Impressions from a Lost World: The Discovery of Dinosaur Footprints

Visits to the Mantellian Museum, by George F. Richardson (excerpts)

George F. Richardson worked at Gideon Mantell's museum in Brighton and then followed to a post at the British Museum when Mantell was forced to sell them his collection. Spending day after day among fossil teeth, bones, and shells and other specimens of natural history, Richardson was deeply familiar with every item and formed his ideas about them. It is clear from this poem that he was inspired by his job. Although he calls the creatures "monsters," he recognizes divine harmony in their creation: "All were made for happiness!" 

This is an excerpt from a much longer poem.

‘Tis indeed a world of wonder,

Found within the earth and under;

Fancied forms and wild chimeras,

Creatures of primeval aeras,

Startling all our ancient notions,

Showing lands of old were oceans;

Showing oceans once were dry,

As the mountains old and high!

Wondrous shapes, and tales terrific,

Told in Nature’s hieroglyphic;

Written in her countless volumes,

Graven on her granite columns!

Showing many a strangest mystery,

From her ancient, wondrous history.

Forms as wild as fancy wishes,

Monster lizards, stony fishes;

Fragments of the lost amphibia,

Here a femur,—there a tibia;—

Here the monster mammoth sleeping,

There the giant lizard creeping,—

Beings of a tropic nature,

Crocodile and alligator;

Fragments vast of lost creations,

Relics of earth’s first formations;

Here the snake, the lizard there,

With the tiger and the bear!

Monsters from beneath the waves,

With the creatures hid in caves,

Brought in later days to light,

From their dens of stalagmite!

Yet these giant forms tremendous,

Creatures wondrous, wild, stupendous,—

Huge,—that fancy cannot frame them;

Wild,—that language may not name them,

Differing from a world like this,

Each and all were framed for bliss;

Form’d to share, without alloy,

Each its element of joy,

By that Power that rules to bless,

All were made for happiness!