Friday, 13 March 2015

Mythical Creatures: The Giants of England - Part One


Gog and Magog by TimeCrash07
Stories of giants in Britain may be a legacy from our Celtic ancestors who arrived in Britain in around 300 BC.  Seeing the great stone circles left by those who inhabited the land before their arrival, the Celtic people imagined them to have been constructed by some superhuman race.  Helping to colour their legends of ogres and giants, who were often credited with cannibalism, was their perception of the native Britons, who they believed were cannibalistic savages.  As time passed so their legends grew, with the heroes of the Celtic people growing in size to match the terrible foes who they hoped to vanquish.  These tales survived to be written down, and embellished, by Geoffrey of Monmouth.  In his History of the Kings of Britain, Monmouth writes of how the British Isles were first inhabited by a small number of ferocious giants who are brought down by the Trojans and their leader, Brutus.  The leader of these giants was called Gogmagog, also known as Goemagot.  The name is believed to have come from the biblical Gog and Magog – Gog being a giant from both Hebrew and Christian scriptures, and Magog being the place in which he originates.

Brutus of Troy
At that time the name of the island was Albion, and of none was it inhabited save only of a few giants.  Natheless the pleasant aspect of the land, with the abundance of fish in the rivers and deer in the choice forests thereof did fill Brute and his companions with no small desire that they should dwell therein.  Wherefore, after exploring certain districts of the land, they drove the giants they found to take refuge in the caverns of the mountains, and divided the country among them by lot according as the Duke made grant thereof.
… For nought gave him greater pleasure than to wrestle with the giants, of whom was greater plenty there than in any of the provinces that had been shared amongst his comrades.  Among others was a certain hateful one by name Goemagot, twelve cubits in height, who was of such lustihood, that when he had once uprooted it, he would wield an oak tree as lightly as it were a wand of hazel.  On a certain day when Brute was holding high festival to the gods in the port whereat he had first landed, this one, along with a score other giants, fell upon him and did passing cruel slaughter on the British.  Howbeit, at the last, the Britons collecting together from
Corineus, the Giant in Guildhall
all quarters prevailed against them and slew them all, save Geomagot only.  Him Brute had commanded to be kept alive, as he was minded to see a wrestling bout betwixt him and Corineus, who was beyond measure keen to match himself against such monsters.  So Corineus, overjoyed at the prospect, girt himself for the encounter, and flinging away his arms, challenged him to a bout at wrestling.  At the start, on the one side stands Corineus, on the other the giant, each hugging the other tight in the shackles of their arms, both making the very air quake with their breathless gasping.  It was not long before Geomagot, grasping Corineus with all his force, brake him three of his ribs, two on the right side and one on the left.  Roused thereby to fury, Corineus gathered up all his strength, heaved him up on his shoulders and ran with his burden as fast as he could for the weight to the seashore nighest at hand.  Mounting up to the top of a high cliff, and disengaging himself, he hurled the deadly monster he had carried on his shoulder into the sea, where, falling on the sharp rocks, he was mangled all to pieces and dyed the waves with him blood, so that ever thereafter that place from the flinging down of the giant hath been known as Lamgoemagot, to wit, ‘Goemagot’s Leap,’ and is called by that name unto this present day.

An account of Albion's stand against the Trojans appeared in The new history of the Trojan wars, and Troy's destruction by Elkanah Settle, published in 1791.  Here we are not only told of Albion's battle, but of how Gog and Magog, who are giants in the tale, are brought back to London as prisoners of Brute.

