Bernard Shaw, Frank Harris & Oscar Wilde

By Robert Harborough Sherard | Go to book overview

XVI
HARRIS'S FALSETTO TOP-NOTE

OSCAR WILDE was certainly not dressed in any "lovely clothes" when I first saw him after his release from gaol, at Dieppe in June, 1897. Indeed he looked untidy.The only reference he made to Frank Harris during the three days I spent with him in Berneval was to say that the proposed driving‐ tour might have been pleasant, but that he felt physically unfit to accept Harris's invitation.Now, although I am convinced that Harris's secret purpose was to get at first-hand and in enormous details materials for some future publication on Wilde's prison experiences and his comments thereupon, for the merest abridgement of which the famous "American reporter" had been prepared to pay Wilde£1,000 at the prison‐ gates, I say it is a thousand pities that Wilde did not accept this offer.It would have saved him from the disorder and recklessness of his life at Berneval; the dissipation almost to the last penny of his resources and, best of all, from being wooed back into that horrible brotherhood on which he had hoped and striven to turn his back for ever.An incident occurred there, which at the time impressed me not at all, but which under the blinding light that has since been shed on the character and morale of the other actor in this episode, leaves me no room for doubt that it was at Berneval that a deliberate attempt was made to drag Wilde back into Malebolge.This remembrance and a fact that has recently transpired, have entirely modified my former views on Wilde's anxious flight to Naples in October of that year, while the publication of his letters from Berneval to "Bosie" prove that the love that drew him there

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