Bernard Shaw, Frank Harris & Oscar Wilde

By Robert Harborough Sherard | Go to book overview

V
THE MAN AND THE BOOK

I AM sorry that Harris in his account of his visit to Oakley Street (pp. 281, 282) adduces my testimony which many years previously I had given of it, because this tends to make it guarantee the various fabrications in connection with this visit which follow on his invitation to Wilde and the latter's very seemly refusal of it. Wilde did not go out with Harris that day and consequently the luncheon in the private room at the restaurant in Great Portland Street never took place, nor the conversation between Harris and Wilde that Harris alleged was held then and there.

This conversation is one of the many infamous fabrications in the book. It is the one in which Harris represents Wilde as confessing to him, Harris, the "fantastic and incredible" thing: that he was not innocent of the charges which had been brought against him at the Old Bailey.It gives Harris a splendid opportunity of proving the extent of his friendship by declaring that this confession "made no difference at all" to him.It also leads the way to the tale of his efforts to induce Wilde to flee the country and to his absurd story— implicitly believed in by Shaw and others—of the M.P.'s yacht at Erith and the two-pair brougham of his imagination.This was a mere substitution of himself for the present writer and I must say that though I never publicly objected to his copious plagiarisms from my book, I did think this other kind of plagiarism, this ôte-toi de là que je m'y mette by which he robbed me of any little admiration from the lawless for an act of reckless self-sacrifice, did rouse some indignation in me. I deal with the whole fabrication lower down.

-50-

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