November 22nd, 2009

Wilde and Mahaffy; Wilde as Yellow Cat

I've come across this very peculiar passage, from the digest offered to its readers by the Auckland Grey River Argus of the San Francisco Mail:
Professor Mahaffy is utilising Oscar Wilde, aesthetic, to illustrate the propisition[sic] that a stupid boy gains more than a brilliant one from a university training1.
What on earth could this mean? I know Mahaffy is Wilde's old teacher from Dublin, by Wilde's description his "first and greatest teacher", but he is unlikely to have considered Wilde stupid, so what could he mean? Is it that Wilde, being brilliant, did not benefit much from a university education?

In other Oscar Wilde news from 1881, the Melbourne Bulletin is quite taken with Wilde:
Mrs. Langtry and the other professional beauties of London have a rival in the shape of a beautifful[sic] youth named Oscar Wilde, a poet and an "aesthetic." His picture adorns all the shop windows, and is even taken in the aesthetic style, with a bunch of lilies in his hand. The Melbourne Bulletin thinks he must look as lovely as a yellow cat having a fit in a dish of stewed tomato.2

1 Grey River Argus, Volume XXIV, Issue 4149, 16 December 1881, Page 2.
2 "Ladies' Column", the Otago Witness, Issue 1541, 21 May 1881, Page 27.