was on the ninth of November, the eve of his own thirty-eighth
birthday, as he often remembered afterwards.
He was walking home about eleven
o'clock from Lord Henry's, where he had been dining, and was
wrapped in heavy furs, as the night was cold and foggy. At the
corner of Grosvenor Square and South Audley Street, a man passed
him in the mist, walking very fast and with the collar of his
grey ulster turned up. He had a bag in his hand. Dorian recognized
him. It was Basil Hallward. A strange sense of fear, for which
he could not account, came over him. He made no sign of recognition
and went on quickly in the direction of his own house.
But Hallward had seen him. Dorian
heard him first stopping on the pavement and then hurrying after
him. In a few moments, his hand was on his arm.
"Dorian! What an extraordinary
piece of luck! I have been waiting for you in your library ever
since nine o'clock. Finally I took pity on your tired servant
and told him to go to bed, as he let me out. I am off to Paris
by the midnight train, and I particularly wanted to see you before
I left. I thought it was you, or rather your fur coat, as you
passed me. But I wasn't quite sure. Didn't you recognize me?"
"In this fog, my dear Basil?
Why, I can't even recognize Grosvenor Square. I believe my house
is somewhere about here, but I don't feel at all certain about
it. I am sorry you are going away, as I have not seen you for
ages. But I suppose you will be back soon?"
"No: I am going to be out
of England for six months. I intend to take a studio in Paris
and shut myself up till I have finished a great picture I have
in my head. However, it wasn't about myself I wanted to talk.
Here we are at your door. Let me come in for a moment. I have
something to say to you."
"I shall be charmed. But
won't you miss your train?" said Dorian Gray languidly as
he passed up the steps and opened the door with his latch-key.
The lamplight struggled out through
the fog, and Hallward looked at his watch. "I have heaps
of time," he answered. "The train doesn't go till twelve-fifteen,
and it is only just eleven. In fact, I was on my way to the club
to look for you, when I met you. You see, I shan't have any delay
about luggage, as I have sent on my heavy things. All I have
with me is in this bag, and I can easily get to Victoria in twenty
Dorian looked at him and smiled.
"What a way for a fashionable painter to travel! A Gladstone
bag and an ulster! Come in, or the fog will get into the house.
And mind you don't talk about anything serious. Nothing is serious
nowadays. At least nothing should be."
Hallward shook his head, as he
entered, and followed Dorian into the library. There was a bright
wood fire blazing in the large open hearth. The lamps were lit,
and an open Dutch silver spirit-case stood, with some siphons
of soda-water and large cut-glass tumblers, on a little marqueterie
"You see your servant made
me quite at home, Dorian. He gave me everything I wanted, including
your best gold-tipped cigarettes. He is a most hospitable creature.
I like him much better than the Frenchman you used to have. What
has become of the Frenchman, by the bye?"
Dorian shrugged his shoulders.
"I believe he married Lady Radley's maid, and has established
her in Paris as an English dressmaker. Anglomania is very
fashionable over there now, I hear. It seems silly of the French,
doesn't it? But do you know?
he was not at all a bad servant. I never liked him, but I had
nothing to complain about. One often imagines things that are
quite absurd. He was really very devoted to me and seemed quite
sorry when he went away. Have another brandy-and-soda? Or would
you like hock-and-seltzer? I always take hock-and-seltzer myself.
There is sure to be some in the next room."
"Thanks, I won't have anything
more," said the painter, taking his cap and coat off and
throwing them on the bag that he had placed in the corner. "And
now, my dear fellow, I want to speak to you seriously. Don't
frown like that. You make it so much more difficult for me."
"What is it all about?"
cried Dorian in his petulant way, flinging himself down on the
sofa. "I hope it is not about myself. I am tired of myself
to-night. I should like to be somebody else."
"It is about yourself,"
answered Hallward in his grave deep voice, "and I must say
it to you. I shall only keep you half an hour."
Dorian sighed and lit a cigarette.
"Half an hour!" he murmured.
"It is not much to ask of
you, Dorian, and it is entirely for your own sake that I am speaking.
