Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
And just answer me one question. Have you noticed in the picture
something curious?- something that probably at first did not strike
you, but that revealed itself to you suddenly?”
“Basil!” cried the lad, clutching the arms of his chair with
trembling hands, and gazing at him with wild, startled eyes.
“I see you did. Don’t speak. Wait till you hear what I have to say.
Dorian, from the moment I met you, your personality had the most
extraordinary influence over me. I was dominated, soul, brain, and
power by you. You became to me the visible incarnation of that
unseen ideal whose memory haunts us artists like an exquisite
dream. I worshipped you. I grew jealous of every one to whom you
spoke. I wanted to have you all to myself. I was only happy when I
was with you.
When you were away from me you were still present in my art....
Of course I never let you know anything about this. It would have
been impossible. You would not have understood it. I hardly
understood it myself. I only, knew that I had seen perfection face to
face, and that the world had become wonderful to my eyes-too
wonderful, perhaps, for in such mad worships there is peril, the
peril of losing them, no less than the peril of keeping them....
Weeks and weeks went on, and I grew more and more absorbed in
you. Then came a new development. I had drawn you as Paris in
dainty armour, and as Adonis with huntsman’s cloak and polished
boar-spear. Crowned with heavy lotus-blossoms you had sat on the
prow of Adrian’s barge, gazing across the green turbid Nile. You
had leaned over the still pool of some Greek woodland, and seen in
the water’s silent silver the marvel of your own face. And it had all
been what art should be, unconscious, ideal, and remote. One day,
a fatal day I sometimes think, I determined to paint a wonderful
portrait of you as you actually are, not in the costume of dead ages,
but in your own dress and in your own time. Whether it was the
Realism of the method or the mere wonder of your own
personality, thus directly presented to me without mist or veil, I
cannot tell. But I know that as I worked at it, every flake and film
of colour seemed to me to reveal my secret. I grew afraid that
others would know of my idolatry. I felt, Dorian, that I had told too
much, that I had put too much of myself into it. Then it was that I
resolved never to allow the picture to be exhibited. You were a
little annoyed; but then you did not realize all that it meant to me.
Harry, to whom I talked about it, laughed at me. But I did not
mind that. When the picture was finished, and I sat alone with it, I
felt that I was right.... Well, after a few days the thing left my
studio, and as soon as I had got rid of the intolerable fascination of
its presence it seemed to me that I had been foolish in imagining