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VINDICI Æ MAGOGIANE; OR, A MODEST DEFENCE OF
GOG AND MAGOG. “ Thou shalt answer for this, thou slanderer."-DRYDEN. A MORE wanton and unprovoked attack upon two more orderly and inoffensive individuals, than the libel upon Gog and Magog in the last number of the “New Monthly Magazine," was, I verily believe, never committed to paper. If the writer of it had not been as ignorant of general and natural history as he has proved himself to be of individual character, he must have been aware that, by a benignant provision of Nature, the superior power of all the larger animals, disproportioned as it is to their increased bulk, is moreover neutralised by their peaceable and harmless disposition, those which are physically the most formidable, being morally the most amiable and philanthropic. Such an arrangement was obviously necessary for the protection of all inferior creatures, and it will accordingly be found in universal operation. The immeasurable Kraken, for whose existence we have episcopal authority, is not recorded to have ever committed one single aggression, his diving down with Munchausen, when the Baron had taken the unwarrantable liberty of lighting a fire upon his back, being simply an act of self-defence, and one which the meekest Christian might excusably perpetrate if he could thus get rid of all his backbiters. The immense serpent that once stopped the march of a whole Roman army, although to him doubtless, as well as to the Dragon of Wantley, “ Houses and churches were only geese and turkeys," did not gobble up a single centurion, notwithstanding the averment of Pliny that they awoke the Python out of a sweet sleep by bringing a battering-ram to bear upon his back-bone, a process which might bave excused some little degree of pettishness. Mammoths and that other still more gigantic animal, whose skeleton extending to one hundred and seventy feet in length, has lately been discovered in America, I firmly believe to have been most meek and innocuous creatures, Atlantean lambs, colossal deer, gigantic innocents, whose peaceable character is sufficiently established by the fact that they have become extinct; for had their nature been carnivorous and fierce, it is much more likely that they should have swallowed up the last of some of the defenceless races, than that they themselves should have ceased to exist. They have evidently fallen a sacrifice to their amiability, and need no better monument than their bones, which, like those of the Spartans at Thermopylæ, seem to say to the traveller—" Go! and tell to all the world that we lie here in obedience to the laws of benevolence and love."
If we turn from these uncertain or extinct animals to those which still inhabit our globe, shall we not invariably find those of the hugest bulk and power the most gentle, meek, and inoffensive. The great fish that swallowed up Jonah surrendered him again without hurting a bair of his head, or even charging any thing for his three days' lodging. Far from interfering with our fishing-grounds, or the courses of our steam-boats, to which he might prove himself a most formidable antagonist, the mighty but modest whale betakes himself to the very tremities of his own element, deep in the Polar seas, but, alas! not beyond the reach of that universal enemy--man.
The human, or rather the inhuman biped, traverses those icy fields, plunges his har
July.-VOL. XXIII. NO. XCI.
poon in the back of his unsuspecting victim, and instead of pouring oil upon his wounds, like a good Samaritan, endeavours to extract oil out of them. Is not such cruelty enough to make the stoutest whale blubber? Little thinks the gentle reader when he is sitting beside his spermaceti candles, or the clear bright flame of his lamp, enjoying the supreme luxury of reading the present article in the New Monthly, that he is indebted for it to the stupendous whale, the native burgher of the floods, whose last breath is, as it were, exhaling from the glass of the lamp or the flaring wick. The gentle reader literally makes light of his death, adverting not to the conclusive throes and heavings of the cetaceous breast when the sufferer, stuck all over with barpoons, like the front wall of Northumberland House, plunges and rushes through the roaring abysses of the deep, churning the waters into foam, and dying them with blood, until they resemble a devil's punchbowl of raspberry-cream, in the midst of which he at length dies himself. Strange that we should thus get light from the darkest depths, fishing up, as it were, an arctic moon to irradiate the midnight streets of London; nor less strange that our beauties should be rendered shapely by the most unwieldy of fishes, and that the symmetrical bast which captivates the lover's eye should be only built up upon bracket of whalebone. Can we wonder that Love declines being himself a staymaker, when he discovers the secrets of the trade! If Cupid were honest, his bow should be wrought of whalebone and his dart should be a harpoon.
