This chilling discovery by Felix is foreshadowed by the petrified figures discovered preserved under twenty metres of ash and pumice in Pompeii, trapped on a fateful day in 79 AD.
And it eerily anticipates the 'shadows' blasted on to the ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the first atom bombs were dropped on them in June 1945, vaporising thousands, consigning many others to agonising deaths and destroying two cities – the decimating full stop of WW2.
Jefferies' book might have been an inspiration for the 'Statue of Liberty' moment in the original 1968 Planet of the Apes.
Felix later stumbles upon the upper part of Nelson's Column: 'He looked around, supposing that he might see the gleaming head and shoulders of the half-buried giant, of which he recollected he had been told. The giant was punished for some crime by being buried to the chest in the earth; fire incessantly consumed his head and played about it, yet it was not destroyed.' (p206)
This could have been taken from Shelley's poem, 'Ozymandias':
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies...
One can hear ringing in the air, the chilling inscription:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!
This nightmarish revelation, and the vision of an utterly decimated city and civilisation, seems to foreshadow the horrors of the Twentieth Century: the massacre of the Somme, the killing fields of Cambodia and the use of atom bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After this last, Robert Oppenheimer, head of the Manhattan Project that created the atomic bomb, reflected on his role:
We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that one way or another.