The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde by Nick Stafford.

RTOOW(We have not discussed this in the group but it was a ‘spin off’ from one of our meetings and this review is in a personal capacity.)

This radio play is based on the book “Irish Peacock and Scarlet Marquess” by Merlin Holland (Oscar’s grandson).

Wilde naturally assumes that he can take on the man who invented the rules of boxing and win. His replies are amusing but also arrogant, as if he is looking down his nose at lesser mortals such as the judge, the barristers and the jury. Some see Wilde as a hero but many were appalled at the futility of such remarks in the face of his ever-increasingly inevitable fate.

Although Wilde has been adopted as a gay hero, he was unwaveringly adamant in his denial of his own homosexuality. It is a harsh and sad reflection of the ignorance of the times. The repetition of the charge of ‘sodomy’ is owing to the fact that the term ‘homosexuality’ did not exist at this point, and Wilde’s trial was one factor in its appearance in the English language.

In 1895, Bosie’s father, the Marquess of Queensberry, delivered a note to the Albemarle Club addressed to “Oscar Wilde posing as somdomite.” (sic) With Bosie’s encouragement, Wilde sued the Marquess for libel. He not only lost but he was tried twice for “gross indecency” and sent to prison with two years’ hard labor. With this publication of the uncensored trial transcripts, readers can for the first time in more than a century hear Wilde at his most articulate and brilliant. The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde documents an alarmingly swift fall from grace; it is also a supremely moving testament to the right to live, work, and love as one’s heart dictates. I have drawn heavily, below, from a transcript of the trial here but it’s worth reading the whole document.

Queensberry’s letters to Bosie, which are quite hateful – I have received your postcard, which I presume is from you, but as the writing is utterly unreadable [true] to me have been unable to make out hardly one sentence….My friend I am staying with has made out some of your letter, and wished to read it to me, but I declined to hear a word.  However,  according to his advice I shall keep it as a specimen, and also as a  protection in case I ever feel tempted to give you the thrashing you really deserve.

From another letter to Bosie: If you are my son, it is only confirming proof to me, if I needed any, how right I was to face every horror and misery I have done rather than run the risk of bringing more creatures into the world like yourself, and that was the entire and only reason of my breaking with your mother as a wife, so intensely was I dissatisfied with her as the mother of you children, and particularly yourself, whom, when quite a baby, I cried over you the bitterest tears a man ever shed, that I had brought such a creature into this world, and unwittingly had committed such a crime.

Having once got the original letter into his possession, Mr. Wilde kept it.  Now, here is the letter itself:

My Own Boy,

Your sonnet is quite lovely, and it is a marvel that those red rose-leaf lips of yours should have been made no less for music of song than for madness of kisses.  Your slim gilt soul walks between passion and poetry.  I know Hyacinthus, whom Apollo loved so madly, was you in Greek days.
Why are you alone in London, and when do you go to Salisbury?  Do go there to cool your hands in the grey twilight of Gothic things, and come here whenever you like.  It is a lovely place–it only lacks you; but go to-Salisbury first.
Always, with undying love,

The words of that letter, gentlemen, may appear extravagant to those in the habit of writing commercial correspondence (Laughter), or those ordinary letters which the necessities of life force upon one every day; but Mr. Wilde is a poet, and the letter is considered by him as a prose sonnet, and one of which he is in no way ashamed and is prepared to produce anywhere as the expression of true poetic feeling, and with no relation whatever to the hateful and repulsive suggestions put to it in the plea in this case.

In December, 1894, was published a certain immoral work in the form of The Chameleon, relating to the practices of persons of unnatural habits; and that Mr. Wilde had joined in procuring the publication of The Chameleon, with his name on it, as the principal contributor, under the title of “Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young.”  Those are two very gross allegations.  I defy my learned friend to suggest from these contributions anything hostile to the character of Mr. Wilde.  The Chameleon was numbered Volume I, Number I; it was published by Messrs.  Gay & Bird, of 5 Chandos Street; and only one hundred copies were to be printed.  Mr. Wilde did contribute “Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young,” and on the first three pages there is a certain number of epigrammatical statements such as those which many of us have enjoyed when being entertained by such a play as A Woman of No Importance.  They give brilliancy and effect to dialogue and they even supply wisdom in a witty form.  Mr. Wilde is not responsible for the rest of the magazine.  It was edited by an Oxford man, who asked Mr. Wilde to contribute.  Directly Mr. Wilde saw the magazine he noticed there was a story in it called  “The Priest and the Acolyte,” which is a disgrace to literature, which it is amazing that anybody wrote and still more amazing that anybody allowed to be published under his name.  Directly Mr. Wilde saw that disgraceful and abominable story he communicated with the editor, he indignantly insisted on the copies being suppressed and the magazine was withdrawn.  It is strange indeed, then, to find that publication put upon the particulars as justifying the charge against Mr. Wilde.

