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Los Angeles herald [microform]. (Los Angeles [Calif.]) 1900-1911, August 21, 1910, Image 40

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042462/1910-08-21/ed-1/seq-40/

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THE REHABILITATION
OF OSCAR WILDE
lly Edwards Davin, M. A., who present*
"The Flrhpre of Dor Inn Gray," an Oscar
Wilde sketch, at the Orpheum this werk.
NOT since that epochal day when
Jesus Christ was crucified has
there been such a perspicuous
resurrection in the world of letters as
in the instance of the recent rehabili
tation of Oscar Wilde.
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde
was so christened at a prescribed date
not long after his birth on October 16.
1854. Nearly half a century afterward,
exact date being November 30, 1900,
holy unction was administered. By
some of his friends it is claimed that
the administering of a sacrament was
a mistake, In so much as it was given
when the subject was unconscious.
Possibly the most gorgeous beauty of
the eternal church is that as a valiant
mother it stands ready to assume the
guardianship of a life, and in death
to lay its mantle of compassion on the
< orpse of broken dreams.
Could a tacit compact of a little
gentility in England have lasted, Os
car Wilde would have been exiled from
his immortality. But the imperial
kingdom of fate will not be cheated ot
her citizens; the inexorable law of
compensation cannot be transgressed
even by the stupid without the final
punishment of their own chagrin. For
of what is the intelligent denizen of
our pseudo-civilization more ashamed
—after a reconsideration of less than
twenty years—the pitiful crime of the
neurotic Wilde, or the crime of our
stolid society against that perverse
unfortunate? Shall we refuse a monu
ment of memory to the genius and
mental product of Poe because pos
sibly his idiosyncrasy was dipsomania
and that he happened to have the bad
taste to choose to d:e of delirium
tremens? Shall we Ignore the fact of
the existence of the philosophy of
Nietzsche because it became the ca
price of his intellect to "be sent to an
asylum"? Surely that is hardly a
sufficient distinction for one's fame to
rest upon, since there are so many
brilliant men who have not compelled
their contemporaries to convey them
to some rendezvous of the eccentric.
Sail we belittle the victories of Grant
because too many a coil of smoke
caused him to die of cancer in the
mouth? If the product of the brain
is to be forever associated with the
function of the physique, shall we not
reject "Don Juan" because of the con
genital lameness of Byron, or shall we
deny the dignity of Pope's "Essay on
May" because he was physically de
formed, or can we contend that "Tarn
O'Phanter" will not reman permanent
in its worth because Burns was fickle
of heart?
Wilde hnd B« "aversion to all forms
of activity," so one of h!s expert critics
his contended, holding that as a proof
of h's abnormality. At least it cannot
he said of him that he was indolent
intellectually, As a youth hp won the
Tterkeley gold medal at Trinity, and at
Oxford he received the Newdigate
prize for English verse. No nuthor
vns over more exquisitely prepared to
write. Nn mnste>- of his art ever more
perfectly expressed what he was not
expected to say. At Oxford he came
under the benign influence of John
Ruskin. That is one of the charming
novelt'es of any great intellect, its
effect is so uncertain. Oscar "Wilde
was a man of distinct education. That
is one of the certain things about an
education, it ?o seldom leads us where
we expect it to. It led Wilde by his
own effigial fires to enlighten the
world but in h's effort to illuminate
he engloomed himself. The tragic cry
which shrieks through the pages of
"De Profundis" is heard in the pri
mary plaintiff of the Aesthete:
"O, would that I could live up to my
blue china!"
At an early age Wilde was cari
catured by DuMaurier in his pen
sketches and by W. S. Gilbert In his
opera "Patience." The subject of their
ridicule wore knee breeches, a velvet
coat and a flowing tie. But is it not
of record that Balzac assumed the
monk's cowl, that Joaquin Miller as
sumed the costume of the vaquero and
that Mark Twain assumed the white
full dress suit? Wilde's joke on civil
ization got its laugh. London lionized
him and America sent for him, not
because he had written a book of
worthy verse, but that he for a period
had seen fit to pose as a freik.
