Bernard Shaw, Frank Harris & Oscar Wilde

By Robert Harborough Sherard | Go to book overview

III
EXALTED DUPES OF LITERARY IMPOSTURES

LADY WILDE had been so fascinated by Ossian and so completely bemused by the all-cozening Macpherson, that when she came to select Christian names for her second son it was to this spurious poem that she turned. Ossian it will be remembered was the son of Fingal and father of Oscar.Whence the names: Oscar Fingal for her baby boy.

Thus one impostor presided over the baptismal fount at which Wilde was ushered into this world.It will be mine to show that the stirrup-cup for his ride down the dim vista of posterity was handed him by another.

I must confess that when I came to write my Life of Oscar Wilde, I was in ignorance of the reason why these names were selected.Yet that book has been described as an "authoritative" biography.I can only say here in exculpation for such a careless oversight, that neither Oscar Wilde, nor his mother, nor any one of his family ever referred in my presence to the source whence Lady Wilde had taken these names.I had never read Ossian because Dr. Samuel Johnson had warned me against doing so, just as I am afraid hundreds and thousands of people the world over may be induced to read Harris's book in centuries to come, because George Bernard Shaw has urged them to do so.

As a matter of fact I stupidly attributed Lady Wilde's selection of her son's first Christian name to the fact that before his birth she had travelled in Sweden with Dr. Wilde, and there had come to know Oscar of Sweden, Duke of Ostergötland and a poet of parts, who afterwards became King.

-25-

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