W–I felt that this was the man who wanted money from me.  I said, “I suppose you have come about my beautiful letter to Lord Alfred Douglas.  If you had not been so foolish as to send a copy of it to Mr. Beerbohm Tree, I would gladly have paid you a very large sum of money for the letter, as I consider it to be a work of art.”  He said, “A very curious construction can be put on that letter.”  I said in reply, “Art is rarely intelligible to the criminal classes.”  He said, “A man offered me £6o for it.”  I said to him, “If you take my advice you will go to that man and sell my letter to him for £6o.  I myself have never received so large a sum for any prose work of that length; but I am glad to find that there is some one in England who considers a letter of mine worth £6o.”‘  He was somewhat taken aback by my manner, perhaps, and said, “The man is out of town.”  I replied, “He is sure to come back,” and I advised him to get the £6o.  He then changed his manner a little, saying that he had not a single penny, and that he had been on many occasions trying to find me.  I said that I could not guarantee his cab expenses, but that I would gladly give him half-a-sovereign.  He took the money and went away.

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

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

Carson: Did you ever kiss him?
Wilde: Oh, no, never in my life; he was a peculiarly plain boy.

Carson: He was what?
Wilde: I said I thought him unfortunately – his appearance was so very unfortunately – very ugly – I mean – I pitied him for it.
Carson: Very ugly?
Wilde: Yes.
Carson: Do you say that in support of your statement that you never kissed him?

 Re – The Preface to the Picture of Dorian Gray:

Those who find the ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

 C–It is suggested that you are responsible for the publication of the magazine The Chameleon, on the front page of which some aphorisms of yours appear.  Beyond sending that contribution, had you anything to do with the preparation or publication of that magazine?

W–No; nothing whatever.

C–Until you saw this number of The Chameleon, did you know anything about the story “The Priest and the Acolyte”?

W–Nothing at all.

C–Upon seeing that story in print, did you communicate with the editor?

W–The editor came to see me at the Cafe Royal to speak to me about it.

C–Did you approve of the story of “The Priest and the Acolyte”?

W–I thought it bad and indecent, and I strongly disapproved of it.

C– Was that disapproval expressed to the editor?


