Page:The Maclise Portrait-Gallery.djvu/15
recognition from general readers, and be regarded by those more specially interested in literary and artistic curiosities, as a κτῆμα ἑς ἀεί,—a "joy for ever."
Each muster-call on the march of life serves but to remind us sadly of the comrades who have fallen by the way. When two lustres had passed over the "Gallery," its projectors recorded that nearly one-fourth of the members,—old and young alike,—had sped from "sunshine to the sunless land." This was in 1840; but at the latter standpoint of 1860, when Frank Mahony edited Prout's Reliques, for Bohn, the Padre could only remember eight,—he unaccountably forgot Jerdan, making a ninth,—as surviving, of the twenty-seven "Fraserians" whom Maclise, in the splendid cartoon which forms our frontispiece, has depicted, carousing at the round table in Regent Street. Again, now that at the expiration of a like interval, the present volume goes to press, but a single one of this century of illustrious men remains among us!
"——————qui tot per sæcula mortem
—strangely overlooked by Mr. Kent, when editing Prout in 1881, as Prout himself had overlooked Jerdan,—is the respected rector of Ivy Church, Kent, the Rev. George Robert Gleig, late Chaplain of Chelsea Hospital, and Chaplain-General to the Forces. When the Abbé Sièyes was asked what he had done through the French Revolution, he thought it sufficient to reply,—J'at vécu. Well,—Human Life is a "Reign of Terror"; and Time a tyrant more ruthless than Robespierre. To have simply lived through a century—"exemplum vitæ a cornice secundæ,"—is an achievement in itself, and might well justify a "tantum" boast. But the sole survivor at this day, of the twenty-seven hilarious "Knights of the Round Table"—nay more, of the eighty-five "Illustrious" of the "Gallery,"—has done far more than this; as I have recorded, I hope with all due respect and amplitude, in the notice devoted to him, at page 267 of this volume.
In discharge of the functions of "Exhibitor" of the "Gallery," I need say very little as to my own labours; leaving others to decide how far they add interest and value to the volume. Didactic criticism, and preceptive morality, have been alike foreign to my purpose. I have merely sought, by anecdote, opinion, quotation or fact,—just