Lapsus Calami (Apr 1891)/On the Fly-Leaf of Maclise's Portrait Gallery

Originally published in The Reflector, 22 January 1888, with this headnote: "Written in a copy of 'The Maclise Portrait Gallery of Illustrious Literary Characters, with Memoirs Biographical, Critical, Bibliographical, Anecdotal, etc. etc., by William Bates, B.A.'" Later included in the "Things One Would Rather Have Expressed Differently" section of Lapsus Calami. Like On the Fly-Leaf of Treasure Island these lines were addressed to D. J. S., probably the author's sister Dorothea. In the third edition it is preceded by "Triolets Ollendorfiens".

2. Written on the Fly-Leaf of Maclise's
Portrait Gallery, Edited by Bates.

Here, painted by a Master's hand,
Is many a lovely dame,
Amidst the writers of the land
Who gained the greatest fame.

But sure there is not one whose pen
Was half so apt as thine
To catch the ears of listening men,
Or wake the Sacred Nine.

None saw reflected in her glass
A more distinguished face:
But thou art born too late, alas!
To take thy proper place.

The pencil of Maclise, my dear,
Thy face will ne'er portray,
Nor will the facts of thy career
Be told by Bates, B.A.

Yet do not hence a pretext seize
To blame the cruel Fates:
If they denied thee to Maclise,
They rescued thee from Bates.