farmthis morning, i saw her white face at the window, like a spray of jasmine. don't letus talk about it any more, and don't try to persuade me that the first good action i havedone for years, the first little bit of self-sacrifice
i have ever known, is really a sort of sin.i want to be better. i am going to be better. tell me something about yourself. what isgoing on in town? i have not been to the club for days." "the people are still discussing poor basil'sdisappearance." "i should have thought they had got tiredof that by this time," said dorian, pouring himself out some wine and frowning slightly. "my dear boy, they have only been talkingabout it for six weeks, and the british public are really not equal to the mental strainof having more than one topic every three months. they have been very fortunate lately,however. they have had my own divorce-case
and alan campbell's suicide. now they havegot the mysterious disappearance of an artist. scotland yard still insists that the man inthe grey ulster who left for paris by the midnight train on the ninth of november waspoor basil, and the french police declare that basil never arrived in paris at all.i suppose in about a fortnight we shall be told that he has been seen in san francisco.it is an odd thing, but every one who disappears is said to be seen at san francisco. it mustbe a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world." "what do you think has happened to basil?"asked dorian, holding up his burgundy against the light and wondering how it was that hecould discuss the matter so calmly.
"i have not the slightest idea. if basil choosesto hide himself, it is no business of mine. if he is dead, i don't want to think abouthim. death is the only thing that ever terrifies me. i hate it." "why?" said the younger man wearily. "because," said lord henry, passing beneathhis nostrils the gilt trellis of an open vinaigrette box, "one can survive everything nowadaysexcept that. death and vulgarity are the only two facts in the nineteenth century that onecannot explain away. let us have our coffee in the music-room, dorian. you must play chopinto me. the man with whom my wife ran away played chopin exquisitely. poor victoria!i was very fond of her. the house is rather
lonely without her. of course, married lifeis merely a habit, a bad habit. but then one regrets the loss even of one's worst habits.perhaps one regrets them the most. they are such an essential part of one's personality." dorian said nothing, but rose from the table,and passing into the next room, sat down to the piano and let his fingers stray acrossthe white and black ivory of the keys. after the coffee had been brought in, he stopped,and looking over at lord henry, said, "harry, did it ever occur to you that basil was murdered?" lord henry yawned. "basil was very popular,and always wore a waterbury watch. why should he have been murdered? he was not clever enoughto have enemies. of course, he had a wonderful
genius for painting. but a man can paint likevelasquez and yet be as dull as possible. basil was really rather dull. he only interestedme once, and that was when he told me, years ago, that he had a wild adoration for youand that you were the dominant motive of his "i was very fond of basil," said dorian witha note of sadness in his voice. "but don't people say that he was murdered?" "oh, some of the papers do. it does not seemto me to be at all probable. i know there are dreadful places in paris, but basil wasnot the sort of man to have gone to them. he had no curiosity. it was his chief defect." "what would you say, harry, if i told youthat i had murdered basil?" said the younger
man. he watched him intently after he hadspoken. "i would say, my dear fellow, that you wereposing for a character that doesn't suit you. all crime is vulgar, just as all vulgarityis crime. it is not in you, dorian, to commit a murder. i am sorry if i hurt your vanityby saying so, but i assure you it is true. crime belongs exclusively to the lower orders.i don't blame them in the smallest degree. i should fancy that crime was to them whatart is to us, simply a method of procuring extraordinary sensations." "a method of procuring sensations? do youthink, then, that a man who has once committed a murder could possibly do the same crimeagain? don't tell me that."
