Dear Tom,—I'm aware you will need no apology
For a nice short epistle concerning geology;
The subject perhaps has been worn to a thread,—
But I can't drive Philosophy out of my head!
Before the great meeting in Bristol, no doubt
It was harder to drive such a thing in than out;
But a one-pound subscription once placing it there,
It takes root in the brain, and sprouts faster than hair:
So that, though I get lectures at night from the wife of me,
I can't pluck Philosophy out for the life of me.
Well, Tom,—a prime fellow, brimfull of divinity,
Told jokes about chaos and bones to infinity;
And proved that the world (this he firmly believes)
Long before Adam's day had seen thousands of Eves!
Now, Tom, do you know in this earth that so great a
Proportion of hard rocks inclining in strata
Is caked with dead lizards and crocodiles' bone,
That a singular fact's incontestably shown—
Viz. All flesh (which is grass) must in time become stone!
Either limestone, or crystal, or mineral salt,
(Vide specim.) Lot's wife—crystallized "in a fault."
Fancy, Tom, that your skull may come under the chisel,
And turn out a filter for water to drizzle!
Or imagine the rubicund nose of our uncle,
In some fair lady's brooch, blazing forth a carbuncle!
Though learning is grand, and one labours to win it,
There perhaps lurks a something distressing, Tom, in it.
Thus, whate'er our good character while our life lasted,
When turned into rocks, may we not, Tom, be blasted?
However refined were our tastes and behaviour,
When slabs, to be thumped by the vulgarest pavior!
Who knows but that Newton's immortalised pate
May not some day become a dull schoolboy's old slate;
That head, which threw such astonishing light upon
The secrets of nature—a ninny to write upon!
Man's knowledge is ignorance, wisdom is folly;
The more philosophic, the more melancholy.
But, Tom, I've a theory,—my own, Tom,—my pet,
Though not quite mature to be published as yet,
Next year I expect 'twill be brought to perfection,
And be read at the great Geological Section.
The subject of Frogs having pleased the community,
(A subject on which none may gibe with impunity,)
It struck me the cold-blooded matter they own
Must be midway 'twixt animal substance and stone.
They have heads, so have we!—and no tails, so have rocks!—
They've no red blood, like pebbles! but two eyes, like cocks!
Then again,—unlike Christians, with warm, "vital spark,"—
They are cold, so are flints! a strong circumstance—mark!
An argument some use—there is not much in 't,
That stones have no skins—Hah! then what's a skin flint?
Every day, Tom, I feel more secure my position,
Frogs are Animal Rocks in a state of transition!
If I prove this,—and savans but act with propriety,—
I'm sure to preside at the Royal Society!
Then think, Tom, the glory of Bristol! a resident
Elected in London, to sit as the President!
Hark! I hear, Tom, my unphilosophic virago
Of a wife! I must finish—
Yours, PETER PLUMBAGO.
October 14th, 1836.