In mid-1891 Lionel Johnson introduced Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas, an undergraduate at Oxford at the time. Known to his family and friends as "Bosie", he was a handsome and spoilt young man. An intimate friendship sprang up between Wilde and Douglas and by 1893 Wilde was infatuated with Douglas and they consorted together regularly in a tempestuous affair. If Wilde was relatively indiscreet, even flamboyant, in the way he acted, Douglas was reckless in public. Wilde, who was earning up to £100 a week from his plays (his salary at The Woman's World had been £6), indulged Douglas's every whim: material, artistic or sexual.

Douglas soon dragged Wilde into the Victorian underground of gay prostitution and Wilde was introduced to a series of young working-class male prostitutes from 1892 onwards by Alfred Taylor. These infrequent rendezvous usually took the same form: Wilde would meet the boy, offer him gifts, dine him privately and then take him to a hotel room. Unlike Wilde's idealised, pederastic relations with Ross, John Gray, and Douglas, all of whom remained part of his aesthetic circle, these consorts were uneducated and knew nothing of literature. Soon his public and private lives had become sharply divided; in De Profundis he wrote to Douglas that "It was like feasting with panthers; the danger was half the excitement... I did not know that when they were to strike at me it was to be at another's piping and at another's pay."[112]

Douglas and some Oxford friends founded a journal, The Chameleon, to which Wilde "sent a page of paradoxes originally destined for the Saturday Review".[113] "Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young" was to come under attack six months later at Wilde's trial, where he was forced to defend the magazine to which he had sent his work.[114] In any case, it became unique: The Chameleon was not published again.

Lord Alfred's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, was known for his outspoken atheism, brutish manner and creation of the modern rules of boxing.[Notes 4] Queensberry, who feuded regularly with his son, confronted Wilde and Lord Alfred about the nature of their relationship several times, but Wilde was able to mollify him. In June 1894, he called on Wilde at 16 Tite Street, without an appointment, and clarified his stance: "I do not say that you are it, but you look it, and pose at it, which is just as bad. And if I catch you and my son again in any public restaurant I will thrash you" to which Wilde responded: "I don't know what the Queensberry rules are, but the Oscar Wilde rule is to shoot on sight".[115] His account in De Profundis was less triumphant: "It was when, in my library at Tite Street, waving his small hands in the air in epileptic fury, your father... stood uttering every foul word his foul mind could think of, and screaming the loathsome threats he afterwards with such cunning carried out".[116][117] Queensberry only described the scene once, saying Wilde had "shown him the white feather", meaning he had acted in a cowardly way.[117] Though trying to remain calm, Wilde saw that he was becoming ensnared in a brutal family quarrel. He did not wish to bear Queensberry's insults, but he knew to confront him could lead to disaster were his liaisons disclosed publicly.

U.S.-Russia Summits, From Gravely Serious To Absurdly Comical


President Bill Clinton (left) and Russian President Boris Yeltsin overlook the fall splendor of the Hudson Valley from the grounds of Franklin Roosevelt's home in Hyde Park, N.Y., on Oct. 23, 1995. The pair had a close relationship throughout the 1990s, befitting a time of reduced tensions just after the Cold War had ended.  Stephan Savoia/AP

Summits between U.S. presidents and Kremlin leaders are often filled with great drama and moments that shape history.

And then there's Boris Yeltsin's 1994 visit to Washington.

The Russian president was staying at Blair House, the guest quarters across the street from the White House. As his host, President Bill Clinton, revealed years later, Yeltsin felt the urge to slip out late one night. He was on his way when U.S. Secret Service agents found the Russian leader in his underwear, slurring his words and desperate for a pizza.

The larger point is that these summits — gravely serious or absurdly comical — tend to capture the mood or even define the relationship between Washington and Moscow.

President Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin confer during a luncheon on the campus of Glassboro State College in New Jersey in 1967. Between them is an interpreter.  /Bettmann / Getty Images

Clinton and Yeltsin were famously chummy. Their conclaves were hug fests, befitting the moment. The Cold War had just ended and they both saw cooperation as the way forward, even though they had substantial disagreements over issues like NATO's expansion into Eastern Europe.

President Richard Nixon hosts Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev at the White House in 1973. Nixon made his name as a Cold Warrior. But as president, he sought a working relationship with the Soviets, which led to his policy of detente and important arms control treaties.  Michel Laurent Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

"They seemed to enjoy a close relationship," said Angela Stent, head of the Russian studies program at Georgetown University. "I think that just reflected that brief interlude in the 1990s when you had a Russian leadership that was pro-West and wanted to move closer to the United States. But that went away rather quickly by the end of Yeltsin's tenure."