"oh! anything becomes a pleasure if one doesit too often," cried lord henry, laughing. "that is one of the most important secretsof life. i should fancy, however, that murder is always a mistake. one should never do anythingthat one cannot talk about after dinner. but let us pass from poor basil. i wish i couldbelieve that he had come to such a really romantic end as you suggest, but i can't.i dare say he fell into the seine off an omnibus and that the conductor hushed up the scandal.yes: i should fancy that was his end. i see him lying now on his back under those dull-greenwaters, with the heavy barges floating over him and long weeds catching in his hair. doyou know, i don't think he would have done much more good work. during the last ten yearshis painting had gone off very much."
dorian heaved a sigh, and lord henry strolledacross the room and began to stroke the head of a curious java parrot, a large, grey-plumagedbird with pink crest and tail, that was balancing itself upon a bamboo perch. as his pointedfingers touched it, it dropped the white scurf of crinkled lids over black, glasslike eyesand began to sway backwards and forwards. "yes," he continued, turning round and takinghis handkerchief out of his pocket; "his painting had quite gone off. it seemed to me to havelost something. it had lost an ideal. when you and he ceased to be great friends, heceased to be a great artist. what was it separated you? i suppose he bored you. if so, he neverforgave you. it's a habit bores have. by the way, what has become of that wonderful portraithe did of you? i don't think i have ever seen
it since he finished it. oh! i remember yourtelling me years ago that you had sent it down to selby, and that it had got mislaidor stolen on the way. you never got it back? what a pity! it was really a masterpiece.i remember i wanted to buy it. i wish i had now. it belonged to basil's best period. sincethen, his work was that curious mixture of bad painting and good intentions that alwaysentitles a man to be called a representative british artist. did you advertise for it?you should." "i forget," said dorian. "i suppose i did.but i never really liked it. i am sorry i sat for it. the memory of the thing is hatefulto me. why do you talk of it? it used to remind me of those curious lines in some playâ€”hamlet,i thinkâ€”how do they run?â€”
"like the painting of a sorrow,a face without a heart." yes: that is what it was like." lord henry laughed. "if a man treats lifeartistically, his brain is his heart," he answered, sinking into an arm-chair. dorian gray shook his head and struck somesoft chords on the piano. "'like the painting of a sorrow,'" he repeated, "'a face withouta heart.'" the elder man lay back and looked at him withhalf-closed eyes. "by the way, dorian," he said after a pause, "'what does it profita man if he gain the whole world and loseâ€”how does the quotation run?â€”his own soul'?"
the music jarred, and dorian gray startedand stared at his friend. "why do you ask me that, harry?" "my dear fellow," said lord henry, elevatinghis eyebrows in surprise, "i asked you because i thought you might be able to give me ananswer. that is all. i was going through the park last sunday, and close by the marblearch there stood a little crowd of shabby-looking people listening to some vulgar street-preacher.as i passed by, i heard the man yelling out that question to his audience. it struck meas being rather dramatic. london is very rich in curious effects of that kind. a wet sunday,an uncouth christian in a mackintosh, a ring of sickly white faces under a broken roofof dripping umbrellas, and a wonderful phrase
flung into the air by shrill hysterical lipsâ€”itwas really very good in its way, quite a suggestion. i thought of telling the prophet that arthad a soul, but that man had not. i am afraid, however, he would not have understood me." "don't, harry. the soul is a terrible reality.it can be bought, and sold, and bartered away. it can be poisoned, or made perfect. thereis a soul in each one of us. i know it." "do you feel quite sure of that, dorian?" "quite sure." "ah! then it must be an illusion. the thingsone feels absolutely certain about are never true. that is the fatality of faith, and thelesson of romance. how grave you are! don't
be so serious. what have you or i to do withthe superstitions of our age? no: we have given up our belief in the soul. play me something.play me a nocturne, dorian, and, as you play, tell me, in a low voice, how you have keptyour youth. you must have some secret. i am only ten years older than you are, and i amwrinkled, and worn, and yellow. you are really wonderful, dorian. you have never looked morecharming than you do to-night. you remind me of the day i saw you first. you were rathercheeky, very shy, and absolutely extraordinary. you have changed, of course, but not in appearance.i wish you would tell me your secret. to get back my youth i would do anything in the world,except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable. youth! there is nothing likeit. it's absurd to talk of the ignorance of
