The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Chapter1

I The studio was filled with the rich odor of roses, and when the light summer wind sti rred amidst the trees of the garden there came throu gh th e open door the he avy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink- flowering thorn. From the corner of the div an of Persian saddle-bags on which he was lying, smoking, as usual, innumerable cigarettes, Lord Henry Wotton cou ld just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-colored blossoms of the laburnum, whose tremulous br anches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flame-like as theirs; and now and then the fantasti c shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curt ains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and maki ng him think of those pallid jade-faced painter s who, in an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness and motion. The sullen mur mur of the bees shouldering their way throug h the long unmown grass, or cir cling with monotonous insistence round the black-crockete d spires of the early June hollyhocks, s eemed to make the stillness 2 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray more oppres sive, and the dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ. In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty, and in front of it, some little dista nce away, was sitting the artist hi mself, Basil Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some years ago caused, at the time, such public excitement, and gave rise to so many strange conjectures. As he looked at the gracious and comely form he had so skilfully mirrored in his art, a smile of pleasure passed across his face, and seemed about to linger there. But he suddenly started up, and, closing his eyes, placed his fingers upon the lids, as though he sought to imprison within his brain some curious dream from which he feared he might awake. ?It is your best work, Basil, the best thing you have ever done,? said Lord Henry, la nguidly. ?You mus t certainly send it next year to the Grosvenor. The Academy is too large and too vulgar. The Grosvenor is the only place.? ?I don?t think I will send it anywhere,? he ans wered, tossi ng his h ead back in tha t odd w ay tha t used to make 3 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray his friends l augh at hi m at Oxford. ?No: I won?t send it anywhere.? Lord Henry elevated his eyebrows, and looked at him in amazeme nt through the thin blue wreaths of smoke that curled up in such fanciful whorls from his heav y opium- tainted cigarette. ?Not send it anywhere? My dea r fellow, why? Have you any reason? What odd chaps you painter s are! You do anything in the wo rld to gain a reputation. As soon as you have one, you seem to want to throw it away. It is silly of you, for there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not be ing talked about. A portrait like this would set you far above all the young men in England, and mak e the old men quite jealous, if old men are ever capable of any emotion.? ?I know you will laugh at me,? he replied, ?but I really can?t exhibit it. I have pu t too much of myself into it.? Lord Henry stretched his long legs out on the divan and shook w ith laughter. ?Yes, I knew you would laugh; 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 between you, with your rugged strong face and your coal-black hair, and this young Ad onis, who 4 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray looks as if he was made of ivory and rose-leaves. Why, my dear Basil, he is a Narcissu s, and you?well, of course you have an intellectual expression, and all that. B ut beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a n exaggeration, and de stroys the harmony of any face. The moment one sits down to think , one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid. Look at the successful men in any of the learned professions. How perfectly hideous they are! Except, of course, in th e Church. But then in the Church they don?t think. A bishop keeps on saying at the age of eighty what he was told to say whe n he was a boy of eighteen, and consequentl y he always looks absol utely 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 a brai nless, beauti ful thing, who should be always here in winter when we have no flowers to look at, and alwa ys here in summer when we want something to chi ll our intell igence. Don?t fla tter yourself, Basil: you are not in the least like him.? ?You don?t understand me, Ha rry. Of course I am not like him. I know that p erfectly well. Indeed, I should be sorry to look like him. You shrug your shoulders? I am telling you the truth. There is a fatality about all physical 5 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray and intellectual distin ctio n, the sort o f fatali ty tha t seems to dog through history the faltering steps of kings. It is better not to be different from one?s fellows. The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. They can sit quietly and gape at the play. If they know nothing of victory, they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat. They live as we all should live, undisturbed, indifferent, and without disquiet. They neither bring ruin upon others nor ever receive it from a lien hands. Your rank and wealth, Harry; my