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


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 answering a question I put to you some time ago.” “What is
that?” said the painter, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground.

“You know quite well.” “I do not, Harry.” “Well, I will tell you
what it is. I want you 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 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
painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The
sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is
revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the
coloured canvas, reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit this
picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my
own soul.” Lord Henry laughed. “And what is that?” he asked.

“I will tell you,” said Hallward; but an expression of perplexity
came over his face.

“I am all expectation, Basil,” continued his companion, glancing at

“Oh, there is really very little to tell, Harry,” answered the 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 replied, gazing intently at the little
golden white-feathered disk, “and as for believing 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-fly floated past on its brown gauze wings. Lord
Henry felt as if he could hear Basil Hallward’s heart beating, and
wondered what was coming.

“The story is simply this,” said the painter after some time. “Two
months ago I went to a crush at Lady Brandon’s. You know we
poor artists have to show ourselves in society from time to time,
just to remind the public that 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
been in 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 halfway round, and 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
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