The Picture of Dorian Gray

Table of contents

1. Chapter 1

The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink flowering thorn.

From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-boys on which he was lying, smoking, as was his custom, usual innumerable cigarettes, Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the [...] gleam of the honey-sweet and hony-colored blossoms of the laburnum, that was hanging from the tremulous branches that seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flame-like as theirs: and, now and then, the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid jade-faced painters who, in an art that is seemingly immobile, seek to convey the laws of swiftness and motion. The sudden murmur of the bees shouldering their way through the long unmown grass or circling with monotonous insistance round the black-crocketed spines of the early June holly-hocks, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive, [...] and the dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ.

In the center of the room, [...] clamped to an upbright easel, was standing the full-length portrait of a young man of extraodinary personal beauty, and in front of it, some little distance away, was sitting sat the painter artist himself, Basil Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some years ago caused at the time such public excitement, and [...] gave rise to so many strange conjectures.

As he looked at the gracious and comely form he had so skillfully mirrored in his art, a delicate[?] smile of pleasure passed across his face, and seemed about to linger there. But he suddenly started up, and closing his eyes placed his fingers upon the lids, as though he sought to imprison within his brain some [...] [...] curious dream from which he feared he might awake.

‘"It is your best work, Basil, the best thing you have ever done," said Lord Henry languidly. "You must certainly send it next year to the Grosvenor. The Academy is too large, and too vulgar. The Grosvenor is the only place."’

‘"I don't think I will send it will send it any where," he answered, tossing his head back in that odd way that used to make us[?] his friends laugh at him in Oxford. "No: I won't send it anywhere. And yet, you are quite right about it. It is my best work."’

Lord Henry elevated his eyebrows, and looked at him in amazement through the thin blue wreathes of smoke that curled [...] up in such fanciful whorls from his heavy opium-tainted cigarette. ‘"Not send it anywhere? My dear fellow, why? Have you got any reason? What odd chaps you painters are! You do any thing in the world to gain a reputation. And soon as you have it one you seem to want to throw it away. It is silly of you, for there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. A portrait like this would set you far above all the young men in England, and make the old men quite jealous, if old men are even capable of any emotion."’

‘"I know you will laugh at me," he replied, "but I really cannot exhibit it. I have put too much of myself into it." ’ Lord Henry stretched his long legs out on the divan, and shook with laughter. ‘"Yes: I knew you would laugh, but it is quite true, all the same." ’

‘"Too much of yourself in it! Upon my word, Basil, I didn't know you were so vain, and I really can't see any resemblance between you with your rugged strong face, and your coal-black hair, and this young Adonis, who looks as if he was made of ivory and rose-leaves. Why, my dear Basil, he is a Narcissus! And you–-well of course you have an intellectual expression, and all that. But Beauty, real Beauty, only begins ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself an exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face. The moment one [...] sits down to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid. Look at the successful men in any [...] of the learned professions. How perfectly hideous they are! Except of course in the Church. But then in the Church they don't think. A Bishop keeps on saying at the age of eighty what he was told to say when he was a boy of eighteen, and consequently he always looks absolutely delightful. Your mysterious young friend, whose name you have never told me but whose picture really fascinates me, never thinks. I feel quite sure of that. He is a brainless, beautiful thing, who should be always here in winter when we have no flowers to look at, and always here in summer when we want something to chill our intelligences. Don't flatter yourself, Basil. You are not in the least like him."’

‘"You don't understand me, Harry. Of course I am not like him. I know that perfectly well. Indeed I should be sorry to look like him. You shrug your shoulders? I am telling you the truth. There is a fatality about all physical as well as intellectual distinction, the sort of fatality that seems to dog the through history the faltering steps of Kings. It is better not to be different from one's fellows. The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. They can sit quietly, and gape at the play. If they know nothing of victory, they are saved[?] ⟨at least spared⟩ the knowledge of defeat. They live as we all should live, undisturbed, indifferent, and without disquiet. They neither bring ruin upon others, nor ever receive it from alien hands. Your rank and wealth, Harry; my brains, such as they are, my fame, whatever it may be worth; Dorian Grey's beauty; good looks; we will all suffer for what the Gods have given us, suffer terribly."’