Trojan Warrior by travellerplanet
Brute, having thus got footing in Britain, was preparing to improve the same, when Albion, who had named this island after his own name, - by which it is sometimes called at this day, - having intelligence thereof, raised his whole power, being men of a gigantick stature, and vast strength, and bearing for their arms huge clubs of knotty oak, battle axes, whirlbats of iron, and globes full of spikes, fastened to a long pole by a chain; and with these encountering Brute, a bloody battle was fought, wherein the Trojans were worsted and many of them slain, and their whole army was forced to retire.
Brute hereupon considering the disadvantage between his men and the giants, devised a stratagem to overthrow them, by digging in the night a very long and deep trench, at the bottom impaling it with sharp stakes, and covering it with boughs and rotten hurdles, on which he caused to be laid dried leaves and earth, only leaving some firm passages, well known to his men by particular marks. 
Gog and Magog at the Guildhall by Sir Walter Besant
This being done, he dared the giants to a second battle, which Albion readily accepted; and the fight being begun, after some dispute, Brute seemed to retire; whereupon the giants pressed on him with great fury; and the Trojans retiring nimbly beyond their trench, made a stand, and ply’d them with a shower of darts and arrows, which manner of fight they were unacquainted with, whereby many of them were slain.  However, Albion encouraging his men to come to handy strokes with their enemies, they rushed forward, and the vanguard immediately perished in the trenches; and the Trojans continuing to shoot their arrows very thick, the giants were put to flight, and pursued into Cornwall; where, in another bloody fight, Albion was slain by Brute, fighting hand to hand; and his two brothers. Gog and Magog, giants of huge stature, were taken prisoners and led in triumph to the place where now London stands, and upon those risings on the side of the river Thames, founded a city, which he called Troy-novant, or New Troy, and building a palace where Guildhall stands, caused the two giants to be chained to the gate of it, as porters.  In memory of which it is held that their effigies, after their deaths, were set up as they now appear in Guildhall.

Albion by Mabus88
Albion, according to Holinshed, was the brother of Geomagot, or Gogmagog; also a giant and ‘a cruel tyrant’.  According to Holinshed’s Chronicles, he was a son of Neptune, or Poseidon.  In the following extract, Holinshed tells us of how Britain was once called Albion after the giant and of how Albion first came to Britain:

Afterward in processe of time, when desire to rule began to take hold in the minds of men, and ech prince endeavoured to enlarge his owne dominions: Albion the sonne of Nepturne… hearing of the commodities of the countrie, and plentifulnesse of soile here, made a voiage over, and finding the thing not onelie correspondent unto, but also farre surmounting the report that went of this Iland, it was not long after yer he invaded the same by force of armes, brought it to his subjection in the 29. yeare after his grandfathers decease, and finallie changed the name thereof into Albion, whereby the former denomination after Samothes did grow out of mind, and fall into utter forgetfulnesse.  And thus was this Iland bereft at on time both of hir ancient name, and also of hir lawfull succession of princes descended of the line of Japhet, under whom it had continued by the space of 341 yeres and nine princes, as by the Chronologie following shall easily appeere.

Hercules in Battle by wraithdt*
Albion, along with his brother Bergion, was, according to Holinshed, killed by Hercules:

…when the said Albion governed here in this countrie by the space of seven years, it came to passe that both he and his brother Bergion were killed by Hercules at the mouth of Rhosanus, as the said Hercules passed out of Spaine by the Celtes to go over into Itaie, and upon this occasion (as I gather among the writers) not unworthie to be remembred.  It happened in time of Lucus king of the Celts, that Lestrigo and his issue… did exercise great tyrannie, not onelie over his owne kingdome, but also in molestation of such princes as inhabited round about him in most intolerable maner…  To be short therefore, after the giants, and great obstacle unto them in their tyrannous dealing; Hercules his sonne… proclaimed open warres against them all, and going from place to place, he ceased not to spoile their kingdoms, and therewithal to kill them with great courage that fell into his hands…
In the meane time Albion understanding how Hercules intended to make warres against his brother Lestrigo, he thought good if it were possible to stop him that tide, and therefore sending for his brother Bergion out of the Orchades (where he also reigned as supreame lord and governour) they joined their powers, and sailed over into France.  Being arrived there, it was not long yer the met with Hercules and his armie, neare unto the mouth of the river called Roen (or the Rhodanus) where happened a cruell conflict betweene them, in which Hercules and his men were like to have lost the day, for that they were in maner wearied with long warres, and their munition sore wasted in the last viage that he had made for Spaine.  Hereupon Hercules… it came suddenlie into his mind to will each of them to defend himselfe by throwing stones at his enimie…  The policie was no sooner published than hearkened unto and put in execution, whereby they so prevailed in the end, that Hercules wan to field, their enimies were put to flight, and Albion and his brother both slaine, and buried in that plot.