When Wilde arrived In New York
on being inanely asked what he had to
say of his voyage, he cleverly an
■wered: "I am not exactly pleased
LOS ANGELES HERALD SUNDAY MAGAZINE
D^HH^DHBHHHiH^HBRBHBBBIBHIH^^^K - •' \ * *
with the Atlantic. It is not so ma
jestic as I expected." Yet the Sun in
reviewing his lecture stated that it was
"not a performance so trifling as to
insult the intelligence of the audience,
but a carefully prepared essay which
proves its author to be a man of culti
vation, taste, imagination, education
and refinement."
Now, it happens I was a lecturer
once. In fact, I lectured over two
hundred times. The title of my lec
ture, however, I have since forgotten,
but the Sun never wrote of me so ef
fusively. Wilde earned a fortune in a
season by his talk. Then he returned,
not to London, but to Paris. Any ex
panding soul will eventually outgrow
its home town. In Paris Wilde came
under the Influence of Balzac and
Baudelaire. Then he wrote "The
Duchess of Padua." That play had
been written for Mary Anderson. She
refused it, not being equal to it, yet
being wise enough to know it. That
was nearly thirty years ago. Recent
dispatches from London announce that
"The Duchess of Padua" is to be pro
duced by George Alexander at the St.
James' theater as soon as "The Im
portance of Being Earnest" has fin
ished its run at that distinguished
theater.
When Wilde returned from Paris to
London one Labouchere wrote an ar
ticle entitled "Exit Oscar." You may
ask, "Who was Labouchere?" It is not
necessary to ask who is Oscar Wilde.
As a matter of truth, Wilde is just be
ginning to make his re-entrance into
the theater of serious attention. At that
time he replied to his critic: "If it took
Labouchere three colmns to prove that
I was forgotten, then there is no dif
ference between fame and obscurity."
On the return of Wilde to England
from Paris he was compelled to take
again to the lecture platform. As a
mode of employment, lecturing is pre
ferable to the excitements of poverty.
In the May of 1884 Wilde married.
That fact, however, is hardly worthy
of mentioning, since so many men do
that. It is somewhat unique, though,
that his wife's dowry enabled the
young couple to lease a house on Tite
street, decorated under the direction of
Whistler, who was counted an intimate
friend of Wilde's. At a dinner given by
Wilde a certain witticism was uttered
by Whistler. Wilde immediately con
fessed that he wished he had said it.
"You will in time, Oscar," answered the
wit-painter.
In the first of his career Wilde stated
that he wanted to "eat of the fruit of
all the trees in the garden of the
world." In the last of his life the fol
lowing significant sentence followed
from his pen: "What one has done In
the secret chamber one has some day to
cry aloud on the housetops."
The philosophy of Wilde is only dan
gerous to that one who does not know
the life of Wilde; a knowledge of sin
In another is an expedient way of be-
Edwards Davis
ing saved the bother of being com
pelled to commit the sin on one's self.
That Is a new mode of the vicarious
atonement.
It Is claimed by the symbolist, Henri
de Rignier, that Wilde's classical
studies and his research into the social
conditions of Greece so accustomed
him to certain pathological indications
that he was really not aware of the
world in which he was living. "He
lived in Italy at the time of the re
naissance or in Greece in the time of
Socrates. He was punished lor a
chronological error."
Max Nordau classed Wilde as "a
pervert and a degenerate," but before
I had finished reading Max Nordau's
"Degeneration" I was convinced that
either Nordau was a degenerate also
and a psrvert or that I was. To my
mind, "As a man thinketh, so is he."
I have found beauty, brilliance and
profundity in the orchidaceous lavish
ment of Wilde's exotic waste.
Surely it Is not with the etiquette of
the gods that we should call each other
names and think evil of each other, as
if we were only human. When we
consider that this erring brother of our
mortal kin, though whipped through
life with his whims, before he drew
about his honorable genius the silent
pall of shame, took pains in "Decor
ative Art" to be a lecturer as brilliant
as Tilton or Beecher—except that each
saw the universe from a different cor
ner—and that in "Intentions" he took
the pains to be an essayist in the class
of Thoreau or Emerson, and that in
"The Soul of Man Under Socialism"
and in "De Profundls" to be a phil
osopher of as distinct a tenet as Scho
penhauer, and that In "The Picture of
Dorian Gray" he took the pains to be
as weirdly picturesque as Balzac, and
that In "Lady Windemero's Pan,' 1 "A
AVoman of No Importance," "An Ideal
Husband" and "The Importance of
Boing Earnest" he took the pains to
be as clever as Shaw and as capable
as Pinero, and that in "The Ballad of
Reading Gaol" and "Salome" he had
the verve to be a poet of the merit of
Swinburne or Whitman or Poe; re
membering his efforts and accomplish
ments shall we not, since we have the
power to he like God, forget the fault
and find the virtue in this creature of
the Infinite?
