THE POEM OF THE WRESTLING*
lt may be here remarked as something more than accidental, that Magog is a well.known Oriental giant, that Gog and Magog figure in the Guildhall of London, and that Gogmagog was the champion selected for a trial of strength with Corineus.
"Amongst the ragged Cleeves those monstrous giants sought:
Who (of their dreadful kind) t' appal the Trojans brought
Great Gogmagog, an oake that by the roots could teare;
So mighty were (that time) the men who lived there:
But, for the use of armes he did not understand
(Except some rock or tree, that coming next to hand,
He raised out of the earth to execute his rage),
He challenge makes for strength, and offereth there his gage,
Which Corin taketh up, to answer by and by,
this sonne of earth his utmost power to try.
All, doubtful to which port the victory should goe,
Upon that loftie place at Plimmouth, called the Hoe,
Those mightie wrastlers met with many an irefull looke,
Who threat'ned as the one hold of the other tooke:
But, grappled, glowing fire shines in their sparkling eyes,
And, whilst at length of arme one from the other lyes,
Their lusty sinewes swell like cables, as they strive.
Their feet such trampling make, as though they forced to drive
A thunder out of earth, which stagger'd with the weight:
Thus either's utmost force urged to the greatest height.
Whilst one upon his hips the other seeks to lift,
And th' adverse (by a turn) doth from his cunning shift,
Their short-fetcht troubled breath a hollow noise doth make,
Like bellows of a forge. Their Corin up doth take
The giant 'twixt the groins; and voiding of his hold
(Before his cumbrous feet he well recover could),
Pitcht headlong from the bill: as when a man doth throw
An axtree. that with slight delivered from the toe
Roots up the yielding earth, so that his violent fall,
Shook Neptune with such strength as shoulder'd him withal
That where the monstrous waves like mountains late did stand,
They leapt out of the place, and left the bared sand
To gaze upon wide heaven, so great a blow it gave.
For which the conquering Brute on Corineus brave
This horn of land bestow'd, and markt it with his name
Of Corin, Cornwal call'd to his immortal fame." [a]
In 1750 Robert Heath published his "Natural and Historical Account of the Islands of Scilly," to which was added "A General Account of Cornwall." From paragraphs in this work it may be inferred that the figures of the wrestlers cut out in the turf on Plymouth Hoe then existed.
"The activity of the Cornish and Devonshire men, beyond others in the faculty of Wrestling, seems to derive their Pedigree from that grand Wrestler, Corineus. That there has been such a giant as Gogmagog, opposed by Corineus, the inhabitants of Plymouth show you a Portraiture of two Men, one bigger than the other, with Clubs in their hands, cut out upon the Raw-ground, which have been renewed by order of the Place, as they wear out; and a steep cliff being-near, over which the giant might be thrown, are said to point out together the Probability of the Fact."
In the "Dissertation on the Cornish Tongue," by William Scawen, Vice-Warden of the Stannaries, we find the following passage : "I cannot affirm with so much reason, its some of our neighbours have done with confidence, who say that at the last digging on the Haw for the foundation of the citadel of Plymouth, the great jaws and teeth therein found were those of Gogmagog, who was there said to be thrown down by Corineus, whom some will have to be the founder of the Cornish; [b] nor am I able to assert that some instruments of war in brass, and huge limbs and por. traitures of persons long ago, as some say that have been in some of the western parishes, were parts of giants or other great men, who had formerly had their being there."
[a] See also Hogg's "Records of
[b] This note is by the Editor, Mr. Davies Gilbert : "These bones must evidently have been found in a cavern, the nature of which has been most ably ascertained and described by Dr. Buckland and the Rev. Richard Hannah, who examined other caverns of precisely the same nature, comprising bones of various larger mammalia, in the limestone formation not far from Plymouth."
Thus we see the poetical belief of one age destroyed by the positive philosophy of the next. Happily, we move in all things by waves; the system of undulations prevails in every operation, mental and physical. Amidst the relics of the mammalia of the Devonshire caves we are now discovering the unmistakable remains of man, and his works,--stone knives, spear-heads, axes, and hammers speak of an ancient race; and 'nay there not have been "giants in the earth in those days, and also after that?"
*' From Drayton's "Polyolbion"