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include childhood, and that, in some measure, are never forgotten by us. This literally construed, is in high epic taste, as inuch so as the homely similes of the Iliad and the Odyssey. We should be thankful, for our parts, to an epic poet who could manage to introduce the big-headed and bushy-haired ogres of our own story-books, with the little ogres, their children, all with crowns on their heads. We sympathize with the hand of the diminutive “giganticide,” who felt them as they lay in their grim slumber, all in a row.
Was this, by the way, a satire on royalty ? It is an involuntary one. The giant Gargantua, in “Rabelais,” who ate three men in a salad was a king.
Several of Spenser's allegorical personages are giants. The allegory is incidental, and helps to vary the individual character; but otherwise the bodily pictures are complete specimens of the giants of chivalry. One of them is Disdain
“Who did disdain To be so called, and whoso did him call."
Of another giant, of the same name, he tells us that
“His lookes were dreadfull, and his fiery eies,
“He wore no armour, ne for none did care,
* Checklatoun (Fr. ciclatoun) is supposed to be intended by Spenser for
cloth of gold.
And on his head a roll of linnen plight,
FAERIE QUEENE, Bo vi., Co
A third great giant is Orgoglio (or Pride), a good swallowing name. A knight is enjoying himself with his mistress, when suddenly he hears
“ A dreadful sownd,
“But ere he could his armour on him dight,
Or get his shield, his monstrous enimy
Orgoglio has a
With this, in a battle with Prince Arthur, he aims a terrible blow, which, missing him –
“Did fall to ground, and with his heavy sway,
So deeply dented in the driven clay,
Then follows one of the noblest similes ever produced. Upton says that Longinus would have written a whole chapter upon it :
“As when Almightie Jove, in wrathful mood,
Book i. Canto viii.
Spenser writes the word variously-giant, gyaunt, and geaunt; for no man had a stronger sense of words as the expressions of things, nor delighted more to call in every aid to the emphasis and conscious enjoyment of what he was writing. His very rhymes are often spelled in an arbitrary manner, to enforce the sound; and he tells a dreadful story with all the shuddering epithets, and lingering, fearful fondness of a child.
Take another of his giants - one Corflambo, whose eyes are very new and terrible :
At length they spied where towards them with speed
For from his fearfulle eyes two fierie beames,
Book iv. Canto viii.
This Corflambo is another good name. The names of the giants in the beautiful romance of “ Amadis of Gaul”. (superior, undoubtedly, to “ Palmerin of England,” though the latter also is delightful for its bits of color, and its green and flowery places) — are very bulky, and“ talk big.” There is Gandalac and Albadanger; and Madanfabul, of the Vermilion Tower; and Gromadaga, the Giantess of the Boiling Lake; and Ardan Canileo, the Dreadful ; and above all, the mighty and most mouthing Famongomadan, who seems to inform his enemies that he means to flame and gobble 'em. Gandalac makes the least oral pretensions; and “he was not so wicked as other giants, but of a good and gentle demeanor, except when he was enraged, and then would he do great cruelties.” * But he was very terrible. He was “so large and mismade, that never man saw him without affright;” and when he makes his appearance in Chapter IV., “the women ran, some among the trees and others fell down, and shut their eyes, that they might not see him."
* See the excellent version of Mr. Southey, vol. i., p. 37. [“ Amadis of Gaul” and “Palmerin of England” were among Don Quixote's favorite romances of chivalry. He and the curate used to dispute long and learnedly as to who was the better knight, Palmerin of England or Amadis of Gaul.
Bernardo Tasso, father of the poet, translated “Amadis de Gaul” into Italian; and Tasso himself, as quoted by Ticknor, says that the “ Amadis" “is the most beautiful, and perhaps the most profitable, story of its kind that can be read, because in its sentiments and tone it leaves all others behind it, and in the variety of its incidents yields to none written before or since" Sir Philip Sidney says he had known men "made better and braver by its perusal.” According to Burton, the work was a favorite among the English gentry of the seventeenth century. Southey's version of “Amadis of Gaul” was published by Longman in 1803, and was the subject of Sir Walter Scott's first contribution to the “Edinburgh Review.” “ Amadis is an extraordinary book,” wrote Southey, in a letter to Miss Barker (the Bhow Begum of “The Doctor'); "and now the job is done, I am glad I undertook it. ... I have a sort of farnily love for Vasco Loberia, more than for Ariosto or Milton, approaching what I feel for Spenser; and certainly, when I get to heaven, he will be one of the very first persons to whom I shall desire to be introduced." - ED.]
By degrees, as men found out that a gigantic stature did not always imply strength, or even courage, they began to change their fear into contempt, and to laugh, like children, at the great bugbear that had amazed them. At length, they discovered that a giant could even be goodnatured ; and then the more philosophical romancers thought it necessary to do them justice. Hence the pleasant, mock-heroical giant of Pulci, and the amiable one (Dramuziando) of “Palmerin of England.” Being no longer formidable, however, they were for the most part found to be dull and awkward, probably not without some ground in nature. It is observed, says Fuller (or in some such language), that, for the most part, those who exceed their fellows in a reasonable measure of height “are but indifferently furnished in the cockloft.” * The little knights have as much advantage over them in battle, as the light brigantines had against the overgrown Spanish Armada. Our nursery acquaintance, Jack the Giant Killer (if he be not a burlesque on Thor himself), is an incarnation of the superior strength of wit over bulkiness. He has a cousin a monstrous giant, having three heads, and who would beat five hundred men in armor.
On one occasion, Jack comes to a large house in a lonesome place, and knocking at the gate, there issues forth a giant with two heads, who nevertheless “ did not seem so fiery as the former giant; for,” says the Saxon author, “ he was a Welsh giant.”
* Fuller's exact words are : “ Osttimes such who are built four stories high, are observed to have little in their cockloft.” – ED.