youth. the only people to whose opinions ilisten now with any respect are people much younger than myself. they seem in front ofme. life has revealed to them her latest wonder. as for the aged, i always contradict the aged.i do it on principle. if you ask them their opinion on something that happened yesterday,they solemnly give you the opinions current in 1820, when people wore high stocks, believedin everything, and knew absolutely nothing. how lovely that thing you are playing is!i wonder, did chopin write it at majorca, with the sea weeping round the villa and thesalt spray dashing against the panes? it is marvellously romantic. what a blessing itis that there is one art left to us that is not imitative! don't stop. i want music to-night.it seems to me that you are the young apollo
and that i am marsyas listening to you. ihave sorrows, dorian, of my own, that even you know nothing of. the tragedy of old ageis not that one is old, but that one is young. i am amazed sometimes at my own sincerity.ah, dorian, how happy you are! what an exquisite life you have had! you have drunk deeply ofeverything. you have crushed the grapes against your palate. nothing has been hidden fromyou. and it has all been to you no more than the sound of music. it has not marred you.you are still the same." "i am not the same, harry." "yes, you are the same. i wonder what therest of your life will be. don't spoil it by renunciations. at present you are a perfecttype. don't make yourself incomplete. you
are quite flawless now. you need not shakeyour head: you know you are. besides, dorian, don't deceive yourself. life is not governedby will or intention. life is a question of nerves, and fibres, and slowly built-up cellsin which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. you may fancy yourself safeand think yourself strong. but a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particularperfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgottenpoem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceasedto playâ€”i tell you, dorian, that it is on things like these that our lives depend. browningwrites about that somewhere; but our own senses will imagine them for us. there are momentswhen the odour of lilas blanc passes suddenly
across me, and i have to live the strangestmonth of my life over again. i wish i could change places with you, dorian. the worldhas cried out against us both, but it has always worshipped you. it always will worshipyou. you are the type of what the age is searching for, and what it is afraid it has found. iam so glad that you have never done anything, never carved a statue, or painted a picture,or produced anything outside of yourself! life has been your art. you have set yourselfto music. your days are your sonnets." dorian rose up from the piano and passed hishand through his hair. "yes, life has been exquisite," he murmured, "but i am not goingto have the same life, harry. and you must not say these extravagant things to me. youdon't know everything about me. i think that
if you did, even you would turn from me. youlaugh. don't laugh." "why have you stopped playing, dorian? goback and give me the nocturne over again. look at that great, honey-coloured moon thathangs in the dusky air. she is waiting for you to charm her, and if you play she willcome closer to the earth. you won't? let us go to the club, then. it has been a charmingevening, and we must end it charmingly. there is some one at white's who wants immenselyto know youâ€”young lord poole, bournemouth's eldest son. he has already copied your neckties,and has begged me to introduce him to you. he is quite delightful and rather remindsme of you." "i hope not," said dorian with a sad lookin his eyes. "but i am tired to-night, harry.
i shan't go to the club. it is nearly eleven,and i want to go to bed early." "do stay. you have never played so well asto-night. there was something in your touch that was wonderful. it had more expressionthan i had ever heard from it before." "it is because i am going to be good," heanswered, smiling. "i am a little changed already." "you cannot change to me, dorian," said lordhenry. "you and i will always be friends." "yet you poisoned me with a book once. i shouldnot forgive that. harry, promise me that you will never lend that book to any one. it doesharm." "my dear boy, you are really beginning tomoralize. you will soon be going about like
the converted, and the revivalist, warningpeople against all the sins of which you have grown tired. you are much too delightful todo that. besides, it is no use. you and i are what we are, and will be what we willbe. as for being poisoned by a book, there is no such thing as that. art has no influenceupon action. it annihilates the desire to act. it is superbly sterile. the books thatthe world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame. that is all. butwe won't discuss literature. come round to-morrow. i am going to ride at eleven. we might gotogether, and i will take you to lunch afterwards with lady branksome. she is a charming woman,and wants to consult you about some tapestries she is thinking of buying. mind you come.or shall we lunch with our little duchess?