White Cliff in Dover by Mihalik
According to Holinshed, even after the death of the giant, the name Albion, which some attribute to the White Cliffs of Dover, remained for quite some time before it was renamed:

But to go forward, albeit that Albion and his power were thus discomfited and slaine, yet the name that he gave unto this Iland died not, but still remained unto the time of Brute, who arriving here in the 1116 before Christ and 2850 after the creation of the world, not onelie changed it into Britaine (after it had beene called Albion by the space of about 600 yeares)…

While Albion met his demise at the hands of Hercules, he was not the last giant of Britain.  Geoffrey of Monmouth also mentions giants when Merlin instructs Aurelius that a memorial for the ‘many noble warriors that had died for their country.’  The stones which were used to create Stonehenge were, according to Merlin, called ‘the Giant’s Dance’ and had been taken by giants from Africa to Ireland.

Giant's Dance by vikingjon
'If thou be fain to grace the burial-place of these men with a work that shall endure for ever, send for the Dance of the Giants that is in Killaraus, a mountain in Ireland.  For a structure of stones is there that none of this age could raise save his wit were strong enough to carry his art.  For the stones be big, nor is there stone anywhere of more virtue, and, so they be set up round this plot in a circle, even as they be now there set up, here shall they stand for ever.'
At this words of Merlin, Aurelius burst out laughing… ‘Laugh not so lightly, King, for not lightly are these words spoken.  For in these stones is a mystery, and a healing virtue against many ailments.  Giants of old did carry them from the furthest ends of Africa and did set them up in Ireland what time they did inhabit therein…’

Jack and the Beanstalk is a story which can be found throughout the world, with oral versions having been collected from Jamaica to Australia.  The oldest allusion to the story, however, can be found in the second edition of ‘Round About Our Coal-Fire: On Christmas Entertainments’ which was published in 1734, with the story itself appearing under the heading ‘Enchantment Demonstrated in the Story of Jack Spriggins and the Enchanted Bean’.  Later versions of the story are completely different to the original tale – Jack does not sell the family cow for five beans, there is no golden egg laying chicken, nor the magic harp, nor is the Giant called Holdfast.  In this original version, the giant is known as Gogmagog, and the magic, or enchanted, bean comes from Jack’s Grandmother, who is a witch.

Jack and the Magic Bean by Hoshii-K
Enchantment Demonstrated in the Story of Jack Spriggins and the Enchanted Bean

