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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


him at Oxford. “No; I won’t send it anywhere.” Lord Henry
elevated his eyebrows, and looked at him in amazement through
the thin blue wreaths of smoke that curled up in such fanciful
whorls 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 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 being
talked about. A portrait like this would set you far above all the
young men in England, and make 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 put too much of
myself into it.” Lord Henry stretched himself out on the divan and

“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 between you,
with your rugged strong face and your coal-black hair, and this
young Adonis, who looks as if he was made out of ivory and rose-
leaves. Why, my dear Basil, he is a Narcissus, and you-well, of
course you have an intellectual expression, and all that. But beauty,
real beauty, 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 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 the 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 when he was a boy of eighteen, and as a natural
consequence he always looks absolutely 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 some brainless, beautiful creature, who should always
be here in winter when we have no flowers to 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,” answered the artist. “Of course I am
not like him. I know that perfectly 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 and intellectual distinction, the sort of
fatality that seems to dog through history the faltering steps of
kings. It is better not to be different from one’s fellows. The ugly
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