cyril wilde

Oscar Wilde Anecdote #65

When his on Cyril asked him what he dreamed of, Oscar thought he would be expected to give some grand and wonderful answer. He went off on a tangent about dragons and other mythical creatures, going into elaborate detail about their scales and colours and patterns… but Cyril started to look bored, so Wilde asked him what he dreamed of. Cyril replied simply, “I dream of pigs.”

A photograph of Wilde’s eldest son Cyril that illustrated an article in The Studio art magazine in 1893. “I could not bear the idea of being separated from Cyril, that beautiful, loving, lovable child of mine,“ wrote Wilde to Bosie. Cyril and his younger brother, Vyvyan, were taken abroad by their mother after their father’s conviction and their surname changed to Holland. Although Constance did not wish them to forget Oscar (”Try not to feel harshly about your father, remember that he is your father and that he loves you,’ she wrote to Cyril), Wilde was never to see his children again.

Some years after Wilde’s death, his younger son Vyvyan received a letter from a Frenchman who, as a child, had known Wilde when he was in exile in France, following his release from prison and shortly before his death. In his book Time Remembered, Vyvyan published the contents of the letter:

One Autumn evening, while putting on my overcoat after finishing my meal, I clumsily upset something, perhaps a salt-cellar, on Monsieur Sebastian’s table. He said nothing, but my mother scolded me and told me to apologize, which I did, distressed by my clumsiness. But Monsieur Sebastian turned to my mother and said: ‘Be patient with your little boy. One must always be patient with them. If, one day, you should find yourself separated from him…’ I did not give him time to finish his sentence, but asked him: ‘Have you got a little boy?’ ‘I’ve got two’, he said. ‘Why don’t you bring them here with you?’ My mother interrupted … ‘It doesn’t matter; it doesn’t matter at all,’ he said with a sad smile. ‘They don’t come here with me because they are too far away…’ Then he took my hand, drew me to him and kissed me on both cheeks. I bade him farewell, and then I saw that he was crying. And we left.

While kissing me he had said a few words which I didn’t understand. But on the following day we arrived before him and a bank employee who used to sit at a table on the other side of us asked us: ‘Did you understand what Monsieur Sebastian said last evening?’ ‘No,’ we replied. ‘He said, in English: “Oh, my poor dear boys!”‘