‘"Dorian Grey? Is that his name?" said Lord Henry, walking across the studio toward Basil Hallward. ’

‘"Yes: that is his name. I did'nt intend to tell it to you."’

‘"But why not?" ’

‘"Oh! I can't explain. [...] When I like people immensely, I cannot never tell their names to any one. It seems like surrendering a part of them. You know how I love secrecy. It is the only thing that can make a modern life woderful, or mysterious to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it. When I dine out leave town I never tell my people where I am going. If I did, I would lose all my pleasure. It is a silly habit, I daresay, but somehow it [...] seems to bring a great deal of romance into one's life. I suppose you think me awfully foolish about it?"’

‘"Not at all," answered Lord Henry, laying his hand upon his shoulder; "not at all, my dear Basil. You seem to forget that I am married, and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties. I never know what where my wife is doing , and my wife never knows where what I am doing When we meet--we do meet occasionally, when we dine, out together or go down to the Duke's--we tell each other the most absurd stories with the most serious faces. My wife is very good at it, much better in fact than I am. She never gets confused over her dates, and I always do. But when she does find me out, she never makes a row. I sometimes wish she did, but she merely laughts at me."’

‘"I hate the way you talk about your married life, Harry," said Basil Hallward, shaking his hand off, and strolling towards the door that led into the garden. "I believe that you are really a very good husband, but that you are thoroughly ashamed of your own virtues. You are an extraordinary fellow. You neve say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose." ’

‘"Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know, said cried Lord Henry laughing, and the two young men went out into the garden together, and for a time they did not speak. to each other.

After a long pause Lord Henry pulled out his watch. ‘"I am afriad I must be going Basil," he said murmured and before I go I insist on you answering me a question I put to you [...] half an hour ago."’

‘"What is that?" asked Basil Hallward, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground. ’

‘"You know quite well." ’

‘"I do not, Harry." ’

‘"Well, I will tell you what it is." ’

‘"Please don't." ’

‘"I must. I want you to tell 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 it. Now, that is childish." ’

‘"Harry," said Basil Hallward, taking hold of his hand and looking him straight in the face, "Every portrait that is painted with passion 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 colours of the canvas reveals himself. The reason why 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 hesistated for a moment laughed

‘"And what is that?" he asked. in a low voice

‘"I will tell you," said Hallward, and a look of pain an expression of perplexity came over his face.’

"Don't if you would rather not" "I am all expectation, Basil" murmured his companion, looking at him.’

‘"Oh! There is really very little to tell you, Harry," answered the young painter; "and I am afraid you will hardly understand it." ’

Lord Henry smiled, and leaning down plucked a ping-petalled daisy from the grass, and examined it. ‘"I am quite sure I shall understand you it ," he replied, gazing intently at the little golden white-feathered disk. that has charmed all our poets from Chaucer to Tennyson

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 bird grasshopper began to sing chirrup in a thicket the grass , and a long thin dragon-fly floated past by on its brown gauze wings. Lord Henry felt as if he coul hear Basil Hallward's heart beating, and he heard his own breath, with a sense almost of fear wondered what was coming.

