The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: plagiarism
Record 17 of 20

System Number: 05991
Date: [January 1890?][1]
Author: Herbert Vivian[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler V79
Document Type: ADI

This may amuse you?


A Ballade of Lost Illusions

Oh! why are the cherished illusions of youth
All fated to fly as we fade & grow old?
Oh! why why do we find that in nothing is truth,
That ev'rything's tinsel we thought to be gold?
We thought we were conquered - not merely cajoled,
With harrassing [sic] doubt all our faiths are imbued,
A timorous creature we honored as bold,
For Oscar[3] is stupid & childish & rude.

The Hamlet[4] we hailed is a clown in a booth,
In buying our pleasures we find we've been sold,
The tragedy-queen is a wanton forsooth
And connoisseurs shew us the flaws in the mould
Of the bronze that we deemed it a joy to behold,
The Sharper we think ourselves - more we are jewed
All our warm worship grows tepid - then cold
For Oscar is stupid & childish & rude

[p. 2]
The manners we thought so urbane are uncouth
The speech we thought golden shews faults manifold,
Look not the gift ass in the mouth, will shew for his tooth
Will shew you how falsely his "points" were extolled
New years in our prophet new follies unfold
The hero we vaunted's a shallow-brained dude,
Vainly our idol we strive to uphold,
For Oscar is stupid & childish & rude.


Oh, Jimmy! the knell of his greatness you tolled
Though then believe you his [memoirs?] eschewed
And now we confess that our prophet's mean-souled
For Oscar is si stupid & childish & rude

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1.  [January 1890?]
Dated by publications (see below).

2.  Herbert Vivian
Herbert Vivian (1865-1940), author, editor of The Whirlwind [more]. The first chapter of Herbert Vivian's The Reminiscences of a Short Life were published in The Sun on 17 November 1889. In it he discussed Wilde as a plagiarist. This resulted in a letter from JW to Truth that was published on 2 January 1890 (#05861), and Wilde's response, published on 9 January (Holland, Merlin and Rupert Hart-Davis, eds, The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London, 2000, pp. 418-20).

3.  Oscar
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde (1854-1900), writer, critic and playwright [more].

4.  Hamlet
Hero of Shakespeare's play of that name.