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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


118

the other his debauchery? If Kentís silly son takes his wife from the
streets, what is that to me? If Adrian Singleton writes his friendís
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 whisper about what they call the
profligacies of their betters in order to try and pretend that they are
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 wag against 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.Ē ďDorian,Ē cried Hallward, ďthat is not the
question. England is bad enough I know, and English society is all
wrong. That is the reason why I want you to be fine. You have not
been fine. One has a right to judge of a man by the effect he has
over his friends. Yours seem to lose all sense of honour, of
goodness, of purity. You have filled them with a madness for
pleasure. They have gone down 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 sisterís name a byword.Ē ďTake care,
Basil. You go too far.Ē ďI must speak, and you must listen. You
shall listen. When you met Lady Gwendolyn, not a breath of
scandal had ever touched her. Is there 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
stories-stories that you have been seen creeping at dawn out of
dreadful houses and slinking in disguise into the foulest dens in
London. Are they true? Can they be true? When I first heard them,
I laughed. I hear them now, and they make me shudder. What
about your country house, and the life that is led there? Dorian,
you donít know what is said about you. I wonít tell you that I donít
want to preach to you. I remember Harry saying once that every
man who turned himself into an amateur curate for the moment
always begin by saying that, and then proceeded to break his
word. I do want to preach to you. I want you to lead such a life as
will make the world respect you. I want you to have a clean name
and a fair record. I want you to get rid of the dreadful people you
associate with. Donít shrug your shoulders like that.

Donít 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 become intimate, and that it is quite sufficient for you to
enter a house, for shame of some kind to follow after. I donít know
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