‘"Yes: there is very little to tell you," repeated Hallward rather bitterly "and I am afraid daresay you will be disappointed. Two months ago I went to a crush at Lady Brandon's. You know we poor painters 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 any body, even a stockbroker, can gain a reputation for being civilized. Well, after I had been in the room about ten minutes, talking to huge over-scented dowagers and tedious academicians, I suddenly felt became conscious that some one was looking at me. I turned half way round, and saw Dorian Gray for the first time. When our eyes met, I felt that I grew was growing pale. A curious feeling [...] of terror came over me. I knew that I had [...] come across face to face with someone whose mere personality was so fascinating that it would be Lord over absorb my life nature , my soul, my art itself. I did not want any extreme influence of that kind in my life. You know yourself, Harry, how independant I have always been. My father destined me for the army. I insisted on going to Oxford. Then he made me enter my name at the middle temple. Before I had eaten half a dozen dinners I gave up the Bar, and announced my intention of becoming a painter. I have always been my own master; had at least always been so till I met Dorian Gray. Then – but I [...] don't know how to explain it to you. Something seemed to tell me that I was on the verge of [...] a terible crisis in my life. I had a strange feeling that [...] fate had in store for me exquisite joys and exquisite sorrows. I knew that if I spoke to him, I would never leave him till either he or I were dead become absolutely devoted to him, and that I ought not to speak to him. I grew afraid, and turned to leave quit the room. It was not conscience that made me do so, it was cowardice. I [...] take no credit to myself for trying to escape."’

‘"Conscience and cowardice are really the same things, Basil. Conscience is the trade-name of the firm, that is all." ’

‘"I am not sure of that Harry don't believe that, Harry However, whatever was my motive, and it may have been pride, for I used to be very proud, I certainly struggled to the door. There of course I stubled against Lady Brandon. ‘"You are not going to run away so soon, Mr. Hallward?" She screamed out. ’ You know her shrill horrid voice?"’

‘"Yes: she is a peacock in every thing but beauty," said Lord Henry, pulling the daisy to bits with his long nervous fingers. ’

‘"I could not get rid of her. She brought me up to the Royalties, and people with Stars and Garters, and elderly ladies with gigantic tiaras and hooked noses. She spoke of me as her dearest friend. I had only met her once before, but she took it into her head to lionize me. I believe some picture of mine had made a great success at the time, at least had been chattered about in the penny newspapers, which is the nineteenth century app> [...] of fame standard of immortality Suddenly I found myself face to face with the young man whose beauty personality had so strangely stirred me. We were quite close, almost touching. Our eyes met, again. It was mad of me, but I asked Lady Brandon to introduce me to him. Perhaps it was not so mad after all. It was simply inevitable. We would have spoken to each other without any introduction. I am sure of that. Dorian told me so afterwards."’

‘"And how did Lady Brandon describe this wonderful young narcissus man ? I know she gives in for giving a rapid precis of all her guests. I remember her bringing up to me up to a most truculent and red-faced old man gentleman covered all over with orders and ribands, and hissing into my ear in a tragic whisper, which must have been perfectly audible to every body in the room, something like ‘'Sir Humpty Dumpty – you know – Afghan frontier – Russian intelligence: very successful man – quite inconsolable wants to marry wife killed by an elephant – quite inconsolable – wants to marry a beautiful American widow every body does now-a-days – hates Mr. Gladstone – but very much interested in beetles – ask him about the new [...] military frontier.'’ [...] I simply fled. I like to find out people for myself. But poor Lady Brandon treats her guests, exactly as an auctioneer treats his goods. She either explains them entirely away or tells one everything about them that one does not except what one wants to know. But what did she say about Mr. Dorian Gray?"’

‘"Oh, she murmered, ‘'charming boy – going to be so rich – mother and I great friends – engaged to be married to the same man – I mean married on the same day – how very silly of me! Quite forget what he does – afriad he doesn't do anything – oh, yes plays the piano – or is it the violin, dear Mr. Gray?' ’ We could niether of us help laughing, and we became friends at once."’

‘"Laughter is not a bad beginning for for a friendship, and it is the best ending for one," said Lord Henry plucking another daisy. ’

Hallward burried his face [...] in his hands. ‘"You don't understand what friendship is, Harry," he murmured," or what enmity is for that matter. You like every one, which is the same as [...] that is to say you are indifferent to every one."’