Gaffer Spriggins, who was an acute old farmer, who could leer of one eye and crack a joke, began to tell about a comical lad of his family, of the name of Spriggins, for he admired every one of his name, because he had no children of his own; and this boy’s name was Jack, as we shall call him now.
Good folks, says Gaffer Spriggins, there never was such a dirty, lazy, tatter-de-mallion dog as Jack in the world; he was elevated in his Garret o’nights, and had the Curse of Small Beer in his kitchen o’days, with an old enchantress for his Grandmother and companion.  When I mention his apartment, I ought in justice to let you know that the house was no more than a hovel or a cottage; it consisted but of two rooms, if we may call them so, for really the upper apartment, which was the next storey to the ground floor, was next to the thatch, in which place he had often the benefit of contemplation; for though he was a smart, large boy, his Grandmother controlled him, and between whiles the good old woman instructed Jack in many things, and among the rest, Jack, says she, as you are growing up to manhood, I must tell you, I have a bean in my house which will make you a fortune; you shall be richer than an emperor, you shall have the whole world at your command; and as you now grow strong and lusty, I design to give it thee, my boy, one day or other.  Oh! says Jack Dear Grandmother give me now that bean, that I may try how rich I can be, and then how much I shall love my dead Grandmother!  No, child, says she, should I do that, you would grow rich and turn rake, and you would never think of your poor Grandmother again: But Sirrah, says she, if I was to know you would play such tricks, I’d smack your saucy face for you.  Nay, says Jack, Grandmother, don’t hurt me.  No, answers the Grandmother, you lusty boy, you know I love you too well to hurt you: I love you as becomes me, and you ought to take notice on’t; and so Jack made no words about the matter.
The Cat Familiar by FerelwingB
In the morning as Jack was making his Grandmother’s fire, puss scratching among the ashes, clawed out the enchanted bean, which his Grandmother had dropped out of her leathern purse by accident.  Odds Budd, says Jack, I’ll set it in our garden, and see what it will come to, for I always loved beans and bacon; and then, what was wonderful! the bean was no sooner put into the ground, but the sprout of it jumped out of the earth, and grew so quick, that it gave Jack a fillip on the nose, and made him bleed furiously: In he runs to his Grandmother, crying out, Dear Grandmother save me, I am killed: No, says she, I now have only time to tell you, my enchantment will be broke in an hour’s time, I know it, you have got my bean, and this impertinence of yours will occasion my being transformed; yet if I am able I will sufficiently thrash your jacket: but away runs Jack, and up the bean he climbs, and the old woman after him, with the birch-broom in her hands.  The bean was then about a mile high, and by the time she got at it, Jack was straddled up near half a mile; and through her vengeance and ill-nature, not being able to reach the boy, she fell down in a fit for a time, and as soon as her hour was out, was turned into a monstrous toad, and crawled into some neighbouring mud or cellar, in her way to the shades: but Jack went on his gallop, though the bean grew more than a mile an hour.  In truth, the bean grew forty miles high, and while it was growing,
The Beanstalk by JoshCorpuz85
some little towns were built upon the leaves as he went up, for him to refresh himself at: he calls at one for a pot of ale, at another for some bread and cheese, and at another which was near the Giant’s Castle, for what he could get: this had a very promising aspect, for the sign was as big as any on Ludgate-Hill: here he thought to rest for a time, and goes on strutting like a crow in a gutter; What have you to eat Landlord, says he; Everything in the world, Sir, says the Landlord: Why then, says Jack, give me a neck of mutton and brother: Alas, says the Landlord, tomorrow is market-day; how unfortunate it is I cannot get you a neck of mutton tonight if it was to save my soul: Well then, get me something else, says Jack; Have you any veal?  No indeed, Sir, not at present; but there is a fine calf fatting at Mr Jenkinson’s that will be killed on Saturday next: But have you any beef in your house, says Jack; Why, truly, Sir, says the Landlord, if you had been here on Monday last, I believe, though I say it that should not say it, you never saw so fine a sirloin of beef as we had, and plumb-pudding too, which the justices who dined here, and their clerks and constables, entirely demolished; and though I got nothing by them, yet their company was a credit to my house.  Zounds, says Jack, have you nothing in the house?  I am hungry, I am starving; but I hear a cock crow, and from thence I am sure you have some poultry; kill one of them and broil it: Yes Sir, says the Landlord but that cock is the squire’s, he would not take forty guineas for it.  Well then, replied Jack, you may kill a hen or a chicken.  O Lord, Sir, I have not chicken, answers the Landlord, and the two hens that I have belong to the game cock, and they have incubated as I may say, their eggs a fortnight; but I believe we shall have chickens a Wednesday hence.  Have you no eggs in the house, says Jack: No Sir, indeed, answers the landlord, but nest-eggs, which we make of chalk.  Why then, says Jack, what the Devil have you got?  Why to tell you the truth, Sir, I don’t know that I have anything in the house to eat, for the squire and his huntsman called here this morning and devoured what we had, all our bacon, all our cheese, and all our bread; but I could have got you some fine trouts from the miller’s, only a little before you came in he sent all his fish up to Sir John’s.  Why then, says Jack, I find I must go to bed supperless.  Aye, master, answers the host.  Then give me some drink, says Jack.  That I can do, for I have just brewed; and if you love new drink, I can fit you to a tittle, for it has not been in the tun half an hour.

