Review of Reviews,  11 (1895), 491–500.

The Progress of the World



Regular Feature, Editorial, News-Commentary

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Crime, Sexology, Sex, Pathology, Morality, Schools, Engineering, Time

    Reports that the 'trial of Oscar Wilde and Taylor at the Old Bailey, resulting in their conviction and the infliction of what will probably be a capital sentence—for two years' hard labour in solitary confinement always breaks up the constitution even of tough and stalwart men—has forced upon the attention of the public the existence of a vice of which the most of us happily know nothing. The heinousness of the crime of Oscar Wilde and his associates does not lie, as is usually supposed, in its being unnatural. It would be unnatural for seventy-nine out of eighty persons. It is natural for the abnormal person who is in a minority of one. If the promptings of our animal nature are to be the only guide, the punishment of Oscar Wilde would savour of persecution [...]. But we are not merely animal. We are human beings living together in society, whose aim is to render social intercourse as free and as happy as possible', and the tolerance of crimes such as those of Wilde might cast 'the blighting shadow of possible wrong-doing' over the 'friendship between man and woman' (491–92). Points, nevertheless, to the hypocrisy of 'the tacit universal acquiescence of the very same public in the same kind of vice in our public schools', where 'boys are allowed to indulge with impunity in practices which, when they leave school, would consign them to hard labour'. Notes, however, that the 'English public has [...] taken comparatively little interest in the Wilde case, partly from the fact that they did not understand it, and chiefly because the newspapers cut down their reports to the minimum'. Instead, the 'great interest of May was cricket'. (492) Also records the opening of the Kiel Canal in Germany, observing that to 'spend millions in expediting the shrinkage of the world is a piece of work eminently characteristic of the end of the century, which is becoming quite intolerant of time and space' (495).

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