‘"How horridly unjust of you," cried Lord Henry, tilting his hat back, and looking up at the little clouds that were drifting across the hollowed turquoise of the summer sky, like ravelled skeins of glossy white silk, were drifting across the hollowed turquoise of the summer sky.’ ‘"Yes" horribly unjust of you. I make a great different between people. I choose my friends for their good looks: my acquaintences for their characters: and my enemies for their brains. A man can't be too careful in the choice of his enemies. I have not got one who is a fool. They are all men of some intellectual power, and consequently they all appreciate me. Is that very vain of me? I think it is rather vain." ’

‘"I should think it was, Harry. But according to your category, I must be merely an acquaintance." ’

‘"My dear old Basil, you are much more than an acquaintance…" ’

‘"And much less than a friend. A sort of brother, I suppose?" ’

‘"Oh! Brothers! I don't care for brothers. My elder brother won't die, and my younger brothers seem never to do anything else."’

‘"Harry!" ’

‘"My dear fellow, I am not quite serious. But I can't help detesting my relations. I suppose it comes from the fact that we can't stand other people having the same faults as ourselves. I quite sympathize with the rage of the English democracy to English against what they call the vices of the upper classes. They seem to think feel that drunkenness, and[?] stupidity, and immorality should be their own special property, and that if any one of us makes an ass of himself he is we are poaching on their preserves. When poor Southwark got into the Divorce Court, their rage indignation was quite magnificant. And yet I don't suppose that ten per cent of the lower orders live with their own wives."’

‘"I don't agree with a single word that you have said, and, what is more, Harry, I don't believe you do either."’

‘"Lord Henry pulled his little straw-colored mousatache, and stroked his pointed Henry[?] [...] brown beard, and tapped the toe of his patent-leather boot with a thick tassled malacca-cane. How English you are, Basil! If one puts forward an idea to a real Englishman – always a rash thing to do – he never dreams of considering whether the idea is right or wrong. the only thing he considers of any important is whether one is sincere or putting it forward believes it oneself. Now the value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with the sincerity of the man who expresses it. Indeed the probabilities are that the more insincere the man is, the more purely intellectual will the idea be, as in that case it will not be coloured by either his wants, his desires, or his prejudices. However, I don't propose to discuss [...] politics, sociology, or metaphysics with you. I like persons better than principle. Tell me more about Dorian Gray. How often do you see him?"’

‘"Every day, Harry. I could not live ⟨n't be happy⟩ if I did not ⟨n't⟩ see him every day. Of course, sometimes it is only for a few minutes, But a few minutes with somebody one worships mean a great deal."’

‘And But you don't really worship him?"’

‘"I do." ’

‘"How extraordinary! I thought you would never care for anything but your painting – your art, I should say. Art sounds better, doesn't it?" ’

‘"He is all my art to me now. I sometimes think, Harry, that there are only two eras of any importance in the history of earth the world. The first is the difference of a new medium in art and the second is the difference of a new personality for art also. What the invention of oil-painting was to the Venetians, the beauty face of Antinous was to late Greek sculpture, and the beauty face of Dorian Gray will some day be to me. It is not merely that I paint from him, draw from him, model from him. Of course I have done all that. He has stood as Paris in dainty armour, and as Adonis with huntsman's cloak and polished boar-spear. Crowned with heavy lotus-blossoms he has sat on the prow of Adrian's barge lookinginto the green turbid Nile. He has leaned over the still pool of some Greek woodland, and seen in the water's silent silver the wonder of his own beauty face But he is much more to me than that. I won't tell you that I am dissatisfied with what I have done of him, or that his beauty is such that art cannot expres it. There is nothing that art cannot express, and I know the work that I have done, since I met Dorian Gray, is the good work, is the best work of my life. But in some curious way – I wonder will you understand me – his personality has suggested to me an entirely new manner in art, an entirely new mode of style. I see things differently, I think of them differently. I can now recreate life in a way that was hidden from me before. "A dream of form in days of thought" – who is it that who says that? – I forget; – but it is what Dorian Gray has been to me. The merely visible presence of this boy lad though twenty summers have shown him roses less scarlet than his lips he is justover twenty his merely visible presence, ah! I wonder can you realize all that that means. Unconsciously he defines for me the lines of a fresh school, a school that is to have in itself all the passion of the [...] romantic spirit, all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek. The harmony of soul and body – how much that is! We in our madness have separated the two, and have invented as a realism that is bestial, an ideality that is void. Harry! Harry! if you only knew what Dorian Gray is to me. You remember that landscape of mine, for which Agnew offered me such [...] a [...] huge price, but which I would not part with? It is one of the best things I have ever done. And why is it so? Because, while I was painting it, Dorian Gray sat beside me. and as he leaned across to look at it, his cheek just brushed my cheek. hair just touched my hand. The world becomes young to me when I hold his hand, as when I see him, the centuries yield up all their secrets!"

