Oscar_Wilde_-1

Oscar and the Oxford bullies

T. Earle Welby (1881-1933) is an almost forgotten writer, columnist and character. He is at present unknown to Wikipedia although Bill Greenwell writes about him at his blog about the New Statesman competition.  It's odd that this should be his only memorial as he was somewhat right wing and hostile to democracy.He enjoyed conversation, and was known for a mannerism whereby he used a sideways movement of his hand for emphasis, which, since it was often associated with his reminiscence of India, was described by a wit as 'the Calcutta Sweep.' His collection of literary essays has a review of a memoir by the actor manger Sir Frank Benson who was at Oxord with Oscar Wilde. Welby writes:

Oscar Wilde, a contemporary at another college, was, (Sir Frank) tells us, so far from being in those days 'a flabby aesthete' that only one man in that college was physically his match. Four raggers having decided to wreck his rooms, Wilde knocked down three, picked up the fourth and carried that vainly struggling enemy to his rooms, piled up all his furniture on top of the poor wretch, and then invited a crowd which had changed its allegiance to celebrate the triumph in the wines of that parsimonious creature. Excellent! and, disapproving of those who engage in horseplay with ass-sense, were I capable of tampering consciously with the sacred text of Peacock I should comment :

'The wines of beasts provide our feast,
And their overthrow our chorus.'

But, and alas! it is very evident Sir Frank Benson thinks that if Wilde had kept to throwing hefty men downstairs he would have written something better than that matchless play, The Importance of Being Earnest, which is at once the perfect comedy of manners and the perfect parody of the comedy of manners.

**Welby is included in The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations for this piece from his culinary book The Dinner Knell : '"Turbot, sir," said the waiter, placing before me two fishbones, two eyeballs, and a bit of black mackintosh…'

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