she says she never sees you now. perhaps youare tired of gladys? i thought you would be. her clever tongue gets on one's nerves. well,in any case, be here at eleven." "must i really come, harry?" "certainly. the park is quite lovely now.i don't think there have been such lilacs since the year i met you." "very well. i shall be here at eleven," saiddorian. "good night, harry." as he reached the door, he hesitated for a moment, as ifhe had something more to say. then he sighed and went out. chapter 20
it was a lovely night, so warm that he threwhis coat over his arm and did not even put his silk scarf round his throat. as he strolledhome, smoking his cigarette, two young men in evening dress passed him. he heard oneof them whisper to the other, "that is dorian gray." he remembered how pleased he used tobe when he was pointed out, or stared at, or talked about. he was tired of hearing hisown name now. half the charm of the little village where he had been so often latelywas that no one knew who he was. he had often told the girl whom he had lured to love himthat he was poor, and she had believed him. he had told her once that he was wicked, andshe had laughed at him and answered that wicked people were always very old and very ugly.what a laugh she had!â€”just like a thrush
singing. and how pretty she had been in hercotton dresses and her large hats! she knew nothing, but she had everything that he hadlost. when he reached home, he found his servantwaiting up for him. he sent him to bed, and threw himself down on the sofa in the library,and began to think over some of the things that lord henry had said to him. was it really true that one could never change?he felt a wild longing for the unstained purity of his boyhoodâ€”his rose-white boyhood, aslord henry had once called it. he knew that he had tarnished himself, filled his mindwith corruption and given horror to his fancy; that he had been an evil influence to others,and had experienced a terrible joy in being
so; and that of the lives that had crossedhis own, it had been the fairest and the most full of promise that he had brought to shame.but was it all irretrievable? was there no hope for him? ah! in what a monstrous moment of pride andpassion he had prayed that the portrait should bear the burden of his days, and he keep theunsullied splendour of eternal youth! all his failure had been due to that. better forhim that each sin of his life had brought its sure swift penalty along with it. therewas purification in punishment. not "forgive us our sins" but "smite us for our iniquities"should be the prayer of man to a most just god.
the curiously carved mirror that lord henryhad given to him, so many years ago now, was standing on the table, and the white-limbedcupids laughed round it as of old. he took it up, as he had done on that night of horrorwhen he had first noted the change in the fatal picture, and with wild, tear-dimmedeyes looked into its polished shield. once, some one who had terribly loved him had writtento him a mad letter, ending with these idolatrous words: "the world is changed because you aremade of ivory and gold. the curves of your lips rewrite history." the phrases came backto his memory, and he repeated them over and over to himself. then he loathed his own beauty,and flinging the mirror on the floor, crushed it into silver splinters beneath his heel.it was his beauty that had ruined him, his
beauty and the youth that he had prayed for.but for those two things, his life might have been free from stain. his beauty had beento him but a mask, his youth but a mockery. what was youth at best? a green, an unripetime, a time of shallow moods, and sickly thoughts. why had he worn its livery? youthhad spoiled him. it was better not to think of the past. nothingcould alter that. it was of himself, and of his own future, that he had to think. jamesvane was hidden in a nameless grave in selby churchyard. alan campbell had shot himselfone night in his laboratory, but had not revealed the secret that he had been forced to know.the excitement, such as it was, over basil hallward's disappearance would soon pass away.it was already waning. he was perfectly safe
there. nor, indeed, was it the death of basilhallward that weighed most upon his mind. it was the living death of his own soul thattroubled him. basil had painted the portrait that had marred his life. he could not forgivehim that. it was the portrait that had done everything. basil had said things to him thatwere unbearable, and that he had yet borne with patience. the murder had been simplythe madness of a moment. as for alan campbell, his suicide had been his own act. he had chosento do it. it was nothing to him. a new life! that was what he wanted. thatwas what he was waiting for. surely he had begun it already. he had spared one innocentthing, at any rate. he would never again tempt innocence. he would be good.
