Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Uncle Oscar

Today is the birthday of our dear Uncle Oscar.

Oscar was brilliant, but had a bit of unpleasantness in his life after he became involved with a member of the Douglas family. Everyone knew the Douglas clan was a bit well, off-kilter. I mean really, the young man in question, 21 at the time he met Uncle Oscar, was nicknamed "Bosie" by his own mother! Bosie's father was pugilistically inclined and often threatened to beat people with a horse whip (and probably did), his Uncle was in love with his twin sister and after she married someone else kidnapped a young woman, another aunt was a suffragette, oh, the things that went on in that family!

At any rate, his relationship with Bosie proved to be Uncle Oscar's undoing. Uncle was packed off for two years of hard labor which basically destroyed him. Just three years after his time away, Uncle Oscar died in Paris, destitute, at the age of 46.

It was all so sad, Uncle had been such a brave man - he was the only well known author to sign George Bernard Shaw's petition to pardon the anarchists who had been arrested and were being being blamed for a riot in Chicago's Haymarket Square (they were later executed).

In his day, he was a well known author, playwright, poet, and lecturer (according to reports, he was particularly well received by cowboys in the old American West!)

I've collected just a few of my favorites of Uncle Oscar's comments as my way of remembering him today. Sadly, I've no time to do this right as I must go off to toil in the fields of Mammon.

It is perfectly monstrous the way people go about, nowadays, saying things against one behind one's back that are absolutely and entirely true.
-- “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

People who count their chickens before they are hatched, act very wisely, because chickens run about so absurdly that it is impossible to count them accurately.
-- Letter from Paris, dated May 1900

The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.
-- “Lord Arthur Savile's Crime”

Young men want to be faithful and are not; old men want to be faithless and cannot.
-- “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.
--  "An Ideal husband"

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
-- "Lady Windermere's Fan"

Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.

I can resist anything but temptation.

America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up.

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.

Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.

Biography lends to death a new terror.

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

I am not young enough to know everything.

I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability.

One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards.

Work is the curse of the drinking classes.

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.

Uncle's friend Bosie

Illusion is the first of all pleasures.

A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.

To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.

Wisdom comes with winters.

Happy Birthday, Unc !


Anonymous said...

"I think that God, in creating man, overestimated His ability."
well...that's okay....he got his mojo back with women
Great collection of quotes and fabulous old photos.

Austan said...

Oscar, Oscar, Oscar.

Did "Bosie" have a connotation I'm not aware of? (and the Douglases are still a headache. I know one in NYC who switched his name so he wouldn't be known as one.)

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." My favorite. Thank you, Oscar. From my adolescence and now heading into elder years, you never get stale.

sdt (a.k.a. stevil) said...

mbj/D - glad you enjoyed them. I've collected Uncle Oscar's quips and photos for years.

Austan - 'Bosie' was Lord Alfred's mother's version of "Boysie", which was a popular male name in the late 1800's. No special connotation that I know of, but it's a hell of a moniker to slap on a kid - "Bosie". Sounds like a cow kept at Boarding school.