Thus was poor Jack plagued by the enchantment of his Grandmother, who was resolved to lay him under her ill tongue so long as her power lasted.  But just as he fell in with this starving prospect, off goes the top of the house; the host was turned into a beautiful lady, and in pops a dozen pretty youths, drest like pages in green satin, laced with silver and white feathers in their caps, each of them
Empress by Carlo-Marcelo*
mounted upon an hobby-horse finely bedecked with ribbons, tinsel and feathers; they dismounted immediately, and in full chorus most harmoniously addressed themselves to Jack, saluting him with the titles of Sovereign Lord of the Mannor, and Invincible Champion; ‘Tis this instant, great Sir, that your supposed Grandmother the Queen of Pomonkey has taken her passage to the shades, her enchantment is broke, and we bring you the full power of possessing all the pleasures you desire: The fair lady that stands before you in Emp’ress of the Mountains of the Moon; young as she seems to be, was your Grandmother’s black cat, and by enchantment has worn that shape four hundred years: It was she that put it in your mind to plant this wonderful bean by scratching in the ashes, and she is now entirely at you Highness’s disposal whether she shall live or die: You have a thousand Jack Catches now attending you without, with Halters and Hatchets to make an end of her, when your Honour pleases to direct her execution; or else you have a fiery dragon gaping for her, if you give but once the signal for her death: This box, great Sir, bears you the absolute power over her, over us, over Old Scratch or Nicholas the Ancient.  Your Grandmother, illustrious Sir, when she found the loss of her bean, and the shortness of her power, invoked an assembly of inquietudes to attend you, and so transformed this miracle of nature into the host you have been talking with.  Why in troth, says Jack, I thought it was a woman by filling me so full of expectation: But gentlemen, have you got any bread and cheese in your pockets, for I am exceeding hungry? but since it is all enchantment, as I begin now to find by alteration of my body, I feel sprinklings of generosity flow in my veins for Grandmother’s dear pussy, who has so often pur’d about me; I have nobleness of spirit to excuse my innocent Landlord, and I now solemnly take this fair lady to be my lawful and wedded wife.

Ruby Ring
It requires no more than, exalted Monarch, say the pages, but to put on the ring inclosed in that box, and you will instantly possess five wishes, and on the top of the ring your Highness will find a marble red stone given to your Grandmother by the King of Strombola.  If you are engaged in combat turn the stone to the north, and you may conquer Giants, Dragons, and Basilisks; and while you keep it to the south you will flow in plenty, and enjoy everything you desire. Is that all you have to say, says Jack; Yes and please your Honour, replied the pages; and then put on the ring; at which moment the remaining part of the inn was changed with a terrible crack into a delightful summer-house or pavilion, where a table was spread with the most elegant dishes, and the sideboard furnished with the richest wines.  This says Jack, pleases me above all things in the world; it is my first wish completely: But then he espied his lady to be badly dressed; I wish Madam, says Jack, you was as well cloathed as the greatest Queen in the world; when immediately she was adorned in the gayest princely robes.  Now, says Jack, I wish for some good musick; and in an instant down came a dozen or two of excelled fiddlers.  He then wished them to play the Black-Joke, and so they went on for an hour ‘till he had crammed his carcass.  And for the fifth wish, as he was now sleepy, and as the laws of enchantment order it, a wish is no sooner thought on but executed, so were our couple enchanted into a crimson velvet bed, embroidered with gold and pearls; the room illuminated with an hundred wax perfumed lights placed in glass sconces; the marble tables covered with jessamine and orange flowers, and the small ones made of mahogany and other fine wood, adorned with pyramids of sweetmeats and refreshing drams from the true Barbadoes citron to the 
The Empress Eugénie Surrounded by her Ladies in Waiting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
humble gin.  I should have observed that when the Princess was conjured into the wonderful apartment, she was attended by twelve damsels cloathed in silver tissue, who flew to her assistance mounted upon as many rose-buds: These were followed by an impudent shoe-boy, whose business it was to clean her ladyship’s shoes against the morning: so that there was nothing wanting to complete the happiness of the illustrious couple.  He soon fell asleep with fatigue and dreamt a dream, in which the patroness of the enchantment appeared to him; and after having touched him and his Princess three times with a wand, struck out of their memories all thoughts of what they had been, and confirmed them in princely graces: Then whisking her wand three times over her head, whispered Prince John of his progress to the top of his bean, and how he should come to the Castle of Giant Gogmagog, by whom, himself and his Princess should be favourably received, and entertained for three days without danger, but he must be sure to keep the stone in is ring inclining to the north, and his Princess on his north side, that then he should be in seeming great danger of his life as well as his Princess; but by turning the stone of his ring under the bent of his finger, the Princess should immediately change into a basilisk, and kill all that were in reach of her eyes except himself; and then as soon as he could assume himself of safety, it was only to turn up his ring as it had been before, and then the Princess would resume her shape, and he become master of all the Giant’s treasure.  In the mean time she placed an enchanted fly upon the Princess’s left arm to convey her as a flying-horse would do, when she happened to be weary with climbing, and so departed.

