FROM THE MORGUE
Copyright 2009 by William A. Mays, Proprietor
May 4, 1895
It would be idle to disguise the fact that one of the most startling events of the year is the frightful collapse of Oscar Wilde. Whatever may be thought of the man whose fall has been so terrible that it is impossible to discuss it in mixed society, the disappearance of the dramatist is a genuine cause for regret. Oscar Wilde's plays had a savor of their own that was decidedly pleasing to a jaded palate. They could not enjoy an enduring popularity, for if drama were universally written on the Oscar Wilde principle, the last condition of the stage would be worse than the first.
As a dramatist, however, Oscar Wilde was rather becoming the fashion, and there is no doubt that he might have made a great deal of money as well as reputation by his plays during the next few years. Now all England rings with his infamy. The breakdown of his action for libel against the Marquis of Queensberry finishes him socially, theatrically, artistically. Practically he is condemned out of his own mouth; but his counsel, in stopping the case and accepting an adverse verdict, made no secret of the fact that they were actuated not only by their client's astounding admissions in the witness-box, but also by the character of the evidence that was to be tendered for the defence–evidence which, judging from counsel's statement, would have constituted, perhaps, the greatest scandal that London has known.
Well, the exposure has come at last, and not altogether unexpectedly. It is more than two years since one first began to hear sinister rumors as to the mode of life of Oscar Wilde, and at least one theatre manager, to our knowledge, gave him a very serious warning. To this he paid no heed. Indeed, the assurance of the man in going into the witness box, in face of the unknown amount of evidence collected by his enemies, is incredible, and, in itself proves what an amount of unsuspected deterioration may take place in the nature of a man reputedly clever and brilliant. Society, which had begun to look askance at Oscar Wilde, suffers no loss through what has occurred, but the stage is decidedly the poorer, for of course there is now an end even to his writing of plays. Exit Oscar Wilde!
The National Police Gazette followed the career of Oscar Wilde with great interest, the Gazette no doubt finding Wilde a kindred spirit in irony. See, for example, "Oscar Wilde's Legs" from the December 30, 1882 edition. The May 4, 1895 edition contains full coverage of the scandal that ruined the great playwright, poet, and author, and included the following editorial: