Bernard Shaw, Frank Harris & Oscar Wilde

By Robert Harborough Sherard | Go to book overview

XI
A POSTSCRIPT TO THACKERAY

SHAW and Harris, then, accuse Wilde of being a snob. Alfred Douglas did so, too, formerly, but he has since entirely withdrawn this and other charges against his friend.We can safely attribute this particular charge, as made in Oscar Wilde and Myself, to T. W. Crosland who, having often been compared to an inspired omnibus conductor, might without any misuse of words be spoken of himself as a "snob"—which used to be the generic name given to bus conductors in the early days of that mode of traffic.

Nobody was less a snob than Oscar Wilde.It was impossible for him to be one. A Fouquet may choose as his motto Quo non ascendam; Oscar Wilde, by his mental composition, his culture and, if you wish, his innate powers of earning fortunes and titles, had no higher heights to climb.

In the sarcastic chapter on " Literary Snobs," in his Book of Snobs, Thackeray sets down vulgarity, envy and assumption as the three constituent elements of snobbishness.Who could charge Wilde with vulgarity? Can a single vulgar word be found in any of his writings? Can a single person, of those who knew him in his life-time— Harold Nicolson and Vincent O'Sullivan not excluded—say that they ever heard a coarse word or faintest evil suggestion from his smiling lips? Even Harris admits this and helps himself to the very words with which I formulated this tribute.

So much for vulgarity. Then as to envy, does it need, at this time of day, any demonstration on my part to show that

-128-

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