THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
By Oscar Wilde
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-bags on which he
Was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes, Lord
Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and
Honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed
Hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flamelike 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 of Tokio who, through
The medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey
The sense of swiftness and motion. The sullen murmur of the bees
Shouldering their way through the long unmown grass, or circling
With monotonous insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the
Straggling woodbine, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. The
Dim roar of London was like the burdon note of a distant organ.
In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the
Full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal
Beauty, and in front of it, some little distance away, was sitting the
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 the painter looked at the gracious and comely form he had so
Skilfully mirrored in his art, a 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. Whenever I
Have gone there, there have either been so many people that I have not
Been able to see the pictures, which was dreadful, or so many pictures
That I have not been able to see the people, which was worse. The
Grosvenor is really the only place.”
“I don’t think I shall send it anywhere,” he answered, tossing his
Head back in that odd way that used to make his friends laugh at him
At Oxford. “No; I won’t send it anywhere.”
Lord Henry elevated his eyebrows, and looked at him in amazement
Through the thin blue wreaths 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 any reason?
What odd chaps you painters are! You do anything in the world to
Gain a reputation. As soon as you have one, you seem to want to
Throw it away.