‘"Basil, this is [...] you must not talk [...] his power, you [...] to make yourself the [...] of [...] slave! It is worse that wicked, it is silly. I hate Dorian Gray." quite wonderful. I must see Dorian Gray.

Hallward got up from the seat, and walked up and down the garden. A curious smile curled his lips. He seemed like a man in a dream. After some time he came back. ‘"You don't understand, Harry..." he said. "Dorian Gray is merely to me a motive in art. He is never more present in my work then when no image of him is there. He is simply a suggestion, as I have said, of a new manner. I see him in the curves of certain lines, in the loveliness and subtleties of certain colours. That is all." ’

‘"Then why won't you exhibit his picture? portrait?

‘"Because I have put into it all the extraordinary romance of which, of course, I have never dared to speak to him. He knows nothing about it, he will never know anything about it, but the world would might guess it, and where there is merely love, they would see something evil, where there is spectacular passion they would suggest something vile. I will not bear my soul to their shallow prying eyes. My heart shall not be made their mockery never be put under their microscope. There is too much of myself in [...] the thing, Harry, too much of myself!’

‘"Poets are not so scrupulous as you are. They know how useful passion is for publication. Now-a-days a broken heart will run to many editions." ’

‘"I hate them for it. An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them. We live in an age which men treat art as if it were meant to be an autobiography. We have lost the abstract sense of beauty. If I live I will show the world what it is, and for that lesson the world shall never see my portrait of Dorian Gray." ’

‘"I think you are wrong, Basil, but I won't argue with you. It is only the intellectually lost who ever argue. Tell me; is Dorian Gray very fond of you?" ’

Hallward considers for a few moments. ‘"He likes me," he answered after a pause; "I know he likes me. Of course I flatter him dreadfully. I find a strange pleasure in saying things to him that I know I will shall be sorry for having said. I give myself away. I told him that beauty like his is genius, is higher [...] than genius, as it needs no explanation, and is one of the great facts of the world, like sunlight or spring time, or what [...] the explanation in dark waters of that thin silver shell we call the moon. As a rule, he is charming to me, and we walk home together, from the club, arm in arm, or sit in the studio beside each other and talk of a thousand things. Now and then, [...] [...] [...] however, he is horribly thoughtless, and seems to take a real delight in giving me pain. Then I feel, Harry, that I have given away my whole soul to someone seems to take a real delight in giving me pain. I can quite understand it. I can imagine myself doing it. But not to him, not to him. Once or twice we have been away together, then I have had him all to myself. I am horribly jealous of him, of course. I never let him talk to me of the people he knows. I like to isolate him from the rest of life, and to think that he absolutely belongs to me. He does not, I know. But it gives me pleasure to think that he does. Harry! I have given this boy young man my whole [...] ⟨who⟩ treats [...] it as if it were a flower to put in his coat, a bit of decoration to charm his vanity, an ornament for a summer's day."’