I think it right that you should know that the most dreadful
things are being said against you in London."
"I don't wish to know anything
about them. I love scandals about other people, but scandals
about myself don't interest me. They have not got the charm of
"They must interest you,
Dorian. Every gentleman is interested in his good name. You don't
want people to talk of you as something vile and degraded. Of
course, you have your position, and your wealth, and all that
kind of thing. But position and wealth are not everything. Mind
you, I don't believe these rumours at all. At least, I can't
believe them when I see you. Sin is a thing that writes itself
across a man's face. It cannot be concealed. People talk sometimes
of secret vices. There are no such things. If a wretched man
has a vice, it shows itself in the lines of his mouth, the droop
of his eyelids, the moulding of his hands even. Somebody
I won't mention his name, but you know him came
to me last year to have his portrait done. I had never seen him
before, and had never heard anything about him at the time, though
I have heard a good deal since. He offered an extravagant price.
I refused him. There was something in the shape of his fingers
that I hated. I know now that I was quite right in what I fancied
about him. His life is dreadful. But you, Dorian, with your pure,
bright, innocent face, and your marvellous untroubled youth
I can't believe anything against you. And yet I see you very
seldom, and you never come down to the studio now, and when I
am away from you, and I hear all these hideous things that people
are whispering about you, I don't know what to say. Why is it,
Dorian, that a man like the Duke of Berwick leaves the room of
a club when you enter it? Why is it that so many gentlemen in
London will neither go to your house or invite you to theirs?
You used to be a friend of Lord Staveley. I met him at dinner
last week. Your name happened to come up in conversation, in
connection with the miniatures you have lent to the exhibition
at the Dudley. Staveley curled his lip and said that you might
have the most artistic tastes, but that you were a man whom no
pure-minded girl should be allowed to know, and whom no chaste
woman should sit in the same room with. I reminded him that I
was a friend of yours, and asked him what he meant. He told me.
He told me right out before everybody. It was horrible! Why is
your friendship so fatal to young men? There was that wretched
boy in the Guards who committed suicide. You were his great friend.
There was Sir Henry Ashton, who had to leave England with a tarnished
name. You and he were inseparable. What about Adrian Singleton
and his dreadful end? What about Lord Kent's only son and his
career? I met his father yesterday in St. James's Street. He
seemed broken with shame and sorrow. What about the young Duke
of Perth? What sort of life has he got now? What gentleman would
associate with him?"
"Stop, Basil. You are talking
about things of which you know nothing," said Dorian Gray,
biting his lip, and with a note of infinite contempt in his voice.
"You ask me why Berwick leaves a room when I enter it. It
is because I know everything about his life, not because he knows
anything about mine. With such blood as he has in his veins,
how could his record be clean? You ask me about Henry Ashton
and young Perth. Did I teach the one his vices, and the other
his debauchery? If Kent's silly son takes his wife from the streets,
what is that to me? If Adrian Singleton writes his friend's name
across a bill, am I his keeper? I know how people chatter in
England. The middle classes air their moral prejudices over their
gross dinner-tables, and whisper about what they call the profligacies
of their betters in order to try and pretend that they are in
smart society and on intimate terms with the people they slander.
In this country, it is enough for a man to have distinction and
brains for every common tongue to wag against him. And what sort
of lives do these people, who pose as being moral, lead themselves?
My dear fellow, you forget that we are in the native land of
"Dorian," cried Hallward,
"that is not the question. England is bad enough I know,
and English society is all wrong. That is the reason why I want
you to be fine. You have not been fine. One has a right to judge
of a man by the effect he has over his friends. Yours seem to
lose all sense of honour, of goodness, of purity. You have filled
them with a madness for pleasure. They have gone down into the
depths. You led them there. Yes: you led them there, and yet
you can smile, as you are smiling now. And there is worse behind.