brains, such a s they are,?my fame, whatever it may be worth; Dorian Gray?s good looks,? we will all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly.? ?Dorian Gray? is tha t his na me?? said Lord Henry, walking across the studio towards Basil Hallward. ?Yes; that is his name. I didn?t intend to tell 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 seems like surrendering a part of them. You know how I love secrecy. It is the only thin g tha t ca n make mo dern life wonderful or mysterious to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it. When I leave town I never tell my people where I a m going. If I did, I would lose all 6 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray my pleasure. It is a silly ha bit, I dare say, but somehow it seems to bri ng a great deal of roma nce into on e?s life. I suppose you think me awfully foolish about it?? ?Not at all,? answered Lord Henry, laying his hand upon his shoulder; ?not at all, my dear Basil. You seem to forget that I am married, and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of decepti on nece ssary for both parties. I never know where my wife is, and my wife never knows what I am doing. When we meet,?we do meet occasionally, when we dine out toge ther, or go down to the duke?s,? we tell each ot her the most absurd stories with the most serious faces. My wife is very goo d at it,? much better , in fact, than I am. She never gets confused over her dates, and I always do. But when she does find me out, she makes no row at all. I sometimes wish she would; but she merel y la ughs at me.? ?I hate the way you talk about your married life, Harry,? said Basil Hall ward, shaki ng his hand off, and strolling towards the door that led into the garden. ?I believe that you are really a very good husband, but that you are thoroughly ashamed of your own virtues. You are an extraordinary fellow. You nev er say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose.? 7 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray ?Being natural is simply a po se, and the most irritatin g pose I know,? cried L ord Henry, laughing; and the two young men went out into the garden together, and for a time they did not speak. After a long 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 ans wering a question I put to you some time ago.? ?What is that?? asked Basil Hallward, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground. ?You know quite well.? ?I do not, Harry.? ?Well, I will tell you what it is.? ?Please don?t.? ?I must. I want you to e xplain to me why you won?t exhibit Dorian Gray?s picture. I want the real reas on.? ?I told you the real reaso n.? ?No, you did not. You said it was because there was too much of yourself in it. Now, that is childish.? ?Harry,? said Basil Hallward, looking him straight in the face, ?every portrait that is pa inted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he w ho is revealed by the painter; it is rather the pa inter who, on the colored canvas, 8 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have s hown w ith it the secret of my own soul.? Lord Harry l aughed. ?And w hat is that?? he asked. ?I will tell you,? said Hallward; and an expression of perplexity ca me over his face. ?I am all expectation, Bas il,? murmured his companion, looking at him. ?Oh, there i s really very little to tell, Harry,? answered the young painter; ?and I am afraid you will hardly understand it. Perhaps you will hardly believe it.? Lord Henry smiled, and, leaning down, plucked a pink-petalled daisy from the grass, and examined it. ?I am quite sure I shall understand it,? he r eplied, gazing intently at the little golden white-feat hered disk, ?and I can believe anything, provided that it is 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 in the grass, and a long thin dragon-fly floated by on its brown gauze wings. Lord Henry felt as if he could hear Basil Hallward?s heart beating, and he wondered what was coming. 9 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray ?Well, this is incredible,? repeated Hallward, rather bitterly,? ?incredible to me at times. I don?t know what it means. The story is simp ly this. Two months ago I went to a crush at Lady Brand on?s. You k now we poor painters have to sho w ourselves in soci ety from time to time, just to remind the public that we are not savages. With an evening coat and a w hite tie, as you told me once, anybody, even a stock- broker, can gain a reputatio n for being civilized. Well, after I had been in the room about ten minutes, talking to huge overdressed dowagers and tedious Academicians, I sudde nly became conscious tha t some one was looking at me . I turned half-way round, and saw Dorian Gray for the first time. When our eyes met, I felt that I was growing pale. A curious i nstin ct o f terror came over me. I k new that I had come face to face with some one whose mere p ersonality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it w ould absorb my whol e nature, my whole soul, my very art itself. I did not want any external influence i n my life. You know yourself, Harry, how independent I am b y nature. My father destined me for the army. I insisted on going to Oxford. Then he made me enter my name at the Middle Temple. Before I had eaten half a dozen dinners I gave up the Bar, and