Vestiges of Creation

Punch September 1859



"The Serpentine, and the whole of Belgravia, were formerly a lagoon of the Thames." ;– Sir S. M. Peto in the Times.

What, all Belgravia grand and fine,
      Was once a mess of marsh and lakes?
PROFESSOR OWEN, be it thine
      To prove it in a brace of shakes.

Tell doubters that they need not sneer;
      Nor set their puddle-minds in storm;
For all the ancient life is here,
      And only changed in outward form

The slimy reptile here, no doubt,
      Wriggled and crawled in greed or malice:
Now see the Courtier creep about–
      Near as he dares to yonder palace.

If tadpoles in the marsh were black,
      There is one CONINGSBY can tell
Belgravia’s Tadpoles swim in track
      Where Tapers guide them to Pall Mall.

If the old lake was rich in toads,
      Look out, and you’ll be sure to meet ‘em;
If not, it is because such loads
      Of people have delight to eat ‘em.

With cackling ducks the old lagoon
      At times, perchance, alive was seen;
Our Ducks come out each afternoon,
      And chatter in their Crinoline.

Lay serpents in the wet nooks twined?
      We still can point them out at need:
Search any street, and you shall find
      Some home empoisoned by their breed.

Doubtful if Thames were ever den
      Where the old monsters made their feasts,
But if we’d Mega-Theria then,
      We still can show a few great Beasts.

Adjutants or Gigantic Cranes,
      Croaked o’er the marsh with voices hard.
The first at yonder barracks trains,
      The Cranes are loud in CUBITT’S yard.

Just as "in earth there is no beast
      But’s rendered in some fish of sea,"
One would not say we’d lost the least
      Of that old marsh’s family.


C. Blinderman & D. Joyce
Clark University