It is vain for a man to be more nice
than God.
UMPIRING
Two young lovers In a good night em
brace in the entrance hall were sur
prised by the girl's elder sister com
ing in.
"We were seeing which is the taller,"
the young man explained in some con
fusion.
"You are about ten inches taller than
Edith," said the sister, "and she Is at
least ten shades redder than you."—
Everybody's Magazine.
AUGUST 21, 1910.
A NECESSARY PRECAUTION
FOR THE HOMESTEADER
If you want to homestead you must
make up your mind to do one of two
things, says Fred Bates Johnson In
Success Magazine. Either go away
back fifteen, twenty-five or fifty miles
from one of the railroads already built
or project yourself ahead of a railroad
that is building, like the Grand Trunk
Pacific, near the line of what you
know is the right of way, and wait
for the road to come. In the latter
case you are practically sure that a
few months will see civilization creep
up to you. In the former case your
situation is more uncertain; a<< yet no
railroad is even aiming at you. But
in that event you may fall back on
the general proposition, voiced by the
big railroad presidents that "a railroad
Is good for every fifteen miles of fer
tile country," and with one general
belief in such a proposition and an
other In your own appointed destiny
you may wait until one or the other
of these generalizations develops into a
reality. And you may wait some time.
Speaking plainly, however, if you
build away from a now existing rail
road you are pretty safe, If this West
ern Canada land is what it seems to
be. The weather question is basic. If
solved In favor of the country It is best
to follow the line of a new railroad,
going out beyond its present terminus,
if necessary, for then you will be doing
what the lucky "back east" did—get
in on the ground floor.
The Fillmore Faculty IX
Hie W^HfT'' '■'■*& vHBH SB
|^H^^^^^^H^^k^^Kj%* ... ......
MRS . EDITH JAMISON LOWE. VOICI
Mrs. Lowe has returned from New
York city, where she has been living
for the past nine months. Before go-
Ing abroad to study, three years ago,
Mrs. Lowe was one of the well known
singers of Los Angeles, and was a
prominent member of the Los Angeles
Bbell, the Lyric and other women's
clubs of this city. At one of the meet
ings of the Imperial Order of the
Daughters of the Empire in Brooklyn
Mrs. Lowe gave a program of antique
and modern Italian songs and was
highly complimented by Sir Edward
Tennant, brother-in-law of Lord As
quith. Mrs. Lowe appeared in concert
in New York city May 4. One of the
numbers she gave on this occasion was
an aria from the first American grand
opera, "Sarrona," which was per
formed for the first time In America
at the New Amsterdam theater, Feb
ruary 8. Mrs. Lowe was accompanied
by Legrand Howland, me composer
of "Sarrona."
Mrs. Lowe studied voice in New
York city under Madame Louise yon
Fellitzsch and Madame Longley-
Weldler, and in Florence, Italy, with
Isidore Bragglotti, one of the great
voice builders of Europe. Raffaello
Panzanl, for nine years operatic coach
In Madame Marchesl's school In Paris,
was Mrs. Lowe's repertoire teacher.
"While connected with Madame Mar
chesi's school, Slgnor Panzanl coached
such artists as Melba, Sybil Sanderson,
Emma Eames, Pol Plancon and others
of world-wide fame.
Mrs. Lowe expects to remain in Los
Angeles-for the coming season, and
has accepted a position as one of the
faculty of the Flllmore School of
Music.
LOOKING AHEAD
B!H—And do I understand that you accept
money from your wife's father?
Jill—Certainly, I do! I'm getting together
a fund I will need nome day when I'll have
to pay my wife alimony!—Tonkers Statei
man.

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