‘"Days in summer, Basil, are apt wax long linger Perhaps you will tire sooner than he will. It is a bad thing to think of, but there is no doubt that genius lasts longer than beauty. That accounts for the fact that we are all horribly overeducated we all take such pains to overeducate ourselves in the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place. The thoroughly well-informed man – that is what we all try to be. the modern ideal. And the mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-a-brac shop, all monsters and dust, and every thing priced above its proper value. I think you will tire first, all the same. Some day you will look at him, and he will seem to you to be a little out of drawing, or you won't like his tone of colour, or something. You will bitterly reproach him in your own heart, and seriously think that he has behaved [...] very badly to you. The next time he calls, you will be perfectly cold aand indifferent. It will be a great pity, for it will alter you. The worst of having a romance is that it makes one so unromantic."’

‘"Harry, don't talk like that. I am not afraid of things, but I am afraid of words. I cannot understand how it is that no prophecy has ever been fulfilled. None has, I know. And yet it seems to me that to say a thing, is to bring it to pass. Whatever has found expression becomes true, and what has not found expression can never happen. As for genius lasting longer than beauty – it is only the transitory that stirs me. What is permanent is monotonous, and produces no effect. Our senses become dulled by what is always with us. As long as I live, the personality of Dorian Gray will dominate me. If it [...] memory, there will be a magic in it [...] dream it will be more real than reality You cannot realize can't feel what I feel. You change too often."’

‘"Ah! My dear Basil, that is exactly why I can feel it. Those who are faithful know only the pleasures of love, it is the faithless who know love's tragedies," and Lord Henry struck a light on a dainy silver case, and began to smoke a cigarette with a self-conscious and self-satisfied air, as if he had summed up life in a phrase. ’ There was a rustle of chirriping sparrows in the ivy, and the blue cloud-shadows chased themselves across the grass like swallows. How pleasant it was in the garden! And how delightful other people's emotions were! Much more delightful than their ideas, it seemed to him. One's own soul, and the passions of one's friends – those were the fascinating things in life. He thought with pleasure of the tedious luncheon that he had missed by staying so long with Basil Hallward. Had he gone to his aunt's, he would have been quite sure to have met Lord Goodbody there, and the whole conversation would have been about the housing of the poor, and the necessity for model lodging-houses. It was charming to have escaped all that! As he thought of his aunt, an idea seemed to strike him. He turned to Hallward, and said ‘"My dear fellow, I have just remembered." ’

‘"Rememberd what, Harry?" ’

‘"Where I heard the name of Dorian Gray." ’

‘"Where I heard the name of was it?" Asked Hallward, with a slight frown.’

‘"Don't look so angry, Basil. It was at my aunt's, Lady Agatha's. She told me she had discovered a wonderful young man, who was going to help her in the East End, and that his name was Dorian Gray. I am bound to state that she never told me he was good-looking. Women have no appreciation of good looks. At least, good women have not. She saw that he was very earnest, and had a beautiful nature. I at once pictured to myself a creature with spectacles and no lank hair, horribly freckled, and with tramping abouty on huge feet. I wish I had known it was your friend."’

‘"I am glad you didn't, Harry." ’

‘"Why?" ’

‘"I don't want you to meet him." ’

‘"Mr. Dorian Gray is in the studio, Sir" said the butler coming into the garden. ’

‘"You must introduce me now," said cried Lord Henry, laughing.’

Basil Hallward turned to the servant butler who stood blinking in the sunlight. ‘"Ask Mr. Gray to wait, Parker; I will be in in a few moments." ’ The man bowed, and went up the walk.

Then he looked at Lord Henry. ‘"Dorian Gray is my dearest friend," he said. "He has a simple and a beautiful nature. Your aunt was quite right in what she said of him. Don't spoil him for me. Don't try to influence him. Your influence would be bad. The world is wide, and has many marvellous people in it. Don't take away from me the one person that makes life lovely absolutely lovely to me, and that gives me my art whatever wonder or charm it possesses. Mind, Harry, I trust you."’ He spoke very slowly, and the words seemed wrung out of him as almost against his will.

I don't suppose I shall care for him, and I am quite sure he won't care for me," "What nonsense you talk," said Lord Henry smiling, and, taking Hallward by the arm, he almost led him into the house.’