as he thought of hetty merton, he began towonder if the portrait in the locked room had changed. surely it was not still so horribleas it had been? perhaps if his life became pure, he would be able to expel every signof evil passion from the face. perhaps the signs of evil had already gone away. he wouldgo and look. he took the lamp from the table and creptupstairs. as he unbarred the door, a smile of joy flitted across his strangely young-lookingface and lingered for a moment about his lips. yes, he would be good, and the hideous thingthat he had hidden away would no longer be a terror to him. he felt as if the load hadbeen lifted from him already. he went in quietly, locking the door behindhim, as was his custom, and dragged the purple
hanging from the portrait. a cry of pain andindignation broke from him. he could see no change, save that in the eyes there was alook of cunning and in the mouth the curved wrinkle of the hypocrite. the thing was stillloathsomeâ€”more loathsome, if possible, than beforeâ€”and the scarlet dew that spottedthe hand seemed brighter, and more like blood newly spilled. then he trembled. had it beenmerely vanity that had made him do his one good deed? or the desire for a new sensation,as lord henry had hinted, with his mocking laugh? or that passion to act a part thatsometimes makes us do things finer than we are ourselves? or, perhaps, all these? andwhy was the red stain larger than it had been? it seemed to have crept like a horrible diseaseover the wrinkled fingers. there was blood
on the painted feet, as though the thing haddrippedâ€”blood even on the hand that had not held the knife. confess? did it mean thathe was to confess? to give himself up and be put to death? he laughed. he felt thatthe idea was monstrous. besides, even if he did confess, who would believe him? therewas no trace of the murdered man anywhere. everything belonging to him had been destroyed.he himself had burned what had been below-stairs. the world would simply say that he was mad.they would shut him up if he persisted in his story.... yet it was his duty to confess,to suffer public shame, and to make public atonement. there was a god who called uponmen to tell their sins to earth as well as to heaven. nothing that he could do wouldcleanse him till he had told his own sin.
his sin? he shrugged his shoulders. the deathof basil hallward seemed very little to him. he was thinking of hetty merton. for it wasan unjust mirror, this mirror of his soul that he was looking at. vanity? curiosity?hypocrisy? had there been nothing more in his renunciation than that? there had beensomething more. at least he thought so. but who could tell? ... no. there had been nothingmore. through vanity he had spared her. in hypocrisy he had worn the mask of goodness.for curiosity's sake he had tried the denial of self. he recognized that now. but this murderâ€”was it to dog him all hislife? was he always to be burdened by his past? was he really to confess? never. therewas only one bit of evidence left against
him. the picture itselfâ€”that was evidence.he would destroy it. why had he kept it so long? once it had given him pleasure to watchit changing and growing old. of late he had felt no such pleasure. it had kept him awakeat night. when he had been away, he had been filled with terror lest other eyes shouldlook upon it. it had brought melancholy across his passions. its mere memory had marred manymoments of joy. it had been like conscience to him. yes, it had been conscience. he woulddestroy it. he looked round and saw the knife that hadstabbed basil hallward. he had cleaned it many times, till there was no stain left uponit. it was bright, and glistened. as it had killed the painter, so it would kill the painter'swork, and all that that meant. it would kill
the past, and when that was dead, he wouldbe free. it would kill this monstrous soul-life, and without its hideous warnings, he wouldbe at peace. he seized the thing, and stabbed the picture with it. there was a cry heard, and a crash. the crywas so horrible in its agony that the frightened servants woke and crept out of their rooms.two gentlemen, who were passing in the square below, stopped and looked up at the greathouse. they walked on till they met a policeman and brought him back. the man rang the bellseveral times, but there was no answer. except for a light in one of the top windows, thehouse was all dark. after a time, he went away and stood in an adjoining portico andwatched.
"whose house is that, constable?" asked theelder of the two gentlemen. "mr. dorian gray's, sir," answered the policeman. they looked at each other, as they walkedaway, and sneered. one of them was sir henry ashton's uncle. inside, in the servants' part of the house,the half-clad domestics were talking in low whispers to each other. old mrs. leaf wascrying and wringing her hands. francis was as pale as death. after about a quarter of an hour, he got thecoachman and one of the footmen and crept upstairs. they knocked, but there was no reply.they called out. everything was still. finally,
after vainly trying to force the door, theygot on the roof and dropped down on to the balcony. the windows yielded easilyâ€”theirbolts were old. when they entered, they found hanging uponthe wall a splendid portrait of their master as they had last seen him, in all the wonderof his exquisite youth and beauty. lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress,with a knife in his heart. he was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. it wasnot till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was.Flower Coloring Carnations Demonstrates What Type Of Inheritance