announced my intention of b ecoming a painter. I 10 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray have always been my own master; had at least al ways been so, till I met Dorian Gray. Then?But I don?t know how to explain it to you. Someth ing seemed to tell me that I was on the verg e of a t erribl e crisis in my life. I had a strange feeling that Fate had in store for me exq uisite joy s and exquisite sorrows. I knew that if I spoke to Dorian I would become absolutely de voted to hi m, an d tha t I ought not to speak to him. I grew afraid, and turned to quit the room. It was no t conscience that made me do so: it was cowardice. I take no cre dit to myself f or trying to escape.? ?Conscience and cowardice are real ly the same things, Basil. Conscience is the trade-name of the firm. That i s all.? ?I don?t believe that, Harry. However, whatever was my motive, ? and it ma y have b een pride, for I used to be very p roud,?I certainly struggled to the door. There, of course, I stumbled agai nst La dy Brandon. ?You are not going to run away so soon, Mr. Hallward?? she screamed out. You know her shrill horrid voic e?? ?Yes; she is a peacock in everything but beauty,? said Lord Henry, pulling the daisy to bits with his long, nervous fingers. 11 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray ?I could not get rid of her. She brought me up to Royalties, and people with Stars and Garters, and elderly ladies with g igantic tiaras and hooked noses. She spoke of me as her d earest friend. I had only met her once before, but she took it into her head to lionize me. I believe som e picture of mine had made a grea t success at th e time, at least had been chattered about in the penny newspapers, which is the nineteenth-century standard of immortality. Suddenly I found myself face to face with the young man whose personality had so strangely stirred me. We were quite close, almost touching. Our eyes met agai n. It was mad of me, but I asked Lady Brandon to introd uce me to him. Perhaps it was not so mad, after all. It wa s simply inevitable. We would have spoken to each other without any introduction. I am sure of that. Dorian told me so afterwards. He, too, felt that we were destined to know each other.? ?And how did Lady Br andon de scribe this wonderful young man? I know she goes in for giving a rapid pr?cis of all her guests. I remember her bringing me up to a most truculent and red-faced old gentle man covered all over with orders and ribbons, and hissi ng into my ear, in a tragic whisper which must have been perfectly a udible to everybody in the room, something like ?Sir Humpty 12 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray Dumpty?y ou know?Afghan frontier?Russian intrigues: very success ful man?wife killed by an elephant?quite inconsolable?wants to marry a beautiful American w idow?everybody does nowadays? hates Mr. Gladstone?but very much interested in beetles: ask him what he thinks of Schouvaloff.? I simply fled. I like to find out people for myself. B ut poor Lad y Brandon treats her guests exactly as an auctioneer treats his goods. She either explains them entirely a way, or tells one everything about them except what one want s to know. But what did she say about Mr. Dorian Gray?? ?Oh, she murmured, ?Charming boy?poor dear mother and I quite inseparable?e ng aged to be married to the same man?I mean married on the sa me d ay?how very silly of me! Quite forget what he does? afraid he? doesn?t do anything?oh, yes, plays the piano?or is it the violin, dear Mr. Gray?? We could neither of us help laughing, and we became friends at once.? ?Laughter is not a bad be ginning for a friendship, and it is the best ending for one,? said Lord Henry, plucking another daisy. Hallward buried his face in his hands. ?You don?t understand what friendship is, Harry,? he murmured,??or 13 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray what enmity is, for that matter. You like every o ne; that is to say, you are indifferen t to every one.? ?How horribly unjust of you!? cried Lord Henry, tilting his hat back, and looking up at the little clouds that were drifting acro ss the holl owed turquoise of the su mmer sky, like ravelled skeins of glo ssy white silk. ?Yes; horribly unjust of you. I make a great difference between people. I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintance s for their characters, and my enemies for their brains. A man can? t b e too careful in the choice of his enemies. I have not got one who is a foo l. They are all men of so me intellectual power, and consequently they all appreciate me. Is that very vain of me ? I think it is rather va in.? ?I should think it was, Ha rry. But according to your category I m ust be merel y an acquaintance.? ?My dear old Basil, you are much more than an acquaintance .? ?And much less than a frie nd. A sort of brother, I suppose?? ?Oh, brothers! I don?t care for b rothers. My elder brother won?t die, and my younger brothers s eem never to do anythi ng else.? ?Harry!? 