Sir Robert Chiltern Of course I had private information about a certain transaction contemplated by the Government of the day, and I acted on it. Private information is practically the source of every large modern fortune.

Lord Goring (tapping his boot with his cane) And public scandal invariably the result.

Sir Robert Chiltern (pacing up and down the room) Arthur, do you think that what I did nearly eighteen years ago should be brought up against me now? Do you think it fair that a man’s whole career should be ruined for a fault done in one’s boyhood almost? I was twenty-two at the time, and I had the double misfortune of being well-born and poor,° two unforgivable things nowadays. Is it fair that the folly, the sin of one’s youth, if men choose to call it a sin, should wreck a life like mine, should place me in the pillory, should shatter all that I have worked for, all that I have built up? Is it fair, Arthur?

Lord Goring Life is never fair, Robert. And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.

Sir Robert Chiltern Every man of ambition has to fight his century with its own weapons. What this century worships is wealth. The god of this century is wealth. To succeed one must have wealth. At all costs one must have wealth.

Lord Goring You underrate yourself, Robert. Believe me, without wealth you could have succeeded just as well.

Sir Robert Chiltern When I was old, perhaps. When I had lost my passion for power, or could not use it. When I was tired, worn out, disappointed. I wanted my success when I was young. Youth is the time for success. I couldn’t wait.

Lord Goring Well, you certainly have had your success while you are still young. No one in our day has had such a brilliant success. Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs at the age of forty—that’s good enough for anyone, I should think.

Sir Robert Chiltern And if it is all taken away from me now? If I lose everything over a horrible scandal? If I am hounded from public life?

Lord Goring Robert, how could you have sold yourself for money?

Sir Robert Chiltern (excitedly) I did not sell myself for money. I bought success at a great price. That is all.

Lord Goring (gravely) Yes; you certainly paid a great price for it. But what first made you think of doing such a thing?

Sir Robert Chiltern Baron Arnheim.

Lord Goring Damned scoundrel!

Sir Robert Chiltern No; he was a man of a most subtle and refined intellect.° A man of culture, charm, and distinction. One of the most intellectual men I ever met.

Lord Goring Ah! I prefer a gentlemanly fool any day. There is more to be said for stupidity than people imagine. Personally I have a great admiration for stupidity. It is a sort of fellow-feeling, I suppose. But how did he do it? Tell me the whole thing.

Sir Robert Chiltern (throws himself into an armchair by the writing-table) One night after dinner at Lord Radley’s the Baron began talking about success in modern life as something that one could reduce to an absolutely definite science. With that wonderfully fascinating quiet voice of his he expounded to us the most terrible of all philosophies,° the philosophy of power, preached to us the most marvellous of all

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