London Lyrics

By FREDERICK LOCKER. Boston : Fields, Osgood, & Co.
THE various sentiments, — in fact
“ All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,” —
seem to go a great deal further in the shape of vers de société than in any other. The tinkle of the rhyme, and the brisk clatter of the light, poetic foot, when moved to a lively and variable measure, please the sense so well that vapidity does not appear the sin it is in most cases ; and a capricious fancy, if it is at all airy, becomes almost a virtue. We like to have our ordinary moods and feelings represented in the fine dress usually reserved for their betters amongst the emotions, and the novelty of the attempt we willingly accept for skill in accomplishing it. In this thing, as in some other self-indulgences, it is plain that we are not so wise as we might be ; and having now put our general reader down, we ought to go on and put our particular writer down. But we forbear, because — we are so weak as to own it — we have run through Mr. Locker’s little volume without positive discomfort of the nerves, and with something like an occasional delight to them. We think the sensation went no further than this, — he made us feel no deeper than he himself had done. It was easy to perceive that some of his light topics he treated with delicacy and sensibility, and all with neatness. Where he fell flat in his wit and helped himself out with a play upon words was also clear enough ; but then it was hard to discover, except in one or two instances, any sentimentalism in him. Here is something pretty, tender, and real ; and that it is one of his best things we are likewise bound to say : —


“ The glow and the glory are plighted
To darkness, for evening is come ;
The lamp in Glebe Cottage is lighted,
The birds and the sheep-bells are dumb.
I ’m alone at my casement, for pappy
Is summoned to dinner to Kew :
I’m alone, my dear Fred, but I’m happy —
I ’m thinking of you.
“ I wish you were here. Were I duller
Than dull, you’d be dearer than dear ;
I am drest in your favorite color, —
Dear Fred, how I wish you were here J
I am wearing my lazuli necklace,
The necklace you fastened askew !
Was there ever so rude or so reckless
A darling as you ?
“ To-day, in my ride, I’ve been crowning
The beacon : its magic still lures,
For up there you discoursed about Browning,
That stupid old Browning of yours.
His vogue and his verve are alarming,
I ’m anxious to give him his due ;
But, Fred, he ’s not neatly so charming
A poet as you.
“ I heard how you shot at The Beeches,
I saw how you rode Chanticleer,
I have read the report of your speeches,
And echoed the echoing cheer.
There’s a whisper of hearts you are breaking,
I envy their owners, I do !
Small marvel that Fortune is making
Her idol of you,
“ Alas for the world, and its dearly
Bought triumph, and fugitive bliss !
Sometimes I half wish I were merely
A plain or a penniless miss ;
But, perhaps, one is best with a measure
Of pelf, and I’m not sorry, too,
That I’m pretty, because it’s a pleasure,
My dearest, to you.
“ Your whim is for frolic and fashion,
Your taste is for letters and art,
This rhyme is the commonplace passion
That glows in a fond woman’s heart.
Lay it by in a dainty deposit
For relics, we all have a few !
Love, some day they 'll print it, because it
Was written to you.”
Mr. Locker is no such writer, to be sure, as William Mackworth Praed or Dr, Holmes, who are masters of their art; but he reminds us agreeably of them, in the way that shows a kindred faculty as well as a cordial appreciation. Dr. Holmes’s insurpassable little poem, “ The Last Leaf,” has been of great profit to him, —more than he will himself be to his readers in any one poem ; but he is sufficiently graceful; he is wicked only to a blameless degree; he is sprightly, not to say witty ; and space, if nothing else, forbids him to be tedious, So we do not see why we should not praise him.