14 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray ?My dear fellow, I am not quite se rious. But I can?t help detesting my relati ons. I suppo se it comes from the fact that we can?t stand other people having the same faults as ourselves. I quite sympathize with the rage of the English democracy again st wha t they call the vices of the upper classes. They feel that drunk enness, stupi dity, and immorality should be their own special property, and that if any one of us makes an ass of himself he is p oaching on their preserves. When poor Southwark got into the Divorce Co urt, their in dignation was quite magnificent. And yet I d on?t suppose that ten p er cent of the lower orders liv e c orrectly.? ?I don?t agree with a single word t hat you have said, and, what is more, Harry , I don?t beli eve you do either.? Lord Henry stroked hi s pointed b rown beard, and tapped the toe of his patent-leather boot with a tasselled malacca cane. ?How English you ar e, Basil! If one puts forward an idea to a real Englishman,? alw ays a rash thing to do,?he never drea ms of considering whether the idea is right or wrong. The only thing he conside rs of any importance is whether one belie ves it one?s self. Now, the value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with the sincerity of the man who expresses it. In deed, the probabilities are that the mo re insincere the man is, the 15 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray more purely intellectual will the idea be, as in that case it will not be colored by either his wants, his desir es, or his prejudices. However, I don?t propose to discuss politics, sociology, or metaphysics with you. I like persons better than princip les. Tell me more about Dorian Gr ay. How often do you see him?? ?Every day. I couldn?t be happy if I didn?t see him every day. Of course sometimes i t is o nly f or a few minutes. Bu t a few minutes wit h somebody one worships mean a great deal.? ?But you don?t really wo rship him?? ?I do.? ?How extraordinary! I t hought you would never care for anything but your painting,?your art, I should say. Art sounds b etter, doesn?t it?? ?He is all my art to me now. I sometimes think, Harry, that there are only two eras of any importance in the history of the world. The fir st is the appearance of a new medium for art, and the second is the appearance of a new personality for art also. What the invention of oil-painting was to the Venetians, the face of Antino ?s was to late Greek sculpture, and the face of Dorian Gray will some day be to me. It is not merely that I paint from him, draw from him, model from him. Of course I have done all 16 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray that. He has stood as Paris in dainty armor, and as Adoni s with huntsman?s cloak and polis hed b oar- spear. Crowned with heavy lotu s-blossoms, he ha s sa t o n th e prow of Adrian?s barge, looking into the green, turbid Nile. He has leaned over the still pool of some Greek woo dland, and seen in the water?s silent silver the wonder of his own beauty. But he is much more to me than that. I won?t tel l you that I am dissati sfie d with what I have done of him, or that his beauty is such that art cannot express it. There is nothing that art cannot e xpress, and I know that the work I have done since I met Dorian Gray is good w ork, is the best work of my life. But in some cur ious way?I wonder will you understand me??his personality has suggested to me an entirely new manner in art, an entirely new mode of style. I see things differently, I think of them differently. I can now re-create life in a way that was hidden from me before. ?A dream of form in days of thought,? ?who is it who says that? I forget; but it is w hat Dorian Gray has been to me. The merely visible pres ence of this lad, ?for he seems to me little more t han a lad , though he is really over twenty,?his merely visible presence,?ah! I wonder can you re alize all that that means? Unconsci ously he defines for me the lines of a f resh school, a school that is to have in itself all the passion of the romantic spir it, all the 17 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray perfection of the spirit that is Greek. The harmony of soul and body,?how much that i s! We in our mad ness have separated the two, and have invented a realism that i s 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 whic h 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.? Hallward got up from the seat, and walked up and down the garden. After some time he ca me back. ? You don?t understand, Harry,? he said. ?Dorian Gray is merely to me a mo tive in art. He is ne ver more present in my work than when no image of him is there. He is simply a suggestion, as I have said, of a new manner. I see him in the curves of certain lines, in the lovel iness and the subtleties of certain colors. That is all.? ?Then why won?t you exhibit his portrait?? ?Because I have put into it all the extra ordinary romance of which, of course , I have never dared to speak to him. He knows nothing about it. He will never know anything about it. But the wor ld might guess it; and I will 18 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray not bare my soul to thei r shallow, p rying eyes. My heart shall never be put under their microscope. There is too much of myself in the thing, Harry,?too much o f myself!? ?Poets are not so scrupulous as you are. They know how useful passion is for publication. Nowadays a broken heart will ru n to many editions.? ?I hate them for it. An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them. We live in an age when men t reat art as if