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


When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good
we are not always happy.” “Ah! but what do you mean by good?”
cried Basil Hallward.

“Yes,” echoed Dorian, leaning back in his chair, and looking at
Lord Henry over the heavy clusters of purple-lipped irises that
stood in the centre of the table, “what do you mean by good,
Harry?” “To be good is to be in harmony with one’s self,” he
replied, touching the thin stem of his glass with his pale, fine-
pointed fingers. “Discord is to be forced to be in harmony with
others. One’s own life-that is the important thing. As for the lives
of one’s neighbors, if one wishes to be a prig or a Puritan, one can
flaunt one’s moral views about them, but they are not one’s
concern. Besides, Individualism has really the higher aim. Modern
morality consists in accepting the standard of one’s age. I consider
that for any man of culture to accept the standard of his age is a
form of the grossest immorality.” “But, surely, if one lives merely
for one’s self, Harry, one pays a terrible price for doing so?”
suggested the painter.

“Yes, we are overcharged for everything nowadays. I should fancy
that the real tragedy of the poor is that they can afford nothing but
self-denial. Beautiful sins, like beautiful things, are the privilege of
the rich.” “One has to pay in other ways but money.” “What sort of
ways, Basil?” “Oh! I should fancy in remorse, in suffering, in...
well, in the consciousness of degradation.” Lord Henry shrugged
his shoulders. “My dear fellow, mediaeval art is charming, but
mediaeval emotions are out of date. One can use them in fiction, of
course. But then the only things that one can use in fiction are the
things that one has ceased to use in fact. Believe me, no civilized
man ever regrets a pleasure, and no uncivilized man ever knows
what a pleasure is.” “I know what pleasure is,” cried Dorian Gray.
“It is to adore some one.” “That is certainly better than being
adored,” he answered, toying with some fruits. “Being adored is a
nuisance. Women treat us just as Humanity treats its gods. They
worship us, and are always bothering us to do something for

“I should have said that whatever they ask for they had first given
to us,” murmured the lad, gravely. “They create Love in our
natures. They have a right to demand it back.” “That is quite true,
Dorian,” cried Hallward.

“Nothing is ever quite true,” said Lord Henry.
“This is,” interrupted Dorian. “You must admit, Harry, that
women give to men the very gold of their lives.” “Possibly,” he
sighed, “but they invariably want it back in such very small
change. That is the worry. Women, as some witty Frenchman once
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