An Ideal Husband
LORD GORING. Everything is dangerous, my dear fellow. If it wasn't so, life
wouldn't be worth living. . . . Well, I am bound to say that I think you should have
told her years ago.
SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. When? When we were engaged? Do you think she
would have married me if she had known that the origin of my fortune is such as
it is, the basis of my career such as it is, and that I had done a thing that I
suppose most men would call shameful and dishonourable?
LORD GORING. [Slowly.] Yes; most men would call it ugly names. There is no
doubt of that.
SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. [Bitterly.] Men who every day do something of the
same kind themselves. Men who, each one of them, have worse secrets in their
LORD GORING. That is the reason they are so pleased to find out other people's
secrets. It distracts public attention from their own.
SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. And, after all, whom did I wrong by what I did? No
LORD GORING. [Looking at him steadily.] Except yourself, Robert.
SIR ROBERT CHILTERN. [After a pause.] 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
LORD GORING. [Tapping his boot with his cane.] And public scandal invariably
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 unforgiveable 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.