As I mentioned on Thursday, Dr. Erasmus Darwin’s poetry suggested that life originated in the sea. In fact, Erasmus had a thing for fossils and sea shells as he sensed that the earth’s history could better be understood by studying these objects. And as chance would have it, the Darwin family crest actually featured three scallop shells. Erasmus, briefly, added a motto to the crest: E Conchis Omnia—Everything from Shells. He drove around Derbyshire’s countryside in his newly adorned carriage that carried this motto, conducting his house calls—and scandalizing the neighbors. The motto sparked the following poem from a neighbor. The idea that neighbors would critique one another through heroic couplets…. Could anything be more 19th century? Love it.
Here is the poem:
He too renounces his Creator,
And forms all sense from senseless matter;
Makes men start up from dead fish bones,
As old Deucalion did from Stones;
Great wizard! He, by magic spells
Can build a world of cockle shells;
And all things frame, while eye-lid twinkles
From lobsters. crabs and periwinkles;
O Doctor! Change they foolish motto,
Or keep it for some lady’s grotto;
Else they poor patients well may quake
If thou no more canst mend them make.