Edward Carson–You stated that your age was thirty-nine.  I think you are over forty.  You were born on 16th October, 1854?
Oscar Wilde–I have no wish to pose as being young.  I am thirty-nine or forty.  You have my certificate and that settles the matter.
C–But being born in 1854 makes you more than forty?
W–Ah!  Very well
C–What age is Lord Alfred Douglas?
W–Lord Alfred Douglas is about twenty-four, and was between twenty and twenty-one years of age when I first knew him.  Down to the time of the interview in Tite Street, Lord Queensberry was friendly.  I did not receive a letter on 3rd April in which Lord Queensberry desired that my acquaintance with his son should cease.  After the interview I had no doubt that such was Lord Queensberry’s desire.  Notwithstanding Lord  Queensberry’s protest, my intimacy with Lord Alfred Douglas has continued down to the present moment.
C– You have stayed with him at many places?
C–At Oxford?  Brighton on several occasions?  Worthing?
C–And in various hotels in London?
W–Yes; at one in Albemarle Street, and in Dover Street, and at the Savoy.
C–Did you ever take rooms yourself in addition to your house in Tite Street?
W–Yes; at 10 and 11 St. James’s Place.  I kept the rooms from the month of October, 1893, to the end of March, 1894.  Lord Alfred Douglas has stayed in those chambers, which are not far from Piccadilly.  I have been abroad with him several times and even lately to Monte Carlo.  With reference to the writings which have been mentioned, it was not at Brighton, in 20 King’s Road, that I wrote my article for The Chameleon.  I observed that there were also contributions from Lord Alfred Douglas, but these were not written at Brighton.  I have seen them.  I thought them exceedingly beautiful poems.  One was “In Praise of Shame” and the other “Two Loves.”
C– These loves.  They were two boys?
C– One boy calls his love “true love,” and the other boy calls his love “shame”?
C– Did you think that made any improper suggestion?
W–No, none whatever.
C– You read “The Priest and the Acolyte”?
C– You have no doubt whatever that that was an improper story?
W–From the literary point of view it was highly improper.  It is impossible for a man of literature to judge it otherwise; by literature, meaning treatment, selection of subject, and the like.  I thought the treatment rotten and the subject rotten.
C–You are of opinion, I believe, that there is no such thing as an immoral book?
C–May I take it that you think “The Priest and the Acolyte” was not immoral?
W–It was worse; it was badly written.
C–Was not the story that of a priest who fell in love with a boy who served him at the altar, and was discovered by the rector in the priest’s room, and a scandal arose?
W–I have read it only once, in last November, and nothing will induce me to read it again.  I don’t care for it.  It doesn’t interest me…
C–Do you think the story blasphemous?
W–I think it violated every artistic canon of beauty.
C– I wish to know whether you thought the story blasphemous?
W–The story filled me with disgust.  The end was wrong.
C–Answer the question, sir.  Did you or did you not consider the story blasphemous?
W–I thought it disgusting.
C–I am satisfied with that.  You know that when the priest in the story administers poison to the boy, he uses the words of the sacrament of the Church of England?
W–That I entirely forgot.
C–Do you consider that blasphemous?
W–I think it is horrible.  “Blasphemous” is not a word of mine.

[Carson then read from “The Priest and the Acolyte.”]:

Just before the consecration the priest took a tiny phial from the pocket of his cassock, blessed it, and poured the contents into the chalice.
When the time came for him to receive from the chalice, he raised it to his lips, but did not taste of it.
He administered the sacred wafer to the child, and then he took his hand; he turned towards him; but when he saw the light in the beautiful face he turned again to the crucifix with a low moan.  For one instant his courage failed him; then he turned to the little fellow again, and held the chalice to his lips:
“The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.”

