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OSCAR WILDE--SHORTER PROSE PIECES
Phrases And Philosophies for the Use of The Young
Mrs. Langtry as Hester Grazebrook
Slaves of Fashion
More Radical Ideas upon Dress Reform
The American Invasion
Sermons in Stones at Bloomsbury
PHRASES AND PHILOSOPHIES FOR THE USE OF THE YOUNG
The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible. What
the second duty is no one has as yet discovered.
Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the
curious attractiveness of others.
If the poor only had profiles there would be no difficulty in
solving the problem of poverty.
Those who see any difference between soul and body have neither.
A really well-made buttonhole is the only link between Art and
Religions die when they are proved to be true. Science is the
record of dead religions.
The well-bred contradict other people. The wise contradict
Nothing that actually occurs is of the smallest importance.
Dulness is the coming of age of seriousness.
In all unimportant matters, style, not sincerity, is the essential.
In all important matters, style, not sincerity, is the essential.
If one tells the truth one is sure, sooner or later, to be found
Pleasure is the only thing one should live for. Nothing ages like
It is only by not paying one's bills that one can hope to live in
the memory of the commercial classes.
No crime is vulgar, but all vulgarity is crime. Vulgarity is the
conduct of others.
Only the shallow know themselves.
Time is waste of money.
One should always be a little improbable.
There is a fatality about all good resolutions. They are
invariably made too soon.
The only way to atone for being occasionally a little overdressed
is by being always absolutely overeducated.
To be premature is to be perfect.
Any preoccupation with ideas of what is right or wrong in conduct
shows an arrested intellectual development.
Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.
A truth ceases to be true when more than one person believes in it.
In examinations the foolish ask questions that the wise cannot
Greek dress was in its essence inartistic. Nothing should reveal
the body but the body.
One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.
It is only the superficial qualities that last. Man's deeper
nature is soon found out.
Industry is the root of all ugliness.
The ages live in history through their anachronisms.
It is only the gods who taste of death. Apollo has passed away,
but Hyacinth, whom men say he slew, lives on. Nero and Narcissus
are always with us.
The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything;
the young know everything.
The condition of perfection is idleness: the aim of perfection is
Only the great masters of style ever succeeded in being obscure.
There is something tragic about the enormous number of young men
there are in England at the present moment who start life with
perfect profiles, and end by adopting some useful profession.
To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.
MRS. LANGTRY AS HESTER GRAZEBROOK
It is only in the best Greek gems, on the silver coins of Syracuse,
or among the marble figures of the Parthenon frieze, that one can
find the ideal representation of the marvellous beauty of that face
which laughed through the leaves last night as Hester Grazebrook.
Pure Greek it is, with the grave low forehead, the exquisitely
arched brow; the noble chiselling of the mouth, shaped as if it
were the mouthpiece of an instrument of music; the supreme and
splendid curve of the cheek; the augustly pillared throat which
bears it all: it is Greek, because the lines which compose it are
so definite and so strong, and yet so exquisitely harmonized that
the effect is one of simple loveliness purely: Greek, because its
essence and its quality, as is the quality of music and of
architecture, is that of beauty based on absolutely mathematical
But while art remains dumb and immobile in its passionless
serenity, with the beauty of this face it is different: the grey
eyes lighten into blue or deepen into violet as fancy succeeds
fancy; the lips become flower-like in laughter or, tremulous as a
bird's wing, mould themselves at last into the strong and bitter
moulds of pain or scorn. And then motion comes, and the statue
wakes into life. But the life is not the ordinary life of common
days; it is life with a new value given to it, the value of art:
and the charm to me of Hester Grazebrook's acting in the first
scene of the play last night was that mingling of classic grace
with absolute reality which is the secret of all beautiful art, of
the plastic work of the Greeks and of the pictures of Jean Francois
I do not think that the sovereignty and empire of women's beauty
has at all passed away, though we may no longer go to war for them
as the Greeks did for the daughter of Leda. The greatest empire
still remains for them--the empire of art. And, indeed, this
wonderful face, seen last night for the first time in America, has
filled and permeated with the pervading image of its type the whole
of our modern art in England. Last century it was the romantic
type which dominated in art, the type loved by Reynolds and
Gainsborough, of wonderful contrasts of colour, of exquisite and
varying charm of expression, but without that definite plastic
feeling which divides classic from romantic work. This type
degenerated into mere facile prettiness in the hands of lesser
masters, and, in protest against it, was created by the hands of
the Pre-Raphaelites a new type, with its rare combination of Greek
form with Florentine mysticism. But this mysticism becomes over-
strained and a burden, rather than an aid to expression, and a
desire for the pure Hellenic joy and serenity came in its place;
and in all our modern work, in the paintings of such men as Albert
Moore and Leighton and Whistler, we can trace the influence of this
single face giving fresh life and inspiration in the form of a new