it were meant to be a for m of autobi ography . We have lost the abstract sense of beauty. If I live, I will show the world what it is; and for that reason the w orld s hall never see my p ortrait of Dorian Gray.? ?I think you are wrong, Basil, but I won?t argue with you. It is only the intellectually lost who ever a rgue. Tell me, is Dorian Gray very fond of you?? Hallward considered for a few moments. ?He likes me,? he answered, after a pause; ?I know he likes me. Of course I flatter him dreadfully. I find a strange pleasure in saying things to him that I know I shall be sorry for having said. I give myself away. As a r ule, he is charming to me, and we walk home together from the cl ub arm in arm, or sit in the studio and talk of a thousand things. Now and then, 19 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray however, he is horribly thought less, and seems to take a real delight in giving me pain. The n I feel, Harry, that I have given away my whole soul to some one wh o treats it as if it were a flower to put in his coat, a bit of decoration to charm his vanity, an ornament for a summer?s day.? ?Days in summer, Basil, are apt to l inger. Perha ps you will tire sooner than he will. It is a sad thing to think of, but there is no doubt that Geni us lasts longer than Beauty. That accoun ts for the fact tha t we all take such pains to over-educate ourselves. In th e wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and fac ts, in the silly hope of keeping our place. The thoroughly well informed man,? that is the modern ideal. An d the mind of the thoroughly well informed man is a dreadful thi ng. It is like a bric-?- brac shop, all monsters and dust, and everyth ing priced above its proper value. I think you will tire first, all the same. Some day you will look at Gray, and he will seem to you to be a little out of dr awing, or you won?t like his tone of color, or something. You will bitterly reproach him in your own heart, and seriously think that he has behaved very badly to you. The next time he calls, you will be perf ectly cold and indifferent. It will be a great 20 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray pity, for it will alter you. The worst of having a romance is that it leaves one so unromanti c.? ?Harry, don?t talk like that. As long as I live, the personality of Dorian Gray will dominate me . You can?t feel what I feel. You change too often.? ?Ah, my dear Basil, that is exactly why I can f eel it. Those who are faithful know only the pleasures of love: it is the faithless who know love?s tragedies.? A nd Lord Henry struck a light on a dainty silver case, an d began to smoke a cig arette with a self-c onsci ous and self-sati sfied air, as if he had summed up life in a phrase. There was a rustle of chirruping sparrows in the ivy, and the blue cloud- shadows chased themse lves across the grass like swallows. How pleasant it wa s in the garden! And how delightful other people?s emotions were!?much more delightful than their ideas, it seemed to him. One?s own soul, and the passions of one?s friends,?those were the fascinating things in life. He thought with pleasure of the tedious luncheon that he had missed by staying so long with Basil Hallward. Had he gone to his aunt?s, he would have been s ure to meet Lord Goodbody there, and the whole conv ersation would have been about the housing of the poor, and the nece ssity for model lodging-houses. I t was charmin g to have escaped all that! As he thought of 21 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray 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 slight frown. ?Don?t look so angry, Basil. It was at my aunt?s, Lady Agatha?s. She told me she had discovered a w onderful young man, who was going to help her in the East End , and that his name was Dorian Gray. I am boun d to state that she never told me he was good-looking. Women have no app reciation of good looks. At least, good women have not. S he said that he was very earnest, and had a beautiful nature. I at once pi ctured to myself a creature with spectacles and lank hair, horridly frec kled, and tramping about 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.? ?Mr. Dorian Gray is in the studio, sir,? said the butler, coming into the garden. ?You must introduce me now,? cried Lord Henry, laughing. 22 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray Basil Hallward turned to the se rvant, who stood blinking in the sunlight. ?Ask Mr. Gr ay to wait, Parker: I will be in in a few moments .? The man bowed, and went up the walk. Then he looked at Lor d Henry. ?Dorian Gray is my dearest frien d,? he said. ?He has a simple and a beautiful nature. Your aunt was q uite right in what she sai d of hi m. Don?t spoil him for me. Don?t try to influence him. Your influence would be bad. The world is wide, and has many marvellous people in it. Don?t take away from me the one person that makes life absolutely lovely to me, and that gives to my art whatever wond er or charm it possesses. Mind, Harry, I trust yo u.? He spok e very slowly, and the words seemed wrung out of him almost against his will. ?What nonsense you talk!? said Lor d Henry, smiling, and, taking Hallward by the arm, he almost led him into the house. 23 of 250 The Picture of Dorian Gray
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