Anticipated Meeting Of The British Association In The Year 1836.

A poem by Thomas Moore

After some observations from Dr. M'Grig
On that fossil reliquium called Petrified Wig,
Or Perruquolithus--a specimen rare
Of those wigs made for antediluvian wear,
Which, it seems, stood the Flood without turning a hair--
Mr. Tomkins rose up, and requested attention
To facts no less wondrous which he had to mention.

Some large fossil creatures had lately been found,
Of a species no longer now seen above ground,
But the same (as to Tomkins most clearly appears)
With those animals, lost now for hundreds of years,
Which our ancestors used to call "Bishops" and "Peers,"
But which Tomkins more erudite names has bestowed on,
Having called the Peer fossil the Aris-tocratodon,[1]
And, finding much food under t'other one's thorax,
Has christened that creature the Episcopus Vorax.

Lest the savantes and dandies should think this all fable,
Mr. Tomkins most kindly produced, on the table,
A sample of each of these species of creatures,
Both tolerably human, in structure and features,
Except that the Episcopus seems, Lord deliver us!
To've been carnivorous as well as granivorous;
And Tomkins, on searching its stomach, found there
Large lumps, such as no modern stomach could bear,
Of a substance called Tithe, upon which, as 'tis said,
The whole Genus Clericum formerly fed;
And which having lately himself decompounded,
Just to see what 'twas made of, he actually found it
Composed of all possible cookable things
That e'er tript upon trotters or soared upon wings--
All products of earth, both gramineous, herbaceous,
Hordeaceous, fabaceous and eke farinaceous,
All clubbing their quotas, to glut the oesophagus
Of this ever greedy and grasping Tithophagus.[2]
"Admire," exclaimed Tomkins. "the kind dispensation
"By Providence shed on this much-favored nation,
"In sweeping so ravenous a race from the earth,
"That might else have occasioned a general dearth--
"And thus burying 'em, deep as even Joe Hume would sink 'em,
"With the Ichthyosaurus and Paloeorynchum,
"And other queer ci-devant things, under ground--
"Not forgetting that fossilized youth,[3] so renowned,
"Who lived just to witness the Deluge--was gratified
"Much by the sight, and has since been found stratified!"

This picturesque touch--quite in Tomkins's way--
Called forth from the savantes a general hurrah;
While inquiries among them, went rapidly round,
As to where this young stratified man could be found.
The "learned Theban's" discourse next as livelily flowed on,
To sketch t'other wonder, the Aristocratodon--
An animal, differing from most human creatures
Not so much in speech, inward structure or features,
As in having a certain excrescence, T. said,
Which in form of a coronet grew from its head,
And devolved to its heirs, when the creature was dead;
Nor mattered it, while this heirloom was transmitted,
How unfit were the heads, so the coronet fitted.

He then mentioned a strange zo├Âlogical fact,
Whose announcement appeared much applause to attract.
In France, said the learned professor, this race
Had so noxious become, in some centuries' space,
From their numbers and strength, that the land was o'errun with 'em,
Every one's question being, "What's to be done with em?"
When, lo! certain knowing ones--savans, mayhap,
Who, like Buckland's deep followers, understood trap,[4]
Slyly hinted that naught upon earth was so good
For Aristocratodons, when rampant and rude,
As to stop or curtail their allowance of food.
This expedient was tried and a proof it affords
Of the effect that short commons will have upon lords;
For this whole race of bipeds, one fine summer's morn,
Shed their coronets, just as a deer sheds his horn,
And the moment these gewgaws fell off, they became
Quite a new sort of creature--so harmless and tame,
That zo├Âlogists might, for the first time, maintain 'em
To be near akin to the genius humanum,
And the experiment, tried so successfully then,
Should be kept in remembrance when wanted again.

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