C–Do you approve of those words?
W—I think them disgusting, perfect twaddle….I strongly objected to the whole story.  I took no steps to express disapproval of The Chameleon because I think it would have been beneath my dignity as a man of letters to associate myself with an Oxford undergraduate’s productions.  I am aware that the magazine may have been circulated among the undergraduates of Oxford.  I do not believe that any book or work of art ever had any effect whatever on morality.
C–Am I right in saying that you do not consider the effect in creating morality or immorality?
W—Certainly, I do not.
C–So far as your works are concerned, you pose as not being concerned about morality or immorality?
W—I do not know whether you use the word “pose” in any particular sense.
C–It is a favorite word of your own?
W—Is it?  I have no pose in this matter.  In writing a play or a book, I am concerned entirely with literature—that is, with art.  I aim not at doing good or evil, but in trying to make a thing that will have some quality of beauty.
C–Listen, sir.  Here is one of the “Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young” which you contributed: “Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others.”  You think that true?
W—I rarely think that anything I write is true.
C–Did you say “rarely”?
W–I said “rarely.” I might have said “never”—not true in the actual sense of the word.
C–“Religions die when they arc proved to be true.”  Is that true?
W—Yes; I hold that.  It is a suggestion towards a philosophy of the absorption of religions by science, but it is too big a question to go into now.
C–Do you think that was a safe axiom to put forward for the philosophy of the young?
W–Most stimulating.
C–“If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out”?
W—That is a pleasing paradox, but I do not set very high store on it as an axiom.
C– Is it good for the young?
W—Anything is good that stimulates thought in whatever age.
C–Whether moral or immoral?
W—There is no such thing as morality or immorality in thought.  There is immoral emotion.
C–“Pleasure is thc only thing one should live for”?
W—I think that the realization of oneself is the prime aim of life, and to realize oneself through pleasure is finer than to do so through pain.  I am, on that point, entirely on the side of the ancients—the Greeks.  It is a pagan idea.
C–“A truth ceases to be true when more than one person believes in it”?
W—Perfectly.  That would be my metaphysical definition of truth; something so personal that the same truth could never be appreciated by two minds.
C–“The condition of perfection is idleness: the aim of perfection is youth”?
W—Oh, yes; I think so.  Half of it is true.  The life of contemplation is the highest life, and so recognized by the philosopher.
C–“There is something tragic about the enormous number of young men there are in England at the present moment who start life with perfect profiles, and end by adopting some useful profession”?
W—I should think that the young have enough sense of humor.
C–You think that is humorous?
W—I think it is an amusing paradox, an amusing play on words….
C–This is in your introduction to Dorian Gray: “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book.  Books are well written, or badly written.”  That expresses your view?
W—My view on art, yes.
C–Then, I take it, that no matter how immoral a book may be, if it is well written, it is, in your opinion, a good book?
W—Yes, if it were well written so as to produce a sense of beauty, which is the highest sense of which a human being can be capable.  If it were badly written, it would produce a sense of disgust.
C–Then a well-written book putting forward perverted moral views may be a good book?
W—No work of art ever puts forward views.  Views belong to people who are not artists.
C–A perverted novel might be a good book?
W–I don’t know what you mean by a “perverted” novel.
C–Then I will suggest Dorian Gray as open to the interpretation of being such a novel?
W–That could only be to brutes and illiterates.  The views of Philistines on art are incalculably stupid.
C–An illiterate person reading Dorian Gray might consider it such a novel?
W—The views of illiterates on art are unaccountable.  I am concerned only with my view of art.  I don’t care twopence what other people think of it.
C–The majority of persons would come under your definition of Philistines and illiterates?
W—I have found wonderful exceptions.
C–Do you think that the majority of people live up to the position you are giving us?
W—I am afraid they are not cultivated enough.
C–Not cultivated enough to draw the distinction between a good book and a bad book?
W—Certainly not.
C–The affection and love of the artist of Dorian Gray might lead an ordinary individual to believe that it might have a certain tendency?
W—I have no knowledge of the views of ordinary individuals.
C–You did not prevent the ordinary individual from buying your book?
W—I have never discouraged him.

Unconsciously he defines for me the lines of a fresh school, a school that is to have in itself all the passion of the romantic spirit, all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek.  The harmony of soul and body—how much that is!  We in our madness have separated the two, and have invented a realism that is bestial, an ideality that is void.  Harry! Harry!  if you only knew what Dorian Gray is to me!  You remember that landscape of mine, for which Agnew offered me such a huge 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.”
“Basil, this is quite wonderful!  I must see Dorian Gray.”

C–Now I ask you, Mr. Wilde, do you consider that that description of the feeling of one man towards a youth just grown up was a proper or an improper feeling?
W—I think it is the most perfect description of what an artist would feel on meeting a beautiful personality that was in some way necessary to his art and life.
C–You think that is a feeling a young man should have towards another?
W—Yes, as an artist.

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.”