And the elephant, the largest of all terrestrial animals, is he not as bland and mild as the huge-ribbed monarch of the waters ? Timid and graminivorous, he desires only the aninhabited wilderness for his domain, where he may live, like a four-legged hermit, upon pulse and herbage ; but man, the universal robber, stops the elephantine traveller upon his own highway, transplants his ivories, and robs him of his trunk. If the case were reversed, what a hubbub would be made of such an outrage in the police reports ; how the walls would be plastered with bills headed “Robbery and Murder!" in large letters, and what rewards would be offered for the apprehension of the truculent perpetrator! Never was this intelligent and noble animal known to commence aggression upon man; and even in his death he heaps blessings and comforts upon his murderer. The most colossal of quadrupeds. " the half-resoninag parent of combs,” supplies us with traps for catching the little nameless wanderers of the capillary forest; with tetotums for amusing our children ; with harpsichord-keys for our young ladies, who, when they are “ warbling immortal verse and Tuscan air," little perpend what obligations they owe to the tusk of the elephant ;with balls for billiard-players, who knock about the teeth of the forestmonarch with no more ceremony than my lady's scull is sometimes “ knocked about the mazard with a sexton's spade;"--and, finally, with dice, those fearful instruments of misery and ruin, in which shape it may be thought that the elephant has taken an ample, though unintentional revenge upon mankind.
But why dissert we upon colossal beasts and fishes, when it would be more germane to our subject to confine ourselves to those human giants, of whom Gog and Magog may be presumed to be the types or images? The rebel giants, as they are termed in the ancient mytholo
gy, I discard, together with the" Gorgons, Hydras, and Chimeras dire," as altogether fabulous ; for none of the race were ever given to rebel, but are rather remarkable for an aversion to pugnacity, and a most drum-like propensity to be beaten, when they are compelled to wage involuntary war. Goliah of Gath was slain by a stripling ; Og, King of Bashan, was overthrown by the Hebrews ; Sampson, tall as he was, was outreached by a woman; the Giant Ferragus, although he was eighteen feet high, was knocked on the head by Orlando, the nephew of Charlemagne ; Colbrand, the colossal Dane, was made to bite the dust by our own Guy of Warwick; Jack the Giant-killer's exploits are well known to all readers of authentic history; and, in short, we hardly ever meet with an ogre, ogress, or towering Fee-fa-fum, who does not suffer bis, her, or its head to be cut off by some hop-o'my-thumb dwarf or duodecimo Dreadnought. Does not this incontestably establish the meek spirit of the folio editions of humanity, and prove that “suffering is the badge of all their tribe,” that they have patiently endured a persecution which has pushed their whole race under ground? Patagonians above six feet high are no longer to be found, the Brobdignagians are extinct, Irish giants are becoming scarce--they have all followed the Mammoth and the Megatherium, and the Lilliputians are undisputed lords of the creation.
And now, not to travel any longer out of the record, pass we at once "to Gog and Magog, whom I hold to be fashioned after some Roman, or Grecian, rather than any Danish or Saxon model, seeing that there is a graceful down-looking attitude about the head, worthy of Antinous himself, and that the costume approximates closely to the Roman. I am ready to throw down the gauntlet in defence of their
symmetry and proportions against all oppugners, Christian, Jewish, or Mahometan. How should your correspondent, Mr. Editor, know the
proper conformation of a giant of the Magogian dimensions ? Was he ever one himself, or did he ever see one? Heu! nos homunculi! are we little mannįkins, pigmies, Lilliputians, to set up our own puny forms as models for the Titans! What arrogance and conceit! The Ouran-outang might as well find fault with Apollo for not being made like himself. We laugh at the fable of the ape and her young one, and yet our vanity betrays us into the self-same delusion. I maintain that the figures of Gog and Magog, superhuman in their very nature, and therefore not amenable to the tailor-like admeasurements of men, are consistent, appropriate, and gigantical, showing a disdain of mortal rules, that irrefragably proves their autocratical independence and heroism. “ It is great," says Shakspeare, "to have a giant's strength, but it is base to use it like a giant;" thus falling into the vulgar error of supposing that they are prone to violence and oppression. Let Gog and Magog confute hoth him and the correspondent of the New Monthly, (1 beg pardon of the former for the association,) and all other maligners of the Titanian race. There have they stood, age after age, looking tranquillity, never stirring an inch, nor uttering a word, nor once wielding the weapons wherewith they are so fearfully armed. Their swords, like those of Harmodius and Aristogiton, should be entwined with wreaths of olive, to intimate that they are the preservers, not breakers, of the peace. Whom have they injured, whom attacked, whom put in bodily fear? Who has brought an action of assault and battery against them? Who
ever saw them leap from their pedestals on a Lord Mayor's day, and .run a-muck at the Mayor and Corporation? Conceive what horrors they might have perpetrated, what dropsical stomachs they might have tapped with their long lances; what apoplectic and plethoric throats they might have severed with their swords, had they become intoxicated with the fumes of wine and viands, and committed that Lapithæan outrage to which I have ventured tremblingly to allude! Let us be duly grateful for their forbearance. They have worn daggers, but used none; they have preserved the same placid and imperturbable expression of countenance, when the myriad faces that surrounded them have all been distorted with rage. “ Their delights were dolphin-like, and showed themselves above the elements they moved in.” The “ tantæne coelestibus iræ" would not apply to them; for, whatever divinities they may represent, they know not the touch of anger. Like sun-dials, their faces register “nil nisi serenas horas."
