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


splendid sins, as you once phrased it, must have something in store
for me. I fancied a thousand things. The mere danger gave me a
sense of delight. I remembered what you had said to me on that
wonderful evening when we first dined together, about the search
for beauty being the real secret of life. I don’t know what I
expected, but I went out and wandered eastward, soon losing my
way in a labyrinth of grimy streets and black, grassless squares.
About half past eight I passed by an absurd little theatre, with
great flaring gas-jets and gaudy playbills. A hideous Jew, in the
most amazing waistcoat I ever beheld in my life, was standing at
the entrance, smoking a vile cigar. He had greasy ringlets, and an
enormous diamond blazed in the centre of a soiled shirt. ‘Have a
box, My Lord?’ he said, when he saw me, and he took off his hat
with an air of gorgeous servility. There was something about him,
Harry, that amused me. He was such a monster. You will laugh at
me, I know, but I really went in and paid a whole guinea for the
stage-box. To the present day I can’t make out why I did so; and
yet if I hadn’t-my dear Harry, if I hadn’t, I should have missed the
greatest romance of my life. I see you are laughing. It is horrid of
you!” “I am not laughing, Dorian; at least I am not laughing at you.
But you should not say the greatest romance of your life. You
should say the first romance of your life. You will always be loved,
and you will always be in love with love. A grande passion is the
privilege of people who have nothing to do. That is the one use of
the idle classes of a country. Don’t be afraid. There are exquisite
things in store for you. This is merely the beginning.” “Do you
think my nature so shallow?” cried Dorian Gray, angrily.

“No; I think your nature so deep.” “How do you mean?” “My dear
boy, the people who love only once in their lives are really the
shallow people. What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I
call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination.
Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of
the intellect-simply a confession of failure.

Faithfulness! I must analyze it some day. The passion for property
is in it. There are many things that we would throw away if we
were not afraid that others might pick them up. But I don’t want to
interrupt you. Go on with your story.” “Well, I found myself
seated in a horrid little private box, with a vulgar dropscene
staring me in the face. I looked out from behind the curtain, and
surveyed the house. It was a tawdry affair, all Cupids and
cornucopias, like a third-rate wedding-cake. The gallery and pit
were fairly full, but the two rows of dingy stalls were quite empty,
and there was hardly a person in what I suppose they called the
dress-circle. Women went about with oranges and ginger-beer, and
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