C—Do you mean to say that that passage describes the natural feeling of one man towards another?
W—It would be the influence produced by a beautiful personality.
C–A beautiful person?
W—I said a “beautiful personality.”  You can describe it as you like.  Dorian Gray’s was a most remarkable personality.
C–May I take it that you, as an artist, have never known the feeling described here?
W—I have never allowed any personality to dominate my art.
C–Then you have never known the feeling you described?
W—No.  It is a work of fiction.
C–So far as you are concerned you have no experience as to its being a natural feeling?
W—I think it is perfectly natural for any artist to admire intensely and love a young man.  It is an incident in the life of almost every artist.
C–But let us go over it phrase by phrase.  “I quite admit that I adored you madly.” What do you say to that?  Have you ever adored a young man madly?
W—No, not madly; I prefer love-that is a higher form.
C–Never mind about that.  Let us keep down to the level we are at now?
W—I have never given adoration to anybody except myself. (Loud laughter.)
C–I suppose you think that a very smart thing?
W—Not at all.
C–Then you have never had that feeling?
W—No.  The whole idea was borrowed from Shakespeare, I regret to say—yes, from Shakespeare’s sonnets.
C–I believe you have written an article to show that Shakespeare’s sonnets were suggestive of unnatural vice?
W—On the contrary I have written an article to show that they are not.”  I objected to such a perversion being put upon Shakespeare.
C–“I have adored you extravagantly”?—Do you mean financially?
W–Oh, yes, financially!
C–Do you think we are talking about finance?
W—I don’t know what you are talking about.
C–Don’t you?  Well, I hope I shall make myself very plain before I have done.  “I was jealous of every one to whom you spoke.”  Have you ever been jealous of a young man?
W—Never in my life.
C–“I wanted to have you all to myself.”  Did you ever have that feeling?
W—No; I should consider it an intense nuisance, an intense bore.
C–“I grew afraid that the world would know of my idolatry.”  Why should he grow afraid that the world should know of it?
W–Because there are people in the world who cannot understand the intense devotion, affection, and admiration that an artist can feel for a wonderful and beautiful personality.  These are the conditions under which we live.  I regret them.
C–These unfortunate people, that have not the high understanding that you have, might put it down to something wrong?
W–Undoubtedly; to any point they chose.  I am not concerned with the ignorance of others….

Why is your friendship so fateful to young men?  There was that wretched boy in the Guards who committed suicide.  You were his great friend.  There was Sir Henry Ashton, who had to leave England with a tarnished name.  You and he were inseparable.  What about Adrian Singleton, and his dreadful end?  What about Lord Kent’s only son, and his career?  I met his father yesterday in St. James Street.  He seemed broken with shame and sorrow.  What about the young Duke of Perth?  What sort of life has he got now?  What gentleman would associate with him?  Dorian, Dorian, your reputation is infamous. . . .”

C—Does not this passage suggest a charge of unnatural vice?
W—It describes Dorian Gray as a man of very corrupt influence, though there is no statement as to the nature of the influence.  But as a matter of fact I do not think that one person influences another, nor do I think there is any bad influence in the world.
C–A man never corrupts a youth?
W—I think not.
C–Nothing could corrupt him?
W—If you are talking of separate ages.
C–No, sir, I am talking common sense.
W–I do not think one person influences another.
C–You don’t think that flattering a young man, making love to him, in fact, would be likely to corrupt him?
C–Where was Lord Alfred Douglas staying when you wrote that letter to him?
W—At the Savoy; and I was at Babbacombe, near Torquay.
C–It was a letter in answer to something he had sent you?
W—Yes, a poem.
C–Why should a man of your age address a boy nearly twenty years younger as “My own boy”?
W—I was fond of him.  I have always been fond of him.
C–Do you adore him?
W—No, but I have always liked him.  I think it is a beautiful letter.  It is a poem.  I was not writing an ordinary letter.  You might as well cross-examine me as to whether King Lear or a sonnet of Shakespeare was proper.
C–Apart from art, Mr. Wilde?
W—I cannot answer apart from art.
C–Suppose a man who was not an artist had written this letter, would you say it was a proper letter?
W—A man who was not. an artist could not have written that letter.
W—Because nobody but an artist could write it.  He certainly could not write the language unless he were a man of letters.
C–I can suggest, for the sake of your reputation, that there is nothing very wonderful in this “red rose-leaf lips of yours”?
W—A great deal depends on the way it is read.
C–“Your slim gilt soul walks between passion and poetry.”  Is that a beautiful phrase?
W—Not as you read it, Mr. Carson.  You read it very badly.
C–I do not profess to be an artist; and when I hear you give evidence, I am glad I am not—
Sir Edward Clarke—I don’t think my friend should talk like that.  (To witness)  Pray, do not criticize my friend’s reading again.
C—Is that not an exceptional letter?
W—It is unique, I should say.
C–Was that the ordinary way in which you carried on your correspondence?
W—No; but I have often written to Lord Alfred Douglas, though I never wrote to another young man in the same way.
C–Have you often written letters in the same style as this?
W—I don’t repeat myself in style.
C–Here is another letter which I believe you also wrote to Lord Alfred Douglas.  Will you read it?
W—No; I decline.  I don’t see why I should.
C–Then I will.