And if they must be removed and expelled the City, as your Correspondent so flippantly recommends, by what process are they to be dislodged? What officer will serve a writ of ejectment upon them? and will the City Marshal, even with his sword by his side, the Lord Mayor's warrant in his hand, and a bottle of valour in his head, venture to beard them upon their brackets ? Is Gog, like a great wooden doll, to be dandled and fondled, or kicked and cuffed, at the caprice of its civic mistress ? or is Magog a mighty Punch, that Lignum vitæ Roscius, who may be cudgelled ad libitum and with impunity, unless the cackling of the mannikin's bubble-and-squeak voice may be deemed a punishment of his assailant ?
It may be easy to pass a decree for their dethronement; but once more, I ask, who is to bell the cat ? The first workman that picks at them with his iron crow may be assured that they will have a monstrous crow to pick with him in return. They will not be quietly knocked down by the hammer, like an auctioneer's lot, nor collared by a rascal beadle, nor be bound with cords as Gulliver was by the Lilliputians, without making some fearful effort to shake off their pigmy assailants,“ like dew drops from the lion's mane." How, if in their just indignation, finding their long-suppressed voices, they utter a terrific shout, “cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war," tear their swords from their scabbards, leap down into the shaking and loud-echoing hall, and make minced-meat of the Mayor and Corporation! How, if each, like another Sampson, puts his hand upon the wall and buries himself, together with his Philistine persecutors, in the ruins of the building! Are these tremendous hazards to be wantonly encountered ? Never was it less necessary than at the present time, when the citizens need not bid the giants Ay from them, since they themselves have voluntarily fled from the giants. Who dwells within their purlieus, or “even within the verge of Temple-Bar ?" Alas! the descendants of William Walworth no longer inhabit the street which he has immortalised. All have deserted their palladium-fled from the civic Lares and Penates, and sought out new abodes amid the terra incognita of Russell and Torrington Squares.
Thus pensively and profoundly was I meditating, seated, one evening, upon a stone bench in Guildhall, when, as the gathering gloom invested the solemn faces of Gog and Magog, rendering them mysteriously dim and indistinct, methought I saw them slowly shut their eyes,
nod their heads, fall asleep, and actually begin to snore. Never did I hear any thing more sonorously grand and awful than that portentous inbreathing of Gog and Magog, resounding through the Gothic vastness of Guildhall; but behold! how omnipotent is the dreaining imagination! I myself had been dozing; the sound of my own nose, transferred by a metonymy of the fancy to the nostrils of those wooden idols, had become, as it were, the living apotheosis of a snore, which had subdued me by its sublimity. Most fortunate was it that I awoke; for, on attentively inspecting the faces of the figures, I saw them working and writhing with all the contortions of the Pythoness or the Sibyl, labouring in the very throes of inspiration, struggling with the advent of the prophetical afflatus. At length their lips parted, when, in a low, solemn voice, that thrilled through the dark, deserted, and silent ball, they poured forth alternately the following vaticinal strain, each starting and trembling as he concluded:
“ From Bank, Change, Mansion-house, Guildhall,
Throgmorton, and Threadneedle,
When City housewives wheedle
And Portland-place, their spouses,
Of fashion in great houses,
Tremble upon his pedestal.”
In Crockford's club their elbow,
The chiming of thy bell, Bow;
At night show empty boxes,
Or ogling opera doxies;
And ape high-titled prancers,
Or waltz with whisker'd Lancers;
In trinkets, feasts, and raiment,
Until they all stop payment,
Tremble upon his pedestal.” I was reflecting what dire calamities would fall upon the doomed City, since the era of luxury, corruption, and desertion thus denounced had now manifestly arrived, and Gog and Magog were actually starting and trembling upon their pedestals, when the hall-keeper, shaking me by the shoulder, exclaimed—“Come, Sir, you musn't be sleeping here all night! Bundle out if you please, for I am just a going to shut the great gates.'