THE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE
The Next Round
The match was clearly over and Queensberry had won on unanimous cards. Reeling, Wilde returned to his rooms and with friends pondered his fate. He was urged to flee the country by everyone, including his solicitors, who said they could keep the trial going in his absence to give him time to get out of the country.
Clarke did give Wilde one alternative, which Wilde grabbed at. There was a chance, Clarke said, that Queensberry would agree to a verdict of not guilty on the charge of libel, and drop the question of whether he had called Wilde a sodomite for the good of the public. If he did this, there was a chance no criminal charges against Wilde would be filed. By the time Wilde had decided on a course of action, the last train for Dover and the continent had left London, making Oscar's decision for him.
The next morning, with Oscar absent from the courtroom Carson began mounting his defense of Queensberry. He was barely through his opening statement and about to list the boys who were prepared to testify against Wilde when Clarke arose from his chair and asked the court's permission to confer with opposing counsel. He offered the deal Wilde had agreed upon, but Carson would not relent. Queensberry wanted Wilde burned to the ground, the ashes scattered and the fields sown with salt. It was all or nothing. Clarke had no choice but to agree.