+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

harbour, a few miles distant, where wood was
shipped in great quantities for the use of the
army before Sebastopol. The servants had
finished their dinners; and one of them,
fascinated by the materials and workmanship
of Mr. Peat, was standing in hopeless
bewilderment near my saddle, having taken
off the stirrups, and been utterly unable to
put them in their places again. At length,
we were fairly under weigh; and jogged over
the rugged roads back to Sinope, where we
arrived in good time for admittance. In the
meanwhile, my ship had taken in her freight;
and a few hours later, by the moonlight, I
was watching from her deck the dim outline
of the peninsula, as it gradually faded in the


WHETHER the theologians be right or
wrong who tell us we err in believing there
is Scriptural authority for the fact that men
have degenerated greatly in size since the
days before the flood, we do not here inquire;
but we must needs begin a little talk
concerning giants, with the popular belief that
Adam and Eve and all the first men who
inhabited the earth were of gigantic stature.
We read in Camerarius certain exact facts
about their size. The first men were so tall,
that when they stood upright on the earth
their heads brushed against the stars, and
they were called the Emephimi. After many
years they were followed by a second race,
that of the Phataimi, whose heads only
reached to the clouds. After these came the
men called by the Egyptians Cygini, who
were the giants proper, and whose race lasted
until the time of Noah. Of the giants named
in Scripture, the one about whom the greatest
number of marvels have been told by the
Rabbinical writers is Og, king of Basan.
His legs, the Rabbies taught, were three
miles long. More modest by far is the
commentary of a German divine, named
Lange, who, reading in the fifth book of
Moses, that Og had an iron-bed, nine cubits
in length and four in breadth, suggests that
such breadth and width do not correspond to
the harmonious proportions of a man.
Probably, therefore, Og's bed was made longer
and wider than himself, for the
convenience of his turning about when he lay in
it; and that it may not have been made of
iron merely because of his weight, but as a
precaution against vermin. Some thousand
years after Og's death, there was said to have
been found, near Jerusalem, a mighty cavern,
inscribed in Chaldaic letters, "Here lies
Giant Og." Nothing was found in it,
however, except one of his teeth, whereof the
weight was four pounds and a quarter. It
was offered to the Emperor of Germany, as a
favour, at two thousand dollars; but he had
his doubts, and did not close with the

Homer regrets the dwindling of the bodies
of men from their pristine heroical proportions.
The heathen poets fabled also of a
race of Titans that made war against their
gods, and piled mountains on each other,
meaning to storm heaven. Then there were
also Homer's enormous one-eyed cannibals,
the Cyclopes.

Solinus and Pomponius Mela tell of an
Indian people among whom the men were so
tall that they leaped and sat astride upon the
backs of elephants, as readily as others leap
upon the backs of horses. These men capered
about upon their elephants, having them
bitted, and bridled, and obedient as horses to
their hands. Diodorus Siculus, however, tells
of a nation of much more remarkable giants,
which inhabited some southern isle. They
were said to be taller by four ells than other
men, and to have soft bones that bent
throughout their whole bodies as readily as
tendon. They had also cleft tongues, or
rather two tongues in each mouth, and with
the two tongues they could talk at the same
time in two different languages.

In northern Europe the great barrows
have favoured the idea that they were large
men who required such grave-mounds; and
the Romans were not slow to magnify their
achievements by a magnifying of the
size of the barbarians with whom they fought;
though Florus puts the case with modesty in
saying that "The more enormous were the
bodies of the Germans, the more easily were
they to be struck with sword and spear."

The dark fancies of the north clinging
about the giants, made a new race of them
in the legends of the middle ages. They
were fearful, brutal, godless, cannibal beings,
who tore even unborn children from their
mothers, as the daintiest of meat; who did
not respect their own kin, but lived upon the
rule of might is right among themselves.
A giant with a charming daughter, if he did
not wish her to be stolen by his friends, set
bears and other savage creatures at her
chamber-door. These giants were so wicked
and so dangerous, that it became the duty of
all honest men to assist in their extirpation;
and because they were too tall for
ordinary methods of attack, the usual way of
fighting with them was to batter them about
the shins with heavy clubs, until, having
their legs broken, they fell, and could be
struck in a more vital part. The efforts to
exterminate these giants, made when Jack-
the-Giant-Killer was the type of a
philanthropist, very much thinned their race, and
caused the survivors to betake themselves to
fastnesses, and live on islands, by sea-coasts
and watercourses, in great deserts or upon
steep mountains. Thence they made sallies
against the hostile race of men, whenever
they perceived that they could catch a victim
or two unawares.

In later times, much was said of the discovery
of giants in America. Antonio Pigafeta,