Stent has followed the summits for decades and has met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin every year for the past 14 years as part of a group of scholars invited to Russia.

At the meeting last October, Putin "criticized the Americans. 'Why are you Americans so critical of your own president? You're not showing him enough respect. You should let him do his job,'" she said. "Two minutes later, he was really lambasting American foreign policy and all the terrible things Americans were doing."

President Gerald Ford shakes hands with Leonid Brezhnev in 1974 after the Soviet leader tried on Ford's fur coat at a summit in the eastern Soviet city of Vladivostok. AP

Trump and Putin are due to meet Monday in Helsinki, Finland, at a time when U.S.-Russia friction is reminiscent of the Cold War. And that Cold War history teaches us that summits can be treacherous.

President John F. Kennedy was young and new to his office in 1961 when he met for two days in Vienna with the bombastic Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan on television December 8, 1987. They met in Washington to sign a treaty that banned intermediate-range nuclear missiles.  Alfred Gescheidt/Getty Images

Kennedy was stoic in his public remarks afterward.

"I will tell you now that it was a very sober two days. There was no discourtesy, no loss of tempers, no threats or ultimatums by either side," Kennedy said.

But in private, Kennedy conceded that the Soviet leader "beat the hell out of me. I've got a terrible problem if he thinks I'm inexperienced and have no guts."

"Khrushchev reached an erroneous conclusion that John Kennedy was a pushover," said Dimitri Simes, head of the conservative Center for the National Interest in Washington.

"In this case, he has calculated wrong. He got an impression that if you really put pressure on President Kennedy, he would likely retreat," said Simes.

Two months after the summit, an emboldened Khrushchev gave the green light for East Germany to build the Berlin Wall, exacerbating an international crisis over the divided city.

President George Bush and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev during a press conference at a summit in Moscow on July 31, 1991. By the end of the year, the Soviet Union had collapsed and Gorbachev was forced from power.  AFP/Mike Fisher AFP/Getty Images

The following year, Khrushchev shipped Soviet missiles to Cuba. This pushed the superpowers to the brink of nuclear war before the Soviets agreed to withdraw their weapons.

While these summits were high-risk, Simes said no real alternative existed in an era when relations between the countries were extremely limited.

"In the case of the Soviet Union, if you if you wanted to talk to them, you would have to talk to the Kremlin," Simes said. "Summits were the only meaningful way to have any serious conversation with them."

The upside was that leaders could make things happen very quickly.

President George W. Bush drives Russian President Vladimir Putin at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, in 2001. At an earlier meeting, Bush said of Putin, "I was able to get a sense of his soul." But relations would soon sour.  Luke Frazza/AFP/Getty Images

At a 1986 summit in Iceland between President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the U.S. leader "was very skeptical about Gorbachev," Stent said.

"But they had this meeting, the first meeting, and they came out of it suddenly telling their aides, 'Oh, we've decided that we're going to abolish nuclear weapons by the year 2000,'" she said. "Their aides were absolutely shocked."

They never went that far. But they did sign an agreement the following year banning intermediate-range nuclear missiles. And they established the trust that kept tensions in check as the Soviet Union collapsed internally in the years that followed.

However, relationships based on trust haven't always worked. President George W. Bush initially thought he had connected with Putin.

"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul," Bush said after he met Putin in 2001.

Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin meet at the Group of 20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico in 2012. Obama entered office hoping to reset relations with Russia, but they soon turned frosty.  Carolyn Kaster/AP

Relations quickly soured and Bush was criticized as naive. President Barack Obama tried to reset relations, but that too ended in a downward spiral of mutual recriminations.

Trump thinks he'll do better.

"Putin's fine. He's fine. We're all fine. We're people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I've been preparing for this stuff my whole life," the president said.

Greg Myre is a national security correspondent. Follow him @gregmyre1.

Trump, Putin Lead Press Conference After 2-Hour Meeting


Views: 74

Comment by mary gravitt on July 18, 2018 at 12:38pm

Feeling like the bitch that I am, the first thing I thought of when I heard Trump's retraction is how Oscar Wilde was betrayed by his lover, Bossie.  Everyone who is living in the 20th century understands what is going on between Trump and Putin.  Even Trump's father called Donald a failure/loser when it came to women.  Dan had one woman for almost 60 years, and son can't even keep one for 10.

America was betrayed in Helsinki, now Putin is too. 

Somehow I don't feel like a bitch anymore; just a truth teller and a patriot.

Comment by mary gravitt on July 18, 2018 at 12:48pm

The majority of the things listed have sound so that the reading will be quick.


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