Top of the Beanstalk by Ih8orangepezzz
Then Prince John began to rub his eyes, and stretching himself with a yawn or two, turned to his dear Princess, who just waked from the same dream he himself had; there was the fly upon the arm of the lady, which they carefully took off and put into a little gold cage, which they found placed on a table by them; and after a merry joke or two, they disposed themselves for getting up, and were immediately attended with pages and virgins.  They had a delightful breakfast, went dressed sumptuously, and set out for a walk towards the enchanted castle, the pages leading their hobby-horses in their hands, with one of an extraordinary kind and workmanship; for the Prince and the virgins had each hold of their rose-buds; and as for the Princess’s enchanted fly, she had hung it in its cage to the chain of her watch.  In their progress it happened that the company by means of the enchanted air, had got appetites like horses, and by agreement the Prince and Princess set down under the side of an hill covered with orange-trees and myrtles, the banks adorned with cowslips, primroses, hyacinths, and violets; before them was a purling stream, and the woods resounded with the harmonious notes of nightingales, linnets, canary and other fine singing birds, when on a gentle breeze were wafted an hundred cupids, each bearing a salver of gold furnished with the richest and most delicate meats; while on the other hand the trouts, salmons, carp, and other inhabitants of the stream leaped upon the banks; with a proper supply of nectar, ambrosia, burgundy, champaign, hermitage, frontigniac, and tokay wines, not forgetting a dram or two for the virgins of honour.

The Prince and Princess were delightfully regaled, whilst the zephirs attended them with refreshing air; and when their company had satisfied themselves, the remainder of the entertainment vanished: And as it is not proper to walk much after a hearty repast, the Prince judged it convenient to ride the rest of the way towards the castle.
And now no sooner was the fly let out of its cage, but itself and all the hobby-horses and rose-buds were changed into palfreys, adorned with the richest trappings, and away they go in the grandest manner, passing by many knights and ladies, and were informed that there were many more before them; when on a sudden they heard a voice cry out (for the could hear many miles further than any one else),

I smell the blood of an English-Man;
Whether he be alive or dead,
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.