I know you and Harry are inseparable. Surely for that reason,
if for none other, you should not have made his sister's name
"Take care, Basil. You go
"I must speak, and you must
listen. You shall listen. When you met Lady Gwendolen, not a
breath of scandal had ever touched her. Is there a single decent
woman in London now who would drive with her in the park? Why,
even her children are not allowed to live with her. Then there
are other stories stories that you have been
seen creeping at dawn out of dreadful houses and slinking in
disguise into the foulest dens in London. Are they true? Can
they be true? When I first heard them, I laughed. I hear them
now, and they make me shudder. What about your country-house
and the life that is led there? Dorian, you don't know what is
said about you. I won't tell you that I don't want to preach
to you. I remember Harry saying once that every man who turned
himself into an amateur curate for the moment always began by
saying that, and then proceeded to break his word. I do want
to preach to you. I want you to lead such a life as will make
the world respect you. I want you to have a clean name and a
fair record. I want you to get rid of the dreadful people you
associate with. Don't shrug your shoulders like that. Don't be
so indifferent. You have a wonderful influence. Let it be for
good, not for evil. They say that you corrupt every one with
whom you become intimate, and that it is quite sufficient for
you to enter a house for shame of some kind to follow after.
I don't know whether it is so or not. How should I know? But
it is said of you. I am told things that it seems impossible
to doubt. Lord Gloucester was one of my greatest friends at Oxford.
He showed me a letter that his wife had written to him when she
was dying alone in her villa at Mentone. Your name was implicated
in the most terrible confession I ever read. I told him that
it was absurd that I knew you thoroughly and
that you were incapable of anything of the kind. Know you? I
wonder do I know you? Before I could answer that, I should have
to see your soul."
"To see my soul!" muttered
Dorian Gray, starting up from the sofa and turning almost white
"Yes," answered Hallward
gravely, and with deep-toned sorrow in his voice, "to see
your soul. But only God can do that."
A bitter laugh of mockery broke
from the lips of the younger man. "You shall see it yourself,
to-night!" he cried, seizing a lamp from the table. "Come:
it is your own handiwork. Why shouldn't you look at it? You can
tell the world all about it afterwards, if you choose. Nobody
would believe you. If they did believe you, they would like me
all the better for it. I know the age better than you do, though
you will prate about it so tediously. Come, I tell you. You have
chattered enough about corruption. Now you shall look on it face
There was the madness of pride
in every word he uttered. He stamped his foot upon the ground
in his boyish insolent manner. He felt a terrible joy at the
thought that some one else was to share his secret, and that
the man who had painted the portrait that was the origin of all
his shame was to be burdened for the rest of his life with the
hideous memory of what he had done.
"Yes," he continued,
coming closer to him and looking steadfastly into his stern eyes,
"I shall show you my soul. You shall see the thing that
you fancy only God can see."
Hallward started back. "This
is blasphemy, Dorian!" he cried. "You must not say
things like that. They are horrible, and they don't mean anything."
"You think so?" He
"I know so. As for what
I said to you to-night, I said it for your good. You know I have
been always a stanch friend to you."
"Don't touch me. Finish
what you have to say."
A twisted flash of pain shot
across the painter's face. He paused for a moment, and a wild
feeling of pity came over him. After all, what right had he to
pry into the life of Dorian Gray? If he had done a tithe of what
was rumoured about him, how much he must have suffered! Then
he straightened himself up, and walked over to the fire-place,
and stood there, looking at the burning logs with their frostlike
ashes and their throbbing cores of flame.
"I am waiting, Basil,"
said the young man in a hard clear voice.
He turned round. "What I
have to say is this," he cried. "You must give me some
answer to these horrible charges that are made against you. If
you tell me that they are absolutely untrue from beginning to
end, I shall believe you. Deny them, Dorian, deny them! Can't
you see what I am going through? My God! don't tell me that you
are bad, and corrupt, and shameful."
Dorian Gray smiled. There was
a curl of contempt in his lips. "Come upstairs, Basil,"
he said quietly. "I keep a diary of my life from day to
day, and it never leaves the room in which it is written. I shall
show it to you if you come with me."
"I shall come with you,
Dorian, if you wish it. I see I have missed my train. That makes
no matter. I can go to-morrow. But don't ask me to read anything
to-night. All I want is a plain answer to my question."
"That shall be given to
you upstairs. I could not give it here. You will not have to
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