C–Did you ever kiss him?
W–Oh, dear no.  He was a peculiarly plain boy.  He was, unfortunately, extremely ugly.  I pitied him for it.
C–Was that the reason why you did not kiss him?
W–Oh, Mr. Carson, you are pertinently insolent.
C–Did you say that in support of your statement that you never kissed him?
W–No.  It is a childish question.
C–Did you ever put that forward as a reason why you never kissed the boy?
W–Not at all.
C–Why, sir, did you mention that this boy was extremely ugly?
W—For this reason.  If I were asked why I did not kiss a door-mat, I should say because I do not like to kiss door-mats.  I do not know why I mentioned that he was ugly, except that I was stung by the insolent question you put to me and the way you have insulted me throughout this hearing.  Am I to be cross-examined because I do not like it?
C–Why did you mention his ugliness?
W–It is ridiculous to imagine that any such thing could have occurred under any circumstances.
C–Then why did you mention his ugliness, I ask you?
W–Perhaps you insulted me by an insulting question.
C–Was that a reason why you should say the boy was ugly?–
[The witness began several answers almost inarticulately, and none of them he finished.  Carson’s repeated sharply: “Why?  Why?  Why did you add that?” At last the witness answered]:
W–You sting me and insult me and try to unnerve me; and at times one says things flippantly when one ought to speak more seriously.  I admit it.
C–Then you said it flippantly?
W–Oh, yes, it was a flippant answer. No indecencies ever took place between myself and Grainger.  I went down in June, 1893, to stay at a cottage at Goring.  I brought over Grainger as under-butler.  He had asked me to get him a situation.  I never on any occasion asked him to come into my bedroom.  I don’t know where the butler I had then is now.
C–Did you know a masseur at the Savoy named Antonio Migge?
W–Yes.  He used occasionally to massage me in the morning.  I stayed at the Savoy in March, 1893, but never on that occasion brought boys into my bedroom there.
C–Did you ever bring boys into your rooms at the hotel in Paris?
C–Or into your sitting-room?
W–What do you mean by boys?
C–Boys of eighteen or twenty?
W–Oh, yes; many called to see me.
C–Did any of them come late at night-twelve or one o’clock-and stay till four in the moming?
W–Certainly not.
C–Is it not true that there has been a scandal at the Savoy Hotel?
W—None whatever….

Justice Wills: Oscar Wilde and Alfred Taylor, the crime of which you have been convicted is so bad that one has to put stern restraint upon one’s self to prevent one’s self from describing, in language which I would rather not use, the sentiments which must rise in the breast of every man of honor who has heard the details of these two horrible trials.  That the jury has arrived at a correct verdict in this case I cannot persuade myself to entertain a shadow of a doubt; and I hope, at all events, that those who sometimes imagine that a judge is half-hearted in the cause of decency and morality because he takes care no prejudice shall enter into the case, may see that it is consistent at least with the utmost sense of indignation at the horrible charges brought home to both of you.

It is no use for me to address you.  People who can do these things must be dead to all sense of shame, and one cannot hope to produce any effect upon them.  It is the worst case I have ever tried.  that you, Taylor, kept a kind of male brothel it is impossible to doubt.  And that you, Wilde, have been the center of a circle of extensive corruption of the most hideous kind among young men, it is equally impossible to doubt.

I shall, under the circumstances, be expected to pass the severest sentence that the law allows.  In my judgment it it totally inadequate for a case such as this.  The sentence of the Court is that each of you be imprisoned and kept to hard labor for two years.

[Cries of “Oh! Oh!” and “Shame!”]

Wilde–And I?  May I say nothing, my Lord?


A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

A poet can survive everything but a misprint.

We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.

On George Bernard Shaw: An excellent man: he has no enemies, and none of his friends like him.

Hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing whatever to do.

Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.

Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it.

Truth, in the matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.

The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it.

I can resist everything except temptation. (Lord Darlington in Lady Windermere’s Fan)

Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it. (Lord Darlington in Lady Windermere’s Fan)

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. (Lord Darlington in Lady Windermere’s Fan)

What a pity that in life we only get our lessons when they are of no use to us. (Lady Windermere)

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes. (Mr Dumby)

The English country gentleman galloping after a fox — the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable. (Lord Illingworth)

To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.

Be yourself, everyone else is taken.

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