The Giant's House by jbrown67
But this did not trouble either the Prince or his lady or attendants; they all knew they had safety enough in their hands, and gallop’d on ‘till they arrived at the Castle of Wonders, when they soon espied the Giant Gogmagog, who was picking his teeth with a great tree.  His tooth-pick case was such another thing as the Monument in London; he had a bowl of punch as big as St. Paul’s Church, and the cup that he drank out of was about the size of the dome of St. Paul’s; for his tobacco-pipe he 
Jack and Beanstalk by NogalWag
had the exact model of the piramidical building near the water-side in Southwark, where the damaged tobacco is burnt; and his tobacco-stopper was like the water-engine belonging to the York-Buildings Company; and his tobacco-box was about the size of Westminster-Hall: But however, he rose up when the Prince and his retinue appeared, and saluted them, bid them welcome, and offered them the best entertainment he could give them, whilst the Prince for safety’s sake turned the stone of his ring to the north; for he had never seen so huge a man before.
They were introduced into the castle through the richest apartments imaginable; and what was extraordinary the great Giant shrunk into a common size, and appeared like other men.  The furniture was vastly rich, the attendants without number, and the equipage magnificent, and nothing was wanting to entertain our illustrious couple with splendour befitting their rank.  The gardens were splendid as those at Versailles, the parks of vast extent, and in a word, so well furnished with all sorts of game, that no other could parallel them; which pleased the young couple extreamly, knowing full well they would be soon at their own disposal.
But they had now passed near the three days with the Giant, who grew desperately in love with the Princess, and resolved to have her at any rate, even at the expence of devouring her husband; which he could have done at a mouthful well enough, if he had been a common man.  But enchantment is a great help to men in such distress, and the Prince and his lady went to bed well satisfied:  They were no sooner laid down on their pillows, but they heard a mighty sobbing and moaning of many virgins sighing and grieving at their hard fortunes, that the giant was to make a breakfast of them the next morning.
Basilisk by MysteryOne617
Now you must know, the stone in the Prince’s ring being turned to the south, he could see and know what he pleased; and having consulted with the Princess about the destruction of the Giant, my dear (says he) shall I make the proof of changing you into a cockatrice or basilisk, for there is a mouse in the room, and if your looks kill the animal we shall be sure of the rest, for it may be multum in parvo.  The experiment was made in an instant, and the Princess, her eyes and whole body became so bright, that it was even dazzling to her husband; and the mouse no sooner beheld her, but burst with a prodigious crack.  Then the ring was turned again, and all wishes were in the Prince’s power; he immediately slipt through the key-holes of doors and narrow crannies, ‘till he came to a large gallery, where several thousand young ladies were tied up like calves o’fatting, and bemoaning their hard case, alas, dear Prince, (say they) tomorrow early shall we be broiled and crushed between the Giant, Gogmagog’s monstrous teeth, if you do not save us; and there are ten thousand knights below in as bad a condition.  You are then all safe (says the Prince) for the Giant will be destroyed as soon as the sun rises, and I shall then take possession of my dominions.

He had no sooner said this, but he released the ladies from their bridles, and summoned the Princess’s virgins to attend them with such necessaries as they wanted.  Then he whisked through the cracks and key-holes, ‘till he reached the place where the knights were confined; and they like the ladies were tied up to their good behaviour, and were moreover restrained the use of their hands, which he soon changed to their satisfaction, and gave them the assistance of his pages, with the promise to release them the next morning.  Then were the rooms where these prisoners of both sexes were kept, illuminated and furnished with every refreshing liquor; while the Prince returned to his lady and related what had passed.

Cockatrice by Cibana*
The day no sooner broke, but up got the Prince and Princess, and walking into a bower, refreshed themselves with some fruits, and the Giant appeared with a sword in his hand; says he with an hoarse voice, Thou Prince of Pitty, this moment you die, and he next instant will I solace myself in the delights of my gory breakfast.  The Prince and Princess immediately got from their seats, and while the Prince was turning his ring towards the north, the Giant his him a thundering stroke with his sword; but he might as well have hit a rock of diamonds as wound the Prince; for by this time the ring was in a proper station, and the Princess was changed into a cockatrice or, basilisk.  The Giant at this gave a great groan, fell on his knees, trembled, and fell down dead: Then there was a great shout in the castle, the doors flew open, the knights and ladies sallied forth to congratulate their Highnesses; and proclaim them as their Sovereigns; they became their vassals, and attended them, in their delightful palaces and royalty in the most perfect happiness. And so far for the enchantment, which some old women first set afoot to amuse children, and is now finished by the Author, with no other view but to assure his readers, that enchantment proceeds from nothing but the chit-chat of an old nurse, or maggots in a madman’s brain.

Useful Resources

The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed’s Chronicles by Paulina Kewes, Ian W. Archer &Felicity Heal
Histories of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth
1740 Christmas Entertainments

No comments:

Post a Comment