Frederick Locker-Lampson, the friend of Tennyson and most accomplished writer of vers de société in his time, had through their common friend Andrew Lang asked RLS for a set of verses, and RLS had sent the following – which were first printed at the head of a very scarce volume by Locker-Lampson, Rowfant Rhymes, 1895, with an introduction by Austin Dobson.
[As usual, for correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 5, 1692.]
To Frederick Locker-Lampson [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 349-350]
Skerryvore, September 4, 1886
Not roses to the rose, I trow,
The thistle sends, nor to the bee
Do wasps bring honey. Wherefore now
Should Locker ask a verse from me?
Martial, perchance, – but he is dead,
And Herrick now must rhyme no more;
Still burning with the muse, they tread
(And arm in arm) the shadowy shore.
They, if they lived, with dainty hand,
To music as of mountain brooks,
Might bring you worthy words to stand
Unshamed, dear Locker, in your books.
But tho’ these fathers of your race
Be gone before, yourself a sire,
To-day you see before your face
Your stalwart youngsters touch the lyre.
On these – on Lang or Dobson – call,
Long leaders of the songful feast.
They lend a verse your laughing fall –
A verse they owe you at the least.
Robert Louis Stevenson